17 April

On this day, 193 years ago, Edward Gibbon Wakefield the 'ruthless ravisher' handed himself in to a magistrate in Macclesfield, Cheshire, close to the home of Ellen Turner the 15-year-old school girl and heiress, who just a month earlier he had abducted from her school, before carrying her off to Gretna Green where he had tricked her into marriage. 

Wakefield, had then taken his young bride across the Channel to Calais where the authorities eventually caught up with the runaways.  Two of Ellen's uncles, a Bow Street runner and her father's redoutable attorney, Mr Grimsditch arrived with a warrant, signed by Canning, the British Foreign Secretary, for the arrest of Wakefield.  However, whilst Ellen was taken home to Cheshire to be restored to her family, Wakefield chose to remain in France well aware that the British warrant was unenforeceable in France.

However, Ellen was a prize too valuable to relinquish so easily.  With an arrogance based on past successes, Wakefield eventually decided to return to England gambling that if he were to hand himself over to the authorities, he might eventually be able to persuade Ellen's father, William Turner, to allow the Gretna marriage to stand.  In this he was to be disappointed: magistrates sitting in the Ram's Head in Disley, committed him for trial at Lancaster Castle.



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