« PreviousContinue »
Justices of the Peace for the said county of Stafford, as shall be assembled at the Public Office, in Wednesbury, in the said county of Stafford, on the 12th day of September, 1848, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, to answer the complaint of John Douglas, of the parish of Wednesbury, in the said county of Stafford, travelling player, for that he, the said Thomas Tibbets, did, on the 4th day of August, 1848, at the parish of Wednesbury, in the said county of Stafford, knowingly, unlawfully, and designedly, by false pretences then and there made by him, that is to say, by pretending that as collector of the tolls of the Market at Wednesbury aforesaid, he had the right of permitting the said John Douglas to occupy a part of the Market Place, at Wednesbury aforesaid, on certain days not being the days on which a market is usually held at Wednesbury aforesaid, obtain from the said John Douglas certain monies, to wit, the sum of five pounds of the monies of the said John Douglas, with intent then and there to cheat and defraud the said John Douglas of the same, contrary to the statute in such case made and provided. Herein fail not. Given under my hand and seal, the 11th day of September, 1848. I. CLARKSON.—Summon to give evidence.
“The case was heard before the Rev. I. Clarkson, John Leigh, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, and P. Williams, Esq., Sept. 19, 1848. Mr. Holland, attorney, West Bromwich, appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Bolton, attorney, Wolverhampton, for the defendant.
“Mr. Holland opened the proceedings by stating very briefly that the defendant was charged with having taken the sum of £5, as collector of of the fair and market tolls, at a time when he had no right to do so; that he knew that his right to the tolls did not extend beyond the fair and market days; and that he practised deceit upon the plaintiff, and thus defrauded him of £5.
“John Douglas examined.—I am master of a company of players. About a month ago I made application to Tibbets for land in the Marketplace whereon to erect my booth for the wake. Tibbets said I might have the land for £5. I understood him to say that he had the right of letting it, and I treated with him under that impression. We walked over the land, and I agreed to pay his demand. I should not have paid him if I had not believed he was entitled to it. He represented himself as entitled to it. I was to erect on Monday.
“ Cross-examined.—He told me he had received it for years from Holloway. I was to have five days, and one was Friday. It was one contract
for the whole time. I would not have given £5 for one day. We had no talk about any division of the money. He treated with me openly. I had no reason to suspect he was defrauding me.
“Mrs. Douglas.—I received some money from my husband about a month ago, and I came to Wednesbury and paid Tibbets £5 for the standing for the wake. I asked him to give me a receipt for it. He refused, but said it would be all right—we should either have the standing, or he would return the money.
“John Yardley. I have lived in Wednesbury all my life. There are two fairs in the year, and a market every week on the Friday. There is a wake in the beginning of September. I was constable fourteen or fifteen years. Joseph Harrison was collector of the tolls on the fair and market days. I received the gratuities for the booths and shows, and paid them to the treasurer of the Sunday Schools. Harrison received no tolls at the wake, except for fees for the loan of his own stalls.
“Samuel Harrison.—I am about thirty-three years old. I often assisted my father to collect the tolls on the fair days and market days; and during his illness, I collected them for him, and for my mother a short time after his death. We did not collect any tolls at the wake, except from those to whom we lent stalls. The constable collected some money from those who had booths and shows, and paid it to the schools
“Mr. Joseph Smith.—1 remember Mr. Tibbets being constable. At the time of the wake, he used to come and tell me what he had received, and he paid it to the treasurer of the schools. In 1845, Tibbits had received money– I believe about £8—and he hesitated about giving it up to the schools. After some altercation, he agreed to pay £5. I was churchwarden, and a member of the Board of Surveyors. The Board of Surveyors claimed the money for the schools.
“Mr. Joseph Dawes.--I am constable for the Leet at the present time. I have given no authority to Tibbets to collect any gratuities. I went round last year and the year before to collect gratuities, but I was told Tibbets had been before me, and received the money. I suppose he kept it for his own use.
“Mr. Bolton argued, that if Tibbets had done wrong in taking this £5, the surveyors had been equally guilty in collecting or claiming gratuities. Suppose Tibbets had no right to receive this money from Douglas, still it must be regarded only as a mistake. There is no proof that he has knowingly and fraudulently obtained it. He considered he had, as collector
of the toils, a right to demand this fee; and I submit that, where even a supposed right is maintained, there can be no intentional and designed fraud. I call no witnesses.
“Mr. Leigh doubted whether Tibbets had intentionally defrauded Douglas. He contends that he supposed he had a right to this fee; but the evidence of custom is decidedly against him. He may be indicted at the sessions; but would not a jury consider that he acted under a mistake ? Clearly his right to the tolls was confined to the fair and market days, as was evident both from the Charter and from custom; and any future attempt to obtain what did not belong to him after this warning must tell against him. We might bind him over to appear, on notice, to answer any indictment that may be preferred against him ; but I think the best course is to dismiss the present charge, and leave the parties concerned to proceed against him, if they think proper, at the next sessions.
“The Magistrates were unanimous in their opinion that the defendant had no right to tolls, except on the fair and market days, and though they dismissed the present case because there did not appear from the evidence so much guilty knowledge as to justify a committal for a misdemeanour, yet they hesitated not to declare that no evidence had been elicited, either from custom or from the charter, to give the defendant the slightest pretext for claiming the money he had received.
