Towcester & Stony Stratford Petty Sessions

Newport Pagnell became the first Petty Session Division by the late 1830’s which included the market town of Stony Stratford.

Stony Stratford was constituted a separate Petty Sesional Division by Quarter Sessions soon after 1858.

In the case of Stony Stratford, there are records of Petty Sessions being held at the Cock Hotel and also in private houses long before the Court House was built. \there is also an additional complication at Stony Stratford when it became a separate Petty Sessional Division. Petty Sessions were already being held there for certain adjoining parishes, all in the neighbouring county of Northamptonshire, these parishes were Alderton, Ashton, Cosgrove, Furtho, Grafton Regis, Hartwell, Passenham, Wicken and Yardley Gobion.

These parishes remained in the Stony Stratford Division from the time the present Court was built in the town until 1937 and were known as the sub division of Stony Stratford. Cases were held at Towcester Police Court on alternate Tuesday’s and at the Police Court in Stony Stratford on alternate Friday’s.

The Rev H J Barton stated in an undated letter that where he sat at the Inn (presumably the Cock) it as dark and noisy and calculated to lessen the respect which is due to a Court of Justice. He wrote of space at the Lock-up by building a room over it at a cost of not more than £200 which is all that is required; the Lock-up being on the site of where the present Court was built.

Wolverton & District Archaeological & History Society

Wolverton Express 4th March 1904




A singular charge of theft against the Rev Henry Newington Clark Hewson, who since 1893 has been Rector of Cosgrove, was heard at Towcester Petty Sessions on Tuesday. Considerable interest was taken in the prosecution and the Court was crowded. The Magistrates on the Bench were the Duke of Grafton (in the chair), E Grant Esq., W D Grant-Ives Esq., C Falconar Macdonald Esq., W G Stops Esq., and H J Conant Esq.

R Hewson was summoned for unlawfully taking away a quantity of stones and bricks, value 10s, which had been purchased for the repair of the highway at Cosgrove, between August 1 and December 1 1903.

Mr W Ryland D Adkins, barrister-at-law (instructed by Mr W R Parrott, Clerk to the Potterspury Rural District Council), appeared for the prosecution, and Mr Alan Macpherson, barrister-at-law (instructed by Mr C J Allinson, of Northampton) was for the defence.

James Bryan Fairchild, surveyor to the Potterspury District Council, explained that last March he purchased a number of loads of stones and brick and placed them along the road that runs by the Cosgrove Rectory wall. They were put on the waste land by the side of the road. Later in the summer he saw a quantity had disappeared, although no authority had been given for the removal. Owing to this suspicious circumstance he spoke to the Parish Constable, and in consequence of information received in January he made a report of the occurrence to the Chairman of the District Council. On the 26th of the month Mr Hewson had an interview with him, told him that he had had a visit from the police, and explained that the stones were removed by a man named Wootton, without his knowledge. He added that he had in his possession stones which would serve the witness’s purposes equally as well as those which had been taken and he offered to give some of those in place of those which had disappeared from the roadside. – In answer to the Duke witness said that the Rector said that at the time the stones were taken Wootton was in his employ.

Mr Macpherson: Did not Mr Hewson visit you in November and say that directly he discovered that Wootton had taken the stones he came to see you about it? – No, certainly not. If the defendant did call he certainly did not see him.

Further cross-examined, witness said he did not consider it was his duty to accept the stone the Rector proffered. He believed that when the stone was placed on the waste ground the land was perfectly clear. There were no stones on it which were to be used in the erection of the wall.

By the Chairman: In the wall which was erected in the summer were some of the Council’s stones.

Frederick Augustus Wootton, a labourer, said that in March he entered Mr Hewson’s employ. He had instructions to rebuild a stone wall which had fallen and to repair the floor of the pigstyes. Witness pointed out to the Rector that bricks and stones would be required, as all the odd ones lying about he had already used. Mr Hewson, referring to the stones and bricks lying on the side of the road, replied “Take a few of these.” Witness knew they had been drawn there by the public authority. Mr Hewson added, after telling him to take the stones, “Mr Fairchild won’t mind.” Witness had taken about nine or ten barrowloads of material; odd bricks were used in the flooring of the pigstyes, for which they were very handy, and stones were used for the coping of the wall, for which they were well suited. He once heard Mr Hewson say to a boy with whom witness was working, “Come along with me, my boy, and sort out the old bricks from among these stones.” Witness saw Mr Hewson on the roadside sort the stones, some of which he sent to be used in the operations. The stones were principally old building stones carted from the site of some cottages which were destroyed by fire, with a few “odds and ends and bits of bricks”.

