James Wishart, a Scotsman of about 31 years of age, was working as a draper’s salesman in Manchester on 25 July 1872 when around noon a young lady entered the shop and publicly horsewhipped him in front of staff and customers alike. James rather unwisely took the attacker to court, but lost the case, and was advised that he might find it ‘convenient’ to leave Manchester. The particulars of the case were reported widely across England and Wales (though not in James’s native Scotland) and the following was published on 3 August 1872 in the Bristol Mercury.
At the Manchester City Police-court, On Tuesday, Ellen Edwards, a young lady of very prepossessing appearance, was charged with having assaulted with a horsewhip Mr. James Wishart, an assistant in the drapery establishment of Messrs. Kendal, Milne, and Co., Manchester. The complainant stated that the defendant had been in the same establishment with him, but had since left. There had been some feelings of affection between them, and they had corresponded together. Miss Edwards had gone to live at Oswestry, and while she was there he heard something, in consequence of which he wrote to her. On Thursday last he was in the bazaar serving some lady customers, when the defendant entered the shop in a very violent temper, and produced a horsewhip which she thrashed him with about the shoulders, neck and face.
In cross-examination the complainant admitted that he had kept company with the defendant for about six months, and had given her a ring. He did not intend to marry her after he found out what he had about her lately. He wrote her a letter in which he said, “Since you have mentioned the gentleman’s name, I might as well tell you it is the talk of the bazaar that he slept with you – told publicly by himself yesterday.” He also wrote, “If you don’t return the carte and ring by bearer I will write your mother and let her know the cause of all; you are only about one step above the streets at the present time.” Mr. Cobbett, who appeared for Miss Edwards, said the complainant had circulated a scandalous and unfounded report about her, and she, having no male relations at hand to assist her, had horsewhipped the complainant for it. He admitted the assault. Mr. Rickards (the presiding magistrate) said as the assault had been admitted he would call upon the defendant to enter into her own recognisances of £10 to keep the peace. He would not say a word about the horsewhipping.