Monday, 4 February 2019

The Casebook of George Cracknell, Detective.

    Young George Cracknell joined the Metropolitan police in the year 1873 and was assigned to F Division in Kensington. The unassuming and pleasant PC Cracknell gave six unblemished years to F Division before he was transferred to T Division, where he would serve for the next nineteen years.

    We first hear of his exploits on the 8th December 1878 in Reynold's Newspaper whilst still serving in F Division.
Fopstone Road, now Nevern Place.

    Daniel Bailey was an unemployed discharged soldier, he had been given a pension of 6d a day for 18 months, this had now lapsed. To make up his money he took to begging house to house saying that he wanted to return to his native Scotland, the cost being 22s and he only had 21s 6d. So each day someone would give him 6d and this had been going on for months. He was arrested by PC Cracknell on Fopstone Road, Earls Court Road, Kensington, even though Bailey's "ingenious system of begging" raised some laughs in court he was sentenced to three months with hard labour.

    After joining T Division we catch up with George on the 24th December 1879 in the Morning Post.
    "Edward Payne, labourer, employed at the works of the new school in William Street, North End, Fulham was charged with being in the unlawful possession of two pieces of wood and one pound of lead.
    On Monday evening PC Cracknell stopped the prisoner in the Great Western Road, Kensington with the lead and wood in his possession. He stated he had brought them from his work. Payne pleaded that he did it for his family as they were very poor, the magistrate was unmoved, he was given the choice of a 19s fine or seven days imprisonment."

    Attaining the rank of Detective Constable in 1880, this account comes from the Morning Post, Thursday 30th December 1880.
    "James Lvras (?) a labourer was charged with loitering in Wrights Lane, Kensington supposed for the purpose of committing a felony.
Wrights Lane.

    The prisoner was watched by the police, who found a jemmy up his sleeve. It appeared to have been used as the point was broken off.
    Detective Cracknell said he had made inquiries about the prisoner and found he had been in the Rifle Brigade and bore a bad character.
    The prisoner in his defence stated he was on his way to St James Park when a man and woman said he could earn 15s to 16s if he came with them. He went with them as far as the railway station where he was taken into custody, they gave him the jemmy and told him to put it up his sleeve.
    The prisoner was committed to trial for carrying a housebreaking implement."

    We see in this account published in the West London Observer on the 17th May 1884 that sometimes a policemans lot was not a happy one.
    "Suspicious Conduct - Three young men named William Gaskin, Charles Crim and William Ward, all living in Fulham were charged with being suspected persons loitering on Wandsworth Bridge Road supposed for an unlawful purpose.
    Detective Cracknell said that at 10.45 on Friday night he and PC Bolton (my great great uncle!) were in the Wandsworth Bridge Road watching the suspects who went to the pub for ten minutes. 
They then left the pub and headed over the bridge to York Road, the prisoners stopped a man then ran away, soon they stopped another man. This man they "hustled", he had something under his arm and he struck out at the prisoners, they ran away a second time.
Wandsworth Bridge Tavern c1900

    The prisoners then returned to Fulham where they stopped a third man, at this point Cracknell and Bolton secured the prisoners.
    PC Bolton said that while they were going along Harwood Road Crim struck him in the mouth knocking him down then kicked him, another constable came to his assistance and he secured the prisoner. Detective Cracknell said Gaskin had already been to prison for horse stealing, the prisoners were remanded."

   George was back on the beat by 1885 for reasons I cannot find, he was called to a rather disturbing death according to Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday 29th March 1885.
    "Burnt to death while in a fit - Yesterday Dr Diplock held an inquiry at the Bollo Bridge tavern, Acton into the decease of Henry Richardson aged 55, who met a shocking death from burns.
Bollo Bridge Tavern 1960s

    The evidence of Amelia Smith, the wife of a labourer, showed that Richardson lodged with her at 3 Hanbury Road. For some days he had been unwell, but his illness was not considered serious. Upon his room being entered on Thursday morning, he was found dead in front of the fire place. A portion of his body was extensively burnt.
    PC Cracknell 409T said he was called by Mrs Smith. He saw the body lying in the fender, a large fire was burning in the grate and the deceased's head was lying near the bars. Verdict, accidental death from burns."

    Back in the CID in May 1885 George had some trouble with juvenile delinquents, the West London Observer,  Saturday 2nd May 1885 carried the story.
    "Charles Read 18 and William Read 14 were charged with breaking into the house of Charles Dubben in Mulgrave road, Fulham. Henry Whitfield had been supervising works on the unoccupied house when several things were stolen from it.
    Mr Whitfield slept at the house one night to catch the thieves, he heard intruders and chased them catching Charles and locked him in a room from which he escaped. A description was reported to the police and the prisoners were apprehended, one of them was in possession of Mr Whitfield's tobacco and a cap belonging to Charles was found in the property.
    Detective Cracknell apprehended William who denied being in the house, the assistant gaoler stated William had recently been in court and had received 12 strokes for stealing figs from a shop.
    The parents were known to the police and are described as drinkers, the prisoners were committed for trial."

    An eagle eyed George cast his gaze on a passing plumber with just cause in this story from the West London Observer, Saturday 6th March 1886.
    "Albert Claverton, a plumber of Cassidy Road was charged with being in unlawful possession of a quantity of lead piping.
Fulham Road

    Detective Cracknell said on Wednesday he saw the prisoner in the Fulham Road carrying a large plumbers bag. He was asked what was in it and replied tools, Cracknell then opened the bag and found twenty three pieces of lead piping under the tools, he said the piping was given to him by Mr Churchman his foreman.
    Detective Cracknell asked the foreman who denied it, the prisoner changed his story by stating a Mr Bevan gave him it, Mr Bevan said he gave no such permission but he nor Mr Churchman could identify the lead.
    The prisoner said he did not take the lead with felonious intention, Cracknell stated the prisoner was not known to the police and he had six children and his wife confined that morning. Mr Paget committed him to prison for two months with hard labour."

    A day at the athletics turns nasty, the particulars were reported in the Morning Post, Wednesday 3rd August 1887.
    "Joseph Trotter 26 describing himself as a traveller, was indicted for trying to steal a watch and chain value £20 from the person of Sampson Burn Stevenson.
    The prosecutor is a licensed victauller and keeps the Old Crown and Cushion 447 Westminster Bridge Road. On the 11th of July he went to the Lillie Bridge Grounds to witness the athletic sports and was for a time sitting in the grandstand.
Lillie Bridge Ground

    At about half past 3 o'clock he got a check to pass out of the grounds, he had not got about 3 yards when he was surrounded by a crowd of persons and anticipated that robbery was intended. He placed his hand on his watch but as some of the men drove their elbows into him fearing they would injure his eyes he raised both arms to protect them. No sooner had he done this than he felt a hand upon his watch chain and his watch was hanging out of his pocket.
    At this moment George Cracknell, a detective of T Division came up. The prosecutor had not seen who had attempted to steal the chain. According to the evidence of Cracknell he and Sergeant Saunders saw the prisoner and eight others surrounding the prosecutor and called out "mind your watch" when he was nearly knocked down by a man rushing violently against him, and the prisoner, whom he had seen with the prosecutors watch in his hand, dart behind the crowd and for a time escaped.
    The prisoner was afterwards arrested and when searched at the police station was found to have a £10 note, two £5 notes, £3 of gold and 17s 6d in silver. The prisoner was found guilty."
George Cracknell, Jubilee medal (author's collection)

    You can't win 'em all, the West London Observer, Saturday 2nd July 1887 picks up the story.
    "Henry Herbert, a labourer of Lodge Avenue Fulham Road, was charged with stealing a waistcoat, value 10s, the property of Nathaniel Jones a tailor of Lillie Road.
    The prosecutor deposed that he missed the waistcoat on Saturday night from the shop. He did not know the prisoner, but he came in with another man.
    The prisoner - "I beg your pardon, I'm not guilty of the crime and I don't know nothing about it (laughter) I'm not guilty"
    Detective Cracknell said he arrested the prisoner on Tuesday. He said he was never in the shop and his father said his son was at home at the time. Mr Partridge ordered him to be discharged."
    I think George's instincts were good in this case, the prisoner was discharged but he would soon be in prison for other offences.

    George was a busy man as we see from this story in the same newspaper edition as the one above.
    "Catherine Ponsford, a married woman, was charged with robbing Lydia Moss, of Filmer Road, Fulham.
Filmer Road today

    The prosecutrix deposed that she missed a cameo brooch on Jubilee day, also two gold rings and other articles. She identified a table cloth and said she saw it safe on Monday week. The prisoner lived in the same house.
    Mr Partridge - How do you know she took them?
    The witness - There was no other person in the house. In answer to questions the witness said the prisoner was the landlady.
    The son of Mr Woodhouse, of North End Road, said the table cloth was pledged by the prisoner last week.
    Detective Cracknell said on Tuesday night he went to Filmer Road and arrested the prisoner, who denied all knowledge of the property. In a drawer in the kitchen he found another table cloth. After the second table cloth had been identified Mr Partridge granted a remand.

