In January 1868 William Fleckney, a 14 year old boy from Luton got involved in a quarrel with another lad of the same age called George Barrett. They started to quarrel and shortly afterwards Barrett demanded to fight it out, but his opponent refused.
Barrett then followed up the challenge and pulled off some of his clothing in readiness for a fight. At this point William Fleckney ran off but was struck by Barrett. William Fleckney then told Barrett that if he struck him again he would “give him something.” William Barrett did strike them again, apparently quite violently.
William Fleckney then allegedly picked up a large flint stone, threw it and hit Barrett near to his heart. According to the Pall Mall Gazette “the poor lad at once fell to the ground, and died in five minutes.”
The coroner for Bedfordshire held an inquest on the body of the youth, George (reported earlier as William) Barrett. William Fleckney, by now the prisoner, said that “he struck deceased with a flint stone, but this statement was contradicted by the medical testimony”.
The Bucks Herald – Saturday 01 February 1868 carried the story. “Dr. E. Woakes, having made a post mortem examination, deposed that he found a sharp instrument, had inflicted the wound from the right to the left, and had penetrated the membrane surrounding the heart and opened the main artery. The stone could not have done this unless prepared for this purpose; it must have been done by a blade. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Fleckney, and he has since been examined by magistrates and committed for trial on that charge.”
Fleckney was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. In 1873 he married Jane Dodd Austin and had four children by this marriage (Jane had been married previously). By 1881 they were living in Nottinghamshire and Fleckney was working as a smithy. By 1891 he was widowed and was working as a railway engine stoker. Fleckney had remarried about 1891 and according to the 1911 census he was working as a chimney sweep in Nottinghamshire and had a total of 11 children nine of which were still living.
William Fleckney died in Nottinghamshire in 1946 aged about 94 years old.
It’s interesting to note that although the coroner referred to a sharp blade or a knife being used during this attack on Barrett, I have done extensive research through the newspapers and have found had no reference to an instrument ever being found.
Old British Murder