North Walsham & District Community Archive

Chapter 7 - Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

1801 February
Two thieves, later identified as John Allen (23) and John Day (26) with blackened faces, brandishing pistols and bayonets, broke into the house of Rev. Mr. Isaac Horsley and Mrs. Horsley of North Walsham. They tied up the victims, but fled when the Rev. Horsley freed himself and escaped for assistance. They went to Lynn, selling the gold watch they had stolen. Day enlisted in the Artillery. Allen on February 27th robbed the two Miss Pyms of Swaffham. He was pursued and fired a pistol which wounded one of his captors, although the pistol was only charged with powder. Day was captured at Wisbech. They were both tried, condemned to death and executed at Thetford on April 4th.

1803 7th April
At the Annual Meeting (held at the Bear Inn, North Walsham) of The Gentlemen Farmers, etc. in association for the apprehending and convicting horse-stealers and other felons within the hundreds of Tunstead and other adjacent hundreds a reward of 5 guineas was to be paid, on conviction, of every horse-stealer. Signed: T. H. Cooper, Esq., Rev. Isaac Horsley, Mr. George 'Shreve, Mr. Charles Le Neve, John Bond, Thomas Rye, Rowland Rye, William Smith, John Holmes, Groom Lane, Richard Snelling, William Youard, John Sharpe, Robert Clarkes, John de Benne. Also by representatives from Bacton, Paston, Knapton, Edingthorpe, Ridlington, Trunch, Suffield, Bradfield, Witton, Tunstead, Thurgarton, Itteringham, Waxham, Worstead and Mundesley. (Norwich Mercury).

Mary Cutting of North Walsham was convicted of having in her possession wool belonging to different combers - fined.
Ann Besouth of North Walsham convicted of false reeling - fined. Sarah Barber ditto. These were the most common crimes involving women, and were reported regularly in the early 1800's. They appear to have been dealt with by a statutory fine.
Young men, as many as 5 or 6 a week, were fined regularly - if they survived - for riding on shafts of carts. Sometimes they slipped, sometimes the shafts broke, but inevitably the boys and young men were run over by the wagon wheels. One of the Magistrates is reported as saying: "Surely the drivers of wagons and carts, obstinate as they are, will, in time, be convinced of the extreme danger of these practices and, by avoiding them, prevent the future necessity of so many convictions."

John Pointer of North Walsham for stealing hay - to be imprisoned at Aylsham Bridewell for 2 months and to be publicly whipped in the Market Place in North Walsham.

Ran Away. Thomas Mash (18yrs) apprentice to Thomas Taylor, Plumber and Glazier of North Walsham. He has 2 years and until 5th April next to serve. Any person taking him in or secreting him after this notice will be dealt with as the law directs. N. B. If he will return directly or within 1 week, he will be taken in again. (Norwich Mercury).

1804 July
Elizabeth Sparrow was committed to the County Gaol charged with stealing 3 linen gowns, the property of Mr. Henry Chamberlain of North Walsham. On August 4th, she was acquitted at the Assize Court.

Francis Doyle, a single woman, of North Walsham, was committed to the Castle on violent suspicion of having delivered herself of a bastard child and pnvately concealing it in a meal tub so as to occasion its death.

May Inquest on female infants body found under pavement in the house of Mr. Uade of North Walsham. Verdict of wilful murder.

1828 - Dec
3 thieves masked, entered through the pantry window of Mrs. Seppings, a widow. The maid jumped out of the bedroom window and called 2 men and a boy. They could hear the thieves demanding "money we want, money we shall have. The thieves fled on hearing the men, taking with them: 5 silver
sair spoons, 1 silver teaspoon, a silver mustard pot with purple glass, a silver wine strainer, a silver skewer, a plate and pepper pot.

Robert Riches charged with stealing carpenters' tools from Simon Oates of North Walsham on August 10th. Transported for 7 years in January 1829.

1829 - Jan
Robert Riches convicted of stealing an iron bound cask and a half salmon kid from T Racey of North Walsham. Strongly recommended to mercy by the prosecutor. Sentenced to 6 months hard labour and solitary confinement.

House of Mr. James Bond, Farmer, of North Walsham was entered by thieves. A gold watch case was stolen and 5 bottles of porter with which depredators regaled themselves and decamped unheard.

1830 - Oct
On Sunday evening in the Market Place, whilst  they were at Chapel, the house of Mr. Dyball was entered through a window. £4. in cash, a silver tablespoon, 3 silver teaspoons, and a double cased silver watch were stolen.

14th Dec
Premises of Mr. Adam Wright were entered and 2 store pigs were killed and carried away.

24th Dec
In addition to several robberies of this kind which have lately been perpetrated in North Walsham on Saturday night the property of Mr. John Sharpe of North Walsham was broken into and a fat pig (10 - 12 stone) was carried away and 2 other pigs stabbed in various places. Suspicion fell on William. Doe (Blacksmith), William Fuller (Butcher) and James Barnes of Banningham who were drinking together at one of the new beer houses. Their homes were searched and a portion of the stolen pig found at each. They were taken into custody and committed to the Castle. Doe confessed.

1831 Jan
It was reported that "Sentence was severe as pig stealing has, of late, become so prevalent".
Doe - 12 months
Fuller 7 years transportation
Barnes - 14 years transportation (because of previous convictions).

Fuller and Barnes removed to the hulks to await transportation.

