Chap. XIX.] Sheep Stealing. 243
and therefore took to sheep-stealing. Probably before he arrived to this pitch of wickedness he took a turn for barley-stealing, grit-stealing, or, in the language of St. Paul, ' to purloining his Master's goods.' What turn think you will this frail brother take next ? If all be true, a turn upon the gallows."
It will be remembered that the penalty of death for felony was not abolished until 1821 and later years, depending on what the felony was.
Convicted of Manslaughter for Stealing a Pair
From East-Bourne and its Environs, the first local guide-book published in 1787, I copy the following:—
" At a Quarter Sessions [at Pevensey] some years back, a man was brought to the bar, charged with stealing a pair of buck-skin breeches, which charge being fully proved, he was found guilty by the jury ; but when the Court were informed that the offence was a capital one and that they must proceed to pass sentence, they were so much alarmed that they wished to reverse the verdict and give a fresh one, in such words as to make the consequence less than death; they therefore adjourned the Court, and dispatched a messenger to Thomas Willard, Esq., of East-Bourne, the then town clerk (whose deputy was on that day attending), to beg his opinion whether it was possible to reverse the present verdict, and receive a fresh one. together with his instructions how to proceed. It happened that Lord Wilmington, to whom this place at that time belonged, with the then Chief Baron of the Exchequer, were at dinner with Mr. Willard when this curious application arrived, to whom Mr. W. having reported the contents, the Chief Baron jocosely said, Instruct them to reverse the present verdict, and bring it in ' manslaughter,' to which Lord Wilmington consenting, Mr. W. advised accordingly, and a new verdict to that effect was absolutely the consequence."—(/). 59.)
Russian Prisoners at Lewes.
During the Crimean War a large number of Russian prisoners were incarcerated in the Naval Prison at Lewes. I visited the place on April 5, 1855. They were a quiet, well-behaved set of men, who gave little or no trouble. They earned a little money for themselves by wood-carving, making small articles of various kinds. I bought a puzzle which, after I had preserved it for many years as an interesting relic, disappeared as such things do, without leaving any message behind them as to where they have gone.
Some of my readers may know, and some may not know, that under an Act of Parliament passed in 1835