The Wavendon Poachers and the Gamekeepers 1867
There is a long trail of petty misdemeanours involving drinking, arguing or trespassing in search of game relating to the Inwood family of Wavendon in the local newspapers of the mid-19th century. Even the females occasionally found themselves on the wrong side of the law, as Susan Inwood did when she was convicted for stealing fir cones in 1865 from Wavendon Heath woods, the property of the Duke of Bedford. Gathering fallen wood for fuel was strictly controlled and treated nearly as severely as taking game. With many poor families living hand-to-mouth, the temptation to go onto someone else’s extensive estate to trap or shoot game so a family could eat was hard to resist. Gamekeepers regularly patrolled the woods and fields, and the penalties grew with repeat offences. Imprisonment was common, leaving families even worse off if their usual breadwinner was incarcerated.
The fluctuations of local boundaries before Woburn Sands became a separate parish, made things very complicated. In the 1861 census of Aspley Guise, in the area described as being “Woburn Sands”, lived Robert Inwood, 41, a sawyer by trade, and his family: Susan Inwood, 40, (presumably the fir-cone thief…) sons James, 16; John, 14; Thomas, 10; Andrew, 8; Albert, 3; Charles, who was not yet a year-old and one daughter, Emma, 6. The whole family had been born in Wavendon. This is the story of James Inwood.
A John Inwood (James’ younger brother, I presume) and George Farr had been convicted of poaching on Christmas Eve 1867, exactly a year to the day before the serious crime detailed below. Perhaps it was the desire to have something substantial on the dinner table for the family on Christmas Day? It is interesting that on that occasion, a Farr was on the wrong side of the law, unlike the gamekeeper named below. Families tended to be much larger at that time, and parish officials often found themselves having to deal with their own kin.
James Inwood had been up in court in June 1867 for trespass in search of game, with a gun, in Wavendon. On the testimony of William Wells, he was found guilty and fined £1 5s and costs or seven days imprisonment. Perhaps his actions a year later were influenced by his previous convictions, as he must have known he would be treated more harshly for repeat offences. The Northampton Mercury of Saturday 28th December 1867 gave a recount of the incident:
“MURDER OF A GAMEKEEPER – On Thursday last Mr Wiseman, deputy-coroner, held an inquest at the Swan Inn, Wavendon, near Newport Pagnell, on the body of John White, a gamekeeper in the employment of Captain Swabey, of Wavendon-house. The evidence was very long, but the facts elicited were as follows – While the deceased, in company with an under-keeper named Edward Farr were watching in Wavendon-wood about 6 o’clock on Christmas-eve, they were met by James Inwood a lathrender and William Emmerton, bricklayer, belonging to Woburn Sands, who were out on a poaching expedition. On finding they were discovered Emmerton ran away, and he was pursued by Farr. When they had got away a distance of 50 yards, Farr heard a shot fired, and on looking round saw White falling to the ground. Farr ran back to render assistance, and as he returned the deceased cried out, “Farr, I’m a dead man and it’s James Inwood that has shot me”. Inwood ran away. Farr lifted White up, but he soon afterwards expired. Assistance was soon obtained, and the deceased was taken to the Swan Inn.
Mr. Fry, surgeon, of Woburn, made a post mortem examination, and found that 13 drachms of shot had entered the deceased’s side, passed through the margin of the lungs and the diaphragm. and lodged, with the wadding. on the left side of the spine. The premises of Inwood, who, with Emmerton, was taken into custody the same night, were searched, and a gun was found there, but no ramrod. This was found next morning near the spot where White fell. Emmerton could give no account of where he was the time of the occurrence, but, on his way to Fenny Stratford police station, he made statement to the following effect :- “I, William Emmerton, was in a field adjoining Wavendon-wood on Christmas-eve, between 5 and 6 o’clock, with James Inwood, going in search of game, when we saw two men before us. We then stopped and stood still, when Inwood said, “Shoot ’em;” and I said I would not. He then said, “God strike me dead, I will;” when the men commenced running towards us. I said, “Run” and commenced running away. When I had got some distance I heard the report of a gun. I then went home.”
The jury returned a verdict of “Wilful Murder against James Inwood,” but expressed their conviction that there was no evidence against Emmerton. Inwood was then committed on the coroner’s warrant for trial at the next Bucks assizes on a charge of wilful murder. Inwood treated the whole matter with the utmost indifference.”