The wife of William Fuller stole a piece of carpeting from the shop of Mr. Baker of North Walsham, so that she might be transported with her husband. (What happened to this poor woman is not known).

During the night of Sunday last some nocturnal depredators entered a field at North Walsham situated upon an Off-farm occupied by Mr. John Sharpe, where they killed, flayed and carried away 2 hogget sheep, leaving one of the skins near the spot. Two other sheep of the same kind were left scarcely alive having been worried by dogs. At present the thieves have escaped being consigned to that justice so deservedly merited.

On Sunday afternoon, the house of Mr. Robert Scott of North Walsham was robbed of a £5. note, 2 sovereigns, about 40/- in silver, 12 silver teaspoons, and several trinkets. Suspicion immediately fell upon 2 youths of idle character. They have since been committed to the Castle upon their own confession. Subsequently Francis Burgess (20) And John Burgess (18) were found guilty and death recorded.

During Thursday night, 16 turkeys were stolen from the premises of Mr. Spearing, Farmer, of North Walsham. 12 of the same were later discovered in a field with their heads cut off.

A stranger giving his name as John Walker and appearing to be a horse dealer has been living in North Walsham where he spent his cash freely among the Newtapsters, treating his associates liberally until the party dropped in at The Dog Public House where the host discovered 2/6 was counterfeit. Walker was given into the custody of a Peace Officer who discovered a paper bag with 17 counterfeit half crowns, all dated 1819. Walker was committed to the Castle for trial.

Mr. Wilmott, Coal Dealer, had copper coin worth 8/- stolen.

Mr. Thos. Racey had 8 silver spoons, a pair of sugar bowls, a pair of shoes and groceries stolen. The thieves regaled themselves with wine and gin and made off undiscovered.

A swindler in the character of a Corn Merchant contrived, by exhibiting counterfeit bills and notes, to obtain corn from various North Walsham farmers to the value of £1,000 which he conveyed to Yarmouth, disposed of, and has not been heard of again.

John Huggins was committed to the Castle for one month for assaulting the Constable of North Walsham.

The house of Thos. Racey was broken into for the 6th time. 2 silver spoons, a pair of plated sugar tongs, India silk handkerchief, yellow silk handkerchief, a pair of socks, a pair of kid gloves, 61b. ham, bread and cakes etc. were stolen. 2 persons were taken into custody, but discharged for want of evidence.

A very common crime reported at this time was the stealing of horse hair from the manes and tails of horses left in fields overnight.

1832 - May
On Thursday, 17th at the Justices sitting at North Walsham, John Watts was convicted in the mitigated penalty of £1.2s, Martin Gage £1.0 for having respectively given false accounts of their loading to the toll-keeper of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal.
On Thursday sennight Thos. Fuller, a labourer, was convicted before the sitting Magistrates at the King's Arms, North Walsham of committing assault on one of the overseers of that Parish - paid the penalty and costs of £1.15s.

1833 - Jan
Thomas Saul (21) and James Hart (24) charged with having on the night of Friday, 4th January burglariously broken and entered the house of William Youard in North Walsham. It was proved by the evidence of Messrs. Shaw and Cubitt that they were in Mr. Youard's house on the night in question and heard the breaking of a window. They immediately went out and saw 2 persons running away, one of whom (Saul) they overtook and took into custody. The other prisoner was apprehended later lying behind a tree. The maidservant stated that the latch of the window was done up. The learned Judge, in summing up, remarked that the lives of the prisoners depended on the testimony of the maid, who might be mistaken as to the fact of the window being done up.
The prisoners were acquitted.
Robert Helsdon (47) was charged with stealing upon the North Walsham and Dilham Canal on 23rd of January last 12 bushels of barley. The principal witness was Robert Page, with whose evidence the jury was not satisfied. The prisoner was acquitted.

1874 April
Before Rev. J. Dolphin, Sir H. Robinson, Hon. H. Harbord, R. S. Baker, Esq., Louisa Lamer and Ann Elizabeth Lamer (mother & daughter) were charged with assaulting Harriet Wegg, the younger, and ordered to pay a fine cost amounting to £1.0 each. William Lamer was charged with assaulting Harriet Wegg, the elder, - case dismissed. John Wegg was charged with assaulting Ann Lamer - case dismissed.
Phoebe Bulley of Knapton House and Sarah Bulley of Trunch were charged with stealing 1 umbrella, 1 china saucer, 1 sugar dredger, the property of Sir. H. Robinson. He retired from the Bench for the case and appealed for mercy as Phoebe had been in his employ for a long time. Sentenced to 3 months and 2 months hard labour, respectively, to be served in Wymondham Bridewell.

Robert Stygall, William Saul and James Barber, labourers of North Walsham, were brought before Rev. J. Dolphin, Col. Duff and R.S. Baker, Esq. They were arrested by the Gamekeeper at the Gunton Estate and charged with using a dog for the purpose of killing game on the farm of Mr. F. Gibbs of Antingham.
Stygall, a notorious poacher, having been convicted 20 times under the same laws, was fined the full penalty of £5.0 and 13/- costs. In default, sentenced to 3 months hard labour.
Saul and Barber were fined £1.0 and 13/- costs each. In default, 1 months hard labour. Defendants were also charged with killing game on a Sunday. Stygall was sentenced to a further 3 months hard labour, and the others 1 months hard labour.

All reports from The Norfolk Chronicle unless otherwise stated.