Odell Sharnbrook Paths to Crime Walk stop 11 Park Lane
Park Lane, Sharnbrook
Baker's roundsman with horse & cart in Norman's Rd [ref.Z50/100/95]
Lost, Stolen or Strayed?
On Sunday 13th August 1848 John Edis of Sharnbrook, baker, left the gates of his yard open and his bay mare strayed out of the yard into a lane leading towards the Kettering Turnpike Road (now Park Lane, leading to the A6). At least three people were on the roads in the vicinity at the time: a young man named Jesse Fisher from West Bromwich in Staffordshire, possibly a vagrant; the local police superintendent William Byers Graham of Sharnbrook; and William Smith of Sharnbrook who was driving a cart. The sequence of events was as follows. Fisher apparently found the horse wandering and began to lead it along by its forelock. At this point he was spotted by Superintendent Graham, who then saw Fisher mount the horse without a halter or bridle. Thinking this suspicious he cut through a field and got ahead of Fisher. He overheard Smith say to Fisher "Boy, what are you going to do with that horse?" to which Fisher replied "it belongs to a man over the hill there. He has sent me for it and I am taking it to him".
Graham beckoned to Smith to move on and continued to run alongside the hedge. He then confronted Fisher and asked where he was going with the horse. Fisher claimed to be taking it to a farmhouse over the hill as he had been asked to do by a man at the bottom of the road. Graham told Fisher that there was no such farmhouse. Fisher then jumped off the horse and tried to run away, at which point Graham realised he had stolen John Edis' mare. He took Fisher into custody, took him to Edis and told him Fisher had been caught stealing his horse. Fisher said "how could I be stealing it, when I was only taking it home?" When told Edis was the owner of the horse Fisher's response was "then I am done". In his examination in front of the magistrate Fisher claimed he had met a man coming from Bedford who had asked him to take the horse to a farm a little further on and who said he might give him a penny or two for his trouble.
At the Quarter Sessions in October Fisher was found guilty of horse theft and sentenced to seven years' transportation. He was sent first to Millbank Prison in London and in July 1851 was put on board a ship to Western Australia. In October 1853 John Edis appears again in the Quarter Sessions records when he was bound over to keep the peace for six months, particularly towards his wife Susanna:
It appears their marital difficulties were severe as in the 1861 census John is living alone in Sharnbrook and Susanna is living in Houghton Regis with two unmarried daughters, Annie and Fanny. All three were earning their living with a needle, Susanna as a needlewoman, Annie as a bonnet sewer and Fanny as a dressmaker.
The Falcon at Bletsoe c.1900 [ref.Z1306/18/4]
A case involving another Sharnbrook baker, William Wykes, shows that the justice could catch up with miscreants long after the event. In March 1840 Wykes lost two quartern loaves worth sixteen pence from his cart while it was standing at the door of the Falcon Inn in Bletsoe. The culprit, Thomas Riseley of Higham Ferrars, was spotted by Eli Norman of Bletsoe who told the Baker. Wykes applied for a warrant for his arrest but Riseley ran away from the neighbourhood. How long he was absent before he assumed it was safe to return is not known, but on 7 April 1844 he was arrested by William Byers Graham at Higham Ferrars. When charged with stealing the bread four years earlier Riseley replied "I know I am guilty of that – that's what I am afraid of". He was right to be afraid as he was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour.
References: QSR1848/4/5/7; QSR1844/2/5/14; QGV10/2