IN 'NOW FOR JACKY MUSTERS' (Sneinton Magazine no.17), the story was told of Sneinton's part in the Nottingham Reform riots of 1831. One of those found guilty of setting fire to Colwick Hall, home of Musters, was Valentine Marshall, a 17 year old lad, of New Street, off Fisher Gate, who, at the special Assize held at the Shire Hall in January 1832, was sentenced to death for his alleged part in this outrage. Marshall was, in fact, reprieved, and sentenced to transportation for life to Van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania. A year or two later, a broadsheet ballad appeared on sale in Nottingham; in this, Valentine Marshall wrote a letter to his friends, telling of his experiences in Van Diemen's Land. His name was also given as writer of a set of verses (of suspiciously high literary quality, one feels) in which his innocence was protested. The broadsheet bore a crude, but striking, woodcut of a manacled youth. More about all of this can be found in the aforementioned article.

Valentine Marshall had long faded to the back of my mind, following competition of 'Now for Jacky Musters'. During a recent visit to the Shire Hall, however, I was astonished and delighted to discover, among names carved on the wall of the exercise yard there, the words 'VALENTINE MARSHELL'. The young man had, presumably, inscribed his name while waiting to hear what his fate would be. So we still have a tangible link with that day in October 1831, when rioters tore up railings in Notintone Place, Sneinton, for use as weapons in their attack on Squire Musters's home. Valentine Marshall could never have imagined how excited one man would be, more than 160 years later, to find his name carved on a wall.


Photograph by Stephen Best.