Sixty Years On: Part 1
On May 6th this year, it will be 60 years since the town was rocked with the tragic news of the brutal double murder of the Misses Margaret Jane and Mary Ormesher.
The sisters were the daughters of the late Edward and Emma Ormesher, who had brought their family up on Asmall Lane, close to “Ivydene”, the house which was to become the scene of their deaths.
There were five daughters born to Edward and Emma, of which Margaret was the eldest, Mary the second child and then three more daughters, Emily, Ellen, who sadly died aged just 2 years old in 1897, and May. When May was born in 1900, Margaret was 12 years old.
Edward worked as a carter for a Mineral Water Company, he had moved the family to Chapel Street for a short time in the early 1900s where they ran a small beerhouse known as the John Bull at the corner of Chapel Street and St Helens Road, but they moved back to Asmall Lane where Edward took the licence for the Brickmakers Arms. Margaret Jane left home to become a live in domestic servant for a newly married couple Albert Kelsall and Hilda Clarice his wife, at ‘Highfield’, 31,Greetby Hill.
Younger sister Emily was married in 1917 to a soldier who was serving in the war, her younger sister May was a witness, the husband John William Allen was from Halsall Lane, Emily’s father Edward (Ned) Ormesher set up his own business after the Brickmakers Arms licence was made redundant selling small hardware like brushes and oil lamps from a horse and cart, he travelled around the district and was well known in the area. He had a brother Robert from Westhead and 2 married sisters, Mrs Lydia Light and Mrs Annie Lownsbrough, there were therefore several cousins of the sisters in the Ormskirk, Westhead, Lathom and Skelmersdale areas.
Mary Ormesher took a lease on a small shop at 24 Church Street and ran a sweet and tobacco business for a number of years. She became well known in the town and very well liked and respected as was her sister Margaret.
Whether it was because of local rumours that suggested the sisters were money lenders and were hoarding large sums of money, (rumours proved false by the C.I.D. team after the murders) or whether it was an opportunist robbery gone badly and devastatingly wrong, one or more people committed the murder at the Asmall Lane Cottage overnight from the 5th to the 6th May 1956. There had been intelligence sources relayed to the local police 18 months before the murders suggesting that the shop was going to be a target for a robbery and the sisters were advised to be vigilant.
The sisters apparently put up a desperate fight to fend off their attacker, police statements at the time were clear that whoever did enter the cottage, will have left with some serious wounds which would need medical attention.
Specific items of jewellery were taken, of which there were very precise descriptions, an 18ct gold patterned ring, similar to a man’s signet ring but with a large blue sapphire and two smaller sapphire stones on it. A lady’s oblong faced platinum bracelet watch made by Russell, with diamond chipping surround and sapphires at each corner, quite distinctive. Bought in 1942 for £95.00, which is almost £45.000.00 in today’s money, although the piece sounds so unusual it could well be worth more because of its quality.
The beloved family dog, a black spaniel called ‘Trixie’ was also killed on that night, which explains the lack of barking which might have alerted the neighbours more than they already had been that night, when breaking glass and ‘groaning’ and a man’s voice were discounted as anything serious.
The Ormskirk Advertiser immediately posted a reward of £50 to anyone providing information which would lead to the culprit.
There are so many aspects of the case which in modern times would most likely lead to an almost immediate arrest of a suspect, unfortunately it happened at a time when crime scene investigation was not supported by the technology and science available now.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a large collection of information surrounding the sad loss of these two well known and well liked residents of Ormskirk. Part 2 of this article will follow soon
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Trouble Brewing: Part 2
One of the most successful businesses in the town in the 1800s was the brewery at Bath Springs, built by Philip Forshaw. The company also operated dozens of Inns and beerhouses across Lancashire, purchased with a mortgage, as well as supplying ale to those houses and many more not part of the Forshaw holding. These Inns were sub-let to tenant landlords at an annual rental, which would be anything from £50 p.a. upwards.
Bath Springs Brewery had been built in the mid-1850s, in 1861, Philip Forshaw petitioned the local Overseers of the Poor for his poor rate assessment being set too high, the appeal was refused because the previous 8 years annual assessment had been made on a business in its infancy.
Forshaw had two daughters, Annie, the youngest, married William Henry Smith, 9th March 1857, William, who had been born in India, was also involved in the Brewery business at the time of his marriage. The older sister, Martha, married on 13 Sept 1859 one William John Chambers Martin, who was the son of the Governor of Preston House of Corrections (Preston Gaol) and also a Superindendent of Police in Southport.
The future of the Brewery business and the future of the Forshaw family seemed secure , however, in September of 1859, Philip became seriously ill and was given a warning by his doctor, Dr. Walsh of 28 Burscough Street, that he may well not last many weeks. On the strength of this, and with great foresight, Philip signed over by a deed all his business interests to his daughters and quite probably this meant both his son-in-laws.
