A (repeat) case of malicious mischief

I’ve been looking through the case report of the 1853 trial of Thomas Fair farmer in Swansfield, thanks to Graham and Emma Maxwell who sent me images of the pages from Duns Sheriff Court’s papers. It seems as though Thomas had been previously convicted of malicious mischief in 1852, so this was a repeat offence. Specifically in 1853 he was accused of “violently invading an Inhabited Dwelling house by means of Housebreaking”. It wasn’t just any house either, but that of a relative: William Hood of Sunnyside, Thomas’s second cousin once removed. The Fair and Hood families had stayed relatively close over earlier generations, with them repeatedly acting as witnesses at baptisms and marriages for each other. But things had clearly broken down badly by this time. The court papers go on to say that Thomas did

wickedly and maliciously and feloniously break and destroy or injure the handle of the front door bell by pulling the same violently outwards, and by wrenching or tearing away the brass plate affixed to the wall at the outside of said door, and did with a walking stick knock violently and did push forcibly against said door, whereby the same was dimpled and injured, and the bolt securing the door in the inside was caused to yield or give way and the said door was forcibly broken open … and did then and there enter the said house by the door there and invade and take violent possession thereof and did alarm the inmates and cause several of them to leave the house and did refuse to leave the same when ordered to do so by the proprietor or inmates thereof, and did retain possession thereof until forcibly expelled

On the plus side he admitted to the offence. I do wonder exactly what he did in 1852 though. I think I’m going to have to see if those case papers survive. Was he maybe not imprisoned the first time? He could probably have afforded to pay any fine option that would have been offered to him by the 1852 court. The second time the court imprisoned him for sixty days hard labour.

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About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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