6 : Stealing at the running match

I was now sent for, to make one, in a match of running, at Whitstable; but before I set off, Mutton came to me, and asked me to go with him to Appledore; I excused myself till the running was over, and he went with me to that place.

A little before starting, one Henry York, who had a pair of large silver buckles in his shoes, upbraided me of my infamous course of life, for which I was resolved to be revenged, and watching a favourable opportunity, I took his shoes and buckles, hid them under my loose great coat, and running swiftly up a hill, concealed them in a bush; and returning immediately, without the least suspicion, began running.

After the match was over, the young man missed his shoes, and finding myself suspected, went away early, leaving Mutton, though innocent, to received was intended for – a severe drubbing.

I sold the buckles for 17s giving Mutton part, and wore the shoes myself

Running competitions

Racing for wagers was popular in the 18th Century. The image below is taken from the BBC article, The 18th Century four-minute mile

The next day my brother and the young man, traced us to a house of ill fame in Knott’s-lane, Canterbury, where my brother challenged me with having the shoes then on, upon which I knocked him down with a broom-stick, and a general engagement ensued, but we had the good fortune to escape.

After telling Mutton where I would meet him the next day, I went home and went to bed; but I had not been long there before my brother and York entered the house, with sticks and beat me as I laid, but snatching up a bill (which I had previously concealed in case I was attacked), and swearing I would chop their heads off, they ran away,


I followed and coming up one of them, knocked him down. The noise this occasioned, terribly frightened an old woman that lived in the next house, who coming out to know what was the matter, I swore if she did not immediately go in, I would throw her into the pond, which was near. The old woman swore the peace against me the next day,

A bill

A bill was an agricultural implement used for trimming tree limbs, see image below.


To swear the peace

To “swear the peace against someone” meant to make an oath that one is under the actual fear of death or bodily harm from someone, in which case that person must find surety that he/she will keep the peace.

And I was again committed to St. Dunstan’s gaol, and at the ensuing sessions, was sentenced to remain in prison till the next quarter sessions …




… but on going back to gaol, I slipt off my hand-cuffs and got clear away,



Friday 22 July 1785

At the Quarter Sessions for the Eastern Division of the County of Kent, held at the Old Castle, near this city …

John Kirby, not finding sufficient sureties to keep the peace, and especially towards his mother Mary Kirby and Ann Richardson, was Remanded

Immediately, after I stole three couple of fowls from Mr. Anderson at Dean-strood Common, and a mare ass and foal (the property of William Taylor) from Tyler-hill. Sold the ass and foal for 9s. and the fowls for 5s, at Boughton.

Returning from thence, I stole from off a hedge at Tyler-hill, three shirts, one of which I sold for 3s at Boughton – the other two I had on my back when I was taken at Ospringe, by two post-boys, who (on our way to Canterbury) stopped at the Red Lion, half-way house, where I seized a bill which lay in the window, and threatening them with death if they pursued, I made my escape.


The Anderson Family

The Andersons were a very old Blean family. The Mr. Anderson referred to in Jack’s story may have been one of a number of brothers who were born to John Anderson and Sarah FLEET – John Anderson, senior, having died in 176).

  • John Anderson – who was born 1723 and married Anne Wood in 1748. Anne died in 1802 and John died in 1812 (age 79)
  • William Anderson – who was born in 1725 and married Mary SANDY in 1759. Mary died in 1781 and William in 1807 (age 82)
  • Stephen Anderson who was born in 1727 and died in 1791 (age 66).
About three days after, I was taken again at Judge-folly-hill, by the same post-boys, who brought me back to St. Dunstan’s gaol, where I was taken before Col. Webb for stealing Mr. Culver’s shirts at Tyler-hill who lodged a detainer against me the 28th of October, for which I was to be tried at the Old Castle, Canterbury…






The Culver Family

Richard Culver was born in Hackington in 1725 (so he would have been about 60 at the time of this incident). In 1753 he married Mary Newes and they had a number of children: Edward, Elizabeth, Thomas, Richard (who died age 15, in 1776), Mary, John (1767-1787) and Susanna.

Richard’s wife Mary died on 22 Feb 1769, one month after the birth of their daughter. Later that year Richard (age 44) married Keziah Saltwell, a widow (age 42) in Harbledown.

