A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Preston in the news - Farmers and dealers
THE CHARGE OF FELONIOUSLY RECEIVING A STOLEN HORSE. James Pratchet was brought up on remand charged with receiving a horse, the property of John Jeeves (aged 53, a carter) of Preston, knowing it to be stolen. Mr W. H. Simpson Jun., solicitor, of St Albans, appeared for the prisoner and called for several witnesses to speak for his character. The Bench, thinking there might be a doubt whether the prisoner knew the horse was stolen, discharged the case. (December 1859) HORSE STEALING. William Pedder aged 26, a carpenter and close neighbour of John Jeeves in 1871) was brought up in custody, having been remanded since Wednesday last, charged with stealing a horse belonging to John Jeeves ( aged 53, a carter) of Preston, near Hitchin on 20th November. The horse was traced the following day to Barnet Fair, by Inspector Pangbourne, and found to be in the possession of a man named James Pratchet, who now swore positively to the prisoner as being the man that brought the horse to him. Pratchet was corroborated by his wife, who also identified the prisoner. The evidence being very conclusive, the prisoner was committed for trial. (December 1859) John Fitzjohn (aged 43, living at Sootfield Green) was charged with leaving the service of Mr Kirkby, (aged 53 of Preston Castle) farmer of Preston, near Hitchin. The prosecutor stated that the prisoner had worked for him for more than two years and that on the 4th of August last he left his employ without any cause whatever and that he had not seen him since - until brought up today. The prisoner admitted the offence and stated that he went away thinking he could earn more money. Ordered to pay 10s and in default committed for 14 days. (September 1862) James Kirkby (aged 19, son of a, farmer ) of Preston was charged with shooting ten tame fowls belonging to John Fitzjohn (aged 43 living at Sootfield Green) of Preston. Mr Shepherd, solicitor, of Luton, appeared for the defendant, and admitted shooting the fowls but contended they had every right to do so as the fowls were in Mr Kikby’s barley and when Mrs Fitzjohn was told to keep them out of the barley, she would not own them - but when the defendant shot them, she at once owned them. The bench thought it was a case for the county court to deal with and gave no opinion on it. (October 1862) Cripps vs Brown, William( aged 52, also publican at Red Lion in 1851). Claim of £15 12s 6d for loss by resale of horse. Mr Codd instructed by Mr Medland of Dunstable appeared for the plaintiff and Mr Simpson of St Albans appeared for the defence. The case having been opened by Mr Codd. Mr W Cripps deposed: I am a small farmer and reside at Hockliffe. I was at Luton market on the 4th of January and was introduced to the defendant by a person of the name of Eames. He said he had a good horse for sale. I asked where I could see the horse and the defendant replied that the horse was at his farm at Preston, near Hitchin and I said, “It is along distance and I shall not go so far out of my way unless you can say that the horse is sound, a good worker and stands 16 hands high;” to which Brown replied, “ He is all you say, and a better worker or sounder horse you never bought in your life.” I told him I should be at Hitchin market the following day and he agreed to drive me to his farm. I went accordingly to see the horse and when it was run up and down I thought I saw it flinch a little, but Brown said the horse was sound and never had anything the matter with it. The horse was very “froksical” (the plaintiff stated that was the word they used in Bedfordshire to express frisky). I said, “I suppose you warrant the horse, Mr Brown.” and he replied, “No, I never warrant a horse any further than out of my yard. I’ll warrant the horse sound up till now.” I agreed to give £42 for the horse. Some days after, I went for the horse and paid for it. When I got there, I said I should like to see the horse before I paid for it, and he ordered his man to bring the horse out, and I said to my son, “Do you see anything like lameness in the horse?”. Brown heard me speak to my son about the lameness and said, “Lame, you can take my word he is as sound a horse as ever you bought.” It is 17 miles from the defendant’s house to my farm at Hockliffe. My son led the horse gently. The next morning I found the horse was lame and wrote to the defendant who did not answer my letter. I sent for Mr Powell, a veterinary surgeon, who stated that the lameness was caused by an enlarged tendon at the back of the hock. I then sent my son to the defendant to hear what he intended to do and he told him he had nothing more to do with it. The horse was subsequently sold in Dunstable market for £30 and purchased by a Mr Cochin. Other witnesses were called to corroborate the plaintiff’s evidence. Mr Simpson addressed the jury and called: Mr Brown, who said: I live at Preston near Hitchin. I had the horse three