Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Montgomery and district
Crime and punishment
  The case of Elizabeth Grist
  On the 4th January 1849, the court of Quarter Sessions was held at the old town hall in Welshpool. The old records of the court include a printed list of all the prisoners awaiting trial on that day. The extract below shows one prisoner just 17 years old. Feloniously - against the law.
  The prisoner was Elizabeth Grist who was working as a servant for Mr and Mrs Ridge of Caer Howell, Churchstoke. This list is marked "neither" to show that she could neither read nor write.
What happened in court that day was to change Elizabeth's life for ever. Among the records of the court are the statements of all those involved. From these we can piece together what happened.
The items stolen were:-
1 worsted shawl worth 5 shillings, 1 other shawl worth 5 shillings, 1 apron worth 6 pence, 1 handkerchief worth 6 pence, 1 neckerchief worth 6 pence, 1 gown worth 1 shilling
1 chemise worth 1 shilling, 1 collar worth 2 pence, and 2 caps worth 1 shilling.
The mark of
Martha Ridge
from the court records
Elizabeth's mistress, Martha Ridge, said that Elizabeth had been working for her for about 5 weeks. Early one morning when it was still dark Mrs Ridge got up to find that Elizabeth had disappeared - and so had several items of clothing. She and her husband reported this to the police, who set out to track Elizabeth down.
  The total value of the stolen items (see the blue box on the right) was 14 shilling and 8 pence. [about 73p in today's money] This does not sound much, but was more than some people earned in a week in early Victorian times.

Find out what happened next...


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