In June 1788 Richard Culver died age 63. In 1803 Keziah Culver (his widow) married William Parnell (a widower) in St Dunstan’s, Canterbury.

Kezia Parnell died in 1809 in Blean (age 82).



… but no bill being found, I was discharged.


Falling into company with Mutton, a few days after, and knowing how dangerous it was for me to stay here, we agreed to go into Sussex, and at, Cow-bridge, where Mutton had formerly lived, we stole out of a stable, belonging to a farmer, a black flag’d tail mare, which we sold to our friend at Folkestone, for seven guineas, tho’ worth sixteen. She was sent to France.


Friday 4 November 1785

Thursday fortnight was committed his gaol in St. Dunftan’s, Charles Webb, Esq, John Kirby, charged on suspicion by Keziah, the wife of Richard Culver, Blean, with having feloniously slolen two shirts, one the property of the former Culver, the other of John Culver, his son.


Friday 13 January 1786

John Kirby against whom a detainer was sent on suspicion of stealing from the premises of Richard Culver, of Blean, two shirts. Discharged.

From thence we went to Canterbury, and lived in common with our companions till every farthing was spent, when we returned to Blean, and in the night, broke open Mr Strood’s house, at the Red Lion and stole from thence five score of laying pork, which we sold to our correspondent, Rosy  P. in the Borough, Canterbury, for 4d a pound.

The next day I entered by myself Mrs. Cullen’s house at Blean, while she was milking, and stole a red cloak, two white aprons, and one white muslin apron worked with flowers.  The widow, a few days, after, declaring, while she was drinking tea with my mother (I being present) she would forgive the thief, if she could but recover her flowered apron.  To appease the old lady, I tied it to her back doon the same evening, where she found it in the morning. The things I sold to our merchant in the Borough, for 11s 6d. Hearing that she suspected her girl, who was put out by the parish, I took an opportunity, when she again at my mothers’ to tell her, I was the person who tied her apron to her door, by which she might guess who had the rest of her things.

Two or three days after B__, myself, and another, stole out of Mr. Strood’s barn, two sacks of wheat, and brought it on the back of a horse we took out of the stable about a mile, when seeing two asses on the Common, we returned the horse to the place from whence we had taken him, and loaded the asses with a sack each, and brought it to Canterbury, where White sold it for 3s. a bushel.  The same night we stole two half-ankers of geneva, from William Sandy’s at Harbledown, and brought them off in a sack.










An anker

An anker was a Dutch unit of capacity for wine or brandy, equivalent to 7.5 – 9.25 imperial gallons.



But Sandy going into the house where we left the sack and seeing it behind the door, knew it to be his, then sending for a constable, had me secured till Mr. Strood came, to whom I confessed stealing the wheat with B.

We were then taken before Mr. Duncombe, who committed us on the 24th of November 1784 to St Dunstan’s goal, to be tried at the Old Castle, Canterbury …

where, being convicted, I was sentenced to be whipped twice at the cart’s tail, B___ once, and one month’s imprisonment.

























Wednesday 12 January 1785

John Kirby and John Brame, charged on oath and their own confession, with feloniously stealing from William Stroud, one sack and two bushels and a half of wheat, his property. Kirby to be twice publicly whipped and imprisoned one month. Brame to be publicly whipped Saturday next.

John Brames

John Brame was probably John Brames. He was born in Canterbury in 1760, the son of William and Mary Brames, who had married in 1759. So, John was about the same age as Jack.

William Brames was the son of John and Hannah Brames, who had married in Blean church in 1723. William Brames died in 1763 and Hannah in 1764 and both were buried in Canterbury, but nevertheless, it seems that John had some connection with Blean, which may be how had met Jack.

To be whipped at the cart’s tail

To be whipped at the cart’s tail meant the victim would be tied to the back of a cart and forced to walk along behind the cart as he was whipped. Whether male or female, the victim would be stripped to the waist before the whipping began. The number of lashes (times whipped) and the distance travelled varied from crime to crime. According to legal documents from the 18th century, this was a common punishment for thieves.

Source: Wikimedia

> 7 : Even more housebreaking

Last updated: March 11, 2022 at 7:26 am