CRIME IN LEIGH IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY
The Leigh Prosecuting Society accounts 1840 to 1852 held in the Leigh Archives give an indication of the sorts of crimes which were committed in the Parish and by whom they were committed. The Society was made up of the great and the good of Leigh, names which appear frequently in the records of Leigh as being from the middling classes of local shopkeepers, tradesmen, farmers – names such as Robert Humphrey (blacksmith and shopkeeper), Charles Gregory (doctor), Richard Crandall (shopkeeper), Rev. May, his daughter, William Wells, William Hilder and James Bellingham – all tenant farmers.
Many of the crimes are minor offences and on the Green at Leigh, where the war memorial stands today, there used to be a prisoners’ cage, where offenders would probably be housed until moved to Maidstone, where they would appear at the Quarter Sessions. But punishments could be severe and transportation is mentioned in the Account Book of the Society. The Criminal Registers 1791-1893 list the punishments meted out for crimes committed: from fines and whipping, to a few weeks imprisonment or longer (the imprisonment would have been at Maidstone Prison), to transportation (for seven years or longer, or even for life) and death. There were also acquittals.
Although in the Society Account Book many of the crimes are listed – and the expenses and rewards made to those responsible for pursuing and apprehending the culprits, little is given about the punishment of the offender in the Book, except in the case of sheep stealing, which appears to be the most serious crime that appears in the Book we have. In October 1841, the crime of sheep stealing had a life changing result for John Crowhurst. He stole from Mr William Hilder (of New Trench Farm – Hildenborough) and it is recorded that he was convicted and transported for 15 years. We know a little from the records – that the solicitor’s bill for conducting the prosecution was £3.7.1 and this was reimbursed to Mr Hilder as a member of the Society. However, see below for further information on this particular crime supposedly committed by John Crowhurst.
Likewise in 1847 W. Cherriman is also accused of sheep stealing – R Crandell and T Russell apprehended W. Cherriman for sheep stealing from Mr Hilder (poor Mr Hilder appears quite frequently as a victim, no wonder he was willing to pay the Society its fees). W. Cherriman was convicted to 10 years transportation.
Looking into these two cases further, via the England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791-1892, Convict Musters, Prison Hulk Registers, and Passenger Lists (records available via ancestry.com) there appears, however, to be no John Crowhurst condemned to 15 years transportation in 1840/41: there is only a John Crowhurst condemned to 14 days imprisonment for receiving stolen goods. However, one is able to locate William Cherriman (Cherryman). In the England and Wales Criminal Registers we find him tried at Maidstone on 2 July 1846, for sheep stealing and given a 10 year transportation sentence (the Account Book details are always after the trial, in this case they appear in 1847). William Cherriman was aged 34 and he was transported to Australia in 1848. He did not return. His wife, Sarah (nee Upton m. 1834) lived in Leigh with four of their seven children in 1851 and in 1861 she was living with her son, John, but described herself as a widow: in 1868 she married Joseph Malyan and they moved to Hever.
The types of crime committed included stealing apples, stealing wood, killing a calf, stealing chickens or geese or sheep, stealing straw, trespass and abuse, damaging fences and stealing of hop poles! A few examples of what we find in the Account book are:
1838: we have bills for the apprehension and conviction of Wm and Jas Hanmore (£2.15.9 paid to Paid W. Winter for Sir J Sidney for constable and attorney).
1840: Reward of £5 pounds paid for gibing information and evidence and assistance in apprehending and convicting one David Moss for stealing geese of Mr R Crandall, a member of this society.
1840/1. Reward for S Lidlow for detecting James Bishop destroying a fence.
1840/1: Reward to W Wheatley senr for giving information for apprehension of W. Pound.
1841: Mr W Smith expenses in prosecuting Elizth Sales for destroying fence. And reward to Thos Bowra for detecting the said Elizth Sales in said offence.
1841: Wm Woolley’s expenses on convicting George Betts stealing turnips: Reward to James Cooper for detecting the sd G. Betts.
Below is a list of many of those named for offences in the Account Book, many of whom can be found in the 19th century censuses. Further information is currently being added where possible about the people and their crimes. (However, there are some convictions for minor offences where the culprit’s name is not given, so the crime is not listed):
Ca 1836: Murdock for apple stealing of Mr Hilder (Constable Mr J Harris of Tonbridge)
In the Maidstone Gazette and Kentish Courier, there is an article about a George Murdock.
George Murdock, 24, for stealing a quantity of apples, the property of Thomas Hilder of Tonbridge. It appeared that Mr Hilder, who lives at Tonbridge, lost, on 20 November, two bushels of apples from his oast-house. In consequence of information, Mr Harris, the constable, watched at a pace where the apples were deposited, and in a short time the prisoner and a boy came to the spot to whom he gave some of the apples, when Harris took him into custody. Transported for life.
