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Forum Home > Other Crimes and Punishments. > Rapscallions and Rogues.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

I have been into Genealogy for quite some time now, not just for my own family, but for others as well. There are a great many who search, with a longing for something, or someone, out of the ordinary scope, of Agricultural Labourer, or just plain Labourer. There is extreme joy at times, when an old rogue turns up. He, or She, might have stolen a few sheep, nicked a few items, committed a robbery, and been hanged or transported for the offence. Even a murderer in the family can enliven up the family archives. But not always. Some people take it all rather differently, even when the timescale exceeds 150 years. There's no such thing as a " clean murder ", they are all nasty, and should be accepted as such, you can't, after all, change history. There are many instances, where an accomplice escapes the penalty of the Law, either through lack of evidence, or by simply being a bit cleverer than the one who got caught. Rummaging through old trial documents, putting it all back together, and then forming a modern day opinion, based on the evidence, is a fascinating experience. The results make really good Television drama, watched, and enjoyed by millions. For some however, the re-emergence of an old crime, is an event that must be supressed, or the blame passed on to other circumstances. In other words, their relative must be somehow whitewashed. Thankfully, it's not often that any real threats are issued, most people are grateful to know, just what really happened, instead of just a vague family story. Or in some case's, no story at all. I suppose it all boils down to how you view life. Modern attitudes are somewhat different to a 100 years ago, when having such a person in your family, would have been a source of great shame, and bought on a prompt name change or a move out of the area. So what would be your first reaction, on finding a murderer in your otherwise average family tree? Would you for instance, jump for joy at the discovery. Remember, this is not a case of being hung for stealing a sheep, nor for several convictions of simple Larcency. You may just have unearthed a long forgotten case of a nasty Child Murder, and which you may not wish to have publicised online in your family tree. Perhaps it has appeared in a book on murders, or a story you have just read. What do you do next? What you don't do, is try and shoot the messenger, or ask for the item, or name, to be removed, they are only writting about what is a small part of the regions judicial history. So the same question is posed again, " you want to find an old rogue for your family tree, but what will you do if you find a really nasty one ".

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

December 31, 2011 at 4:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Unicorn
Member
Posts: 46

I would not mind finding  a murderer in my family tree how ever nasty they were, after all you donnot have to talk to them do you.

January 1, 2012 at 1:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Over 100 years ago, in 1910, it was Charity Carnival time in Wolverhampton. As usual every August, large crowds turned out, much beer was drunk, much merryment ensued, and a lot of money went into the Carnival Committees pot. All this loot though, had to be accounted for, and all the expenditure listed, correctly, in a balance sheet. The Chairman of the Committee this year, was a local prominant Publican, a certain Mr A.J. Gray, assisted by joint Secretarys, Mr James, and Mr. Paulton. The end of August rolled by, then September, October, and finally, in early November, someone asked to see the balance sheet. Mr A.J. Gray patiently explained, that the delay was due entirely to several of the gate-keepers not having returned their figures, and so it was unknown just how much had been raised. This was of course patent nonsense, the amount raised, which had already been handed over by the gate-keepers, should have been easy to count. The figures however, would tell if the folk who passed through the turnstiles, matched the figure counted. The Newsmen of the day began to sniff a scandal in the offing, and pressed the joint Secretaries for an answer. They both made a statement very familiar today, NO COMMENT. The Gate-keepers meanwhile, denied being to blame for the delay, and swore on oath, that all the paperwork had been handed in. It then came to light, that many of the advertised attractions and competitions had either not appeared, or been cancelled. Prize money had also been allocated, and as no competitions had taken place, where, it was asked, was the Charity money. Where indeed, for before Christmas, Mr A.J.Gray had sunk out of sight, or more likely slunk out of town. As for the other two, niether of them were to be involved in any further Charity work for the Carnival, wagging tongues making life a little difficult for them. And the Charities, well they finally got their money, as the figures were at last located, in a Pub would you believe.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

March 29, 2012 at 3:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walter Baggot.

Alexander Baggot.

Elizabeth Boot.


