Little Criminals

In May 1878, a 14-year-old youth called Arthur DOBSON faced a charge of stealing a horse and a set of harnesses, the property of Arthur JACKSON of Scalby Lodge Farm. Inspector DOVE explained that Dobson had taken the horse, wandered on his way and, without anyone noticing, hitched the animal to a waggon belonging to Martin ABBEY of Wykeham Carr. Nonchalantly, he had called at the house of a Mr WILSON in Ayton. He spun a yarn:-

…stating he was going to Sherburn for a load of bran for Mr Jackson, who had told him to put the horse up at Mr Wilson’s stable, and he would afterwards pay him for his trouble. Mr Wilson, being a relation of Jackson’s, assented, and the horse was stabled, and the lad preparing for bed, when Police-sergeant Heald arrived and took him into custody.

The case was remanded and I don’t know the outcome but the report in The York Herald, quoted above, continued:-

It may be mentioned that the prisoner is the same youth who, a few days ago, was charged with being secreted in the Market Hall, and discharged with a caution, the directors not willing to prosecute.

I could not find birth or census records that pinned down this miscreant. Confident in his ne’er do wellness I searched newspapers and found several young men with the same name who had done bad things. One kicked a drinking partner to death. Another passed fraudulent cheques.

I expect farmer Martin got his waggon back. But only a couple of months earlier, a farm labourer named Thomas HARLAND was charged at Scarborough on suspicion of stealing two hams, the property of Mr Martin Abbey, Wykeham Carrs, during the night of 27th February. I don’t know the outcome of this case either, but I suspect the hams were never seen again. I haven’t been able to track down the accused, though I didn’t try very hard.

I looked again at the census returns that detailed Martin’s household, which included all the servants living in. No names leapt out – except that of his niece, Mary Jane LOVEL. When she was just seven (and Martin 18), she was caught by the 1851 census at Wold Farm, West Heslerton, which was run by Martin’s widowed mother. Little had changed in the family by 1861. Ten years later, Martin had his own farm at Wykeham but his mother was still working the land at West Heslerton, and her granddaughter, Mary Jane was her housekeeper, now aged 27 and as yet unmarried.

Clearly, something had happened to Mary Jane’s parents. Her mother, Ann, was an older sister to Martin and had married Jonathan LOVEL in January 1840. At the census the following year the couple are living in Driffield, with first-born Philip. Jonathan is a butcher. Ann gave birth to Mary Jane in 1844 and died in January 1848. Jonathan followed her to the grave in March 1850 but in the intervening period, he found himself in court.


Not a criminal then, just a brute. The only Mahala Lawson I could find who seems right was about 15 years old at the time of the incident described. Born in Horncastle, Lincolnshire to Francis, a shoemaker, and his wife Edey, she returned to her birthplace and married Matthew MORLEY, an agricultural labourer, in the spring of 1858. They had several children. Mahala died in 1919, aged 86. She has several IDs on FamilySearch, each generated by the birth of a child but not yet merged into a single family.

Big Criminals

Classiarius: Hubristic Globalism has failed.

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