The 'Stevenage Twins' fowl stealing case

Hertfordshire Mercury, 30th January 1915


At a special sitting of the Bench on Friday, when the Magistrates present were Sir Alfred J. Reynolds (in the chair) and Mr J.H.L. Deards, Albert Ebenezer Fox, Ebenezer Albert Fox (the Stevenage Twins), and John Chamberlain and Henry Appleby, both formerly of Whitwell, but lately of no fixed abode, were charged on remand with being concerned together in a theft of six fowls, the property of Stanhope Bell, of Sissifernes Farm, Codicote, on January 13.  All four prisoners pleaded not guilty.

The evidence given at the previous hearing, and reported in our columns last week, was repeated.

Stanhope Bell said that on the date named he had a number of fowls in a house in a lucerne field.  They were special White Leghorns, and were valuable birds, and there were sixteen of them.  He saw them all safe on the night of the 12th , but missed six of them the next morning at 9.30.  A day or so after, PC Day showed him some fowls, and witness’ daughter in his presence identified them as theirs.  The four men were working for the witness on the previous day.

Daniel Ewington, labourer, St Albans Road, Codicote, said he worked for Mr Bell.  On 14th January he got to his work soon after seven, and about half past seven Albert E. Fox said to him: ‘The hen house has been broken open; some boards have been broken off’.  Another man told him the same thing, and he replied: ‘That’s nothing to do with me’.

Mrs Mary Ann Read, of the ‘Rose and Crown’ beer house, New Street, Codicote, stated that at about 9 a.m. on January 14 all four prisoners came into her house.  She didn’t know anything about the fowls.  They had some beer and bread and cheese while they were there.  They went away, but returned again during the day, and she thought all four of them were in her house in the evening.  One of them asked if he could leave some things there, and she gave him permission; and Chamberlain left some mess tins in the yard, having emptied them out from his basket.

Albert Hill, ‘New Inn’, Codicote, said that on the 16th January, between 11.30 and 12 o’clock, he was coming along the Hitchin Road towards Codicote, and saw a bag lying in Mr Martin Smith’s park.  He got over into the park and examined the bag, and found White Leghorn fowls in it.  There were six fowls, and he informed the Police, who took possession of them.

PC Day said that on Friday, the 15th, he went in search of Appleby and Chamberlain, and found them at 6 p.m. near Nup End.  He asked them where their baskets were, and they told him that they had left them in a straw stack where they had slept during the previous night.  The previous day there were no fowls at the stack when the witness visited it, but on this day he found white feathers there, and also a bag.  Then he again went in search of Appleby and Chamberlain, and having found them he showed them the two bags, which they identified as belonging to them.  He then arrested them, and charged them with complicity in the theft of the fowls.

All four prisoners denied any knowledge of the fowls.

The Magistrates dismissed the charge against Ebenezer A. Fox, but sentenced Chamberlain to six days’ imprisonment (dating from his arrest).  Appleby, who had 22 previous convictions recorded against him, was sentenced to one month’s hard labour, and Albert E. Fox, who had 98 convictions against him, also received one month’s hard labour.

This page was added on 21/08/2014.

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