Cross-examined: The defendant did not discharge witness directly he found that witness had been taking stone from the highway. Neither did he discharge witness at the end of November. It was not the witness who, having finished all the casual jobs he had been given to do, suggested that he should repair the wall. Witness was not instructed to obtain the stone and bricks for mending the pig-styes and walls from Mr Hewson’s rick-yard.

Re-examined: He did not believe that the stones used were those which had fallen from the Rector’s wall.

Arthur Jelley, a boy fourteen years of age, stated that one day Mr Hewson picked a few bricks off the road and told him to take them to Wootton. He also instructed him to return and fetch others like them. Stones were picked up as well and witness carried them to Wootton two or three at a time.

Police Sergeant Robinson stated that when he told Mr Hewson about the complaints made against him to the effect that some of the missing stones had been used in rebuilding the Rectory wall, he replied, “Yes, we had some of the stone last Autumn to repair the walls and places at the Rectory, but I didn’t fetch them off the road myself. A man named Wootton, who was working for me, fetched them.” Witness asked the Rector if he had instructed Wootton to fetch the stone, and he said in reply, “No, I had no authority to tell him.” Witness next asked Mr Hewson if he knew at the time that Wootton was using the stone from the highway, and got the answer, “Yes, because he told me, and further received the reply, “We only had a load altogether, and it would not come to more than nine or ten shillings. I am willing to pay for what I have had, and even more, if the Surveyor will come and see what I have had and let me know how much it is.”

The next question put by witness was whether Mr Hewson stopped Wootton from continuing the practice, and he made answer, “No, I didn’t, but I have two or three loads of small stone in my yard.” His stones, he further said, were small ones, and not large enough for the purpose for which he required them. That was the reason he had the stones from the road, for which he concluded by saying he was willing to pay.

In cross-examination witness said that Mr Hewson did not tell him that he discharged Wootton for taking the stone. The Rector never disputed that the stone taken from the road was used in the repair of his wall.

This concluded the case for the prosecution, and for the defence

Mr Hewson was called. After explaining that he had been Rector of Cosgrove since 1893, and let the Rectory, he himself living in another house, he stated that when he engaged Wootton to repair the wall he told him to take the stone from witness’s own stone heap in the rick-yard and other stone from the yard. In addition he could have stone from the two loads of stone which were due to him from the late Mr Brown. The stones in the rick-yard were more than sufficient for the work he had to do. Wootton was told distinctly not to touch any of the stone belonging to the District Council. After a time, however, witness, becoming suspicious as to the material which was being used in the repair of the wall, asked Wootton where he was obtaining it from. Wootton said, “I took it from the stone at the roadside,” and witness told him immediately that he must desist or he would probably get both of them into trouble. Wootton then went “on the Club” through sickness, and witness was thankful to get rid of him. When he discovered the practice to which Wootton had resorted he went to see Mr Fairchild, but the Surveyor was not at home and he did not meet him until January. He himself picked up perhaps 18 or 20 bricks but they had all fallen from his own wall. Many others, which had similarly fallen, were left by the roadside.

Cross-examined: Jelley and Wootton had made serious mistakes in their evidence, and police Sergeant Robinson’s statement was not entirely correct. Some of the Council’s stone was undoubtedly used in the repair of the wall, but the quantity had been exaggerated. After his first failure to see Mr Fairchild he did not call again, because he considered the matter was trivial. Possibly he did not formally discharge Wootton, but when Wootton fell ill he knew he would get no more work from the defendant in consequence of what had occurred. Wootton, he thought, was actuated by sheer laziness in taking the Council’s stone, and had given his version of affairs in order to shield himself.

In answer to the Chairman, witness said that as soon as he found out that the Council’s stone had been taken he offered the fullest restitution.

Frederick L Jakeman, of Cosgrove, said that for the last 25 years the grass by the side of the road, to which reference had been made, had been the dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish. It was once probable that witness would repair the wall. During the conversation on the subject Mt Hewson told him he would have to obtain the stone required from his rick-yard, and on no account get them from the heaps on the road.

Thomas Seymour, schoolmaster at Cosgrove, said that the brewery wall was a loose one, and stones from it were spread over the roadside for some distance.