    A brutal and cowardly assault, George investigates, West London Observer, Saturday 6th August 1887.
    "Thomas Brookes of Builow Street, Henry Herbert of Lodge Avenue and John Elder of Imperial Cottage, all labourers, were charged with being concerned in violently assaulting Police Constable Romayne on the 21st ult. in Gas Factory Lane, Fulham.
    The constable said there was a number of men in the lane using bad language. He spoke to them, when Brookes struck him in the face, cutting it and knocking him down. The other prisoners kicked him. He was still incapacitated from duty.
    Brookes said he was in the beerhouse and was pulled out by the constable who was drunk and he fell down.
    Detective Cracknell said the prisoners were in the habit of going around in gangs. Mr Partridge committed all the prisoners to four months with hard labour."

   The case of the slippery coiner, Reynolds's Newspaper,  Sunday 29th September 1889.
    Lillie Wilson 22, married, was placed in the dock charged for being concerned with a man in having in their possession a large quantity of counterfeit coin, with intent to utter the same.
    The prisoner was further charged with having in her possession seventeen moulds and other utensils for manufacturing counterfeit coin.
    Detective Sergeant Drew, T Division, said the other afternoon he was in Harwood Road, Fulham, when he saw a man leave number 58 and he was arrested by another officer. He, the sergeant, went into the house and saw the prisoner standing at the door of the third floor front room. He asked her if her name was Wilson, she said "yes", he asked if she was Mrs Wilson, she replied "yes".
58, Harwood Road, Fulham.

    He then told her he was a police officer and her husband was in custody for uttering counterfeit coin. He also said he believed she had a quantity of base coin in her room and that he was going to search it. 
    She said "I know nothing about him, what he does has nothing to do with me. I don't mind being locked up as long as he is with me, I'm better in prison than out while he is in there. I will not leave him, there is no bad money in this place."
    He searched the room and in a portmanteau found seventeen moulds. In various parts of the room he found a battery and other appliances used in the manufacture of counterfeit coin. A quantity of bad money was found in the room.
    Mr Curtis Bennett - What has become of the man?
    Sergeant Drew - He escaped from the police station.
    Detective Cracknell said he took the man to the police station and left him with other officers. He produced a quantity of counterfeit coin he found in the front room on the top floor consisting of 110 half crowns, 37 florins, 99 shillings and 174 sixpences.
    Some counterfeit gold coins were found by another officer consisting of one £5 piece, eight £2 pieces, 30 sovereigns and 12 half sovereigns.
    Mr Curtis Bennett remanded the prisoner and gave directions for a report to be made to the commissioners of the escape of the man, who was lodged in the station and allowed to escape.
    Inspector Ellis said there had been an inquiry and the sergeant with a constable had been suspended."

    Detective Sergeant Charles Drew would die of phthisis in November 1895, George Cracknell acted as one of the pallbearers.

    More light fingered goings on were reported in the Morning Post, Monday 16th February 1891.
    "John and Louisa Wright, man and wife, were indicted for having stolen a box and other articles, value £42, the goods of Gertrude Blanche Clayton: a trunk and other articles, value £60, the goods of Marion Hirtt Catell: and two boxes and other articles, value £148 the goods of Marianne Milne.
    Mr Passmore prosecuted, Mr Lawless defended the male and Mr Geoghegan the female prisoner. The three prosecutrices, who reside at Enville House, Upper Richmond Road, Putney, were at Earls Court railway station about five o'clock in the afternoon on the 2nd inst. and gave over their luggage to a porter, who took it to East Putney Station and placed it on a truck.
Earls Court railway station c1900

    The two prisoners were standing on the platform and the man said to his wife "here is the porter with our luggage" and they both went by the train. At Waltham Green Station the prisoners got out of the train and on their application the luggage was handed out of the guards van at Waltham Green Station instead of Putney.
    The prisoners drove away in a cab and the next day Detective Cracknell called upon them at 9, Morcambe Terrace, Dawes Road, Fulham. The male prisoner, who was arrested in the back yard of the next house, said "it's all right, I've got all the property, I've not done away with a ha'porth".
    The boxes were found in one of the bedrooms and several of the contents in drawers. Detective Sergeant Drew said the female prisoner told him she had nothing to do with the robbery and at the police station the male prisoner said he was sorry it had happened, but he did it under the influence of drink.
    Louisa Wright was acquitted, the male prisoner, who was found guilty, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment with hard labour."
    The case of the amateur detective, West London Observer, Saturday 26th September 1891.
    "Henry Wheeler, an elderly man, was charged with being a suspected person attempting to pick pockets in the North End Road, Fulham.
    Mrs Louise Ballen, residing in Moor Park Road, said she was looking at a stall in North End Road and felt a hand in her dress pocket. She suspected the prisoner who was near her and accordingly watched his movements.
    She saw him go up to two other women and put his hand into their pockets. After watching him for half an hour she communicated with Detective Cracknell and he took him into custody.
    The magistrate said the prisoner was old enough to know better and committed him to prison for three months with hard labour."
North End Road, Fulham.

    The ungrateful thief, West London Observer, Saturday 5th March 1892.
    "Frank Easter, a plate engraver, of Cedar Road, Fulham, was charged with stealing a pair of boots and a clock, the property of Mr Lewis Hutchings of Nascot House, Fulham.
    Elizabeth Cole, the servant, said on the 28th January the prisoner, who had worked in the house, came and pleaded poverty. Her mistress gave him two shillings and some food, she left him in the kitchen with a pair of boots which he was given to clean. The next morning she missed the boots.
    On the 11th February she went down the stairs in the morning and found the kitchen window wide open and the clock gone.
    Detective Cracknell said on Thursday he arrested the prisoner on being discharged from Wandsworth Police Court. He told him the charge, the prisoner said "yes, I stole the boots and sold them for 5s to a man on Blackfriars Bridge. I also want to speak the truth, I broke into the house and stole a clock which I sold to the same man for half a crown, but I don't know where he lives."
    The officer stated the prisoner has been convicted for burglary, the prisoner asked for mercy and said he had lost his wife this month and was in great trouble.
    Mr Curtis Bennett committed the prisoner for trial."

    A fortune teller robbed, didn't see that coming! West London Observer, Saturday 12th March 1892.
    "Two young men named Michael Burke, a labourer and William Bethel, a plumber, were charged with being concerned with three other men with stealing money from an automatic fortune telling machine.
    Mr William Barham, landlord of the Nell Gwynne public house King's Road, Fulham, the prosecutor, deposed that he kept the machine on the mantleshelf in the private bar, he believed it contained 8s or 10s. On Tuesday afternoon he saw the prisoners in the bar with three other men, all being around the machine.
The Nell Gwynne pub, sadly closed.

    He watched as the men looked suspicious. After he went to the bar and saw the prisoner Bethel putting something in his pocket resembling a screwdriver. A pair of pliers were on the shelf, and the same prisoner who had his hand upon them said they belonged to him. There was also two or three pennies on the shelf.
    He examined the machine and found some of the screws taken out of the back, which was partly forced off, only eleven pence being left in it. Witness sent for a constable, then all the men ran away.
Cross examined by Burke: I saw you covering the other men, I followed and caught you.
    Detective Cracknell said he arrested the prisoners and took them to the station, both prisoners denied the charge, Bethel saying he was quite innocent. It was stated that both prisoners had been convicted for assaulting the police.
    Mr Curtis Bennett sentenced them both to three months imprisonment with hard labour."

