From the Derbyshire Times, 18th July 1885:
A SWINDLER AT MATLOCK
During the past few days a man giving the name of Thomas Fletcher, having also a number of aliases has been busily engaged imposing on the charitably disposed, in the neighbourhood of Matlock. The fellow who wore clerical attire, visited Mr. Slack butcher, and represented himself to be a “local preacher in distress” and he attributed his poverty to the fact that he was suffering from a failing in the eyes, for which he had tried almost every kind of remedy without any benefit. He also said that he had spent £180 in obtaining treatment and he succeeded in obtaining a gift of money. He also said that Mr. Marsh of Wirksworth had generously assisted him, but fortunately it happens that Mr. Marsh and Mr. Slack are related and the fraud was discovered. The police apprehended the man and found two hymn books and a number of religious pamphlets on him and it was discovered that he has been practising his imposition in the neighbourhood of Ilkeston and Langley Mill. He is a stout tolerably good looking man about 50 years of age and is most plausible. He has been accompanied by a woman of low repute who has been “fire eating” at public houses, and the pair were recently turned out of a lodging house at Matlock in consequence of their conduct. When in the lock-up the man admitted that he had been in trouble at Chesterfield for selling a useless preparation supposed to be “vermin killer”, and was committed for trial. On Monday morning he was brought before Dr. Harrison at Matlock and was sentenced to 14 days hard labour as a rogue and a vagabond.
The County Local Studies Library holds the Derbyshire Times (Chesterfield Edition) from 1854 – just ring to book a microfilm reader.