Cecilia Jackson (9), Joseph Trundle (11), and Ernest Hemmings (7), all of Ware, were charged at Ware Petty Sessions, with stealing potatoes from land occupied by Mr W. G. Odell of Wengeo Farm, Ware.
PC Emery stated that he had seen a number of children with little shovels and trowels digging potatoes in a field occupied by Mr Odell near the Ware brickfields. He chased and caught the children, each of whom had a bag containing potatoes. He said there were 18 or 20 children involved. He said that the potato digger had been through the rows, but they had not yet been harrowed and that there were “plenty of potatoes left”.
Mrs Jackson said that her girl had not got a bag or a shovel, but that what she had been found with was what had been left behind by a boy who had run away. Her girl, she said, had only been looking on. The other mothers said the same thing about their own children.
Mr Odell, the owner, said that he had been robbed of two tons of potatoes, to the value of £20.
Mrs Hemmings said that she had seen women going past her house with sacks of potatoes, and that she had heard the children saying that they had been given permission to clear the land. Mr Odell said that he had given one or two people permission to glean any odd potatoes that were left after the crop had been fully gathered the previous year, but that no such permission had been given this year because the crop had not been got in.
The Chairman severely reprimanded the children and their mothers, and imposed a fine of 6 shillings each. He said that they had been treated leniently because the fathers of the children were away fighting for their country.