or four months which I sold to the plaintiff and the whole of that time I never noticed any lameness. The plaintiff came to my house and saw the horse and he asked me the conditions on which I was going to sell the horse, and I replied I never warrant horses and I should sell this one without warranty. I asked him £45 for the horse and he offered me £38. I said, “I shall not take £38; I was offered £40 last week.” He subsequently purchased the horse for £41, but he did not take it away for twelve days for which I charged him £1 for keep. I told the plaintiff, if I gave a warranty with the horse I could get £50 for it at Redbourn fair the following day. Several other witnesses were called for the defence and the judge having summed up, the jury without any consultation returned a verdict for the plaintiff for the whole amount less one guinea charged as veterinary surgical expenses. (March 1864) GREAT DESTRUCTION OF FARM PRODUCE. A fire broke out early on Saturday last on the farm in the occupation of Mr Samuel Kirkby (aged 60) of Preston-castle, about three miles from Hitchin. the smoke was first seen coming from under the roof about the centre of one of the barns, which, from the nature of its contents, was soon in flames. The fire then spread with great rapidity and quickly consumed wagon, harrow and cart sheds, stables, granaries and dwelling house. All the contents of the rick-yard -the whole harvest of the year - except one stack of wheat were destroyed. There were destroyed, three ricks of hay, three of wheat and one of straw besides the produce of several acres of barley, oats and tares which were in the barns. Two calves and four pigs were also burnt, but the rest of the stock were saved. The Hitchin Fire Brigade were soon on the spot and rendered great service. With the assistance of neighbours, a large portion of the household furniture and wearing apparel was saved. The fire continued to rage throughout the whole of Saturday and every vestige of the farm buildings have been destroyed except a small granary. Mr Kirkby is insured in the County Fire Office for his corn and Mrs Curling, the owner of the property is insured in the Royal Exchange, but will not cover the loss. The farm is not without some historical interest, being the place where John Bunyan and other ejected ministers found a retreat and hospitable welcome from persecution. There is a large wood not far from the house and in it a dell where, it is said, John Bunyan frequently preached when released on parole from Bedford Gaol. (August 1868) CARRYING A GUN WITHOUT A LICENCE. Thomas Marriott (aged 21), son of a farmer at Preston, was charged with carrying a gun without a licence on the 3rd June. Mr Watkins, excise officer, appeared to prosecute. Mr Barham another Inland Revenue Officer said on the 3rd of June he met the defendant carrying a gun at Tatmore Hills. He asked the defendant for his licence and at first he said he had one, but afterwards said he had not got one. He hope the witness would not be hard upon him and witness said he would not if he got a licence. Defendant promised to take out a licence and about three weeks afterwards, witness met the defendant and on asking about the licence he said he should not take one out. Defendant said he had not used the gun since. Mr Watkins said defendant was charged with carrying a gun on the 3rd June. The Chairman said it was the hardest case he had ever had before him. What the defendant had done was in ignorance. He thought the Excise ought to be satisfied if the defendant took out a £3 licence within a week. Mr Watkins said the defendant had been warned and his other licence expired in April. He was obliged to press for a conviction. The defendant was fined £2 10s the Chairman remarking again that it was the hardest case he had ever had before him. The defendant had mistaken his rights but had not intentionally violated the law. (July 1875) CRUELTY TO A HORSE Charles Brown (aged 33, cattle dealer keeping the Red Lion in 1871), dealer of Preston, was charged with cruelly ill-treating a horse by working it in an unfit state on the 17th ult. The proceedings were instituted by the RSPCA. Police-constable Tripp stated that on the 17th ult. he saw the defendant driving the horse up the hill through Gosmore. The horse was poor and had great difficulty in moving. It appeared in great pain and was lame on the off hind leg. It had caps on its knees and it had recently gone down for blood and matter were issuing from the wounds. There were raw places under the arms and on the withers which the collar pressed against. He told H it was cruel to drive it and the defendant said it was not. Thomas Walds of Offley said he saw the horse when the constable was examining it and saw the blood issuing from the off fore knee which was severely cut. There was blood on the knee caps. William Rogers one of the Society’s inspectors said he saw the defendant on the 24th ult. and spoke to him about the matter. He said, “Yes its