George is shown in the Maidstone Criminal Registers (1791-1892) as being tried on 5 January 1837 for larceny ‘before convicted of felony’, and given transportation for life.
The records below also say that he had a former conviction and the Criminal Registers show that a George Murdock was convicted of felony (a grave crime) in 1833, when he received 3 months. The 1833 does not give as much details, there is no age, so it is an assumption that it is the same George Murdock.
However, there is a report in the South Eastern Gazette, for in January 1833 a George Murdock, 18, was charged with stealing a fowl, the property of John Jewhurst, at Tunbridge and sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment in the House of Correction.
On 18 January 1837 George Murdock is aboard the Prison Hulk, Fortitude, moored at Chatham: and in the register it says his crime is stealing apples. The record also says he is single, that he can read and write, his trade was a labourer. The gaoler’s report says his character if bad, twice convicted before. On 14 July 1837 he is put aboard a vessel for Australia, the Asia (11). From the NSW convict indents 1788-1842, we find George Murdock (23) arrived on the ASIA (11) at New South Wales on 3 December 1837. The Indents give us some more information, that George was a protestant, for his former conviction he received a 3 months sentence, he is 5ft 4½inches tall and a ruddy and freckled complexion, brown hair, bluish eyes and a scar outer corner of left eyebrow, scar inside left wrist.
Later, there is further information: from the Tasmanian Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave 1846-1849 – we find he has been granted a ticket of leave. No further details, but it also looks as if he was pardoned in 1849.
Further information after his pardon is difficult to ascertain: there are several George Murdocks in Australia in the second half of the 19th century, there are possible marriages, but on-line records alone do not give enough detail for us to know what happened to George Murdock after 1849.
Ca. 1837: William and James Hanmore for felony: expenses to PW Winter for Sir J S Sidney for Constable & Attorney re apprehension of W&JHanmore and conviction (£2.15.9 paid to Paid W. Winter for Sir J Sidney for constable and attorney).
In the quarter sessions for Kent 1838 there is both James Handmore age 23 and William Handmore age 25 for larceny “before convicted of felony” (against both names), both given 6 months. The implication is that they had offended before. However, there is no report on this in the press of the time. So what happened to both the Hanmores after their conviction?
In the 1851 Leigh census there is William Hanmore age 39, with wife Catherine, and children: Deliah 14, William 12, Thomas 10, James 6, Eliza 3, Elijah 1, Mary 6mos. William is an agricultural labourer, and he is possibly living at Lower Green (as he resides somewhere between Budgeons Cottage and Pauls Farm).
In the 1841 census there is a William Anmore at Bidborough aged 25, agricultural labourer, with his wife Caroline, and family, which includes children of the same name as in the 1851 census. Likewise in 1861, at Tonbridge, there is William with wife Caroline, and children James 16, Eliza 14, Elijah 12, Mary 10, George 8. Therefore, it is the same family but for some reason his wife’s name is given as Catherine in 1851.
In the 1841 census at Amen Corner there is also the family of Wm Anmore 50 ag lab and Mary 50 with 8 children, and possibly the parents of William Hanmore, born ca 1812 and James Hanmore, born ca. 1815 although they are not living with them, for there is a William Hanmore baptized on 20 October 1811, the son of William and Mary Hanmore, in the Leigh baptismal register, although no James is found baptized at Leigh.
But on extending the search wider, there is a James Hanmore baptized at East Barming, Kent on 9 Jan 1814, the son of a William Hanmore and Mary. This is a possibility – as there is a William and Mary Hanmore having children between the years 1811 and 1833 in Leigh, Barming, Boxley, and then Leigh again.
I have not been able to find a James Hanmore at Leigh or the surrounding area in the censuses, but there is a James Hanmore, male, no 1362 Private 51st Foot 1841 Van Diemens Land, in the British Army Worldwide Index of regimental and service records (via ancestry.com). So perhaps he voluntary went out to Australia: however, that is the only mention currently that I can find on-line.
But I have found the following additional crime that may have been committed by James Hanmore: in the Maidstone Gazzette and Kentish Courier on 24 March 1835, there is the following article:
“James Hanmore 20 for killing and slaying George Coomber, at Leigh.
