G Brown/James Morgan – Alleged Wood Stealing 1877

Alleged Wood Stealing

18th August 1877

Geo, Brown and James Morgan were charged with stealing a quantity of pit wood, the property of A D Berrington esq., at Goytrey on July 23rd.

Mr Watkins defended.

Mathew Williams was the first witness called. He said he was appointed to look after the woods for Mr Berrington:

They had missed wood from the place:

In answer to Mr Watkins:

The wood where the pitwood was taken from was let to men named Mayberry and Arthur:

They purchased the underwood and they have to clear away both stubbs and underwood:

Mayberry informed witness about men taking the underwood away: had not seen Arthur about it:

It occurred on 23rd July but witness did not receive any information about it until August 8th:

The husband of the next witness to be called lived close to the wood; did not know of any bad feeling between Brown and her;

Had not seen the wood alleged to have been stolen; missed the wood on 25th July:

Ann Williams lived in the parish of Goytrey; she could not exactly remember the day she had seen prisoners carrying sticks out of Mr Berrington’s wood;

Prisoners had each a piece of pitwood; which they were carrying to the waggon of John Bevan; she saw the sticks on the waggon;

By Mr Watkins: It was between six and seven o’clock in the evening when the prisoners took the sticks away; she could not say which month it was; but she thought it was about a fortnight previously; It was on a Monday; she generally went to meeting on a Sunday and she had been to meeting the day before;

Brown and witness had never fallen out; he had never threatened to summon her; nor had he ever cautioned her about taking sticks from the wood; she lived nearer that 50 yards from the wood; she dealt in fruit; so did Mrs Bevan;

It was Bevan’s waggon she saw the sticks on:

Daniel Crompton was next called and said he was standing at Abraham Williams’s door when he saw Bevan’s waggon with some sticks upon it; couldn’t say whether the sticks were pit wood or not; they were about 6ft long; it was between six and seven o’clock in the evening:

In answer to Mr Watkins: Should not have noticed the affair at all but for Mrs Williams having pointed it out to him; she said “you see they are putting sticks on the waggon and if anything is missed we shall be blamed for it”

Abraham Williams, labourer and basket maker said he met prisoners one night; they were with Bevan’s waggon; there was some browse on it; saw two sticks on top of the browse; but he would not swear what they were; it was about 6.30 in the evening when he met them;

In answer to Mr Watkins: Did not know of any ill-feeling between his wife and Bevan; never heard that his wife was about to be summoned by Brown;

The case was adjourned till next Saturday:

25th August 1877

The Goytrey Wood Stealing Case

George Brown and James Morgan were charged [on remand] with stealing pitwood, the property of A D Berrington esq.,

Mr Watkins appeared for prisoners;

Mathew Williams was re-called and being cross-examined by Mr Watkins, said he was in the habit of visiting the wood three times per week;

Some weeks he would visit the place only once; it was 11 or 12 acres in extent; in the place where the witness Ann Williams had pointed out to him was ‘corded’,men were cutting the wood a few months ago;

Witness had missed some sticks from a heap; there were three hedges between Mrs Williams’s house and the place where she alleged she saw the sticks taken from;the place where the pitwood was taken from was about 50 yards into the wood; it was altogether about 110 yards from this place to the witness’s Williams house;

In answer to Mr Phillips;

Witness missed three pieces that he knew; but he had not seen those sticks afterwards;

He had missed one large piece and two middle sized pieces;

Daniel Compton was re-called; and said he was standing in Mrs Williams’s garden; there were three fences between them, the garden and the waggon; there was a wide gap in the hedge so that the tail of the waggon could be seen;

Witness did not suggest to Morgan’s mother, on the previous Saturday, that he[Morgan]should confess that he had stolen sticks, and so get Brown convicted;

Witness himself had been convicted of felony;

John Bevan jnr., said he lived at the Yew Tree Cottage; the prisoners had borrowed his fathers waggon to take away some browse from the wood;

The agreement was, that they [the Bevan’s] were to have a load of browse for hauling a load; he went to the wood in company with the prisoners; there was a high hedge between where they placed the waggon and the road;

The hedge consisted of horles and sallies; after they loaded the browsw a short rough stick was put onto the waggon, this stick was not trimmed;

Brown’s stick was a little longer; a tree by falling had broken and splintered it at one end and there was a knot in it;

In answer to Mr Edwards; those sticks were not taken from a heap;

Examination continued: witness went with Pardoe and pointed out the place where the waggon stood; he measured in a straight line from there to Mrs Williams’s gate;

James Arthur deposed that he and a man named Mayberry had bought the coppice wood;

They had cordwood and pitwood out of the coppice;

The timber was to belong to Mr Berrington; they had to clear the wood of all browse and underwood;

He had let the wood to prisoners to clear it; but cautioned them not to touch either cordwood or pitwood;

They take many pitwood pieces to act as levers in grubbing the wood; and as a rule these are of no use afterwards;

From the description the boy gave of the sticks he would not infer they were pitwood;

Wm. Pardoe has measured the ground at the request of the prisoners;

From where the waggon stood to Mrs Williams’s house was 135 yards; the waggon could not be seen from the house in question;

The case was dismissed


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