    A tale of Wormwood Scrubs, London Daily News, Monday 6th September 1897.
    "Gertrude Green, aged 25, described as a domestic servant, was charged at the West London Police Court, on Saturday, with stealing two tin boxes containing three dresses, two petticoats, one black silk cape and other articles of wearing apparel, value £5 from the custody of Daniel Brooks a tailor of City Road, St Lukes, by means of a trick.
    The prisoner was before the court a week ago for stealing property from a house at 57, Lillie Road, West Brompton, where she had passed the night in company with a man friend. Among the things she stole on that occasion was a season ticket to the Victorian Era Exhibition.
The Victorian Era Exhibition

    She presented herself for admission to the exhibition the day following, and having produced the ticket, the official, who had received certain information, identified it as the one that had been stolen and in this way she was arrested.
    Daniel Brooks, in his case, stated that on the 19th August the prisoner called at his house and said she was an officer from Wormwood Scrubs prison and desired to see the clothing of his daughter, who was undergoing a sentence at that gaol, for conveyance to Scotland Yard for the purpose of identification.
    She threatened him that if he resisted her demand she would summon the detectives who were watching his house, he gave her the two boxes of clothing.
    Mr Rose - Did you believe her?
    Witness - I suppose I was foolish enough to do so (laughter), she is wearing one of the dresses and the trimmings of the hat. I also gave her 2s 6d for the fare to the Yard.
    Mr Rose - You should believe people are telling you the truth as far as possible, but when it comes to half a crown you should have been a little suspicious. (laughter)
    Witness - She also borrowed an umbrella belonging to my wife and promised to return it the next day, with facilities for seeing my daughter at the prison. I communicated with the police when I did not hear from her.
Female convicts, Wormwood Scrubs

    Mr Rose - You parted with those things believing she was an officer from Wormwood Scrubs?
    Witness - Yes, Sir.
    Detective Cracknell, who had charge of the case, mentioned that the prisoner had only recently been liberated from Woomwood Scrubs herself, she having suffered a term of eighteen month imprisonment. The prisoner said she met the daughter in prison and she told her that she could have the things.
    Evidence having been given to prove the articles had been pledged, Mr Rose committed the prisoner for trial."

    The retirement of George Cracknell, West London Observer, Friday 18th March 1898.
    "When Detective George Cracknell retired from T Division of the Metropolitan Police, after 25 years service, 19 of them in Fulham, so popular had he made himself during his long period of work in the borough, that a movement, having as it's object the presentation to him from his friends of a substantial recognition of his merit, sprang into being with Mr Oswald Hanson as the leading spirit.
    The matter was taken up with more than ordinary readiness and enthusiasm and the movement attained it's consummation in a dinner, which was held in compliment to Mr Cracknell at the Atlas Hotel, Seagrave Road, Fulham, on Thursday week."
The Atlas Hotel, still going strong

    A huge amount of family, friends and colleagues turned up to wish George well and after a sumptuous dinner the tables were cleared.
    "The loyal toast was drunk on the proposal of the chairman, who after a song (Jack's the Boy) by Mr Flew, rose to perform what he termed "his very pleasant duty", the submission of the toast of the evening "the health of their guest and friend Mr George Cracknell" (applause).
    "During his 19 years in T Division he has commanded the esteem not only of his superiors and fellow officers, but all the members of the general public he has come into contact with. (applause) Mr Cracknell was a man of a most unassuming nature and I would say this, not out of any disrespect for any members of the force, that their guest had always struck him as being particularly honest - even for a policeman (loud laughter). If it was ever a question whether he could conscientiously, and consistently in his duty, say a good word for a prisoner, he had always done so (hear hear)."
    George was then presented with a cheque for an unspecified amount (called "oof" in the parlance of the day) to see him through his retirement.
Ealing Town Hall

    After his retirement George became a porter at Ealing Town Hall, after twelve years service he was tragically run down by a tram and died on the 8th October 1910.

Sunday, 9 December 2018


Five and twenty ponies. 1720 to 1738.

    A history of the skirmishes seen across Britain during the "golden age" of smuggling, gleaned from newspaper accounts from the time it shows how far both side would go to gain success.

November 1720;

    On Monday morning last very early were two boats of smugglers with goods from Ostend, having passed London Bridge, were attempted to be taken by some customs house officers, but they shot one of them in the eye (of which he died a few hours later) and proceeded, they were pursued almost to Chelsea.

October 1721;

    Last Sunday several horse grenadiers brought into Southwark a person suspected of smuggling, he was yesterday committed to the Fleet Prison.

December 1721;

    There has lately been a scuffle between the customs house officers and the smugglers, in which the latter were worsted, though double the number of the officers. In this engagement one Hughson, the ringleader of the smugglers was taken prisoner and brought away by the officers. Carried the next day before three Justices of the peace in order to suffer the penalty of the late act against smuggling, he was committed to the charge of a constable from whom he made his escape.

April 1722;

    They write from Lydd in Kent that two smugglers have defended themselves against the riding officers, were at last overpowered by them and carried prisoners to Lydd. But that on Sunday the 18th past in the morning there came ten horsemen to the prison having all of them pistols, swords and hatchets hanging by their sides.
The George Hotel, Lydd where this daring escape occurred.

    They demanded the two prisoners but were refused, upon which some of them got off their horses and entered the prison door and went upstairs firing their pistols before them as they went up. Coming to the door of the room where the two men were they broke it open and carried them off.
    One of the riding officers was shot in the arm by the men who were disguised as they could not be known, one of them was wounded and is since dead.

June 1722;

    They write from Colchester that several of the customs house officers have seized in an old barn near that town, a quantity of run brandy worth 500l. As also divers old guns and swords with which the smugglers use to defend themselves from justice.

October 1722;

    On the 27th some customs house officers belonging to Portsmouth seized at Stokes Bay six hogsheads and ten anchors of brandy, which is looked upon as a small part of what was run there last night.
Stokes Bay

    On the 31st October about twelve persons disguised and armed with swords and staves barbarously assaulted and beat Mr Joseph Clap, an office with the customs house at Portsmouth in the execution of his office. They stole from him his horse and arms and threatened at the same time several other officers of the customs.

January 1723;

    Yesterday was seized by the customs house officers at the White Hart Inn in Whitechapel, 4 bags of coffee of about 16 bushels and taken to the customs house, together with the waggon and horses which are forfeited.
The White Hart still exists and is a great pub to visit

February 1725;

    Edinburgh. An officer of the excise being informed that a considerable quantity of run brandy was hid underground at Stockbridge, about a mile from the city, went with a party of soldiers to seize it. They were strenuously opposed by a knot of countrymen who resisted the officer in the execution of his office and the soldiers firing shot one of the countrymen dead on the spot and two others are since dead of their wounds.

May 1725;

    We have an account from Eye in Suffolk of the following merry occurrence. Some smugglers having loaded a hearse with run brandy, with design to convey it farther into the country and being apprehensive that a certain person at Hexon near Eye, through which it was to pass, would inform the officer of excise and get it seized. One of the smugglers informed the officer himself that two hearses were to pass, one about three hours before the other and that in the first was just a dead corpse, but the last was full of brandy.
    Whereupon the officer permitted the first to pass, wherein was the booty and upon seizing the other found only a dead corpse.

 March 1728;

    Yesterday morning about 3 o'clock seven men on horseback were dogged to an inn near Long Acre and upon searching the hay loft by some of the King's officers assisted by a constable, there was 700 weight and upwards of tea. As the officers were doing their duty six men came with forks and other weapons and a battle ensued, but the officers and constable took three of them who are sent to New Prison.
New Prison, Camberwell

June 1730;

    Robert Kneale, commander of a customs house boat at Whitehaven, being with 3 men at an inn at Ryall near Annan, Scotland, waiting for the tide to bring up their boat. In the night the house was forced by a mob who in a very violent and barbarous manner beat and dangerously wounded Mr Kneale and his men and carried away their arms.

May 1732;

    A detachment of General Evan's Dragoons arrived here (Dover) on Friday last from their late quarters at Hereford in order to assist the customs house officers to prevent smuggling, which has grow to such height that an officer dare not attempt to do his duty, nor even a body of them.
    The Mayfield gang are so desperate, they were seen to go laden over Yeowell Minnis three times the week before last, all armed.

June 1733;

    Three smugglers and their horses were seized by the customs house officers of Greenwich, loaded with a great quantity of tea and other contraband goods, the persons were secured.
Dragoons on duty

    On the 10th instant a troop of Major General Gore's regiment of dragoons marched into the town of Yeovil in the county of Somerset to join another troop of the same regiment. This is in order to prevent any disturbances that might arise from a set of people remarkable for their disloyalty to his present Majesty and Government.

December 1734;

    The seizure of 7000wt of tea with a considerable amount of velvets, brocades and silks was brought up on Monday in waggons from Kent to the excise office by two officers and thirty dragoons who were concerned in seizing it and had 100 guineas given to them for their trouble.

February 1736;

    A great seizure of brandy and other goods was made at Sittingborne in the county of Kent by two officers of the customs house assisted by four countrymen well armed. But the same was retaken from them by a party of six smugglers who wounded two of the countrymen and made off.

June 1736;

    They write from Kent that the customs house officers at Folkestone made a seizure of 1300lb of tea which they took from a gang of twenty smugglers.
Old Folkestone, post card.

October 1737;

    On Tuesday last Mr Bailey, Mr Mortimer and Mr Hurst His Majesties riding officers at Eastbourne in Sussex with the assistance of six dragoons made a seizure of 17 CW of tea and 105 half anchors of brandy, which they immediately carried to the customs house. The smugglers rode off well armed with blunderbusses but did not think proper to take their goods with them.