Mr Macpherson, in a speech for the defence, maintained that the case utterly failed unless the prosecution could fully prove that the bricks and stones were taken, not only by a person in the defendant’s employment but that the person acted within the scope of his authority. Wootton, rather than obeying authority, directly defied the orders he received. It was a case of oath against oath, and it was impossible in the consideration of the points involved to forget the great differences in the witnesses’ social position. The inherent probabilities of the case were against the prosecution.

Mr J Chettle, J.P., Chairman of the Potterspury District Council, in reply to the Bench, who sought information on the subject, said the District Council, at a special meeting, unanimously authorised the prosecution.

The Magistrates retired, and after a deliberation of nearly three-quarters of an hour, the Chairman announced that they were of the opinion that the stones taken from the highway were used towards the repair of the wall, but considered that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that they were so used by the defendant’s order. The case would therefore be dismissed, each party to pay their own costs.

Wolverton Express 9th January 1914


At the Towcester Police Court this week, Henry Key, drover, Cosgrove, was summoned for stealing brussel sprouts, value 2s, the property of John Thos Brown, at Cosgrove on Dec 23rd. Defendant wired to the effect that he was ill in bed, and asked for an adjournment of the case for a fortnight.

Wolverton Express 6th February 1914


Friday – Before J M Knapp Esq CC (Chairman), Colonel W H Bull KHS VD, Captain M R Hall, Captain H Grant-Thorold, Rev J T Athawes, Mr F W Woollard, and Mr W Purslow, CC.

Obscene Language – Joseph Brown, Labourer, Cosgrove, was summoned for using obscene language, at old Stratford on Jan 17th. PC Williams proved the case and the defendant, for whom his mother appeared, was stated to bear a good character. He was ordered to pay 6s costs.


William Rogers, drayman, Cosgrove, was summoned for obstructing with a horse and lorry, the free passage of a motor bus, on January 26th. Fred Harris, motor bus driver, Bedford, said he was driving the bus from Wolverton to Stratford. He was against Jersey Road, and upon nearing defendant’s lorry the latter was pulled straight across. The bus skidded and hit the lorry with some force. Had it been at one o’clock when workmen were leaving, a serious accident would have happened. Witness alleged that this was not the first time this had happened.

Fred K Tilley, Wolverton, stated that he was a few yards away when he noticed the bus. The driver of the lorry drew across in front making it impossible for the bus to pass. He did not think the driver could have heard the hooter, and had the bus not pulled up short there would have been a serious collision.

Defendant said he could not see anything coming. He had to cross over in order to get into the entrance of Messrs McCorquodale’s Works.

Mr Williams, in charge of the goods department at Wolverton Station, said the man had worked for the Company for about six years.

By the Chairman – they did not provide the men with looking glasses so that they could see behind.

The Chairman – you ought to.

Mr Williams gave the man a good character.

The Chairman ordered the defendant to pay the costs, 10s 6d, and warned him that he ought to be more careful.

Wolverton Express 6th March 1914


Ratting or Rabbiting?

Alec Pass (83 Green Lane) and Frederick Letts (124 Cambridge Street Wolverton) were jointly summoned for game trespass on land belonging to Captain H Grant- Thorold, JP, Cosgrove, on January 28. Mr J C Allinson defended. Mr H Grant-Thorold did not adjudicate.

Robert Penson, a bailiff to Mr Thorold, said the defendants were walking with a dog alongside the brook in Mr Thorold’s field. They were rabbiting in the burrows. Cross examined, witness admitted that the dog was a small one, and also that he found no nets, or ferrets, or any poacher’s paraphernalia in their possession. They told him they were ratting.

Charles Butler, shepherd boy, said he saw the two boys hunting along the hedge with a white terrier dog. Cross examined by Mr Allinson, witness said he saw no sign of a rabbit.

Mr Allinson put in a letter of apology to Mr Grant-Thorold, in which they said they had only followed a rat which they saw against the canal bridge.

The Bench dismissed the case, but warned the defendants against trespassing.


At the Stony Stratford Divisional Petty Sessions last Friday, Arthur Frederick Jelley, a farmer, of Cosgrove, was admonished for cruelly illtreating a dog on February 4. Mr C J Allinson, defendant, and Inspector Comber, RSPCA, prescripted. –

Charlotte Wilson, of Cosgrove, said that she was walking along the footpath at Cosgrove with a little terrier dog, and when near the defendant’s yard the dog ran at water fowls. She called to the dog and he stood by her side. Mr Jelley entered into conversation with the witness, and when a fowl went up the field the dog followed, but he came back at her call. The dog then ran into Mr Jelley, who threw a large stone at the animal, hitting him on the leg. When she picked the dog up, Mr Jelley said, “The dog’s leg is broken.” The bone wouldn’t set, and the dog had to be shot.

