Monday, 12 December 2011

Repeat Offenders : James Negus

Whilst working on this project, there are some names we're starting to become very familar with. It's not unusual for the volunteers on the project to announce "oh no...Mr X is back again".

James Negus looks likely to become one such man. The cataloguing of the Bedford Gaol database is an ongoing project but already Mr Negus appears more than once! Negus was a journeyman Brickmaker by trade. On this occasion, the facts suggest he may have got lucky considering he had 8 previous convictions to his name.

George Graves was keeper of The Cock public house in All Hallows, Bedford and also a Rag Merchant. He had employed Negus for 3 weeks to carry out goods and exchange them for rags and bones. It was Negus's duty to come home every night and give an account of what he had done in the way of exchanges. He was paid 15 pence a day and some ale, bread and cheese. The prisoner lodged at the house too. On 24 April 1852 he sent the prisoner to Marston and Liddlington with a cart drawn by 3 dogs. He had with him 9 shillings worth of crockery to exchange for rags and bones, a wicker basket, 2 canvas bags and a weighing machine. Negus failed to return when he should and this made Graves uneasy and he stayed up until 1 o'clock waiting for him. At 6 o'clock the next morning he set off in search of him.

He made enquiries of him at Marston and was directed to Newport Pagnell. At Newport Pagnell he was informed the prisoner had sold some rags and gone in the direction of Woburn. On the way to Woburn, he heard Negus had sold a wicker basket at the Leathern Bottle at Wavendon and offered 3 dogs and a cart for sale.

He found Negus at Leighton Buzzard and gave the information to the police. He went with Constable Worsley to Negus’s lodgings and the prisoner was taken into custody. On the premises he found the dogs and cart (which was broken) and the police constable produced 2 canvas bags and a weighing machine. Graves identified them as his property. Negus said he was sorry for what he had done and would not have done it had it not been for the drink. The value of the property was 40 shillings. Not an insignificant sum.

In his defence, Negus said he had started to go home from Newport Pagnell about 12 o'clock but as he jumped on the cart it overbalanced and broke. He did not like to return with the broken cart and so thought he had better go away altogether.

Unfortunately despite George Graves colourful journey following Negus around Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, it was decided there was No True Bill to answer. However, it looks like we'll be coming across James Negus again very soon (in Epiphany 1853 to be precise...).


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