quite right, but I have sold the horse to be killed.” Witness asked him for a certificate to that effect, when the defendant said, “It’s no use telling lies about it, the horse is grazing in my meadow now.” Witness looked at it. He found blood issuing from the off fore knee, it was lame on the off hind leg, in a very poor condition, and totally unfit for work. Witness had seen the horse that morning and it had apparently been at work. The horse was at this stage brought outside the Court for the inspection of the Bench. Defendant said Mr Leggatt of Luton had seen the horse and said a little work would do it good. The Bench fined the defendant £2 and 14s 6d costs. (August 1875) KILLING PHEASANTS. Mr Stephen Marriott (aged 51, living at Castle Farm) farmer of Preston, was charged with killing pheasants out of season. Charlie Watson (see above) said on the 1st of September he was at work for Mr Marriott and about half past eleven, defendant and a gentleman with him came into the field and Mr Marriott fired at two pheasants, killing both. A third got up and defendant also shot that. Defendant admitted killing the birds but said he did it momentarily. When the birds got up he thought they were partridges, as they were very small. The third bird he shot was a French partridge. The bench retired and on returning, the Chairman said they believed the defendant’s statement and dismissed the case. (October 1876) COUNTY COURT. (Frank?) Brown v. Hawkes and Co. The plaintiff is a farmer living near Preston (probably Frank Brown, 40, hay dealer of Chequers Lane; but Alfred Brown was farming at Home Farm, Preston) and the defendants are brewers at Bishops Stortford. The action was for the sum of £3 5s balance of account alleged to be due for hay supplied. There was no dispute as to the amount, quality or price but the defendants alleged that the hay was not ordered by them or by any person having authority to pledge their credit. Mr Nash, solicitor of Hitchin, appeared for the plaintiff and Mr Thorneycroft, solicitor of Bishops Stortford, for the defendants. The evidence of the defendant went to show that in November 1887 a Mr Barker, who was an agent for Messrs Hawkes and Co. at Luton, asked him to supply Messrs Hawkes with a load of hay there. The hay was delivered accordingly as was another load in December 1887 under similar circumstances. On I February or March, a man whom the defendant had frequently seen at Hawkes offices at Luton asked him to send another load of hay which was delivered soon afterwards. On applying to Hawkes for the money, he was informed that they were not responsible for payment. Barker afterwards sent his own cheque for £10 on account of the hay, leaving unpaid the balance now sued for. Being cross-examined, Mr Brown said he knew that Barker was an agent for the defendants and manager of their stores at Luton. He was questioned as to the correspondence, but the only letter of any importance was one from the defendants on October 17, 1888 asking him to send a statement of his account and saying that if correct it would receive their attention. The other letters from the defendants disclaimed all liability. Six weeks ago the plaintiff said Barker told him the hay was not bought for Hawkes and Co The man who delivered the first load of hay being ill in Hitchin Infirmary could not be called as a witness, but the two carters, Reeves and Sharp, who delivered the other loads were examined. They said the hay was taken into the premises of Hawkes where there were stables and put in a shed. Mr Thorneycroft said that his defence was that Barker had no authority from Hawkes to buy the hay. He had tried to get Barker here as a witness but owing to an important engagement, he was unable to come. Barker had the entire management at the stores at Luton and paid all the expenses. The horses at the stores were Barker’s horses and not the defendants. The men employed there were employed by Barker and not the defendants. The Judge asked how the plaintiff could be expected to know of that special arrangement. The plaintiff’s case did not rest merely on Barker giving the order; it rested also on the fact that that the goods were delivered at premises bearing the defendants’ name. He was ready to assume that there was such an arrangement as Mr Thorneycroft had said but could the defendants show that it had come to the plaintiff’s knowledge? Mr Thorneycroft: I cannot prove that. The Judge; Then I think you fail. In the end the case was adjourned for the attendance of Barker as a witness. (March 1889) CHARGE OF CRUELTY TO A HORSE. Frank Brown, farmer of Preston (hay Dealer at Chequers Lane b 1849c) and William Marshall, labourer of Preston (probably living at St Pauls Walden) were charged with cruelty to a horse on 23 December. Pc Brice said on Tuesday December 27 at about four o’clock he saw a van drawn by a horse in Whitwell loaded with hay. He noticed the horse was in very bad condition. On examining the horse he found a large raw wound