Severe whipping and jail for Preston teenager who stole clothes in raid

Local historian Keith Johnson looks back at a nigth-time raid that had painful consequences for a young burglar...

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 2:20 pm
Ellison was taken to the Lock Up down Turks Head Yard
Ellison was taken to the Lock Up down Turks Head Yard

In early July 1845 John Ellison, aged 19, appeared at the Preston Midsummer Quarter Sessions accused of stealing, at Mawdesley, in mid-June, two coats, two waistcoats, two pairs of shoes, a pair of trousers, a gown, a cloak, a cap, a jacket and two handkerchiefs, the property of John Porter.

Mr. Porter, who lived at Mawdesley, stated that he went to bed shortly after 10 o’clock along with his wife and son on the night of the burglary, and his daughter, who had been nursing her sick sister, arrived home at one o’clock in the morning.

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At about four o’clock in the morning he and his wife had gone downstairs and found the house door and a window open, the drawers pulled out, and rifled of clothes to the value of about £18.

His son, William Porter, then testified that at six o’clock that morning he rode on horseback to Euxton railway station where he was informed that a stranger had just boarded a train to Preston carrying a couple of bundles.

With that information he immediately rode into Preston and tracing a route from the Butler Street railway station he eventually ended up in Church Street where he saw the solitary figure of the accused carrying a bundle shortly after 9 o’clock that morning.

He recognised a cap and jacket that he was wearing that belonged to him and the cloth on the outside of the bundle was familiar to him.

Fortunately, P.C. Thomas Holmes, from Leyland, had been informed of the theft by the Lancashire County Constabulary and was on Church Street at the time on the lookout for Ellison.

Porter alerted him and the constable arrested the suspect taking him into custody at the Turks Head Lock Up.

Aware that a number of the stolen items were not in the suspect’s possession, he went along with the constable to a number of pawnbrokers in the town and recovered several items.

William Croasdale, who worked at Kellet’s pawnbrokers in Kilshaw Street, off Lancaster Road, testified that the accused had called at his shop at 7 o’clock that morning and brought a cloak, for which he asked 8 shillings.

He said it had belonged to his mother and that he needed the cash to pay a fine.

Nathaniel Birchall, who kept the Griffin Inn public house on Water Street (later Manchester Road), was next called and he stated that before nine o’clock that day the accused had visited his public house carrying a couple of bundles and asked for a glass of ale, leaving the larger of two bundles with him for safe keeping.

Having heard of his arrest he had informed a nearby constable.

The jury took little time to find Ellison guilty as charged and before he was sentenced Mr. Whigham, who appeared for the accused, spoke on his behalf.

He said that the prisoner regretted his actions which had been done in desperation as he had been robbed of his own cap and jacket at Ormskirk the day before the theft.

The chairman Mr. T.B. Addison had little sympathy informing Ellison that he was sentenced to four months in prison and that he would be severely whipped.