Do you have a 'Black Sheep in your family?
Most of us have an ancestor or relative who didn't quite 'Toe the Line' and perhaps got away with it or was even copped!
There are times we must sympathise with the culprit, sometimes poverty and desperation forced them to do things just to survive. And a little over a century ago you could be hung for stealing a coat or a loaf of bread!
Share with us your little secret. We wont tell anyone 'onest!
For instance, I apparently had an uncle who among other misdeeds went AWOL for the whole of WW2!
He changed his name from Harold SOMETHING to Frederick Something-ELSE and living with several lady friends at different addresses around London, managed to evade both the Military and the Metropolitan Police for years! I'm told he came to a nasty end when he was stabbed by one of his many sons during an argument over drugs!
PS. Dont tell anyone will you?
Before the days of policing, local law was governed by the parish church and its overseers and wardens.
Some local village villains
While browsing the net I found some records of prisoners held in Ilchester jail during the early 1800's.
Interestingly, among them were reference to several residents from our area! Are they in your family tree?
The reference does not state what their offence was or the length of sentence.
17/2/1825 Peter BAKER from East Brent. Born E Brent. age 33.
18/7/1825 James Radford from S Brent. Born East Brent age 27
30/3/1822 William Lloyd from East Brent. Born New Town, Montgom. age 38
4/2/1823 George Steelman from S. Brent. Born S. Brent age 27
5/4/1823 George Morgan from S. Brent. Born London. age 18
22/12/1822 John MORGAN from S. Brent. Born London. age 22
1/9/1824 John MORGAN from S. Brent. Born London. age 24
George STEELMAN was hanged for his sins on 23 April 1823 at Ilchester Gaol.
His crime was described as "Highway robbery".
Source - a rather gory but interesting website called Capital Punishment UK at
The fate of 17th Century single mothers!
April 1621. Ilchester Quarter sessions
Order made 27th March 1621, by John Maye and Nathaniel Styll esquires.
Thomes JOURDAN of EAST BRENTE husbandman, the reputed father, shall pay 6d weekly to the overseers
and churchwardens of Winscombe at the end of morning prayer at the parish church, the money to be reserved as a stock for placing the child.
Johan STOCKE the mother, shall keep the child, or else pay 1 shilling weekly, to be to be employed as the other money. Both parties to put in sufficient surety to perform this order.
The mother as soon as she shall be able to travel abroad, to be brought to the next market town. And then stripped from the neck to the girdle and openly whipped, for an example of others to avoid the like offence.The father is found guilty only on the confession of Johan STOCKE.
April 1618. Ilchester Quarter sessions
An Order made 11th day of March 1621, by John Maye and Nathaniel Styll esquires.
Christopher LOCKE the reputed father, shall pay 6d weekly to the overseers
and churchwardens of South BRENTE, the money to be reserved as a
stock for placing the child.
Joane EALE the mother of the child, to keep it herself, or else pay the weekly sum of 12 pence,
Both parties to put in sufficient surety unto the officers to perform this order.
The said Joane EALE shall be publicly whipped at the next market town on the next market day.
As it doth not plainly appear but by the confession of the mother that the said Christopher LOCKE is guilty of the said offence, he is left to be further ordered herein by the Ecclesiastical laws.