Cross examined, witness said this incident occurred on a public footpath in Mr Jelley’s field. She denied that the dog had a fowl in its mouth, or that Mr Jelley threw the stone only because he could not get the dog to drop the fowl.

P C Robinson said a good deal of violence must have been used to cause the injury. Inspector Comber described the nature of the dog’s injuries, and said that the defendant, when seen by witness, admitted that he had thrown a big stone at the dog.

Mr Allinson submitted that the case ought to have been put under the Malicious Damage to Animals Act and he contended that there had been no unnecessary cruelty.

The Bench dismissed the case.

Wolverton Express 17th April 1914


At the Towcester Petty sessions on Tuesday, Ronald Bull, aged 11, and Gilbert Bull, aged 8, scholars, of Old Stratford, were summoned for stealing five hen’s eggs, value 5d., the property of Michael Holton, at Cosgrove on March 27th.

George Bull, labourer, of old Stratford, was summoned as the father of the lads.

Louie Grace, wife of Joseph Grace, said she saw the younger defendant come from Mr Holton’s hen-house with five hen’s eggs. He gave two eggs to his brother, who was standing just outside the wire of the run, and he put two in his trousers pockets. She had seen the lads at the fowl-house twice before.

Mrs Hannah Holton, wife of Michael Holton, said they had missed a great many eggs, but she would not say that the two boys had had them. – fly the Chairman: she had not missed any eggs since.

In reply to the father of the lads, witness said she took 3d from his wife in payment for the eggs as she begged so hard of her to do so.

Sergt Clarke said when he saw the boy’s mother she said she had paid 3d for them, but he told her it could not be settled like that. At first the lads denied having the eggs, but when their mother told them to tell the truth they admitted having two.

The smaller boy said his brother had told him to go into the fowlrun and get some eggs. He said they had two which they sucked.

Supt. Andrews said the parents had no control over the boys whatsoever, and he had been forced to bring them to the court in spite of their age. He had to caution the mother on numerous occasions with regard to petty thefts, but they were completely master of all. The Educational Authorities had had endless trouble with the lads as they never attended school.

Each boy was ordered to receive one stroke of the birch.

Wolverton Express 12th June 1914


At the Towcester Divisional Sessions on Tuesday, Ronald Bull (11), and Gilbert Bull (8), Old Stratford, were summoned for stealing eight hens’ eggs, value 1/6, the property of John Goodman, at Cosgrove, on May 13th.

George Bull, labourer, Old Stratford, was summoned as the father of the lads. The case was before the court a fortnight ago.

Dr Turner, on behalf of the Education Authority, said the Committee agreed that the elder boy should be sent away to an industrial school. It was thought that if this were done the younger boy would behave better. The parents had absolutely no control over the boys.

George Bull, the father, said his wages were 12s a week, with a cottage. One daughter was out at service, one son earned 8s a week, and gave his parents 5/6. Another son had been working on a farm for 8s a week and he gave his father 6/6. He had three children earning nothing and there was the daughter’s baby in the house. The cottage was worth 1/6 a week. There were two rooms up and two down, one of the latter being used as a bedroom.

Ronald was sent to an industrial school for five years; Gilbert was discharged and the father was ordered to pay 1s a week towards the maintenance of the elder boy.

Wolverton Express 7th August 1914


Claude T J Marshall, Yardley Gobion, and Charles Francis Austin, fitter, Cosgrove, were summoned for keeping dogs without licences. Austin was fined 1s and 6s costs, and Marshall was ordered to pay 6s costs. PC Robinson proved the cases.

Wolverton Express March 5th 1915


Friday.-Before Mr. F. W. Woolard (in the chair) and Mr. T. Byam Grounds.


