1845 Court Hearing
In October, 1845, brothers William and Daniel Hall appeared at the County Quarter Sessions in Norwich.
They were charged with breaking and entering, and taking items from the home of John Sayer, a miller, of Great Ellingham, on the 20th July.
William and Daniel were alleged to have taken seven keys, one shawl, two knives, two bottles of wine, and an amount of copper money totalling 19 shillings.
In the event, the court found both William and Daniel not guilty, on the basis that ‘proof of identification’ had failed.
William and Daniel were half-brothers.
Great Ellingham born Thomas Halls
Great Ellingham Parish Church
Although sharing the same father, the brothers had different mothers.
Their father was Great Ellingham born Thomas Halls. He was the son of Daniel Halls and Susanna (née Bilham), and was baptised in the Church of St James, Great Ellingham on December 6th, 1789.
At the age of 23, Thomas Halls married Elizabeth Lebbell in her home village of Little Ellingham on the 1st May, 1812.
Parish Church of Rockland St Peter
The couple had at least four children, including William who was baptised in Rockland St Peter in 1817.
William’s mother, Elizabeth (née Lebbell), died between 1821 and 1824.
St Peter’s Church, Little Ellingham
Widower Thomas Halls married Mary Ann Howland, a spinster of Great Ellingham, in the parish church of Little Ellingham on the 16th February, 1824.
The couple had at least 12 children in Little Ellingham between 1824 and 1843, including Daniel c.1827.
Some four years before the Hall brothers’ appearance at the County Sessions in 1845, the 1841 census captures the large Halls family (including William and Daniel) living in Church Green, Little Ellingham.
50 year old Thomas Halls is with his 35 year old wife Mary Ann (née Howland). The couple have 11 children with ages ranging from 20 down to two months, including William and Thomas, two of the children from Thomas’s previous marriage to Elizabeth Lebbell.
Mary Ann may well have been known as ‘Polly’, which in those days was a common nickname for Mary, and Mary Ann.
Death of Thomas Halls
Thomas Halls died in 1843. The death of a 55 year old Thomas Halls was registered in the Wayland District (which includes the parish of Little Ellingham), between July and September of that year.
Death of William Halls
Sadly his son, 29 year old William Halls, who stood with his brother Daniel at the County Quarter Sessions in 1845, died the following year. His death was also registered between October and December, again in the Wayland District.
By 1851, widow Mary Ann Hall had moved her family to Anchor Corner. The census captures Yarmouth born 45 year old Mary Ann with eight of the children.
Her 22 year old daughter Ann is described as a house servant. It may be that she is helping her mother with the household. However, I am inclined to think Ann is in employment.
Thomas aged 24, Daniel 22, Robert 15 and 14 year old Charles are all working as farm labourers.
Ten years later, the 1861 census finds 33 year old Daniel Hall with his wife Jane and children Charles 5, Emma 3 and one year old Robert, living at Goose Common, Little Ellingham.
Daniel’s mother, Mary Ann, re-married but is still living in Anchor Corner, not far from Goose Common. With Mary Ann is her husband George Crisp, and her two youngest children, Charlotte 19 and James 17.
Also living at Anchor Corner, is 22 year old Charles Hall with his wife Rebecca and five month old infant daughter Emma.
Not far from Charles (again at Anchor Corner), is his 25 year old brother Robert Hall and his wife Maria.
1867 Watton Petty Sessions
Six years later, and some 22 years after his appearance with his half-brother William at the County Quarter Sessions in 1845, Daniel Halls (now in his fourtieth year), once again stood in court.
This time he appeared at the Watton Petty Sessions on the 9th February, 1867, with younger brothers, Charles and Robert, who were both in the early thirties and lived near to each other.
All three brothers were charged by Robert Frost of Great Ellingham, with trespassing in search of game.
The offence was alleged to have taken place on the 6th January on land belonging to Mr J Tingay. Robert Frost was Tingay’s farm bailiff.
On this occasion, the case was proved, and each of the three brothers were ordered to pay a fine of 2s 6d and 9s costs.
The Hall brothers – whether half brothers or of full blood, appear to get along. They lived near to each other, and they also appear to ‘get into trouble’ together.
Did they habitually participate in petty theft and/or poaching – whether or not these misdemeanors ended in a court appearance?
Did the brothers find themselves in circumstances which led to criminal acts i.e. were they in work and earning sufficient money to put basic food on the table, and clothe their children?
In conclusion, we cannot really answer this just from the evidence of the two court hearings. Moreover, William and Daniel Hall were both acquitted of the offences in 1845.
Although newspapers reported on court hearings, not all cases appear in the papers – and I have not examined every possible local newspaper!
Norfolk News 18th October, 1845. Viewed via British Newspaper Archive https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 14th February, 2021
Norfolk Chronicle 9th February 1867
1841 census HO107/785/18
1851 census H0107/1823/141
1861 census RG9/1237/106, RG9/1237/108, RG9/1237/109
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD609. Also available at www.familysearch.org
Little Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD568. Transcript of Little Ellingham Marriages 1813 to 1837; Transcript of Little Ellingham Marriages 1667 to 1812; Transcript of Baptisms 1813 to 1928; Transcript of Baptisms 1649 to 1812. Norfolk Family History Society. www.norfolkfhs.org.uk
Rockland St Peter Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD336. Transcript of Rockland St Peter Baptisms 1813 to 1886. Norfolk Family History Society. www.norfolkfhs.org.uk
GRO Index. https://www.gro.gov.uk