Transportation for horse theft

The case of the men wrongly sentenced to transportation for burglary at Prophet Wroe’s home, Brandy Carr House in 1842 is well known. Here’s another transportation case from Broom Hall at the other side of Wrenthorpe which predates the Wroe story by ten years.

It starts with a rather run of the mill theft piece in the Leeds Intelligencer.

Leeds Intelligencer
Thursday 1 November 1831


In the course of Friday night last, grey mare, five years old, was stolen from a field at Potovens, near Wakefield, the property of Mr George Thompson. A reward of five guineas has been offered for the apprehension and conviction of the offender.

A couple of days later the Leeds Mercury provides more information about the theft in its Public Notices section. By now the reward had increased to seven guineas.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 3 November 1832


STOLEN or STRAYED out of a field at Potovens, near Wakefield, on Friday Night, the 26th of October, or early on Saturday Morning the 27th, a Dark Grey MARE. Five Years Old, about Fifteen and Half Hands High. A large White Star on the Forehead, which rather inclines to the far side: at little White on the near Hind Foot, and White Hoof. Had a long Switch Tail, (has been docked), there has been Two small Warts on the far side, one near her [?]: she is very clean in her Legs, very broad in the Chest, and supposed to be in Foal.

If Strayed, whoever will deliver her to Mr George Thompson, Potovens, the Owner, shall be handsomely Rewarded for their trouble, or if Stolen, whoever will give such information as will lead to the Apprehension of the Offenders or Offenders, shall, upon Conviction, receive the above Reward, on Application to Mr George Thompson, Potovens: or to Mr Joshua Ellis, Police Officer, Wakefield.

Wakefield, October 27th 1832.

With such a vivid description of the horse, it wasn’t long before the miscreants were apprehended. Two labourers from Halifax – Yeoman Morton (34) and William Smith (39) – were arrested and brought to trial on 6 March, the following year at the Yorkshire Spring Assizes, York.

Leeds Mercury
Saturday 9 March 1833


YEOMAN MORTON, who pleaded guilty, and WM SMITH were charged with having stolen a Horse on the 26th October last, the property of George Thompson, of Potovens near Wakefield. Mr Dundas stated the case on the part of the prosecution and Mr Cottingham appeared for the prisoner. It appeared that the horse was left safe on the 25th Oct. and that on the following morning it was gone. The prisoners sold the horse under the pretence of its belonging to the sister of Yeoman Morton, to a person at Holmfirth, from whom it was afterwards taken to Glossop Hall, in Lancashire, where it was owned by the prosecutor. The Jury returned a verdict of guilty. Transported for Life.

The men were transported to Australia on the ship Heroine, arriving at New South Wales in September 1833. A harsh sentence perhaps, but the case reported in the newspaper column above Morton and Smith’s is even more severe. William Moorhouse of Bradford is sentenced to death for stealing a gold watch and snuff box.