Fordington Newspaper Reports

County Petty Sessions

Case concerning the Theft of Oats at Winterborne Abbas

Summoned to appear before the Court: Robert WHITE, Henry PROWSE, John COOMBS and Thomas BLANDAMER

© Research by Eddie Prowse December 2011


An extract from The Dorset County Chronicle 10th Oct 1867

Monday before Major SYMES. Thomas BLANDAMER, Landlord of the Crown Inn, Robert WHITE, Henry PROWSE and John COOMBS were brought up in custody of the police, charged with stealing a sack of oats, the property of Mr. John SYMES, of Winterbourne Abbas, on the previous day.

Blandamer was also charged with receiving the same, well knowing it to have been stolen –

Mr. Giles Symonds appeared for the prosecution and Mr. M.C. Weston for the defence.

    The first witness called was Albert MEADER, a lad 14 years of age, who said he worked as a carter boy for Mr Samson MARTIN of Fordington, and had been to Longbredy last Saturday with his cart and horses. He returned to Dorchester about four o’clock in the afternoon. The carter he worked under was Henry PROWSE, one of the men in custody. A man of Charminster, and a man working for Mr. THORNE, came from Longbredy to Dorchester with him. They came through Winterborne Abbas, and on the way he saw a wagon, loaded, turning into a barton in that village. The horses and cart were just in front of witness, and Coombs was driving. Prowse and White walked with the witness behind the cart. When he came on to the end of the village of Winterborne he saw a bag of corn lying in the road beside the Steepleton pond. Prowse and White took it up and put it into the cart, and it was taken on to Dorchester. The two other men, whose names he did not know, were with him at the time the corn was picked up, and they came on to the top of the town. One of the men came into the town and proceeded down South Street, and the other went to Charminster. The horses and cart containing the corn were taken to the lower end of the town, and whilst the cart stopped in the street near Pearce’s beerhouse, Prowse and White went into the house. Coombs went away in the direction of the Crown Inn, where Blandamer lived. While Prowse and White remained in the beerhouse about half-an-hour, and witness remained in the street, when they came out Prowse took hold of the bag of corn, and lifted on to White’s back, the latter taking it towards the Crown. (He) did not see what became of the corn, but just afterwards he saw White, Prowse and Coombs go into the Crown. (He) Did not see Blandamer at all. Witness stayed with the cart and horses where he had been before, very nearly an hour in all. The three men then came out to the cart where witness was; White had with him an empty bag, which he put up into the cart. He went home to his master’s stable near Fordington Cross , where the cart was put in. White took the bag out of the cart and went into the stable; but witness did not see it afterwards. After leaving the Crown Inn, White and Prowse only accompanied witness to the stable; but Coombs went round towards the Mill-bank, apparently on his way home. (He) Did not see any money in the cart; but after the three men came out of the Crown Inn they each had some money in their hands. Witness had not seen the bag since. When the bag was picked up at Winterborne, he did not hear any conversation respecting the bag, where it came from or anything else. –
    Supt. UNDERWOOD deposed that on Sunday afternoon about four o’clock he went to the Crown Inn, in Dorchester, in company of Supt. POUNCY and P. S. VICKERY. He saw the landlord, Blandamer, present. Witness told him (Blandamer) he had a warrant to search his home for a sack of oats, which was picked up at Winterborne, and brought into his home by the prisoner, White. Blandamer said he knew nothing about it, there had been no oats brought there, or, if there had he had not seen them. Witness searched the house, but found nothing, but took him (Blandamer) into custody under the warrant. Having sent him away he obtained some keys from Blandamer’s wife, and the servant went to the store on the opposite side of the street, which is occupied by Hurdle’s of Weymouth. The servant unlocked the door, and witness went through the cheese store to the coach-house adjoining. In this coach-house he found a sack of white oats in a four-bushel sack. He took possession of the sack, which was still in his custody. On Monday morning he went to Winterbourne and took a quantity of oats from a bin in Mr. SYMES's granary. Having compared them with the oats he found in the coach-house, he came to the opinion that they corresponded. –

