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Craxfords and the Old Bailey

by Alan D Craxford and Reg Moore


The Bench: Painting by William Hogarth

"The Bench" by William Hogarth (1)

Documentary evidence of your ancestors comes from a multitude of sources. Once the standard repositories have been exhausted (the Births, Marriages and Deaths indexes and the census returns the pieces of the jigsaw tend to become progressively smaller and indistinct. This also tends to be the case the further back into history you delve.

Recently the transfer of another source to the internet which held interest for genealogists was completed and it does hold some relevance for our own family tree. We have been attempting to unravel the mysteries surrounding the marriage certificate of Sarah Ann Augusta Craxford in another article (Sarah's Twisted Skein) in this section. Two of the cases tried at the Old Bailey have direct bearing on this story.

Proceedings of The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey

Royal Courts of Justice

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Web Site. is a fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of over 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. The Proceedings contain accounts of trials which took place at the Old Bailey. The crimes tried were mostly felonies (predominantly theft), but also include some of the most serious misdemeanours.

The first published collection of trials at the Old Bailey dates from 1674, and from 1678 accounts of the trials at each session (meeting of the Court) at the Old Bailey were regularly published. Inexpensive, and targeted initially at a popular rather than a legal audience, the Proceedings were produced shortly after the conclusion of each sessions and were a commercial success. With few exceptions, this periodical was regularly published each time the sessions met (eight times a year) for 160 years. In 1834 it changed its name, but publication continued until 1913.

The surname 'Craxford' appears in the index four times (with one duplication): three times as the victim of theft or larceny and once as the wronged "second wife" in a case of bigamy. The transcripts of the first two cases are reproduced here (as well as a facsimile of the original trial report). The injured parties in these trials, from 1809 and 1812 respectively, are clearly identifiable with members of our family tree.

Case 1: Mary Manton

MARY MANTON, theft: simple grand larceny, 17 May 1809. (2)

Mary Manton transcript

Case 1. Mary Manton

495. MARY MANTON was indicted for feloniously stealing on 14th of April, two coats, value 15 s. and a pair of boots, value 20 s. the property of William Craxford.

ANN CRAXFORD. My husband's name is William Craxford; the prisoner came to my house on the 14th of April.

Q. Was she an acquaintance of yours - A. I know nothing of her; she came in unperceived by me or any of my children; a neighbour knocked at my door, and from the information I received, I found her on the landing place; she had just come out of the front kitchen with some coats; I saw her laying them out of her hands as I came on the passage.

Q. What coats were in her hand - A. Two of my husband's coats, and a pair of my husband's boots; she saw me come, and then she laid them out of her hand.

Q. Where had the coats been - A. They lay on our bed; I left them there not ten minutes; I asked her what she wanted down there, she said let me go backwards; I looked and saw that my husband's coats and boots were laying down by her; I asked her if she was going to take them away, she told me that she had not got any thing; she wished to get away very much. I sent for an officer, he apprehended her.

Q. Have you found out since who she is - A. I have heard a bad character of her.

MARY WINFORD. On the same morning the prisoner came into my house unobserved by me; my mother saw her, she asked her what she wanted; she said she wanted to go backwards, my mother went backwards with her; I had a suspicion of the woman, I went out and watched her. I saw her go into Mrs. Craxford's house.

The property produced and identified.

Prisoner's Defence. I never had the property at all. I am innocent of the charge.

VERDICT GUILTY, aged 35. Confined Six Months in the House of Correction, and there kept to Hard Labour.

Second Middlesex jury, before Mr. justice Grose.

Continued in column 2...

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Case 2: Leighton Hall

LEIGHTON HALL, theft: pick pocketing, 01 Jul 1812. (3)

Leighton Hall transcript

Case 2. Leighton Hall

620. LEIGHTON HALL was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 17th of May, two dollars, value 11 s. the property of Alexander File, from his person.

ALEXANDER FILE. I am a carpenter and joiner. I live at No. 2, Pinder-street, Brunswick-square. I lost my dollars at Mr. Craxford's public-house, the Carpenters Arms, Kensington. On the 17th of May, I went in about twelve o'clock. The prisoner came in. A little discourse passed between him and me about joining. I did not study much what he said. I was reading the paper. The print was small. I fell into a sound sleep. I had two pounds worth of silver in my pocket. I suppose the prisoner took it out About two o'clock, I went from Mr. Craxford's, to go home, and when I got into the street, I missed the whole two pounds, except sixpence. I ran back to Mr. Craxford. I told him I had been robbed. One of the dollars that I had lost, I had refused of Mr. Craxford's daughter. She said, her father would change it when he got up. There was another dollar which I received in change for another pound note. The constable was going to search the prisoner: he said, it is of no use your searching me. This is all I have got. In a few minutes after that he went to the bar: he said, he could shew a dollar with any person. I went and saw the dollar; it was the dollar I had refused in the morning. I gave the description of the other dollar. The constable found that upon him likewise.

