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WILLIAM CRUWYS AND MARIA WESTACOTT AND THE STOLEN BLANKETS

Transcribed by Debbie Kennett

The first two articles were originally published in the North Devon Journal on 19th October 1871.

ANOTHER CHARGE AGAINST WESTACOTT. - Maria Priscilla WESTACOTT was also charged with stealing from the shop of Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth SAWTELL, draper, on Saturday last, a cross-over or woollen-sheet[?] preserver, which had been hung up in her shop doorway in a bundle with some others, which she found had either been cut or torn off therefrom. Mrs. SAWTELL identified the article produced as her property: she valued it at 1s. 9d. Ellen McCARTHY proved seeing the prisoner at the shop door and after she had enquired the price of the cross-overs, she was left there by the witness. Mr John WOOD said from information he received he searched the prisoner's house, and in a bed in the room occupied by her he found the cross-over which he produced. He took it to Mrs SAWTELL, and she identified it. The prisoner was dealt with under the Summary Jurisdiction Act, and was committed to the House of Correction for one month for this offence.

CHARGE OF RECEIVING STOLEN GOODS. - William CRUWYS, a tailor, of this borough [South Molton], was charged with receiving the before mentioned blankets, knowing them to be stolen. Superintendent FISHER stated that he went to CRUWYS'S house (after he had taken the former prisoner into custody), and enquired whether a woman named WESTACOTT had lately been there. The prisoner replied she had been there not long since. He further said she had brought no bundle with her, nor taken anything away. He told witness he was welcome to search his house, and he did so and found nothing. Witness told CRUWYS that he knew all about the blankets, and asked him [to] say where they were. He said, "Yes, I will" and having obtained a lantern, put a candle in it and went with witness and Superintendent WOOD to the field already spoken of, where he picked them up. CRUWYS said they were tied up in a piece of lining belonging to him. On Sunday morning the prisoner told witness in the station-house he did not like to have the blankets in the house, and took them into the garden, and afterwards into the field. CRUWYS, on being asked whether he had anything to say in answer to the charge, made a long statement admitting that the blankets were brought into his house by the woman WESTACOTT, who said she wanted to leave a bundle there. She gave him a glass of beer at the "Ring of Bells" and left him there, and went away with a little child. He afterwards heard that some blankets had been stolen, and went home and said to Emma STAMP, "These blankets shan't stop here." He took her some lining, and she tied them up, and brought them down to him, and he put them in the garden, and went in search of WESTACOTT, but could not find her. Thinking they would be as bad in the garden as in the house, he took them down Northmolton road, and threw them over the hedge, and went in search of the woman again. The prisoner (CRUWYS) was also committed to take his trial at the same Sessions for the offence of receiving stolen property. He was, however, afterwards bailed out by recognisance - himself in £50 and two sureties in 25 l. each.

The following article was originally published in the North Devon Journal on 4th January 1872.

QUARTER SESSIONS
The usual quarterly session of this borough [South Molton] was held on Thursday, before James JERWOOD, Esq., the Recorder. There were three prisoners for trial - an unusual number for this borough, which is generally free from crime. The principal charges were against persons imported [?] into the town in consequence of the works going on at the Devon and Somerset Railway. The learned Recorder took his seat punctually at 11 o'clock - the specified hour - accompanied by the Worshipful the Mayor (John WHITE, Esq.), Captain DAMES, and Dr. HATHERLY. Mr. Councillor PEARCE was foreman of the grand jury, who sent in a true bill against Ellen WEEKES, a young woman about 18, charged with having on the 26th of October obtained a loaf of bread under false pretences from Mr. W. DEWDNEY, baker, in Barnstaple-street. . .

- True bills were also returned against Maria Priscilla WESTACOTT and William CRUWYS, the former charged with stealing a pair of blankets on the 14th of October, from the shop door of Mr. Thomas FARLEY, draper, and the latter with receiving the same knowing them to have been stolen. The prisoner WESTACOTT pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to one month's imprisonment with hard labour. CRUWYS, who had been on bail, pleaded not guilty: a petty jury was therefore sworn in to try him, of which Mr. G. J. GARRETT was foreman. Mr. SHAPLAND prosecuted, and Mr. J .A. THORNE (Barnstaple) defended the prisoner. The facts of the case, as stated by the prosecution, and afterwards detailed in evidence, were that the prisoner WESTACOTT, after stealing the blankets after dark on a Saturday night, took them to CRUWYS'S house in Back-lane, at which house there lodged Emma STAMP, a young woman, a companion of WESTACOTT, and with whom she came to this town from Okehampton; that CRUWYS was then from home, but met with WESTACOTT just as she left his house, and the two went and had some beer together; that on leaving the public-house they separated, and immediately after having done so CRUWYS heard people talking in the street of the robbery at Mr. FARLEY'S, that he at once went home, and, after saying that the blankets should not remain there, took them and tied them up in a piece of cloth and put them in the garden, but thinking that not a safe place, removed them to a field in Northmolton-road; that shortly after this Superintendent FISHER came to search his house, during which time a woman named Williams said, "You know where the blankets be, CRUWYS, why don't you tell Mr. FISHER?" upon which prisoner said that he would be honest in the matter, and shewed the police where the goods had been placed. - Ellen MACARTHY and Lucy TOSWELL [?] gave evidence to seeing the prisoner WESTACOTT take the goods from prosecutor's shop door. - Mr. FARLEY swore that he believed the blankets (produced) were his property, but he had no specific mark upon them. - Mr. Superintendent FISHER and Emma STAMP also gave evidence: the latter appeared to be a regularly affiliated member of the know nothing society. - Prisoner's advocate made a powerful appeal on his behalf, and while he admitted that his client's moral conduct was not of the brightest, still he had never before been accused of felony, and the evidence against him was so weak and his motives of action so misrepresented, that he confidently believed the jury, composed of such intelligent gentlemen as those he now addressed, would acquit his client; and they did, for after about ten minutes' consultation they returned a verdict of "of Not Guilty."

Transcriber's note:
William CRUWYS was the youngest of four children born to Thomas CRUWYS, a carpenter from Mariansleigh, and Elizabeth DIBBLE. He was baptised on 7th January 1844 in Mariansleigh.

Last updated - Brian Randell, 3 Aug 2005

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