The theft of 3.s. worth of Hay from Joseph Lescher 1842

Old Bailey Proceedings, 9th May 1842.

ESSEX CASES. Before Mr. Recorder.

GEORGE PORTER and WILLIAM GARWOOD were indicted for stealing, on the 1st of April, 65lbs. weight of hay, value 3s., the goods of Joseph Samuel Lescher. [ (1796 – 1871) of Boyles Court, Essex]

The hay Wain
The Hay Wain, John Constable 1821. Image courtesy of the National Gallery, London

GEORGE MALIN (police-constable K 96). “I know the prisoner Garwood—he is ostler at the Rising Sun, at Ilford—Porter was a master carter. On the 1st of April, between seven and eight o’clock at night, I saw the prisoners in company—I saw Porter carry a truss of hay from the premises of the Rising Sun, and place it in the hind part of his cart—he was driving the cart himself—he went to the horses’ head and did something to the bridle, watered his horses, then followed me down the road about a quarter of a mile, and there overtook me—I asked him where he bought the hay in his cart?—he said, “At a corn-chandler’s”—I asked “What corn-chandlers?—he said, “I shall not tell you”—I said, “How can you say you bought it at a corn-chandler’s when I saw you bring it from the stable of the Rising Sun”—he then said, “I know I did.”

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON.  Q. “How is it you are out of your police dress? “ A. “I am suspended, and have been fined for neglect of duty—it does not arise from the proceeding at the Rising Sun, that I am aware of—it did come from the Rising Sun, but not in the present case—I believe it was done through ill-feeling towards me at that house—last Monday fortnight I was on duty in the same road, and a carter that goes the road interrupted me in any duty, and made use of very obscene language to me—I took him into custody for being intoxicated—it was two miles to the station—he begged hard of me to let him go, as he should have to leave his master’s team, and he would never do it again, and I let him go—he afterwards made a complaint against me at the station—there were two or three carts standing in front of the Rising Sun—I cannot say there might not have been four or five.”

GEORGE LORD. “I keep the Rising Sun at East Ham, and have a hay and straw loft in my stable—Garwood was the ostler—the key of the door hung outside the stable—I saw the truss of hay which was found in the cart on the bench, but did not examine it to see if it was like mine.”

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON.  Q. “How long has Garwood been in your service? ” A. “About three years altogether—his conduct was perfectly satisfactory—I had much confidence in his honesty—I have left him in possession of my bar and goods—it is the practice daily for carters to leave the fodder on the road down, and fetch it on returning, that it should not be splashed and spoiled as the wagons go for soil—he has been in the service of Mr. Hind, a brewer in my neighbourhood, for three years before he came to me.”

JOSHUA GUY . “I am carman to Joseph Samuel Lescher, of East Ham. On the 1st of April I drove my master’s team to town for a load of soil—I took two trusses of clover-hay, some mixed oats, beans, and clover-chaff —I waited at the Rising Sun—my horses consumed part of the clover-hay on their way to town, and I left the rest at the Rising Sun—it was rather better than a truss—my master does not authorize me to leave it there, but I always do it—I never got it back again—it was gone when I returned—I left it in Garwood’s care, in the double-door stable—Garwood told me to put it there—when I got there on my way back, Lord told me I had better not stop there, for my hay was taken away, and the police had got my corn—I have seen the hay taken from Porter’s cart—here is part of it—I know it, and can say it is part of the hay I left in the stable—it is the same as master had at home, which it was cut from—there was a binding on the truss, but I did not tie it myself—I had seen it tied and am able to say it is a portion of what I had left at the Rising Sun—I saw the whole truss at Ilford station, and this is a sample which I took from it.”

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON.  Q. “How long have you, been in the habit of going up and down the road? “  A.  “Four of five years—I was in the habit of leaving my hay at the stable—I alway found it safe before.”  Cross-examined by MR. ESPINASSE.  Q. “How do you know it?”  A. “There is no particular mark—it is clover-hay, trefoil, and Dutch clover mixed, and I know the growth—I know it is the hay I had in my cart.”

