Reverend James Brogden shoots a policeman

The following account is courtesy of the Brogden family website. See 'Brogden characters/an unpopular vicar'

An earlier extraordinary episode in the troubled life of the Reverend James Brogden had occured when he was a curate in Childwickbury. This story is reported in "Hertfordshire Murders" by Nicholas Connell and Ruth Stratton (published by Sutton Publishing in 2003). James Brogden shot a policeman, PC Cornelias Wintle. The policeman survived and the Reverend gentleman was acquitted of murder.

It seems that PC Wintle heard gunfire coming from Mr Brogden's house at 1.20 am on New Year's Day, 1844. PC Wintle bravely went to investigate (today it would require an armed response unit, body armour and a helicopter), only to be shot himself. Why James Brogden was firing his shotgun at 1.20 in the morning is not revealed in the book (nor why he had a shotgun) but, in court, he claimed that he thought PC Wintle was a potential burglar. He said he called out to the person to identify himself but receiving no reply, fired the shotgun. Finding that he had shot a policemen rather than a burglar, James Brogden sent a servant to St Albans to fetch a doctor who sent PC Wintle to hospital, where he made a good recovery. At the trial, Mr Justice Alderson said, "It was a very foolish and very rash act, Mr Brogden, and I hope you will not do such a thing again. I entirely acquit you, in my belief, of any intention of firing to injure any one." This seems a very generous interpretation of the event when James Brogden was intending to shoot a burglar!