Saffron Walden 

The Malt Stealing Case of 1833


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NOTE: The largest number ever transported from Saffron Walden Quarter Sessions was in 1833 at the conclusion of the trial of a malt-stealing ‘gang’. Malt was big business in Walden, and the impression was given that systematic pilfering of malt had been going on for years, but the likelihood was that it was less organised than it appeared, much of the thieving opportunistic. But the town was determined to stamp on it once and for all, by making an example of all those arrested. The prosecution took a lot of money, time and huge efforts by the authorities, and caused an absolute sensation. There are long accounts of the trial in various Essex newspapers, with further details among the town archives. Some of the following are research notes, rather than precise transcriptions. The newspapers used were the Essex Standard, Chelmsford Chronicle and others, researched on microfilm at Colchester Local Studies Library and Chelmsford Central Library. Considerable work went into studying this case, hence its use by others must be acknowledged as sourced from this website. For the context of this trial, see The Well-ordered Town chapter on crime.

(c) Research Jacqueline Cooper 2000



Return of Warrants, etc. Before the Mayor Henry Burrows and Thomas Smith Esq. at the Sun Inn: James Housden the younger - confession; William Green receiving 2 sacks malt; the like Joseph Housden stealing 2 sacks malt prop Mr. Clark; information v William Smith receiving 1 sack malt;William Phillips receiving 2 sacks malt.

Same day return of warrant, etc.

25 Feb.: Sun Inn: James Housden, William Smith, Barrett, William Phillips, Joseph Housden, William Green - all committed to 1st March.

27 Feb.: town clerks office - examination of gang.

1 March - at the Sun, before Mayor, Henry Burrows, Thomas Smith: examination of gangand witnesses (lists of names, with payments of 1s6d for bringing charges).

2 March: before Mayor at Sun Inn: more examinations, warrants, commitments.

4 March at Sun Inn: examinations, information against others, return of summons, etc.

5 March, long list of names, etc.

7 March - commitments, recognisances.

8 March at Town clerks office before Mayor: examinations commitments, recognisances for witnesses to prosecute.

28 March: at town clerks office before Mayor: information William Richardson younger and George Savile v John and William Stacey stealing 1 sack wheat on 1st Oct 1831 prop of George Savill - commitment John Stacey, warrant William; also re stealing 6 ducks 1 Oct 1831 prop of Jabez Gibson; Samuel Ward v Henry Giffin non-payment of wages, ordered to pay 10s.

29 March: Stacey warrant, also Jane Richardson v Stacey, etc.


1 February 1833:

Depositionsby William Stalley labourer; James Ackers; James Housden; WmGreen;Wm Phillips; Joseph Housden; Wm Smith; George Barrett; James Richardson;Ann Wallis; James Pettit; Samuel Stevens constable;Mary Cornell; George Ling;Amey Player; Thos Richardson; Joseph Smith; George Richardson;(also repeat of Wm Richardson’s evidence as below); James Fish (denied knowledge and refused to put his name);Wm Richardson senior; Frank Marshall; Elizabeth Clayden;James Gayler (‘I was at Clayden’s Tom & Jerry Shop’); Henry Griffin tailor; Jabez Gibson;Chas Porter; James Ellis John Clark.

Stalley was threatened with a billhook by James Housden the younger.George Richardson refused and JH laid him down and said he would stick him if he said anything, stole key, etc.

1st March:

Depositions of Walter Leonard of Wimbish re sack; Samuel Stevens who searched Wm Richardson’s house found sack; Wm Richardson said he saw Walden sacks lying while going to his masters, and put them in straw bed, found in John Archer’s field, I see them as I come back from my allotment (signed with mark); also another confession of WR to Walter Leonard and WG Gibson 11 March: ‘Now I tell you the truth Mr. Leonard. I have robbed you of ten quarters of malt, 5 last year, 5 this, it used to come in the wagon to Walden...sometimes my house sometimes at William Phillips... ‘ (also some shot into the Slade by Tom Lord and Wm Barrett); ‘James Halls took it from my house on a Dickey he gave me 15s for it... Wm Phillips paid me £3 for 10 bushells I had two and Frank Marshall one. This season we have had no settlement. I have had some beer and 10s on account. A few weeks ago Master Halls asked me at the Green Dragon if I could get him a few pounds of hops... he said I want to get a little out of you myself... ‘ (got him 5.5 lbs of hops and paid 5s for them) (signed with mark);

