Early in the morning of December 9th, 1873, Thomas B. Cumpston and his wife (Jane Weddill), "who occupied good position in Leeds," were arrested in a railroad station, in Bristol, England, charged with disorderly conduct, both of them in their night clothes, Cumpston having fired a pistol.
Cumpston excitedly told that he and his wife had arrived the day before, from Leeds, and had taken a room in a Bristol hotel, The Victoria, and that, early in the morning, the floor had "opened," and that, as he was about to be dragged into the "opening," his wife had saved him, both of them so terrified that they jumped out the window, running to the railroad station, looking for a policeman.
At the railway station where they were arrested, a terrified Cumpston told the night superintendent, "My wife and I have escaped from a den of thieves and rogues. We had to defend ourselves with a pistol." Cumpston had fired twice, once into the roof and later into the street. Suspecting them of insanity, the superintendent notified police.
In the Bristol Daily Post, Dec. 10, is an account of proceedings in the police court. Cumpston’s excitement was still so intense that he could not clearly express himself. Mrs. Cumpston testified that, early in the evening, both of them had been alarmed by loud sounds, but that they had been reassured by the landlady. At three or four in the morning the sounds were heard again. They jumped out on the floor, which was felt giving away under them. Voices repeating their exclamations were heard, or their own voices echoed strangely. Then, according to what she saw, or thought she saw, the floor opened wide. Her husband was falling into this opening when she dragged him back and the two jumped out a window.
The landlady was called, and she testified that sounds had been heard, but she was unable clearly to describe them. Policemen said that they had gone to the place, the Victoria Hotel, and had examined the room, finding nothing to justify the extraordinary conduct of the Cumpstons. They suggested that the matter was a case of collective hallucination. The court concluded that the Cumpstons had suffered a "collective hallucination”. There was no suggestion of intoxication. The Cumpstons, an elderly couple, were discharged in the custody of somebody who had come from Leeds.
Source: Several December 1873 articles in the Bristol Daily Post and the London Times Dec. 11, 1873.