Edward Carter was examined: I am a labourer and remember the night of the 29th November and was at the Bat and Ball public house at Leigh. Prisoner and the deceased, Charles Coomber were there. They left the house, and witness shortly after left, and heard the prisoner and the deceased quarrelling and agreeing to fight. They went on the green and stripped. Several persons were with them. They met each other, but I did not see any blow struck. The fight lasted above an hour, and prisoner caught deceased round the waist every round, threw him down and fell on him. When deceased was down, prisoner struck him twice. Coomber did not speak after the last round and died in a few minutes after. Prisoner when the fight was half over, wished to leave off, but the deceased refused. By the prisoner – I do not know how the row begun. You hit him twice when he was down. James Gregory*, a surgeon, was called in to see the deceased on the green, and found him sinking very fast. He died in a few minutes. On examination, he found a great number of bruises, both internally and externally, which had no doubt caused his death. Guilty – six weeks’ hard labor.
There is also an entry in the Kent Criminal Registers for this particular offence. James Hanmore, our offender in 1838 would fit the age criteria for this incident in 1834/35.
Perhaps after the brothers’ convictions in 1838 they decided to take their lives in other directions.
*James Gregory: assume a reporter’s error, the surgeon and doctor at Leigh at the time was Charles Foster Gregory.
1840: David Moss for goose stealing off Mr R Crandall. W Nunn rewarded for information. Reward of £5 pounds paid for giving information and evidence and assistance in apprehending and convicting one David Moss for stealing geese of Mr R Crandall, a member of this society.
In October 1839 at Maidstone, there is a David Moss, aged 29, charged with larceny and receiving three months imprisonment. The Leigh Prosecuting Society would have met and deliberated after this date, which is why this crime is reported in 1840.
David Moss, according to the Criminal Register, would have been born in about1810. However, I have not been able to trace a David Moss living in the Leigh area. In the 1841 census for Bermondsey census, there is a David Moss 30 glass M (1871 = glass dealer) not born county and wife Eliza Moss 30, also not born county: but their three children are born in Surrey. The 1851 census gives David Moss as born Shoreditch. We cannot, however, connect him to the above offence..
Details of the crime appear in the South Eastern Gazette on 22 October 1839: “David Moss, 29, for stealing one gander, the property of Richard Crandall, at Leigh. It appeared that the prosecutor lost a goose from his field at Leigh on 13 August. In consequence of information the prisoner was pursued and soon overtaken, when he confessed that he had cut the throat of the goose, and offered to pay for it. He was given into custody. Three months’ hard labor”. (There is nothing further about Mr Moss himself in the article to connect him with Leigh or Kent).
Ca 1840/1: Reward for S Lidlow for detecting James Bishop destroying a fence.
The only conviction for a James Bishop in the Criminal Registers is a John James Bishop. The offence was tried at Dover Borough Sessions on 25 June 1841. He is a boy aged 13 and gets 3 months for larceny. It is unlikely he is the James Bishop apprehended at Leigh for destroying a fence.
However, there is a James Bishop in the Tonbridge census, with an address at Hollanden land (near the Half Moon) so in the Hildenborough area. He is aged 30 in the 1841 census and married with children and an agricultural labourer. He and his family are still at Hollanden in the 1851 census.
This particular offence does not appear in the local press. So there is no way of knowing whether we have the same man.
There is a Stephen Lidlow born at Leigh ca. 1817 (son of William and Ann Lidlow) and he appears in the 1851 census as an agricultural labourer: cannot find him in the 1841 census, but assume it is he who detected James Bishop committing the offence.
1840/1841: Wm Pound for felony: Sir J S Sidney bill for counsel and attorney for prosecution, and Mr Redman for same. Also W Wheatley sent reward for information for apprehension of Pound.
In the South Eastern Gazette on 7 Jan 1840 the case is reported of “William Pound 28, for stealing a timber chain, the property of Thomas Redman of Leigh. Also stealing sundry pieces of old iron, the property of Sir John Shelley Sidney, Bart. at Leigh. Two months’ hard labour on each indictment.”
This crime is also in the Criminal Registers for Kent, County Sessions Maidstone: trial date is 2 January 1840 William Pound is aged 28 and convicted of two cases of larceny. He receives 2 months for each conviction.
Therefore, William Pound would have been born in about 1812. However, there is no William Pound living in Leigh in the 1841 census, although he would have been released by this date. In 1851 census there is a William Pound, lodger, married, aged 38, labourer born Rye in Sussex, with wife Ann Pound 38, at Gas Lane, Tonbridge. However, it is not possible to say whether this is the same person apprehended for felony.
1841: Mr W Smith expenses in prosecuting Elizth Sales for destroying fence. And reward to Thos Bowra for detecting the said Elizth Sales in said offence.
There is nothing in the local papers about this, nor on the Criminal Registers, so perhaps it was not brought to court, although Mr Smith appears to have been paid expenses for prosecuting her. There is no Elizabeth Sales in the census for Leigh itself in 1841, although there are many bearing the Sales family name in the Leigh area.