on the near side under the saddle. Witness then went to the cottage and found Marshall there. He asked who was in charge of the horse and van and he said he was and that it belonged to Frank Brown. Witness told the defendant to take the horse out, which he did, and the witness pointed out the wound to him and he said he did not think it was so large. It was 2 ½ inches in length and 1 ½ inches wide and looked to be a wound of long standing. Defendant said he was glad witness had stopped him as he was ashamed to go about with the horse. He had previously been stopped by Mr Hale who said the horse was too bad to go about. Brown said for eight weeks the horse had not been worked as it had a little the matter with its back and it had only been a short distance to fetch nine trusses of hay. He had had the horse examined by Mr Matthews, veterinary surgeon of Stevenage, a certificate from whom he produced. The case was adjourned for a week to produce further evidence. Later. George Wood, labourer of Whitwell, said on the 27 December he was walking through Whitwell in the afternoon and saw the horse in question being taken out of a van by the policeman Brice. Witness helped to take the harness off the horse and on examining it they found a great wound on its back where the saddle had been, about the size of one’s hand. It was raw and bleeding. The horse was in very bad condition and quite unfit to be worked. Mr Herbert Matthews said he examined the horse on 7 January when he found a wound about the size of a shilling. There had evidently been a wound there before, which had partly healed up and the skin, which was tender, had been chafed by the saddle. The horse was an old one and was not fit for ordinary work. The Bench fined Brown £2 and 16s 6d costs and Marshall was discharged with a caution. (Jan 1882) SHEEP WORRYING. A number of sheep in the neighbourhood of this town have recently been worried in a very serious manner by dogs. A very valuable sheep, the property of Mr F Allwood, farmer of Walsworth was severely injured and had to be killed. On the farm of Mr Kingsley, sheep dealer of Ippollitts, two had their legs eaten off and had to be killed and others were wounded. On the farm of Mr Piggott of Preston (Temple Farm) 15 sheep were injured and three killed. On the farm of Mr Brown, Preston, six or seven were injured. On the farm of Mr John Lewin, Charlton, one was killed and several injured. Farmers in the neighbourhood all appear to have sustained damage by dogs worrying sheep more or less and have been compelled to watch their flocks by night. The damage done is estimated at £80 to £100. The dogs which caused the mischief are stated to have been identified. (Aug 1883) ASSAULT Benjamin Hill of Preston, farmer, (b 1816c) was charged with assaulting his shepherd boy, Charles Stevens, who stated that his master knocked him down and that when he got up, his master ran a two-tined fork through the top of his hat into his head, making it bleed. A witness was called by Stevens who saw the assault committed. Hill said the boy called him names first. Fined 30s including costs. (March 1843) Henry Stratton, a servant in husbandry to Mr Benjamin Hill of Preston was charged with leaving his service without the consent of his master. Defendant was reprimanded and discharged on paying the expenses incurred. (March 1841) ALLEGED CRUELTY TO A HORSE February 9, 1901 At the Petty Sessions on Tuesday, George Freeman, labourer of Preston, was charged with cruelty to a horse at Hitchin, by causing it to be worked in an unfit state and Frank Brown, farmer of Preston was charged with causing the animal to be ill-treated. Inspector Berry, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Freeman was in charge of a horse in Nightingale Road, Hitchin which was drawing a load of straw. It was lame on both fore feet. There was a dropped sole on the near forefoot and that foot and the off forefoot were both hot and showing symptoms of fever. It would cause the horse pain to work. Brown denied seeing the horse before it was sent out. Freeman said that the horse had been shod that morning. PS Brice gave similar evidence. The defence was that Brown knew nothing of the horse being lame; that the horse was not lame when taken out in the morning, but became so during the day. Mr Passingham said it was one of those cases of accident which might occur to anyone who took a horse out. Evidence in support was provided by Brown and Frank Piggott, blacksmith. The Magistrates dismissed the case. Unreasonable and wanton act of oppression. Unwilling as we always are to give pain to individuals by any personal observations, it is with great regret we insert the following notice of an act of great barbarity committed by a county magistrate – but the press would forego one of its highest functions if it did not at all time stand forth to protect the poor man from his opulent oppressor. Mr Curling of Hitchin was recently shooting near Preston and observed the remains of a