Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky enough to have some stray Assizes records from the mid 17th century. The collection was bought in 1934 from a dealer who had bought them from a waste paper merchant! Some examinations for cases being bought to the Assizes in 1672, 1678 and 1680 all highlight the Aman family and their nefarious ways.
For the Summer Assizes of 1672 [HSA1672S46] the Aman family were charged with receiving stolen goods. Isaac Aman, aged nine, son of John Aman of Ridgmont, labourer, was examined on 1st April by Justice of the Peace Saint John Thompson of Husborne Crawley. The examination reads as follows [note the original spellings]:
"That Hannah Aman his sister did, when his father's house was searched for Certaine goods which were feloniously taken away out of the house of one Dianah Wilson of Aspley Guise in the said County of Bedford, privately in her coates convey the same away and that hee this Examinant was playinge upon the greene before the doore of the said house when shee carried them out of the house, and further saith that hee was with James Atterton at Aspley Guise aforesaid a begginge, and that they were at the said widow Wilson's house the same day the house was broken open when they first came into the said towne and at last when they came out of the said towne, and that the house of the said widow Wilson was a thatch'd house, and there was a gate at the entrance into the yard belonging to the said house and another gate at the goeing forth thereout, and that one Nathaniell Price asked him the said Isaac whether the goods that his said sister Hannah Aman carried away were stollen goods, and he replied they were, for that he heard his said sister Hannah say soe; and further this Examinant saith that the said James Atterton did breake open the said widow Wilson's house, and tooke thereout certaine goods, and carried them to his father John Aman, his house, to Ridgmont, and when he came thither he opened the said pack, and that there was in it a greene apron and diverse other goods, namely lynnen and blacke hoodes and scarves, and that he brake the wall open on the backside next the garden, and set the said Isaac on the foreside of the said house, and bid him watch there and if anie one came to give him notice thereof. And further saith that the said goods were put into a hutch that stood in his father's house, neere the fire, by his father's stoole, where they usually laid theire victuals, and beinge asked what his father and mother said, when they saw the said goods, hee said nothinge, but laughed. And this examinant further saith that when the house was first broken open, hee saw a Grediron hanginge on the wall of the house, within the Chimney, and when he came away from the house, he saw the same lye on the backside thereof, neere the place where the wall was broken open".
Clearly Diana Wilson lived in a lath and plaster cottage which allowed Atterton to break open the wall. In the Hearth Tax return of 1671 she is listed as living in a house with one hearth.
On 1st April ten year old Nathaniell, son of Robert Price of Ridgmont, labourer had been examined: "Isaac Aman (aged aboute Nine yeares) sonne of John Aman of Ridgmont aforesaid,, upon the twenty Fifth of March last past told this Examinant that on the Twenty fourth day of the said month of March the Constables of Ridgmont aforesaid and one John Smith, by vertue of a warrant from me the said saint John Thompson, did search the house of the said John Aman for certaine goods and lynnen which was not longe before feloniously taken out of the house of Dianah Wilson, widow of Aspley Guise … and that whilest the said search was made, Hannah Aman, daughter of the said John Aman , privately conveyed the said goods tuck'd upp round aboute her in her Coates but wither shee conveyed them hee could not tell". Hannah's coats would have been her petticoats and so reasonably safe from searching male hands!
On 2nd April Mary and Martha Bailey, spinsters and Mary wife of Walter Connington, all of Ridgmont were examined: "Upon Sunday being the 24th day of March 1672 they all three walking together in the field adioyninge to Beckerins Parke in the parish of Ridgmont saw Hannah Aman, daughter of John Aman of Ridgmont aforesaid sitting upon the ground by a sheepefold and when they come neere her shee rose up and pretended to picke wooll offe the hurdles, and went away towards the lane that leadeth into Bowden end, and there was something blacke hangd out of her coates, and Martha Baley asked whether she sold hoodes and scarves, and Mary Bailey told her that shee would loose something out of her coates, and thereupon shee endeavoured to put it up into her coates. And further they all affirme that shee had somethinge tucked up in her coates, for that one side of her coates stood out further then the other".
Sadly the outcome of this case is not known. Six years later Hannah was accused of murdering a child. The fact that Hannah only went as far as Beckerings Park with the ill-gotten gains strongly suggests that she lived nearby, perhaps near Segenhoe church which still had a number of dwellings around it in 1799 as can be seen on the inclosure map for Ridgmont.