Alexander Baggot was born in the Woodside area of Dudley, around 1877. He grew up in some tough times for the population, and like many youngsters, would have resorted to a bit of " borrowing ". He did not though, get into any serious trouble until 1898. This may have come from him being a bit careless with a young woman called Elizabeth Boot, whose parents lived at 7, Paradise, Dudley. I can't think of a more unsuitable name for the place, which comprised  some very unsanitary dwellings. It would not have made much difference though to Elizabeths father, William Boot, he was totally Blind, and it was all they could afford. Her condition, a fairly common occurence in the district, caused a few harsh words to be exchanged, but Alexander, whether playing the gentleman or forced, married the expanding Elizabeth, at Saint Johns, Kate Hill, in late1898. He then, it appeared, set off to furnish the house, stealing two carpets to begin with. As with most crooks of the time, he was a long way down the queue whe the brains were being handed out, and he was soon caught. The fine was a hefty 20 shillings, and he must have paid it by stealing other things, as his record suggests. In 1890, the baby was born, a healthy boy, christened William Alexander Baggot. He didn't have much time spend with the new arrival, for he was caught stealing a load of Brass and Lead, and given 6 months imprisonment at the Worcester Assizes, which he served at the City Gaol. He was back in prison the next year for a fraud, trying to obtain goods with a false name, and then in 1904, again for stealing Brass, sent to Wakefield Prison for 12 months. ( So if anyone thinks Metal theft is a new idea, forget it ) You would have thought that this would have taught him a lesson, but oh no!. Just after being released, he recruited a relative, Walter Baggot, to assist in his latest plan, this time to rob a wharehouse. It happened to stock guess what, yes the inevitable pile of Brass, and they were caught again. Because of his previous record, this time, he and his relative got 18 months, Alexander being sent back to see his old mates in Yorkshire at Wakefield. Walter was sent to keep him company, and a few weeks later, bought back to West Bromwich, where he was given another 6 months for a break in where a load of ( wait for it ) Brass was stolen. Alexander spent some time with his family in 1908, and to be fair, some of 1909 as well, before his next escapade. No prizes for guessing what comes next, surfice to say, that the Police at Brierley Hill knew full well who had taken a large amount of Brass and Copper from a stockholder's premises without paying for it. This time they both got 3 years, and for the third time, Alexander went off to what was becoming his second home in Wakefield. Walter got sent to the seaside, thats if you can describe Parkhurst, on the Isle of Wight, as a holiday destination. For some strange reason, Alexander Baggot described himself as an railway engine driver while in the nick. The nearest he ever came to an railway engine, was when he was stripping off the brass fittings. You could say he was a bit obsessed with shiny metal, but in the end, it was his wife who must have really been " Brassed Off."

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 11, 2012 at 11:37 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

William Turner, 1658.

John Dudley, 1656.

Margaret Sherwood, 1670.