“For many years a custom prevailed in Wednesbury of Walking the Fair.' The ceremonies connected with it were conducted in the following manner :-On the morning of the fair, Harrison, the beadle, appeared in the Market Place, dressed for the occasion, and bearing, as badges of his office, a bell, a long pike, &c. To him assembled a number of the principal inhabitants of the parish, often with a band of music. They then marched in procession, headed by the beadle, through different parts of the town, called at the · Elephant and Castle,' in the · High Bullen,' then kept by one Nash, drank two tankards of ale, and then returned into the Market Place, where they quenched their thirst again with the same kind of beverage. After this they dined together at one of the public houses. The expenses incurred in this walking the fair' were defrayed by the parish funds.
“In the centre of the Market Place formerly stood an unsightly building, commonly called the • Cross.' It was built upon pillars and arches, and consisted of two upper rooms, to which there was an entrance,
at the north end, by an uncouth flight of steps. In these rooms a number of children were taught, the school being supported by the inhabitants. Formerly eight boys were clothed and educated by funds raised by yearly collections in the Parish Church; upon one of these occasions the celebrated William Romaine, Rector of S. Ann's, Blackfriars, preached the sermons. Here, too, commissioners held their court of requests; magistrates sat to administer justice; and, on the top of the steps, tied to the door posts, many a culprit has been flogged by the beadle. Under the rooms, and within the arches, was a receptacle for all kinds of filth and dirt, and many a scene of vice and impurity has been witnessed there. This place had at last become so great a nuisance to the town that it was determined to take it down, especially as its dilapidated state rendered it dangerous to all passers by. Frequent applications were made to the Stewards of the Lords of the Manor to repair and improve it, but all applications were refused, until about thirty years ago, when, upon the request being repeated, Mr. Robins, one of the agents, replied, “the parish might do what they liked with it, the Lords of the Manor would not repair it.' In the year 1824 some of the parishioners determined to pull it down, and the constable, Mr. John Yardley, by their direction took down the building, sold the old materials, and with the proceeds of that memorable sale repaired the parish walls. Thus ended the celebrated Wednesbury Cross.'"
Augmentation Ofice Records.—Enrolments of Leases, fifth Elizabeth, Roll
21, No. 3.
Staffordia.—Regina omnibus ad quos &c. salutem Cum tenementum et unum parvum croftum pasture eidem tenemento pertinens scituata jacencia et existencia in Weddisburye et Tipton, in Comitatu nostro Staffordie, dimissa inter alia pro annuali redditu sexdecim solidorum non solum antiquo tempore concelata fuerunt a nobis et progenitoribus nostris sed eciam ad presens magnopere in ruina et decasu existencia ut eadem absque grandibus sumptibus et oneribus reparare et manutenere quam non valeant Iamque pro eo quod dilectus nobis Robertus Cawdwell super se assumere vult tam reparacionem eorumdem sumptibus suis propriis et expensis reparare et manutenere quam annuatim respondere nobis heredibus et successoribus nostris predictum redditum sexdecim solidorum ut supra specificatum. Sciatis igitur quod nos tam in consideracione predicta quam pro fine quatuor librarum quindecim solidorum et quator denariorum legalis monete Anglie ad receptam Scaccarii nostri ad usum nostrum per predictum Robertum Cawdwell solutorum de avisamento Thesaurarii nostri Anglie Cancellarii et Subthesaurarii Scaccarii nostri tradidimus concessimus et ad firmam dimisimus ac per presentes tradimus concedimus et ad firmam dimittimus prefato Roberto Cawdwell omnes illas quinque crofta pasture cum pertinenciis jacentes et existentes in Tipton modo vel nuper in tenuris sive occupacionibus Georgii Hopkis et Ricardi Hopkis ac eciam totum illud tenementum nostrum in Weddisburye cum pertinenciis ac unum parvum croftum pasture nostrum eidem pertinentem jacentem in Tipton modo vel nuper in tenura sive occupacione Willielmi Sudley Que omnia et singula premissa scituantur jacencia et existencia in Weddisburye et Tipton predictis in predicto Comitatu Staffordie ac nuper parcella servicii beate Marie in ecclesia de Weddisburye vocati “our Lady's Service" quondam spectabant et pertinebant ac parcella possessionum inde quondam existebant ac omnia et singula domos edificia structuras horrea stabula columbaria hortos pomaria gardina terras prata pascua pasturas communias ac omnia alia proficua commoditates advantagia emolumenta et hereditamenta nostra quecumque cum eorum pertinenciis universis premissis sive eorum alicui quoquo modo spectantibus vel pertinentibus Exceptis tamen semper et nobis heredibus et successoribus nostris omnino reservatis omnibus grossis arboribus boscis subboscis mineris et quarreris premissorum. Habendum et tenendum omnia et singula premissa superius expressa et specificata cum eorum pertinenciis universis prefato Roberto Cawdwell executoribus et assignatis suis a festo Annunciacionis Beate Marie Virginis ultimo preterito usque ad finem termini et per terminum viginti et unius annorum ex tunc proximo sequencium et plenarie com. plendorum Reddendo inde annuatim nobis heredibus et successoribus nostris quadraginta septem solidos et octo denarios videlicet de et pro predictis quinque croftis pasture cum pertinenciis in Tipton ut prefertur existentibus triginta unum solidos et octo denarios Ac de et pro predicto tenemento et parva crofto pasture in Weddnisburye et Tipton ut prefertur existentibus sexdecim solidos legalis monete Anglie ad festa Sancti Michaelis Archangeli et Annunciacionis Beate Marie Virginus ad receptam Scaccarii nostri seu ad manus Ballivorum vel Receptorum premissorum pro tempore existente per equales porciones solvendos durante