Arthur Fredrick Jelley, a Cosgrove farmer, was summoned for allowing his cattle to stray on February 18. Mr. C. J. Allinson, of Stony Stratford, defended. P.c. Robinson said that at 10.30 a.m. he saw twelve milch cows, which were the property of Jelley, straying on the road at the Castlethorpe turn in Cosgrove. He kept them under observation for fifteen minutes, during which time they were unattended. Later two boys ran a distance of two hundred yards towards the cattle, and eventually defendant came up from the direction of Castlethorpe and the cows were put in a field. Answering Superintendent Andrews, the witness said he had cautioned Jelley several times. Cross-examined by Mr. Allinson, the witness said he was 350 yards away from the animals. He did not see any traffic at all on the road. Mr Allinson contended that there had been no offence and that the cattle were not straying within the meaning of the Act. The Magistrates considered there was a prima facie case. The defendant said that he had over 200 animals, and that it was his custom to send his cows to the field for fodder. He was obliged to employ boys because he was unable to get men. One of his labourers had joined the Army. In six years he had never known of a motor car which had been obliged to pull up because of his stock. One of the boys employed by defendant, Thomas Hillyer (aged 12), said he had assisted the defendant since the schools were closed. He was not more than twenty or thirty yards away from the cows at any time. The other lad, Frank Brown (aged 11, corroborated. The Magistrates considered that the cows were longer on the road than they would have been if a man had driven them, and defendant was ordered to pay the costs and advised to be more careful in future.

Wolverton Express 8th July, 1927

Cows didn’t follow

Richard Leonard Mills, smallholder, Cosgrove, was summoned for keeping a dog without a licence, also with allowing two cows to stray on the highway at Cosgrove.

Defendant pleaded guilty to both offences.  He informed P C Grainger that he was driving the cows and as they went so slowly and he wanted his tea he jumped on his bicycle and went and had it.  He thought the cows would follow him.  As regards his dog licence, it quite slipped his memory.  Defendant was fined 7/6 in the first case and 10/- in the other.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 15 August 1930


Cosgrove Motor Coach Proprietor

Malcolm Eckford Jelley, motor coach proprietor, Cosgrove, was summoned at Stony Stratford Police Court, on Friday, for making a false declaration in respect of a Road Fund licence for a motor coach, at Northampton, Tuesday, June 3.

P.S. Rollings said he saw a motor coach owned by defendant plying for hire at Stony Stratford. He examined the Road Fund licence and found it was for the seating of more than fourteen and not more than twenty passengers. Defendant was paying equivalent to annual tax of £36 per year, but the vehicle contained twenty four numbered seats, all properly constructed and of regulation size.
Witness later saw defendant, who said he took the licence out before he received the ’bus. He did not expect the full 24 seats when he made the declaration.
Witness then examined the Road Fund licence and found it had been amended to seat more than twenty and not more than twenty-six passengers, the tax for which was equivalent to per year. Defendant had paid the additional money. It was a new ’bus which had not been licensed before. It had been licensed by the Wolverton Urban District Council as a 20-seater Defendant stated that he took out a licence for 20-seater ’bus which he had ordered, and when he took delivery he found there were 24 seats.
Answering a question, he said the seating arrangements were not to his order

The Chairman: You realised soon as you got delivery of the ’bus? Yes.
Defendant added that he then ordered two more seats and intended to take out a licence for the full twenty-six seats. In the meantime he was stopped.

The Bench accepted the explanation but imposed a fine of £2.

Wolverton Express 29th August, 1930

Stony Stratford Petty Sessions


Chas. A S Hennessy, lorry driver, 29 Bedford Street, Liverpool, was summoned for driving a heavy motor lorry at a greater speed than 12 m.p.h. at Cosgrove on 24th July.  PC Roche stated that defendant was travelling at the rate of 30 m.p.h.  Fined £2.

Wolverton Express 20th February, 1931

Riding without a light at midnight

William Edward John Manning, motor body maker, Grange Cottage, Emberton, was summoned for riding a motorcycle on the highway without proper lights at Cosgrove on 19 January.  PC Grainger stated that he stopped defendant at midnight at Old Stratford riding without a light.  He pleaded that there must have been a hole in the connecting tube of the lamp.  Defendant, who did not appear, was fined 10/- .

Wolverton Express 19th August, 1932

Stony Stratford Petty Sessions

Straying Cattle

William Crowder, Farmer, Cosgrove was summoned for allowing four cows and one goat to stray on the highway at Cosgrove on 13 July.  Defendant pleaded guilty.

PC Grainger stated that whilst on the Yardley Gobion road he saw four cows and one goat belonging to defendant straying on the highway, causing obstruction to a saloon motor car and a motor lorry.  Defendant said he was sorry it had happened.  He drove the cattle into the fields and someone must have left a gate open.  He did not know they were on the highway until he was told.  The bench ordered defendant to pay costs of 4/-.