Crime and Punishment


CAUTION – Not yet properly formatted!

Sedition in 1584

In the pillory (from an old print)

Ralph WATSON of Dover, sawyer, indicted for seditious words. On 26 April 1584 at Dover he publicly said: “This is a very evill land to lyve in except yt be for a man that hath a very good occupacon. I wold yt were warre. I know a great many richemen in the land; I wold have some of ther money yf yt were so come to passe. I knowe a thowsand, yea and a thowsand that wold yt were come to passe so the Queene were dead. There is a towne between England and Scotland ther is in yt 200 horsemen and 400 footmen, had the Scotts gotten the towne they wold overcome the whole realme for that is the key from thence onto England. Were the Queene dead the Flemissh and the French men and Dutch men and all the whole heape on the other side wold come upon this land, and the Towne of Dover is able to howld 200 men”.

Guilty: to be whipped and pilloried in market-time for 3 hours.
(Rochester Assizes 13.7.1584: PRO Assizes ref.355/26/5 – m.17) [Calendar of Assize Records – Kent Indictments Eliz.I. HMSO]


Playing Marbles during Divine Service:
“Edward WHELCH and Thomas PAGE, two lads about 12 years of age were charged by Police Constable PINE with playing marbles during Divine Service. PINE stated that great complaints had been made by the inhabitants at a number of boys assembled in a shed at Buckland. He watched the place and succeeded in catching the defendants from among several others who escaped. The lads in their defence stated that seeing some boys playing marbles they went to look on but did not play and the parents being in attendance, promising to take care of the future good conduct of their children, they were discharged with a suitable admonition from the Bench.
(Dover Telegraph 27 Nov 1847 p.8 col.2)
Shaking Carpet after 8am:
“Friday – James EPPS was charged by MUGGERIDGE Inspector of Nuisances for shaking a carpet in the Ship Hotel Lane, Strond Street, after 8 o’clock in the morning contrary to the provisions of the Pavement Act. MUGGERIDGE stated that he had previously warned the defendant. Wednesday last about noon the Defendant was shaking the carpet which being witnessed by some members of the Pavement Board he was directed to get a summons against EPPS who admitted the offence but stated that he was ordered to shake the carpet at the time in question which was the only opportunity they had of taking it up. Fined 10 shillings and 10 shillings costs to be paid in a week.
(Dover Telegraph 20 March 1847 p.8 col.1, Dover Petty Sessions)
Fortune Teller committed to gaol: Sarah COOPER fortune teller and a member of an encampment of Gipsies was committed to gaol for 14 days for exercising her calling among the servant girls at a house in Clarence Lawn.” (Dover Telegraph 8 May 1847 p.8 col.1 Dover Petty Sessions, Monday)
Pick-pocket at Dover Fair: “A person who states his name to be Thomas RICHARDSON, of Northiam Sussex, was on Wednesday fully committed for trial at the next Dover Sessions for picking the pocket of Elizabeth REEVES in Dover Fair. (Kentish Gazette Nov 30 1821 back page col.3) KG Nov 30 1821 back page
Dover Petty Sessions, Monday –
Sarah COOPER fortune teller and a member of an encampment of Gipsies was committed to gaol for 14 days for exercising her calling among the servant girls at a house in Clarence Lawn.”
(Dover Telegraph 8 May 1847 p.8 col.1)


The Masquerade on Thursday night suffered a considerable drawback on the amusement which SOME OF ITS ATTENDANTS had promised to themselves by the absence of a soldier of the 4th Regiment, William COUSE, who was taken in the act of dressing in woman’s attire for the Opera House and carried before Sir Richard FORD on a charge of felony, by whom he was committed to the House of Correction. It appears this fellow has been in the constant habit, with several associates of a similar description, of attending masquerades in the dress of women.
(Kentish Gazette 2 Mar 1802 back page col.3 near the bottom “London”)
Betsy NASH, singlewoman, attired in male apparel, charged with creating a disturbance at the Royal Mortar. No one appearing against the defendant it was stated she had been to a Masquerade in the Eagle Gardens and appeared before the bench in her dress as “a nice young man”; was dismissed with a caution not to again appear in such unsuitable attire!
(Dover Telegraph Sat.1.1.1848 p.8 col.1)

