Black Sheep Sunday

Black Sheep Sunday – John Britliff (The Killing Field) – Part 2

Just over a year ago I posted about my wife’s 3x great grandfather, John Britliff, who was convicted of manslaughter for killing his wife. Here’s a link to the original post – Black Sheep Sunday – John Britliff (The Killing Field) http://mikeydawson.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/black-sheep-sunday-john-britliff-the-killing-field/

Since then I have been contacted by Karen who lives in Australia – John Britliff is also her 3x great grandfather.

You will see from the original post that John was sentenced to 10 years transportation in 1843 but he was back in Lincolnshire by the time of the 1851 census. So this raised a number of questions for me:-

  • Did he really get transported?
  • If he did get transported for 10 years how come he is back in England after 8 years?
  • Did he get a “certificate of freedom” for good behaviour after serving part of his sentence?
  • How did he afford the fare back to England?

I have to admit I hadn’t made any progress answering these questions before now.

Karen alerted me to the use of Prison Ships (Hulks). Because of overcrowding in the prisons in Australia many convicts served their sentences on prison hulks moored on The Thames. Here’s a bit of background but there is lots more on the Internet – http://vcp.e2bn.org/justice/page11382-sentencing-to-departure-prison-hulks-convict-gaols.html

Anyway thanks to Karen I found some prison hulk records on Ancestry.co.uk. Fortunately these included the details for John Britliff or Britcliffe as he was described.

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So there we have it – John served his sentence on the hulk Warrior. He must have been given an early release for good behaviour and returned to Lincolnshire.

Black Sheep Sunday – Alfred Gawthrop

Alfred Gawthrop is my 1st cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors are Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley, my 3x great grandparents.

Below is a report from the Burnley Express of 8 November 1916 when Alfred and eighteen other defendants were in court charged with drinking out of hours – in other words they were caught having a “lock in”.  

£78 IN FINES

Burnley Express - 8 November 1916

Burnley Express – 8 November 1916

NELSON AND DISTRICT DEFENDANTS

Some heavy fines were imposed by the magistrates at the Skipton Petty Sessions on Saturday in a licensing case which occupied four hours.  Mr. J. W. Morkill presided.

There were nineteen defendants in all.  The following were summoned for consuming intoxicating liquors on licensed premises, the Moor Cock Inn, Brogden (between Blacko and Gisburn), during closing hours:  John William Ogden, farmer;  Bolton Wilkinson, labourer;  Joseph Smith, farmer;  George Whitaker, millhand;  Fred Gott, carter;  Fred Snowden, carter;  Jonas Stephenson, carrier;  and Alfred Gawthrop, farmer, all of Cowling;  Benjamin Cawdrey, dealer, of Bradford;  Thomas Broughton, dealer;  Isabella Rhodes, married;  and Lilly West, weaver, of Colne;  James Ince, barber, Brierfield;  William Emmott, farmer, Blacko;  Brown Speake, farmer, and Walter Waddington, farmer, both of Nelson; and James Craddock, farmer, of Brogden.  Emmott was further summoned for treating, and West for being treated with intoxicating liquors on licensed premises.  Jane Utley, the landlady, was summoned for supplying intoxicating liquors, but owing to the fact that she was too ill to appear in court, the case against her was withdrawn.  The landlord, Isaac Utley, was summoned on three counts, for supplying liquor, for permitting it to be consumed on licensed premises during closing hours, and for permitting treating.  All the defendants pleaded “Not Guilty”.  Mr. J. C. Waddington, solicitor, Burnley, represented the landlord, while Mr. J. E. Newell, solicitor, Skipton, defended the men from Cowling.

For the prosecution, Police-Sergeant Williams and P.C. Milburn gave evidence as to what they witnessed after 9.30 at night on Thursday, when they were engaged in watching the inn.  The two officers said they saw three vehicles standing outside the Moor Cock, and persons who had occupied them had apparently gone inside the house and appeared to be having a very good time, for they could hear the piano being played and popular airs being sung.  They went to the rear of the premises, and through a broken window had a clear view into the tap-room, and could distinctly hear orders being given for drinks, while at times strong language was used.  Neither of the officers heard at any time any orders for mineral waters or food.  There was another window close to, which looked directly into the bar, and owing to the fact that the curtains did not come quite to the bottom the officers could see all that went on inside.  They saw the landlord and landlady filling beer, whisky, and stout, and subsequently take it into the smoke-room, where the company was seated.  The people inside were very rowdy.