Also another confession on 4th March: ‘James Housden was the first man who led me to steal anything in my life - then Charles Housden. Between 2 and 3 years when I worked with Mr. James Porter I took 2 bushels of barley which Old Rusty had... ‘ (other examples) took it in a wheelbarrow... I think he took it to Willetts Mill, the next I sold to John Housden (long Tom’s son)... .. more than two years ago... Old Rusty told me there was barley there and asked me if I could get any out.John Stacey and William Stracey brought me 6 ducks which they stole from Mr. Jabez Gibson’s ... gave them 5s for them...the rest were cooked at my house... There was four turkies lost from Mr. Samuel Fiske’s last summer time, my brother Jem, Ling, Thomas Lord and I took them.... at night we took them out and hid them in Phillips Barn...had them for supper.’Also re wheat stolen from waggon of Savills... ‘I did find the 3 sacks’ (signed with mark).

Also another confession to W Leonard and WG Gibson 4th March: sold malt to Halls and George Butcher, ‘they had about a coomb a piece... this malt was brought to me by Joe Housden and Jack Stracey left it...’ (was to be part paid in wood from Halls and Butcher)...‘there was some hampers stole out of the Market End and brought to my house in the night by Jem Richardson, John Stracey, John Lord and Bill Watson...there was some things stole from my lords there was a gun 3 ferrets and nets.. . the nets were burnt the ferrets are dead and the gun is at my house. There was some wheat lost with the chaff in, at Savills John Stracey and William Stracey brought it to my house...’ (signed with mark)

William Phillips heard above and said it was not all true against him ‘I wish I never saw him’ (signed with mark).

James Hall heard statement and said ‘I had six strikes of Pollard of William Mason of Chesterford. I went to Phillips, John Onion of Ashdon laid it on the Dickey for me... I had two or three pots of beer, I thought that they might put something in the beer for I was very fresh when I went away some of these men but who I cannot tell you loaded the Dickey. I never touched the Pollard no more I come away and after I got away I come right along the road and I got more freshier just as if I was dizzy I felt like unsensed fore I got far I lost this sack. On the Monday morning I come to the public house (Phillips’s) and I asked the woman if she knowed where the Pollard was... I never had the hops... I have not brewed only once since July.’ (Signed James Hall, with a mark).

William Richardson the elder having heard confession of William Richardson the younger said‘I helped a sack of something on to Master Hall’s donkey on Saturday... saw some money pass between my son and him - I should think it was malt that was put on the donkey’ (signed with mark).

Frank Marshall 5 March heard WR confession said: ‘I have nothing to say about it. I never left any nowhere else. What Bill has said is right enough... last year I had a watch in part of payment of the malt... I suppose I had last year 3 or 4 pounds in money beer and the watch’ (signed with mark).

William Phillips (signed with mark) said he was at Barkers, etc.Joe Housden did not have my donkey, etc.

James Hall evidence re pollard ‘Master Rusty offered me a sack of malt at the Dragon one Saturday some weeks ago’ (signed with mark).

James Ellis gave evidence of finding grain at James Hall’s at Ashdon.


15 April 1833:

At the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace of Our Sovereign Lord the King holden by adjournment at the Guildhall in and for the said Town on Monday the fifteenth day of April the third year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord William the fourth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King defender of the faith and in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three Before Charles Barnes Wilkins Esq. Mayor of the said Town the Right Honourable Lord Braybrooke Recorder, Vicesimus Knox Esq. Deputy Recorder, Henry Burrows Esquire and others Justices assigned.

Ordered that James Housden the younger a prisoner be admittedEvidence on the part of the Crown the like- William Richardson the younger; the like- James Pettit.

The Jurors of Our Sovereign Lord the King.