GEORGE MALIN  (police-constable K 96) re-examined. “This is part of the hay I took from Porter’s cart.”

JOSEPH SAMUEL LESCHER . “I have a farm—I saw the hay at the station, and hare no doubt of its being fart of what I had on my premises—it is red and white clover, and trefoil.”

(The prisoner Porter received a good character,)


PORTER— GUILTY . Aged 26.— Confined Five Months.

Reference Number: t18420509-1658

Poor old George then has a second trial.

GEORGE PORTER was again indicted for stealing, on the 1st of April, 2 sacks, value 2s., the goods of William Maxwell,

GEORGE MALIN (police-constable K 96) .  “The prisoner lives at Barkingside, in Essex—I went to his house and saw his wife—I went to the place where he keeps the provision for his horses, and found three sacks, two marked, “W. M., East Ham;” the other, “H. Squires, Leytonstone.”

WILLIAM MAXWELL . “I live at East Ham, very near the Rising Sun—I have a farm-house by the road-side, on which the prisoner’s cart travels—these two potato-sacks are mine—I had no dealings with the prisoner, for him to get possession of them.”

Cross-examined by MR. ESPINASSE. “Had you missed any sacks? “ A.  “No; I have above 200, and never count them—I am in the habit of sending things out in sacks to London, very seldom any where else, except to my farm—I never send corn out in the sacks—the prisoner was sent to London to a salesman many times, and they send them to the consumer.”

MR. ESPINASSE called—- STRINGER.  “I deal in vegetables, and am in the habit of buying and selling potatoes—I get them in sacks, and generally have other persons’ sacks coming from the market, who have our sacks, and have others sent back in return—they get changed in business—the prisoner has dealt in vegetables since Michaelmas—he was my servant six years—sometimes, I send a ton of potatoes to market, and have several back not our own—I know the prisoner cannot read.”


Reference Number: t18420509-1659

Someone nicked Joe Lescher’s coats (and a couple of lemons) in 1822

Old bailey
Courtroom No.1, Old Bailey

 ALEXANDER RANN was indicted for stealing on the 27th of March 1822 , two coats, value 30 s. , the goods of Joseph Samuel Lescher .

JOHN LIMBRICK .” I am an officer. On the 27th of March, I was at my door in Church Row, St. Pancras, talking to Croker. The prisoner went by with a basket, with a handkerchief over it; he looked hard at me. I told Croker to follow him. He turned round and saw me coming, and threw down the basket, pushed Croker aside, and ran off. I pursued him and took him at last.”

St Pancras c.1860
St Pancras c.1860

Church Row, St Pancras was demolished to make way for the Midland Railway Station, now St Pancras International.  Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft lived for a while in  Church Row. Eight years earlier than the case here, in 1814, he declared his love for Mary Wollstonecraft over the grave of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who had died in childbirth. Mary Goodwin wrote “Vindication of the Rights of Women” in 1792, and her daughter wrote “Frankenstein'”. The churchyard was also the site of the burial of the famous clown Joseph Grimaldi, in 1801.

Back to the case:

HENRY CROKER . “I was with Limbrick, and saw the prisoner pass with a basket. I went after him, and asked if he had any fowls;” he said “No.” I said some had been stolen. He said, “I have got my master’s clothes.” I said “Who is your master – where does he live.” He said at Pentonville, and immediately threw the basket at my feet. I picked it up; Limbrick pursued and took him. It contained two coats, and two lemons.”

MR. JOSEPH LESCHER (Bef. 1768 – 1827) “I live at West End, Hampstead . The coats are both my son’s, whose name is Joseph Samuel Lescher (1796 – 1871), and were in the hall about nine o’clock, when I went out in the morning. I returned at five, but did not miss them till next morning, and on Tuesday the officer brought them.”

