1866 POACHER WILLIAM COLLIER'S MURDER OF GAMEKEEPER THOMAS SMITH
A large Staffordshire stone china jug, c.1866, moulded in relief and painted in bright enamels with a scene of Collier with his wife and a child at a cottage door, the reverse with the violent struggle between Collier and Smith, inscribed around the foot 'Presented to James Morrey, By A Friend', the handle moulded with a hare, restoration to the rim and top of handle, 25.7cm.
The incident that led to the last, and somewhat botched, public hanging in Stafford on the 7th August 1866 was one of poaching and murder. To support his wife and seven children, William Collier of Kingsley in the Staffordshire moorlands was, by repute, a poacher. An encounter with the gamekeeper, Thomas Smith, at nearby Whiston Eaves, resulted in a fierce struggle and Smith being bludgeoned to death. Collier was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. George Smith, a Black Country hangman with a reputation for blundering, undertook the execution. Using old rope, his first attempt failed and, with the assembled crowd's anger mounting, his second attempt was successful.
James Morrey is listed on the Staffordshire census returns between 1841 and 1881 as a potter living in Hanley.
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