Alleged theft of coal, 1849

Before the arrival of the railway in 1850, coal was brought from the canal at Buckingham by the Yeuletts who also kept the Black Horse in Sheep Street. The spellings "Varney" and "Verney" were interchangeable.

Bucks Herald, 6 Jan 1849 (report of Bucks Quarter Sessions)

Frederick Varney, was indicted for stealing, at Winslow, forty-two pounds weight of coal, on the 6th of December, of the value of 5d., the property of Henry Jennings.

Mr. G. L. Browne conducted the case for the prosecutor, and called
H. Jennings – I bought some coals, on the 6th of September, of G. Yewlett, Winslow.  There were 2 cwt.  Verney offered to wheel them home.  They were brought home, and wanted nearly 50 lbs. of being weight.

Cross-examined by Mr. Power. – There was 6 lbs. short of 2 cwt., but I had half a hundred weight in the cellar when these were brought in.  Have known prisoner’s father some years, he is a respectable farmer.

Thomas Edwin sworn – Works for G. Yewlett.  Weighed some coals, 2 cwt. for Mr. Jennings.  Saw Verney start with the coals in the wheelbarrow.  They were full weight.

Cross-examined by Mr. Power. – Am 65 years of age.  Am in the habit of weighing coals for my master.  The barrow was left in the yard a short time.

Robert Ossitt – I am a police constable at Winslow.  Saw Verney, on the Market-square, on the day in question, going towards his house, with a lump of coal on his head.  Went to Yewlett’s yard, and saw Jennings who asked Verney if he had taken the coals home safe.  He said he had.  I afterwards asked the prisoner what he had done with the coal he had on his head.  He said, “that was nothing to me.”  I then took him into custody, and went to his house and found a large piece of coal at the back of the grate, 42 lbs., which corresponded in weight with that which was lost.

Cross-examined by Mr. Power – Verney might have seen me.   Have been constable three years, at Winslow.

Eleanor Jennings, wife of prosecutor – Bought half a hundred of coals, of Wilmer, on the morning in question, and in the evening Verney brought 2 cwt., which I thought was short weight.   Had not burnt much coal.   Had only one fire.   Saw my husband weigh the coals the next morning.  Had no other coals in the house.

The Chairman addressed the Jury on the want of identity, who returned a verdict of Not Guilty.


Mr and Mrs Jennings lived on the corner of the Market Square and Horn Street (2 Horn Street is the surviving part). Frederick Verney was a journeyman blacksmith. "Farmer" seems to be a misprint for "farrier", which was the occupation of William Varney in the 1851 Census. "Wilmer" was John Wilmore, coal merchant, Horn Street.

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Copyright 7 February, 2019