Murder and Robbery!

The Local Studies Library recently received a donation of three Derby Mercuries from 1768. At once we noticed the following in June 10th 1768:

“WHEREAS Mr. THOMAS OLDHAM, of Aldercar near Heanor, in the County of Derby, left his Houfe near Three o’Clock on Monday the 23d of May laft, fet out for Crumford, in order to pay Half a Year’s Rent (which is upwards of Eighty Pounds) to William Milnes, Efq; and was feen on the Road within two Miles of that Place, and has not fince been either feen or heard of by any of his Friends, (tho’ diligent Search has been made.) It is therefore apprehended he was robb’d and murder’d, as the Grey Mare and the very Switch he rode with, was found in a Pafture near Crumford, the Saddle had fome few Spots on it which appear’d like Blood.

He was a well-looking Man about 37 Years of Age, of about Five Feet Eight Inches, had on a blue Surtout Riding Coat, Brafs Buttons on it inlaid with Steel, brown Coat and Waift-coat with Buttons the fame Colour, black Worfted Breeches and Stockings, a new Pair of Pumps (black on the Grain,) plated Buckles, white Wig, and commonly wore his Hat cock’d.

A Reward of Twenty Guineas will be given to any Perfon that can (or will) difcover where the Body of the faid Mr. Thomas Oldham now is; or if two or more have been concerned in the Murder and Robbery, and one will impeach the other, fuch fo impeaching fhall be admitted Evidence, on the Profecution, and on Conviction of the Murderer, be entitled and paid the fame Reward of Twenty Guineas, by Mrs. Oldham of Aldercar, or by William Milnes, Efq; at Crumford in Derbyfhire.

N. B. Notwithftanding the idle Reports tha have been propagated, the Friends of the unfortunate Mr. Oldham, do affure the Public, that he never deferted his Family, or was ever abfent from Home or undertook a Journey to any Place, diftant more than 10 Miles from Home, unknown to his Wife and Famly; and the Reafon for now fo particularly defcribing his Cloaths, arifes from the Hopes that fhould any part of them be offered to pawn or Sale; it might lead to a Difcovery of the Murderers if fuch there be.


On This Day: ‘Spitfire in Court’

From the Alfreton and Belper Journal, 3rd December 1909:



An extraordinary statement was made by a prisoner at the Chesterfield Borough Police Court, on Monday, the person in question giving the name of Luke Spitfire, of no fixed address, who was something of a “spitfire” by nature.

The man was charged with stealing a Bible, valued at 50s., from the Chesterfield Parish Church, on Saturday, and evidence was given that prisoner was seen to emerge from the building with the book underneath his coat.  Benjamin Gascoigne, a young man living in Durrant road, Chesterfield, asked Spitfire what he was doing with the Bible, and he replied that he was going to sit down and read it, although it was too dark to do so.  Police-constable Kee arrested the man, who made no answer to the charge.

Spitfire loudly requested the attendance of the priests to identify the Bible as the property of the church.  Having entered a plea of guilty, the accused went on to make the following amazing statement: “I have been a ratepayer for 20 years, and of course every ratepayer helps to keep the Bishops and the priests and everybody else between, and supposing I was stealing the Bible, I was only stealing part of my own property.  (Laughter).  It is no earthly use to me, because what is in the book I have swallowed.  I claim to be tried by my peers.  I am a B.A. and an educated man, and I am the same as Lord Byron, when he committed murder, he claimed to be tried by the Lords, and he got off.  I claim to be tried by my equals and not by ‘vagabones’.”  (Laughter).

Sentence of 28 days’ hard labour was passed.

The County Local Studies Library holds the Alfreton (and Belper) Journal, 1870-1935 – just ring to book a microfilm reader.