The Teddington Maypole Battle
Murder round the maypole...
A local custom turns nasty
Late on the night of the 18th May 1710 a group of Twickenham youths fought with the youths of Teddington in an attempt to seize their Maypole. One of the Teddington defenders, a lad called John Roust, was hit on the head with a wooden staff. He died of his wound on the 9th June following.
Three Twickenham lads were charged with his murder and were tried at the Old Bailey over a period of four days in September 1710.
William Cripp was accused as being the principal assailant, with Benjamin Goodwin and James Babb aiding and assisting in the murder. But for lack of positive evidence the three accused were acquitted.
Gossip or evidence?
Lady Isabella Wentworth (c1653—1733), who spent her summers on Twickenham's riverside at her son Lord Raby’s house, recorded the local gossip about the event in her letters: moste of the young men in this town are in Newgate. It seems it is a custum in thees country towns for the young men to steel the Maypoale from one to the other, soe all the young men of Twitnam went to Whitton (sic) and they it seems had notis of it, soe was upon thear guard and fought for it.
Later, Lady Wentworth, whose spelling was somewhat unusual, corrected the story, saying that most of the Twickenham youths had escaped.
But clearly the incident had caused much ill feeling locally against Sir Charles Duncombe for getting the Teddington jury to bring in a charge of murder, and against Secretary Johnston of Twickenham for allegedly saying he wished to see the Twickenham youths hanged.
Old Bailey Sessions Papers 6/9, 1710(Guildhall)
J.J.Cartwright “The Wentworth Papers 1705-39)
Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No35.