Part of the “Crime & Punishment in Cocking in the Nineteenth Century” series
Among the several families with members frequently in trouble with the law were the Kingshott family, with three generations appearing in court, including John Kingshott, aged 26, who was transported to Victoria, Australia in 1842. Another branch of the family were mentioned in a report to a Parliamentary Committee reviewing the operation of the Poor Law.
The rural poor
In November 1825, on his Rural Rides through southern England, William Cobbett passed through Rogate where he met a farm labourer, cutting a hedge. This young man found it hard to get regular work, as the farmers preferred to employ married men with children, in order to avoid raising the Poor Rate. This young man was paid 7 pence for a day’s work, enough to buy 2¼ pounds of bread, for six days a week, with no wages on Sunday.
“The poor creature here has seven-pence a day for six days in the week to find him food, clothes, washing, and lodging! It is just seven-pence, less than one half of what the meanest foot soldier in the standing army receives; besides that the latter has clothing, candle, fire and lodging into the bargain!”
Matters had improved slightly by March 1837, when John Lutman Ellis, the vice-chairman of the Petworth Board of Guardians, gave evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Poor Law Amendment Act. In his evidence, he discussed the financial circumstances of several labourers of good character from villages around Petworth. One of the men was William Kingshott, a married man with six children under 12 and a son aged 16.
The labourer’s wages for a normal week’s work were 10s a week; the 16-year old son earned a further 3s, making the total family income 13s.
The family expenditure on food was 9s 4d for a bushel of flour, a pound of butter at 11d, two pounds of cheese at 1s 2d, two ounces of tea, 8d, and two pounds of sugar, 1s. Thus the total weekly expenditure on food alone was 13s 1d. A small amount of food could be grown in the cottage garden. The family had been given a pig by a friend, but were unable to buy meal to feed it -the pig was loose on the common.
At harvest time, the weekly wages would double; other income could come from gleaning and whatever small amounts the younger children could earn. The rent for the family home was £4 4s a year (1s 8d per week) which was paid at harvest time. Any expenditure on clothing, candles, firewood etc. would also have to come from the harvest earnings.
The Morning Herald. 29 March 1837. Select Committee on the Poor Law Amendment Act
Early in the morning of 14 November 1819, Sarah Kingshott was woken at the home in Cocking where she lived with her husband Henry and her two children, by her brother, Benjamin Harwood, who presented her with two beehives, claiming that he had purchased them in Eartham. She didn’t believe his story, but helped him conceal the hives in the garret of the house.
Later that morning, Joseph Manley came to the house armed with a search warrant and discovered the hives and identified them as having been stolen from his garden at Eartham. either the previous evening or earlier that morning.
Benjamin was soon arrested and taken by cart to the Petworth House of Correction. On 11 January, he appeared at the Petworth Quarter Sessions, with Sir Robert Stopford presiding, on a charge of stealing two beehives, value 2s, and 20lbs of honey, valued at 12s. He was found guilty and sentenced to a further one month in solitary confinement at Petworth.
This story raises several questions:
How did Benjamin Harwood transport the hives from Eartham to Cocking, a distance of 10 miles? There is no mention of an accomplice, so presumably he had a horse and cart; the journey on early 19th century tracks would have taken about 4 hours.
What happened to the bees?
Was the honey still in the hives when they were stolen?
West Sussex Record Office:
QR/W714 et seq. Petworth Quarter Sessions Roll. January 1820.
John Kingshott, junior
On 6 March 1834, James Lambert and John Kingshott, the 17-year old son of Henry and Sarah Kingshott, appeared at the Petworth Quarter Sessions, with William Henry Yaldwyn presiding, on a charge of trespass on land at Cocking occupied by Henry Mills, in search of game. Both men were found guilty and fined £1 with 12s costs. The fines were paid to David Miles, the Overseer of the Poor at Cocking.
John Kingshott was back in front of the court at Chichester on 4 August 1842, on a charge of assault against the Cocking village constable, Edward Adam Wheatley. Kingshott was fined £1 16s with 14s costs, or two months in the House of Correction if the fines were not paid. The fine was paid to John Cover, who was now the Overseer of the Poor at Cocking.
On 30 October 1842, John Kingshott (now a sawyer, aged 26) and Thomas Thayre were arrested for stealing four bushels of beans, valued at 18s, and a sack, valued at 2s, the property of George Daughtry of Cocking. They were tried at the Petworth Quarter Sessions on 6 January 1843, and found guilty. Thomas Thayre was given a reference of 13 years good character, and was sentenced to two months hard labour, with the first week in solitary confinement.
John Kingshott, however, having been convicted twice previously, was sentenced to seven years transportation.
On 23 January 1843, John Kingshott was admitted to Pentonville Prison where he remained until 27 July 1844, when he was taken to the SS Royal George. His prison record shows that his behaviour in the 18 months spent at Pentonville was excellent. One of his fellow passengers was William Yaldwyn, who had tried him for poaching in 1834, and was travelling to Australia to settle in Melbourne. The ship reached Port Philip in Victoria nearly four months later, on 15 November.