April 1738;

    On Monday the 19th instant, about one o'clock in the morning, Mr John Wheatley, a customs house officer at Pagham in the Port of Chichester with the assistance of two of his servants seized 25lb of tea, besides brandy and rum together with two horses and a waggon.
    Though the smugglers, who were five in number, and well armed, made a stout resistance and fired their blunderbuss at the officer and men, happily they missed.

November 1738;

    On Thursday night two customs house officers boarded the Samuel and Mary, Captain Holland made a seizure of five casks of brandy. Upon which the crew rose upon them, retook the brandy, manned each boat with eight men and rowed off huzzarring in triumph before the officers faces.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Highwaymen and Footpads in North Northamptonshire.

     Stand and deliver!!

    I've recently been reading stories of swashbuckling, derring-do and highwaymen, fine stuff I'm sure you'll agree. Searching through some files of old newspaper cuttings, I came across a few articles I was saving for a reason that escapes me now.
    I used to live just north of Northampton in a village called Brixworth, this rather picturesque village is found along the A508, also known as the Harborough Road as it eventually reaches Market Harborough and then on to Leicester.
    Many years ago I searched the Northampton Mercury for stories of highway robbery along this road and close environs, it was a long drawn out process, all microfilm and photocopiers, sounds quite mediaeval by todays standards!

    I've re-read the stories and I believe they need to see the light of day, so dear friends I take you back to the afternoon of the 16th December, 1738, just near the Northampton gallows (now the White Elephant crossroads..ish).

    "Mr Bracekettle of Holcot and a farmer of Overstone Grounds, on their return home from our market, were attacked by a single highwayman near the gallows, who took from each of them five shillings, being all the money he could find about them.
    Immediately he rode up to another man, but his horse stumbling, the man had the good luck to escape his hand.
    On Thursday last a butcher of this town coming from Moulton, was stopped by a highwayman who presented a pistol to his breast and took from him about forty shillings."

    Leaping ahead quite some years, something must have happened, couldn't find it sadly, we now find ourselves in October's a Friday night...about 10 o'clock.
    "Two post-chaises were stopped upon the Harborough Road, near Kibworth by two footpads. One of the Gentlemen in the first chaise declared he would not be robbed and discharged a pistol at them. Whether either of them was wounded or not is uncertain, but they thought it proper to desist from any further attempt."
The Coach and Horses, Kibworth

    One dark night (about 8 o'clock) in December 1781 a traveller was heading down Sibbertoft Lane towards Clipston, it's a lonely spot even today but this encounter must have been terrifying!
    "John Allen of Oxendon, (on returning from North Kilworth where he had been to receive some money) was stopped in the lane between Sibbertoft and Clipston by two footpads. One of them held his horse and beat him on the arm, while the other, with horrid oaths, presented a pistol to his breast and robbed him of four guineas, threatening him with instant death if he didn't immediately deliver him the money.
    One was a tall fellow, dressed in a carter's frock and slouched hat, the other was a short man, dressed in a dark shabby coat and a slouched hat and had on a flesh coloured mask.
Sibbertoft Lane, a lonely spot.
    A farmer from Clipston that same night met the man with the mask on a path outside the lane, who dared not alone to attack the farmer but walked off to a distance of a few yards and whistles surprisingly shrill, to which another answered with a whittle. During which time the farmer ran so far they could not rob him."

    Near Brixworth is another charming village called Pitsford, I'm not sure when it changed it's name, but in the 18th century it was known as Pisford, I have to admit, that made me smile. So, we find ourselves on a Thursday night around 7 o'clock in October 1782.
    "Richard Thurland, a shepherd, on his return home from Scaldwell, in this county, to Kempstone, Woodend, Bedfordshire was stopped by two footpads between Pisford and Boughton, near the pond of the Earl of Strafford. One of whom held him by the shoulders whilst the other robbed him of a canvas purse containing seven shillings, being all he had. He begged them to return him a shilling to bear his charges, having a long way to go, which they refused."

    On a Saturday evening in February 1784 one chap had a lucky escape and another not quite so lucky.
    "Thomas Ward, baker of Brixworth, in this county, was returning from our market. He was stopped between Kingsthorpe and Boughton by a footpad who made him dismount. He demanded his money and threatened to blow his brains out if he refused. He then searched his pockets, but finding no money except a few halfpence he let him pass without any further molestation.
    The same evening Mr Jonathan Waples, butcher of Pisford was stopped near the same place and robbed of about fourteen shillings in silver. The robber was a tall man, dressed in a blue great coat and boots."

    Fairs were pretty dangerous sometimes, Boughton Fair was no exception.
Boughton Green looking towards the ruins of St John's church.

    Held on a triangular piece of ground within sight St. John's church, it was a magnet for robbers. George "Captain
Slash" Catherall was a famous name in Northampton when he was hanged in 1826 for robbing stall holders at Boughton, I doubt he was mourned by many, but more of him later. On a warm summers night in June 1784, a couple were just leaving Boughton Fair....
    "Mr Clark, hatter of this town was returning with his wife in a one horse chaise from Boughton Fair. He was stopped near Boughton by two footpads who robbed him of a few shillings, but not content with their booty one of them attempted to get into the chaise to search Mr Clark, upon which he jumped out on the other side and made the best of his way to Boughton. They then demanded Mrs Clark's money, which she was proceeding to deliver, but luckily a person coming in sight, they decamped in great haste.
    The same night a man who had been selling cutlery goods at the fair was stopped by the same fellows. But making some resistance one of them struck him several times on the head and face with his pistol, after which they robbed him of about six guineas and got clear."
    I bet Mr Clark was in trouble again that night!

Scotland Wood , sadly quite depleted.

    Meanwhile back on the Harborough Road, at a place called Scotland Wood, which is around where the A508 crosses the A14, on a warm Thursday evening in August 1784 a vehicle is approaching...
    "A post chaise, in which were three Gentlemen was stopped near Scotland Wood, between Maidwell and Kelmarsh by two footpads. But the Gentlemen who were each armed with a pistol declared they would not be robbed and threatened to fire upon them if they persisted in their attempt. They thought it proper to make off."

    To round off a particularly bad year for robberies in October 1784 the North Mail from London was held up by two miscreants armed with pistols at the turnpike road, Boughton and Brampton crossroads.   Mail bags from several towns and cities were found scattered around as far as Bozeat, although ransacked the robbers failed to find several bank bills.
    Three days later one of the men was apprehended in London and the other was being hunted, the captured man was a butcher from Spitalfields market.

    This next story is of probably the luckiest victim of them all, it was on a cold January night, about 8 o'clock in 1785...
    "Mr John Munden of Brixworth was returning home from this town, he was fired at from a gate near a place called Coal Tracks, between Kingsthorpe and Boughton by a fellow on horseback. A ball passed through the breast of his coat, providentially without doing him any damage, though his coat was buttoned across the breast and the ball entered between the button holes. Mr Munden's horse started at the report and flash of the pistol and was very near throwing his rider, but luckily he recovered his seat, rode off at full speed and escaped being robbed."

    Sometimes the baddies were caught and they could expect little mercy, just a couple of months after John Munden's lucky escape highwayman John Roberts luck ran out.
    "7th March 1785: On Saturday last John Roberts was executed in Boughton Lane, about 3 miles from this town, near the spot where he robbed the mail. He confessed the crime for which he suffered and acknowledged the justice of his sentence. At the place of execution he admonished the numerous spectators to take warning by his untimely fate and particularly desired them not to reflect on his brother, who was charged with being his accomplice, declaring that he was entirely innocent. After hanging for the usual time his body was cut down and put into a coffin in order to be interred."
    Nothing like a good hanging on a Saturday afternoon!

    On the 12th October 1799 another robber was caught at Boughton, sadly I don't know his fate.
    "On Wednesday was committed to the gaol of this county by the Rev Edward Bayley one William Wright of Kingsthorpe, labourer. Charged on the oath of Richard Warner, of Boughton, with having in company with three other persons not yet taken, violently assaulted the said Richard Warner in the evening of the 21st of September last on the highway in the parish of Boughton aforesaid. And with felonously stealing from the said Richard Warner two wooden bottles containing 13 quarts of ale, of the value of eleven pence, the property of Thomas Faulkener, of Boughton, husbandsman."

