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1836: James Butterfield steals from Thomas Holes

by janet on 4 November 2012 · 0 comments

1836: James Butterfield steals from Thomas Holes

Reported 10 January 1837 in the Hertford Mercury & Reformer

Tuesday (Before Lord Dacre)

James Butterfield (17) labourer, was indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Thos. Holes, in the day-time, no person being therein, on the 15th December last, and stealing therein half a sovereign and 23s in silver, the property of the said Thos. Holes, at Walkern.

Thos. Holes, the prosecutor, deposed that he is a labouring man; the prisoner lodged in his house. On the 15th December last, witness and the prisoner left the house together between seven and eight in the morning to go to work. Prisoner had further to go to his work than witness. On returning home witness found his house had been broken open, and 35s in money taken from his box. The door was fastened with a padlock, and witness had the key in his pocket. Witness suspected the prisoner was the thief having traced his footsteps back to the house.

James Beckwith, constable of Walkern, deposed that from information he received from Holes he apprehended the prisoner and took off one of his shoes and compared it with the footmarks near prosecutor?s house, and found them to correspond exactly with the impression. Witness tracked the prisoner nearly ten miles, and took him by his footmarks.

Prisoner on his way to the magistrates said, if witness would take him back he would show where the money was laid. Witness took him to the field where prisoner had been at work, and in a heap of stones, which prisoner pointed out, he found the whole of the money which Holes lost, viz half a sovereign and 25s in silver. It was in a bag.

Prisoner in his defence said prosecutor promised to forgive him if he returned the money.

Verdict. Guilty ? Transportation for life.


James Butterfield was born in Ardeley. In 1835 at the age of 16 he was convicted of stealing and sentenced to one week imprisonment and whipped. After his second conviction for stealing from Thomas Holes he was transferred to the Prison Hulk ?Justitia? where it was noted that he was an agricultural labourer, could neither read nor write, had been imprisoned before and had a ?Bad character?. He was transported to Van Diemen?s Land on 7th March 1837.

Thomas Holes, who was born in about 1796 at Lilley, Herts, lived with his wife Rachel in a cottage near Walkern Place (now Manor Farm). Rachel?s maiden name was Butterfield ? she was James Butterfield?s older sister?

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