Illustration by Christine Fuller
At the Petty Sessions held at East Harling in the May of 1880, labourer James Halls of Little Ellingham received a prison sentence of 14 days with hard labour for the theft of fish.
The Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette of the 15th May, 1880 reported on the case. Halls was found guilty of stealing three mackerel at Great Ellingham on the 4th May the property of farmer George Bailey of Great Ellingham.
At the same court, William Skitmore, a labourer of Little Ellingham was charged with assaulting George Bailey at the same time and place. The case against Skitmore was dismissed.
Who were James Halls and William Skitmore?
The 1881 census finds a 20 year old farm labourer James Halls with the household of 31 year old John and Anna Skitmore (his brother in law and sister), in Rockland Road, Little Ellingham.
At Anchor Corner, Little Ellingham is 37 year old farm labourer James Halls with his mother and step-father, George and Mary Crisp.
I think it likely that the James Halls appearing before the Magistrates was the 20 year old farm labourer James Halls, the brother in law of John Skitmore.
James Halls was the son of Charles and Harriet Halls. The 1871 census shows Attleborough born 9 year old James Halls with his parents and siblings living at Hills End, Attleborough – not far from Great Ellingham.
The William Skitmore appearing with James Halls before the Magistrates is likely to have been the brother of James Halls’ brother in law John Skitmore.
The 1881 census finds 33 year old farm labourer William Skitmore with his 46 year old wife Eliza living at The Green, Little Ellingham. Eliza’s son and daughter, William and Jane Spurgeon with their infant son Walter are living with the couple.
Thirty years earlier, 1851 census captures brothers William and John Skitmore (aged 5 years and 9 months respectively) with their parents, Nathaniel and Mary Ann Skitmore, and sisters Rebecca 12, Sarah Ann 10 and Elizabeth 7) living in Goose Common Lane, Little Ellingham.
The 1881 census shows 67 year old farmer George Bailey with his wife Harriett living in Penhill Road. George is farming 18 acres employing one labourer. The Bailey household has a domestic servant, 21 year old Rockland St Peter born Jane Drake.
Although Norfolk born, George Bailey and his wife were not local people. George was born in Shelton and his wife in Tasburgh.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norwich Gazette May 15th, 1880
1881 census RG11/1974/102, RG11/1974/106, RG11/1974/103, RG11/1974/82
1871 census RG/101841/17
1851 census HO107/1823/143