However, in the 1841 census there is an Elizabeth Sales at Watts Cross (Hildenborough area) aged about 20, the wife of Jesse Sales (blacksmith) with two children Mary and Jesse. Jesse is the son of Jesse and Frances Sales of Leigh and was baptized in 1817 at Leigh. Jesse Snr was also a blacksmith at Leigh and died aged 89 in 1882 and was buried at Leigh: in fact two further sons, Thomas and George Sales were also both blacksmiths. In 1851 Elizabeth Sales and her husband Jesse, by now with 7 children, are still living at Watts Cross, London Road.
There is another Elizabeth Sales aged about 45 at Swan Lane, Tonbridge in the 1841 census..
We cannot link either of these Elizabeth Sales to the offence.
1841: Wm Woolley’s expenses on convicting George Betts stealing turnips: Reward to James Cooper for detecting the sd G. Betts.
In the 1841 census there is a George Betts, aged 26 (b. 1815), living in Hollanden Hamlet, Leigh with wife Ann and two children. He is an agricultural labourer. By 1851, he is still at Hollanden hamlet, and by now a thatcher and agricultural labourer, with wife Ann, and six children. (He was born at Tonbridge).
However, he is not listed in the Criminal Registers, nor is the offence in the local press. So it is not possible to say that this is the same George Betts in the records for stealing turnips.
1841: James Peerless, W. Pocock and John Hemsley for theft. Ed Young expenses on conviction.
Of the three named above, only two of those names appear in the Criminal Registers but not brought to trial on the same day. We also do not know whether they were all caught together committing a crime, or whether perhaps they were three separate offences. However, although it says Edward Young received expenses on conviction, there is no trace of John Hemsley in the Criminal Registers for Kent, nor is he found in the 1841 census for the Leigh or surrounding areas. In 1851 there is a John Hemsley, a lodger aged 42 and an agricultural labourer, living in Tonbridge.
In the Criminal Registers for 1840, trial date 9 March 1840, there is a James Peerless, aged 33, who received 2 months for larceny. So he would have been born about 1807. In the 1851 census for Bromely there is a James Peerless born about 1806, at Speldhurst, a carpenter. There are several other men by the name of James Peerless born in the area: in 1802 at Penshurst, in 1803 at Speldhurst, in 1807 at Withyam. So we cannot pinpoint him exactly in the 1841 census. However, in the South Eastern Gazette, 17 March 1840, we find the case of James Peerless, 33, reported. He is accused of stealing one nightgown, on shirt, one pocket handkerchief and one cream cloth, the property of Elizabth Lipscomb, at Penshurst – he received a good previous character – but received two months’ hard labour. Therefore, it is possible that James Peerless was from Penshurst.
Likewise, it is difficult to determine which William Pocock was convicted. In the Criminal Register, trial dated 7 January 1841, William Pocock aged 23 is accused of larceny (by servant – which implies he was a servant). He was found not guilty. This gives a birth of ca 1818. In the 1841 census at Hollanden Hamlet there is a William Pocock aged 20, an agricultural labourer, married to Frances, and two small children. In 1851 he is living in Tunbridge, aged 33, an agricultural labourer, with Frances and children. Here the age corresponds with the Criminal Register, but not the occupation.
The cases of John Hemsley and William Pocock do not appear in the local press.
1841: W. Osborne for theft. John Searle’s expenses in prosecuting; reward to Ed Gower for info.
In the Criminal Registers, trial on 2 January 1840 at Maidstone, there is a William Osborne, aged 19, illiterate, convicted of robbery with violence and given 15 years transportation. Further information about a William Osborne is found at ancestry.com. He is listed as departing on the Asia, 25 April 1840, for Tasmania. In the 1849-1851 Pardons and Tickets of Leave, there are two columns, and one states eight years – for the number of years in the colony, and the other states 1 year 8 months, time holding a ticket of leave. The case is reported in the South Eastern Gazette on 7 January 1841 and Osborne was convicted along with others of this crime, which took place at Bearsted near Maidstone. So this is not the case we are looking for.
In fact, in the case of W Osborne apprehended at Leigh a note in the Account Book says that ‘a sum of 5/- was presented to Ed Gower for giving information to his master, Mr John Searle of theft, as conviction did not follow’. However, the cases could refer to another William Osborne – aged 38, on trial on 6 April 1841 at Maidstone, for larceny by servant. He is acquitted. He would have been born ca 1803. In the 1851 census there is a William Osborne at Tonbridge, Rose and Crown, a yard servant, aged 48, born Tonbridge. The age of this William Osborne in 1851 corresponds with that at the trial, and he was also a servant. There is no mention of this case in the local press.