GRAND JURY: John Player (Foreman), William Wiseman, George Bayley, John Clayden, George Youngman, Seamer Spicer, John Leverett, James Adams, William Burrows, Samuel Halsted, Thomas Clark, James Starling, Cornell Spicer, Henry Pilley, John Salmon, Martin Nockolds, John Clarke, Robert Phillip Isaacson, Phillip Eliott Kitchener, Thomas Kent, Sampson Brown.

The King on the prosecution of John Clark against Joseph Housden and James Fish: For the said Joseph Housden stealing four bushels of malt and said James Fish receiving same knowing it to have been stolen - both pleaded not guilty: jury say guilty; sentence - Joseph Housden to be transported to such parts beyond the seas as His Majesty shall direct for- 7 years; James Fish -ditto 14 years.

King on prosecution Walter Leonard against Francis Marshall and James Hall: true bill Marshall stealing 10 bushels of malt, Hall receiving same; plea not guilty, jury say Marshall guilty, Hall not guilty.

King on prosecution Charles Porter against William Smith: true bill receiving 4 bushels of malt knowing stolen; plea not guilty - jury say not guilty.

King on prosecution Walter Leonard against Francis Marshall and William Phillips: true bill against Marshall stealing 10 bushels malt and Phillips receiving: plea not guilty; jury say guilty: Marshall 7 years transportation, Phillips 14 years transportation.

King on prosecution Thomas Richardson against George Ling: stealing one deal board; plea not guilty; jury say guilty; to be transported 7 years.

King on prosecution James Rule against Joseph Housden and Charles Smith: true bill stealing 8 bushels oats; Housden plea guilty; Smith not in custody.

King on prosecution George Starkins Wallis v Joseph Housden and James Walls: true bill stealing 4 bushels malt; plea not guilty; jury say Housden guilty, Walls not guilty; Housden transported 7 years to commence at expiration of first 7 years.

King on prosecution Robert Paul v James Richardson: true bill steal 5 bushels malt; plea not guilty; jury say guilty; transported 7 years.

King on prosecution Robert Paul v James Richardson: true bill steal 16 bushels malt; plea not guilty; jury say guilty; fine 1s.

King on prosecution Henry Giffin v James Richardson and George Ling: true bill steal one woollen cloth coat and 4 yards of cloth; plea not guilty; jury say Ling guilty, Richardson not guilty; fine 1s.

King on prosecution John Clark v William Green: true bill receiving 4 bushels malt ; plea not guilty; jury say guilty; transported 7 years.

King prosecution of James Porter v George Richardson: stealing 4 bushels barley; plea not guilty; jury say not guilty.

King on prosecution James Porter v James Richardson and George Richardson: true bill: stealing 8 bushels oats; plea not guilty; jury say James not guilty, George guilty: George transported 7 years.

King on prosecution Walter Leonard v James Hall: true bill receiving 5 pounds of hops, plea not guilty, jury say guilty, 14 years transportation.

King on prosecution George Savill v John Stacey (as a convicted felon) and William Stacey: true bill steal 4 bushels wheat; plea not guilty, jury say not guilty.

King on prosecution Jabez Gibson v John Stacey (as a convicted felon) and William Stacey: true bill for stealing 6 ducks; plea not guilty, jury say guilty; John Stacey 7 years transportation;William Stacey 12 months hard labour in convict gaol Springfield.

King on prosecution Walter Leonard v Thomas Lord and William Barrett: true bill for being accessory after fact with William Richardson the younger in stealing 5 bushels of malt.

King against John Stacey, Joseph Housden, James Hall and George Butcher: true bill Housden and Stacey for stealing 8 bushels malt, property of person unknown; against Hall and Butcher receiving same.

King on prosecution Joseph Kidner v James Richardson, Thomas Lord and William Barrett: true bill stealing one gun and ten nets (no other details).