Prisoner. When I came into the tap-room, were not you very much in liquor. - A. No; I was not.

Q. Do not you recollect falling under the fireplace - A. I never fell once at all.

THOMAS WILLIAMS. I searched the prisoner; on him I found three dollars and two three shilling pieces.

Q. to Martha Craxford. Pick out the dollar you gave to File - A. This is the dollar I gave to File.

Prisoner's Defence. Please to take notice, one of the dollars I own to picking up in the tap-room. We were all there together. The dollar that I picked up, the die has not struck the Spanish marks out. When I pulled a dollar out of my pocket, the girl that is there, she said, that is the five shilling piece.

VERDICT GUILTY, aged 40. Transported for Seven Years.

First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

Case 3: Elizabeth Atkinson and case 4: Edmum Dangerfield

Case 3. ELIZABETH ATKINSON, theft: pick pocketing, 16 Apr 1795. (4)

Pallot index: John Craxford and Frances Gill

John Craxford marries Frances Gill 1799 (Pallot index)

The second two cases date from further back in time. In the first of these Elizabeth Atkinson was charged with stealing a silver watch and chain, a seal and some money from John Craxford. John, a livery servant, gave the somewhat intriguing evidence: "I was in liquor {drunk}; this woman accosted me in Holborn, and asked me to go to her lodging. We called at a public house, and had a glass of spirituous liquors. I went home with her to No. 4, Matton lane, Clerkenwell . I pulled off my boots and coat, and slept in the room, and in the morning I found this woman had left me, and I missed my watch, and likewise half a guinea in gold. With that, finding myself in the room alone, I called the watch, and the watch called the constable." After witnesses wqere called, she was found not guilty.

We do know that a John Craxford was married to Frances Gill (5) in London during the last decade of the eighteenth century. There is no indication of his origin and neither partner figures in the census returns when they first appear. There are two or three potential candidates born in Gretton, Northamptonshire for whom no later history is known. Could he have been an emigre and thus a missing link? Could he have been the brother of 'our host' at The Carpenter's Arms? There is a copy of the Proceedings file on the Clippings page in the Main section.

Case 4. EDMUM DANGERFIELD, sexual offences: bigamy, 05 May 1736. (6)

In the second case, Edmond (Edmum) Dangerfield was accused of bigamously marrying Elizabeth Craxford {although one entry in the transcript appears as Croxford}. After much evidence, he was acquitted. Again there are no candidate Elizabeths in the records born in London in the early part if the 1700s. There is an Elizabeth born in 1700 in Northamptonshire for whom we have no further details. Interestingly the marriage of Edmund Dangerfield to Arabella Fast (born St Olave's London, September 3rd 1705) on August 27th 1733 Fleet Prison And Rules Of The Fleet, London, England is recorded in the International Genealogical Index (7). It may also be purely coincidental but there is also a record of the Christening of Edmund Dangerfield (parents: Edmund Dangerfield and Elizabeth) on June 19th 1753 at Saint Mary's Church, Marylebone, London. There are no other entries for Arabella or Elizabeth in the FamilySearch records that coincide with these dates.

The transcript is worth reading for its own merit. It is a document of unintentional humour and pathos as well as being a fascinating portrayal of the lives of commonfolk of nearly three centuries past. We commend it to you.


1. "The Bench" - William Hogarth 1758. Oil on canvass: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Wikimedia Commons. Image is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by the Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH: Mein Bibliothek and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License
2. Mary Manton: Proceedings from the Old Bailey. May 17th 1809 case file: Ref t18120701-105
3. Leighton Hall: Proceedings from the Old Bailey. July 1st 1812
4. Elizabeth Craxford: Proceedings from the Old Bailey 16 Apr 1795.
5. John Craxford to Francis Gill: Marriage 1799: Pallots Marriage Index for England: 1780 - 1837
6. Edmum Dangerfield: Proceedings from the Old Bailey 5 May 1736.
7. Edmund Dangerfield to Arabella Fast: Marriage: International Genealogical Index: M140055 1729 - 1735 0813819 RG7 V.107-10

Page added June 20th 2005
Last updated: April 1st 2012

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