rabbit which his gamekeeper suggested might have been killed by a dog belonging to the shepherd of Mr Wright of Preston. Mr Curling without making further inquiry proceeded to the field where the man was attending his master’s sheep and in spite of his remonstrances shot the poor man’s dog on the spot – and not satisfied with this summary act of vengeance commanded Mr Wright, who is one of his tenants, to dismiss the man from his service. The poor man called upon Mr Curling to endeavour to obtain some compensation for the loss of his faithful and valuable dog but after waiting two hours was refused an interview. We are glad to hear that he has obtained another situation as he bore a most excellent character and had lived with a former master thirty years. (12 February 1842) Samuel Farey and Henry Crawley labourers of Preston were charged with wilfully damaging a fence to the amount of 6d, the property of Mr W Brown, farmer. Fined 5s each. (26 September 1868) John Dew farmer of Preston, was sued by Charles Chalkley for 5/- alleged to be due for wages. The plaintiff said the money was due for piecework but the defendant claimed to set off this sum against a previous transaction between them in the sale of apples. The magistrates made an order for the payment of 5/- and costs and told the defendant that he could sue in the County Court for the money alleged to be due to him. (21 October 1899) STRAYING STEERS. Summoned for allowing six steers to stray at Preston on December 1 1924, Alfred Brown (64), farmer of Leggetts Farm Kingswalden was fined £1 10/-. COUNTY COURT. Brown vs. Parke. The plaintiff, a butcher at Preston, claimed £6 as damages for an alleged breach of warranty on the sale of a cow. His evidence was that on buying the cow in October 1903 at the defendant’s public house at Whitwell, she was warranted to be in calf, being due to calve at the end of April or the beginning of May. She turned out not to be so and the plaintiff had to pay £5 5/- to his aunt to whom he sold the cow after being in his possession three weeks with the same warranty as he received with her. The cow was afterwards sold as barren at Messrs. Jackson’s sale yard for £6 5/-. The defendant denied giving any warranty that the cow was in calf. In giving judgment with costs to the defendant his honour remarked that he would be a bold man who warranted a cow to be in calf nearly eight months before the time it was supposed she would be due to calve. (10 January 1925) PETTY SESSIONS. William Brown and Arthur Spencer, boys of 12 or 14, admitted doing damage to the extent of 1/6d to hazel bushes, the property of Mr John Dew farmer of Ippollitts. Each was fined 1/-. (2 September 1905) John Reynolds was charged with absconding from the service of Mr Wright of Preston Hill Farm and was discharged from his service (10 February 1855) Samuel Kirby, farmer of Preston (Castle Farm) was charged by John Scott (21) with refusing to pay him £1 3/- wages due. He was ordered to pay with costs. (9 October 1852) Mr Edward Bird, farmer of Preston (Temple Farm) was charged by David Crew (40, of Chequers Lane, ag lab), labourer of the same place, with refusing to pay wages due him for digging chalk. Case dismissed. (14 January 1860) LETTER. Sir, you will be conferring a favour on the farmers of this county by inserting the following as a caution to those who may be in the habit of dealing with persons as inconsiderate as Mr Brown. ‘An Invite to the Cattle Plague.’ Mr Brown, a dealer of Preston on Monday last brought twenty head of young stock from Aylesbury, a district very much infected with the rinderpest. About half of these were sent to Hitchin Hill for sale, there being an order prohibiting stock within the town, but information having reached the inspector to the knowledge of Mr Brown, they were hurried back to Preston – much to the discomfort of his neighbours. (18 November 1865) SALE OF FARM Included: ten cart horses and colts, grey nag horse, seven head of cow stock, eight store hogs, 50 head of poultry and ducks. Also, the following implements: six iron-armed, narrow wheel carts, iron-armed wagon with hoops and tilt, land roll, iron and wood ploughs and harrows, iron scuffler, two-row turnip drill, horse, hoe, turnip cutter, sheep troughs, 20 dozen hurdles and stakes, dressing machine, barn tackle, cart and plough Farm/Date??? Bucks Herald 11 May 1918 Hertfordshire agricultural circles welcome another new squire who is taking a keen interest in farm work – Mr Douglas Vickers. He has taken over the whole of the live stock and the splendidly equipped Home Farm which were to have been sold by auction last weekend. A Dairy herd of Shorthorn cows, pedigree Jersey cattle and pedigree Shorthorn bulls were among the live stock. Bedfordshire Times 7 April 1933 Home Farm, Preston. Sale of live and dead farming stock: 62 head of cattle viz 8 crossbred Shorthorn Cows mostly in calf, pedigree Shorthorn Bull, 13 Aberdeen Angus Cows with their calves, 12 to 15 months, pedigree