Black Sheep Sunday – Yorkshire Sheep Rustling. Part I

I was fortunate that my previous place of employment had access to the British Library’s online newspaper archive.  One quiet lunchtime I decided to put ‘Liverton’ and ‘Richardson’ in as search terms and see if there was any mention of this family and place in the papers.

To my surprise the search returned a series of news reports on two Richardson brothers who had been caught stealing sheep in October 1843 from Moorsholm in North Yorkshire.

Sleddale Farm and Gisborough Moor

William (b. 1813) and John (b. 1816) Richardson were the sons of John Richardson and Hannah Shaw of Liverton.  I haven’t been able to find them in the 1841 census – there are too many of the same name to be sure of the right ones.  The later newspaper reports mention their father being from Liverton, so I am sure I have the right family.

On the 28th October 1843, the two brothers were brought up before the York magistrates on a charge of stealing sheep from a Mr W.L. Lewis of Castleton.  The sheep had been missed from their grazing on the moors and were later spotted by a servant of Mr Lewis, being sold by John Richardson in the market at York.  Once before the magistrates, John claimed he had purchased the sheep in Stockton-on-Tees from an unknown person the previous Wednesday.

The magistrate recommended that Mr Lewis be informed of the matter, and to investigate further.  As the case stood at the present time nothing could be proven against the brothers and so they were discharged, with the condition that they did not attempt to sell the sheep until notified.

CHARGE OF SHEEP STEALING – John Richardson and William Richardson, his brother, of respectable appearance and who live at Wheldrake, near this city were brought up on a charge of stealing a quantity of sheep, the property of Mr William Lewis, of Castleton in the North Riding. It appears that Mr. Lewis had a quantity of sheep on a common, marked with the letters W.L., in tar and that they were seen there about a week before they were missed by his servant. On the loss being discovered three or four persons were dispatched in different directions in order to find out, if possible, the parties who had taken the property away. Nothing, however, was heard tell of them, until that morning, when the prosecutor’s servant saw the sheep in the Cattle Market for sale. Information was immediately given to the police, and the two defendants were accordingly taken into custody. John Richardson stated that he bought the sheep of a person whom he did not know, at Stockton-on-Tees, on Wednesday week. Mr Lewis not being in attendance, and his servant only challenging the men by a description he had given to him by someone who had seen them driving the sheep on the road, the magistrates recommended Mr. Lewis to be made acquainted with what had transpired, and if anything further could be brought against the defendants, they would again have to be brought to answer the charge. As the case stood at present they could not do less than discharge them. Before the defendants left the hall, they were told not to sell the sheep until something further had been heard about the matter.

The York Herald, and General Advertiser (York, England), Saturday, October 21, 1843; pg. 5; Issue 3708. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II

To be continued…..

Part II

© Caroline Cox and Caroline’s Chronicles. 2011 – current year

4 thoughts on “Black Sheep Sunday – Yorkshire Sheep Rustling. Part I

  1. Hi Carolyn,
    It seems like the phrase black sheep has two meanings within the context of this post. I believe that is what you were going for. They stole sheep. Black sheep means people who have done wrong. Congrats on the word play.
    I met you at Suzie’s blog party. Maybe you can check out my blog if you need any blogging tips. That’s when I write about. I also have blog parties like Suzie. I am actually having one this weekend and would love for you to come.

    Liked by 1 person

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