James Thompson

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

Tombstone Tuesday – Thomas and Alice Thompson

This gravestone is at Holy Trinity church in Cowling, West Yorkshire.

Buried here are Thomas Thompson, his wife Alice (nee Dawson) and their daughter Mary Ellen.

Alice Dawson is my 2nd cousin 3x removed – our common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson. She was born on 18 November 1848 to parents James Wright Dawson and Mary Thompson.

Alice married Thomas Thompson sometime in Q4 of 1870. They had at least five children:-

• Mary Ellen – c1872

• James – c1880

• Sarah Lizzie – c1884

• William – c1886

• John David – c1888

Thomas worked as a warp dresser most of his life.

Alice passed away on 9 October 1926 at the age of 77. Thomas survived for almost another nine years until he died at the age of 85 on 8 May 1935. Their daughter Mary Ellen didn’t marry and she passed away on 12 November 1959 aged 88.