Family Lessons 11: Death at Ingleton

A self-fulfilling prophecy. An elderly relative of mine- Esther Robinson, nee Guyer- my 3rd cousin 5 times removed (which means we are barely related at all), had a premonition that she would be shot- and so she was. The reports from the Preston Guardian and Manchester Times are below, and both record the poor woman’s expectation that she would die by gunshot wound, and how the tragic accident unfolded. I get the impression she was a simple soul, clearly not well respected by the youths of Ingleton. Presumably, they taunted her with a shooting because she had let slip she was afraid of guns. Had young Matthias Carr not known of Esther’s fears, he might not have reached for his gun in a moment of bravado, perhaps to impress the young women present, ‘taking tea’. Furthermore, had Esther not attempted to ‘seize’ him in order to save herself, her life might not have been forfeit. Yet how did she know she only had a matter of days to live? Had she dreamed it? Had she her fortune told? Or had she pessimistically been making such dire predictions for years, but this one became true? I do not know.

Surprisingly, Carr was acquitted of the manslaughter charge. Although I cannot think why, the jury’s decision meant that at least his life would not be utterly ruined by his recklessness as poor Esther’s had been.

I once talked to a man who said his life was so bad, God could never accept him. When I spoke of Jesus’ offer of sins forgiven, he brushed it aside, saying no such offer could be made for him. That was some years ago. If he is no longer living and died in that state, he is victim of his own prophetic doom. How Esther Robinsion, aka ‘Neat Guyer’, got wind of her pending death, we shall never know. And much good it did her. She would have done better to hide under her bed until the time had passed, instead of calling at Mrs Clapham’s farmhouse where silly lads sought to impress young lasses from Bentham with half-loaded shot guns. Observe:

  • Your own death is certain.
  • Try as you might, you will not delay it forever, nor evade it for long.
  • Prepare to meet your Maker.

Esther’s preoccupation with her own death partly caused the very thing to happen. Yet many today have no concern about death at all- yet we must each prepare for it.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.

Revelation 14:13


The Preston Guardian Saturday, February 9, 1867: Tragic Occurrences

- A terrible accident took place at Ingleton, between eight and nine o'clock on Saturday night, which caused the death of Mrs. Robinson, generally known as "Neat Guyer", a woman between sixty and seventy years of age. It has been a practice for a long time for some of the young men of the village, for the sake of fun, to tell her all kinds of tales, and to threaten to shoot her. Only a short time before the accident which has ended in her death, she said, in a neighbour's house, referring to those wicked threats, "They have only three days to shoot me in." She went into the house of Mrs. Clapham, whose husband had left Ingleton. Mrs. Clapham, with three young women from Bentham, were taking tea, and Robert Atkinson and Matthias Carr. She had not been in the house many minutes when Atkinson raised his hands to reach a double barrelled gun, which was suspended on the side of a beam, and said "Neat, I'll tha". Mrs. Clapham said "No, thou mustn't, for I don't know whether it is charge or not", when he withdrew his hands and walked on one side. Matthias Carr immediately jumped from his chair and said "I'll get the gun and shoot thee, Neat" Mrs. Clapham sprang from her seat to check him, but he got the gun down. It came in contact with the head of a young woman. Mrs. Robinson seized him but he got from her, and the gun went off, the contents of one barrel lodging in the right side of her head and nearly emptied the skull of its brains, which were scattered on the floor. When the gun went off, Carr was near the stairs, Mrs. Robinson was near the door and Atkinson who was standing at her side, had his waistcoat bespattered with blood and brains. Carr, who is in a terrible state of mind, and says that he had no thought that the gun was loaded, was immediately apprehended.

Manchester Times Saturday, April 6, 1867: LEEDS ASSIZES: Shooting an Old Woman at Ingleton

Matthias Carr, 17, labourer was indicted for the manslaughter of Esther Robinson, at Ingleton, on the 3rd February, 1867. Mr. Campbell Foster for the prosecution said the case was singular, and the facts were of such a character as in some degree to enlist the sympathy of the jury. It would be there duty to determine the question as to whether the prisoner, by his thoughtlessness and reckless conduct, had caused the death of the deceased. Esther Robinson lived at Ingleton, near Ingleborough, and in the same village there resided a Mrs. Clapham, wife of a farmer, with whom Esther was acquainted. Deceased greatly dreaded firearms and she also had a premonition that she should come to her death by a gunshot wound. This fear was known to the youths in the village and they were in the habit of teasing her on the subject. On Saturday night, Feb 2, deceased was at Mrs. Clapham's house, where were also a young man named Atkinson and the prisoner. Atkinson playfully threatened to shoot Mrs. Robinson, and took a gun from the crossbeam of the house. Mrs. Clapham warned him that she did not know whether the piece was loaded or not, upon which he at once desisted from any further practical joking. The prisoner, however, got up and calling Mrs. Robinson by the nickname of 'Neat', said he would shoot her. He then mounted the chair and took down the gun in a very awkward manner so that it partly fell upon the floor. Mrs. Robinson thereupon ran towards him in a very excited manner, as if perfectly horrified, and clasped the prisoner and the gun in her arms. She then ran towards the door, and the weapon. Which then appeared to be pointed at her, suddenly exploded, the charge entering the head of the poor old woman, and causing instant death. The prisoner, who appeared to be greatly distressed, said in his own defence that the deceased had always been very kind to him; that he had no intention of shooting her, the charge going off altogether by accident. The jury found the prisoner not guilty; and his Lordship discharged him with a suitable caution as to the handling of dangerous weapons in future.

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