Thomas BRETT, the “Dover Pirate”: executed in London, hung in chains at Dover Pier:
Admiralty Session, Old Bailey, on Monday November 29th The Trial of Thomas BRETT:
“The prisoner was indicted that he, on the 7th day of March last, together with Joseph EDGERLY, James NICKSON, Daniel WALKER and William WILKINS of Dover; George HARTLEY, Samuel WAPPING alias “Flying Jack”, and a man of the nickname of Pye APPS of Hastings, on the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the High Admiral, and about three miles from Dungeness, had piratically robbed a Dutch hoy of 12 cakes of beeswax, 11 salted bullocks’ hides and three anchors (ankers – barrels) of Geneva, the property of persons unknown……
“It appeared that Joseph EDGERLY had shot himself in Dover gaol the evening after he was apprehended; but the following facts came out from the testimony of James NICKSON an accomplice, who was admitted in evidence for the Crown, and from two free and voluntary confessions made by the prisoner on his examination before Mayor of Dover.
“On the 9th March 1789 the persons named in the indictment having armed themselves with pistols loaded with swan-shot, and large bludgeons, set sail from Rye harbour, on board a lug-sail boat belonging to and commanded by Joseph EDGERLY, with a determined resolution to plunder any of the subjects of their high Mightinesses that should come in their way. For this purpose they steered towards Dungeness where they observed a Dutch hoy lying at anchor, with seven or eight Dutch sailors on board. After having reconnoitred her for some time they lay by until the dusk of the evening should favour their design. Accordingly about 6 o’clock the prisoner and two others boarded her and showed their pistols to the Dutch sailors, commanding them immediately to go below, which command the prudent Dutchmen quietly obeyed, and abandoned the cargo of their hoy to the depredation of the pirates. On searching the hold however they only thought proper to take away that part of its contents which was mentioned in the indictment which they brought into a Gut called Providence, lying between the two Romney harbours. The next morning they were hoisted on shore and carts were provided to carry them away. The goods were afterwards sold and the produce equally divided at the rate of £4. 10s. each between the parties.
“Mr Baron THOMPSON summed up the evidence to the Jury with infinite precision and they found the prisoner guilty’; but they requested that Sir James Marriot would recommend him to the King’s Mercy, as they conceived there was a possibility of his having been seduced and drawn in to accompany the gang upon this adventure by the arts of EDGERLY who appeared to have been the ringleader throughout the whole transaction.” (Kentish Gazette Dec 1 – 4 1789 p.2 col.4):
and later:
“In consequence of Sir James Marriot’s report of the pirates on Wednesday last, the following were ordered for execution on Tuesday 5th January next, viz: Hugh WILSON, Edward WELCOME, Wm HOBBINS, John CLARK, and Thomas BRETT.” (Kentish Gazette 18-22 Dec 1789 back page, col.3):
and later:
“The pirates, executed on Monday are to be hung in chains; one at Dover and the rest on the banks of the Thames between Limehouse and Gravesend. BRETT, the Dover pirate, when he got into the cart at Newgate, on Monday shook hands with many of his friends, seemed quite composed and had a smile on his countenance; when he sat down in the cart he took off his hat and threw it to his friends. He was a well looking young man about six feet high and only 21 years of age.” The other two called CLARK (mate of a Yarmouth-man) and HOBBINS, convicted with him.
(Kentish Gazette 5.1.1790 – 8.1.1790 p.4 cols 3 & 4)
and later:
“London”: “Four or five pirates who were executed yesterday se’nnight are hung on gibbets (in iron chains), between Greenwich and Erith; the body of the other is sent down to Dover, to be hung up in chains at the end of the pier.”
(Kentish Gazette 8 – 12 Jan 1790 back page col.2, near bottom):


