THE HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD - Online Book

The rise and progress of the town and the history of its institutions & people.

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CRIMINAL RECORDS.
219
October 21st, 1869, the first and only local Inspector of Workshops.
THE WALL HILL MAIL ROBBERY.
On July 19th, 1801, the Beatsons robbed His Majesty's mail on Wall Hill, East Grinstead. John Beatson was a Scotchman, who, after serving in the merchant service, settled in Edinburgh as an innkeeper. He had adopted a child and named him William Whalley Beatson, who, in due course, married and took over the father's tavern. His wife dying he sold the house and went to London, where he soon lost all his savings at the hands of some unscrupulous sharps who got hold of him. His father became a butler, and both seem to have got into low water. For a time they lived at Hartfield and then drifted back to London. On Saturday, July 18th, 1801, they left the Metropolis and came as far as the Rose and Crown, at Godstone, where they slept for the night. Next morning they came on to the Blue Anchor, at Blindley Heath, and stayed there until the evening.
Then they tramped on through East Grinstead to Wall Hill, and there stopped the mail soon after midnight. They did not injure the driver, but led the horse into an adjoining enclosure and carried off the mail bags to Hartfield, where they hid in a field of standing corn. They opened all the letters and took from them the Bank of England and country notes, leaving the remainder of the contents in the field. These were discovered a month later when the reapers got to work. In drafts, bills, &C.j over £9,530 had been left behind. This makes a total of £13,000 or £14,000 carried by the mail. The large sum is accounted for by the fact that in those days even the town of Croydon and the whole district of Godstone and Bletchingley were served from East Grin­stead every day except Sunday, for no mail ran on Saturday nights, and the neighbourhoods of Crawley, Cuckfield and Lindfield got their letters on three days a week only, also through East Grinstead. The mail cart used to leave Brighton just after seven o'clock in the
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