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William Andrew - Sentenced to Death for Stealing a Black Mare, the property of W.Pickard of Parkham

February 23rd, 2013 (03:51 pm)

In 1830, a William Andrews of Tiverton, aged 36 was committed for trial at the Devon Assizes, on a charge of stealing a black mare, the property of William Pickard of Parkham. It seemed possible that this could be the man who was transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1838, but the sentence of the court was Death, so it seemed that it couldn't be. I then found a series of letters (HO17/93) at FindMyPast, which clarified the matter:

5 Apr 1830 - Letter to Rt Honourable Rt Peel, Secretary of State at the Home Department

My Lord,

I know not whether it is right at this time but I most humbly beg to appeal to your Lordship and to solicit Mercy.

I am an unfortunate and xxxx injured man now under sentence of Death Record, in the Devon County Gaol, of the crime for which I was tried at the last March Assizes held at the Castle of Exeter. My Lord, I most humbly beg herein to state, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, together with claim of ?narration? with my Prosecutor.

I was married to Catharine Pickard, daughter of William Pickard, Yeoman, of the Parish of Parkham and County of Devon in the beginning of the year 1818. Previous to our marriage, the said William Pickard, freely and voluntarily promised to give his daughter Catharine a certain portion mentioning what sum for her fortune. Notwithstanding the repeated requests made to him by my self and Wife, since that period, the said portion has never been paid, nor any part thereof, in the beginning of January last myself and Wife paid my Fatherinlaw a friendly visit for two or three days, at which time I requested him to advance some part of the said portion, which he promised to give my Wife, but in reply he said it would not be convenient for him to pay it for a season, meaning twelvemonths.

I then and there from him understood, he had a mare which he intended to dispose of. I then propos'd I would take the said Mare in, and at his valuation, and so to account with him out of my Wife's fortune, however he would not consent to my proposal. I then observed to him, provided I was not favored with a certain part of such fortune, so as to enable me to make a payment good, on or about the 20th of January, I should be liable to an arrest, arising principally from an excess / expense / essence of great afflictions in my family during the last two years, notwithstanding all my entreaties my request could not he said be granted, accordingly on the morning of the 21st January labouring under great anxiety of mind, doubting as respected my future credit in not being able to meet and honor a bill, then due, I did unadvisedly enter my Fatherinlaws Stable, Saddled and Bridled his Mare, rode away all in the face of ?day? and dispos'd of the said Mare and Saddle, for which I was followed by my Brotherinlaw, W.Pickard son of the said W.Pickard, and apprehended on the 25th of January, and committed on the 27th to the Devon Gaol.

My Lord, I beg most humbly to state, I was arraigned at the Bar for the said crime on the 19th of March and on the Bill of Indictment being read to me, I then unadvisedly (having no assistance of Counsel, and having never seen a court before, being wholly unacquainted with law, the customs of the bar, and all Judiciary proceedings, labouring not with guilt My Lord but with perplexity, I Pleaded Guilty to the charges against me.

Now my Lord, I most solemnly call God to Wittness, that it was neither willfully, maliciously, nor feloniously done, with an intent to steal, but decidedly meaning to account with my fatherinlaw for the value of the said mare, My Lord, I feel truly penitent for committing the rash act of taking the mare, I never ?thro? life before was charged with any offence whatever, except in the year 1822, when I was found guilty of violating the equitable Revenue Laws, namely for retailing two Gallons of Malt liquor, without Licence so to do. My Lord, I have a Wife, and four small helpless afflicted children, who are now entirely brot to great distress, and become totally dependent on Parochial support. My Lord,  under such circumstances I beg most humbly your Lordships Mercy, in passing sentence, humbly and devoutly praying your Lordship may be guided by a Divine Spirit that I may receive a Just sentence trusting thereby I shall not be banished from my Country, a most distressed and truly ?Injured? Wife, and helpless children, and the remainder of my days shall ever, by the assistance of God's Holy Spirit, be such, as to evince an unexceptionable life.

My Lord, I am your Lordships most obedient, & very humble but Unfortunate Servant
William Andrews

Devonshire, Exeter 5th April 1830

Letter from various Well-Wishers to the Home Secretary, April 1830

My Lord,

We the Undersigned, most humbly recommend William Andrews, now a prisoner in the Devon County Goal and under sentence of Death Record, to your Lordships most merciful consideration, praying his Sentence may be Alleviated as moderate as possible - The Prisoner was Born of honest, industrious and respectable Parents and for many years past filled a respectable and Useful Situation, he was married to Catharine Sister to his prosecutor (William Pickhard junr) in the year 1818, in the parish of Parkham by whom he has four Small helpless children, who are entirely dependent on Parochial Support the Above named prosecutor now Carrying on his farthers Business

Names                                      Profession                     Parish                           County

John Walter               Gentleman                West Putford                Devon
John Pickard            Schoolmaster            Bideford                        Brother to the prosecutor Wm Pickard
John Harding            Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon              
Joseph Burrow        Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
John ?Trotham?     Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
Edward Lee              Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
John Webb                   Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
John Short                  Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
Thos Bayly                Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
Richard Short      Yeoman                   Woolfardisworthy           Devon
Wm Cleverdon         Yeoman                  East Putford                  Devon