    It's June 1800 and back on that lonely stretch of lane between Sibbertoft and Clipston we last visited in 1781, we hear footsteps...
The Bulls Head, Clipston

    "Philip Boswell, brick maker of Daventry was travelling from Husbands Bosworth, in Leicestershire, to Kelmarsh, in this county. He was attacked about eleven o'clock at night between Sibbertoft and Clipston, by two men who demanded his watch and money. But upon Boswell saying he had none they threw him on the ground and searched his pockets, but finding neither money nor watch they untied his garters. With one of which they tied his legs and with the other his left arm to his left thigh. After which they threw him into the brook, where he would have sufficated if his right arm had not been at liberty. With which and the assistance of his teeth, after remaining in the water for ten minutes, he found means to untie the garters and extricate himself.
    The two men were dressed in smock-frocks with sticks in their hands, one man was six feet high, the other about five feet eight inches. Another man about five feet eight inches high was also with them, dressed in a dark great coat, but he did not give any assistance to the others in their assault upon Mr Boswell, but kept at a distance."

    The year is now 1801 and nearly time to return to the present era where we don't find highway robbery in the classic sense, now instead of hearing "stand and deliver!" it's more like "unleaded or diesel?", at least we don't get clubbed over the head, it just feels like we have sometimes! Anyway, appearing in court in February 1801 are two ne'er-do-wells....
    "William Jones, otherwise Johns and John Taylor, charged on a violent suspicion of having on Tuesday evening the 21st of October last, on the King's highway, in the parish of Maidwell assaulted and beat John Richardson of Brixworth, inn holder.
     Robbed him of a red morrocan pocket book, containing two five guinea Harborough banknotes, a ten pound Harborough banknote, a five pound Stoney Stratford banknote, a one pound Bank of England note and between nine and ten pounds in gold."
    They were both found guilty and hanged at Northampton on the 7th March 1801.

    It would be remiss of me not to mention the most famous highwayman of North Northamptonshire, George Catherall was an ex-soldier and boxer from Bolton in Lancashire, a tall athletic villain with a mashed up back due to many military floggings.

    He and a small band of trouble makers had been in town for a while committing several robberies, he soon got a name for himself, this name was Captain Slash.
    The crimes that were his downfall were committed as the Boughton Fair was closing, Catherall and a gang member called Hugh Robinson robbed a James Henley of eleven half crowns, one crown, one waistcoat, a neckerchief, a corkscrew and some half pence and Catherall alone robbed a James Hannell of one pound in silver. Arrested and tried for assault and robbery at Northampton, the two were found guilty and sentenced to death, later Robinson's sentence was commuted to life.
    The execution was performed in front of a huge crowd on the 21st July 1826, before the fatal moment Catherall kicked his boots into the crowd, allegedly in defiance of his mother who said he would die with his boots on. He convulsed for about two minutes before life was deemed extinct, afterwards several females approached the corpse to rub their wens and warts on his hand as heeling folklore directed,  he was buried on the north side of St. Giles church yard the same day.
The North side of St. Giles church, Northampton.

    In more modern times the supernatural aspect of long dead felons has become ingrained in the folkloric narrative, Captain Slash Catherall is no exception. His ghost is said to haunt St. John's ruins, personally, I've been there many times both day and night and I've seen nothing unfortunately, but who knows...give it a try!
The ruins of St. John's church, Boughton.

Monday, 8 May 2017


    Frederick George Abberline joined the Metropolitan Police on the 5th January 1863, his first beat would be with N Division, Islington. On the 19th August 1865 Abberline was promoted to sergeant and transferred to Y Division, Highgate. In 1867 he was operating in plain clothes investigating the Fenians, this of course would never be printed in the newspapers. By 1871 Abberline was made a detective sergeant and his reputation was fearsome. It is interesting to see his progression through the ranks and the varied cases he was investigating.

Islington Gazette Monday. Oct 1, 1864.


Throwing Fireworks into a Church and Disturbing a Congregation.

  Alfred Edward Calmer, 17, of 76, Bridport place, Hoxton, a greengrocer's assistant; 
Henry Grant, 16, of 18, Great George street, Bermondsey, a tailor; and Frederick Grant, 15, of 5, Rydon street, gold beater, were charged with discharging fireworks in the Almorah road, to the annoyance of the inhabitants. 
St John the Baptist church, Almorah Road.

    They were further charged with willfully disturbing the congregation at the Church of St. John the Baptist, by throwing a cracker into the church in Almorah road. From the evidence of Police constables Wansley, 445 N, and Abberline, 544 N, it appeared that last night they saw the prisoners letting off some fireworks, throwing them down areas and into parlour windows.
    Before they could get to the prisoners Grant threw a squib into the window of the above church, and the sparks went on to the ladies, but fortunately their dresses did not take fire.     The congregation were very much alarmed, but none of them were hurt. The prisoners were taken into custody, and on them were found some other fireworks.
    Mr. James Ferguson, the churchwarden, said that the congregation were frequently annoyed by boys of the same description as the prisoners, not with fireworks, but with stones. The prisoners said that they were sorry for what had occurred, and it was by accident that the squib went into the church. Mr. D'Eyncourt fined Calmer and Grant 5s. each, and Grant 20s. which was instantly paid.

The Standard 5th October 1864.

    John Stroud, 16, and Henry Oxley, 15, two respectable lads, were indicted for stealing a handkerchief, the property of a person unknown, from his person. Frederick Abberline, police constable 544 N, said, between one and two o'clock on Friday, the 23rd, he observed the prisoners with another boy pushing against several gentlemen, and trying their pockets. 
    The boy not in custody took the handkerchief produced and flung it down, and said, "Lookout." The prisoner Oxley picked it up. Both prisoners ran away and were captured by witness. The Jury found them Guilty. Mr. Payne sentenced Stroud to 18 and Oxley to 9 months' hard labour.


Pall Mall Gazette 4th December 1866.

    At Clerkenwell, William Anderson, a porter, was charged on remand before Mr. Barker with stealing from his employer, Mr. Prince, of 2, Flora-villas, Hammersmith, the sum of 10/. 12s. The prosecutor formerly carried on business at 288, Pentonville road, and the prisoner was his porter. 
    On the 12th of June last year the prisoner was sent to the London and County Bank, Islington branch, with the above sum to place to his employer's account. Instead of doing so he ran away with the money, and nothing further was heard of him until Sunday week, when police sergeant Abberline 24Y, heard that he was detained at Chelmsford.
    The sergeant went there, and took him into custody, and on telling him the charge the prisoner said he was sorry for what he had done, that he had spent the whole of the money, and had since been in the greatest distress. 
    To get bread, he further said, he had had to deliver bills for a travelling circus, and the thoughts of the robbery, together with his distress, had made him give himself up, and now that he had done so he felt more comfortable than he had since he had committed the robbery. Mr. Barker committed the prisoner, who made no defence, to the Middlesex Sessions for trial.
Inside the Middlesex Sessions House.

Islington Gazette 2nd April 1867.

Gambling is the Cattle Market.

    Charles Irish aged 19, a hawker, of Phipp street, Shoreditch, was charged before Mr. Barker with unlawfully gambling, by playing at a game called Chance, in the Metropolitan Cattle Market.
The Metropolitan Cattle Market, Islington.

    From the evidence of police sergeant Abberline, 24 Y, and police constable Witham, 86 Y, it appeared that yesterday the prisoner was seen in the market, and he was standing at a roulette table, which was covered with a cloth, and was gambling for half-pence. 
    They saw the prisoner pick up several lots of half-pence, and also saw him pass some to his confederates. When the police took the prisoner into custody he threw a quantity of half-pence away. The prisoner was well known to the police as the companion or notorious thieves, and the attendant at races as a skittle sharper.
    The prisoner said he was not playing for half-pence, but only for cocoa-nuts. It was all a mistake to say that he was the companion of thieves. The police said there had been frequent complaints of gambling in the market. The prisoner had been seen in the City road with a roulette table, and was then removed. 
    Mr. Barker said the case was fully made out and sentenced the prisoner to six weeks' hard labour in the House of Correction, and directed that the table, spindle, and the cloth should be destroyed.


The Times 8th October 1867.

    At Clerkenwell, John Fleet, aged 23, a labourer, of 59, George's road, Holoway, was charged before Mr. Barker with violently assaulting Henry Sabrams of George's road, costamonger, by stabbing him in the thigh with a knife, with intent to do him some grievous bodily harm, at Islington.     Police Sergeant Abberline 24Y, handed in the following medical certificate 
"5, Lowther cottages, Holloway, N, Oct, 7, 1867, This is to certify that Henry Sabrams is suffering from an incised wound of the thigh, an inch and a half long, produced by some sharp instrument -THOS. H. MITCHELL."
   The prosecutor, who could hardly walk, said that he did not wish to prosecute, as he knew the prisoner to be a respectable man. From the evidence of Police constable Brooks 785 A reserve, it appeared that both the parties on Saturday night had been drinking, and had some words outside a beershop; they exchanged some blows, and then the prisoner took out a clasp knife and stabbed the complainant in the thigh. 
    When the constable was called the injured man was very weak from loss of blood. Of the two the prisoner was the more drunk. The prisoner said that he had had a drop of beer and that he had no questions to ask, and the prosecutor again said he did not wish to prosecute. 
    Mr. Barker said it was a case that could not be decided at present, and he should remand it for a week to see how the injured man progressed. He would take bail for the prisoner, himself in 40/. and two sureties in the sum of 10/ each. The prisoner was locked up in default.

