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  • Steve Matthews

Nefarious activity at the Kentish Drovers

Following yesterday’s post I’d looked up the Kentish Drovers Public House in the Old Bailey database. In all there were six cases stretching between 1845 to 1912 and in a nice little twist they are bookended by two coining offenses.

The first case concerns a Catherine Hacket who appeared on 24th November 1845 charged with coining offenses. It appears that she went on a shopping spree in the Old Kent Road and used various counterfeit coins to pay for her purchases, while doing so she stopped off in the Kentish Drover for a spot of lunch, again paying with bad coins. She was found guilty and sentenced to a stay at Brixton Prison.

On the 17th August 1846 Michael Hyde appeared at the Bailey accused of Theft by Pocket Picking. He was charged with luring an acquaintance, Charles Simmonds in the Kentish Drover, where he administered a sleeping draught to Simmonds coffee and then plied him with Gin. Simmonds fell unconscious and Hyde helped himself to 1 sovereign, 2 half-sovereigns, 7 shillings, and 1 5l. Bank note. He was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.

Dover Powder, sleeping draught

The trial of Thomas Fox took place on 27th January 1862 charged with the Manslaughter of George Norris in the Kentish Drovers. It appears that Fox and some friends were enjoying a game of shove-halfpenny a couple of days before Christmas 1861. The following is the testimony of Alfred Nichols, a waiter at the Kent Drover “George Norris, the deceased, came in—he stood there, leaning over one of the partitions there, watching the game, and he began interfering with it—he said the halfpence were not fair in between the lines—the prisoner cautioned him two or three times not to interfere, to go and sit down, and mind his own business—Fox pushed him to shove him away—the deceased had a pair of gloves on with the fingers off—he pulled the gloves off, and said he would serve him the same as a young man of the name of Thrower had served him—as soon as he mentioned those words, Fox pitched into him, and Norris was pitching into him at the same time—they closed together, and were pushing one another, and by that Fox threw him on the ground, and fell on the top of him—Norris fell on the back of his head. I and Fox helped to pick him up after he lay there for a moment—he was insensible—some water was got for him, but he could not partake of it; it was put to his mouth, and he spat it out again—we put him on one of the seats in the tap-room, and he remained there until he was taken home“. It appears that Norris stayed in the pub for several hours in an insensible state and fell down twice while trying to stand.

The following day Norris was attended by a surgeon and continued to be visited until the 9th January when he died. The autopsy found that he had died due to ruptured blood vessels in the brain and went on to say “if he had been drunk at the time, it would make a rupture more likely to take place; the vessels would be much more distended, and to that extent it would be more likely they should give way“. Thomas Fox was aquitted of the Manslaughter of George Norris.

Nosegay Tobacco

On the evening of the 9th November 1912 two labourers, Henry Hyde and William Dempsey entered the Kentish Drovers in search of a drink, which they attempted to pay for with a counterfeit Half Crown. Arthur Grace, the barman judged the coin to be a forgery, withheld their drinks, returned the coin and told them to “do one“. They then crossed the road to a Newsagents where Dempsey purchased a pennyworth of Nosegay tobacco and 1/2 d. book of cigarette papers, for which he tendered the counterfeit half-crown. The shopkeeper Mrs Catharine Adams failed to spot the coin was bad and Dempsey left with 2s. 4 1/2 d in change and the pair returned to the Drovers and purchased drinks with good money. Several witnesses claimed that the men sat in the corner and approached fellow drinkers with a view to exchanging counterfeit coins for cash.

Meanwhile the Newsagents Husband Mr Adams returns to the shop and immediately spots the bad coin (the conversation with his wife is not reported). Armed with a description he enters the Drovers and spots Dempsey and summoned Police Constable Arthur Burchall, who arrested both Dempsey and Hyde. Although during his search Burchall finds no counterfeit money on the men, there is the farcical sight or rather sound as the prisoners drop counterfeit coins onto the ground as they are escorted to the Police Station. In a line which I hear in my mind spoken like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, Hyde says when charged, “It is an unlucky tangle for me“, if only he had added “and no mistake” it would have been priceless!

Both men are found guilty and sentenced to twelve months Hard Labour.

#Coins

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