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Forum Home > Halesowen and Hasbury History. > Halesowen, Petty Crime & Theft.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Not every crime, committed by the inhabitants of Halesowen, warranted the harsh treatment most would associate with the past. Among the many petty little things that could get you locked up, and don't I wish at times this one was still available, was Being a Rogue and a Vagabond. The usual sentence was between one week and a month, with hard labour thrown in as an added bonus. This was a way of convicting someone, when the proof of a crime was not forthcoming. A similar sentence could be expected if you failed, in the words of the Court, To maintain your Bastard child. The cost of course would have fallen to the Parish, and the rate payers where not going to stand for that either. One man from the area, abandoned his wife and 5 children in the Workhouse, and an outraged Judge sent him to Worcester County Gaol for 3 months to teach him a lesson. Not all the Judges were as harsh though, for Ann Bryan, a 27 year old widow, was aquitted, in 1845, of receiving Coal, stolen from the New British Iron Company.  When the circumstances of Luke Charm, and his starving family, were heard by the Jury, at his trial in 1846,  ( the theft of a Hat, Handkerchief and a bit of Cash ) they found him not guilty. Age was also sometime taken into account, as in the case of Eliza Cooper, aged 14, in 1846. She had been accused by her master of stealing money, and a lengthy spell in prison could be expected. The Grand Jury were not convinced she had actually stolen it though, and declared " No Bill ", freeing her from detention. Saran Ann Taylor, aged 14, and in the same year, was found not guilty of Stealing Coal, once again the property of The New British Iron Company, The year before, 1845, the same Company prosecuted another youngster for the same offence, Edward Townsend. He was only just turned 8 years old, and not surprisingly, the Jury aquitted him of the theft. Now I know that many take an interest in family names, and this next crime will look good in someone's tree. Daniel Crumpton, aged 45, and his 'helper', Joseph Rea, aged 17, were convicted in 1845 of the theft of a quantity of Clover and Ryegrass. I don't know how much they stole, but it must have been a fair old pile, for they both got 4 months imprisonment for their cheek. The last one in this post, was not born in the County, but the business he was engaged in, Hawking, took him every where. It was just unfortunate that he chose Halesowen to steal a few Horses, for the punishment was severe, and he was transported for 15 years. James Millican was 20 years old in 1845, and I wonder whether the same penalty would have been handed out to a local man.

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

July 24, 2013 at 3:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Halesowen covered a fairly large area, not just the town as some believe, but much further afield. Oldbury, long a part of Worcestershire, was administered from Halesowen, as was Warley Wighorn, part of Shropshire, and Quinton, now part of Birmingham, but originally called " The Quinton ".  You only have to look at the Parish Burial records to see the just how far and widespread the adminstration was. Petty theft was not confined to the males either, for some of the young girls had an eye for an opportunity as well. Mary Ann Arthur, and her friend, Elizabeth Hale, were arrested and charged over the disappearence of a Pinafore in 1847. Both girls were about 15, a guess at best, for neither of the families could either read or write. They were lucky, and were Aquitted. Not so fortunate were Mary Cannon,aged 19, and her younger friend, Bridget Mack, aged 16.  Urged on by the older girl, Mack managed to steal some Boots, and then returned a few hours later, and stole Handerchiefs. They were both sentenced to 3 Months imprisonment on each charge, which at least meant that they were fed for the next 6 months. Harriet Skipton, aged 24, by contrast, a married woman with two children, stole an Apron, ( Leather, and used by the Nailers )  and was given 7 Days imprisonment. It was fairly common, for the dirt poor Nailers, to regulary steal each others tools, equipment, Iron, and finished nails. If she had been some years older, like Hannah Dutton, at 48, who stole a childs cap and a few stockings, she would have been banged up for a lot longer. Dutton got the full 6 months treatment. You would have to feel a bit sorry for Robert Gregson, aged 35, who couldn't afford a new dress for his wife so stole one. That Linen Frock cost him 4 months in the County Gaol. Ann White, aged 18, appeared at the quarter sessions barefoot, charged with stealing a pair of Boots. The plan, if it was a plan, worked, for she was aquitted of the crime. The last one, although committed by males, has an element of the female in it. Eli Homer, aged 16, a Chaimaker from Cradley, together with two friends, James Gane, also 16, and Richard Bennett, aged 19, were apprehended for the theft of several Hen Fowls. Presumably for the eggs they would produce. Claiming that they had merely wondered into their Hen House, they were aquitted due to the lack of a witness who could speak, rather than just cluck. One ot these three, failed to heed the warning about what was likely to happen should he further transgress, and in 1849, Richard Bennett paid a high price for his stupidity.  ( See Australia Bound )

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

July 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

No one asks for, or indeed deserves to be, robbed of their life savings, but there is an element of doubt creeping in when it comes to this case.