It was also the Northampton Mercury that reported on January 11th 1868 about White’s funeral and developments since the terrible event. They said the tragedy had cast considerable gloom over the district on 30th December, when White was buried. One of the last acts that he had performed as an employee was to decorate the servant’s hall for a servant’s party arranged for New Year’s Eve. Capt. Swabey of Wavendon House and all his family, friends and every servant in his household attended the funeral, along with almost all the villagers of Wavendon. He had announced that White’s widow would be allowed to remain in her estate cottage for so long as the Swabey’s held the main house.
There is very little detail recorded in the press articles about John White himself. Unhelpfully, there are several John White’s living locally around that time, but the only John White recorded as died in the Newport Pagnell area in late 1867 was 45 years of age. The most likely candidate was the John White born into a family in Church End, Wavendon in 1822. He was listed in the 1851 census in Wavendon (aged 29) with wife Sarah White (22) originally from Higham Ferrers, but by 1861, they were living at Keepers Cottage, Aspley Guise, where he was described as an “Under-keeper”. The position of this in the census is among the properties in West Hill / Aspley Hill.
Capt. William Swabey had served 18 years in the British Amy and fought in the Peninsula war as well as Waterloo with the Royal Horse Artillery. He then switched to politics and farming, and spent many years in Canada, before returning to England and seems to have moved to Wavendon House when his grandson married into the Hoare family. There is a brass memorial tablet to him in Clifton Reynes church. It would seem he was true to his word, as Sarah White appears under his household at Wavendon House as a widow and annuitant in the 1871 census, but Capt. Swabey died in 1872.
James Inwood was brought up before the Newport Pagnell Petty Sessions on New Year’s Day. John B. Fry, the Woburn surgeon, gave evidence of what he had found in the post mortem. The gun must have been fired from very close to the body. A police witness was also called, who had been present when Inwood’s father had visited his son in prison. Superintendent Breary said “He told his father it was done by accident. He did not intend to shoot White. He said Emerton had told an untruth about him in his evidence. He said he did not make use of the expression imputed to him about “God strike me dead!” On Friday 27th, the prisoner’s father came again to visit the prisoner. His father told him to tell the truth. The prisoner said, “No one does know how it happened yet.”
From being initially locked up at Newport Pagnell, he was remanded to prison in Aylesbury from 2nd January 1868 until the trial on 12th March, at the Bucks Lent Assizes. The fact that it was Inwood who fired the shot was incontrovertible, but was it fired on purpose or not? The evidence was given in full before Judge Mr Baron Martin and reported in the Bedfordshire Times of 14th March 1868:
“THE MURDER NEAR WOBURN SANDS. JAMES INWOOD, 22, lathrender, was indicted for the wilful murder of John White, at Wavendon, on the 24th Dec., 1867.
Mr. Metcalfe and Mr. Graham, instructed by Messrs. Newman and Powell, Newport Pagnell, were for the prosecution; and Mr. Naylor, instructed by Messrs. Conquest and Stimson, of Bedford, defended the prisoner.
Mr. Metcalfe in a lengthy speech opened the case, and adduced the following evidence:
Edward Farr said: I am a gardener in the service of Mr, Swabey, of Wavendon. Captain Swabey shoots over a good deal of land in that parish. He preserves the game. On December 24th last he had a keeper in his employment named John White. I went out on that day with White to watch the game, and was out until the evening. While we were in Mr. Denison’s grass field which adjoins Wavendon wood, we stood side by side, and soon afterwards heard something come through the gateway. We waited and saw two men before us. I said to White, “There is something coming.” The two men stood 15 yards from us, and then made a stop. The shorter one went up to the other, and there was some whispering, but I don’t know what it was. Soon afterwards the tall one ran away. As soon as I saw him I ran after him. I ran about 20 yards. The other did not attempt to run away. He might have moved a little. White went directly to the other one who had kept his standing. I could see him as I ran. I could see his left hand up as if he meant take hold of the prisoner. He was not a yard off. That moment I looked after my man, and I heard the gun go off. I turned sharp round, and White shouted “Farr, l am a dead man; it’s James Inwood.” I ran directly to White, and I saw him fall to the ground. I picked him up in my arms, and found his coat burning on the left side, where the shooting pockets were. When I turned back to go to White, I saw the prisoner run away from him towards the wood. I had White in my arms, and finding his breath was nearly gone, I ran to Denison’s for assistance. I came back. I saw two men outside Denison’s, and they came back with me. I was away a quarter of an hour. I found him in the same place. He was not quite dead. We had got a lantern with us then. I took him in my arms. I said “White,” and he looked at me and died in an instant with his head in my arms. I then took him to Denison’s. I went to the place next morning to find a ramrod which had apparently been broken. There was the prints of White’s heels, and of the place where I knelt. That was how I knew the place again. I gave the ramrod to Police-constable Emerton. [A relative of the other suspect, surely? Ed.] The gun was fired in less than five minutes after we first saw the men coming towards us. I did not see any other men in the field at the time spoken of.
