Book delves into town’s grisly past

A Kirton man being thrown from his cart as the starlied horse galloped away.
A Kirton man being thrown from his cart as the starlied horse galloped away.

A NEW book charting Boston borough’s ‘grimmest tales’ from across the centuries has been published.

A Grim Almanac of Lincolnshire by Neil R. Storey features macabre murders, horrid mishaps and strange folklore from Boston and its surrounding villages.

The ghastly tales are compiled day-by-day in the book, featuring 365 entries exploring the darker side of Lincolnshire’s past.

One strange tale is that of a tragic scene being re-enacted at Boston Stump.

The book reads: “On autumn evenings the ghost of a young woman named Sarah Preston, with her young child in her arms, is seen to fling herself over the parapet and hurtle towards the ground before disappearing. One story attached to this haunting is that poor Sarah was blamed for bringing the plague to Boston and took her life, and that of her child, rather than face the wrath of local people.”

A number of grisly local murders are featured. These include:

l In 1817, a Kirton workhouse woman had the dubious honour of being ‘the first person to be executed on top of Cobb Hall at Lincoln Castle’ after poisoning her child which had been born out of wedlock.

l In 1884 Wrangle woman Mary Lefley was executed by hanging at HMP Lincoln for murdering her husband William.

The book details how she would regularly go to Boston Market and ‘always brought money back (probably for sexual favours)’.

William was said to be a religious man and tried to reform his wife’s delinquent ways but she poisoned him by spiking his rice pudding with arsenic.

l In 1849, respected Donington farmer Joseph Bowser was executed for shooting and killing his wife Susan in one of his ‘horrific drink-fuelled outbursts’.

l In 1892 Ellen Stones, 25, was suffering from depression and slit her own throat at her father’s butcher’s shop in Wide Bargate.

l In 1887 Mary Ann Wharrie was hanged for the death of her illegitimate child at Sutterton Dowdyke.

l In 1868, in one of the ‘most notorious crimes in the annals of Lincolnshire history’, Priscilla Biggadyke, of Mareham le Fen, was executed. Biggadyke was convicted of murdering her husband Richard by poisoning.

She had allegedly been having an affair with their lodger – a rat catcher called Thomas Proctor – and despite protesting her innocence to the gallows, was hanged.

But in 1882, on his deathbed, Thomas Proctor confessed he was the murderer after all.

Unfortunate accidents befalling borough people are recounted in grim detail.

These include people being crushed by runaway horse and carts, mangled under trains, struck by lightning, drowning after skating on ice at the North Forty Foot Bank, falling into factory machinery, shot with a toy pistol and a woman who went to see her GP about an ingrown toenail but died during an operation to rectify it.

Along with stories about highway robberies, witch trials and strange folklore on bizarre medical cures, there is also the spooky tale of the ‘Black Dog’ of Lincolnshire.

This huge spectral dog was said to have been terrifying people across the county and was seen outside churches in Algarkirk and Wrangle.

l A Grim Almanac of Lincolnshire costs £14.99 and is available from all good bookshops.