The Times 6th September 1870.

At the Highgate Police court yesterday, 

    Edward George, aged 28, a respectably dressed man, who said he was a dealer in French goods, living at 12 1/2, Cecil-court, St. Martin's lane, was charged before Colonel Jeakes and messers. Lermitte and Nicholson, with being concerned with three others not in custody in violently assaulting and beating James Fairweather, with intent to murder him, at a field in Millfield lane, West Highgate.     Willian Callaway, 43 Passage street, Kentish-town, a painter, said between half-past 5 and 6 on Friday he was at Highgate ponds, in Millfield lane, when he saw seven or eight men coming towards the ponds. He was 200 yards off, and thought they were fighting. 
Millfield Lane by John H Mcintyre

    He walked nearer, and saw a man knock the injured man down. It was not the prisoner. When he was down they began to kick him and punch him with their fists. There was hardly one who did not strike him. 
    Witness ran into the road to get a police constable. One of the men, who had a riding-whip, was striking the injured man and he believed broke it over his head. As soon as the men saw him running towards the road they a got into the two cabs that were waiting for them. He saw one of the men strike the injured man on the head with the butt-end of the whip. 
    He ran up to the man, who was bleeding very profusely from the wounds in the face. He at once conveyed him to the Duke of St. Albans public house, and thence he was taken to the Kentish Town police station in a cab. Mr. Peter Rawlings, M.R.C.S., the divisional surgeon of the Y Division, said the man was much injured about the face and head. 
    His right eye was completely closed, his upper lip was cut through on the left side. His chin was cut, and his head was cut and bruised. His elbow was injured, but no bones were broken. He had lost a great quantity of blood, but was sensible. The wounds were very dangerous. 
    Mr. William Henry Hurst, M.R.C.S., of 33, Great Wynard street, said he was called to the injured man on Saturday night, at 20, Glocester grove, Brompton. He described his injuries, and said he was in a very dangerous condition. 
    Police sergeant Frederick Abberline 24Y said he went with Detective Constable Dalton to Northbrook lodge, Lee, Kent, the prisoner's residence, on Sunday morning, and apprehended him. He was conveyed to the injured man's residence at Brompton. 

    The prisoner was placed between three others, and the injured man said, pointing to the prisoner, "That is one of the principals; that is the one who said 'throw him in the water." The Bench remanded the prisoner till Monday next. A solicitor who attended for the prisoner asked that he might be admitted to bail, which was refused.

Illustrated Police News 15th April 1871.

Marylebone. Committal of an old thief for trial. 

    Caroline Davis, aged twenty one, was charged before Mr. D'Eyncourt with stealing, from outside the shop, No. 21, Kentish Town road, 50 yards of cotton print, the property of Messrs. Alfred and Charles Daniels.  
    From the evidence of Detective Sergeant Frederick Abberline, of the Y division, it appeared that the previous night he saw the prisoner, in company with two other women, loitering in at the Kentish Town road. Suspecting them, he watched them, and saw them stop for some minutes looking in the window of Messers. A. and C. Daniels, linen drapers, of 207. Kentish Town road.
Kentish Town Police Station
    They walked from the shop very quick, and he followed them down the Prince of Wales road into the Victoria road, where he saw the prisoner had something bulky under her shawl. He caught hold of her, and her companions ran away. 
    Under her shawl he found 50 yards of cotton print, which had been stolen from outside the prosecutors' shop. She was taken to the Kentish Town Police station and charged, and it was found she had undergone six months' imprisonment from this court for shoplifting. Mr. Mansfield committed the prisoner, who had nothing to say, to the next Middlesex Sessions for trial.

The Times 22nd August 1871.

    John Heddy, 15, and Walter Gold, 17, labourers, were charged with stealing a purse and the sum of 6s, the property and moneys of Mary Ann Walker, from her person. Mr. W. J. Abram prosecuted.
    In the afternoon of the 31st of July both the prisoners, with another lad, who is not in custody, were in the Kentish town road, dodging in and out around the people on the pavement. They then crowded round the prosecutrix, who was carrying a baby on her right arm. 
    She thereupon felt a tug at the pocket of her dress she then felt for her purse, and finding it safe pushed it further down into her pocket and passed on. She was again rustled by the prisoners, 
    Gold being on her right side,when a woman called her attention to her pocket; she then found that her purse had been taken, and that a parcel wrapped in straw paper, which she had also in her pocket, was undone. 
    She immediately observed that Gold had a piece of paper in his hand ; she said, "You have a piece of my paper," when he put it in his month. Detective Abberline, of the Y Division, who had watched the prisoners, pursued and captured Heddy, who had run away; the third boy escaped. 
    Gold, at the police station, spat out the piece of paper which he had in his mouth; this was compared with that in the prosecutrix's pocket and was found to be of the same quality. The jury found both prisoners Guilty, and sentence was deferred.

The Standard 5th September 1871.


Betting Houses, 

    Thomas Becky Chase, 41, a hair dresser, carrying on business at 17, Ernest street, Regent's Park, and Nathan Levi, 36. a tobacconist and newsagent, of 36, Ernest street, Regent's Park, were charged with using their houses as common betting houses, and betting with persons resorting thereto. 
    Mr. Superintendent Charles O'Louglin, S Division, said that on that morning, about one o'clock, in company with Inspector Charlwood and other officers, he went to the defendant Levi's house. He told the defendant that he would be taken into custody for keeping a betting house. 
    He said, "I admit making bets, but I have only one book." He also went to Chase's house, and took him into custody. No books were found in his house. Detective Sergeant Frederick Abberline, Y division, said, about half past twelve on the 17th of August he entered Levi's shop and made a purchase. 
    He heard the following conversation between two men and Levi. The first man said 'That is two-and-a-half to one," and the defendant nodded. The first man again said, "what are you going to put on?' and the second man said, " He has got my half-crown, but has not booked it yet." 
    He (witness) left the shop, and on Saturday, the 19th, he entered the shop of Mr. Chase. A man was leaving an inner room, and he said to the defendant, " You must not fall out if I get a better price; I shall try." Chase said, "Very well; will you put another on ? " 
    He (witness) then left, and shortly after returned to the shop, and heard Chase say to the same man,'' I booked the bet to him." 'the man said, "My name is White, and I will put another half-crown on ; but I should like you to give me a little more," Chase said, " I can't do it; it's no use of speaking a hundred words about it. Perhaps you will walk outside." 
    They walked to the street-door, and Chase asked for the money. White said it was inside, on the mantel-shelf. At one o'clock that day he went to Levi's house, in company with Superintendent O'Loughlin, and in a drawer in the shop he found a book, with about 100 bets entered. They were all bets on the Doncaster St. Leger, which takes place on Wednesday week.

The Times 29th September 1871.

    HENRY WILLIAM MUGGERIDGE, 27, clerk, who, when apprehended, was lodging at 21, Caledonian crescent, Caledonian road, was brought before Mr. D'Eyncourt, on remand, charged with uttering fictitious cheques. 
    There were three charges against the prisoner. In the first case he had obtained 3/. 12s. 6d. by inducing William Argent, a railway porter, in whose house, 45, Mansfield road, Kentish town, he lodged in June, to change a cheque for him. 
Mansfield road

    The cheque was numbered 27' 125, and purported to be drawn on the Kilburn branch of the London and South-Western Bank, by "M'Kash and Co." It was proved that no such firm had any account at the bank. 
    In the second case, Mr. Charles Drewell, of the Lion and Lamb public house, Margaret street, Clerkenwell, stated that on the 26th of August he gave the prisoner 3L 15s. in change for a cheque, which was returned to him from the bank marked "No account." 
    In the third case, Louisa Murray, who stated that she had been living with the prisoner, said that on the 22nd of August he gave her a cheque for 3L. 10s., and instructed her to get it cashed. She went to Mr. Henley, a baker, who changed it for her. This cheque was also proved to be valueless. 
    F. Abberline, a detective, went to 21, Caledonian crescent, about 2 o'clock in the morning, and found the prisoner concealed in a cupboard. Witness saw him pass a pocketbook to a woman who was in bed, and on examining the book found that it contained two cheques on the London and County Bank, Covent garden. One of the cheques was filled up. The prisoner was committed for trial.

