Joseph Clarke

Part of the Crime & Punishment in Cocking in the Nineteenth Century” series

Sussex Agricultural Express – Saturday 2 November 1861


On Monday last, an attempt was made by a tramp to break into a cottage at Drove, occupied by a poor woman by the name of Phillips, who was absent at the time. The man endeavoured to get in at the window, but not succeeding in removing the iron bars attached thereto, was frustrated in his design.

He then proceeded to Cocking, where he set fire to a hayrick, the property of Mr Hopkins, which was entirely destroyed, but fortunately from timely assistance, no further mischief was done. When being taken by the police, he said he wished to do something to get transported. He has been committed to Petworth, to take his trial at the ensuing Assizes.


Brighton Gazette – Thursday 27 March 1862




JOSEPH CLARKE, 19, bookbinder, pleaded guilty to wilfully and maliciously setting fire to a stack of hay, the property of Edward Hopkins, at Cocking, on the 28th October, 1861. He also admitted a previous conviction for felony at Oxford, in 1861.

His Lordship [Sir William Erle, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas], in sentencing the prisoner, said he had no doubt he committed the act thinking to get transported. In this, he would be disappointed; transportation was now in a great measure done away with, and he would sentence him to “Six Years Penal Servitude”.


Edward Hopkins was the licensee of the Blue Bell inn.