Not everyone in the tiny hamlet of Hasbury, Halesowen, was a dirt poor nailer, or ragged farm labourer in 1865. Take Thomas Withers, he was a Licenced Victualler, ( The Beehive, on the Hagley Road.) a Farmer, and a Timber Merchant. Although a highly successful businessman, he appears to have some strange ideas, one of which was a mistrust of any of the local Banks. ( And you all thought that this was modern problem ) Eccentric, was the word used to discribe Thomas Withers, and the fact that he kept his money in his house, overtime, spread beyond the bounds of sleepy little Hasbury. In fact, it reached the ears of two former local men, Thomas Edwards, a 23 year old labourer, and Thomas Williams, aged 29, a shoemaker, both of whom now resided in Birmingham. It seemed to good to be true, but having inquired about the habits of Thomas Withers, they decided to have a go at a bit of Burglary. As usual. on the night of 24th October, 1865, Mr Withers was away from his house, and the evil pair succeeded in their night-time escapade. Just how well, only came to light the next day.


In reporting the breakin, Mr Withers was forced to declare, to the rather astounded Policeman, that he had over £1,500 in the house before the Burglary. £1.000 in sovereigns he said, he kept in a bag, £350 in Notes and silver in another bag, and over £100 in his writing desk draw. When this became public knowledge, Thomas Withers sanity was the main topic of conversation in Halesowen, and the crime soon attracted the tag line of " The Great Halesowen Robbery " .  With no apparent witnesses, for the house was empty, it looked for all the world like an unsolvable crime, but one should never underestimate the wiles of the old Victorian Copper. I have said elewhere, that when strangers moved about an area, eyes and ears became very much sharper, and the pair had been observerd heading for Halesowen at Quinton, on the Toll Road. They had also been seen at the Toll Bar, at the Beech Tree Inn, at the bottom of Mucklow Hill. Someone had also given a name for one of the men, and word was swifty sent to Birmingham, the chase was on. It wasn't a long chase either, for just three days after the robbery, Thomas Edwards was stopped in a Birmingham street, and searched. He wasn't a very clever crook, for in the breast pocket of his rather threadbare coat, they found £296.16 shillings and 6 pence. Unable to account, for what at the time would have been a small fortune, he soon grassed on his fellow burglar, and they both found themselves under lock and key. Most of the money was recovered, but Thomas Williams lady friend, having been given a sum to buy him some new shirts, promptly legged it, knowing he wouldn't report her stealing money, he himself had already stolen. It was a good job that they didn't know at that stage, just how much they had actually stolen, otherwise, she would have taken the lot.


Thomas Williams. knowing that if convicted, being already a prolific thief, he would face a long term in prison, tried to bribe the Police with an offer of £10 each. When that failed. he then instructed his Lawyer to write several letters, claiming that the Police were trying to convict him by searching the countryside for witnesses to bear false testimoy against him. That failed as well. So the fate of the perpetrators of " The Great Halesowen Robbery ", rested with the Jury and the Judge, at the Winter sessions of Worcester Assizes. There was no doubt that the two men had indeed committed the crime, and there was no doubt, that after being found guilty, the Judge was going to throw the book at them. And he did. He ordered that Thomas Edwards, as the lesser criminal, should serve 10 years Penal Servitude, and that Thomas Williams, the " brains " behind the robbery, should serve 15 years Penal Servitude. I suspect, that if stupidity had been a crime, the Judge would have ordered Thomas Withers to be locked up for a time as well. Did our eccentric Mr Withers, swallow his pride, and put the remaining money in a Bank ? You can safely bet he did, for it's one thing to be robbed by a Banker, but quite another to be robbed and laughed at.

