Samuel Moody Murder Trial

NB  It is essential to read the follow-up to this trial


Trial of Sam Moody

Source: Daily News (London, England), Saturday, February 11, 1860


On Tuesday last Sam. Moody, fisherman, of Skegness, was again brought before the bench of Magistrates at Spilsby charged with the wilful murder of Elijah Lynn.

The examination was strictly private, no person being admitted but those actually concerned in the case. In addition to the evidence taken at the former examination (which was very similar to that given at the coroner’s inquest, and which has already been made public) the following witnesses were examined :

Robert Holland, groom to Mr. Everington, of Skegness, said that on Sunday the 5th, in consequence of information, he went to the ditch spoken of by the two boys, George Robert Senescall and William Enderby. It was between two and three o’clock in the afternoon. The body of a man was laying flat on his back in the ditch and the hands were brought up over the chest. He knew it to be the body of Elijah Lynn. He also saw the stick now produced leaning against the hedge on the opposite side of the ditch.—

Tucksworth, a cottager,  went a little after two o’clock on Sunday afternoon the 5th inst. to look at the place where the body had been found.

A man named Golland had picked up a half-penny, and witness, on looking into the ditch bottom on the side near the wood, found two keys and chain now produced: they were deep in the mud, as though some one had trampled on them.

Witness went through a hole in the hedge and saw the stick now produced against the hedge. The hole in the hedge had been recently made, for the twigs of the hedge were broken and green. The stick had bits of the bark off. He saw it first. He saw the prisoner on the afternoon of the same day against his (witness’) stable, and said, ” This is a strange job, Sam.” Prisoner said, “It is.” Witness then asked, “Where did you leave him this morning?” and he said, ” I left Davy and him against Smith’s corner trying to bargain for a machine.”

Eliza Cram is housekeeper to the prisoner. He left the house on the afternoon oi Saturday the 4th, about 5 o’clock. He went with John Hutson. She did not know at what time he came back. He had the clothes now produced, on when he left the house. He had a cap on: he had the trowsers on all day. She did not observe whether they were dirty as now when he went out or not. She had never told any one that Moody came home with his clothes muddy or wet on Saturday night. She had never said that Sam could not get home without getting into a dyke or being wet. The trowsers when given up were in the same state as when he took them off. He had the same clothes, on Sunday morning when she saw him as on Saturday night.

Reuben Jackson lives at Winthorpe : he was with the prisoner at Wainfleet fair on the 24th October last. He asked the prisoner who knocked the skin off his face ? he said Lynn did at Bellamy’s, and he would have his revenge of him if it was 7 years to come. He had also heard Lynn say at Bellamy’s that the prisoner would have his revenge of him, and he (Lynn) was afraid he would do him some harm. It was on plough Monday, the second Monday in January.

John Overton, engine-driver, was coming home with the prisoner in November last, when he (the prisoner) said he would lay wait for Elijah Lynn, and thrash him if he had a chance. Witness said prisoner could not trust Lynn when he was sober, and prisoner said he would then when he was drunk.—

Cornelius Bachelor deposed to similar threats being made by the prisoner.

Golland, a labourer residing at Addlethorpe, remembered the night Lynn’s body was found. He saw the prisoner at his own house that afternoon between 3 and 4 o’clock. He had some conversation with the prisoner’s housekeeper. The prisoner came and said,  “Won’t you come in ?” We went in and prisoner said, ” This is a devil of a job.” Witness asked, “Where did you leave him ?” and he replied, “I left him against Smith’s corner.” Witness said, ” You are a strange fellow to leave him there to be run over, after being with him all the afternoon.” Prisoner then said, ” Ah, but I didn’t; I took him home.” Witness asked, “What time did you get home, Sam ?” and he answered, ” I don’t know.” Prisoner asked his housekeeper and she said she did not know. Witness said he knew it was past three, and a person saw him pass without a hat or cap, and it would not take him many minutes to get home then. Prisoner made no answer, but went with the hand basin out of doors, and the tears were running down his cheeks. Witness picked up the halfpenny now produced on the sea side of the hedge on the Sunday afternoon at the place where Lynn’s body was found. —

This was the whole of the evidence. The Magistrates, after consultation, committed the prisoner for trial at the next Lincoln assizes on the charge of wilful murder.

Source: Louth and North Lincolnshire Advertiser – Saturday 18 February 1860


Tuesday, March 13th at Lincoln.

Samuel Moody, described as a fisherman, stood charged upon an indictment with the wilful murder of Elijah Lynn at Skegness, on the 5th February, 1860. He stood further charged with the like offence upon the Coroner’s inquisition, and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to both charges.

Mr Fitzjames Stephen and Mr Huish were counsel for the prosecution, Mr Flowers for the defence.