1841: John Parker apprehended for stealing peas. GW Humphrey (police officer) rewarded
There is a John Parker in the 1841 census for Leigh at Lower Green, age given as 15, and he is an excavator. He would have been born about 1825. There is no mention of this in the press nor on the Criminal Registers for 1840/41, so the offender was perhaps not prosecuted.
1840-41: John Crowhurst for sheep stealing of W Hilder. Mr Hilder’s expenses; expenses of Austin and Holcroft solicitors.
In October 1841, the crime of sheep stealing had a life changing result for a John Crowhurst. He stole from Mr William Hilder (of New Trench Farm – Hildenborough) and it is recorded that he was convicted and transported for 15 years. We know a little from the records – that the solicitor’s bill for conducting the prosecution was £3.7.1 and this was reimbursed to Mr Hilder as a member of the Society.
Looking into this case further, via the England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791-1892, Convict Musters, Prison Hulk Registers, and Passenger Lists (records available via ancestry.com) there appears, however, to be no John Crowhurst condemned to 15 years transportation in 1840/41: there is only a John Crowhurst condemned to 14 days imprisonment for receiving stolen goods – he is aged 49. This is in the West Kent Guardian also, and offence took place at Pembury, so not John Crowhurst, the sheep stealer.
Digging a little further, though, there was apparently a William Crowhurst, blacksmith, accused of sheep stealing – reported in the West Kent Guardian, 10 July 1841 from William Hilder of Tonbridge and the Court sentenced him to 14 years. Likewise, it is reported in the South Eastern Gazette 6 July 1841: William Crowhurst 32, blacksmith, for stealing one sheep, property of William Hilder, Tonbridge. Mr Bodkin conducted the prosecution. It appeared that the sheep in question, a down ewe, was stolen from the flock of the prosecutor in the night, and the skin and part of the carcase found hidden in some willows not far from the flock. On the prisoner’s house being searched two legs of mutton were found there which exactly fitted the marks which had been left on the skin. The prisoner said that he had found the mutton in a road. Mr Horne addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner who was found guilty: sentenced to fourteen years transportation. The prisoner, addressing the butcher who had deposed to the skin fitting the meat, then told him that he had sworn falsely and that he (prisoner) hoped to meet him when he came back again.
Earlier, on 11 May 1841, the South Eastern Gazette had reported on the case and gives us a little more information: William Crowhurst was a blacksmith employed by the South Eastern Railroad at Leigh, and was committed for trial by H. Streatfeild, Esq charged with having stolen a sheep, the property of Mr William Hilder, on Saturday night. Two legs and a shoulder were found in the prisoner’s house, which having been compared with the skin by Mr Richard Crandale, Butcher of Leigh, and was sworn to be part of the sheep.
In the 1841 census (April) William Crowhurst is in prison at Maidstone: it says that he was not born in the county, so assume not in Kent itself, and he is given as a blacksmith. His case can be found listed in the Criminal Registers: date of trial 1 July 1841; sentence transportation for 14 years. He is aged 32 (so born 1809). And in the UK Prison Hulk books he is listed and additional information given is that he is married, that he can read and write and was a blacksmith. There was no gaoler’s report but he was to be sent out on the Tortoise in August 1841. He was currently on the York hulk at Gosport. His voyage departed September 1841 to Van Dieman’s Land. The Australian Convict musters confirm that he arrived on The Tortoise in 1842.
Therefore, it appears there was some confusion in the Leigh Prosecuting Societies account book as to which Crowhurst was in fact arrested for the crime – the Crowhurst name was very common in Leigh and perhaps someone just wrote the name incorrectly in the LPS book.
1842: W. Shoebridge for stealing wood off James Searle. Apprehended by Tyler Police Officer.
There is a William Shoebridge, aged 35, living at Leigh in Kent in 1841. His address is at Amen Corner. He is an agricultural labourer and living with his wife, Lydia, and 8 children. Next door to him is Robert Shoebridge and his family. In 1851 William Shoebridge and Lydia are at Compasses (he is 51 – this age would be more accurate, born about 1800), plus three daughters and a son. In the baptismal records of Leigh there is a William Shoebridge, babtized 1799, son of James and Susannah Shoebridge and a William Shoebridge baptized 1801, son of Thomas and Jane Shoebridge. William and Lydia Shoebridge named one of their sons William, baptized 1822 at Leigh.
The family are still in Leigh in 1881. There is more information about the Shoebridge family on the website and in our archives.
There are several people by the name of William Shoebridge mentioned in the Kent Criminal Register between 1822 and 1859 – but none of the entries give an age, nor is there an entry for the 1841/42 period. So in this instance it could be that the offence was never taken further. There is also no mention in the local press.