Alexander John Spence was hanged at Black Horse Lane, Charlton, on Friday, 9th August 1822 for shooting Lieutenant Philip Graham of the Coast Blockade. He would have been 22 years of age on the following day.
This is supposed to have been one of the last executions at Dover.
John Bavington Jones wrote that in the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries Dover’s place of execution for “condemned felons of Dover and its liberties” was on the rising ground at the upper corner of High Street, (Tower Hamlets) facing Bridge Street. “Those executions were of frequent occurrence and were very sad and revolting scenes. The central object was a poor, unfortunate person conveyed in a cart, with a coffin beside him ready to receive his body, and the Chaplain of the Corporation imparted last words of counsel and comfort to his soul. “The car so laden was surrounded and followed by an excited mob, on whom the object-lesson was supposed to have a moral effect, although often it was quite the contrary. “The hanging took place on the high ground on the left entrance to Tower Hamlets Road* and the windows of the Black Horse Tavern, at the opposite corner of Tower Hamlets Road, offered a point of vantage to sightseers who did not care to jostle with the crowd.
“Amongst the executions which took place there in the early part of the 19th Century, before the Municipal Reform Act put an end to them, were:
Turmain, on 8th March, 1813; two men for forgery on the Margate Bank, on 27th November 1817;
Alexander Spence, for shooting an officer of the Coastguards, Friday 9th August, 1822;
and a young man convicted of robbery at Margate, in 1823, was the last person executed there.”
[*Black Horse Lane was the original name for Tower Hamlets Road, the name was changed about 1865.
Before the Turn-Pike Act was repealed there stood a turn-pike here]
Mr John COLEMAN, farmer of Kearsney Nr Dover: a threshing machine of his (in the barnyard of Mr BROMLEY, farmer at Hougham Nr Dover), was broken. A party had assembled for that purpose at 2 o’clock in the morning “Sunday”
(Kentish Gazette 20 Aug 1833 p.3 col.2)

“Whipped at the Cart’s Tail” from an old print –
a sentence of whipping could be carried out either in public (at the post, or over a distance “at the cart’s tail”), or in private.
Thomas PAY aged 9, and William BACK aged 10, at Dover Quarter Sessions – (7 line report) – both charged with stealing – both sentenced to 14 days, and to be whipped every morning. (Dover Telegraph 18 April 1846 p.8 col.4)

Aaron WALKER was whipped in the Market Place on 22 November 1844 (list of Dover dates)
Stole ‘Trowsers’ and Bacon:
James BROWN, 26, labr, committed the same day on two charges of felony; the first for stealing a pair of trowsers on 1 December from shop of W. HOLTUM, Queen Street, and the second for stealing a piece of bacon from a shop of J.R.USBORNE. Mr HOLTUM deposed to having missed the pair of trowsers which he hung up at the door of his shop on 1 December and those produced in court were the identical articles. Edwd NEWING a boy about 13 years of age said he saw the prisoner take a pair of trowsers from the front of the shop of Mr HOLTUM about 4 o’clock on the day in question and put them under his gaberdine and walk away with them. Serjeant HOPPER of the police stated that, upon the prisoner being brought to the station house he had two pairs of trowsers on and those produced were underneath. The prisoner said he bought the trowsers at the “Fountain” public house from a man he did not know, for 6 shillings and 6 pence. Verdict: guilty. The prisoner was also found guilty on the second charge and sentenced, for the first offence, 6 months imprisonment with hard labour for the second three months.
(Dover Telegraph 12 Jan 1839 p.8))


At the Town Hall, before J.Boys and T. Blackburn Esq:
“John MORGAN, a tailor was charged by T. EVENDEN, with having pawned a suit of clothes, his property, with Mr. RADFORD, of the High Street, for 18s. 6d. It appeared that the complainant furnished the accused with a quantity of cloth to make a suit of clothes, the cost of making which was to be 19s. They were to be done by a certain day, and to be paid for immediately. The accused got the clothes done by the appointed time, but the complainant broke faith, and sent for the clothes without the money several times. The tailor then pledged the articles for the amount in question, urging that his pressing necessities compelled him to it. The Bench decided the act was illegal, and fined the defendant 20s., and £3.6s., the value of the clothes, and ordered the pawnbroker to deliver up the property”
(Dover Telegraph 30.10.1847 p.8 col.4)
Mr J. BATES, at Dover Petty Sessions was summoned for not sweeping snow from the front of his house
(Dover Telegraph 20 Feb 1847 p.8 col.2)


