Crime Hayle

By John Higgans

This article provides some example of criminal activities in Hayle in a period of about 50 years in the 19th century. Details of these crimes were extracted from newspapers of the time.

As readers will see, the wrongdoings ranged from hooliganism to a attempted suicide in a police cell and to murder. While the punishments for these crimes are less severe today, there is little change in the nature of them.

Plundering.  April 1826.  A French ship, the Ocean, parted from her cables in St Ives Bay and was driven ashore on Hayle Bar. Local residents, mainly women, plundered the ship's stores which included wine and spirits - an in due course became intoxicated. In the struggles that followed for possession of the plunder 'a variety of contests, some of them of the most ludicrous description, took place'.

Theft.  February 1846.  Bed clothes and wearing apparel were stolen from the garden of John POLKINGHORN of Lethleans.  They had been allowed to remain outside all night. A report of going to 'the conjurer' however had such an effect on the superstitious thieves that the whole of the property was returned on the following night and placed near the premises. The conjurer referred to was probably with the travelling entertainers who visited Hayle for the Shrove Tuesday Fair.

Drunk & Disorderly.  July 1859.  Samuel NANCARROW and Peter FLOYD, both of Gwinear, were each fined 5s. and costs at the Camborne Petty Sessions for being drunk and disorderly at Phillack.

Obstruction.  July 1859.  In the same court, Richard SAMPSON of Phillack was convicted of having left two horses and a wagon in the highway for 40 minutes and was fined 12s. 6d. and costs.

In the Stocks.  April 1862.  James BAWDEN of St Erth was put in the stocks at Foundry Square. He had not paid the fine for being drunk in the previous February.

Begging.  March 1863.  PC GILES apprehended a sturdy vagrant in the act of begging. As the man was in the company of some he considered violent, PC GILES called for assistance from PC OLIVER and as there was no lockup at Hayle, the prisoner was taken to Camborne for the night. In the absence of the police, some of the unruly started a fight in the street and broke the windows of a number of respectable citizens.

Murder.  August 1868.  John STICKLAND (or STRICKLAND) of Angarrack, a boilermaker, killed his three year old daughter Marie in May.  The case against him was held at the Cornwall Summons Assizes and dismissed on the grounds of insanity of the defendant.

Wife Beating.  May 1869.  Robert STRATTON was charged with carrying out a murderous assault on his wife.

Hooliganism.  March 1871.  By 1871 many of the old customs of Shrovetide had become extinct, but there was one practice which seemed to stick tenaciously to the roughs of Hayle, i.e. going about in the evening of Shrove Tuesday causing damage to property. The comment was made that it was impossible for that much abused class, policeman, to be ubiquitous, but on such occasions they should be qui vive and try to bring some of the depredators to justice.

Theft.  March 1874.  At Cornwall Assizes William LANG was sentenced to twelve months hard labour for stealing 2 lbs of veal and 2 lbs of mutton from Richard RUNNALLS, a butcher of Phillack.

Attempted Suicide.  November 1876.  Francis ANDREW of Germoe was arrested for stealing two coats from Mr COCK, outfitter of Hayle.  While in the lockup awaiting trial he attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself. He was found to be unconscious but recovered after attention from Dr VAWDREY. He was then brought before the local magistrate and committed for trial for his theft and attempted suicide.

Pilfering.  February 1873.  Two lads, Thomas WEBB and James NICHOLLS, who had long been a plague to the shopkeepers of Hayle, were noticed by a plain-clothed policeman, PC WENMOUTH, taking some coal from trucks in Harvey & Company's yard. They were described as pests to the society, taking every opportunity to steal, neither being kept in work nor at school. They were awarded one month in prison and six strokes of the birch which it hoped would be a cure for them and a warning to parents by whom a little birching at home might save them from getting into prison.

Drunk.  March 1877.  Ann RASHLEIGH of St Ives visited Hayle on the day men were being engaged  at the Steampacket Hotel for work in South Africa. She was taken into charge for being drunk and causing a disturbance and was sent to Bodmin for trial.

Deception.  January 1879.  In this month, the Cornish Bank of Tweedy, Williams and Company with branches at Truro and elsewhere, but not at Hayle, suspended business.  Shortly before this was known in Hayle, a stranger to the place called on a trader and changed a worthless 5 note of the bank. 'Doubtless he thought it a cute trick'.

Drunk.  September 1895.  Thomas MOYLE of St Erth, a labourer, became tipsy and caused a disturbance at the Commercial Hotel, Phillack. He entered the house twice and when refused drink, he retaliated by carrying off the landlord's hat. He was fined 1. 0s. 6d. or 14 days in prison.

[Back to History]

[Back to Home Page]