That kind of thing, the officers stated, went on until 10-45pm., when they heard a voice shout, “Bring a —– whisky hot and a beer.”  They saw the landlord come to the bar, and then they slipped round to the front of the house and entered just in time to see the landlord going into the smoke-room with a tray on which there were a glass of whisky and a glass of beer.  They followed him into the room, and saw him place the whisky before the defendant West and  the beer before Emmott, who tendered 1s. in payment by placing it on the tray.  The landlord gave him some change and left the room, taking with him three glasses, which they saw emptied by some of the company.  Police-Sergeant Williams took the glass of whisky from the defendant West and a portion of the beer from Emmott.  He also took a glass of whisky from Wilkinson and a half-glass of beer from Ogden, all of which he produced.  At that time there were fourteen empty glasses on the tables.  The defendants were all told that they would be reported.

All the defendants, some on oath, denied that they were served with any intoxicating liquors after half-past 9.  Several of them stated that they ordered and were supplied with tea, bread and cheese.

The Bench retired to consider their decision, and on their return Mr. Morkill said that they had decided to convict in all cases, except in respect to the charge against the defendant West of being treated, which case would be dismissed.

The Bench imposed penalties of £20 in each of the first two summonses against the landlord, Utley, and £10 in the third, while Emmott was fined £5 for treating.  Fines of 40s. each were imposed on Ogden, Wilkinson, Smith, Whitaker, Gawthrop, Emmott, Speake, Waddington, and Craddock; and 20s. each on Gott, Snowden, Stephenson, Cawdrey, Broughton, Rhodes, West, and Ince.

Black Sheep Sunday – Harriot Musgrove (c1795-1866)

Harriot Musgrove is my 3x great grandmother.  She was born Harriot Francis in Kendal, Westmorland sometime around 1795.  Harriot married William Musgrove on 30 October 1815 in Kendal.

Harriot has been one of the census “missing person” mysteries I’ve been trying clear up.  I have found her on the 1841 and 1851 census returns together with her husband William.  However on the 1861 census William is on his own.

I know that Harriot died in 1866 so she must be there somewhere – right?

Anyway I got my breakthrough this week.

As I was trawling through the newspaper archives on Find My Past I discovered the following article in the Kendal Mercury of 9 February 1861.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 15.31.30Harriet Musgrove, wife of Wm. Musgrove, sawyer, resident in Capper, and a very ill-favoured creature, was charged with stealing, on the 23d of January last, a sheet, the property of Mrs Ward.  The sheet had been put out to dry on the drying ground near the Church Yard Dub, and was missed the same morning, and she did not see it again till last Saturday.  Sergeant Hoggarth apprehended prisoner in her own house on Sunday, and on charging her with the theft, she said she had bought the article of a traveller, and gave a shilling for it.  Prisoner elected to have the case settled by the Magistrates, under the summary jurisdiction act, and was sentenced to 2 months’ imprisonment in the House of Correction.

Mr Hibberd, Inspector of Police, stated that they had recently had complaints without number of articles being stolen while out to dry.

There was another charge against the same prisoner of stealing a child’s petticoat and a cotton apron, the property of Isabella Esmondhalgh.  Prisoner had sold the articles to a man of the name of Wm. Leather, who had given her 7d. for them.  They had been laid out to dry last Saturday, and were missed on going to the mangle.  Prisoner was committed for another month on this charge.

Eleanor Hopkinson, a daughter of the prisoner in the above cases, was charged with stealing a petticoat, the property of Sarah Bryans.  Prosecutor, who is a widow, stated that she missed the article in question along with some others, on the Tuesday fortnight previous, and it appeared that prisoner had offered then to pawn at Mr Willison’s.  Prisoner asserted that the petticoat was her own, and she had had it four years, and worked it up at Preston.  Having chosen to submit her case to the decision of the Magistrates, she was committed to the House of Correction for three months.

So there it is – in the 1861 census, which was taken on 7 April, Harriot must still be in the House of Correction in Kendal along with her daughter Eleanor Hopkinson.

There were 14 enumeration districts in the Kendal 1861 census.  I searched them in number order and there it was in the next to last district – the House of Correction.  All the prisoners were just identified by initials – but there they are on consecutive lines – HM and EH – Harriot Musgrove and Eleanor Hopkinson.

Job well done!!

