|The success I met with in my first attempt, encouraged my wicked intentions; and having no inclination to work, went to Canterbury, associated with several young men of abandoned characters, who supported their extravagancies by petty thefts;
they soon introduced me into the company of several of the most common prostitutes, on whom I spent what little money I had from my mother and the produce of the spoons.
The criminal world
Petty theft was commonplace. There were many instances of house-breaking and stealing reported in the newspapers. Prostitutes played key roles in the criminal underworld.
“They taught children how to beg and how to pick pockets; they seduced foolish young men, persuading them to spend all their money on drink and pleasure, encouraging many to turn to theft to support them and the “flash” lifestyle; they maintained safe houses for thieves; and they operated as fences for stolen goods. There is overwhelming evidence that the prostitute was the keystone of the criminal underworld, at least in eighteenth-century London.”
Source: Female prostitution in 18th century England, Georgian Life & Literature,
|My companions being in the same necessitous circumstances, we consulted together on the best means to raise the Bit, (a cant term for money) and from the information I had given them, we resolved to rob Mr. Edward Sandy, of Blean that evening.
About ten o’clock that night, I and four others, beset the house, stationed in different quarters to prevent a surprize, and stole out of the lodge, nine couple of fowls, and out of the stable a pair of boot-shoes, and made off undiscovered.
Mr. Edward Sandy’s Family
The Sandy family was an old Blean family, so there are a number of Edward Sandy’s in the parish records around this time. But this was probably Edward Sandy who was born in 1735, and who in 1753 married Elizabeth Gentleman (another old Blean family).
They had a number of children: Sarah (born in 1774), Edward (born in 1779), Thomas (born and died in 1781), and John (born and died in 1783). Edward Sandy’s children would therefore have been much younger than Jack.
Edward’s wife Elizabeth died in 1783 (age 39, in childbirth) and Edward died in 1790 (age 55).
|On our way home we learnt that a tythe-feast was kept that evening at the Hare and Hounds, on the Common, and seeing Mr. Foreman and another neighbour go into the house, I thought we had a good opportunity of doing a little more business:
It was then agreed that I and another should attempt his lodge, which we soon after did, and stole thereout four geese, one of them making a noise, it alarmed Mr. Foreman’s man, who running out of the house in his shirt, towards Mr. Bird’s, a neighbour, he saw one of us come out of the lodge,
but while he was calling to Mr. Bird, I whispered to my companion to get off, then took the geese in the wood, where I concealed them, and immediately ran to the Hare and Hounds, and called for a pint of beer —
While I was drinking, Mr. Foreman’s servant and Mr. Bird came in, and informed the company that Mr. Foreman’s lodge had been robbed of four geese, that they saw one of the thieves, but was not able to take him, and turning to me, said, if they had not seen me there, they should have suspected that I was one of them.
The fowls we afterwards sold at Canterbury for 1s. 8d. a couple, the geese for 2s and the shoes for 20d which money we agreed should go to a joint stock for the benefit of all.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica tithing was
“.. a custom dating back to Old Testament times and adopted by the Christian church whereby lay people contributed a 10th of their income for religious purposes, often under ecclesiastical or legal obligation. The money (or its equivalent in crops, farm stock, etc.) was used to support the clergy, maintain churches, and assist the poor. Despite serious resistance, tithing became obligatory as Christianity spread across Europe.”
The Tithe Acts of 1836 and 1936 abolished the old system, but 200 years ago tithes were engraved upon the lives of the entire population: a source of income, luxury and avarice for the privileged; a tax at 2s. in the £, and a source of anger and resentment for everyone else.
(Source: Tithes in country life, History Today, Volume 22, Issue 6, June 1972,
The Hare and Hounds
The Hare and Hounds still stands at 4 Blean Hill. It dates back to the late 18th century. In 2015 it was known as The Blean Tavern, and in late 2021 it became The Hare at Blean.
|As I became a wholesale dealer in fowls, my thoughts turned on Wikipedia; and hearing of a match that was to be fought on Box-day at the R____ E__ in St Mildred’s, Canterbury, I stole a game-cock from out of Mr. Twyman’s yard, at Blean, had him cut out of his feathers, and for 5s lent him to a friend to fight one battle for a guinea:
The cock beat, and fought a second battle, when he again conquered, and I received 2s 6d more. I then took the cock home, and turned him into the yard from whence I had stolen him.
