Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Apr/1862) - Magistrates in Petty Sessions: A "Ghost" in Court

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

Magistrates in Petty Sessions.

A "Ghost" in Court.

The curious in ghostly matters — not including spirit-rappers and mediums — had an opportunity this morning of witnessing a real live "ghost." For the past three or four weeks a strange, uncouth figure has been seen to wander restlessly about the highways and byways of Lockwood and Lockwood Scar. "Whispering lovers" have held their breath and clung to each other with nervous fear when indulging in moonlight walks; children have remained within the safe keeping of four walls, lest they should be stunted in their growth by the sight of the dreaded monster; old people have scarcely dared to venture forth, lest this questionable shape should assume the imaginative form of his dread majesty, and disappear in a cloud of brimstone, dragging them with him into the nether regions. But it was neither old people nor young lovers whom the ghost wished to scare; he appears to have had a peculiar affinity for women and young children, with intentions, if report speak correctly, which were far from honourable. With true ghostly instinct, that contagious hour "when churchyards yawn," was principally chosen for the earthly visitation. With head of formidable dimensions, and shaggy as the uncombed coat of a bear, eyes peering wildly behind a dark moustache, and arms like the flaps of a windmill, beating against the sides of a long coat reaching almost to bis heels, a figure not unlike a surpliced gorilla, was seen about ten or eleven o’clock on Thursday night last at Lockwood, by a young man named Alfred Hanson, resolved to know something more of its composition, Hanson ran after it (for the "ghost" ran also) and commenced testing its susceptibility by giving it two or three round hearty blows. The ghost bawled in a language unmistakeable as expressing rage and pain, and writhed on the ground in very unghostly fashion. This morning the "ghost" appeared in dishabile, minus his moustache and hairy cap, the former by-the-bye having been left on the scene of his discomfiture on the occasion of his encounter with Hanson. On the night following this encounter the "ghost" again ventured forth, and this night he met an opponent named Megson, equally formidable. So violent was Megson that the "ghost" sustained the black eyes which he now deplored. He appeared in court in his true character, as "Matthew Shaw, the barber," and charged both Megson and Hanson with assaulting him. He told in an excited manner how he had been assaulted; but Mr. Dransfield, who defended, called witnesses who proved in substance what has been already related, and submitted that the old man had been properly served for bis ridiculous conduct. He adduced instances of both women and children being frightened by the "ghost;" and mentioned that one woman near her confinement had been so terrified by a ghostly "boo," that she had since been under medical treatment tor fear of a miscarriage. A child also had been so frightened that she was unable to sleep in bed. The magistrates, in relation to the charge against Hanson, told complainant to take himself off as a foolish old fellow; but, fearing in their magisterial capacity to sanction so much violence as had apparently been used by Megson, they inflicted a fine upon him of 2s. 6d. and expenses. The old man became very excited during the bearing of the case, and significantly told Mr. Dransfield at the close that he would mark him for the future. Mr. Dransfield laughed at the threatened visitation, and left the "old villain," as he was mildly termed by the women present, to swallow his chagrin.