THE DEEDS WHICH DISAPPEARED – New building recalls local law case :
“The news that the Corporation are to build flats on the site of some of the war-destroyed cottages in Dodd’s Lane recalls an interesting court case which stirred Dover more than a century ago.”
“John DODD, a bricklayer, built a dozen cottages in the lane about 1808. In 1841, when he was about 70, he gave an election day dinner at which one of the guests was a master mariner named George HUDSON, who had laid claim to a lot of property in the town, and, in one instance, employed men to take the roof off a house to assert his ownership.”
“During the dinner, John DODD brought out his deeds, and HUDSON asked if he might take them away to read at his leisure. Permission was given, but he did not return the deeds as promised.”
“At the Dover Quarter Sessions in July 1842, HUDSON was indicted for unlawfully retaining the deeds. In the meantime, however John DODD died and, because of a supposed informality, the Recorder ruled that a deposition he had made was inadmissible as evidence.”
The Recorder directed the Jury to return a verdict of “not guilty” but, after a retirement, the jury announced that they would “do justice irrespective of the law” and found HUDSON guilty. The prisoner was remanded in custody until the next sessions when, the secretary of State having been advised that John DODD’s testimony might be accepted, HUDSON was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.
“HUDSON said he would “suffer a thousand deaths”before he would give up the deeds, and as far as is known they were never seen again. Those which have come into the hands of the Corporation begin with an abstract of title dated 1872 showing that four of the properties had passed, on John DODD’s death, to Maria DODD, Jane DODD and John Dodd HATCH, and were on mortgage to Edward LONG.”
(Dover Express 5 March 1950)