William Henry Blatch was born in 1792 the son of James Blatch and Elizabeth Sweetapple. On March 3, 1881 he married Marianne Sweetapple at Andover, Hampshire, England. The couple lived in the Hampshire village of Nutley, and it was here that on the night of November 4, 1833 that William discovered and shot a burglar. The following is an account of the inquest reported in the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette on Thursday, November 14th, 1833.
“An inquest was taken by Mr.Shebbeare, on the 6th inst. at Nutley, a village situated between Basingstoke and Winchester, on the body of Thomas Gilbert, who was shot the night before by Mr.W.H.Blatch, under the following circumstances. The deceased, some years since had lived with Mr.B as an in-door servant but was discharged in consequence of having stolen some trinkets belonging to Mrs.Blatch; he has since been leading a dissolute life, connected with thieves of the worst description; has been twice imprisoned for robbery, and once for house breaking, and has latterly lived at Abbots Ann, near Appleshaw. Mr.B has attended Appleshaw Fair for years, and usually remained three or four days in that neighbourhood; on the 4th inst. he had just been to the fair, but contrary to custom returned home on Tuesday, and was just getting into bed, when the female servant (a sister of the deceased bearing excellent character), hearing a noise at the back of the house, informed her master she believed some one must be trying to get in. Mr.B immediately took a gun which he always kept loaded, and went down stairs, where, after searching a room adjoining a pantry in which china was kept, he entered it, by unlocking the door, but found some resistance pressing behind. He immediately stepped forward, and turning round, discovered a man with a cap drawn close over his eyes, standing behind the door. Mr.B called out “Holloa !” and not receiving any answer, fired, and the man fell, exclaiming repeatedly “Holloa !” as if hailing some one outside. The candle having gone out, Mr.B returned to his room, (not knowing but there might be accomplices,) fastened the door, and rang an alarm bell ‘crying fire!’ as the house being filled with smoke, which it was found afterwards proceeded from the wadding having set the clothes of the deceased on fire. Unfortunately an hour elapsed, before any of the villagers came to the house, during which Mr.Blatch and his family were in great alarm and suspense. On the arrival of some neighbours, Mr.B returned to the pantry where the deceased was lying, and on turning him round discovered it was his former servant. He asked him if he had any accomplices, which, as far as could be judged, the deceased denied, but he spoke so little, and apparently under such extreme pain, that he was scarcely intelligible. Mr.B immediately sent for a surgeon , but before he could arrive the man died. On examination, it was found that the charge had entered under the right arm, passing to the lungs, and from the situation of the wound, the deceased must have raised his arm either to strike Mr.B, or for some other purpose. The deceased had taken off his shoes, and placed them on a bench immediately under the window, where he had made an entrance, by forcing up the casement and breaking the lattice. – The Jury returned a verdict of “Justifiable Homicide.”- The probability is, that the deceased thought Mr.Blatch would remain at Appleshaw for a few days, and entered the house under the impression that there were only females at home.”
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