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Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Murder which took nearly 40 years to solve

New Alresford Parish Church

William Titheridge was born in Old Alresford, Hampshire in 1762 son of William Titheridge and Ann Cranston.  On the 8 November 1782 William married Ann Smith at New Alresford.  Their marriage produced seven children all born and christened in New Alresford

Robert christened 19 March 1784
William christened 4 January 1786
Richard Cranston chrtistened 23 January 1788
Joseph christened 8 November 1789
Stephen christened 7 August 1791
Jeremiah christened 4 November 1792
Elizabeth christened 14 September 1794

Stephen died in October 1792 and Jememiah died in June 1793.  The family lived in New Alresford, where William was a tailor.

Tragedy struck the family in December 1794  On Sunday 21 December William travelled from New Alresford to Winchester, a distance of seven and a half miles and failed to return home.  The next morning he was found on the Winchester to Alresford Road, near Mattingley Farm and died soon after.  He was buried in Old Alresford on 26 December 1794.  An inquest was held and came to the conclusion that he had died by “visitation of God”.  Ann was left with 5 children aged between 10 and three months and unable to support herself without her husband ended up in the workhouse.

This is the article that reported William’s death in the Hants Chronicle on  29 December 1794

Wednesday morning (December 24) an inquisition was taken before Mr Newlyn, at the house of Mr John Clark, at Mattingley farm, in the parish of Easton, on the body of William Titheridge, many years a tailor at New Alresford, when, after a careful and minute investigation of all the circumstances, and together with the examination of a surgeon from Alresford, and other persons, it appeared, that the deceased had gone from Alresford to Winchester the preceding Sunday, and the following morning, about nine o'clock, he was discovered lying on the road side, about fifty yards from Mr Clark's house, near his garden-pales, by one of the Southampton stage coachmen, who, on meeting two persons named King and Huntley on the road, informed them of the same; they accordingly hastened to the spot, and there found the deceased speechless, and on the same being communicated to Mr Clark he humanely ordered his servants to carry him into his house, where every care was taken, and medical assistance immediately procured; and, after using the remedies for recovering persons perishing with cold, for near three hours, which was thought to be the case of this unfortunate man, he survived until next morning about six o'clock when he expired, leaving a wife and five children to lament his loss. The jury unanimously returned a verdict that he died by the visitation of God, and not from any hurt, violence, or injury, of any person or persons whomsoever.”

Despite this verdict William’s son Richard (better known as Dicky Dung Prong”) was convinced that his father had been murdered.  He claimed he was murdered by a person in the neighbourhood but there was no evidence against him.

It was just over 39 years before the truth was unearthed in the form of a death bed confession.  In April 1833 it was widely reported in papers across the country from the Devises and Wiltshire Gazette, the Morning Post London, Salisbury and Winchester Journal to name but a few of the papers.  The basis of the report was that nearly 40 years earlier a tailor called Titheridge was found murdered on the Winchester to Alresford road between Matterly Fam and the turnpike gate.  The report claimed he was murdered by stabbing.  Shortly after the murder a toll collector at Matterly gate was apprehended and questioned by magistrates, but he was discharged since there was no evidence against him. Soon after that the toll collector left his employment.  The toll collector was now dead having died 5 years before the article was written.  The widow of this toll collector now lived abroad and was dangerously ill and had now chosen to disclose the fact that it was her husband who had killed Titheridge in a fit of jealousy, “having waylaid the unfortunate man, cut his throat and thrust a piece of tile into the wound in order that he might bleed to death.”

There seems to be a little bit embellishment to the story here since if  William had had his throat cut would the jury really suggest death was due to “a visitation from god”?

If you have not come across the story of Dicky Dung Prong you might like to go to our website for the full story of this fascinating rogue!/content/membersofinterest/dickydungprong.php

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