An Infamous Blencowe or just a naughty boy!
Peter Blencowe (1826-1878)

He was son of Thomas Blencowe and Ann Perrott of West Haddon I’ll just call him Peter.

W.H. = West Haddon, P.C. = various constables and other initials are his victims or witnesses.

1850: Peter charged with having, at W. H., malignly set fire to a dwelling house, with intent to injure resident [today attempted murder]

1854: Peter 6 months in a breach of the peace towards R. P., at W. H

1859: Petty Sessions – Peter, of W. H. charged with riding in his wagon, and not having reins to guide the horses On June 12th, the defendant, who is a carrier, was passing through Welford having two horses to his van, but only reigns to the last horse. The P.C. cautioned him against riding, but only received a saucy answer [today - dangerous driving]

1861: Committed to County Gaol – six weeks, for pound breach, at W.H.

1864: County Court – T. D., broker of Rugby v Peter, carrier W. H. Claim: £4/15/- for a year’s rent.

1866: Peter was charged with stealing some hay, the property of the Rev. G.L.F. P.C. reported to seeing the prisoner get over a wall four feet high, surmounted by palings six feet high - making a fence ten feet high, and hiding the prosecutor’s shrubbery from the highway. Quite a gymnastic feat! Peter had a bag, and on being asked what he had in it replied, "Nothing that has anything to do with you". He was accused of stealing the hay the bag contained. The result was that the evidence wasn’t conclusive. Because there were seven convictions against the prisoner for various offences, the Bench sentenced him to 3 months' imprisonment, with hard labour, instead of a longer period of which they were thinking.

1867: Charged with damaging herbage belonging to neighbour, Peter argued he had a right to the herbage on a highway passing through his farm. 'Yesterday morning I saw Blencowe cutting some grass on the road. I saw him put it in a cart. He filled the body of the cart.' Defendant treated the matter very lightly, saying he did cut a few nettles from a piece, about a yard or so. He was locked up, but soon paid the fine.

1867: Peter, carrier, charged with allowing two horses to stray on the highway. 'I saw the defendant’s two horses straying on the road: they were tied together, but there was no one with them or within sight.' Fined 5/- for each horse &costs 18/-

1868: Peter 3 months for stealing chaff at Winwick. He was also charged with allowing a mare to stray. Fine and costs 12/-

1869: County Gaol – Peter 1 month’s hard labour for stealing grass at W. H. Later, for stealing turnips he got 6 months.

1870: Peter charged with being drunk, riotous and fighting at the Sheaf Inn. P.C cleared the house and requested Peter goes home. He refused, and was insulting and noisy. Witness got the defendant home, and went to another part of the village. Shortly after, he heard the defendant making a noise in the streets again. While he went to get a conveyance to take the defendant to the lock-up, Peter went home and locked the door. The defendant said as to the fighting, he only stood in his own defence, and as to the noise in the street, he was only pointing out to the police officer how the P.C. neglected his duty. 1 month for drunkenness.

1870: Peter again charged with allowing a horse to stray. Defendant did not appear and a warrant was issued.

1871: Sent for trial for stealing a shirt.

Peter Blencowe is my gt gt grandfather’s brother. He died at West Haddon in 1878 aged 56. Peter married Sophia Castell, they both appear on the 1861 census, Peter being shown as a carrier. Only Sophia appears on the 1871 census and we often wondered where Peter was but the above story probably answers the question.

Why wasn’t he transported? In those days just stealing a handkerchief was enough.

Len Austin
Buckinghamshire, U.K.

I think he was serial pest or petty criminal with a sympathetic local P.C.

Ref: Compiled from notices in the Northampton Mercury, the Bedfordshire Mercury & the Nuneaton Advertiser.

Transported Blencowes' Crimes

See also: the Williams in 'Like father Like son the tale of two Williams' in the Vol 24 No 3 August 2009

With the query re Transportation, I’ve checked up on what our 4 convicts did to be transported to Australia.

A shepherd, William Blencowe, was tried at Oxford on 1 March 1834 for the theft of a coat; he was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years and sailed to New South Wales on the Henry Tanner. The sentence seems to have been particularly severe, even by the standards of the time, for William was reported at the trial to be a widower with two dependent children. He served 17 years due to extensions for drunkenness before going to the goldfields where he did well enough to return to England.

To his credit, young William Blincoe, son of the above, learned to read and write and grew up to work as a miner. However, he was caught housebreaking to steal clothes and sentenced at Worchester in 1849 to 7 year’s transportation to Tasmania. He was recommended for Conditional Pardon in 1854 which was not granted until 1855. Sadly William died in 1859, aged 27 of sunstroke.

Aged 19, while working as a Man Servant, John Blencowe was convicted of "Stealing from the dwelling house of his Master." The Northampton Assizes sentenced John to 14 years gaol to be served in Van Diemen's Land (later named Tasmania). Convicts in Tasmania faced a terrible incarceration especially those who were gaoled in Port Arthur. However, our John seems to have fared rather well having his fourteen year sentence reduced to eighteen months when granted a conditional pardon on 27/10/1841

This John links to Retracing the footsteps of my convict ancestor in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) Vol 23 No 4 November 2008 and several other articles. The next chap Thomas links to Thomas Blencowe the Convict who returned to England Vol 22 No 4 November 2007.

Thomas Blencowe served 6 months gaol for theft so when convicted of stealing a pair of patterns; Thomas was sentenced to 7 years transportation at the Warwick Quarter Session in 1835. He remained in Tasmania for 18 years then returned to England in 1853.

I think that Peter Blencowe in the last article got off lightly for some of his misdemeanours. He was probably fortunate that his crime spree didn't start until the 1850’s by which time transportation to the eastern states was coming to an end.

Transportation to Western Australia began in 1850 and continued until 1868.

In all, from 1788 to 1868 164,000 convicts were transported from Britain to Australia. Around 20% of today’s Australians are descended from transported convicts.

Once emancipated, most ex-convicts stayed in Australia, joining the free settlers, with some rising to prominent positions in Australian society.