Way back in history, the region produced a fair share of Rogues. William Turner, who appears to have born in Wolverhampton, around 1658, was by trade a Locksmith. This was a very useful skill, not only did he make the locks, he also knew how to open them. There was of course, more money to be made in a big city, so in 1683, he set off to make his fortune. Alas, the streets of London were paved with a substance far removed from Gold, and although he made enough to live on, it wasn't enough to sustain a Wife and Child. Having knowledge, which to anyone faced with a locked door could be invaluable, he soon fell into bad ways. Burglary though, only bought in small amounts of cash, and so it came to pass, he agreed to help with a bit of forgery. Not any old forgery mind, but Coins of the Realm, which, if you were caught, carried the death penalty. In January 1693, he was indeed caught, and the Judge at his rather short trial, discribed his base Coins as a bit on the crude side. Now the sentence allowed for this, was to Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered. Because it was concidered to be a slightly gory sight, the Quartering bit had been discontinued. So, on Friday 27th January, 1693, William Turner was taken to Tyburn, not in a cart, but drawn on a sledge, and hanged with about 12 others. It attracted of course, a very large crowd, as these mass hanging were designed, as a warning to others who may have been tempted to break the Law. It rarely worked, there was always someone to step in the vacant shoes of a criminal. Just 5 months later, John Dudley,  born around 1656, and who may have come from Rowley Regis, Staffordshire, found himself travelling the same route. A Nailer by trade, he had set up in business as an Ironmonger in London, some 4 years before. Like many before and since, he wasn't doing very well and resorted to Clipping, Filing, and generally diminishing the value of coins of the realm. It should be noted at this point, that high value coins of the time, were almost pure Gold and Silver. Pleading mercy for a first offence was a waste of time, and he was duly sentenced to hang. He was not alone on the cart trip to Tyburn, another Staffordshire man, Joseph Stitch, a shoemaker, born around 1660, and  from Cannock, was in the second cart. He had served in the Army during the recent troubles in Ireland, and had decided to see the sights in London instead of going home. Two burglaries and areally vicious highway robbery later, he was caught with the stolen goods. He could hardly claim it was his first offence, but he gave it a go anyway. They were both Hanged on 16th June,1693. To round up a rather eventful year for the County, one Margaret Sherwood, born about 1670, possibly in Sedgley, was also convicted, with two others, of clipping coins. The sentence for all three was to be Burnt at the Stake. Margaret repented all her sins, (as many did when faced with a death sentence) so many in fact, that apart from listing Whoring, and lurid discriptions of numerous bouts of Fornication, I havn't space for the rest. On the day of the executions, they were all dragged to Tyburn on seperate sledge's. A paper arrived, and Margaret believed she had been reprieved, but alas, it only decreed that she would not be burnt, but merely hanged. That must have come as a huge relief for the young woman. She had to watch though, as Ann Clements and Elizabeth Tomkins, were first strangled, then burnt to ashes, before she became the centre of the massive crowds attention. You could say, that on that Monday, 23rd October 1693, the crowd were given a grand display and warning, of what could happen to you if you should fall foul of the Law. Sadly, it never did.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 12, 2012 at 3:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Flora Bell Bassford, was obviously a young woman with high principals, but a bit less worldly wise than most. She had been born in Hollinwood, Lancashire, in 1881, to hardworking parents John and Eliza Bassford. Both of them came from the area, John having been born in Bilston, and Eliza in Portobello, Willenhall. The family, seven children, Flora being the fourth one, moved back to the midlands before 1891, where John took up being a shopkeeper in Pool House, Aldrige, just outside Walsall. The shop, selling both Grocery and Iromongery did well, and was where we now come across Flora, in 1910.  She was at the time almost 30, an age at which, it was beginning to look like she would be left on the shelf. But no, onto the scene appears the villian off this piece, Police Constable George Payne. P.C. Payne was based in Denton, Manchester, and in this year, was staying with his brother, just over the road from the Bassfords shop. No doubt trading on the fact of her being born in his home area, he began to spend a great deal of his time talking to Flora in the shop. She must have taken a shine to this uniformed reprobate for in December, he wrote and said he was putting in a transfer request to the Staffordshire Constabulary. He even sent her a Christmas Love poem, and in February,1911, he proposed marriage to the lucky girl. Oh but how love cools, when distance is placed between two ardent souls, for in July, he wrote again, breaking off contact with her, as his " feelings " had changed towards her. Now I said she had high principals, and Flora was not to be put out by all this, and she soon found out he had married another. Oh the shame, having given her all, ( yes, it would appear she had ) so she instigated proceeding against him for Breach of Promise. So the dastardly P.C. found himself in Court, denying he had ever made such a promise, but alas, dear Flora Bell had kept his letters. He then claimed, that she had done all the running, and had even proposed to him, but he, unlike the lady he had made " violent and passionate love to ", could not produce any letters to back up his caddish claims. He told the Jury, that he never thought for a moment she would summons him, let alone drag him into Court. They found him guilty, but it only being a civil action, the Jury awarded Flora Bell, £5 in damages. Mind you, she had certainly stained his character, and given the new Mrs Payne something to think about. I wonder how he got in the Police Force following that lot, and then again, given the lowly status of women in 1911,  he probably got promoted.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 20, 2013 at 3:49 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Rapscallions and Rogues come in many guises, and you will need to make your own mind up about the next few. These stories come from extracts of the West Yorkshire Coroner, Thomas Taylors notes. Keziah Booth, was the second daughter born to her father, Reuben Booth, a Letter Press Printer, in Wheeler Street, Leeds. For the time, 1874, the family were concidered to be a bit above the avarage, that is, they were not anywhere near the breadline. In 1893, Keziah met a young man, William Dawson, and dispite warning from her sisters, began to " step out " with him. At some stage, this stepping out, led to a bit of lying down, for in 1894, Keziah found she was " up the duff ". Over a bit of light supper, she relayed this news to William, and a bit later, she went down ill, developing a raging thirst shortly before expiring with some last words. She told her sister, on what turned out to be her death bed, that she believed her beloved had poisoned her. The families suspicions about the young man were of course correct, he had, in 1891, been sentenced to 15 months hard labour, for three previous offences, plus the theft he had committed, which had bought him yet again into court. Still, being a thief doesn't make you out to be a murderer, and so it proved, as not a trace of any poisons were found in the poor girl. He had of course, denied ever having any " knowledge " as to her pregnant condition, the cad. Now what would you expect, if you found the following cause of death on an ancesters Certificate, " Excitement and Passion ". I bet some lurid scenes would pass through your mind, but I would wager any sum, that an argument over a washing line wouldn't spring to mind. That's what was recorded, in the death of Sarah Coton in Leeds. in 1889. She and her husband John, and several children lived at 18 Belgrave Street, Leeds, their neighbours being, at number 16, John Gardener, a Boot maker, and at number 20, Sarah Ford, a Boarding House keeper. She was apparently deeply insulted by one of them, over some remarks about the washing line, or more likely, about what was on it. So upset was she, that she set down the basket, then set herself down with it, fell over, and by the time she was reached by her husband, she had gone to the great laundry in the sky. It doesn't say which neighbour it was, but you could bet your bottom dollar, that today someone would be facing a manslaughter charge. Records like this, may very well be in the local Archives at Dudley, Sandwell. Wolverhampton, and Walsall, If you want to try and put a bit of meat on your ancesters bare bones, it's worth asking. There are charges for searching out this information, between £10 and £15 pounds, but it will be a small price to pay if something like the above turns up.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 24, 2013 at 11:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Zachariah Edwards, a man from the Blackcountry, who was not all he appeared to be. He was born, somewhere around Bilston, Staffordshire, in the late 1760s, or the early 1770s. He decided early on in life, that it would be less trouble if he robbed folk of their money, than actualling working for it. He turned to what was known as Highway Robbery, or rather he became what was known elsewhere, as a footpad. To escape detection, he adopted another identity, and used the name of Jack Hughes. The road from Darlaston to Bilston, took a rather meandering route through Woods Bank and Moxley, before turning towards Bilston and more open countryside. It was Zachariah's favourite spot, for although very few of the richer inhabitants walked the route, he could always be sure of a trinket or two. Richard Davis, on his way home from some business in Darlaston, was not expecting any trouble until from out of some bushes, sprang Edwards, with a large and hefty piece of wood in his hands. Davis, not wanting his head stove in, gave Edwards the Silver Watch and Chain he was wearing, but wisely, didn't mention the two gold coins he had hidden in his shoe. Satisfied, Zachariah Edwards disappeared into the darkness of the night, but he had been observed, and less than two hours later, was dragged from the Ale House he was drinking in, and thrown into Bilstons lockup. He been a busy robber, but never a very successful one, and at Stafford Assizes, in early August, all his luck ran out. On Friday 30th August, 1800, he was taken from his tiny cell and judicially hanged by the neck until he was dead. One less Rogue for the population of the two towns to worry about.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

