Victorian London - Crime - Violence, murders and assaults - Murder (Richard Salt)

The Times, Tuesday, Jul 30, 1872

CHARGE OF MURDER - Yesterday Mr. Payne, the Coroner for the city of London, held an inquest at the Black Bull Inn, Upper Thames-street, on she body of Richard Salt, a workman in the service of Messrs. Cooper, Box and Co., hatters, in Laurence Pountney-lane, whose death was caused on Friday last by a wound inflicted by a fellow servant, named Francis Fisher, now in custody . The jury having been sworn, and having viewed the scene of the occurrence, the first witness called was Harriet Salt, the widow of the deceased. She said she lived at 2, Middle-street, Peckham. Her husband was 43 years of age, and was a hatter, and she worked on the same premises. She had known the accused (Fisher) perfectly well for some years. He and her husband were in the same employment, and had previously worked together for several years at other house,. Fisher was a frequent visitor at their house, and had been on excellent terms with them. About nine or ten days ago she heard Fisher in the workroom say "If Dick Salt does anything to me I shall give him that which he cannot wipe off." She did not tell her husband of that. John Macdonough, a fellow workman of the accused and the deceased, said he had known them both for some years. They generally appeared to be on good terms, but for three or four months past the prisoner had complained that Salt would not let him alone. There had been a violent quarrel in the shop some months ago from a trifling cause, when Salt used exceedingly bad language to him. Fisher replied that he did not wish to have anything to say to him, to which Salt said "I can do for you any time." Since then as far as he knew, they had not spoken. About six weeks since they had another quarrel, when Salt, who was the worse for liquor, offered to "have it out." Salt since then had been to Scotland, and returned a mouth ago. Fisher said in his presence that Mrs. Salt had been to his landlady and advised her not to let him her house, as she would have trouble to get the rent. Salt made no reply. Last Friday  Salt, who was not sober, came to work between 2 and half-past 2, and Fisher was then on the premises. Salt began to pick a quarrel with Tankard, another shopmate, and said he would punch his head any time, adding "the other (meaning Fisher) I can do now." Fisher was at work at his plank. Salt went on to say that after his work he would have it out. He then saw Salt with a cold iron and hook in his left hand going towards the stove. He put his iron down and struck Fisher on the side of the head with his fist. It was not a heavy blow. The accused then took up "a bauding knife" which was lying at his side and, holding it dagger fashion, struck Salt in the left breast He pulled the knife out and rushed down stairs. Salt staggered and fell into some one's arms, dying almost directly. Witness did not hear Fisher say anything at the time. He had never beard Fisher threaten or seen him strike the deceased before. Fisher was quite sober, and had been a teetotaller for four months. Frederick Tankard, another hatter, who lived is the same house as the deceased, gave confirmatory evidence, and mentioned that Salt had recently taken out a passage for America. On the day of the occurrence Salt used bad language to Fisher, and threatened to punch his head. He had occasion to pass Fisher's plank, when Fisher said to him "Look here, I will give you the straight tip ; if you lay a hand on me, I will put a knife into you." Salt turned round and struck him a slightly on the jaw  with his fist. Fisher, who had an iron in his hand, put it down, took up a knife that was lying on the plank, and struck Salt in the body , adding immediately afterwards "If you come near me I will stab you." That was after Salt had been stabbed. Fisher was quite sober; but Salt had been drinking. James Richards, a workman in the same employment, spoke to the provocation, as far as words went, given by the deceased to Fisher on the occasion, and to Fisher replying to his threat that he would strike him, and taking up a knife as he did so, saying "If you do, I will give you this."

Times, July, 1872