Cross-examined: It was twilight. I have known Inwood all my life. I went by him within 20 yards. I could not swear to any one more than that distance. When I ran after my man, my intention was to see who he was. I was running sideways, so that I could see White and the other man. I turned my head round once, and looked round.
Thomas Garrett said: I live near Wavendon wood. On Dec. 24th last witness came to where I was at work, at Mr. Denison’s, and I returned with him to Mr. Denison’s close. I found White there. He was alive, but died whilst I was with him in the field. He died two minutes after we got there. I afterwards aided in carrying his body to Denison’s. This witness was not cross-examined.
William Emerton said: I live at Aspley Heath. I have known the prisoner for some time, also his brother John. On Dec. 24th I saw the prisoner at my house. It was in the morning. His brother was with him. We arranged to go to a place called Holcutt. We started, taking two guns. We all three went in search of game. I and James went to the field. His brother went by the road, and we met him at the cross-roads. Inwood shot a hare and gave it to his brother. We then came back to Woburn Sands and met George Butcher. I asked him the time. It was about two o’clock. I and James Inwood started for Shaw wood with our guns. His brother went to Wavendon wood. When we were going to Shaw wood we thought it would be too late for the pheasants, and accordingly returned to the wood, and into Denison’s field. We met the other brother at the corner near the stile, and he said he had not seen any pheasants. I and James Inwood left the brother and returned to get into the wood at the bottom side, in search of the pheasants that had by that time gone to roost. We went into the wood and found two pheasants sitting on two oak stems. We then turned back towards Inwood’s house to fetch the guns which we had left there; and when we were at the stile we left the brother to see if the keepers were about. He was to stop until we came back, I and James Inwood returned with the guns, and as we were in Denison’s field, we heard something crack in the hedge. We looked to see what it was. Inwood said, “It’s a donkey; I thought it was a man.” I said, “If it had been a man, you don’t mean to say you were going to shoot him?”
Mr. Metcalfe: What made you say that?
Witness: He held the gun with both hands, and stooped, to see better. He laughed at what I said. I don’t think he made any answer at all. We went on into the next field, through a gateway in a corner of the wood; and after walking a short distance we saw two men standing before us, about 15 yards distant. We were walking side by side. I was on the right side. James Inwood said, “Shoot him.” I said, “I won’t.” He said, “God strike me dead, I will.” I said, “Don’t.” The men then moved towards us. I said to the prisoner, “Run.” I then ran away myself. I did not see the prisoner, for I turned back and ran. At the distance of 50 or 60 yards I heard the report of a gun. I saw that one of the keepers was after me when I started, and I kept running, thinking he might still be after me, and I went home. I went into the barn and set gun behind the door. I stood and listened to hear if the keeper was coming. I looked out of a lattice window, and heard a voice in Mr. Denison’s yard, saying that John White was shot in the wood.
