Friday, 17 October 2014


This altogether unimportant and inconsequential story I found in the Exeter Flying Post for 26th November 1857:   

John Richards had a coat worth one shilling.  He was a boatman who sometimes picked up passengers from the railway station at Starcross and ferried them to Exmouth.   On Sunday 15th November 1857 he made his boat fast to the landing at Starcross and went ashore to collect passengers from the station.  He was gone for only ten minutes but when he came back to his boat his coat had been taken.   John Richards reported the theft to Constable Froude. Two little lads from the collier brig Wyke Regis had been seen rowing about near John’s boat.   The intrepid Constable Froude went in pursuit of the suspects.   He boarded  the brig and saw fifteen year old Robert Puckett throw a bundle over the side.   The constable first fished out the bundle and found it to be John Richard’s one shilling coat,  then he confronted two boys with the evidence.   The second boy said to Robert Puckett,  “Now, tell the truth,  I had nothing to do with it, had I?”   “No,”  said Robert,  “I stole the coat.”

The Chairman of the Magistrates  (Cole Cole Esq.) told Robert Puckett he was sorry to see so young a lad charged with such an offence,   He hoped that the punishment which the Bench inflicted - a month’s imprisonment - would have the effect of inducing him never to repeat the offence.