William TOMS (a lad), – Dover Magistrates Court, charge of illegally collecting dirt from the streets, property of Pavement Contractor (Dover Telegraph 18 March 1837 p.8 col.4)
Richard COLLARD – fined 5 shillings for taking dirt from the streets, the property of the contracting scavenger (Dover Telegraph 30 Dec 1837 p.8 col.2)
CAUTION TO DIRT COLLECTORS: Mr F. Prescott, the contracting scavenger under the Pavement Board, preferred a charge on Monday before the Magistrates, against a boy of the name of Dennis, for taking dirt off the streets, contrary to the provisions of the Pavement Acts. The father of the boy, who was only 11 yrs of age, did not appear; but it was stated that he possessed three donkey carts which were used by his children in the collection of rubbish; and as this was not the first occasion on which the contractor had received cause to complain of the family the Magistrates felt bound to inflict a punishment; which they did on the lowest scale – a penalty of five shillings or seven days imprisonment. The Mayor observed it was distressing to send so young a child to prison, even for so short a period; but as his friends did not choose to come forward there was no alternative. (Dover Telegraph 4 Nov 1837 back page col.3: POLICE REPORT)
Elizabeth SAUNDERS, (spinster): Examination: – was apprehended wandering and begging at S.Twyford, Hants, gave oath on 26 Feb 1714… said she was daughter of Richd SAUNDERS deceased who was born at Dover Kent and she was born at Spikes Bay on Island of Barbadoes and brought over from there with her father in the merchant ship called The Loyalty, the master was Charles COLLINS and the said ship was about a month since cast away nigh Falmouth and the master drowned, several others were set on shore at Falmouth in a long boate. She said she had a grandfather living in Dover by trade a shoemaker by name of John SAUNDERS and her grandfather sent for her from Spikes Bay, and also for her father, and her father was cast away in the said ship… (her mark, not corrected, being sick) aged about 18 yrs. To be sent to Dover to her grandfather there.
(1715 Easter Q9/1/121 Southampton, Hants Quarter Sessions rolls)
Theft at River in 1750: James BOVEY charged, upon the oaths of Thomas Hatton and Richard Bowles, with feloniously stealing out of a field in River in this county, one iron plow coulter, the property of him the said Thomas Hatton. (marginal note: Whipt Saturday next and the Saturday following, at St Dunstan’s Cross)
(from Calendar of prisoners for E. and W. Kent Quarter Sessions, St Thomas and Michaelmas 1750)
CAUTION TO TIPPLERS – Joseph PUDNEY: Yesterday week, Joseph PUDNEY was convicted by the Mayor and Magistrates, in the sum of 20/- and costs, and John WILLIAMS and David HALLIDAY in the sum of 10/- each and costs, for having forcibly entered the “Tally-Ho” retail beer house, before 6 o’clock on the previous Tuesday morning, in a state of intoxication and because the landlord, Henry BURROWS, refused to draw them any beer, assaulted him and threatened to pull the house down over his ears”.
(Dover Telegraph 7 March 1835 p.8 col.2)
THROWING STONES – Edward CARLTON a lad about 14 charged with assaulting Henry ING – the complainant in a previous case, by throwing stones at him – fined 12s. 6d., costs included (lots of boys in Dover Market Place)
(Dover Telegraph Sat.Dec.27 1856 p.8)
Ellen MANN and Ann STEADMAN: While in a state of intoxication, they entered gardens and destroyed flowers and vegetables. “Of loose character”, both were sentenced to 6 weeks in gaol.
(Dover Telegraph 11 June 1836 p. 8 col. 3)
Elizabeth SUMMERS, servt. at 29 Waterloo Crescent. Dover Petty Sessions – stealing flowers, cautioned and fined 1s.
(Dover Telegraph 29 May 1847 p.8 col.3)
IMPORTUNING ALMS : John FITZGERALD, a vagrant, Dover Magistrates sentenced him to 14 days with hard labour for violently importuning alms.
(Dover Telegraph 18 Mar 1837 p.8 col.4)
BATHING FROM SEASHORE AFTER 7AM: Police Constable DUNFORD – gave evidence in case of 2 men bathing from the seashore after 7am
(Dover Express 18.8.1916 p.25 col.4)
John MATTHEWS late coach porter at Ship Office: Examined by magistrates and remanded on suspicion of stealing a parcel containing about 400 sovereigns
(Dover Telegraph 16.1.1836 p.8 col.4)
John MATTHEWS at Dover General Sessions, re. money parcel stolen. Accused with his father in law, George Boyce HILL. Long report. Found NOT guilty.
(Dover Telegraph 20 Feb 1836 p.1 col.3)
John MATTHEWS, Porter at Messrs WORTHINGTONS: Previously acquitted of theft – the stolen property was recovered – found buried in the garden of his house at Dover
(Dover Telegraph 13 Aug 1836 p.8 col.1)
