I haven’t spent much time looking at this data set before, but they’re the lists of habitual criminals during the nineteenth century. I’m focused on Arminghall at the moment (for anyone wondering why there is a flurry of posts about Bixley and Arminghall, it’s because I’m leading a walk there), so Robert Breeze caught my eye.
The document above tells me that he was born in 1847, he worked as a labourer, he was single, he had a fair complexion, he had blue eyes, he was stout in shape, 5″3′ tall and had an oval shape head. For anyone who is doing their family tree then hope for a criminal, there’s certainly lots of information about them and many even have photos.
Further than that, the document tells me that he was born in Wymondham and that he spent the period from 19 February to 18 June 1891 at Norwich prison. Norwich prison on Mousehold Heath had opened in 1887, replacing the prison within Norwich Castle, so he was located in a more modern building.
As can be seen above, he also had four previous convictions (and some acquittals) and was planning to live in Trowse, which is near to Arminghall, on his release. Some of this crimes are breaches of the Elementary Education Act, so I assume from this he has children. Incidentally, what on earth was happening in Kenninghall and Mr. Hurrell? Probably best not to know.
A little digging in the Norwich Mercury covering the assizes (or trials) showed that the judge in charge was Sir Charles Edward Pollock, the Baron of the Court of the Exchequer. He sentenced our (I call him our, I feel I nearly know him now) Robert Breeze to his four months in prison, with hard labour, for stealing fowl in Arminghall on 28 January 1891. Breeze pleaded guilty to the crime, with the fowl belonging to Arthur Stimpson and it was valued at 2s 6d.
In August 1892, the Norfolk Chronicle reported that a Robert Breeze had been charged with being drunk whilst in charge of a horse and cart on St. Stephen’s Plain in Norwich. At the time this Robert was living at Villa Gardens in Lakenham, a pub which closed in 1895, which might not have been ideal. The newspaper also noted that Robert Breeze was also known as Robert Woods, although our Breeze was definitely his real name as I’ve found his birth records.
In March 1896, the Norfolk News reported that a Robert Breeze was found in Ber Street in Norwich rather under the influence at just before eleven at night. Police Constable Coleman suggested that he stopped swearing and went home. Our Robert “refused to do anything of the kind and he made use of some disgusting language”, to which he found himself “marched to the police station”. He was fined 15 shillings for his behaviour which is around £65 in today’s money if we use the National Archives currency converter. For someone who was “of no fixed residence” I’m not sure how that was paid.
The problem with these two drunken cases, and also from here is that there are two men called Robert Breeze in Norfolk who commit crimes in the last few years of the nineteenth century and also into the early twentieth century. They are two men, our Robert and a much younger one. Unfortunately, the records don’t make it clear which individual the court papers and newspaper reports are referring to, so I’d like to think that things went well for our Robert. They probably didn’t given the time and social conditions when he lived, but I can’t find his death details to be able to work out what happened.