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Powys Digital History Project
Hay and district
Crime and punishment
  Six months with hard labour  

An Order Book was a large leather-bound volume (see right) which recorded in pen and ink all the decisions made by each meeting of the Quarter Sessions of the County.
Many of these orders were routine matters such as the payment of bills for roads and bridges, but they also recorded the verdicts of cases which came before the Justices. This was the entry from the Midsummer 1878 Sessions for Breconshire, concerning the charge against William Magness...

Bound Order Book
Entry in
Order Book

Entry in Order Book

"The Queen on the prosecution of John Howells v William Magness. Larceny. A bill of indictment having been preferred and found against William Magness for stealing a Bill Hook and he having pleaded not guilty a verdict of guilty was returned returned by the Petty Jury. Ordered that the said William Magness be imprisoned in the House of Correction at Brecon for six calendar months with hard labour. Prosecutors costs allowed."

The words "A bill of indictment having been preferred and found" simply means that the charge against him was a genuine one. These were marked as a "True Bill" on the original documents.
The bill hook is the only tool mentioned in the Order Book entry shown above. Perhaps the axe was given the chop ?
So William Magness was sent to jail for six months with hard labour (which was pretty hard in Victorian times !) for "borrowing" two hand tools "of the value of six shillings and six pence" !

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True bill
Axe and billhook
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