Reginald Cancellor, 15, was found dead in his bedroom on 22 April 1860. His teacher, Thomas Hopley, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. A full inquest into Cancellor’s death was initiated on 28 April 1860. The verdict was returned in favour of the teacher, who was acquitted of all charges at the end of the trial. The case became an important legal precedent in the United Kingdom.
About Eastbourne manslaughter in brief
Reginald Cancellor, 15, was found dead in his bedroom on 22 April 1860. His teacher, Thomas Hopley, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. He was found guilty at trial and sentenced to four years in prison, although he insisted that his actions were justifiable and that he was not guilty of any crime. The case became an important legal precedent in the United Kingdom for discussions of corporal punishment in schools and reasonable limits on discipline. The trial was sensationalised by the Victorian press and incited debate over the use of corporals in schools. After his release and subsequent divorce trial, he largely disappeared from the public record. His body was found to be covered in blood, including deep holes in his right leg and two inch-deep holes in the right leg. A full inquest into Cancellor’s death was initiated on 28 April 1860. The verdict was returned in favour of the teacher, who was acquitted of all charges at the end of the trial. The boy’s older brother, Reverend John Henry Cancellor Jr, requested an autopsy after noticing discrepancies in the reports of his brother’s death and asked an obstetrician to examine the body and verify the death by natural causes. The results of the autopsy showed that Cancellor had died of heart disease and that the boy should be buried immediately. The body was taken for an autopsy on 28 April 1860 and the results were returned in favor of the father of the boy, who said that his son had died from heart disease.
The inquest was held in Eastbourne, Sussex, and the verdict was recorded on 29 April 1860, with the verdict of accidental death. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and HopleY was sentenced to a fine of £100. The decision was quashed and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court of England and Wales. The appeal was dismissed on 2 May 1860. The son of a Royal Navy surgeon and brother of an artist and author, the case became known as the Hopleys’ case was a landmark in the history of education in the UK. It was decided that the case should go to the Court of Appeal for a full and fair trial, which was held on 6 June 1860, and was decided by a jury of seven men. The result was a verdict in favour of the defendants, who were awarded the right to appeal the verdict and the costs of the case were reduced to £150. The court ruled that the trial had been a miscarriage of justice and ordered a new inquest into the death of the 15-year-old boy, which took place on 8 June 1860. In the meantime, the boy’s body was returned to his father, who ordered the body to be buried in Surrey, Surrey, with his hands covered in kidskin gloves on his hands and stockings over his legs. The death was reported to be accidental and the inquest was adjourned until the next day, when the body was re-examined by the coroner.