It's interesting comparing sentences in different time periods, for it shows the progress made by the law away from the " Hang'em High " theory. Mind you, you have to look twice at a few and think, ' how did they get away with that '. James Wardle, a man from Wednesbury, obviously enjoyed a drink or two, the problem being that enjoyed a bit of a brawl as well. In March, 1840, he found himself facing a Manslaughter charge after a man he had been fighting, suddenly died. He was lucky, for as in other case's, the Law could not prove it was he who had actually struck the fatel blow: He was given just the two months detention, and a promise to behave in future. John Foxley Perkins, rather a grand name for a petty thief from Rowley Regis, wasn't the sharpest blade in the knife draw. Having been found Guilty of one offence at the same Assizes, he stupidly went and admitted to a second, committed shortly after the first. He got 6 months for the first, and a further 3 months added on for the second offence. John Britton, a hardened criminal from Wolverhampton, was lucky when his turn came up in the dock. Highway Robbery sounds a bit glamourous to us, many years in the future, but in fact, back then it was a nasty little crime, which mainly consisted of waiting behind a bush or wall, and then bludgening some poor innocent soul on the way home. He got a years hard labour for his latest exploit, lets hope he learned his lesson, for the ones that followed him into the dock, certainly hadn't.


Isaac Bird, a miserable little man from Wolverhampton, earned his living with a hammer in one hand, and a ladle of hot metal in the other. Bird was a Forger of Coins, and to put it bluntly, not a very good one. He had already served a short prison term for being involved in the trade, and he was well aware of what would happen if he was caught again. He was, and he was sentenced to be Transported for 14 years. This particular Bird never managed to fly home. Thomas Burton, a reprobate from the smokey town of West Bromwich, stole three fat and possibly delicious Suckling Pigs from under the nose of a local farmer. Undetected at the time, so a few weeks later, he went back, and stole 19 choice Fowl. There was no way he could plead hunger as a defence, for who is going to believe you could  eat 19 chickens or ducks at one meal. Having confessed to both robberies, he was sentenced to 7 years Transportation for the Pigs, and 14 years Transportation , for stealing the Fowl. No amount of  pathetic squealing after the events, could get his sentence reduced. Henry Barnsley, a native of the town of Tipton, was a hardened criminal with a love of shiny things. In his case, the glint of freshly minted money proved to be too much of a temptation. He had been in prison several times, and seemed to believe he would always get away with a light punishment. Stealing a bag of Copper coins was a step too far however, and the sentence of 15 years Transportation must have took his breath away. I bet the chains that he wore when they put him on the ship, were a lot heavier than that bag of Copper, and lasted longer.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

March 31, 2014 at 3:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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