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

January 4, 2014 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Edward Pitchford, by 1907, had courted the young Lily Taylor for some time, and no doubt had some hopes of taking the matter further. That is, until a much brighter prospect hove into view, in the shape of handsome George Byng. As so often happens, Pitchford couldn't take the rejection, and began to follow the newly aquainted couple around the district. One evening, as the star struck pair were parting near Lily's home in Belle Vale, Halesowen, Pitchford put a well rehearsed plan into effect. Wearing a mask, he leapt from behind a hedgerow, and bludgeoned the unsuspecting Byng around the head with a thick piece of wood. Hearing the sounds of fighting, Lily rushed to the scene, in time to see Pitchford land a violent blow to Byngs head. Now it doesn't say what kind of mask Pitchford was wearing, but it couldn't have been that good, for he was recognised by both Lily, and two other witnesses, as he fled from the almost murderous attack. So bad were George Byngs injuries, that a desposition was requested from him by the Magistrates, but in the event, he made a good recovery. Frustratingly, there are no reports from any court case on the matter, so I don't know what happened to Edward Pitchford. I would have made a bet however, that he didn't get to marry Lily Taylor, and I would have been correct, for she married George Byng, at Cradley's St Peters Church, later that year. As thick as that short piece of wood was Edward Pitchford.

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

July 25, 2014 at 3:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Not every sentence dished out to felons seemed to fair, well they don't, viewed from a hundred or more years later. Take the case of Samuel Holloway, a 57 year old labourer from Halesowen. He went out in the dead of night, and dug up a quantity of Potatoes belonging to one John White, Farmer of this Parish. The year was 1842, the times were hard, and Holloway forgot to clean his boots or hide the evidence. In spite of being vitually caught in the act, compared to William Powell, 31, another labourer from Red Marley in Worcestershire, he was a very lucky man. At the same Assizes Powell was alledged to have stolen a Peck of Potatoes from Farmer George Davis, found guilty, he drew a sentence of 14 years Transportation. John Wilks, 30, yet another labourer, this time from Redditch, relieved farmer John Webb, of two pints of Milk. He must have been a desperate character, for he was given 15 years transportation, by the same Judge as the other two.


Skip forward a few years to 1855, and things had begun to change a bit, Joseph Booth, another Halesowen labourer, was charged with " Feloniously Intermarrying ".  Nothing really sinister this charge, it was an old way of saying Bigamy.  After pleading that there were extenuating circumstances, ( apart from the obvious one about putting up with two nagging women ) no details as to what they were, were not recorded by the reporter of this story. He was sentenced to one month in prison. Phoebe Mason, born in Halesowen, was a domestic servant to local family called Hardy. On the 11th July, 1855, she fed poison to three small children, William, John, and George Hardy. Their Widowed father had seduced the girl, promised her marriage, and then dumped her, the action she took being a bit of revenge. The children all recovered, although thats more than could be said for Mr Hardy's reputation. She was originaly condemned to death, but the Judge, acting on the Jury's recommendation of mercy, substituted a term at a Lunatic Asylum. I bet she never got out, except in a wooden overcoat.

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

September 10, 2014 at 4:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404


Crime, in Halesowen, actually rose during the last War, who would have thought it, the place of my birth, resorting to a bit of theft.



Setting the scene so to speak, was George Cooper, aged 31, of 1,Coxs Lane, Old Hill, who, finding himself alone at he bar of a Halesowen Public House, in April, 1939, quietly removed a collection box, belonging to the Father Hudson Homes. With it carefully concealed, he left and went home to count his rather ill gotten gains. Then he had a bright idea, having removed the contents, he re-sealed the box, and the next time he went for a drink, ( this time to Brierley Hill ), he exchanged it for another one on the bar. He then did the same at Pubs in Dudley, Bilston, Willenhall, and Upper Gornal, where his luck ran out. The magistrate, Mr S.K. Slater, said that in over 20 years on the Bench, it was the meanest piece of thieving he had ever come across. He gave Cooper 12 months hard labour, and advised publicans to keep an eye on their Charity boxes.




With the War barely 3 months old, Gertude Alice Webb, 43, of 43, Westbourne Road, Hill and Cakemore, Halesowen, decided to obtain a new pair of shoes. She tried on a few pairs in the shop of Esther Hopley, at 72, Halesowen Street, Hill and Cakemore, ( Postal address, Blackheath ) but left without buying any. Later on, a pair were found to be missing. Some weeks later, Esther Hopley was looking out of her shop window, when at the bustop, she spotted a woman who looked familiar. It was the shoes she was wearing though, that  really caught her eye, and Esther went to have a word. She denied the theft but was traced, and although she had got rid of the shoes, other stolen items were found in her house. Gertrude was fined £5, with 10 shillings costs, and was lucky she didn't get sent to prison.


There was a huge surge in crime in May,1940, when no less than 13 of Halesowens fine upstanding young men, got themselve into a bot of bother. Undercover of the blackout of course.