Kendal 1861 Census

Kendal 1861 Census

Black Sheep Sunday – John Britliff (The Killing Field)

John Britliff is my wife’s 3x great grandfather. His name appears in records under various spellings – Britliff, Britliffe and Britcliffe. There are also numerous transcription interpretations from the census returns on both Ancestry and Find My Past. This certainly makes finding and following the family a bit tricky sometimes.

John was born about 1800 in or around Bonby, North Lincolnshire. I have his mother as Mary Britliff but have not been able to find a record of who his father might be.

On 26 November 1821 John married Sarah Rack in North Kelsey, Lincolnshire. They had at least ten children between 1824 and 1840.

In the 1841 census the family are living at North Owersby, Lincolnshire and John is working as an agricultural labourer. There are eight children at home.

Lincolnshire Chronicle Dec 1842

About twenty months later tragedy occurred as reported in the Lincolnshire Chronicle on Friday 2 December 1842.

A Wife killed by her Husband – On Sunday last, a tragical event took place at North Gullum farm, in the parish of North Owersby, near Market Rasen. A labourer of the name of John Britcliffe had some angry words with his wife, when in the moment of passion, he first beat her with a leathern belt, and then brutally kicked her on the lower part of the body. The unfortunate woman, who was far advanced in pregnancy, survived this ill-treatment but a few hours. An inquest was held on the deceased on Monday, before Mr. Marris, coroner, and a post mortem examination of the body by Mr. Smith and Mr. Hutchinson, of Caistor, surgeons, and after a long and patient investigation, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and Britcliffe has been committed under the coroner’s warrant for trial at the next assizes. A family of nine children are left to mourn the loss of both parents.

We can never know what happened between John and Sarah to cause this terrible tragedy but certainly the lives of all the family were changed for ever.

In January 1843 a report in the Lincolnshire Chronicle says that “the seven children of John Britliffe, late of North Owersby, at present a prisoner in Lincoln Castle, on a charge of manslaughter, chargeable to the parish of North Owersby, were ordered to be removed to Nettleton, being their last legal settlement”.

The children are likely to have been taken to the Caistor Workhouse.

John next appears in court on Wednesday 8 March 1843. The report of the hearing is in the Lincolnshire Chronicle of Friday 10 March 1843.

Manslaughter at North Owersby

John Britcliffe, 42, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with the manslaughter of his wife, Sarah Britcliffe. The prisoner received a good character from Mr. Brooks, a farmer at Croxby. 10 year’s transportation.

He was held in Lincoln Castle until the beginning of April 1843 when he was removed for transportation together with a number of other prisoners as the following report from the Lincoln Chronicle of Friday 7 April 1843 says.

TRANSPORTS – On Friday last, Lieut. Nicholson, governor of Lincoln castle, removed from thence the first portion of convicts sentenced to transportation at the last assizes, viz: to the Warrior hulk, Woolwich, John Nicholson, John Sims, John North, Edwd. Copeland, and John Butting for life; John Britcliffe, Leonard Boyall, and Ambrose Brown for ten years; David Dickenson and James Smith for seven years; to Pentonville model prison, William Potts and Hy. Scott.

There are various sets of records about convicts and transportation on family history and other websites. However I have not yet been able to find John Britcliffe in any of these. So  I don’t know where he was transported to – I am guessing Australia or Tasmania.

I really wanted to try and find out what happened after his transportation because eight years later John appears to be back in Lincolnshire. I have him in the 1851 census living at Hayes Farm in Redbourn and working as a shepherd.

This raises a whole host of questions for me, for example:-

  • Did he really get transported?
  • If he did get transported for 10 years how come he is back in England after 8 years?
  • Did he get a “certificate of freedom” for good behaviour after serving part of his sentence?
  • How did he afford the fare back to England?

Also in the 1851 census two of his children – Joseph (b 1840) and William (b 1839) are still at the Union Workhouse in Caistor.

The story becomes more interesting when this article about the Lindsey court sessions of 4 & 5 July appears in the Stamford Mercury on Friday 11 July 1851.

Stamford Mercury Jul 1851

John Britliff, 50, who had been three times before in custody, was brought up, having been committed as “an incorrigible rogue and vagabond” for refusing to maintain his children. It appeared that the prisoner had left his family a burthen to the parish, which had spent £250 in their maintenance; but since he had been in prison he had paid  £5, and as he now promised to do his duty to the children, he was liberated upon the promise, being warned that if he neglected to carry it out he would be liable to be committed again.

