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Henry Haddon Cave
Victim of Arson

In the law reports for York, in the Northern Circuit, is the following case tried before Mr. Justice Crompton on the 10th December 1859:


Edward Coe pleaded "Not guilty" to a charge of setting fire to a stack of barley, the property of Henry Haddon Cave, at Desborough on the 30th of September.

Mr. Cave conducted the prosecution; the prisoner was undefended.

It appeared from the evidence that one of the witnesses, an old man, his granddaughter, and several others, who were returning from the Wellingborough flower-show, passed the spot where the stack in question was situate, and through a gap in the stone fence of a field adjoining the stackyard saw a man in dark clothes carrying a light and going towards the stack, which stood some 50 yards distant from the lane in which the witnesses stood. When first seen, the man was about five yards from them, and both the old man and his granddaughter, who by glimpses of the light saw the man who carried it, believed it to have been the prisoner, who was a near neighbour of theirs, and whom they knew well. The old man went to the house of one of his companions named Stratford, from which place the light was seen to advance towards the stack and disappear behind it. The granddaughter having been home went with her mother to Stratford's, and while there distinctly saw the prisoner's face looking in at the window, and on seeing them come out he ran round a corner and hid himself. The old man, his granddaughter, and her mother returned home, and about an hour after were roused by an alarm of fire given by a man who was returning, about 2 o'clock, from Wellingborough.

Mr. Henry Haddon Cave, who was also roused at that time by the alarm of fire, found, on reaching the spot where his barley stack had stood, that it was almost entirely consumed, and was burning on every side but that fronting the lane along which the witnesses had passed. Some evidence of menaces by the prisoner was given.

The learned judge summed up the evidence, and the jury, after deliberating an hour, returned a verdict of Guilty against the prisoner, who was sentenced to eight years' penal servitude.

The Times, Monday, Dec 12, 1859; pg. 11; Issue 23487; col A

Note: I believe this Edward Coe is the man who was convicted of arson. Born in Desborough, about 1825, he was married to Hannah Loake in 1850 and had four children, the last being born about 1860. The 1861 census shows Hannah, as both  head of household and "wife", living with her children. In 1871 she is described as "widow". I've found no trace of this Edward in the censuses after 1851.

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