March 2 1833: ROBBERIES:

‘This town has for a considerable time past been infested with gangs of thieves and poachers, whose depredations have been carried on to an extent scarcely credible; but a circumstance has recently occurred, by which many of their iniquitous proceedings have been brought to light. A fellow of notoriously bad character, named Bouseden, alias Rusty, being suspected of having stolen some sacks, his house was searched, and two sacks of malt were found; but during the search the thief contrived to make his escape by a back door; a description, however, having been given of him in the Hue and Cry, he was discovered at Hertford, and conducted back again to this place, and on being brought before the town Magistrates, confessed the robbery, with many others he had committed, and at the same time disclosed the names of four or five of his associates, who have been since apprehended, and are now undergoing a rigid examination. Among others of this precious nest are two persons named Phillips and Green, who are landlords of Tom and Jerry houses, and who have been buying large quantities of stolen malt at about 2s per bushel. The particulars of the different robberies have not yet been made public, as it is understood more disclosures are hourly making, and several other well-known characters are expected to be placed in durance vile. Ellis and Stevens, police officers, are assisting the Magistrates and other gentlemen of the town in investigating the robberies, and tracing more receivers of stolen property.’

March 9 1833:ROBBERIES:

‘Since our notice, a fortnight ago, of the apprehension of four or five of a gang of thieves in this town and its neighbourhood, several others have been taken into custody, and the examinations of the whole of them were on Friday last completed and fifteen fully committed for trial at the next sessions; viz., James Houseden alias Rusty, William Richardson, Frank Marshall and Joseph Houseden for stealing malt, William Green alias Lovely, William Phillipsand William Smith for receiving the same. James Richardson and George Richardson for stealing malt, oats, barley, etc. William Reynolds, George Ling and James Petit, for stealing pork, wearing apparel and various other articles; and James Fish for receiving the same - and James Halls for receiving stolen hops, malt, etc. - James Wall committed as an accessory. From the intricate circumstances attending the various robberies there has been considerable difficulty in the investigation of them, but owing to the praiseworthy perseverance of the worthy magistrates and other gentlemen who kindly rendered their assistance, the thieves and their abettors have had most of their nefarious proceedings brought home to them. There are a few otherssupposed to be implicated as receivers of stolen property whose names are not yet made known, but who had had promises from some of the prisoners, that they shall not be forgotten when the trials come on. The public are much indebted to the peace officers of the town and Messrs Kent and Wisbey for their excellent conduct, in this business, particularly the two latter, whose indefatigable exertions aided by the officers of Bow street, have been the means of securing several of the gang, whose haunts were not easy to be discovered.’

April 12 1833:

30 people on trial, 10 re malt ‘suspected of have formed part of a gang who have carried on depredations of that nature for some years in the neighbourhood Several of them are beer shopkeepers and persons hitherto considered respectable. The gaol is now so crowded that it has been found necessary to appropriate a part of the workhouse to the purposes of a prison.’

April 19 1833;

14 of 21 prisoners were part of gang ‘which has for several years plundered the malsters and farmers in the town and neighbourhood of Saffron Walden to an enormous extent.’ - helped by servants of people they robbed, and most grain went through beershops.James Housden when questioned about his work said ‘I work at anything I can get to do - its not very particular to me. I have not had a days work since harvest; I am obligated to the parish.’Mr. Leapingwell (for defence) said ‘so you come here to proclaim yourself a thief, eh? James Housden said ‘A thief! Well, suppose I am I have known my cousin ever since he was a boy; we have been associated together as good neighbours - civility and all that’. (laughter). A long colloquy ensured relative to what had induced witness to give evidence, during which he showed great effrontery.

Later when questioned about stealing pork James Housden said ‘I’ll conduct myself like a man, if so be as you explain it to me in a decent manner… I did not come to give evidence to save myself. I should not much mind being transported’. (Laughter)(James Housden gave evidence in each of the accused trials)

George Richardson had been 5 years working for Mr. Porter the cornfactor and he freely told Housden when his master was out ‘when I met him that day in the road, he said we should not have a better chance than we had then as his master was gone out.. he got the keys’.’ But in evidence Richardson said Housden had threatened him ‘he said he would stick me if I said anything about it’. He said ‘he was afraid to say anything about it for fear Housden should murder him’ and he was acquitted.’

