Local historian Keith Johnson takes a look at a number of court cases involving younger defendants, some of whom got flogged as punishment!
In early March 1832 the residents of Chorley had a stranger in their midst who called herself Mary Ann Glentworth.
The young lady telling the local folk she was journeying from the south to somewhere up north. Her tale of having trudged along the lanes and highways seemed sincere and she won the pity of a few individuals who provided her with food and a bed until she would be able to continue her journey.
As she seemed to be acquainted with needlework, a couple of dresses were given to her to make and other items of wearing apparel to mark. Alas, the latter part of the business she did most effectually, for she ‘marked them for her own’ and evinced her gratitude for the hospitable manner in which she had been treated by decamping before breakfast on the following
Friday morning. Taking with her the dresses which were cut out and partly made, and other items she deemed worthy of carriage.
Information of her flight was given to Ellison, the deputy constable of Chorley, and he acted swiftly and by the next day he had traced her to a lodging house in Friargate, Preston. She was immediately taken before the Preston magistrates and remanded in the House of Correction to await her trial at the Preston Quarter Session.
She appeared before Chairman Mr. T.B. Addison at the Court House pleading guilty to stealing not only the clothes, but also a couple of prayer books the property of Ellen Gillibrand. The 20-year-old was then informed that she was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour. She was joined in the House of Correction by Margaret Leatherbarrow, also aged 20, who was also charged with a theft from Chorley. Her crime was that of stealing two pairs of shoes and she was sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour.
At that same Preston Sessions a young lad named Thomas Miller stood accused of stealing a pair of clogs the property of John Taylor of Lune Street. He had confessed the theft before the magistrates.
On the verdict being given, the boy handed in a note to the Chairman Mr. Addison, which he said a man named Price had written for him, as he could not write himself. It contained a request to be transported rather than be imprisoned and Mr. Addison asked him why. The boy made no response, but shed tears as he stood awaiting his sentence.
The Chairman then informed him that the unusual request could not be granted and sentenced him to two months imprisonment and a whipping.
Young Thomas Miller was not the only local lad facing a birching. Three others, namely Simon Gudgeon, aged 15, Edward Preston, aged 11, and Enoch Hetherington, aged 12, who had stolen three pairs of shoes from William Bamber, were all sentenced to a month in prison along with a flogging.