Road Rage - 19th Century Style!

On the television or in the papers we hear about cases of road rage when one driver has lost their temper with another driver. Is this a symptom of the modern age: not so much of it, at least according to the local paper in 1850.

On the 16th of March that year, John Ragsdale a framesmith of Woodborough  was travelling from Woodborough to Nottingham with a pony and cart in company with his wife and John Richards. As they were coming over Mapperley Top they spied Henry Morris also riding in a pony and cart .He was travelling the same way as themselves and  as he was fast approaching them and indicated that he wished to overtake John Ragsdale pulled his cart well over to the left to allow him to pass. Henry Morris then proceeded to start to overtake but when he was level he pulled the left reign and crashed in to John Ragsdale cart. Ragsdale’s pony shied but Morris still persisted so Ragsdale slowed to let him pass . Unfortunately, Ragsdale’s wife became very alarmed and started to cry as Morris shouted ‘I’ll cut your ponies head off if you come nigh me’, they then passed with Ragsdale and his party much alarmed and upset. The matter then came to court with John Ragsdale charging Henry Morris with interrupting the free passage of the highway.  Barristers were appointed for both parties with Mr Coope for John Ragsdale and Mr. Bowley for Henry Morris.

At the trial it came out that the two new each other as Ragsdale had obtained a county court judgment against Morris to the sum of £12, about £700 in today’s money. The reason is however, unknown.

Witnesses were called and John Richard who had been travelling in Ragsdale’s cart stated that  the road was about 15 yards wide with plenty of room for the two carts to pass. When called Morris stated that Ragsdale was a **** rogue and that he had whipped his pony over the head as he tried to pass. John Richards corroborated this evidence. Mr Bowley also called Robert Richards brother of John Richards who witnessed the event and also agreed that Ragsdale had used abusive language and slashed Morris’s pony.


In light of this evidence it would seem that the defence would take the day. Unfortunately there are no details of Mr Coope’s prosecution but he must have put up a great case as the judgement was against Morris and he had to pay a fine of £1. 5/-. (£75 in today’s money ) In 1854, John Ragsdale sold his fourteen hands pony and spring cart at auction. Perhaps he had to give up driving. So if you’re driving along Mapperley Top and someone cuts in front of you, remember it’s been going on for over 160 years.

All articles © Bob Massey