LOITERING: Mary RILEY was charged by Supt. Laker with loitering about the streets in a state of comparative nudity. The charge was supported by P.C.Geddes who took her into custody. It was also stated that a shilling had been given the prisoner by W.P.Elsted Esq. with the understanding that she should get out of town, which however she had not done – she was ordered to leave the town forthwith.
(Dover Telegraph Sat. Dec.1 1849, p.8 col.2, Dover Petty Sessions)
TREADMILL: James JANCOCK Committed to the treadmill at Dover Gaol for stealing cherries
(Dover Telegraph 28 June 1834 p.8 col.4)
TREADMILLS: – close compartments in which a prisoner remained for a quarter of an hour at a time, vigorously treading down a wheel of 24 steps at a fixed rate. (after a period of rest, they resumed again). The men could get no firm tread as the steps sank away from under their feet and made it very tiring. The air became hot and difficult to breathe…. Although stocks, pillory and roadside gibbets were no longer used jails were very severe – treadmill, crank, oakum picking, and strict regimentation. Transportation only ceased to be an important method for major offenders in the early 1850s.. where there was NO threat to PROPERTY, (the criminal law was very lenient towards violence and sentences passed on those caught seem surprisingly light). Not until c.1865 were effective standards and treatment in gaol brought in and not until 1877 was a ‘coherent national penal system’ in place.
(from “The Victorian Underworld” by Kellow Chesney, 1970)
DOVER PROPOSAL for TREADWHEEL: At Dover Town Council meeting “The Question of erecting a treadwheel in the Borough was introduced by the Town Clerk. Mr ROBINSON, in proposing its erection (the estimated expense of which was £320 – an amount requiring about a halfpenny rate) observed that he was satisfied it was the best thing that could be done for decreasing the number of vagrants by whom Dover was infested. Communications were received from gaols:
at Maidstone – “the power of their mill is applied to grinding corn but they recommended a flywheel &c; for a small gaol, to be better”
at Canterbury- “prisoners generally and particularly vagrants, dislike working at the treadwheel much more than they do simple imprisonment. The power of the t-w here is not applied to any purpose.”
at Sandwich – The treadwheels are still in use since erected in 1832 and 1841, have had the effect of causing a considerable decrease in committals yearly… are much dreaded.. military prisoners and vagrants have decreased… low diet and treadwheel has been the means of almost driving them from this Liberty…..”
Mr ROBINSON made other comments in favour of proposal at Dover. Mr BIRMINGHAM seconded and said it should be beneficial. Mr HART opposed the non-productive aspect as against the present “oakum picking” and proposed it was not expedient. The original proposal was carried.
(The Dover Telegraph 11 Aug 1849 back page col.3)
“CAPTURE OF A ROBBER – On Saturday morning at about 5 o’clock a special train arrived at Dover with a gentleman and one of the City Police in search of a man who, it was stated, had robbed a merchant at Hamburg of more than £4,000. After ineffectually searching on board the packets, then about to start for the Continent, they proceeded to Hollyer’s Hotel where they discovered the fugitive quietly enjoying his breakfast. He arrived at the London Hotel by the mail train intending to embark for the Continent but was compelled to retrace his steps with his captors.”
(Kentish Gazette 16 March 1847 back page col.2)


(betrayal into matrimony”) “Be it resolved that all women, of whatever age, rank or profession, or whether virgins, maids or widows, that shall after the passing of this Act, impose upon and betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s male subjects, by scents, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high heeled shoes or bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law now in force against witchcraft and sorcery, and that the marriage, upon conviction, shall stand null and void.”

Wm.Barber CLARINGBOULD, “an eccentric and well known individual” – drunkenness. Proved. 14 days prison in default of paying 10s fine and costs. Dover Police.
(Dover Express 10.5.1862 p.1 col.5)

Betsy NASH. Dover Petty Sessions – 15 lines – charged with stealing. Remanded.
(Dover Telegraph 22.May 1847
also see:
Dover Telegraph 6 March 1847 p.8 col.3 (assault charge dismissed)
Dover Telegraph 29.May 1847 p.8 col.3
Dover Telegraph 26.June 1847 p.8 col.4)
Betsy NASH, singlewoman, attired in male apparel, charged with creating a disturbance at the Royal Mortar. No one appearing against the defendant it was stated she had been to a Masquerade in the Eagle Gardens and appeared before the bench in her dress as “a nice young man”; was dismissed with a caution not to again appear in such unsuitable attire!
(Dover Telegraph Sat.1.1.1848 p.8 col.1)