John Masterton (1817-1884)

John Masterton (1817-1884)

Weaver and cart accident victim

John Masterton, weaver, was born in Forfar and died in Kirriemuir, Angus. The account of his treatment of his wife leading to a court case in 1875 makes grim reading. The nature of his death was also violent, being the victim of the 19th century equivalent of a road traffic accident when a drunk driver caused him to be crushed between the wheels of two carts.

Genealogy

John Masterton was the sixth of seven children born to James Masterton, seaman, and Margaret Masterton, who had married in 1804 in Forfar. John Masterton belongs to the large group that flourished in the Forfar area. He married Isabella Kerr in 1837 in Forfar and had five children, one of whom, Peter, became a watchmaker and was convicted of theft. Fuller details of John and his extended family can be found at this link.


Dundee Courier

FORFAR - ASSAULT ON A WIFE.- - In the Police Court yesterday - before Bailie Reid - John Masterton, factory worker, West High Street, was charged with assault and breach of peace (1) by striking Isabella Kerr or Masterton, his wife, with his fist on the face, and by seizing violent hold of her by the shoulders, and dragging her from a bed in which she was lying, and by otherwise maltreating and abusing her in his dwellinghouse about two o'clock on Sunday morning last; (2) by cursing and swearing and using abusive, &c., language towards his wife, and conducting and demeaning himself in a violent, disorderly and outrageous manner towards her and his daughter, and with a breach of the peace. He pled not guilty. Mrs Masterton deponed that on Saturday last her husband came home to tea. She kept lodgers, and one of them asked water to wash himself, which was given him, and then accused commenced a course of abuse towards her in respect to this, that he was not to take his tea where a man was washing himself. He so much provoked her that the wife was under the impression he wished her to strike him, when he would go to the police and lodge information. She instanced a case which had been tried in the Police Court a week or two ago to the effect that the wife had been fined, but she restrained herself and put no hands on him. It came out in evidence that Mrs Masterton was forced to leave her husband some time ago in consequence of his cruelty, and it was only through the interference of Masterton and their family that she had consented to return to his house. The ill-usage had commenced 18 months ago. This is the way Mrs Masterton tells one part of her story. When she left her husband's house she took with her certain part of the household linen. After returning to the domicile he immediately marked them with pen and ink, remarking, "You will not take these away again." This was done on the evening of her return, and after a faithful promise that he was to "behave" himself towards her. A deal of further evidence was led to the effect that accused had been in the habit for the last 18 months on ill-using his wife. That the lodgers in the house had heard abusive language on the morning libelled being used towards the wife, and that she (one of the witnesses said), claimed his protection from him. Prisoner was fined 30s or thirty days in jail.

Dundee Courier
23rd November, 1875


The Dundee Advertiser

JOHN MASTERTON, 61 years of age, weaver, Southmuir of Kirriemuir, has met his death in a shocking manner. On Friday evening he was engaged purchasing fish from a cart at Southmuir, when a horse and cart, driven by ALEXANDER MILLAR, carter, Steeple of Restenneth, drove up at a rapid rate and jammed Masterton between the wheels of both vehicles, injuring him in such a dreadful manner that death resulted on Saturday night. MILLAR was apprehended yesterday on a charge of culpable homicide.

The Dundee Advertiser
Monday, 1st December, 1884


The Scotsman

FORFAR - FATAL ACCIDENT AND CHARGE OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE. - Yesterday William Millar, carter, Steeple of Restenneth, near Forfar, was judicially examined before Sheriff Robertson, and committed to prison, pending further inquiry, on a charge of culpable homicide in connection with the death of John Masterton, weaver, Southmuir, Kirriemuir. It seems that on Friday evening Masterton was purchasing fish from a cart in Southmuir, when another cart, driven by the accused, came up and crushed him between the wheels of both carts. Masterton, on being relieved, fell to the ground in a state of unconsciousness, having had several of his ribs very severely crushed, and he was also injured otherwise. As the result of the injuries inflicted, he died on Saturday night. Millar, it is stated, was at the time the accident happened under the influence of liquor. The deceased was upwards of sixty years of age.

The Scotsman
2nd December, 1884


The Evening Telegraph

THE RECENT FATAL OCCURRENCE NEAR FORFAR.

Before Sheriff Robertson, in a First Diet Jury Court to-day, Alexander Miller, carter, Steeple of Restenneth, in the parish of Forfar, was charged with culpable homicide alternatively with culpable reckless and furious driving. He pleaded guilty to the latter charge, and the plea was accepted by Mr Whyte, the Procurator Fiscal. The circumstances of the occurrence were reported at the time, and are shortly as follows :- On Friday evening, 28th Nov., John Masterton, 61 years of age, weaver, Southmuir, Kirriemuir, was engaged purchasing fish from a cart in the charge of George Elliot, Forfar, when a horse and cart containing pigs, driven by Miller, drove up at a furious rate, and jammed Masterton between the wheels of both carts, at the same time knocking Elliot's cart up against the house. When the carts were separated, Masterton fell to the ground, Miller's cart passing over his body. The old man was lifted up and conveyed to his house, while medical assistance was sent for. The injuries were of a shocking character, and no hope held out of his recovery. He lingered on till the following night when he died. Mr J.C. Anderson, solicitor, pleaded for Miller that he had been an abstainer prior to the occurrence, but had unfortunately broken his pledge that day. He had since become a total abstainer, and bore a good character, in proof of which Mr Anderson produced three certificates in his favour. The Sheriff, referring to the circumstances under which Masterton had died, expressed the hope that Miller, having once more taken the pledge, would keep it, and that the death of one of his fellow-men through his misconduct would be a lesson to him in the future. Sentence - One month's imprisonment.

The Evening Telegraph
Friday, 26th December, 1884