Thursday, 13 April 2017

Justice - as it was in 19th C Devon and a bit of a manslaughter in the family

"John East, for having stolen, on the 18th February last, at Newton St. Cyres, stolen a horse, the property of John Osmond; transported 10 years."

"Mary Ann Browning, for having stolen on the 2nd March inst, at East Stonehouse, two pair of ear-rings, the property of Harris Cohen,; transported 7 years."

"George Trustcott, for stealing a tea caddy; transported 7 years."

"James Coram, for stealing on the 28th Jan last, at Devonport, for stealing a rabbit, the property of Richard Radmore, imp., and kept to hard labour 6 cal. months."

"James Farmer, indicted of having, on the night of 15th of October last, having stolen a black mare, the property of  Wm. Warren of Ottery St Mary; the prisoner having been before convicted of stealing cows and other property, was convicted to be transported for 15 years."

"Robert Clapp,  for stealing at Witheridge, 3 meat cloths, 3 months, to hard labour."

"Thomas Nosworthy, charged with having on 1st January last, nr. Northtawton, wilfully and maliciously stabbed Richard Bolt, was remanded to the next assizes."  (Richard Bolt is, I think, related to my Moretonhampstead Bolts, being born there.)

These all date from the early months of 1840 . . .

                                                            *                 *                *

Thomas Nosworthy, 19, was charged with the manslaughter of Richard Bolt, on the night of the 1st January last, at Northtawton.  Richard Bickel lives at Northtawton: On the evening of the 1st January I was at the public housein that place.  The prisoner and Bolt, the deceased, came into the pub together and they had some ale to drink.  Bolt then went behind the settle and peered through a hole and saw the prisoner laughing and talking with another person; Bolt appeared to be thinking they were talking about him, and went in again and said, "Damn your eyes, what are you saying about me?  I can bear the share of the beer as well as you can.  After that they became good friends again."

John Cleane:  "I saw Bolt lying on the floor in Webbers' house,; Dr Budd shortly after arrived. I took a knife from the prisoner and next morning gave it to the Constable.  Bolt was bleeding from a wound in his neck and the prisoner was crying very much. "

Ann Stanley:  "I was at Webbers' house early in the morning of 2nd January.  I saw Bolt come in and fall down under the table; he did not speak.  The prisoner came in also."

Cross-examined: "I have lived for 2 years in the same house with Nosworthy, he was of a very quiet disposition."

William Ellacott:  "I was a fellow servant with the prisoner.  On the night of 1st January I heard a loud talking in the road.  I was afterwards called up.  I was told that Nosworthy had cut Bolt's throat.  I saw the prisoner, and he asked me if Bolt was dead.  He also said that he felt the knife hitch in him and that he would not have done it for a thousand pounds."

Hugh Pike, constable:  "I apprehended the prisoner on 2nd January.   I received a knife from Cleave, the prisoner said was his."

Dr William Budd:  "I am a physician at Northtawton.  I saw Bolt on the 2nd January, about one in the morning.  He had a wound on the left side of his throat, the other was on the chest.  I attended him till his death.  He died on 23rd March.  I believe his death to have been caused by the wounds he had received from the prisoner."

By the Court:  "The wound in the neck was about 3/4 inch in length and very deep; the knife must have penetrated to the handle.  It had divided an artery, the external carotid; the wounds got well some time after.  There were several nerves divided too.  The wound in the breast was not deep, and it was not of much consequence.  The deceased died of matter forming in the lungs, of inflammation, that inflammation being caused by the wound in the neck.  I made a post mortem examination of the body.  I thought the inflammation had been going on several weeks."

Ann Stanley recalled, "The deceased had generally very good health."

Mr Cockburn addressed the Jury in a very able and eloquent manner, on behalf of the prisoner, and called several witnesses who gave him a most excellent character.

The Jury returned the verdict, guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Cockburn remarked to the court that the prisoner had already been in prison for several months.

The Chaplain and Governor of the gaol here stated that the behaviour of the prisoner since his confinement had been exemplary.

He was then sentenced to one year's imprisonment with hard labour.

This taken from the Western Flying Post, Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury, 10th August 1840.

I am fairly certain Richard Bolt is "one of mine" on the Moretonhampstead side, so further investigation is needed as to the closeness of the relationship.


  1. What gets me Pat, is that crimes against the person seem to be relatively lightly sentenced, but don't you dare steal anything - even a rabbit - or you're in dire trouble!

  2. I agree with you about the stealing BB. One of my ancestors was harshly punished for stealing 4 mangold wurzels. I expect they were starving and dirt poor.

  3. That's it Aril. That's why James Coram (above) stole the rabbit - to feed his family. I dare say it was a wild rabbit, from some chap's farm, but he "owned" it . . . We would all do the same, to feed our families if they were starving.