Several other witnesses having been examined, Mr. Metcalfe summed up the evidence, dwelling on the salient points for the prosecution. Mr. Naylor addressed the jury for the defence, generally contending that the occurrence by which White lost his life was an accident, caused by the going off of the gun during the struggle which ensued upon White’s attempt to apprehend the prisoner. He sifted the evidence of the various witnesses with a view to establish this version of the matter, and enlarged on the testimony of Farr, who said that when the gun was fired or went off, he was in the act of running after Emerton, and of course could not see whether the prisoner levelled the gun at the deceased. There was also the fact of the inclination of the gun was at an angle of 45 degrees, showing that the presumption was that the keeper was proceeding to take the gun away from Inwood and that it went off (as it easily would do) during the struggle, especially as Emerton had said that it used to go off with the slightest shaking. The expression of the deceased, “I am a dead man, it’s James Inwood,” meant that he wished the other keeper to know who it was that was poaching, and not that it was Inwood who had shot him; for they did not know who the poachers were, according to the statement of Farr, especially as it was a dark night. The falling of the ramrod from the elevated gun was indication that there was a struggle for its possession. The learned counsel strongly animadverted against Emerton’s statement before the police, and said it was no doubt a made-up tale, to screen himself and to implicate his accomplice; and he alluded to Emerton’s bad memory and the interference of the police. He enlarged also the statement of the prisoner to his father in the police cell, when, in answer to the old man’s importunity that he would tell him the truth, the prisoner said that no one knew what the real truth was but him, and he added that the gun went off by accident. This statement was entirely favour of the prisoner, for both the asking by the father and the assertion by the son were perfectly natural.
The learned counsel at length went through the various points of the evidence and showed the material facts which were in favour of the prisoner, and he prayed that God might direct the jury to a right conclusion.
His Lordship summed up, and presented three points for the decision of the jury. He said that, 1. if they believed the prisoner owed the deceased a grudge and took the opportunity of killing him and thus carrying out his revenge, it was murder; 2. if they believed that White was about to apprehend the prisoner, and that in resisting such apprehension he killed him without design, it was manslaughter; and 3. that if they believed the occurrence to be an accident, and that the gun went off in the struggle, he would be guilty of no offence at all.
The jury, after three quarters of an hour’s consultation, brought in a verdict of Manslaughter, and the learned Judge sentenced the prisoner to 20 years’ penal servitude. The prisoner manifested the utmost indifference throughout the trial.”
…and thus, James Inwood was taken off to prison, as Convict U114, for the next 20 years.
A William Emerton appears in the 1871 census in Station Road (West Hill) Aspley Guise. He was then 25, so 22 at the time of the incident. In early 1867, he had got married, had two children since, and still a bricklayer. He doesn’t appear in any more poaching cases, I expect it had served as a warning of what could go wrong. Yet by the 1881 census, his wife is listed as a widow with just the children. What had happened to William?
If there is one thing the British criminal justice system is good at, it’s keeping detailed records, so Inwood’s life in various prisons from that point is extremely well documented.
Millbank Prison – March 1868 to May 1868
From Aylesbury, he was initially taken to Millbank prison at Westminster. Large scale transportation as a punishment had ended in 1853, but some convicts were still being sent to Australia up to 1867, which is why transportation was not mentioned at Inwood’s sentencing in 1868. Millbank had been used as a holding facility prior to dispatch of convicts and was still being used as a receiving prison while newly-sentenced prisoners were evaluated. He was one of the last civilians to be sent there, as it became a military prison in 1870. It was a huge three-storey hexagon around a central chapel, looking like a fortress from the outside, on the left bank of the Thames, near Vauxhall Bridge. Each cell had a single window looking into the pentagon courtyard, and had a washing tub, a wooden stool, a hammock and bedding, and books including a Bible, a prayer-book, a hymn-book, an arithmetic book, a work entitled “Home and Common Things” and some publications from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
His criminal record gives his age at the time of sentencing as 22 and that he could read and write. He had brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He was quite short at 5ft. 4½in. and weighed 134lbs. He also had an “Oval” face which was “Proportionate”. For identifying marks, they listed “Blue mark above right buttock and bottom of back, lost one bottom tooth.” It also discloses he had once suffered with Typhus.
Pentonville Prison – May 1868 to February 1869
After about six weeks, he was transferred to Pentonville prison at Islington in May 1868. The first nine months of prison service was a probationary period, while the authorities assessed prisoners to see whether they could be sent to a public works prison. It may have worked in his favour that he could use a lathe and would therefore be useful in a construction or quarrying work.
Here, he was given his first punishment for transgressing the rules on 14th September 1868, for “Talking and laughing in Chapel”. Prison discipline was run on a series of Marks. Good behaviour was rewarded with good conduct Marks, which could also be lost for infringements against the rules. After almost year at Pentonville, he was transferred on to Portland, Dorset, in February 1869.