The Standard 13th December 1871.


Robberies from the Midland Railway.

    Henry Watson, 23, pointsman; William Walling, 22 guard: and Thomas Currey, 20, shunter, all in the service of the Midland Railway Company, were charged with stealing a chest of tea. 
    Owing to the numerous complaints made to Detective sergeant George Woodrow, of the company's police, of  robberies having been committed on the railway, he placed Detective constables Underwood and Thurston to watch the goods trains at the Highgate road Junction, which is near the Kentish Town Station. 

Highgate Junction approach

    About six o'clock they saw a goods train stop at the Highgate Junction, and the prisoner Walling was in charge of it. It was his duty to take the Liverpool truck from the train and place it on the main line for the purpose of its being taken to the terminus at St. Pancras, and from there to Liverpool. Directly the train stopped the prisoners Watson and Currey got into the break, and they left and went to the Liverpool truck. Shortly after the detectives saw the prisoner Watson carrying a chest of tea on his shoulders, and Currey was walking by his side. 
    The detectives rushed from their hiding place, and Thurston took hold of the prisoner Watson, who threw the box on to the metals. A struggle ensued, and the metals being slippery the detective slipped, and the prisoner ran down the line as fast as he could. Thurston followed, but finding a train was close on his heels he had to get on the siding and the prisoner consequently escaped. 
Highgate Road Station.

    Underwood followed the prisoner Currey, who ran away and made his escape. The guard Walling went into his break, and it was impossible for him, if be had been attending to his duties, not to have seen the chest taken from the truck. 
    Information was given to Detective sergeant Frederick Abberline of the Y Division, who apprehended the prisoner Watson at his lodgings about one o'clock in the morning. 
    On searching the premises the following articles, which are all new, were found : Ten pairs of socks, eleven pairs of stockings, seven silk handkerchiefs, four new Scotch caps, six shirts, two pairs of flannel trousers, three dozen reels of cotton, five pairs of boots, four pairs of shoes, a quantity of black Italian silk, seven sheepskin mats, pair of trousers and vest, a silk scarf, 15 cigars, a roll of tobacco, a watchstand, corkscrew, two cigar cases, two brushes (hair and clothes) 12 pen holders, a box containing tea — between 701b and 100lb. — a sack containing a quantity of loaf sugar— between 161b and 18lb.— as well as other articles, which were supposed to have been taken from the trucks. 
    Detective sergeant Abberline also apprehended Walling at his lodgings, and when told the charge he said he knew nothing about it. The cord of the sheet that covered the truck that contained the chest that was stolen was found cut, and a piece of cord was found in the waistcoat pocket of the prisoner Walling, He said, in answer to a question, that he did not lose sight of the truck, and the other prisoner was afterwards taken into custody, and he denied the charge. Mr. D'Eyncourt remanded the prisoners till Monday next, for the railway company to bring further evidence against them.

The Daily Telegraph 3rd January 1872.

Middlesex Sessions. (Before the Assistant Judge.)


    Daniel Champion, 21, and George Williams, 20, were indicted for stealing 371bs of antimony, the property of Mr. Frederick Plummer, a stereotyper in the City, and master of the latter prisoner.                 Frederick Abberline, a detective of the Y division, said that on the 13th December he saw the two prisoners outside a public house. Williams was carrying a bundle, which he passed to Champion, and witness then followed them up a court. He asked Champion what he was carrying, and the latter said that he did not know, and that a Frenchman with a large beard had asked him to carry the bundle to Euston square for 1s. 

    Witness took both prisoners into custody, and 371bs of antimony were found upon them. The prisoners said that they had been taken to the wrong court, as the prosecutor's place was in the City. They ought to have been tried at the Mansion House, and it was a got-up thing by the police to get them convicted. 
    The jury found them guilty. Several previous convictions having been proved against both prisoners, and Mr. Plummer having stated that Williams had been in his service for about four years, and had been left a good deal in charge of his premises. 
    The Judge sentenced Williams to seven years' penal servitude, and Champion to two years' penal servitude, and to be under police supervision for three years.   

Lloyds Illustrated Newspaper 7th January 1872.


    Alfred Baston: 22, a barman, was charged, on remand, with stealing two marked half crowns, the property of his employer, Mr. John Copeman, of the Mother Red Cap, Camden town. 
The Mother Red Cap, now The Worlds End,Camden.

     The prisoner had been in the Prosecutor's service for about 16 or 17 months, and during that time the prosecutor had lost from 35/. to 50/. Having reason to suspect the prisoner's honesty he communicated with Sergeant Abberline, Y division, and Kingdon, S division, and on the 24th ult, he marked two half crowns, placing them the next day on the shelf while the change was kept. 
    In the afternoon he missed the half crowns as well as two half sovereigns. He immediately communicated with the police, and, on the prisoner's box being searched, the half crowns were found concealed under some clothes. 
    The prisoner who was present, declared that it was a "plant," and intimated that the police had placed the coins in his box. From the evidence of the detectives it appeared that the prisoner had given a gold watch and chain to a lad named George Gobb and also to another boy. Both of the watches were in the hands of the police. 
    Mr. Wakeling, for the defence, contended that no case or at most only one of suspicion had been made out against the prisoner. Mr. Child remarked that the prisoner had lent one person 10/, and another 6/. 
    Mr. Wakeling replied that the prisoner had lately had some money left him with which he had assisted his friends. Mr. Cooke committed the prisoner for trial, refusing to accept bail.

Reynold's Newspaper 11th February 1872.


    On Monday, at the Edmonton Sessions before J. Abbiss Esq. and W. D. Alexander, Esq. Mr. John Gregory, at the Railway hotel, was charged, on a summons, with unlawfully suffering gaming in his house; by permitting several persons to play at cards. 
    Detective sergeant Abberline, Y division, stated that on the 27th of January, about nine o'clock in the evening, he visited the defendants house, and went into the parlour. Shortly afterwards three gentlemen entered. 
    At that time a pack of cards and a cribbage board were on the table. One of the gentlemen remarked, " We want another to make four," and when a fourth entered he was invited to join in a game. He consented, and they commenced playing at whist. 
    Before beginning, however, one said to another "What's it to be?" and the one spoken to replied, '"Oh, sixpence a game the same as before." Defendant was sitting in the parlour the greater part of the time the play was going on, and when three games had been completed one of the party said to another, "You owe me eighteen pence." 
    Witness then went outside for a constable, who witnessed all four gentlemen at play. In cross examination witness said he visited the house because complaints had been made to the police commissioners at Whitehall place. He did not see any money pass. 
    Undoubtedly the people who played were highly respectable men, but there could be no mistake that they were playing for money. There was no attempt at concealment. Everything occurred in the public parlour, which was open to all comers. 
    Defendant freely admitted that four gentlemen City merchants played at whist on the occasion referred to, and the game had been played in the same room for the last ten years by a few gentlemen who had lived in the neighbourhood. 
    Mr. Abbiss: The mere fact of playing cards in a tavern does not constitute an offence. Playing cards for simple pass time is perfectly legal. A gentleman was sworn, and said he was asked to make the fourth player, and he consented to do so, but he only played for fun. . . . 
    Mr. Abbiss Well, now, although no money passed, was it an understood thing amongst some of the players that they were playing for sixpence a game ? 
    Witness: I believe it was. I can't speak for any one but myself, and I know I did not receive or pay a single penny. In reply to the bench it was stated by the police and others that a better conducted house could not be found. 
    Mr. Abbiss said the bench had carefully considered the matter, and while they thought it right to intimate that card playing was quite legal in taverns if the game was indulged in simply for amusement, yet in the present case they could not doubt that, although money did not pass, there was an understanding, amongst some of the players at least, that money was being played for. 
    Still considering the high character given to the house, and the Class of men who were playing the nominal fine of 10s. only will he inflicted, and that was rather as a caution to others than as a punishment to defendant.

Lloyds Illustrated Newspaper 25th February 1872.


    Isaac Harvey, 18, porter, and John Attwell, 21, baker, were charged, the former with stealing and the latter with receiving six vests and two pairs of trousers, the property of Isaac Moses and others, the well known tailors. 
    The prisoner Harvey was in their employ as a porter and he was in the constant habit of surreptitiously, by means of his apron, taking goods from his masters' establishment in Oxford street. These he put in the hands of the other prisoner, who pawned them at various establishments. 
    They were both found " Guilty." and Mr. Besley then stated that, after the detection of Harvey, who, it was supposed, had been led astray by the inducement of the other prisoner, a deficiency in the stock was discovered, amounting to between 120/. and 130/. 
    The whole of the property, there was reason to believe, had been pledged, and as the tickets had been destroyed, it was only through the persevering inquiries of Sergeant Abberline and Detective Dalton that any part of it had been recovered. 
    Altogether about 26/. worth of property had been so recovered, which comprised 43 waistcoats and three pairs of trowsers, and were pledged at 21 different pawnbrokers. Attwell was sentenced to 18 months', and Harvey to 12 months' hard labour. 

