TONGE, Elijah & Robert : Newspaper report and other details
regarding assault on Police Sergeant in Turton in May 1858.
Chronicle, Saturday, May 29th 1858. Page 5, Column 3.
Cowardly and Savage Assault on a Sergeant of Police
Two young men, brothers, named Robert and Elijah Tong, married, and in
employment as colliers, at Turton, were charged, on Thursday, at the County
Sessions Room, Town Hall, with having assaulted Police-Sergeant Tindall, who
stated that he was on duty at Turton, and going his rounds about half-past
twelve on Tuesday morning, police-constable Breakell being with him. When near
the Volunteer public-house, heard a noise within, and on entering, found the
landlord endeavouring to induce the company to go home, as he wanted to go to
bed. He desired the police to assist him and they succeeded in persuading the
parties to leave. The prisoners formed part of the company. The constables
also left, to go to their stations, and when they got out they saw five or six
of those who had been in the house standing about 100 yards away. The sergeant
had to pass them on his way home, and he desired Breakell to accompany him. On
getting near the group, the parties separated, leaving the two prisoners
standing together, and as the police were about to pass them, Robert Tong
suddenly sat down on the path way, and threw his legs up so as to trip the
sergeant, Elijah at the same time stooped and butted him on the stomach with
his head, and he was thrown down. Robert then gave him a kick on the face,
just under the ear, when Breaknell seized Robert, and they struggled across
the road. Elijah then pressed his left open hand on the sergeantís face (the
marks of his finger nails were still very plain), and kicked him three times
as he lay, on the face and head. The sergeant then seized him by the hair;
after a struggle they both got upon their feet, and the sergeant proving
stronger, mastered him. In the meantime, Constable Breaknell had overcome the
other assailant, and they were both forced up to the station. While there they
were still violent; Elijah seized the tongs, which Breaknell wrestled from
him, and then the poker which was also forced from his hand by the constable.
They were then handcuffed and secured at the station in Bolton. The sergeantís
wounds bled much, and he had been unfit for duty since, his face being still
greatly disfigured. Constable Breaknell gave similar testimony, and added that
he had to draw his staff and threaten to use it before Robert yielded.
Defendants said Breaknell struck Robert as soon as the police came up to them,
and the Elijah took to the sergeant. Mr. Birley said that the prisoners had
set it out that the policemen had been drinking with them in the public-house;
he wished to know the truth before they proceeded further.
The sergeant said that they were asked to have a glass of ale each with the
company, but they refused, and neither tasted there nor with the prisoners at
Mr Birley: That was right. The prisoners called no witnesses, and the
magistrates having consulted, Mr. Birley said that the laborious population
around us, sometimes, it was to be regretted, indulged in their enjoyments to
excess, and became rude, but, generally, they were on good terms with the
police, who were intended to friends and protectors of them all. If anyone had
a complaint against a constable for exceeding his office of duty, or being
cruel and unjust, the magistrates, on proof, would punish him to the utmost of
their power. They had the same determination to protect the police in the due
exercise of their authority, as it clearly appeared they were in this case.
Fortunately, it was not often they had so bad a one before them. They had
power to deal with it summarily; they could fine them to the amount of £5, and
in default of payment there would be imprisonment for two months, but this
attack was so cowardly in its beginning, so savagely continued, and so
inexcusable, that they were resolved not admit of a money payment, but to send
the prisoners for trial at the Quarter Sessions. You (to Elijah), I see, were
here before in January, 1855. I trust you will now receive a lesson which will
teach you to let the police alone in future.
The prisoners applied for bail, which the magistrates refused to allow,
telling them that the sessions commenced on Monday. The wives of the
prisoners, in tears, made an appeal for the same purpose, with the like
General Sessions of the Peace at Salford
31st May 1858
Robert Tonge, Assault on a Police Constable, 6 Months Imprisonment
Elijah Tonge, Assault on a Police Constable, 6 Months Imprisonment
Bill of Costs of Prosecution (LRO Reference: QSP3558/43)
Salford May 1858
James Tindall (Seargant of Police) Of Turton
Against Robert Tonge & Elijah Tonge
Assault on a police constable
Paid expenses to:
Bradshaw Police Constable
Councel: Mr. Holker of Bolton
I'm fairly convinced that the Robert and Elijah Tonge mentioned above are
in fact Robert and Elisha Tonge, the eldest sons of Ralph Tonge and Susannah
Cooper of Heaton. Robert and Elisha had an uncle called Elijah Tonge,
who had emigrated to the USA, and died in New Jersey in 1855, so we know that
it's not him. He is the only Elijah Tonge listed in the birth, marriage
and death indexes between 1837 and 1930, and the only one listed on the UK
census between 1841 and 1891, so we know that there was only one Elijah Tonge
in the UK during this time period and that he had already emigrated and died
before the assault took place.
Similarly, Elisha is the only Elisha Tonge in the UK through the whole of
the Victorian period, so we can't be getting him mixed up with anyone else.
Many of the other details in the report also match, strengthening the
argument that the brothers are the sons of Ralph & Susannah Tonge. Both
Elisha and Robert are listed as Coal Miners on the 1851 census, and the
article states that the defendants were employed as colliers at Turton.
In 1861, Elisha is living at Turton, having married Margaret Crompton of
Turton. The report states that both men are married; Elisha had marred
Margaret Crompton in 1855, Robert had married Patience Fairhust in 1857, so it
would have been they who the report describes as "tearful wives".
Patience in fact would have been pregnant at the time of the trial with their
second child Seth.