7 : Even more house-breaking

When I was discharged, I went home and received every encouragement from the Parish Officers to go to work, and leave off this dangerous business, particularly from Mr. Fleet and his family, which I did for three months ..

.. when going into the house of one , a thatcher, with whom I had been drinking, and seeing him give his wife half a guinea to go to the market with, who put it on the corner of the mantle-piece, I was tempted to contrive some method to take it. Having taken our leave, we set off to work; but on the road I loitered behind until he was out of sight, and seeing his wife go out of the back door to a pond for water, I ran back, and entered the house, took the half guinea from off the mantle-piece unperceived, and immediately followed her husband to work without any suspicion, but sometime afterwards, hearing that he had used his wife ill upon that account, I franked owned that I had taken it, but he would not believe me.

After this I went to Swinfield Minnis, and stole three couple of geese, brought them to Canterbury, and sold them for 2s a couple.

About this time I met with my old acquaintance Mutton and having stayed together till all our money was spent, I went to John Pym’s at Blean, and getting in at the back window, stole out of the cupboard, a silver tea-spoon, two or three pounds of bacon, and a red cloak.  The spoon marked I.E. I sold for 1s 3d and the Cloak for 2s 6d.







John Pym

John Pym was a relative of Jack’s – which shows he wasn’t above stealing from his own family!

John Pym (born 1738) was a cousin of his mother’s, Mary Pym, and aged about 47 at the time of this incident.

Mary’s father, William Pym (1706-1748) was the youngest child from a large family. One of his older brothers was Thomas Pym (1693-1741) who had a son John from his second marriage to Elizabeth REN.  This is shown on the family tree below.

John Pym married firstly Susan WILKINSON in 1764 (age 28) and they had a number of children.

His wife Susan died, and in 1775 (age 39) he married Thomasine Fox (age 19) in Nackingon (a nearly village) and they had a few more children together.

In 1788 John Pym died, age 50 – so a few years after this incident.

At Thomas Cullen’s at Blean, I stole two couple of geese, and three couple of fowls, which I sold to my constant customer at the usual price.

Thomas Cullen

There were a number of Cullens living in Blean at this time, but this was probably Thomas Cullen (1721-1804) the son of Henry Cullen and Elizabeth FLEET.

From the widow Wilkinson’s at Blean, I stole three couple of fowls, and sold them to Soames, for 1s 6d a couple –

I likewise agreed with him for a couple of geese, and told him I would put them in a lodge on St Thomas’ Hill, where he found them the next day; but on his offering them for sale at an under price, he and the geese were stopped, and, on enquiry, they were found to belong to Mr. Lawson of Blean.

Soames was afterwards tried for that offence, supposing he had stolen them and being convicted was sentenced to be whipped at the cart’s tail.

Leaving Mutton at Canterbury, I went a few days after, to Whitstable, and stole a Flushing jacket, which hung in the Salt-pans, a pair of sea-boots, belonging to Thomas Webb. Sold the jacket at Canterbury for 14s and the boost for 4s 6d.

Mutton and I then went to Swalecliff to hunt rabbits where we saw several shirts hung on a line in a garden, and while the family were at dinner, we stole nine new shirts which we got clear off with, and sold them in Canterbury for 3s each


According to Wikipedia salt pans or salt flats are “expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun”. This is a clear reference to Seasalter.

The information board, Salt, Saints and Skylarks,  outside St Cosmus & St Damian church, Blean, states:

“The Blean and the ancient Salt Way – This section of the Crab and Winkle Way was once part of an ancient track known as the Salt Way. Taking the only good route possible, it went through what was then known as the Forest of Blean, through a section of Clowes Wood. The track was used for the transport of salt from the salt pans of Seasalter through Whitstable and on to Canterbury. Salt was a highly valued and much needed commodity, and this would have been a very busy trading route.”




As we were drinking at a public-house in Canterbury, Mrs. Brett of Blean, came in, and being informed that her business to town was to receive about twenty-seven guineas from hay, which she had previously sold …


I told Mutton, we had a good opportunity to Do the old lady, in the evening; he was of the same opinion …







Mrs. Brett and Widow Wilkinson

In 1705 Susannah Miles was born, and in 1730 she married Giles BRET in Canterbury.  They had two children:

  • Charles Brett was born in 1733 in Whitstable. He married Mary Hammond in 1765).
  • Susannah Brett was born in 1742 in Whitstable. She married George WILKINSON in 1767. They had 7 children.

Giles BRETT died in 1778 so Mrs. Susannah Brett became a widow.

George WILKINSON died in 1785 so Mrs. Brett’s daughter, Susannah, became the widow Wilkinson of Jack’s story

Mrs. Susannah Brett died in1789 (age 85).


[It is also interesting to note that Jack’s mother’s cousin, John Pym, married Susan WILKINSON in 1764. She was the sister of George Wilkinson, which means that Jack was related to both Mrs. Brett and her daughter, Susannah, the widow Wilkinson, by marriage.]

> 8 : Mrs Brett and Mrs Widdett

Last updated: March 11, 2022 at 14:30 pm