John Kingshott died in Victoria in 1850, aged 34.
England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791–1892
UK, Prison Commission Records, 1770–1951
Brighton Gazette: 12 January 1843. Trial of Prisoners
Convict records: John Kingshot
West Sussex Record Office:
QR/W771/343. Petworth Quarter Sessions Roll. Court’s Judgement. 6 March 1834.
QR/W806/374. Chichester Quarter sessions. Conviction. 4 August 1842.
QR/W807. Petworth Quarter Sessions Roll. 6 January 1843
John Kingshott, senior
On 19 October 1843, John Kingshott (a 47-year old agricultural labourer), was tried at the Chichester Quarter Sessions on a charge of stealing one faggot (bundle of twigs for kindling) from Henry Farley, valued at ½d, on 5 October 1843.
He was found guilty and committed to one months’ hard labour.
England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791–1892
Brighton Gazette: 6 October 1843. Trial of Prisoners
West Sussex Record Office:
QR/W810. Chichester Quarter Sessions Roll. 5 October 1843.
On 7 November 1844, George Daughtry appeared in front of the Midhurst magistrates where he was found guilty of assault on “a person named Kingshott residing at Cocking”, and was fined £2 10s, including costs.
As there was only one George Daughtry (or Dawtry) living in Cocking at this time, an unmarried farmer born in about 1811, this must be the same man from whom John Kingshott had stolen the sack of beans two years earlier. He was living at Park Farm, to the north of the village at this time.
George Daughtry never married, although he had the same housekeeper, Phoebe Underwood (five years his junior), on each of the censuses of 1851, 1861 and 1871.
Hampshire Chronicle: 16 November 1844. Midhurst
On the evening of 30 November 1850, William Hounsome, a shepherd to William Turner of Bepton, discovered that three tame rabbits, which he kept in his wood house, had gone missing.
The following day, acting on information received, he went to Chichester and found the skin of one of his rabbits in the possession of George Mantle of Somers Town.
Eventually, the trail of the rabbits was traced back to William Mills, the 17-year old son of Thomas Mills and his wife Leah, who was the sister of John Kingshott who had been transported to Australia in 1843 for a series of crimes, culminating in the theft of a sack of beans. William had been born in Bepton, but he and his family had recently moved to live at Cocking.
It would appear that William had stolen the three rabbits and taken them home. One had been put in the pot by his mother, and he had taken the other two (one brown, one white) to Chichester, where he sold them to Thomas Vinson for 1s 2d. Vinson kept one (presumably intending to have it cooked) and sold the white rabbit to George Field, of Richmond Place in Southgate.
George Field took the rabbit back to his lodgings, where he gave it to Elizabeth Holden, a servant to a Mrs. Leggatt. Elizabeth Holden skinned the rabbit and prepared it for the pot, and sold the skin, plus three others, to George Mantle of Somers Town.
At the Midhurst Petty Sessions on 19 December 1850, Charles Shirley, J.P. committed William Mills for trial at the next Petworth Quarter Sessions, held on 2 January, where he pleaded guilty to the theft of the three rabbits, valued at 3 shillings.
The chairman of the bench, Richard Prime M.P. sentenced William to six weeks hard labour.
Sadly, William didn’t learn from his time in the Petworth House of Correction, and was back in court six months later. On 3 July, he appeared at the Midsummer Quarter Sessions, held at Horsham, with Richard Prime again in the chair, charged with the theft of six sheep skins, valued at 9 shillings, from Benjamin Challen of Brook House Farm, Cocking.
William was found guilty and, in view of his previous conviction, was sentenced to be transported for ten years.
He was moved from the House of Correction to Millbank Prison in London on 27 August, from where he was transferred to Pentonville on 15 September. It would appear, however, that William was never taken to Australia, as there is no record of him arriving there, nor has it been possible to trace his later life.
England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892
UK, Criminal Records, 1780-1871
26 December 1850. Midhurst Petty Sessions
10 July 1851. Trial of Prisoners
7 January 1851. West Sussex Epiphany Sessions
8 July 1851. Trial of Prisoners
West Sussex Record Office:
QR/W839/195. 2 January 1851. Petworth House of Correction, Calendar of Prisoners for trial
QR/W839/321. 19 December 1850. Depositions
Sarah Harwood was born in Pulborough, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Harwood. She was baptised at Pulborough on 7 August 1789. By 1793, the family had moved to Cocking, where her five younger siblings were born and baptised over the next ten years, including her brother Benjamin, who was baptised at Cocking on 12 January 1800.
Sarah, aged 21. married 22-year old Henry Kinchet (or Kingshott) at Cocking on 13 August 1810. The witnesses were her parents, John and Elizabeth Harwood.
