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An Immense Icy Flood

1795

Information

In February 1795 a large flood affected many parts of the country, due to a combination of thawing snow, ice and torrential rains. Peterborough's story reads like something out of a Hollywood movie: "We learn from Peterborough that the flood in that neighbourhood is so immense as to threaten several villages. The ice had formed a complete bank across the coast, from the South bank to the North bank, and consequently stopped the current of water. A gentleman there, however, at the risk of his life, contrived to dispel the ice by gunpowder, contained in oilskin bags, in the execution of which he was assisted by two barges; but he had the misfortune to be left upon a large shoal of ice; the boats being driven away, it was impossible for any person to render him assistance, and in this dangerous situation, with the momentary apprehension of the ice separating, he floated down to Whittlesea bridge, and then jumped to one of the pillars, which was expected every minute to give way. From this situation he was released by some men who put off in a boat to save him. Soon after this the South bank gave way; and so terrific was the effect, from the shrieks of the multitude near it, and the explosion so tremendous, that the noise was heard by persons stationed four miles below the spot. The number of lives lost has not been ascertained: the damage exceeds calculation."1 Other information relating to the flood suggested that 30,000 acres of Deeping Fen were flooded and that many bridges had been damaged or destroyed, including those of Wansford and Northborough which 'blew up'! Peterborough's wooden bridge was saved.
  1. Northampton Mercury, Saturday 21st February 1795, p3, column 4






An Eye for an Eye

1786

Information

On the 13th May 1786 Mr Robert Shelston was found dead in his yard in Eye. An inquest revealed his death had been caused by a fatal blow to the head: he had been murdered. After an investigation and conversation with several witnesses, the conclusion was made that Henry Love, also of Eye, was the perpetrator. Henry Love was found playing ninepins in Market Deeping. He was arrested and taken to the Angel Inn in Peterborough, where he confessed to the murder quite freely. (1) He went before Justice of the Peace Robert Blake on 12th July, where he was sentenced for execution on Borough Fen common the week after. Love was described as 'most astonishingly illiterate and of a sanguine disposition.' He'd also confessed to planning to rob and murder farmer Mr Richardson, also of Eye, before he'd been arrested. (2) On Friday 21st July, Henry Love walked the five mile journey from the gaol in Peterborough to Borough Fen via Eye. He was attacked by angry villagers as he entered Eye. Henry was so badly beaten that he needed support to walk to the execution tree. He was hanged from the tree and from there his body was taken to an out building overnight in Peterborough. His body was used for dissection by doctors. (3)
References
(1) Stamford Mercury, Friday 19th May 1786, p3, column 3 (2) Stamford Mercury, Friday 14th July 1786, p3, column 3 (3) Stamford Mercury, Friday 21st July 1786, p3, column 3





Death and Pillaging From Maxey Castle

1450

Information

On the first of April 1450 Lord Welles gathered a large group of men at Maxey Castle. Lord Welles, also known as Lionel or Leo, 6th Baron Welles, had been in conflict with the people of Spalding and Pinchbeck. He gathered over 100 of his armed tenants at the castle and went to Spalding and Pinchbeck to cause chaos. His tenants damaged many properties, injured lots of people and even killed a man named John Ankes. The attack was part of a long-running dispute between the people of Deeping and Maxey, and Spalding and Pinchbeck. Both sides disputed the boundary of fen land between the two areas. They continued a tit-for-tat argument involving riots and violence over many years. People from both sides would sneak on to opposing land to steal cattle or destroy turves, which were a vital fuel in an area with few trees. Lord Welles' second wife was Margaret Beauchamp, mother of Lady Margaret Beaufort. Lady Margaret later inherited the castle and lands when her son became King Henry VII. Picture Credit: CC Coat of Arms of Sir Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, Rs-nourse, Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_de_Welles,_6th_Baron_Welles#/media/File:Coat_of_Arms_of_Sir_Lionel_de_Welles,_6th_Baron_Welles,_KG.png