Despite the prophecy of doom from Dr Walsh, Philip made a full recovery and by early 1860 he was well enough to take control of his business empire, however, he was prevented from doing so by the deed assigning control to his family. To take back the business, he had to resort to the courts to have the deed set aside and his family had to relinquish their holding.
It is not surprising therefore that from that time on there was a rift created in the Forshaw family.
In 1861, Annie and her family were living at the same address on London Road, Southport as her sister Martha and family. Annie’s husband William Henry Smith was no longer in the Brewing trade, he had (somehow) become a Bank Manager. Martha and her Police Superintendent husband, William J.C. Martin had just had a son and Annie had 3 young children.
In 1861, Philip was actually in Islington, London, he was accompanied by a young widow named Annie Tallman, who was the daughter of one of Philips tenants from Liverpool. It is probable that Philip was visiting London on legal matters as at this point, he was under considerable pressure over his health and the running of the business, borne out by his failed attempt to sell the Bath Springs Brewery in 1862 and increasing issues at the Brewster Sessions at the new Ormskirk Courts, where his Bulls Head pub on Aughton Street had just been refused a license.
One of the first licenses Philip held some years earlier had been that of the Old Ship Inn, Moor Street. He lived there before moving to his new home in Birkdale. The Old Ship had been a large Inn with extensive out buildings to the rear which included the old Ormskirk Theatre, closed in April 1839, just 8 years before Philip took over the tenancy. There were also several workshops and dwellings. One small family moved into one of these cottages sometime before 1861. The family consisted of single woman Catherine Baldwin, born Up Holland and her two sons, John and Philip Baldwin, both also born Up Holland, John Baptised 9th Feb. 1845 and Philip born 1st October 1848. In 1861, aged 16, John was employed as a brewers clerk whilst Philip was only 12 and attending school.
On February 15th 1865, Philip Forshaw died at his home in Birkdale aged just 52. The Ormskirk Advertiser reported his death in a very brief notice in the obituaries and also in a short simple note in their local news column. Philip was buried at the Parish Church 3 days after his death.
On the 30th May 1865, probate was granted to John Forshaw, solicitor of Preston and a cousin of Philips. The estate was valued at ‘under £25,000’.
It is from this point that the story of the Bath Springs Brewery starts to read like a soap opera.
John Baldwin, son of Catherine, marries Sarah Ann Harrison 15 Mar 1866, he marries in the name of John Baldwin Forshaw, and in the marriage register his father is recorded as, ‘Philip Forshaw, Brewer’. Sarah Ann Harrison was in fact Annie Tallman, the widow that Philip Snr. had been in Islington with in 1861. She had married Henry Tallman in Liverpool in 1858. On the 6th of June 1866, three weeks after his marriage, John Baldwin Forshaw applied to the Liverpool Probate Registry for a second grant of probate for the will of Philip Forshaw.
In 1871, John Baldwin Forshaw and his wife Annie are the tenants of the Railway Hotel, Derby Street vente pharmacie viagra. They have 3 young children including Philip aged 4.
In 1871 the other son of Catherine, Philip Baldwin, was living at Bath Springs with his wife Amy Blanche, who he married in 1869 using the name Philip Baldwin Forshaw.
On the 10th September 1872, Philip Baldwin Forshaw himself applied to the District Probate Registry in Liverpool for a third grant of probate for the will of Philip Forshaw.
John Baldwin Forshaw and Philip Baldwin Forshaw became known as Messrs Forshaw Brothers of Bath Springs, Brewers. Only for a short time though, as John Baldwin Forshaw died in March 1878 aged just 33 and his younger brother Philip had already died in June 1876 aged just 27. In his will, Philip Baldwin Forshaw is referred to as ‘commonly called Philip Baldwin Forshaw’, his will was also the subject of more than one application for a grant of probate and the final grant was in 1891, 15 years after his death with an estate valued at £11,000. John Baldwin Forshaw on his grant of probate was termed, ‘John Baldwin- now commonly called or known by the name of and hereinafter designated John Baldwin Forshaw. John left an estate valued at ‘under £25,000’. This will have been the inheritance from his brother Philip, who left his half of the brewery business to his brother but bequeathed all the, ‘jewels, trinkets and personal ornaments worn by her and myself and all my household furniture, plate, plated articles, Linen, china, glass, pictures, books, prints, musical instruments, wines, liquors and household items’ to his young widow Amy Blanche.
Catherine Baldwin, mother of John and Philip, lived most of her life in Chapel Street, ‘living off her own means’ which needs explaining and hopefully will be in the next chapter of the story.
So what happened to Philip Forshaw’s daughters? Why were the two of them not involved in the business and why did they not apply for probate? Why was one of them visiting with Charles Hill at The Firs, on Ruff Lane, in 1871, he of Dickinson Parker, Hill?
There is still trouble with these brewers, even after death. There is more of this saga to come.