Capital Convictions 1816. Gloucester Assizes

To those who think only of the present state of the criminal law, and not of the past, the particulars here taken from the Gleaner; or, Cirencester Weekly Magazine, 1816 pp. 204, 417, 456, will appear scarcely credible. In April of that year the following twelve prisoners received sentence of death: -

Wm. Watkins, for stealing a horse;

John Belcher, for maliciously cutting and maiming J. James, of Westerleigh;

Rd. Osborne, Wm. Savory, James Fowler, John Smith, John Carter, and Edwd. Gunning, for burglaries; Benj. Fox and Elias Clampet, for sheep stealing;

Henry Cobb, for stealing cloth from the rack of Messrs. Austin, of Dursley; and Jos. Barratt, for a highway robbery. They were reprieved before the Judge left Gloucester.

In August following, no less than seventeen criminals were condemned in the same city :-

Thomas Evans, for breaking into a house and stealing a watch, &c. ;

Isaac Parker, for assaulting on the King's highway Henry Hobbs, and robbing him of 30 in notes, and his watch;

Jas. Clarke, for breaking open a house, and stealing therefrom 32 silver spoons, ten gallons of rum, and other articles;

Rd. Griffith, for breaking open a house, and stealing a waistcoat and other articles;

Frances Morgan, for stealing bank, post, and other bills, to the value of 300 and upwards;

John Williams, Isaac Patterson, Henry Ganderton, Thomas Patterson, and John Walker, for stealing wearing apparel;

James Crow, for breaking open a house, and stealing therefrom a watch, and note and cash to the amount of 20;

Hannah Davis, for entering a house, and stealing therefrom a leg of pork and other articles;

Wm. Collier, for stealing a silver watch; Dinah Riddiford, and Luke Riddiford, her son, for stealing bacon, butter, and other articles;

and Amos Meek and Dennis Rogers, for horse stealing.

The Judge held out the hope of mercy to the whole of the above with the exceptions of Williams and Dinah Riddiford! At the same assizes, Samuel Selly, for feloniously killing Thomas Hawkins, of Coleford, was sentenced to three months imprisonment; and Richard Lambert, for feloniously killing and slaying John Ryan at Clifton, to fourteen days' imprisonment!

Yet, on the 7th of the next month, pursuant to the sentence passed upon them for stealing clothes and provisions, the above named John Williams, aged 22, and Dinah Riddiford, aged 67, were hanged in front of the County Goal!!!


Extracted from Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, Volume 1, Edited by the Rev. Beaver A. Blacker, M.A. Published 1881. The spelling and grammar are as the original.