1842: Braithewaite: W. Harman expenses (does not say of what Braithwaite was convicted)
Unable to find anything in the Kent Criminal Registers, in the Leigh censuses or local press of a Braithwaite committing an offence.
1842: Neal prosecuted on two indictments. Again expenses to W. Harman, but not what the indictment was (no Christian name given for Neal)
In the 1851 census there is a Stephen Neal, married to Harriet Neal: Harriet is the daughter of John Potter farmer at Prices Farm. Stephen Neal is 27, a waggoner born at Tonbridge. (his year of birth would have been about 1824). However, there is nothing in the Kent Criminal Register or the local newspapers linking a Stephen Neal to any crimes.
However, in the Kent Criminal Registers in 1842 there is a Josephine Neal, but no age or literacy is stated: the offence is larceny by servant, acquitted.
A case, however, appears in the South Eastern Gazette on 9 Nov 1841: there were two offences (as given above in the LPS accounts). Firstly, she was accused at Tunbridge Wells Petty Sessions with stealing 11 sovereigns and some copper money, property of her master, James Bennett. She was apprehended, the money found on her and she was committed for trial. Bail was afterwards taken. The prisoner was again charged with having stolen one night dress, property of Miss Mary Ann Banks. Mr A W Thomas appeared on behalf of the prosecutrix, but it was shown that when the prisoner’s box was brought back to Mr Bennett’s, the prosecutor in the former case, he desired the prosecutrix (his niece) to see if there was any property therein which was not the prisoner’s. The prosecutrix identified the night dress produced, but that she had told the prisoner she would lend her some warm clothing for the journey. The Bench considered that it might have been borrowed and dismissed the case.
Josephine Neal appears in the 1841 census at Speldhurst, working at the Duke of York, for James Bennett aged 60. Mary Banks is there, too. Josephine is 20.
Although there are two indictments shown in the press report, the name of Josephine Neal does not appear connected to Leigh, and we cannot be sure that this is the case referred to. If it is, it could be that the Leigh Prosecuting Society helped in apprehending the accused and William Harman received expenses in this respect.
It appears that Josephine Neal married a William Roser in 1843. From the 1861 – when she is a widow – her place of birth is given as Tunbridge Wells. Again no Leigh connection.
1842: Wm Shoebridge for stealing birds: Witnesses expenses – James Barden (name is not clear)
As above, there is no William Shoebridge mentioned in the criminal registers for 1842.
1842: Henry Day for stealing straw: expenses to Mr Bellingham and Constables.
In the 1841 census there is a Henry Day in Leigh parish, living at the Priory (in Egg Pie Lane). He is an agricultural labourer, with his wife, Eliza and 3 children. He is given as about 35 in 1841.
In the 1851 there is another Henry Day, with wife Harriet. He is aged 27 and has several children and is a Powder maker and was born in Tonbridge. In the 1841 census he is living at Hildenborough, aged 15, on the farm of Mr Hilder, farmer. The 1841 census ages are generally rounded down to the nearest 5/10 – so in this case Henry Day could be anything between 15 and 19.
In the Kent Criminal Register, there is a Henry Day given as aged 19 in 1842 and he is given 3 months for larceny. The trial date 28 Feb 1842. In terms of age, therefore, it is possible that we could be talking about Henry Day, the husband of Harriet and a powder maker of Leigh.
There is nothing reported in the 1842 local press.
1842: John Chapman for stealing apples and sack of Mr W Hilder. Expenses to George Walter for apprehending.
At Maidstone, on 18 October 1842, there is a John Chapman, aged 26, described as with imperfect reading and writing, accused of ‘larceny by servant’ and given 2 months.
This is reported in the South Eastern Gazette on 25 October 1841: John Chapman, 27, labourer, for stealing one sack and a quantity of apples, the property of William Hilder, at Tonbridge received two months’ hard labour.
In the 1841 census we can find a John Chapman (age given as 25, but this would have been rounded down), a labourer living in Tonbridge.
As the offence is larceny by servant, we can assume that John Chapman worked as a labourer for Mr William Hilder, a farmer of Leigh/Hildenborough.
1842: Wm Cole for stealing wood of Sir JS Sidney.Wm Crowhurst reward for apprehending him.
In the criminal Registers for Kent there is a William Cole aged 32 accused of larceny and found not guilty. (So born about 1811). However, there is nothing in the local press.
There are two William Crowhursts who show up in the 1851 census of Leigh. William Crowhurst a farmer of 13 acres – aged 61; and William Crowhurst, aged 38, an agricultural labourer.