‘The recorder said the jury had acted mercifully towards him, for supposing Housden did use violence, he ought immediately to have informed his master, and he would have been protected.’

Re ducks charge Jabez Gibson ‘stated that he could see clearly in his garden, whence the ducks were taken, the footmarks of two persons and traced blood and feathers in a direction to Richardson's house.’

Re disturbance outside, they thought at first someone was trying to rescue the prisoners and the mayor helped the officers quell the disturbance. Frederick Coe was one and the other James Kidderidge from Ashdon, but later released. It was really the crowd rushing forward.


Before Charles Barns Wilkins Esq., Lord Braybrooke, Vicesimus Knox, and a full Bench of Alderman; 21 prisoners ‘a number unprecedented in the Borough - and as the greater part of them belonged to an organised gang of [?], considerable interest was excited in that part of the county. The Court was crowded to excess, a great number of persons thronged the entrance to the Town Hall, being unable to gain admittance.’

Deputy Recorder gave long speech, with reference to beer shops said ‘there can be little doubt that the beer houses should be placed under regulations that may admit of a greater degree of magisterial control. It is unquestionable that as they are carried on, they are productive of incalculable evil and mischief. They are the fruitful nurseries of crime, and it will be established that some of the most series offences now to be tried are traceable to them. Whether they can be done away with entirely, unless the duty on malt be taken off or greatly reduced - a duty which now amounts to a prohibition of the poor man’s brewing at home - is a matter of considerable doubt...’ but he said legislation could not do everything, it needed ‘a moral check’ because jobless people would have ‘an almost irresistible temptation to dishonesty will be perpetually present... giving the poor a suitable degree of education. I say a suitable degree, for anything beyond that would be mischievous’.

Joseph Housden, labourer stealing 4 bushels malt on 10 December from John Clerk, malster; James Fish labourer receiving same; to substantiate this charge they called James Housden (nickname Rusty), an accomplice ‘Mr. Clerk said that he had a quantity of brown malt in his [?] in the month of December last’.

James Housden said ‘I am a labourer; the prisoner Housden is my first cousin. A short time before last Christmas, Housden and I agreed together, and went at four o’clock in the morning, to steal a sack of malt from Mr. Clerk’s malting. We took it out of the [?] shop; we got the key from the kiln-house door, while the men were busy inside. We took about four bushels, which we carried away in a sack. We took the malt to my house, and I hid it. We then took it to the house of Clayden, a beershop keeper, where we waited to meet Fish. We got there about seven o’clock. Fish was there; Reynolds was also there, he took the sack from my back.. Fish had the malt, he gave my cousin half a sovereign for it. I received 4s of the money from James Gayler, to whom a half sovereign was given to change. We agreed to spend 2s in beer, and had 4s each.’ Cross-examined he admitted ‘the gang had had extensive dealings in stolen malt - sometimes they got 1s.6d and sometimes 2s a bushel for it.’

Elizabeth Clayden said ‘I am the wife of Charles Clayden, who keeps a beershop in Walden. I remember seeing the prisoners and the witness together at my house in the month of December Fish gave me half a crown to pay for beer, but I did not see any money pass between the prisoners.’ James Gayler and Robert Eldredproved having been at Clayden’s house on the night in question, and seeinga piece of gold pass between the prisoners.

A Bow street officer gave evidence of finding the sack in Fish’s house, etc. Both found guilty.

James Marshall, labourer, for stealing 10 bushels value £3 from Walter Leonard his master and James Hall, a small farmer for receiving same. Leonard was malster at Wimbish, and Marshall was his waggoner and James Richardson as malster. Richardson gave evidence too of how Marshall took the load through Saffron Walden instead of Debden to get to Stortford, and they helped themselves to 2 sacks: Richardson said ‘My master held the sacks while I filled them’ (Laughter). The waggon-boy Stephen was sent into the beershop so he wouldn’t see the theft. They sold a sack to Hall for 15s. Others gave similar evidence. Witness to Hall’s character, so he was acquitted, but Marshall found guilty.