In 1857 John married Esther Smith at Caistor. And in the 1861 census they are living at Town Street, Waddingham, Lincolnshire. Also living with them is John’s unmarried daughter Jane Britcliffe (b1839) and her daughter Sarah C Britcliffe (b1859).

John died sometime in the September quarter of 1862 – almost twenty years after killing his wife.

There is so much more to this story that I wish I could discover.

Black Sheep Sunday – Harrison Musgrove (Part 6)

The final post in this series about my 2x great grandfather is from the Kendal Mercury of Saturday 29 October 1864.

Here he is charged with several other men with loitering.

The transcript is here:-

Kendal Mercury Oct 1864

John Bousfield, William Barnes, James Fisher, Thomas Jameson, John Thompson, Harrison Musgrove and James Rigg, all of Kendal, were summoned by the police for loitering in Highgate, at the bottom of All Hallows’ Lane, on Monday the 17th instant. They were dismissed with a caution, the Mayor remarking that he hoped they would not render themselves liable to be brought up again for a similar offence, as the Council was determined to put the bye-laws in force in this matter.

Black Sheep Sunday – Harrison Musgrove (Part 5)

On Saturday 1 August 1863 Harrison and his brother George were mentioned in the Kendal Mercury as part of a report of the Kendal Magistrates meeting.

It seems that the brothers had gone away to Carlisle leaving their wives and families to seek help from the Kendal Union. According to the newspaper article this wasn’t the first time either.

The transcript is here:-

Saturday 25 July Kendal Mercury Aug 1863

Before J J Wilson and Wm. Longmire, Esqrs.

Harrison Musgrove and G Musgrove, two sawyers, were apprehended at Carlisle on a charge of leaving their wives and families chargeable to the Kendal Union. As they had been committed before on a similar charge they were sent for two months to the House of Correction with hard labour.

Black Sheep Sunday – Harrison Musgrove (Part 4)

Time has moved on – almost twenty years to 1863. Harrison Musgrove had married Jane Rooking on 11 April 1853 and by now they had at least five children.

However Harrison makes the local news again in the Westmorland Gazette on Saturday 31 January 1863. This time with two other men he is accused of night poaching.

Here’s the transcript:-

THURSDAY JAN. 29 (Before W H Wakefield, W Wilson and E Harrison, Esqs.)  Westmorland Gazette Jan 1863

NIGHT POACHING AND ASSAULT

William Backhouse, Harrison Musgrove, and John Thompson, were charged with night poaching in the township of Strickland Roger, upon land belonging to MR G A Gelderd, in the occupation of Mr Anthony Barnes. Backhouse was also charged with assaulting the gamekeeper, and this charge was first entered upon.

Wm. Gardener, gamekeeper, in the service of G A Gelderd, Esq., said that on Tuesday night, 27th inst., as he was out watching he came upon Backhouse, whom he saw in a crouching position about six or eight yards off. The prisoner got up and threw a large stone at him, which hit him on the breast and stunned him for a moment. He, however, on recovering himself seized hold of the prisoner and secured him.

The stone was produced and was of formidable size.

The prisoner, who did not deny the truth of the statement, was then charged with his companions with the offence of night poaching.

The gamekeeper, Gardener, stated that on Tuesday night he heard the three men, and waited until they came to a place where they knew there was game. They then began blocking up the “smoots” where the hares run, and he saw one man setting nets and another had a dog. It was a little before twelve o’clock, but the moon was not down. Witness afterwards heard a dog run, and came upon that man (Backhouse), who then threw the stone at him, as he had stated. There were three nets set, and if he had not interrupted them there would soon have been three hares in them.

The Bench sentenced all the defendants to three months imprisonment with hard labour for night poaching, and Backhouse in addition to a month’s imprisonment for the assault.

The prisoners will also have to find securities of 10l. each, upon the termination of the imprisonment for night poaching, or will be re-committed for six months.

Black Sheep Sunday – Harrison Musgrove (Part 3)

Two years have gone by since Harrison Musgrove (my 2x great grandfather) last appeared in the newspaper. It’s now Saturday 2 December 1843 and Harrison and his brother William have made the news again in the Westmorland Gazette – this time for allegedly stealing milk they are described as “rogues and vagabonds” and sent to the Kendal House of Correction.

