Black Sheep Sunday – Yorkshire Sheep Rustling Part II

Part I

William and John Richardson’s freedom following their discharge by the York magistrates was short-lived.  The following Saturday a warrant was issued for their arrest; evidence had been discovered of further sheep thefts carried out by the brothers.  John was arrested at a farmhouse in Wheldrake, while William had arrived at the Station House of his own accord.

They appeared before the magistrate, Mr. Laycock, who heard a deposition by the superintendent of police, Mr. Chalk. Mr. Chalk explained how and why the Richardson brothers had been arrested and requested that the hearing be adjourned for a few days while further evidence was collected.  The brothers were remanded to York castle prison.

Image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: :: Public Domain

On 4th of November the York Herald reported on the latest hearing of this case at York Castle.  There was a possible five charges against the brothers, but the magistrates concentrated on just two, beginning with the charge of stealing four sheep from William Fell on Thursday 12th of October.

William Fell deposed that he had missed four out of his five sheep from Moorsholm Moor and had later seen two of them in the possession of William King and the other two in York with the prisoners; the sheep still bore his mark.

The owner of The Black Horse inn at Thirsk, Emanuel Teasdale, stated that the prisoners had stayed overnight at his Inn on 13th October with fifty or sixty sheep.  After they had left the following morning, he found they had left four sheep behind.  William Fell then identified one of those sheep as his.

William Winterbottom, a policeman, said that he had found six sheep in William Richardson’s field and had brought them to York.  Fell again identified one of the sheep as his, stating that he had last seen it grazing on Moorsholm Moor.

Mr. Chalk said that the Richardson brothers had been originally arrested due to having fifteen sheep in their possession which they couldn’t account for.  Following their previous appearance in court when they were told not to sell the sheep, they had made no attempt to run away or dispose of the sheep despite being at liberty for three days.

Further depositions came from James Grey, who had seen the brothers driving a great many sheep towards Guisborough at Slaits Wath – three miles from Moorsholm, but fifteen miles from Stockton where they claimed to have bought them.  William Harding, who knew the family from Liverton had also lost nine sheep that same week  and Michael Bradley, an innkeeper from Newton under Roseberry Topping, had sold the prisoners a pennyworth of rum as they were passing through, driving the sheep.

A second charge of theft from William Lewis was also heard, his shepherd, John Foster had missed twenty-eight or thirty sheep from Moorsholm Moor, which he next saw in York market on the 19th October, in the possession of the prisoners.  George King and Thomas Wilson of Beningborough had both purchased sheep from the brothers which had since been identified as belonging to Mr. Lewis.

William and John Richardson were then commited for trial at the next assizes.

Of prisoners for trial at the ensuing Assizes, which commence on Saturday, the 16th of December, before the Hon. Sir Wm. Henry Maule, Knight.
61-William Richardson and 62- John Richardson charged with having, on the morning of the 13th October, at Moorsholm, stolen four sheep, the property of Wm. Fell. Also charged with having, on the same day, at the same place, stolen twenty six sheep, the property of Wm. Lewis.

The York Herald (York), 16 December 1843; online archives (: viewed January 2013); The York Herald, and General Advertiser (York, England), Saturday, December 16, 1843; pg. 5; Issue 3716. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II..

Part III

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

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