Murder and suicide Nantwich 1855

Southport Visiter, May 3rd 1855


At the village of Wheelock near, Sandbach, Cheshire on Friday morning last, Mr James SPROSTON, joiner and cabinet maker, slaughtered his wife with a sword, and afterwards blew out his own brains with a pistol.

The cause of these rash acts appears to have been jealously on the part of the husband. The husband was 46 and the couple had been married for 15 to 16 yrs, and were without children. They were in very comfortable, if not independent circumstances, Mr SPROSTON having been in business between 20 to 30 yrs and Mrs SPROSTON having a small income of her own.

They were proverbially spoken of as the happiest couple in the village, for several years both had been members of the Wesleyan Methodist Society, Mr SPROSTON had been a Sunday school teacher and office-bearer, Mrs SPROSTON had been indefatigable in her visitation of the sick and needy, and so far as is known there is not a stain upon the religious or moral character of either. Along with them lived a widowed sister of Mr SPROSTON, named GILL and her son, a young man a joiner by trade.

Mr SPROSTON mentioned his suspicions of his wife 7 yrs ago, but, this was in private. During the past 6weeks his conversation had been a continued manifestation of jealousy regarding her, he imputing familiarity, with several persons in the village, he talked freely on the subject with everyone of whom he was acquainted. This preyed on Mrs SPROSTONíS mind and damaged her health.

On the morning of the fatal day Mr SPROSTON and Mrs GILLíS son got up and made the fire, and, after breakfast GILL went to work, Mr SPROSTON had taken a cup of coffee along with him. When Mrs SPROSTON came down she expressed herself agreeably, surprised that her husband had made the fire and set the table for breakfast, Mr SPROSTON replied, he had done it because he wanted his breakfast.

Mr SPROSTONíS apprentice, as usual went to the house at 6am and at half past left along with Mrs GILL, to carry a certain distance for her a can of balm, which Mrs GILL had consented to take for Mrs SPROSTON to Sandbach, who, in turn would clean Mrs GILLíS room. When they left Mrs SPROSTON was washing the cups after breakfast and Mr SPROSTON was seated smoking his pipe. The lad returned at 7-30am and received at the door of the house the keys from Mr SPROSTON for the workshop, he then went to work.

Nothing further was seen of the couple till 9.30 when Mrs GILL returned from Sandbach. The door of the back yard was closed and the latch down, so it couldnít be opened from the outside. By getting over a hedge Mrs GILL reached the back door, which was closed but not fastened.

In the kitchen she found Mrs SPROSTON kneeling with her head on the floor in a pool of blood, there being a sword by her side. In her own parlour she found Mr SPROSTON seated in a chair, with his frightfully shattered head hanging forward, and a pistol lying between his feet on the floor.

Mrs GILL obtained immediate assistance, Mr SPROSTON was quite dead, Mrs SPROSTON died half-an hour later.

The inquest on the deceased was held on Saturday by Mr Thomas ROSCOE.

The jury had no hesitation in finding that Mr SPROSTON had killed his wife and then committed suicide, being at the time insane.

It is understood Mr SPROSTON a man of some property had made a proper disposition in his will, making no provision for his wife, explaining that her own private income would maintain her in comfort.


Copyright 2002 / To date