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Bad Behaviour in Wenhaston in 1680

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Bad Behaviour in Wenhaston in 1680

Bad Behaviour in Wenhaston in 1680 by Keith Johnceline

In 1680 there were two Constables in Wenhaston and one in Mells, appointed by the Justices of the Peace and serving for one year. The list of their duties reveals what was considered to be unacceptable behaviour in the late seventeenth century:

  • Not attending church on four successive Sundays
  • Hanging out a lantern without a light
  • Not sending a team to repair the highway when ordered
  • Selling ale without a license
  • Having a dangerous and offensive chimney
  • Cutting turf on the common
  • Carrying a load of gravel away
  • Destroying part of the common through digging
  • The nuisance of muck, making a dunghill
  • Craftsmen exercising trade, without first having served a legal apprenticeship
  • Keeping greyhounds or setting dogs, nets or guns without qualified to law
  • Harbouring vagrants
  • Abusing or beating the Constable
  • Using slanderous and baleful words to his wife
  • Labourers erecting cottages on waste land without leave from the Quarter Sessions

For quick punishment most villages had their stocks, whipping posts and, where they had a pond, a ducking stool. Wenhaston had all three! At Beccles Quarter Sessions in 1744, Sarah Culver was sentenced to be publicly whipped for feloniously taking three loaves of bread from the house of John Stratford of Wenhaston. The village inhabitants also made regular appearances at the Halesworth Petty Sessions, as the Justices’ Minute Book shows, for such crimes as assault, larceny, highway offences and drunkenness, although we should not assume that Wenhaston was unusually lawless for the time.

There were more severe punishments available. Robert Gissing was transported in 1824 for stealing a quantity of beans from the executors of Martha Webb of Wenhaston. In the same year James Woodgate was convicted at Ipswich Sessions for stealing a grey mare pony from John Newby of Wenhaston. He was transported for 14 years. Smuggling, of course, was more of a vocation than a crime in these parts, although the authorities took the latter view. One Wenhaston man who attracted their attention was George Butcher, a merchant, owner of wherries, and one time landlord of the Harbour Inn at Southwold. He lived in Wenhaston and a sad entry in the diary of James Maggs of Southwold reveals that in 1855 he was sent to Ipswich Gaol for smuggling.

Sources:
Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich, Wenhaston Parish Records Constables Account, FC 189 11/1–3;
The Southwold Diary of James Maggs, 2 vols 1818–1848 and 1848–1876, Suffolk Records Society vols XXV and XXVI (Woodbridge, 1983–84).

Keith Johnceline, Wenhaston, November 1995.
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Some Favourite Websites For January 2018:

Halfpenny CottageSelf-catering cottage in the heart of Walberswick sleeping 4 (+ 2 in the eaves)

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Victoria CottageCentrally-located Southwold Cottage for Two, plus up to two dogs at no extra charge

Just minutes from Southwold's seafront, High Street, pubs and pier, this Victorian cottage has views of Southwold's iconic lighthouse from the upstairs day room and the charming rear courtyard. WiFi. Up to two well-behaved dogs welcome. Summer weeks and flexible breaks available.

Walberswick FerryOffering river trips as well as special occassion bookings

Climb aboard the launch Daybreeze and follow the River Blyth towards Blythburgh through Walberswick Nature Reserve - an Area of Outstanding National Beauty.

Whitehouse BarnsWhitehouse Barns - Two skilful barn conversions superbly placed close to Southwold

A spectacular location for birds and wildlife. Well-equipped self-catering accommodation. Up to five people (+ one) at Upper Barn, up to eight (+ cot) at Lower Barn. Book both for large family gatherings-linking internal doors can be unlocked. Lower Barn may suit those with limited mobility. Dogs allowed.

Poachers CottagePoacher's Cottage, Halesworth - Charming self-catering accommodation for three (plus cot) with beach hut option

A welcoming and charming one-bedroomed cottage, with space for a cot. Additional single sofa-bed. Highchair available. This cosy cottage is in a Conservation Area in a street of other interesting period cottages, yet countryside walks start opposite the front door. Stroll to the Market Place and the pedestrianised Thoroughfare. Just ten miles to the coast at Southwold where you have the option of renting a beach hut which is in the same ownership.