The Old News for this edition reveals life in Sedgley from a different source than the Nayler Diary, and reminds us of the tendency to petty crime that can often arise from a life where wages were low and unemployment regularly meant abject poverty. Few circumstances were considered justifiable, and in some cases we might think the punishments harsh. What follows comes from the local Sessions Calendar 1844-5, and when most cases relating to Coseley and Sedgley were being heard at the Bilston Court. Names of the accused have been changed to initials only! Imprisonment is usually at Stafford Gaol.
Case 1 - 24th January 1844 ~ D. H. (male age 22) Stealing 1 shirt and 2 stockings the property of George Bradley at Sedgley - to be imprisoned and kept at hard labour 1 Calendar month. Sadly there was a second offence to be considered. Stealing 6 lbs. weight of nails, the property of Edward Bradley, for which D. H. was transported for 7 years.
Case 2 - 24th February 1844 ~ M. G. (female) Obtaining under false pretences from Eleanor Whittingham at Sedgley, one bushel of flour, with intent to cheat and defraud Joseph Jevon thereof. To be imprisoned and kept at hard labour for two months. This could have been a shop theft. Joseph Jevon being the owner, and Eleanor Whittingham the assistant?
Case 3 - 24th February 1844 ~ T. M. (male age 17) Stealing one hen fowl of John Whitehead, the property of William Law at Sedgley. To be imprisoned and kept at hard labour 1 Calendar month.
Case 4 - 13th April 1844 ~ W. T. the younger (male age 19) with C. P. (female) Stealing one pair of stays and other articles the property of Elizabeth Turner at Sedgley. The charge failed as Elizabeth Turner had since died. But sadly the same W. T. had stolen one coat, one waistcoat, and other articles the property of Thomas Pugh at Sedgley. To be imprisoned and kept at hard labour for three months. (Perhaps unguarded washing lines or house theft?)
Case 5 - 18th April 1844 ~ J.H. (male age 20) and J. D. (male age 14) Stealing about 601bs weight of lead fixed to a building the property of Thomas Banks the elder at Sedgley. J. H to be imprisoned and kept at hard labour for 2 Calendar months, while J. D. was found not guilty.
Case 6 - 19th April 1844 ~ Three men H. O. (age 20), M.K. (age 33) and L.M. (age 44) for stealing on the 29th March 1844 one metal tap, the property of Thomas Benton, and another at Sedgley, receiving the same, well knowing it to be stolen. H. O received imprisonment with hard labour for 6 Calendar months. M.K. to be transported for 7 years, and L.M., found not guilty.
There are many more cases including quite a few for stealing coal, and of a 16 year old girl getting 3 months hard labour for stealing a shawl!