Portland Prison – February 1869 to March 1870
Portland prison had been opened in 1848 for convicts to quarry stone from the many Admiralty-owned quarries nearby. This was used in building harbour breakwaters etc. Soon 10,000 tons a week were being produced. The village of Grove developed at the same time, and some householders even opened cafes upstairs in their houses so tourists could watch while the convicts worked! Conditions were notoriously harsh, and so many died working in the quarries that it was used as a “bad” example of a prison when calls for penal reform were later made. Here, Inwood was put to work doing the hard quarry labour. His weight was recorded at the time of each transfer and by March 1870, he had lost a stone since he entered the prison system. The diet would have been meagre and the work long and manual. Perhaps that is what led to his second punishment on 15th July 1869, for “Insubordinate conduct on the works”.
Gibraltar Prison – March 1870 to May 1875
Although transportation to Australia as a punishment had now stopped, Britain still had other locations overseas which needed cheap labour. From Portland, he was sent to Gibraltar on 19th March 1870. Gibraltar, along with Bermuda, had been used as a penal staging establishment where convicts would spend a few years doing public works before being sent on to Australia. Whilst in Gibraltar, he would have been engaged in more quarrying of stone, for the harbours and public buildings. Prisoners were also employed in the Dockyard’s carpentry, smiths’ and fitters’ shops, as well as the foundry.
There are many descriptions of convict work in Gibraltar. A clergyman, the Rev. Knutsford wrote: “I proceed to describe briefly the treatment of the convicts at Gibraltar. Work is the ‘all in all’; to this every other consideration is subordinate; and the prevailing notion is, that they are sent hither only for this purpose. It may truly be affirmed that they labour from 4.30a.m. until 5p.m., almost without interruption. For, though they go not to the public works much before six, yet until that time they are employed in necessary labour at home, cleaning the barracks and so forth; and, though the majority return from the works at 3p.m., they are then engaged in scouring clothes, and attending to other matters, equally fatiguing as their previous day’s toil.”
The convicts were made to wear a two-coloured uniform stamped with the design resembling a bird’s footprint. They were also either ankle-chained or hand-cuffed when marched through town on their way to work. However, it was considered acceptable for convicts to be allowed to work without military or civilian guards. Presumably, this was because they were so far from home that escape was thought pointless. Yet the Gibraltar historian, Neville Chipulina, says: “The men did enough work to keep out of trouble and kept a lookout for the chance to knock a guard on the head, fall into a boat, and row to Spain, where there was no extradition. Then the guns boomed, the white flag with five black crosses was flown from the Signal Station masthead and the woman of Gibraltar shivered at the realisation that desperate men were at large…”
While they may have sometimes been unguarded during the day, at night it was another matter. Chipulina again: “Outside their cells, and around the prison grounds at night, were heavy spring man-traps that had the force to break a limb; for the convicts were always set on an escape. They were marched in their stiff, broad-arrowed uniform and their red neckerchiefs, manacled by the hundred, as they went off up the mountain to scarp the Rock into an even more unclimbable shape, or along to the naval dockyard, their normal place of work, where they earned tuppence a day, with a drink of grog extra if they were labouring in the water.”
Inwood missed out on the time of a Capt. Brome being Governor of the prison, 1863-69. He had used the military prisoners to undertake archaeological excavations to further his hobby, until his superiors got to hear of it and sacked him!
Inwood had several more punishments here, resulting in restriction of diet, loss of his mattress for a few nights or being moved to a different work group. I could not see any evidence in his records of any physical punishments ever being administered to him.
6th Jul 1873 Fighting
8th Feb 1875 Talking during muster
25th Mar 1875 Being drunk on the public works
Civilian workers were intermixed with the convicts at many of their places of work. The opportunity for obtaining contraband alcohol may have been how Inwood ended up drunk. Some prisoners were also allowed the privilege to smoke one cigarette in the morning and another at night.