JOHN CORBETT . “I live at West End. On the 27th of March I saw the prisoner with another about three o’clock, about one hundred yards from the prosecutor’s house, with the basket. I noticed them particularly, and saw a brown great coat outside the basket. The other carried the basket.”

GUILTY . Aged 20. Transported for Seven Years .

This was the same sentence that Robert Miles got two years earlier for a rather greater value of items.

First Middlesex Jury, before W. Arabin, Esq.  Old Bailey Proceedings, 17th April 1822. Reference Number: t18220417-116

Joseph Francis Lescher 1842 -1923

There are a lot of Leschers knocking around in parts of the story, so it is probably useful to have some brief biographies of some of them. This one is the son of  Joseph  Samuel Lescher, of Boyles Court, Essex, and the grandson of another Joseph Francis Lescher also of Boyles Court. Joseph Francis Lescher Senior was one of the two Lescher brothers who came from Alsace towards the end of the C18th. Joseph was the elder, probably by at least ten years, and William his younger brother arrived in England in 1778.

According to Joseph’s niece Frances, “In the second half of the eighteenth century a Laurence Lescher of Kertzfeld, by his overbearing temper and iron discipline, so worked upon the sensitive mind of his oldest son, Joseph, as to drive him to run away from home.  It is related that the youth arrived in London with only half a crown in his pocket; but with the indomitable spirit of his sires, he made good use of his natural capacity, and in the year 1778 found himself in a position to marry, and to bring to London his brother William, then a boy of ten.  The two brothers eventually became partners in a starch factory.  Joseph purchased the estate of Boyles Court in Essex, but William remained in London, where he could more easily keep in direct touch with the practical details of his business.” Frances Lescher becomes Sister Mary of St. Philip, and has a successful career at Mount Pleasant convent in Liverpool.

So from a family point of view, this side of the family are more distant cousins. But back to this Lescher.

Mr. Joseph Francis Lescher, the recipient of the hereditary honour of Count of the Holy Roman Empire from Pius X., belongs to a family which has provided, not only well-known sons to the Church, but conspicuous men of business to the City. Mr. Herman Lescher, (his second cousin) whose death took place while he was yet a young man, established what was reputed among his fellow-accountants to be the largest single-handed business existing among them all. Mr. Joseph Lescher has himself served as a director of the Phoenix Assurance and other companies, and, as this honour bestowed by the Holy See reminds us, has given his services to many a charitable undertaking. Born in 1842, the son of Mr. Joseph Samuel Lescher, J.P., of Boyles Court, Essex, and his wife, Martha, daughter of John Hoy, of Stoke Priory, Suffolk, he was educated at Stonyhurst, and married, in 1875, Miss Mira Hankey, daughter of Captain Hankey, 9th Lancers. He was High Sheriff of Essex for 1885, and is the Chairman of the Brentwood Petty Sessions.

The above text was found on p.21, 23rd March 1907 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at .


We regret to record the death, on Monday last, of Mr. Joseph Francis Lescher, J.P., hereditary Count of Rome and Baron of Kertsfeld in Alsace by grant of Louis XIII. Mr. Lescher, who was eighty-two years of age, was a son of the late Mr. Joseph Lescher, of Boyles Court, near Brentwood. He was educated at Stonyhurst and afterwards entered upon financial and commercial life, becoming a director of the Phoenix Assurance and other companies. He was prominently identified with public life in the county of Essex, where, for upwards of fifty years, he served as a Justice of the Peace, being Chairman of the Brentwood Bench for thirty years ; he was also a J.P. for Middlesex and London. He retained his activity until the end, and was sitting in court only a few days before his death. He had been High Sheriff of Essex in 1885 and was a deputy-lieutenant for the county. In 1907 Mr. Lescher was created hereditary Count by Pius X.—R.I.P.

The above text was found on p.32, 13th January 1923 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at .