The cock was so altered by being cut out of his feathers, that Mr. Twyman did not know him again, and thought he was a strange cock that came among his hens.
About a fortnight after, I stole the same cock again, and fought him at the same place, where he was killed in the second battle.
What did a cock fight look like? Wikipedia explains:
“Two owners place their gamecock in the cockpit. The cocks fight until ultimately one of them dies or is critically injured. Historically, this was in a cockpit, a term which was also used in the 16th century to mean a place of entertainment or frenzied activity.”
Cockfighting has been illegal in the UK since the 1952 Cockfighting Act.
Box-day was the shortened name for Boxing Day.
“Many poorly paid workers were required to work on Christmas Day and took the following day off to visit their families. As they prepared to leave, their employers would present them with Christmas boxes.
During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor would “box up” their leftover food, or sometimes gifts and distribute them the day after Christmas to tenants who lived and worked on their lands.”
Source: Boxing Day, Project Britain,
|After this, I stole a bitch from Edward Sandy’s and a dog, the property of Mr. Wootton, from Peyton’s, at Blean; led them to Folkstone, where I sold them for 7s 6d. and had a puppy given me into the bargain. On my return to Canterbury, I sold the puppy to a huntsman, at the Compasses, in St. Peter’s for 5s.
The next morning going to the Old Park, I observed a pack of hounds, belonging, I believe, to Mr. Dean, and took an opportunity when I saw the dogs were tired, to decoy a liver coloured one, with a white circle round his body, and a red and white bitch from the pack; this was the more easily done as I never failed to carry a composition which would entice any dog to follow me.
I also took those to Folkestone, and sold them to my former chapman for 5s each.
A chapman was an itinerant dealer or hawker or pedlar. Wikipedia explains
“By 1600, the word chapman had come to be applied to an itinerant dealer in particular, but it remained in use for “customer, buyer” as well as “merchant” in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The slang term for man, “chap” arose from the use of the abbreviated word to mean a customer, one with whom to bargain.”
Fox hunting with hounds, as a formalised activity, originated in England in the sixteenth century, in a form very similar to that practised until February 2005, when a law banning the activity came into force.
Fox hunting involves the tracking, chase and, if caught, the killing of a fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds.
A group of followers, led by a “master of foxhounds” (“master of hounds”), follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.
A kennelman looked after the hounds in kennels, assuring that all tasks were completed when the pack returned from hunting.
|He then informed me, he should be glad if I could help him to an old horse to feed his dogs. I told him I could, and would bring him one the next morning; taking my leave, I returned home, and the same evening went into Broomfield, near Blean church and stole thereout Mr. Smith’s mare, which I rode to Folkestone arriving there about eight o’clock in the morning, when I received 14s for her. She was immediately killed, the skin taken off and quartered. This was done, as I afterwards learnt, to prevent a discovery.
As I had executed my commission with punctuality, he gave me the greatest encouragement, and asked me if I could help him to any more dogs. Knowing that I had two, which I stolen from the subscription pack, shut up at home, I told him I could, and bring them to Folkestone the next day. I was as good as my word, and received 7s 6d for each. They were soon after shipped for France.
As I had now plenty of money, I thought of spending a day or two at Folkestone, with my friend, but one morning hearing the cry of the hounds, I joined in my favorite diversion. After the hunt, I watched an opportunity, got into the kennel and brought off undiscovered, two dogs, the one named Famous, the other Doxey, brought them safe to Canterbury, and sold them for 8s.
At that time I had a puppy which I had stolen a short time before, and which, as I was informed afterwards belonged to the same huntsman to who I had sold Famous and Doxey; with this puppy and a noted bitch of my own, I returned to Folkestone, sold the puppy for 3s and left the bitch in care of my friend to hunt with.
Last updated: March 11, 2022 at 15:39 pm