In the 1871 census, his parents and five siblings were living in Aspley Heath. He had written to, and received letters from, them periodically, but no more than once or twice a year. All post in and out of prison was diligently listed. He received post from his parents at 59 Kingswell Street, Northampton, in 1872, so they must have moved away from Woburn Sands by then. Even this had to be paid for, and his file was noted “Amount of postage expenditure in Gibraltar to be recovered: £0. 2. 6”. The Gibraltar Prison base finally closed on 25th May 1875, after it was found that the cost of keeping prisoners outweighed the cost benefit of the works they undertook. Prisoners were returned to England, and Inwood went back to Pentonville again.
Pentonville Prison – May 1875 to June 1875
It was while back in Pentonville that James Inwood had his photo taken. Photography was being used to stop felons passing themselves off as other people. Therefore, in his prison records, is a slightly faded portrait of Inwood in his prison garb, taken at Pentonville in June 1875. Although only 29-years-old, with his close-cropped hair apparently already receding, he looks much older. I doubt many people would have seen this photo, least of all Inwood. He was there less than a month before being moved on to Chatham in Kent.
Chatham Prison – June 1875 to March 1880
This prison once stood on what is now St. Mary’s Island, but was then just a peninsula of land, until the Admiralty took the area to build docks and carved out the channel-way which made the land an island. The prison held approximately 1,700 prisoners and had a staff of 232, including 117 armed wardens. Here, there was more quarrying to be done, in weather much less pleasant than he had been used to in Gibraltar. The incidents resulting in his punishment dramatically increased:
20th Aug 1875 Idleness all day and insolence
5th Nov 1875 Excessively idle all the day
26th Nov 1875 Talking & laughing when marching from the bathroom
21st Jan 1876 Deficient his card (Chaplains)
5th Feb 1876 Leaving his cell in a very dirty state
4th Apr 1876 Going to Infirmary unnecessarily to evade labor
27th Apr 1876 Refusing to labor
1st May 1876 Giving unnecessary trouble in the Sep [separation?] cells
8th Jun 1876 Excessive idleness
Despite this string of misdemeanours, he made his first proper application to be released. He wrote a petition to the Secretary for State in August 1876, setting out why he thought he should have his sentence cut short, saying that it should be mitigated as his crime was unpremeditated and he had now done nine years penal servitude. The Authorities wrote back, saying it would not be allowed as there were “Not sufficient grounds”.
20th Oct 1876 Excessive idleness
He was obviously still in contact with his family, as in May 1877, his mother and brother visited him, quite a trip to make from Northampton.
5th Jun 1878 Idleness all the morning & insolence
3rd Jul 1878 Excessive idleness all day
He wrote again for release in July 1878, saying he had now served over 10 years and the sentence had been very heavy. Again, it was answered “Refused, no grounds”.
18th Sep 1878 Striking another prisoner
His mother wrote to him in June 1879, from 8 Union Street, Northampton, but a year later, she was back to writing from 59 Kingswell Street again.
11th Nov 1879 Disobedience in refusing to saw wood on the works
19th Nov 1879 Wrangling and delaying the work
He tried another petition to the Secretary of State in December 1879, this time adding that he was very sorry for the crime he had committed, but this still didn’t sway them.
14th Jan 1880 Using improper language in the works
18th Feb 1880 Idleness on the works
Borstal Prison – Mar 1880 to May 1884
In March 1880, he was moved just a few miles to Borstal prison. This was another prison to the west of Chatham and was only a decade old at that time. It later became a specialist facility for young offenders, and eventually the name “Borstal” came to be used for all youth offender prisons. The site is now Rochester prison.
7th Jun 1880 Being in bed at 7.10pm contrary to order
10th Jan 1881 Insolence on the Fort works
Inwood next appears on the 1881 census. His entry at the prison shows he was still a convict, now 35 years old. His family were at 8 Union Street, Northampton. His father Robert Inwood, now 60, was still described as a latherender, and lived with his wife Susan, also 60, son Albert 23, daughter Isabell 18 and a one-month-old granddaughter, Florence.
31st Oct 1881 Improper conduct & insolence on parade
10th Feb 1882 Making an improper reply to his officer
5th Apr 1882 Disobedience of orders and insolence on the works
8th Apr 1882 Disobedience of orders in B[?] hall
27th Apr 1882 Eating herbs and insolence on the works
The prisoners must have been delighted to find something edible growing in the quarry! It must have been very tempting to supplement their sparse diet.
