Mary Ann Dudman

Part of the Crime & Punishment in Cocking in the Nineteenth Century” series

Chichester Express & West Sussex Journal – Tuesday 6th December 1864



Present: S.F. Piggott, Esq., J.A. Davis, Esq. and Capt. Tatham R.N.


P.C. RICHARD DENMAN was charged by Mary Ann Dudman with assaulting her on 5th October last, to which he pleaded Not Guilty.

“Mary Ann” in this case was certainly not at all deficient in that useful organ, the tongue, as well as being blessed with plenty of impudence, for every now and then, when the magistrate’s questions were not exactly according to her views, she’d make some quaint and laughable reply.

The husband of this fair Desdemona was in court all the time and seemed highly amused (and frightened no doubt) at his wife’s version of the tale, as well he might be, knowing all the time that it was through himself that the constable interfered at all; it seems she was in the habit of laying about in hedges or ditches, in preference to a comfortable home which we believe she might have had. It seems, however, from the evidence which we give, that the husband was afraid to tell his better half that he sent the constable after her (as well he might considering their size) although she says that her husband was present during the committal of the assault, and told the P.C. to take her on his back; this was altogether a very absurd but at the same time a very amusing case to those who were present and heard it.

Mary Anne[sic] Dudman, sworn – I am wife of Robert[sic] Dudman, and live at Cocking. On the 5th October, I was going up to Crypt. I wanted to see Mr. Hobson. I was very unwell, and sat down on the bank in the lane; this was about half past eight o’clock in the morning. About nine o’clock, the policeman came along, pulled me up on the road, and then threw me down again, telling me to go home. Before he touched me, he said’ “What are you doing here? Go along home.” I said, “I shan’t go home. I’ve as much right here as you have, and here I shall stay, for you or anybody else.” He then took hold of me, threw me down in the road, and dragged me along about 20 yards. He threw me down three times. I have now bruises on both of my hips where he took hold of me.

By Mr Davis [magistrate] – I was laying on the bank. Do not know whether there were any people there when he first touched me. He hurt me very much. This lasted quite two hours; and all this time, he was trying to take me home. There were several there by this time; amongst them my husband, who asked him to take me home.

The tables turned.

R. Denman states – About eight o’clock, 5th October, her husband came to me, and in consequence of what he said, I went about 10 o’clock, or soon after, up Crypt-lane. I saw the woman laying in a dry ditch by the road side; she had a cloak partly over her head, there were several there at the time. Mrs. Lamberd [Lambert] and others, who saw all that took place. When I got there, I asked her to get up and go home. She said she was so weak and ill she couldn’t walk if she got up. I lifted her up and tried to assist her along, but she wouldn’t stand, and rolled over into the middle of the road. I put her on her feet again, but it was no use. She rolled along the middle of the road several yards. Three times I stood her up, but finding it was no use, I left her there; the husband was there all the time.

Elizabeth Lamberd deposed – I am wife of R. Lamberd, of Cocking. I’ve known complainant all the time I’ve lived in Cocking. On 5th October, I was in my garden close to Crypt-lane, about a dozen yards where Mrs. Dudman was laying on the bank. I saw the police-constable. (Witness here corroborated P.C. Denman’s statement), and said he wasn’t rough at all with her. He helped her along about a dozen yards. She then fell down with great violence, and wouldn’t walk. Never saw constable use any violence.

Complainant – That’s according to your idea.

At this stage of the proceedings, “Mary Ann” wanted to face her husband – to ask him if he did really tell the constable to fetch her home, to which he said after a little hesitation, that he did.

Wife – Why hadn’t you owned it then?

The Magistrates dismissed the case.

Mary Ann Dudman

At the time of the incident reported, Mary Ann Dudman was 64-years old. Her husband was known as Thomas, not Robert as shown in the newspaper report.

Mary Ann Dearling was born at Boxgrove in 1800, the daughter of Richard and Sarah Dearling. She was baptised at Boxgrove on 7 October 1800.

She married Drummond (known as Thomas) Dudman (originally from Ludgershall, Wiltshire) at Boxgrove on 12 October 1828, when she was 28-years old and he was 37. The only child of the marriage that can be identified is Thomas Henry, who was baptised at Westhampnett on 11 June 1837, when Mary Ann was aged 37. At the time, the couple were living at Westerton.

In the 1841 census, Thomas and Mary Ann were living in Cocking, with Thomas (aged 4). Ten years later, they were still in Cocking (at “The Street”) when Thomas senior gave his occupation as “thatcher”.

In 1861, Thomas (70, now an agricultural labourer) and Mary Ann (60) were still living in Cocking, although Thomas junior had move out of the family home.

Mary Ann Dudman died in May 1869 (aged 69) and was buried in Cocking churchyard on 26 May. The burial register records the cause of death as stomach cancer.

Thomas Dudman was buried in Cocking churchyard on 23 February 1874. He died aged 83 from “gradual decay”.



1841 England Census

1851 England Census

1861 England Census

1871 England Census

West Sussex, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1482-1812

West Sussex, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1995

West Sussex, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936

Boxgrove parish register: 7 October 1800. Baptism of Mary Ann Dearling

Boxgrove parish register: 18 October 1828. Marriage of Thomas Dudman and Mary Ann Dearling

Westhampnett parish register: 11 June 1837. Baptism of Thomas Henry Dudman

Cocking parish register: 28 May 1869. Burial of Mary Ann Dudman

Cocking parish register: 23 February 1874. Burial of Thomas Dudman