William Smith, labourer, for receiving malt stolen by James Housden from Charles Porter, malster. Housden admitted it in evidence: ‘About Christmas, I went to Mr. Porter’s malting early one morning, while they were at work in the kiln, took a sack of [?] from the bin, carried it home, and concealed it...’

Francis Marshall for stealing ten bushels of malt from Walter Leonard, his master, and William Phillips the keeper of a beer shop, for receiving it Mr. Leonard proved that in January 1832 he missed some pale malt from his malting - William Richardson: ‘Some time ago last Christmas twelvemonth, Phillips, Marshall and I went to Barker’s beer shop, at Wimbish and we there agreed to carry the malt to Phillips’s. A short time after we took two five-bushel sacks of pale malt from the malt shop, and put it upon the wagon which was going to Stortford. The wagon came round by Walden, instead of Debden, I was at home that morning, and took one of the sacks off, while Phillips watched. Phillips then took the other off while I watched it had been agreed to send the boy into the house in order to keep him blind I agreed with Phillips for £3 for the malt, and was to take it out in beer.’

The case having been clearly proved the Jury found both prisoners guilty.

In passing sentence Mr. Knox observed that he (Marshall) had been convicted upon two indictments and there were several other charges against him, which however would not influence the Court in the punishment they should inflict he had commenced his depredations so long back as January 1832, and continued them up to February last, robbing his master to a considerable extent - 7 years transportation.

Phillips, the Deputy Recorder said, had been convicted of a serious offence, for such persons as Marshall, unless the temptation had been held out by the prisoner, would never have committed the crime The prisoner kept a beer house and by holding out temptations, and giving them beer, he induced servants to rob their masters. The law visited his case with the utmost severity, and the court therefore sentenced him to 14 years’ transportation.

George Ling, 20, labourer convicted of stealing a deal from Thomas Richardson.

Joseph Housden, for stealing, in company with a man named Smith (not in custody) eight bushels of oats from James Rule The prisoner pleaded guilty. It appeared that Smith was Mr. Rule’s servant.

Joseph Housden for stealing, and James Walls for receiving on the 21st December four bushels of malt from Mr GS Wallis - Mr. Dowling said that as Housden had been already twice convicted, and the evidence against Walls was rather slight, he would not press the case - A verdict of acquittal was therefore taken. Joseph Housden was sentenced to seven years’ transportation for robbing Mr. Clark. With respect to the charge to which he had pleaded guilty, he was ordered to be transported seven years, to commence at the expiration of the first seven James Fish who was convicted as a received in the first charge, the Court observed, was the worst of the two, as by such characters honest men were corrupted, and he was therefore sentenced to 14 years’ transportation.

James Richardson, 23, labourer, for stealing on 17th March five bushels of malt from Mr. Robert Paul. The Jury found the prisoner guilty, but recommended him to mercy on account of the good character given him. James Richardson was found guilty of stealing seven bushels of malt from Mr. Paul. James Richardson was again indicted with George Ling for stealing a coat, and a quantity of cloth from Henry Giffin, a draper at Walden. The Jury found Ling Guilty but acquitted Richardson. Ling, the Court observed, had made confessions of his guilt, which implied contrition. For stealing the cloth from Mr. Giffin, the Court sentenced him to be transported for 7 years.

William Green, a beershop keeper, was indicted for receiving four bushels of malt, knowing it to have been stolen from John Clark. Housden examined: ‘In the spring of last year, I went to Mr. Clark’s brick malting, and getting the key from the kiln door, stole 2 sacks of malt; I took them to the house of the prisoner It had been previously arranged between us that Green was to carry it to the back place had agreed with Green for a sovereign, and the next morning that sum was paid me by his wife’.

Housden’s evidence was finally borne out by other witnesses, as well as by the prisoner’s own confession, and the Jury accordingly returned a verdict of guilty. In sentencing William Green, the Court observed that he had been carrying on the business of a beer shop and had encouraged loose characters to bring to his house the property they had stolen - 7 years transportation.

George Richardson was acquitted on a charge of stealing a sack of barley from Mr. J. Porter, his master, the principal witness against him being Housden, whom the prisoner declared had used violence to induce him to be present at the time of the robbery. The barley was, as usual sold to a beer shop keeper.