Aberdeen Angus Bull, 2 working horses, 53 white Wyandotte pullets, surplus agricultural implements and machines together with the dairy utensils. The farm having been let, JR Eve and Son have received instructions from Mr Douglas Vickers to sell the above by auction. Catalogues from RJW Dawson Esq, Estate Office Preston. Bedfordshire Times 9 February 1895 Poynders End Farm. A compact freehold estate of 92s 1r 39p with house and spacious homestead. The estate occupies a very elevated position in the immediate proximity to the Temple Dinsley Estate...and commands views in several counties. It is absolutely necessary to effect a sale as the Trust is about to expire. Luton Times 13 November 1885 Pond Farm Preston Live and dead farming stock comprising two carthorses, two colts, 2 milking cows, Alderney Heifer, 1 Steer, two calves, four in-pig sows and a sow and pigs. A quantity of implements, a rick of wheat straw, a stack of tare and a stack of meadow hay. To be sold by order of Thomas Marriott (born 1853, at Pond Farm in 1881) who is giving up farming. Luton Times 23 July 1859 Temple Farm, Preston Growing crops of corn on 68 acres on land occupied by Mr W Pallott, lately held by TB Hudson: 13 acres of barley with the straw, 30 acres of oats with straw, 17 acres of wheat with straw, 8 acres of second clover, 30 acres of after-feed on meadow, 3 ricks of clover and a rick of Trefoil Stover. Hertfordshire Mercury 9 January 1875 Mr Brown of Preston attended at the request of the Hertford Board of Guardians to give explanation in reference to a complaint by Louisa Ward of bad treatment while in his service. After hearing his explanation, the Board felt he had not intentionally dealt harshly with the girl. Herts Guardian 21 July 1866 William Pedder was charged with leaving the service of Mr Brown of Preston. Case dismissed. Herts Guardian 30 April 1861 Preston Farm For sale by the executors of Mr George Lake: live and dead farming stock including 10 cart horses and colts, grey nag horse 6 years old, quiet to ride and drive, seven head of cow stock, 8 store hogs, 50 head of poultry, ducks and agricultural implements: 6 iron-armed narrow wheel carts, iron armed wagon with hoops and tilt, land roll, iron and wood ploughs and burrows, iron scuttle, two-row turnip drill, horse hoe, turnip cutter, sheep troughs, 20 dozen hurdles and stake, dressing machine, barn tackle, cart and plough harness, a half-horse-power, a two wheel chaise, dairy and brewing implements. Bedfordshire Mercury, 21 August 1869 Starving sheep At a recent petty sessions, Charles Brown, a cattle dealer of Preston was charged by the RSPCA with cruelly mistreating some sheep. The police had their attention drawn to the fact that many of the sheep were in an emaciated state and that some of them had died in consequence. The whole flock appeared to be prostrated, the sheep being mere skeletons. No provision was made for feeding them, neither was there any convenience for supplying them with water and Mr Cherry, the veterinary surgeon, who examined them found them free from disease but in a condition caused by starving. They were enclosed in some neglected ground which had once been arable but at the time only produced rank weeds and couch grass. The defendant being spoken to said that that was all he intended to give the sheep and that when at home they were taken to a pond once a day or so, but that when he was away they might go two or three days without. The defendant called witnesses on his behalf but with no avail as the magistrates fined him £5 and costs. (A more detailed account of the case follows) Hertfordshire Express, 14 August 1869 Novel Charge of Cruelty to Animals Charles Brown, a sheep and cattle dealer of Preston (and living at the Red Lion), was charged with having cruelly ill-treated certain sheep in July last. The case was preferred at the instance of the RSPCA. Opening the case, HP Andrews said it was no part of his case to attempt to account for the motives which might have actuated the defendant....and several metropolitan magistrates had convicted in cases of a similar nature, though others had been doubtful that starving animals was an offence under the Act...In giving an outline to his case, he said that the police had attention called to the fact that many of (Brown’s) sheep were in a weak and emaciated state and many had been known to have died in consequence. On 23 July, an officer had found one dead and another in a very exhausted state. The whole flock appeared to be wholly prostrated, the sheep being perfect skeletons and mere bags of bones. No provision was made for feeding them and there was no convenience for supplying them with water. A few days afterwards, more had died...On 26 July (an examination) found no disease to account for their wretched condition which was caused by starvation. They were enclosed, about 80 sheep, in 15 acres of neglected ground that had been arable some years ago but which had been allowed to go out of cultivation