Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Building a Bigger Picture.....

The beauty with the QSR is the richness of information in some of the depositions (witness statements). For example, take the case of Henry Harris, a 18 year old labourer accused of breaking and entering the dwelling of John Franklin Gilbert, and stealing money. (QSR1853/2/5/4 - Henry Harris)

In this case there are 7 witness statements as well as the statement of the accused.
The below list is of statements from this case. They may sound like random statements but it's the little details which help build a bigger of picture of what was happening at the time.

* George Stonebridge had been making the dough for Mr Crowley of Wilshamstead on 15 March, as his man was ill.
* Henry Harris was described as having hair on his top lip.
* We frequently come across the police using footprints to help identify the offender. In this case the footmarks are quite unusual. "He examined the window and found footmarks. He took their dimensions. There appeared to be 2 different footmarks evidently made by the same person."
* It was later determined that Harris, wore 2 odd boots, one longer than the other.

* William Clark lived at Wilstead with Benjamin Gilbert, whose father lived with him. So we now have a family picture building. We now know John Franklin, Ann Jepps, her sister in law and Benjamin were all living in the house. As well as a boy (presumably a servant).

* James Kitchener boarded with John Franklin Gilbert and had employed the accused about 8 weeks previously. He was Mr Gilbert's foreman. So we now have added another member of the household and his job role, he had previously just been described as a labourer.

* Henry Harris had gone into the house to have his dinner on the day he had been employed by Mr Gilbert. This gives us an idea of the daily routine of the farm.
* The window was a lattice window and the lead work was lying on the floor. Giving us details regarding the appearance of the house.

* Mr Crowley lived between 200 to 300 yards from the gates to Mr Gilbert's.
* There had been a heavy fog that morning. So we know the weather conditions on 15 March 1853.

For those of you interested in the outcome of the case, Henry Harris pleaded Not Guilty but with a mountain of evidence, and the incriminating footmarks, he was found Guilty. He was imprisoned and kept at hard labour at the House of Correction for one calandar year.

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