History of Elsenham
Fullers End, Elsenham, c.1965
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
History of Elsenham >> Elsenham Snippets
When researching for this website we often find a little snippet of information on a location or subject which may be of interest. Some are quirky, some show that there is nothing new in this world, and some about the attitudes and morals of the time. [index to snippets] Here's one for Elsenham about a notorious criminal gang.
Times 31 July 1817
William Welsh, one of the desperate gang, several of whom were convicted at the last assizes, was indicted for maliciously shooting at James Dennis, at Elsingham, on the 30th of September last.
The prisoner was part of a desperate gang who committed several robberies and burglaries in this county. The prosecutor, Mr. Dennis, a farmer, resident in Elsingham, stated, that on the night of the 30th of September last, about twelve o'clock, after his family had retired to bed, he was alarmed at a noise as forcing one of his lower windows, upon which he got up and saw several men in the yard. He halloued out "Who is there?" Upon which one of them exclaimed, "D-n you old buffer, we will let you know." He said, "I will fire at you," and called up his man.
Soon after his maid brought a light, and he went down below, when a gun or pistol was fired at the window shutter, and struck him under the eye and near the nose; he could not identify any of the parties, but he saw that there were several men.
The two witnesses who detailed the whole transaction were, Elizabeth Clark and Thomas Mert; the former of whom was the mother of one of the men who was hanged after the last assizes. They stated that, on the night of the 30th September last, persons of the names of Miller, Giffin, William Clarke, and James Clarke, together with the witness Mert, met at Hanly, at old Clarke's house, on the night of the 30th September, and having there blackened their faces, they went out to commit depredations ... they went to the prosecutor's.
There one of them attempted to force open a parlour window with a ploughshare, which disturbed the family ... Welsh snapped the pistol, which missed fire twice, but on the third attempt it went off.
Upon firing of the pistol a man of the name of James Pearce came up, who questioned them, but they told him to hold his tongue, or he should fare worse, but if he went away quietly they would not hurt him ... thought it prudent to retire.
When they returned to Clarke's house, Mrs. Clarke advised them to bury the pistol and dark lantern, which they laid in an adjoining orchard; they did so, and the constable proved that he found the pistol, buried in the place that Mrs. Clarke had described.
These facts being proved, which was the same evidence given against others of the gang last assizes, the jury found the prisoner - Guilty.
[End of article]
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