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Northampton Mercury Newspaper, 4th March 1848

Baker and Burgess - Transported

Northampton Lent Assizes

Eli Burgess was charged with breaking into the dwellinghouse of Samuel York, at Rushden. John Baker (who had pleaded guilty) was placed at the bar with him.

Harriet Riddle stated that she slept away from the house of Mr. York on the night of the 22d August last, at Rushden in this county. The witness was Mr. York’s housekeeper; she fastened all the window inside on the night stated in the indictment. This was about seven in the evening; she took the key away with her. Next morning about seven o’clock she found the curtains drawn in the great room, and in another room a pane of glass had been taken out, and the window was open. On the next Saturday she missed five silver tea-spoons, a gold ring, three silver shirt buttons, a gold earring, a silver hook, silver watch, and a steel chain with a seal attached to it. These articles were kept in a little box in the room, the window of which had been opened. The box was in the room on the night of the 22d August. Mr. York kept the key of it. Mr. York, his two sons, and John Baker (one of the prisoners), slept in the house on the night of August 22d. Baker had come home with one of the sons, Charles York, who is about 20 years of age. Baker slept in the first room. Witness herself used to sleep in the room where the box was kept. Had known Baker previously. He lived just close by, with his friends. Burgess was in the habit of doing odd jobs at Mr. York’s. That night he slept with William Baker.

Susan Clark is the wife of John Clark, of Rushden, lives next door to the prosecutor. Was keeping an eye on Mr. York’s house on Monday August 23d; had occasion to go into the court in which her’s and York’s houses are situated. Was out as late as ten o’clock, at which time York’s house had not been broken into. At five next morning she observed nothing to lead her to think it had been broken into.

The Rushden policeman stated that he first took Baker into custody; he afterwards apprehended Burgess, telling him that he was taken for committing a robbery at York’s; he denied it at first; said he knew nothing about it. After sitting some time he said he’d go and show witness “where the property was hid.”

Before this, Burgess said “now Baker fetch the things and there will be nothing the matter.” Burgess then said he knew nothing at all about them. Baker added, “you told me you were going to hide them up the the Wymington road.” Afterwards he made the offer about showing where the things were hidden, and witness went and searched up the Wymington road a long time. At length they were found in a ditch by Mr. Wrotham (or Rootham). They were covered with mould. Burgess had said that he had torn off the pocket of his coat to put them in, and there was a pocket wanting in Burgess’s coat.

James Wrotham, went up the Wymington road where were the policeman and Samuel York, with the prisoner Burgess. It was dark, and they had a candle lantern.

Witness assisted them in the search, and found some things wrapped up in a pocket, covered with some mould. Has had the articles in his possession ever since, and now produces them.

Samuel York, is a labourer, living at Rushden. Did not sleep in his house on the 23d August, having to go to Newton Bromswold to harvest work. Returned on the 28th having heard of the robbery. Went up stairs and found a box which he left locked, broken open, and the articles in question taken out. Witness identified all the articles.

The deposition before the magistrates by Burgess stated that Baker suggested the robbery, the one watching whilst the other committed it. His lordship told the Jury that this admission rendered both parties equally guilty.

Robert May spoke to the good character of Baker.

Guilty – Seven Years’ Transportation respectively.

Further research by Helen Norman:
Both were found guilty and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. From Northampton they were taken to Portsmouth and held in a Prison Hulk for 3 years. They both sailed on the same ship, the Maria Somes and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (nowTasmania) 3 months later in August 1850. Male convicts served their sentences either as labourers to freesettlers or in gangs assigned to public works such as forest clearance or road building. They could not earn wages but their Master was expected to provide adequate food, clothing, lodgings and medical care. A Ticket of Leave could be granted after 4 years of a 7 year sentence if the convict had a good record of behaviour. It is not known if either Eli or John returned to England, however most convicts at this time were drawn to the attraction of the Australian gold fields.

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