9 : More stealing & house-breaking

As soon as I got home, the Parish Officers new clothed me, and I went to work till Michaelmas, when I unluckily made a match with Mr. Twyman’s waggoner to fight a cock with him for half a guinea and a supper. I say unluckily, because if I had not done that, I should have continued my work and not been guilty of any more thieving.

Having no cock of my own and knowing that my antagonist had two, I thought it no bad scheme to borrow one of his, and the same evening stole his best cock, which I left with a friend of mine in St. Mildred’s Canterbury, who kept him till the time of fighting, when I beat, and received the half-guinea. The waggoner was so pleased with my cock that he gave me half a crown for him.

Forgetting the good advice of my deceased friend, I again fell into company with some of my old female companions, on which I soon spent all my money, and to raise more I went in the night to Mr. Twyman’s at Blean, and while the family were at supper, entered the stable and stole a pair of pumps, a waistcoat and a frock, from then I proceeded to the hen-house and stole one couple of fowls, and one couple of ducks. Sold the pumps for 4s 6d to a pawn-broker, the fowls and ducks I treated my ladies with.

The same week I stole from Thomas Cullen’s at Blean, three geese, sold them at Canterbury for 6s.

One year later

Following Jack’s release from prison, the Kentish Gazette reported the following:


12 October 1787

Early on Wednesday morning the house of Mrs Brett and Mrs Widdet, at Blean, was attempted again to be broke into, but by ringing a hand-bell and calling to the neighbours from a chamber window, the villain through proper to desist without effecting his design. It is little more than a year since, that Mutton & Kirby broke into and stripped the same house of many valuables, for which they were both apprehended, & the latter turning King’s evidence, the former was executed at Maidstone for the said offence. And although Kirby was ordered to be confined in gaol till he could find security for his good behaviour; yet no person appearing against him at the last Maidstone assizes, he was of course discharged, & has ever since lurked about the parish of Blean, to the great terror of the above aged and helpless women.

The next day being seen by Mr Twyman in a wood behind his house, with a few bundles of wood which had hedge-stakes in them, he followed me to Canterbury and prevented me from selling them.

The next morning I was taken before a Magistrate for taking the stakes out of the hedge and fined 10s. but was allowed three days to pay it in however I went off to Hastenleigh and about day-light broke into the shop of Mr Swain by getting in at the shop window and carried off the till, which contained only 5s in half-pence and one six-pence.


On my way home I went to Waltham and as farm-house, by means of some stairs that were on the outside, I got into a chamber and stole one pair of sheets and two great coasts. Sold the sheets and coats at Ashford for 11s.

On my return to Canterbury I feasted away among my ladies till all my money was gone then went to  S—- Farm, on the way to Herne and from off a line stole six shirts, which I brought to Canterbury and sold for 1s 6d.

From thence went to White Hill at Kennington, and broke open the stable door of Mr. Gizzard and stole a great coat, a long round frock, a waggon whip, pair of shoes, and an oil brush. Sold the coat, frock and shoes for 7s in Ashford: the whip I brought home and sold to a waggoner for 1s 6d.

The same evening at Mrs Wilkinson’s at Blean I stole three couple and half of fowls. Sold them for 1s 6d a couple at Canterbury, and staid there I had lost all my money at cards, then went to Robert Hayward’s, in the Wood, St Stephen’s and stole two geese; but being discovered and pursued I dropped one and got off with other.

Although I had such a narrow escape I then went to Mrs Cullen’s at Blean, and stole two geese and brought them safe to Canterbury.

Soon after I went with one of my companions to Mr Sankey’s at Milton Chapel where we arrived about eight o’clock at night and seeing two boys in the stable, and the waggoner and his mate gone to bed, my companion when into the kitchen (the family being in another room) but soon returned declaring he was afraid to proceed; shewing me the way up the stairs I soon entered the chamber, and, while the waggoner and the mater were sleeping, I took a watch from off the head of the bed, two pair of stockings, and one silk handkerchief and got clear off. Sold the coat for 3s pawned the stockings for 2s the silk handkerchief for 1s 6d and sold the watch for 11s.  We then returned to our usual house of rendezvous at Canterbury and spent all the money.

The Twyman Family

Mr. Twyman’s name has been mentioned a good deal throughout Jack’s story – from the early days when he stole his game cock.

Once again, there were a number of Twymans living in Blean at that time, but it is most likely that the Mr Twyman being referred to was William Twyman who married Sarah STONE of the parish of Liberty of Christ Church, in 1774.

Interestingly, the name Twyman subsequently appears a number of times in the local newspapers- in 1794 and1804 (after the conclusion of Jack’s story).


Friday 4 April 1794

STOLEN, From out the farm-yard of Mr. Twvman, at Blean Common, April late at night, or early in the morning the 2d, TWO MARE ASSES; the one a large grey handsome ass, remarkably well made, white face, cropped ears, long tail and marked with an S on each shoulder and an S on each thigh, which may be very plainly felt, though unperceivable on account of the roughness of her coat; the other a dark brown smaller Ass, very forward with foal, long ears and long tail.