Mr H Stephen, in his opening address, at once proceeded to state the facts of the case. Prisoner and Lynn were neighbours, living at Skegness, a small fishing town on the coast, Moody was a fisherman, Lynn an machine man. From the Vine hotel, kept by Robert Chambers, where on the 4th February, Moody and David Howard were drinking. The road, besides which the little inn stands, runs northward in a line parallel to the coast and, where the road branches off to Wainfleet, the three men went to another turning, called Smith’s Corner, some 2,085 yards from the Vine Inn, which they had left between 12 and 1 o’clock on the night of 4/5 February. David Howard then left the others to go home along the Wainfleet Road. Moody’s house being 600 yards further along the road, about a mile from the vine Inn. All three were drunk when they left the Vine, and took a bottle of neat gin, and drunk some of this on the way home.

Howards evidence was confirmed by another witness who, looking out of his window at about 3 am, and this was the last time Lynn was seen alive. Mrs Lynn said she waited up for her husband, and she heard nobody walk past their house. At about3 am she heard somebody walk past, and in the moonlight, saw Moody walk past.

The same afternoon [the 5th] a boy named Senescall discovered the body of the deceased lying in a dyke near the west side of the road past Lynn’s house. The road itself is some 5ft above the level of the land, with a steep bank either side. The body was lying on its back, arms by its side, the hands were clenched, but no grass or reeds that grew by the side of the bank. It seemed to have been placed there by somebody, as there were no marks of a struggle, and the reeds undisturbed. Keys and other items were found nearby, together with a 1 inch thick stick, and feet marks were nearby, possibly caused by a struggle.

The body was examined, when it was found to have a fractured skull near the left temple, the bruise and swelling above it indicated a blow, not fatal, but could have knocked the victim out, death being from drowning. The bruise most likely was not caused by the victim falling on the ground unless it had struck a stone. The fact that there was no signs of a struggle in the water indicated the deceased had died from drowning whilst insensible. Two caps were found on the road near the body, one the deceased, the other the prisoners.

During the afternoon three people spoke to Moody about Lynn’s death. One said to him ‘this is a strange thing, where did you leave him?. Moody answered ‘I left him about 3 am trying to bargain with Howard about a machine. To Crofts, a shoemaker, who asked him if he was with Lynn the previous night, he said he was. Crofts then told Moody that Lynn had been found dead, and asked him where he had left him. Moody replied ‘Against his own door’ Crofts queried that Lynn should have been found so far from his own door, to which Moody replied ‘It is so’ Moody then said he asked Lynn if he should go into his house with him, to which Lynn replied ‘No don’t you go in, it will make my old woman cross; we’ve got company. Moody then expressed surprise that Lynn was drowned.

To another enquirer Moody stated that he had left Lynn at Smiths Corner, and did not know what time he got home. The trousers worn by Moody on the night of the 4thwere wet almost to the top of the thigh. A bruise was noticed on his cheek, which he said had happened when he had fallen down on the road, and a scratch, which Moody said was caused by shaving, but it was recent and he was unshaved. Lynn had not been robbed, several sovereigns, which he had displayed at the Vine, were found on him.

It was then said that the motive was a grudge. Mr Kirkman, Lynn’s employer, had purchased an additional machine, which Moody wanted to be employed working it, but Lynn had stopped this, saying Moody ‘was of no use’. A quarrel then took place between the two, Lynn, who was more powerful, getting the better of Moody. To other people Moody said he would wait for Lynn and get the better of him. People told him he could not do this if Lynn was sober, to which Moody replied ‘I will get the better of him when he is drunk.’

Mr Flowers then addressed the Jury on behalf of Moody. From the evidence it was clear that Lynn was the more powerful, but also very quarrelsome man, whilst Moody had distinguished himself in saving life in the lifeboat service. The whole evil arose from drinking in the public house, and in the short time between drinking and death made it impossible to consider Lynn’s death was caused by Malice or premeditation, and urged that it was the result of a sudden quarrel, and a struggle in which both had fallen and rolled through the hedge into the dyke. It had been proved that Moody was more drunk than Lynn, for whom, while sober, Moody was no match, and it was only by chance that he was not defending Lynn against a charge of murdering Moody.

The learned judge then summed up, directing the jury to what was legally necessary for the crime of murder, and left it to the jury whether, upon the evidence, Moody was guilty of the crime or murder or of manslaughter only.

The jury then retired and after half an hours deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty of manslaughter.

Moody was then sentenced to 15 years penal servitude.

Source: The Times, March 14th 1860, page 12, cols b & c.

Trial of Sam Moody
Trial of Sam Moody

Source: Reynolds’s Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, March 18, 1860

It is essential to read the follow-up to this trial


Julie Scott, in her comment below, has kindly supplied additional information, including a photograph, which has been added to the SKEGNESS MAN NEARLY FILLED A MURDERER’S GRAVE page.


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