Selling Sparrows
The result is a book of some 450 pages with over 130 illustrations and copies of documents, detailing the events of the incident, the trial, and the lives of the accused men.
It looks at the effect that land enclosure and poverty was having on families at that time, not least being a rise in criminal behaviour.
And it follows their story through different prisons, Millbank, Portland and Dartmoor, with the most feared punishment of all, convict transportation to Australia.
But due to an ironical twist of fate they did not all end up there........
My interest in the story of the gang was initially aroused by the fact that my great-great-grandfather was arrested and tried at Bedford Assizes in 1849, believed to be part of that gang.
There were also appeals from the local farmers, intent on keeping the gang leader in prison!
All these gave such an insight into the characters that I felt they should be preserved for future generations as a record of social history of that time.
A wealth of information was found whilst searching records at the National Archives. There were appeals by members of the gang; notes written by the judge at the trial; letters to the convict’s wife in Stanbridge, and to the local squire, Squire Brandreth in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire.
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The early part of the 19th century heralded a period of want and distress for the agricultural labourer and many were starving. In contrast the gentry had their estates swelled by acquisitions awarded in recent land enclosures.
One bitter night during 1849, landowners of Stanbridge in Bedfordshire, seeking to protect their property from a gang of petty thieves, detailed two police constables to watch the activities of a local man thought to be their ringleader. The bloody events of that night were to have disastrous consequences for many families.

This true story depicts the lives of the three men who were subsequently arrested for a crime which at that time could carry a sentence of transportation to Australia. It details their trial and the intervention by the squire, convinced that there had been a miscarriage of justice. Whilst examining the effect that poverty and land enclosure was having on local people, it poses the question - were the men victims or villains?
Selling Sparrows is a book about the life of labourers and their families in Victorian Britain and their struggles to survive in a system weighted heavily in favour of the rich.
It is about crime, criminal justice, penal colonies and the convict transportation system.
At discount
price by direct order from this website.
Click on image to read about the accused
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