1842: Ingrams for stealing hop poles of Mr. Redman: expenses to Austen & Holcroft for bill for conducting prosecution, and Mr.Redman and R Humphrey expenses for journey to Sevenoaks.
On 5 April 1842, in the South Eastern Gazette, is recorded a committal for trail of Richard Ingrams – for stealing a quantity of hop poles at Chevening.
On 12 April 1842, the South Eastern Gazette reported that Richard Ingrams, the occupier of a small farm, was charged with stealing a quantity of willow poles, the property of Thomas Redman, at Chevening. Mr Deedes stated the case: some wood belonging to Sir Richard Rycroft was sold to a person named Redman. It consisted in a great degree of willow poles, many of which being missed, search was made and they were found in another part of the wood, the fall of which had been purchased by the prisoner, but which comprised no willow at all. Nothing was said to the prisoner who was at work just by, but the parties went direct to a magistrate followed by the prisoner, who on seeing where they were going, came up and begged them to “make it up”, promising never to do it again. Mr Horn addressed the jury for the prisoner, remarking upon the small value of the property alleged to be stolen and the previous good character. Found guilty, but recommended to mercy. Imprisoned and hard labour, six calendar months. There was another charge against the prisoner which was not pressed.
On researching a little further into the background of the Redmans, the following was found:
In the 1841 census, there is a Thomas Redman, a farmer at Lower Street, Tipps Cross, Hildenborough part of Tonbridge. (Lower Street is near Leigh). He is 61. In the 1851 census he is 70, and a farmer of 235 acres – still at Hildenborough, born Stockbury in Kent. However, there no mention of Chevening: but from the above it appears that probably Richard Ingrams was his tenant at Chevening. (Stockbury is in the Maidstone area on way to Sittingbourne). Thomas Redman could also have owned or farmed land in Chevening as well as Hildenborough.
Thomas Redman is mentioned in the 1832 Vestry Minutes for Leigh.
1842: Boakes and others for stealing straw of Mr John Searle. R. Crandall expenses in apprehending
There is no mention of this in the local press. It may have gone no further. ‘Boakes’ cannot be found in the 1841 census for Leigh but the name is quite common in the area of Tonbridge and Sevenoaks.
1842/43: John Chapman stealing apples. Costs to George Walter for apprehending; later in LPS account book: expenses from W Hilder for prosecuting
This appears in 1842, with costs to George Walter for apprehending and again in 1842 for expenses to W Hilder for prosecuting. The case is found in the Criminal Records for around that period.
Next to this in the account book is a payment to W Hilder for the expenses incurred in recovering of two horses which had ‘been deceitfully obtained with intent to defraud’. However, this particular incident – a theft of horses which would be a serious offence – is not mentioned in the local press around the 1842/43 period (having searched on Mr Hilder’s name), although the offender’s name is not given.
1844: Hemsley for turnip stealing.Expenses to W. Poynder for prosecuting , plus George Bennett reward for apprehension
This is a further incident involving ‘Hemsley’ (see also the 1841 case where a John Hemsley was accused of theft with two other offenders, although Hemsley could not be found in the Criminal Registers or press for the 1841 period).
This time there is no Christian name given for Hemsley – so it might not be the same person. On looking at the Criminal Registers there is a case on 16 March 1843 of a William Hemsley who received two months for larceny. He was 16, illiterate. However, there does not appear to be a William Hemsley in the 1841 census living in the Leigh area.
On searching local press for both Hemsley and for Poynder, no relevant mentions were found.
1845: W Cherriman for sheep stealing. Mr Hilder’s expenses; 1846- R Crandall and T Russell paid for apprehending W Cherriman. (n.b. Cherriman tried at Maidstone in 1846 – Messrs Austen & Holcroft paid for conducting prosecution)
Cherriman is accused of sheep stealing and R Crandell and T Russell apprehended W. Cherriman for sheep stealing from Mr Hilder (poor Mr Hilder appears quite frequently as a victim, no wonder he was willing to pay the Society its fees). W. Cherriman was convicted to 10 years transportation.
One is able to locate William Cherriman (Cherryman) in the England and Wales Criminal Registers: he is tried at Maidstone on 2 July 1846 for sheep stealing and he is given a 10 year transportation sentence (the Account Book details are always after the trial, in this case they appear in 1847). William Cherriman was aged 34 and he was transported to Australia in 1848. He did not return. In 1841 William Cherriman is an agricultural labourer, living with his wife Sarah and 5 children on Selby’s Farm, Hildenborough. He married Sarah, nee Upton in 1834 at Leigh. In 1851 Sarah is living in Leigh with four of their seven children, given as married, and a pauper – ag lab wife. In 1861 she was living with her son, John, but described herself as a widow: in 1868 she married Joseph Malyan and they moved to Hever.
