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Rough Music in this Notorious Village

An account of 19th century yobbism, with serious consequences, from The Bedfordshire Times of 1st December 1855

"On Friday week this notorious village was again thrown into disorder by the congregating together of upwards of 150 lads of the place to have a "lark", as they termed it, but which unfortunately for a great many of them turned into a "hawk". It appears that a rumour was in circulation that Mr Joseph Hopkins, of this place, baker, and a married woman named Pantling, residing at Linslade bridge, had been caught in the act of adultery; and, therefore, the lads of the village determined to have some "rough music" over the affair. In their perambulations they passed Mr. T. Hopkins' house (the father of the delinquent), when suddenly a report of a gun was heard, which was quickly followed by another; and this had the effect of dispersing the crowd - several of whom, however, we regret to say, were wounded in different parts of their bodies with shots; and one person, it is thought, will be deprived of the sight of one eye. Information was immediately forwarded to the police, when they apprehended Mr. thomas Hopkins, farmer; and on Monday he was conveyed to Woburn, where he was taken before Colonel hanmer and the Rev. John Vaux Moore, charged with shooting with intent &c. After hearing the evidence of eight of the parties, the Bench at once committed the prisoner for trial at the next Bedford assizes. Application was made for bail, which was granted - prisoner being bound in £200 and two sureties of £100 each. The prisoner was then liberated - his bail being Mr. Tompkins and Mr. Labrum".

A directory of 1854 lists Joseph Hopkins as baker and Thomas Hopkins as shopkeeper. Richard Labrum, John Tompkins and William Tompkins are all listed as farmers. William Tompkins also ran the post office.

The gaol register for Bedford Gaol [QGV10/3] states that Hopkins shot at Wiiliam Stevens "with intent to do grievous bodily harm" on 16th November 1855. Hopkins was 58, nearly 5 feet 8 inches tall, with grey hair, hazel eyes and a florid complexion. He was balding, with a cut mark over the left eyebrow, a blue spot in the centre of the forehead, the third finger of his right hand contracted and thumb and forefinger of his left hand stiff att he joints. He had a mole on his left hip. He was married with two children. He was convicted at the assize of 13rd March 1856 and given three months hard labour.