Here’s the transcript:-

CAUTION TO VENDORS OF MILK – For several mornings previous to Friday in last week, Mrs Lamb, from Natland Mill Beck, who attends every morning with milk, missed several gallons, when about Capper Lane end. It appears that Mrs Lamb has to leave her cart at that place, while she proceeds down Pepper Corn Lane, to serve some customers there. During her absence there is little doubt that the milk had been feloniously drawn from the churns, and carried off. Information was given to Police-Sergeant Hutchinson, who disguised himself on the morning of the day in question, and took his station so as to be able to watch who should approach the cart. He was not long in suspense, for a number of young scamps made their appearance as soon as Mrs Lamb had disappeared, among whom were two boys of the names of William and Harrison Musgrove, who first filled a tea-kettle with the milk, but before the officer could secure them, they threw the kettle and its contents to the ground, and made off. However, he eventually secured them and brought them before John Wakefield, Esq. at the Town Hall, who, for want of sufficient evidence to convict them of felony, committed them to the Kendal House of Correction for two months each as rogues and vagabonds.

Westmorland Gazette Dec 1843

Black Sheep Sunday – Harrison Musgrove (Part 2)

Well I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what happened to Harrison, his brother William and their friend James Thompson since Part 1 last week.

Thompson decided to plead not guilty and a report of his trial is in the Kendal Mercury of Saturday 23 October 1841.

To cut a long story short William Musgrove was called as a witness. He stated:-

“When I went away, Thompson was standing at the window, and that was the last I saw of him. What happened after that I did not see. I positively swear that when I went home, I left Thompson standing at the window. I was not to have part of the ginger bread. I knew where they were going. I was watching for nothing. When I was watching, I knew they were going to steal. If they had got anything, I was not to have any. I went from the bottom of Hallow Lane to the other side of the street. I don’t know my brother will get off easier if Thompson is brought in. I know he will get easier off if Thompson is to blame.”

The jury were instructed to consider how reliable William Musgrove’s evidence was. Perhaps he was trying to put more blame on Thompson when actually it was he and Harrison who were the real culprits.

In the end the jury found Thompson not guilty.

Harrison pleaded guilty – after all he was caught red handed by Mr Court with “three biscuits under his coat, and ginger bread and sugar in his hand”.

The report of Harrison’s conviction is in the Kendal Mercury of Saturday 30 October 1841. The transcript is as follows:-

Harrison Musgrove, who pleaded guilty of stealing from the shop of Mr Court, confectioner, Kendal, was sentenced to three days imprisonment, and to be, during that time, once privately whipped. The court remarked that he appeared to be Kendal Mercury Oct 1841only nine years of age, and that he had commenced a course which, if persevered in, would send him out of the country. It was lamentable to see so young a boy begin an evil course, and it was very questionable whether his parents had done their duty in bringing him up as they ought.

Black Sheep Sunday – Harrison Musgrove (Part 1)

I have recently started using the British Newspaper archive on Find My Past. I decided to begin with my ancestors from Kendal and surrounding areas as I have some family names that might be fairly easy to trace if they appear in the local papers.

As I suspected I found some stories pretty quickly.

In fact my 2x great grandfather, Harrison Musgrove, appears several times during a period of over twenty years.

So for my first foray into “black sheep’ territory I have decided to serialise Harrison Musgrove’s exploits over the next few weeks.

The first story comes from the Kendal Mercury on Saturday 11 September 1841 and is transcribed below:-

Police Office, Wednesday – (Before John Wakefield, Esquire). – Three boys, named Harrison Musgrove, William Musgrove, and James Thompson, were placed at the Bar by PC’s Hodgson and Brunskill, charged with stealing from the shop of Mr Court, confectioner, Highgate, a quantity of biscuits, loaf sugar, etc. It appeared that Thompson, who is the eldest, opened the shop door and let in Harrison Musgrove, who was without shoes, whilst he himself watched through the window ready to sound a retreat should Mr Court come into the shop, and William Musgrove waited on the other side of the street to give the signal should any policeman make his appearance. Unluckily for the young thieves Mr Court stepped into the shop and caught Harrison behind the counter; the others fled, but were subsequently taken. Harrison Musgrove and Thompson were committed for trial at the sessions, and William Musgrove admitted as evidence.

Well it seems to me that poor Harrison was badly let down here on three counts.

  • Firstly – James Thompson didn’t do a very good job as a “look out” and failed to sound  the retreat quickly enough.
  • Secondly – the other two accomplices scarpered at the first sign of trouble.
  • Thirdly – his brother William (about six years older) is going to give evidence as a witness.

Next week – a report of the trial. Guilty or not guilty – punishment or no punishment. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Kendal Mercury Sep 1841