First off, we have a break in at the Railway Accessories Company, from which three cash boxes, containing over £68 and stamps were taken. It may have dark, but the culprits were seen, and indentified, and the Police were soon hot on their heels. It was a busy day in Court then, for John Rose, 19, of 5, Whitehall Drive, Horace Leonard Barrett, 17, of 25 Walsall Road, Hasbury, Edward John Leedham, 17, of 4 Downing Street, and a 15 year old unnamed youth. Knowing that the Police were looking for them, they scattered, two off to Worcester, ( Nobody suggested they were very bright ), and the other two to Liverpool. After paying for all the tickets, this desperate foursome, buried a cash box, containing £9.10shillings, in a field in Hasbury. It was later recovered. They were all remanded in Custody.

On the same night, in Hasbury, The Fox Hunt had a few unexpected consumers of their fine Ales. The shed round the back was broken into and 16 Bottles of Beer were taken. One again, the culprits, all 13 of them, had been spotted and named. Four of them are in the list above, and I won't repeat them here. Charles Jones,18, of 33, Birmingham Street, William Hunt,17 of 5 King Street, Percy William Mills, 18, of 3, Whitehall Drive, Ronald Rudge,17,of 6 Downing Street, Sylvester Loveridge,19.of 36 Sommerhill, and 4 others under 16. Burglary and Store Breaking were very serious offences, but given that some were already of Military service age, and the others would soon be, I can't see the sentence being all that heavy, can you.




Now everyone knows where The Stag Inn is located, right at the top of Mucklow Hill. In October, 1940, the Police were concerned, that if they didn't take some action, Adolf Hitler would also soon know. Solomon Westwood, the Licensee, had already been told about not screening lights during the blackout, and to be honest. like a great many others, resented the officious tone used when spoken to about it. The Police Inspector told the Magistrates that he had " not been nice to his officers ", and they fined Solomon, £20 for his bit of cheeky lip.


In contrast to that fine, is the one imposed on George Colley, 27, of 53 George road, Halesowen. He was part of the Civil Defence team, a Fire Watcher, with access to factories etc, and should have been a trustworthy man. It must have a cold October in 1941, for he spotted, and stole, a dismantled packing case. ( value 10 shillings ) He was fined £2, and allowed to carry on with his job. Mind you, there were many more in the Civil Defence squads who committed bigger thefts than that.


The Clent Hills, a place famliar, and well loved by the folk of the area and the Black Country. In late 1942 though, it was the scene of some teriible deeds. ( No. not any like that ) There had, it seems, been a bout of petty theft from unattended parked cars. ( Nothing changes does it ) One enterprising Police Officer set a trap, in the car park on Walton Hill,  Leaving a handbag, in full view on the passenger seat of a car, he sneaked off and hid in some thick bushes. ( please bear in mind he was a copper ) The trap worked, and next day, George James Hughes, 39 of Great Cornbow, Halesowen, duly appeared in the Police Court. He was, it turned out, a Road Foreman for Worcestershire County Council, a light fingered foreman at that. for it later cost him his job. He admitted to a previous theft, ( but not to the dozen or so others) and was fined £15 on each charge, or, in default, 3 months in Worcester Prison.


There are some nice houses along the Hagley Road, in Hayley Green, and in one of them, in January 1943, lived John Albert Bates, a Butcher by trade, with a business in Birmingham Street, Oldbury. In this month, he had an unexpected visit from the Law, for he and his brother Walter, were in a bit of hot water. John had.it seems, been indulging in a bit fraud, and falcification of Invoices. To wit, the theft, from The Oldbury Retail Butchers Buying Committee, of 350lbs of prime Beef sides. Interestingly, they found nothing in the house linking him with the theft, which he admitted, but in the celler, in a safe, they found over £3,700 in notes. Unable to prove, that it was from the sale of several other fraudulent deals, they had to give it back.


Factory thefts were common during the War, some thought that with so much going in and out, no one would notice the odd bit going missing. They did. Reginald Joseph Goddard,37, of 41 Hagley Road, Halesowen, and Leonard Lawson Darby, 34 of 76 Kenelm Avenue, thought they had it made when they easily stole some stuff from were they worked, The Austin Motor Company at Longbridge. They were of course wrong, and the Police,after keeping a watch on the pair, arrested them in possesion of 6 motor car tyres, value £61, in January,1944. And they were not the only ones in Court that day on such a charge. George Ernest Thompson, 32, of Masters Lane, Halesowen, was fined £5, for the theft of a Motor Car Battery, from the premises of Stewart and Lloyds Ltd, Coombes Wood. Just like the other two, he lost his job, his reputation, and he still couldn't get his car started.





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

February 14, 2016 at 10:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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