James Richardson and George Richardson for stealing, on the 23rd December, eight bushels of oats from James Porter. Housden examined: ‘At the beginning of last year, I went with the prisoners early one morning to Mr. Porter’s house George Richardson rang the bell; and the servant girl got up. He took the key; I could not unlock the door with it; he came and unlocked it. We took three bushels of black, and five of white oats, and put them in two sacks George put them up, and then went back to keep the servant girl in talk in the parlour while we got the oats away. I carried the sacks and put them upon a waggon I got 7s. for my share, which was paid me at different times by Richardson.

The Jury acquitted James Richardson and found George Richardson Guilty. Sentence was then passed upon James Richardson. The Court said they thought he had been led to the commission of the offences by Housden. The sentence was that for the first offence he be transported for 7 years. For the second fined 1s. George Richardson, the Deputy Recorder remarked,was the servant of the prosecutor, and it was his duty to have protected the property of his master, instead of committing depredations upon it. he was sentenced to 7 years transportation.

James Hall, farmer, was found guilty of receiving five pounds of hops, the property of Mr. Walter Leonard of Wimbish, knowing them to have been stolen by William Richardson - The Deputy Recorder, addressing Hall, said it was lamentable to see a person in his class of life, in that situation. Possessing property of his own he ought to have respected that of others. He had received property which had been stolen by servants, and it was a great and serious offence to encourage servants to rob their masters There was not the slightest circumstance in his case to induce a mitigation of his sentence, and he (Mr. Knox) felt that the justice of the country would not be satisfied if the full measure of punishment were not meted out to him. He was then sentenced to 14 years transportation.

John Stacey and William Stacey, his brother, for stealing about four bushels of wheat in the chaff from John Savill who stated about the month of [?] he lost about a sack of undressed wheat. The leap of the barn was raised and the wheat let out. The prisoners were acquitted; the accomplice’s evidence not being sufficiently corroborated.

The two Staceys were again indicted for stealing six ducks from Jabez Gibson of Saffron Walden. The Jury returned a verdict of guilty, and John Stacey, against whom a former conviction had been proved, was sentenced to 7 years’ transportation William to 12 months hard labour.

There were several other Indictments against Marshall, Housden and others of the gang, but it was not thought necessary to proceed with them.

True bills were returned by the Grand Jury against Charles Smith, Thomas Lord, William Barrett and George Butcher; for offences connected with the proceedings of this gang, but they are at present at large.

Frederick Cole and James Kedderidge were committed for contempt of court, having created a disturbance during the trial of Marshall and Hall on Monday, in attempting to quell which Stevens, a Constable, had his thumb dreadfully lacerated, between the gate and the iron railing.

The sessions terminated about 5 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon [i.e. took 2 days].


Further notes on the trial: they discovered it through the same barley yielding so differently in the hands of different malsters, as much as 5 quarters per hundred difference, and the servants were the principal thieves and got away with it because they were trusted. Until the beershops appeared it was only small amounts because they needed a market ‘but on the springing up of these receptacles, a ready mart was afforded, and a wholesale trade was commenced... Housden, whose character was well known in the neighbourhood’ was detected first and 4 constables sent: ‘The officers (3 of whom it may be proper to state are knights of the thimble took the malt which could not run away into custody’ and went to question Housden’s father as he had suggested. Then Housden ran off, found working in Kent and arrested. Richardson also had stuff at home and both confessed.The main receivers still not caught though. A lot had been thrown in ditches or destroyed to escape detection. Housden in giving evidence evinced a hardened effrontery’ and had no sympathy for anyone he had led on, Richardson much more decent and ashamed: ‘The crimes of both may... be attributed in a great measure to the bad example set them at home... his sister said after the case ‘The biggest rogue has escaped now, although he is my brother’.

‘It is confidently hoped that Housden and Richardson will both leave the neighbourhood immediately. So strong a feeling of dislike is evinced towards them by the lower orders as would render their residence in the town far from agreeable to them. The principal inhabitants of Saffron Walden have been indefatigable in bringing the parties to punishment.’