and grew nothing but rank weeds and couch grass (probably situated immediately to the west of Crunnells Green Lane). This was all the sheep had to eat, though the defendant had plenty of good grass in another meadow and plenty of hay in a rick, but said he wanted all that for other purposes and did not intend to give the sheep anything better than what they had. As for water, he said that that when he was at home, they were taken to a neighbouring pond once a day or so, but when he was away it was possible that they would go two or three days without water. His conduct was so wilful that the Society felt they had no alternative but to bring the case before the local magistrates. PC Farr, ‘I am acquainted with the defendant. On the second week in July I heard that the defendant’s sheep were suffering from want of food and water, went into the field and found 70 to 80 sheep, very bad, some lying down under the hedge. I went on the 14 July and found three more sheep which appeared to be starved to death. I told Mr Brown who wished me to say nothing about it. The sheep had been under my notice for 7 or 8 weeks. During that time, I have seen them watered once or twice a week, never saw any food but what grew in the field, although I went there every day. I have noticed that the sheep have improved since these proceedings were taken. The sheep got much worse from the time the defendant first had them. Arthur Cherry, veterinary surgeon, said, ‘I examined the sheep on 26 July....the field was growing nothing but weeds, the ground was exceedingly hard and no provision of water was there. The sheep appeared to be mixed: some being stronger than others; about half were in a worse condition and about 20 were the worst. There was a sheep and a lamb struck with the fly. The sheep on the near quarter had a piece of cloth sown on the wool over the wound. The lamb had also been struck with the fly on the tail. There were 14 or 15 with small pla*** and had been dressed with tar. I examined them carefully to see if I could find any disease. The 20 were so weak that they could not move. I went to the residence of the defendant and he said he had sold some and had put some in. He treated the matter very lightly and said there was plenty of food to last them to Christmas. I informed him they were starving, but he said there was plenty of food. I asked him if they had been watered and he said he took them to the pond in the village nearly every day. The people grumbled because they dirtied the water and he had bought a tub for them which he was going to fill at the pond. He said they were watered on the previous day and said they were watered pretty regularly, but if he was away they did not have any water for two or sometimes three days. Asked why he didn’t bring them into the orchard where there was plenty of grass, he said he wanted that. Asked why he didn’t give them hay from the stack, he said he wanted to keep that. He said he couldn’t give them any more, it wanted rain. It was very dry weather when I was there: it had been dry for a month. The sheep were in a state of emaciation – mere skeletons with the skin drawn over them. He lifted one up, but it couldn’t stand. The two with fly might have been under treatment for three or four days. My positive opinion is that they were suffering from Starvation and nothing else. I saw one in a ditch which had been dead some days and the vermin had got at it. What little vegetation was in the field was harsh and dry and not fit for the food for young animals – they were too weak to eat it. Brown said that on 15 June he had hired 15 acres from Mr Toke of (Temple Farm) Preston for £5 5/- and there was a tremendous lot of keep on it. He was bid £10 for it few days afterwards. He then narrated how he purchased the sheep and put them into that field where they improved so that he was able to make more money of them by £20. He called Thomas Brightman, a cattle dealer, who said he sold 26 ewes with the wool on to Brown six weeks ago for 18/- each. He saw the ewes last Tuesday and remarked they had very much improved – they were worth 18/- each without the wool. If sheep were badly treated they would of course look bad, but he would be a great fool to starve his own sheep. Mr Toke confirmed there was plenty of keep in the 15 acre field when he let it to Brown. He considered that if he turned 80 sheep into the field they would eat nearly all the feed in three weeks, but it would keep growing if the sheep were turned about. The sheep were very poor when he bought them, but had very much improved. Saw them last Tuesday and the defendant had put them into market. Some of the lambs were very bad when Brown bought them and he thought they would not be of any use. One lamb died of water on the heart to his knowledge for he had the carcass and saw it opened. Don’t think that ten days would be sufficient to fill the sheep out. William Sleigh of Preston said he had crossed the field where Brown’s sheep were four or five