William Cherryman appears in the Australian Convict Transportation Registers as convicted 2 July 1846 for ten years. The vessel is the Anna Maria, voyage date 6 March 1848 – colony, Port Phillip, Victoria, Tasmania. There is no further record of him.
We can assume that as Sarah gave herself as a widow in 1861, that she had heard that William had died.
1847: Tilly for stealing turnips. Expenses to Mr. Redman, Constable for apprehension and John Goldsmith reward.
There is too little to go on here with just a name of ‘Tilly’.
1847: T May misdemeanour – attempt to steal geese. W Couchman’s expenses for prosecuting.
There are 3 Thomas Mays living at Leigh in this period – the Vicar Thomas May; Thomas May, an agricultural labourer living at Lower Green (aged about 30 in 1841; in 1851 he is married to Mary); and finally Thomas May aged 4 in 1841, son of William May, living at Upper Green and in 1851 Thomas is a scholar, still living with parents on the Green.
The case does not appear in the Criminal Records for Maidstone, so it may have been dealt with locally. It also does not appear in the local press. Therefore, there is no further information – but one could safely say that the offender was not the Vicar of Leigh!
1847: Samuel Hanmore for stealing apples. Constable’s expenses.
In the 1851 census there is a Samuel Hanmore, 25, an agricultural labourer living in Leigh, with his wife, Elizabeth Hanmore, aged 35, at Giraffe Cottage – this would have been one of the cottages between the old workhouse and the turning at Lower Green. By 1861 he and his wife had moved to Coulsden and he is a railway signalman. He would have been born about 1826.
However, there is nothing in the Criminal Registers nor in the Local Press mentioning a Samuel Hanmore. Whether the offender was the Samuel Hanmore mentioned above, we can assume that the offence was not pursued further.
1848: Titley and Bennett for stealing turnips. Mr. Redman’s expenses.
There are several Bennett families living at Leigh in 1841 and 1851 – but cannot find a Titley family. There are several Bennetts showing up in the Criminal registers for 1848, but no one with the name of Titley. Looking at the local press the names of Titley and Bennett do not appear together in any report. With no further information on their names, it is not possible to find any information – and possibly the case was not taken further.
1848: Mr Marchant for felony on W Hilder. R. Crandall reward for information.
In the Criminal Registers for 27 June 1848 at Maidstone, there is a William Marchant, aged 19, with imperfect literacy, given 6 weeks for larceny, but this case is not mentioned in the local press.
On searching for a William Marchant at Leigh about this time, in the 1841 census there is a William Marchant aged 15, living at Leigh Street who is described as an agricultural Labourer. There is also the family of Edward Marchant, a farmer at Cinder Hill who has a son named William Marchant, aged 10 in 1841: one would assume that he would have been literate. Neither of these William Marchants appear in the 1851 census for Leigh.
It is difficult to say whether William Marchant, the agricultural labourer, was the offender.
1849: W. Bamlett for cutting underwood. Arthur Lewis expenses for prosecuting.
Mr Bamlett does not appear in the Criminal Registers for England. The surname appears to be of northern origin – common in Yorkshire – and there is no W Bamlett in the Kent censuses for 1841 or 1851. The name does not appear in the local press either.
1849: Mr Hasemer for stealing turnips. Geo Bennett reward for info.
Mr Hasemer does not appear in the local press nor is there anyone of the name in the census for the Leigh area. The case does not appear in the Criminal Registers.
1849: S. Smith for cutting underwood. Mr. Woodgate Constable expenses . William Botting reward for information.
There is no further information on this particular person. We do not have a Christian name or sex of the party. There is nothing in the local press. In the Leigh 1841 census there is a John Smith and a Joseph Smith; in the 1851 census there is an Elizabeth Smith living at Leigh – and a John Smith at Tonbridge.
1849: Ann Smith being brought to magistrate. Mr Fuller, Constable expenses.
As no offence is given in the LPS account book it is difficult to make any further comment. Also there is no Ann Smith in the Leigh census for 1841 and 1851: therefore, it could have been an Ann Smith out of the parish area. One can find an Ann Smith in the Criminal Registers for 1849 and there is also a report in the South Eastern Gazette for December 1849 at Maidstone Petty Sessions for an Ann Smith wilfully breaking a street lamp – it is not possible to say whether we are talking about the same Ann Smith.
Joyce Field (May 2016)
Local newspapers available via Findmypast website
Leigh Prosecuting Society Account Book and miscellaneous papers
Ancestry.com for Criminal Registers, Convict Registers, Censuses 1841-1911