She and Henry had two children, Leah (baptised at Cocking on 13 January 1811) and John (baptised at Cocking on 7 July 1816.)
At the 1851 census, Henry and Sarah were living at Horley Farm, when 63-year old Henry was employed as an agricultural labourer. Ten years later, the couple were still living in Cocking, but Henry was now a pauper.
Sarah died in 1865, aged 76, and was buried at Cocking on 15 December 1865. Henry died the following year, aged 78, and was buried at Cocking on 12 September 1866.
Benjamin Harwood was baptised in Cocking church on 12 January 1800. On 5 February 1823, he married 29-year old Ann Cook. There appear to be no children of the marriage.
Benjamin died in 1833, aged 33, and was buried at Cocking on 14 November 1833. The parish register describes him as “of Woollavington”.
His widow, Ann, re-married at Cocking on 4 May 1835, to William Bell with whom she had a daughter, Mary, baptised at Cocking on 6 September 1835.
The younger John Kingshott was baptised at Cocking on 7 July 1816, and was the son of Henry and Sarah Kingshott (above). He married Ann Jane Ide from Chichester at Cocking on 12 October 1839, when he was aged 23 and she was 20. There were no children of the marriage.
At the 1841 census, the couple were living at Mill Lane, Cocking.
Following John’s imprisonment and transportation to Australia, Ann disappears from the records.
It is not clear if the older John Kingshott, who was prosecuted for stealing firewood in 1843, was a direct relative of Sarah’s husband Henry Kingshott. Henry did have a brother John, baptised in Cocking on 15 June 1771, but this is not the same man.
John was born in about 1795; there is no certainty about his parents’ identity nor his place of birth. (In later census, he gave his place of birth as Cocking, but there is no record of his being baptised in the village.) On 9 December 1816, he married Mary Hall in Cocking, when he was aged about 21 while she was 16 years his senior. There appear to be no children of the marriage.
At the 1841 census, the couple were living in Bell Lane, Cocking when he was an agricultural labourer.
Mary died in 1852 and was buried at Cocking church on 9 July 1852. The burial register records her age as 77, although she had been baptised in Rogate in June 1779.
John continued to live in Cocking, and was lodging with the Miles family in Church Lane in 1871. He died at Easebourne Union workhouse in 1878, aged 83, and was buried in Cocking churchyard on 27 February 1878.
William Mills was born in Bepton, the son of Thomas Mills and his wife Leah, née Kingshott. She was the daughter of Henry and Sarah Kingshott (above). Thomas and Leah married at Cocking church on 17 April 1831, and had five children over the next 14 years.
William was baptised at Bepton church on 10 November 1833.
At the 1841 census, Thomas and Leah Mills, and their (then) four children, were living at The Street, Bepton, when Thomas was employed as a farm labourer. Ten years later, Thomas (now a dealer) and Leah were living with Thomas’s brother-in-law, Henry Lambert, at Horley Farm, Cocking, with their two youngest children.
Thomas Mills died in Cocking where he was buried on 24 February 1861. Leah died in Singleton, where she was buried on 21 November 1898.
1841 England Census
1851 England Census
1861 England Census
1871 England Census
1881 England Census
West Sussex, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1482-1812
West Sussex, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920
West Sussex, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1995
West Sussex, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936
Rogate Parish Register: 6 June 1779.Baptism of Mary Hall
Pulborough Parish Register. 7 August 1789.Baptism of Sarah Harwood
Cocking Parish Register. 12 January 1800.Baptism of Benjamin Horrod
Cocking Parish Register. 13 August 1810.Marriage of Henry Kincher & Sarah Harwood
Cocking Parish Register. 13 January 1811. Baptism of Leah Kinchsett
Cocking Parish Register. 7 July 1816.Baptism of John Kenshot
Cocking Parish Register. 9 December 1816.Marriage of John Kinshott & Mary Hall
Cocking Parish Register. 5 February 1823.Marriage of Benjamin Harrison(stet) and Anne Cook
Bepton Parish Register: 17 April 1831. Marriage of Thomas Mills and Leah Kinchett
Bepton Parish Register: 10 November 1833. Baptism of William Mills
Cocking Parish Register. 14 November 1833. Burial of Benjamin Harwood
Cocking Parish Register. 4 May 1835. Marriage of William Bell & Anne Harwood
Cocking Parish Register. 6 September 1835. Baptism of Mary Bell
Cocking Parish Register. 12 October 1839. Marriage of John Kinchett & Anne Jane Ide
Cocking Parish Register. 9 July 1852. Burial of Mary Kensett
Cocking Parish Register: 24 February 1861. Burial of Thomas Mills
Cocking Parish Register. 15 December 1865. Burial of Sarah Kingshott
Cocking Parish Register. 12 September 1866. Burial of Henry Kingshott
Cocking Parish Register. 27 February 1878. Burial of John Kingshott
Singleton Parish Register: 21 November 1898. Burial of Leah Mills