Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Inside Midsummer 1854

Having completed entering the quarter session rolls for the 1880's I've now hopped back to completing the 1850s.  These years feature many more cases than the later years, and in turn take longer to catalogue.

This week I have been cataloguing the 1854 Q4 but I thought it was be a good idea to give you all a feel of a typical quarter.

Here's some statistics based in the Midsummer Session of 1854.

  • Number of defendants - 33.  30 men & 3 women
  • Number of cases (some defendants appear on more than one charge, others are jointly accused) - 29
  • Age range of defendants - youngest is 14, the eldest 58. 14 defendants were under 20 years.
  • Number found guilty - 25 of 33
  • Range of Sentence - from 4 years penal servitude to 14 days imprisonment
  • Types of crime - mostly theft including 7 cases of stolen fowls.  Other thefts range from a stolen wooden washing tray to a silver watch guard, and from theft of a hymn book to a faggot of wood worth a half penny. We also have the killing of a sheep, a case of embezzlement, obtaining a shawl by false pretences and a sexual assault.
  • Occupations of the defendants - being Bedfordshire it is unsurprising many were agricultural labourers (18 in fact).  We also have lacemakers, bricklayers, shoemakers, a basketmaker,  a commercial traveller, those in the plait trade, a butcher, a baker (not candlestick maker I'm afraid) and interestingly a Private Soldier in the Coldstream Guards.

We do see some seasonal themes, with the theft of food being prevalent in the Michaelmas quarter and the same family names crop up quarter after quarter ( in fact the same defendants crop up quarter after quarter). Obviously each quarter brings with it something different although we rarely have a quarter where we don't have at least one stolen fowl!  It all adds to the fascination of the Quarter Sessions Rolls.  


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