Whoever will give information of the offender or offenders, so that the Asses may be restored to the owner, shall receive ONE GUINEA by Mr. Twyman, of Blean Common.


Tuesday 20 November 1804

From the service of Mr. Wm. TWYMAN, of Blean,
On the 22nd day of October last,

THOMAS GAMMON, waggoner; and on the 18th of November, inst. also, RUN AWAY, William MEGGOTT, waggoner’s mate – This is to forewarn any person from harbouring or employing either of the said men; and if they return, they will be received into the said Wm. Twyman’s service again

We’ll find out who Mr Twyman’s runaway waggoner was later!

Afterwards I went to William Stone’s house, near Blean, and by taking a pane of glass out of the window, got into the house from whence I stole two shirts, one round frock, part of a meat pye, two plumb puddings and part of breast of mutton.

I sold the seets for 2s each, the gabberdine White sold for me for 2s at M——— near Canterbury.






The Stone Family

William Stone was born in 1750 in Blean, the son of Henry and Elizabeth Stone.

In 1774 he married Sarah Wanstall in Seasalter, where she lived.

They had a number of children, including Sarah Ann (born 1776) and James (born 1778) – both baptised in Hackington. Two further children were born and baptised in Blean: John (born 1782) and William (born 1786)

When William’s mother, Elizabeth died in 1778, the parish records read:

“Elizabeth, wife of Henry Stone from the Liberty of Christ Church … October 1”

This is an important fact as you will see below.

About twelve o’clock the same night I got into the hen house of John Dove at Blean, and stole one fowl, but as I was coming away, Mr Dove and another man seized me, and kept me prisoner all that night.








The Dove Famiy

John Dove was born in 1760 in Hackington. He was therefore roughly the same age as Jack.

In 1781 (age 21) he married Elizabeth Mount and they had a number of children: Joseph (in 1784), Elizabeth (in 1785), John (in 1788) and Sarah (in 1791).

John died in 1808 (age 48) in Blean.

John’s brother Joseph was born in 1763 and in 1788 (age 26) he married Mary SANDY. They had a number of children: Sarah (in 1791), Elizabeth (in 1793) and Joseph (in 1796).

Joseph Dove’s name regularly appeared as a witness on marriage certificates at this time, so he was probably a parish clerk, and, consequently, one can assume that the Doves were a well-regarded family

Joseph Dove died in 1814 (age 51) in Blean.

The next morning I was taken before a Magistrate and committed Feb 7 1787 to St Dunstan’s gaol, to be tried at the next Assizes for that offence.

I was likewise ordered to be publicly whipt for running away and not paying the 10s I was before fined for stealing Mr Twyman’s hedge stakes.



5 February 1788

On the 19th ult. John Kirby, Blean, was convicted before William Deedes, Esq; for stealing and carrying away sundry parcels of hedge wood, for which he was adjudged to pay the sum of ten shillings, but neglecting to pay the fine, ordered to be publicly whipped to-morrow at the Post in St. Dunstan’s

Yesterday, the said John Kirby was committed to St Dunstan’s gaol, by William Deedes, Esq, charged on the oath of John Dove, of Blean, with steaiing one fowl, his property.

Besides this, another affair of more serious consequence came against me. On the Saturday following, as Mrs Stone, the wife of William Stone, whose house I broke open was going to market, the she saw the round frock I had stolen hanging at a salesman’s door in St Dunstans’s and on enquiry found it to be the same which White had sold for me and who upon being taken up, informed the Magistrate from whom he had it.

A detainer was then laid against me for breaking open William Stone’s house.

When the Assizes came on, I had the good fortune to be acquitted for steaking the fowl and was immediately arraigned for breaking into the house of William Stone, and stealing two shirts, etc

but Stone saying that his house stood in the parish of St Cosmus and Damian, in the Blean, I begged leave of the Judge to inform him, that Stone’s house which he had sworn was broke into, did not stand in the parish of Blean, but in the Church Liberty,

and upon Stone’s being again questioned, he acknowledged his house did stand in the Church Liberty and not in Blean as he had before sworn.

His Lordship then directed the jury to discharge me.







25 March 1788

Maidstone Gaol

John Kirby, for stealing from John Dove, at Blean, 1 fowl. Acquitted

Church Liberty

There appears to be an old legal technicality that allowed Jack to be discharged for breaking into William Stone’s house because it stood outside the parish of St. Cosmus and Damian in what was known as the Liberty of Christ Church. It meant the Judge had no jurisdiction there.

So, what was a “liberty”? Wikipedia explains

“A liberty was an English unit originating in the Middle Ages, traditionally defined as an area in which regalian right was revoked and where the land was held by a mesne lord (i.e. an area in which rights reserved to the king had been devolved into private hands). It later became a unit of local government administration.

Liberties were areas of widely variable extent which were independent of the usual system of hundreds and boroughs for a number of different reasons, usually to do with peculiarities of tenure. Because of their tenurial rather than geographical origin, the areas covered by liberties could either be widely scattered across a county or limited to an area smaller than a single parish.”

Over time, due to a number of Acts of Parliament, liberties disappeared in England.

> 10 : Yet more stealing

Last updated: March 11, 2022 at 15:00 pm