Mr. Symonds asked for a remand in order to produce additional evidence. –

Mr Weston said, if the bench would admit the whole of the prisoners to bail, there would not be the slightest objection to case being remanded till next Saturday. A certain quantity of property had been lost, but it had all been found. It was not like an extensive robbery of plate, where a portion only had been found; therefore there could be no objection to them being admitted to bail. –

Mr. Symonds replied there were many circumstances which might present themselves to the bench that bail would be undesirable. –

Major Sykes thought the case was pretty clear as far as they had gone. –

Mr. Weston: But you have got all the property that is lost. –

Major Sykes: That has nothing to do with it. –

Mr. Weston: That has everything to do with it, with all deference to you, sir. Here is a man moving in a highly respectable station of life, and holding a situation of trust and confidence; and it would be most unjust to confine him for a week in goal, when the only witness whom Mr. Symonds wishes to call resides at Winterborne, a distance of four miles, and can be obtained on the following day. –

Mr. Symonds said there would be a great many witnesses. –

Major Sykes asked, supposing he adjourned till Thursday what prospect would there be of getting a magistrate to attend? –

Mr. Weston said a committal could then take place or otherwise. –

Mr. Symonds said the magistrate could extend the adjournment to eight days, and he asked the magistrate to exercise his discretion. –

Major Sykes said he should be happy to oblige Mr. Weston, but he really could not do it. It was a hard case for a man who was in business to be kept in custody, and perhaps being an innocent man at the time. However he must remand him till next Saturday, and refuse bail. The prisoners were then handcuffed, and removed in custody of the police.


An extract from The Dorset County Chronicle Page 3, Oct. 17th. 1867

Saturday before R.L. THORNTON and Captain E.W. WILLIAMS

Robert White, Henry Prowse, and John Coombes, labourers, were brought up on remand charged with stealing a sack of oats, the property of Mr. Symes, of Winterborne Abbas on the 5th instant and Thomas Blandamer of the Crown Inn, Dorchester, was also charged with feloniously receiving the same under circumstances recorded in our last. (See Dorset County Chronicle of 10th. Oct 1867) – Mr. G. Symonds appeared for the prosecution and Mr. Weston for the defence. – The hearing of the case excited considerable interest, and the court was thronged with spectators, Fordington being strongly represented. Several additional witnesses were examined. Mr. Weston reserved his defence, and said, as he presumed the prisoners would be committed for trial at the sessions on Wednesday he would ask that the prisoners might be admitted to bail. – At all events Blandamer. He trusted there would be no objection to allowing, in the case of Blandamer, as all the property supposed to be lost had been found and there was nothing to be secreted or got rid of in any way –

Mr. Symonds did not object and Blandamer was them admitted to bail himself in £50 and two sureties of £25 each.


An extract from The Dorset County Chronicle Page 9, Oct. 17th. 1867

Before J. FLOYER, Esq. M.P. Deputy Chairman

Thomas Blandamer 30, on bail, Robert White 34, labourer, Henry Prowse 35, labourer, John Coombs 27 labourer, were indicted for stealing a sack of oats, the property of Joseph Symes of Winterborne Abbas. –

Mr. Banks prosecuted; Mr. W Ffooks defended Blandamer and Mr. Collins the other three prisoners. =

The facts of this case will probably be fresh in the memory of our readers. A sack of oats wasdropped from a wagon on its way from Dorchester, which was picked up by a portion of the prisoners, who it is sought to prove had sold the corn to Blandamer. The bag could not be found; but oats of a similar sample were discovered in a store to which the latter (presumably the prisoners) had free access.

The jury acquitted BLANDAMER; but found the others guilty. COOMBS was sentenced to two months, and PROWSE and WHITE to one month’s hard labour each.

Genealogical Notes:-

(1). Henry PROWSE (Junior) was baptised at St Georges Church Fordington on 18 Sep 1831 the son of Henry PROWSE (Senior) a labourer by his wife Ann WHITE whom he married there on 1st May 1831.

(2). Henry PROWSE a labourer was married after banns at Fordington to Kezia GARRETT by Rev George Evans Moule the Missionary to China

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