Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Hawker & The Glass-Blower

Being a police officer or even assisting one, could be an unpleasant occupation. On 24 September 1852 John Williams, a 25 year old hawker, assisted by Henry Dean, a 16 year old glass-blower were accused of stealing a considerable sum of money from Elizabeth Sayell, a singlewoman. Among the money stolen was a £10 bank note of the Baldock and Biggleswade bank.

It appears the pair were quite a handful to take into custody, with a number of people getting involved. Unfortunately, on the way to the police station, John Williams was seen to slip, what appeared to be a bank note, into his mouth. In his evidence, Constable Alfred Atherton Murfin, stated how he grabbed the accused by the throat in an attempt to prevent him from swallowing it. However, he failed and the note was swallowed.

On arrival at the station, Superintendent Bayldon gave approval for an emetic (a medical substance used to induce vomiting) to be given to the prisoner. James Smith, a parish constable and bailiff, was asked by the Superintendent to assist with this. It was poor James Smith who was present when the prisoner began to vomit in a bowl 2 hours later. Smith saw something come out of Williams mouth, put his hand in the bowl and fetched out the note.

Elizabeth Sayell had been able to offer quite a detailed description of the note including the fact a corner of it was missing. This meant the bank note could be confirmed as the note stolen. John Williams, along with his young accomplice Henry Dean, were both sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.


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