Bucks Herald 13th July 1872.

Discovery of Two Dead Bodies. 

Torraino Avenue, Kentish Town.

    On Monday some excitement was occasioned at Kentish town by the announcement that a working man of the name of Bond had discovered, in an empty house, 77, Torraino avenue, two coffins, each containing the body of an infant in a far advanced state of putrefaction. He communicated with the police, and the matter having been placed in the hands of Detective Sergeant Abberline, Y division, he ascertained that the house had formerly been in the occupation of an undertaker.

Daily News 8th August 1872.


    Elizabeth Sullivan, 18, Maria Sullivan, 15, and Jane Adams, 13, were charged before Mr. Mansfield with disorderly conduct. 
    The defendants were dressed in sailor costume, and their clothes seemed to fit them nicely. The elder defendant wore a large straw hat, while her sister had a cap with the name of H.M.S Implacable on it. 
    Sergeant Abberline stated that about one 'clock in the morning he was with a constable in the Kentish town road, when he saw the defendants turned out of the Assembly Rooms Tavern. As they made a disturbance he took them into custody. 
Assembly Rooms Tavern c1853

   In answer to the magistrate. 
    The defendants said they were very sorry and if allowed to go home they would not offend gain. Mr Mansfield - Who dressed you? 
    Elizabeth Sullivan - We dressed ourselves, sir, my two brothers are sailors, and we took their clothes for fun. 
    Sergeant Abberline said he had made in inquiries and found they had given their correct addresses, and nothing was known against them. The mother of the Sullivans said they only put the clothing on for a joke, but did not intend to do any harm. 
    Mr Mansfield said it was exceedingly improper, and the defendants might be sent to gaol for some months. If it was repeated, they would be severely dealt  with, but on this occasion they would be discharged.

Morning Post 9th October 1872.


    Walter James Cochrane, aged 15, an errand boy, living at Jeffrey street, Kentish town, was charged on remand before Mr. D'Eyncourt with cutting and wounding Alfred Carter, agesd 14, with intent to do him grievous bodily harm. 
    From the evidence adduced it appeared that the complainant, who resides with his parents at 66, Prince of Wales road Kentish town, was walking with his brother along the Kentish town road on the afternoon of Sunday week. 
    The complainant was wearing a high hat for the first time and the defendant, with some other boys, was standing outside a shop eating apples. As the complainant passed the defendant called out, "Go home and take off your father's hat" but the complainant took no notice of it, and the defendant threw a piece of apple at the hat, but it struck the brother. 
    The defendant and his companions followed them, and the complainant then became excited and struck the defendant in the face, who then rushed at the complainant with a knife and stabbed him above the knee. 
    He bled profusely from the wound and was taken to the surgery of Mr Andrew Brown of 1, Bartholomew road, Kentish town road, who found the complainant was suffering from a wound two inches in length a few inches above the knee-cap. 
    If the wound had been a quarter of an inch lower down it would have been serious, for the doctor stated that the complainant might have had to have his leg taken off. 
    The defendant was taken into custody by Detective sergeant Frederick Abberline of the Y division, and when told the charge he gave the sergeant a pocket knife, which he said he had stabbed the complainant with. 
    The defendant, after receiving the usual caution, said he had nothing to say in answer to the charge Mr. D'Eyncourt committed the prisoner to the next Middlesex Sessions for trial, but he was allowed to go out on his father's recognisances.

Reynold's Newspaper 1st December 1872.



    Joseph Burrell, aged 40, a respectably dressed man, described on the charge sheet as a commission agent, living at 9, St. Anne's gardens, Haverstock hill, was places in the dock, charged before Mr. Mansfield with illegally pawning seventy three petticoats, value £2, the goods of messrs Stephen Evans, and Co warehousemen, 14, Old Change, City. 
    From the evidence of Mr. Alexander Gibbons, manager to the above firm, it appears that for sometime past the prisoner's wife has been engaged on the firm, and as she had a family, she asked the firm to allow her to do her work at home. 
    As she was an industrious woman, this request was granted, and about a month ago seventy three petticoats were given to her to make up. He applied several times for them, but as he could not get them his suspicions were aroused, and he proceeded on Thursday evening to the defendant's house, where he saw the wife. 
    He asked her for the petticoats and she then said she was very sorry, but she had pawned them at different pawnbrokers in the neighbourhood. 
    Mr. Gibbbons then gave information to the police, and the case was placed in the hands of detective sergeant Abberline of the Y division. 
    On making inquiries at the pawnbrokers, he found that a pawnbroker had taken in no less than three dozen and nine of the petticoats, although they were all marked with the name and address of the firm. The prisoner, in answer to the charge, said he pawned the goods because his children were starving. He was very sorry for doing it, but he was driven to it.
    Mr. Mansfield ordered the defendant to pay a fine of £5, and £7 7s, the amount the goods were pledged for, or, in default of payment, to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour in the House of Correction for two calendar months. 
    Mr. Gibbons asked the magistrate to grant summonses against the pawnbrokers for taking in pledge stolen  articles; the pawnbrokers, if they had liked to have looked at the petticoats, could see the name of the firm upon it. 
    Mr. Mansfield said he thought it sufficient punishment and reprimand to the pawnbrokers to order them to give up the whole of the goods without payment.

The Standard 9th January 1873.

MIDDLESEX SESSIONS, Jan. 8 (Before Sir W. H. Bodkin, Assistant Judge.)


    Henry Wilson, 24, describing himself as a clerk, but very unlike one in appearance indicted for obtaining by false pretences from Job Johnson, five shirts, value 1/. 16s, property of the said Job Johnson, with intent to defraud. 
    There were two other indictments of a similar description against him. The mode of operation was the same in the respective charge preferred against the prisoner, and were carried out with great success. 
    The prisoner put on a small white apron, such as is commonly worn by barmen at public houses, and having divested himself of his coat, in a hurried manner entered a linendraper's or hosier's shop, and stated that the landlord or landlady of some neighbouring public house required some good shirts for a sudden occasion. Believing the statement to he true, and the deception being favoured by the appearance of the prisoner, in several instances the shirts were handed over to him without hesitation; but he had no sooner obtained possession of them than he walked off to the nearest pawnbrokers and converted them into money. 
    The shopkeepers embraced in the three indictments (selected from several others) were Mary Ann Crane, of 369, Kentish Town road; Job Johnson, 73, Chalk Farm road; and Job Windle, 440, Edgware road. 
    The licensed victualler's he represented as having sent him for the shirts were Henry Riche, of the Tally-ho public house, Cleveland street; Frederick Willis, The Monarch, Chalk Farm road and Joseph Richardson, Portman Arms, Maryland road. Harrow road. 
The Monarch,, Chalk Farm Road now the Barfly.

      The frauds being at last discovered the matter was put into the hands of Frederick Abberline, a detective Sergeant of the Y division, and he on Thursday, the 6th of December, happening to meet the prisoner in Clerkenwell, told him that he should take him into custody on a charge of stealing shirts of several tradesmen by representing if as a potman. 
    On the way to the station house in Kentish Town the prisoner said, "You must be a 'mug' to take me to Kentish Town, stop the cab and I'll show you the man." Abberline told him he would have to go to the station, and he took him there, where he was identified by Mr. Johnson and other persons from whom he had obtained the shirts. 
    After he was charged he wanted to speak to Abberline, and then he said, "It is no use disputing this. I should like the magistrate to settle it tomorrow. I'll tell you where the shirts are that I had on Monday from over the way. They are pledged at All worthy's, in King's cross road, in the name of Lucas."
    The jury found the prisoner guilty.
    Herbert Reeves, warder at Coldbath fields Prison, proved a former conviction of 18 months on the 24th of August 1870, at the sessions of that court for a similar offence; and two months, on the 30th of September, 1871, for a like offence. 
    The Judge sentenced him to be kept in penal servitude for seven years. The grand jury made the following presentment in reference to this case :— " The grand jury desire to record their approval of the conduct and ability of Sergeant Abberline, evinced in the capture of Henry Wilson, accused of obtaining shirts under fake pretences. " Geo. MUNDY, Foreman."

    After this case Abberline was promoted to inspector and transferred to H Division, Whitechapel. His 14 years there were just as fraught and interesting, but that story is for another day.......