Friday, 12 June 2015

Poaching and the Game Laws in Gloucestershire Part 3

Hi Stuart,
 As far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been a great deal of work done on poaching in the Stroud Valleys, other than various references in local village or place histories or in literature (such as those in Laurie Lee’s works for example). It would be worth checking with the Museum in the Park to see if they have anything though.
 We do have lots of references to the ‘taking of game unlawfully’ in the various quarter-sessions records (such as the gaol registers and memoranda of convictions series). The trouble is you’d need to search through the online catalogue or the actual records to find instances, as they are often filed under the name of the person convicted.  Fairly typical entries would be like these entries below:
 Horsley gaol register
GA Ref:  Q/Gh/10/2 entry number 780 -
Name: John Flight, aged 30, labourer
Offence: Unlawfully entering certain inclosed land at King Stanley at night with a Gun for the purpose of destroying game.
Class: 1
Order of commitment: Three Calendar months hard labour and to find 2 sureties in the sum of £5 each or one in £10 and by recognisance himself of £10, or further imprisonment 6 cal months hard labour
Magistrate committing: Thos Kingscote Esq; A Shakespeare Esq
Commencement of term: 28 Sept 1835
When discharged: 4 Jan 1836
Remarks: 4 times before vide 641.  Taken before Thos KINGSCOTE Esq and found sufficient sureties and was discharged 4 Jan 1836

Memoranda of convictions, general
GA Ref:  Q/PC/2/49/A/74 -
Name: James Coleman of Kings Stanley, labourer, for the crime of keeping and using a bludgeon to kill game in Woodchester, dated 18 December 1829 [printed form]
H Burgh, JP, at Stroud.
James Kenyon, gamekeeper of Nympsfield, informer.
Thomas Prout, labourer of Kings Stanley, witness.
Offenders pleaded not guilty.
Fined £5 each
Crime committed 21 November 1829

There would also be lots of references to poaching in the local newspapers – the Stroud News & Journal is held at Stroud Library, but we have the Gloucester Citizen and Gloucester Journal here.

In general, I’d say the subject is under-researched, so anything on it would be useful for the future. It would be a good subject for drama or for theatre – contrasting the need for people to obtain free/cheap food then & now.

There are some references to poaching in Gloucestershire at the John Moore Countryside Museum in Tewkesbury – see the homepage of their website for an audio example:

Hope this helps,

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