Monday, 15 February 2016

Crime in the High Peak


In 1905 William White appeared in court at Chapel-en-le-Frith, facing a charge of arson.  He had set fire to a haystack at Long Hill Farm.  He told Sergeant White that he had thought of going to Buxton to do a spot of housebreaking but had decided to set a haystack on fire instead.  He gave himself up to police at Buxton because he wanted to go to prison for 5 years !  The prisoner was remanded in custody; perhaps his wish came true.


October 1861.  At the door of Knutsford Jail, Joseph Hales was arrested on release from his last imprisonment.  He was committed for trial at the petty sessions for stealing 2 cwt of bones, the property of John Newton of Whaley Bridge. Now who would be in the market for a bag of stolen bones I wonder ?

 A Whaley Bridge butcher was in the habit of delivering meat to Buxton by train but in order to reduce his costs, resorted to rather unusual methods which in 1932 put him on the wrong side of the law.  A railway detective was travelling on a train and on it's arrival at Whaley Bridge was approached by the butcher who asked if he was going to Buxton.   A large piece of meat was placed on the seat opposite with the request that it be delivered to the bookstall at Buxton.  On proferring threepence, the butcher said "it's all right, I often send it like this".   On arrival at the destination, a bookstall assistant came to collect the meat which was soon picked up by a local butcher.

On hearing the case, under the old English Common Law offence of cheating and deceiving, Stockport Magistrates were told that the defendent had been sending parcels in this manner for somne time.   The magistrates agreed with the defence that there had been no intention to defraud.  It was suggested that the practice must occur daily throughout the Kingdom.  Although the practice was improper and irregular, it was not illegal and the case was dismissed.


May 1908 saw the appearance of an Italian named Soberti Diego before Stockport Police Court.  He was charged with being on enclosed premises for unlawful purposes and with assaulting a police officer in Whaley Bridge on April 27th.  Diego had been seen climbing from a waggon up into the rafters of the goods warehouse at the station. The prisoner had refused to descend and when the police constable arrived  he jumped onto a van and threw a stone at the officer and hit him in the chest.  Diego jumped over the waggons and  tried to escape but the pursuing policeman fell over him and a desperate struggle ensued.  The prisoner had a razor with which he attacked the officer, cutting his hand.  It was only when support arrived that the Italian was overpowered.  Speaking through an interpreter, Diego explained that he had arrived in England seven months previously and finding himself in Whaley Bridge without food or money, decided to head to London.  He thought he would be safe hiding in the rafters until a train should arrive.  He had only used the razor to prevent the police officer from choking him.   Soberti Diego was sentenced to 28 days in prison and advised to leave the country as soon as he was released.


Perhaps not a crime but even then, irregular behaviour

In 1837 a less conventional method was followed to dispose of a wife.
The wife of John Allen of Turnditch eloped with J Taylor of Shottle.  The injured husband heard that the couple were in lodgings at Whaley Bridge and resolved to settle the matter.  Finding them he demanded 3s for her clothes. Taylor said that he would pay this provided Allen would accompany them to Wirksworth next market day and deliver her according to the law. Arriving at Wirksworth, Allen purchased a halter, placed it around his wife and gave the end of the rope to Taylor saying "I, John  Allen, was bereaved of my wife by James Taylor of Shottle on 11th July last; I have brought her here to sell her for 3s 6d; will you buy her James?" Taylor answered "I will, here is the money, and you are witness Thomas Riley" calling to a potman who was appointed for the purpose.  The ring was delivered to Allen with three sovereigns and 3s 6d, when he shook hands with his wife and her paramour wishing them all the good luck in the world. She had been married to Allen at Kniveton about ten years ago and had lived together until then.


Surprisingly there existed a Victorian equivalent of today's trading standards officer.
Esther Ollerenshaw of Whaley Bridge was a milk dealer and sent her produce, presumably by train to Manchester.  In March 1883 a can of milk was intercepted at London Road Station by Inspector Edwards and sent for analysis. The milk was found to contain 41% water.  A fine of 40 shillings was imposed.

Esther Ollerenshaw however, did not learn her lesson.  Twelve months later, almost to the day, Inspector Edwards again took a sample of milk from one of Mrs Ollerenshaw's consignments of milk. The sample was forwarded to the city analyst, Mr C. Estcourt and was found to contain 30% water. Mrs Ollerenshaw, a widow and farmer was summoned but denied watering the milk.  As this was her second offence she was on this occassion fined £3 plus costs.

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