27th May 1882 Idleness & disobedience of orders on the works
31st May 1882 Idleness on the works
2nd Jun 1882 Improper conduct when leaving the adjudication room
22nd Jun 1882 Idleness on the works
26th Jun 1882 Idleness on the works
11th Jul 1882 Idleness on the works
24th Aug 1882 Disobedience of orders on the works
29th Aug 1882 Idleness on the works
Inwood received a small scalp wound in October 1882, due to a lump of chalk falling on his head when he was filling his truck in the prison works. An appropriate report had to be filled in by the guard who witnessed the event.
19th Sep 1882 Insolence in “B” hall
27th Dec 1882 Having a piece of meat in his pocket while on parade
1st Jan 1883 Insolence & refusing to labor in B hall
16th Jan 1883 Disobedience of orders in B Hall at 12.50pm also improper conduct at 1.20pm
18th Jan 1883 Having a piece of soap in his possession on parade
5th Feb 1883 Insolence and idleness on the pump
20th Feb 1883 Idleness on the prison works
12th Mar 1883 Idleness on the works
10th Apr 1883 Idleness & making use of improper language on the works
16th Apr 1883 Using improper language in the Sep. cells
24th May 1883 Idleness on the works
29th May 1883 Idleness & remaining in the closet longer than necessary on the works
Another petition was sent in June 1883, saying he had now spent many years in prison at hard labour. As before, it was refused, so he tried again, in both September and December that year, saying he had now done 16 years of his sentence and had never been in trouble before. These appeals were not granted. From June 1883, he began writing letters petitioning for release on grounds of his health. He wrote every couple of months.
6th Jul 1883 Making an improper reply to his officer on the works
13th Sep 1883 Idleness
19th Sep 1883 Idleness on the prison works
20th Nov 1883 Leaving his work without permission.
In the spring of 1884, there are increasing complaints about his feeling unwell and his cell not being well ventilated. In April 1884, he succeeded in being moved into a prison infirmary cell until such time as they needed it for someone else. He also complained that there was dirt in his food and requested to have tea instead of the usual gruel. Most of his medical complaints are answered by the prison doctor, alleging he was feigning it and that he could find no evidence of ill health. They monitored his weight and found it was going up, satisfying themselves that there was nothing seriously wrong with him.
Released – 5th May 1884
James Inwood was finally released on licence on 5th May 1884, having originally been taken into custody on Christmas Eve 1867. The licence meant he was free, but any transgressions before the end of his actual sentence term would result in his swift return to prison. He had to carry the official paper “Licence to be at Large” with him wherever he went. The conditions printed on the rear were simple:
- The Holder shall preserve his Licence and produce it when called upon to do so by a Magistrate or Police Officer.
- He shall abstain from any violation of the Law.
- He shall not habitually associate with notoriously bad Characters, such as reputed Thieves or Prostitutes.
- He shall not lead an idle and dissolute Life without visible means of obtaining an honest livelihood.
“If this licence is forfeited or revoked in consequence of a Conviction for any Offence, he will be liable to undergo a Term of Penal Servitude equal to the portion of his Term of Twenty Years which remained unexpired when his Licence was granted viz., the Term of Three years and ten months.”
Scribbled on his records is the note saying: “Destination Northampton.” His father Robert died sometime in April-May-June 1891, but his mother was certainly still alive and working there at the time of the 1891 census as a domestic servant at 22 St Georges Avenue, Northampton, however, James does not appear to be staying with her, and I have not been able to locate him elsewhere in the 1891 or 1901 censuses. She was now 72 and engaged at a house with an 80-year-old widow and her daughter. Had Inwood’s years in prison and deteriorating health meant an early death before the 1891 census date? I cannot locate any suitable deaths around that time.
What happened to Widow White? In 1881 she was living on own in Wavendon still, and taking in laundry, at the age of 53. Ten years later, she is described as a Grocer, and according to the order of the census, living two doors away from Primrose Villa, which was very close to the Leathern Bottel. She died in the autumn of 1898.
The White family commemorated the life of John by inscribing his name in their family Bible, which is still in the hands of his family. In a more visible form, the spot where John was shot in the fields across from Woburn Sands Library was marked with a cross mown into the grass, which existed until well into the 20th century.
Page last updated Jan. 2020.