times a week since the beginning of July. The quality of the food was not good, but there was plenty of it but it began to get dry. The food was not so good at the latter end of July as at the beginning. Have seen sheep lying about in a weak state, but that was from the heat. Have seen Brown’s sheep going down to the village for water. Mr Crawley, farmer, said defendant bought eight lambs six weeks ago for 17/- each. They had improved and were now worth some shillings more than when he had sold them. Had since bought one of the sheep from the defendant for 25/- as a fat lamb to kill. Daniel Smith of Preston (grocer at Preston Green Post Office) said he saw the lambs Brown bought and told him they would not live. There was plenty of feed when they entered the field and he was sure they could not have died from starvation. There were three or four lambs in a bad state when he bought them. Saw sheep in the field about a month ago. Was sure the defendant did not starve the lambs as they were starved when he had them. Mrs Sarah Sharp said she had seen Brown’s sheep go to the pond once a day and had complained about it. Have sometimes seen them twice a day. Was not aware there was a tub in the field. The sheep had been to the pond all the dry weather and she complained about their coming to drink there because that was the only water the cottagers had to use. Brown denied Inspector Young’s statement that the sheep had not been treated for the fly and said they had been dressed every day. Sleigh added that in a place surrounded with wood like that field it would take one man all his time to keep the flies off. Brown said there were gaps in the hedge and the sheep would go through and go to the pond on their own accord for water if there was no-one to drive them. They were not confined to Toke’s field. After consulting for twenty minutes, the Chairman of the magistrates said they could not get over the fact that some of these lambs really did die and the evidence of the condition the animals were in. They concluded that the food was certainly not proper for the lambs. They had no alternative but to convict the defendant who was liable to a fine of £5 per head for those who died and those who did not die. Their chief object was to prevent the defendant and other people from doing the same again. Of course he did not want his lambs to die, but he ill-treated them by neglect. He would be convicted in one penalty of £5 including costs. An allowance of one guinea was made for the veterinary surgeon and Mr Andrews requested that the residue of the penalty after deducting costs should be given as a donation to the Hitchin Infirmary. Brown paid the money protesting that it was a very hard case. Frank Brown (farmer of Preston) and William Marshall (labourer of Preston) were charged with cruelty to a horse on 23 December. The case was adjourned for a week to produce further evidence. 13 December 1882 George Turner, a labourer, was charged with cruelty to a horse at Preston on 11 April by working it when it was in a an unfit state and Frank Brown, his employer, was charged with causing it to be so worked. The Magistrates dismissed the case, but said the police were justified in bringing it up. 22 April 1892 ODELL v BROWN The plaintiff is a smith at Hitchin and the defendant is a hay dealer at Preston. The claim is for £7 6s for work done. The defendant paid £2 10s 11d into the court, alleging that this was all that was owing for work done for himself -the balance being for work on behalf of Mr Keevil, a hay and straw dealer at Brixton, whose agent the defendant was some time ago. His Honour held that the defendant was liable for the whole. 10 May 1895 Ernest Brown was summoned for allowing four pigs to stray on the highway at Preston. Supt. Reynolds said that in consequence of swine fever in the neighbourhood and as he had observed pigs straying about, he put two constables on duty at Preston. The defendanr said the pigs were not tuned out on the highway but escaped from a field. He was fined eight shillings. 29 November 1895. Alfred Brown, farmer of Preston, was fined 6d with 6s 6d costs for having two carts on the highway at Ippollitts without the owners name painted thereon. 4 September 1896 CANNON v BROWN The plaintiff is a wheelwright and carrier at Preston and the defendant is a dealer also living in the village. Mr Cannon sought to have returned to him a horse of his detained by the defendant in the alternative of a sum of £10. His Honour gave judgement for the plaintiff for £7 10/- less 10s paid in cash by the defendant,(the plaintiff returning in court the defendant’s cheque for 30s paid with the 10s by the defendant when the exchange was made) and return the cob at once to the defendant. 15 January 1897 Alfred Brown, farmer and dealer, was charged with allowing three cows and two calves to stray on the highway at Preston on 21 April. The Magistrates dismissed the case. 30 April 1897
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