On This Day: ‘A Struggle with a Thief’

From the Derbyshire Times, 30th April 1881:



On Monday noon an impudent till robbery was committed by a tramp, at the shop of Jabez H. Walker, grocer, Unstone.  Whilst Mr Walker was at dinner the tramp entered the shop without ringing the door bell, and took from the till its contents, amounting to £1 6s. 6d.  But on going out of the shop he accidentally rang the bell, and Mr Walker entered the shop as he was going out at the door.  He was asked what he wanted, and replied half an ounce of tobacco.  This was supplied, for which he tendered sixpence in payment and Mr Walker going to the till for change discovered the robbery, which he charged the prisoner with committing.

The prisoner went away to the Fleur de Lis Inn, where he was followed by Mr Walker.  He acknowledged taking the money, which he gave to Mr Walker,  but on being informed that he would not be allowed to leave the place he took out a large clasp knife, and made a violent attempt to force his way out of the room.  The door of the room was, however, secured, and finding his escape cut off, he attempted, after doing some damage in the room, to jump through the window, one or two of the panes of which he first destroyed.  Whilst attempting to jump out, a man on the road threw a cinder, which struck him on the head, knocking him down insensible.  He was then secured, his hands being tied with a rope, until the arrival of Inspector Spencer, of Dronfield, who took him to the Dronfield Police Station.  He gave the name of George Jones, but refused to give his address.

He had an accomplice, who stood outside Mr Walker’s shop at the time Jones went in and committed the robbery, and who it is said went to the Fleur de Lis Inn and asked to be admitted to the room where Jones had been secured.  Inspector Spencer, with praiseworthy promptitude, went in search for him, and ultimately apprehended him in Dronfield.  He gave the name of Jack Curtis, said he was an Irishman, but refused to say where he hailed from.  On being searched a large knife with long blade and sharp point, similar to the one taken from Jones, was found upon him.  He professed to have no knowledge of Jones.       

We hold the Derbyshire Times on microfilm; Chesterfield edition from 1854, all editions from 1963 – just ring to book a microfilm reader.

Still available on the iPlayer… Leonard Wheatcroft and the Soresby collection

Did anyone see “The Century That Wrote Itself”?  It is still available on the iPlayer until 10pm on Wednesday:


I thought it was very good, and not just because they used some of “our” stuff.  But, if you only have a couple of minutes… You could zoom straight ahead to the 43-minute mark, and see Adam Nicolson and Robyn Adams looking at the Soresby family’s copy of a writing manual by John de Beau Chesne (D331/26/1).  Leonard Wheatcroft follows shortly thereafter.

Our documents on the telly again: The Century That Wrote Itself

On Wednesday 10th April (that’s tomorrow, always assuming you are reading this today), BBC4 will be showing the first of three episodes of what promises to be a fascinating programme.  Click this link for a preview, which includes the Leonard Wheatcroft pub quiz:


Leonard Wheatcroft, you will recall, was the Ashover parish clerk.  He and his son Titus are well remembered for their contributions to a vibrant local literary scene – well-documented contributions, which remain in our care.  Do tune in.