Flageolet-related Crimes

In 2008, Old Bailey Online, published an extensive archive of trail transcripts and other materials from 1690 to 1772. The Old Bailey is a colloquial name given the Central Criminal Court in London; the Crown Court where the most of the serious crimes committed in London were tried.

The earliest reference to a flageolet dates from 1722, when the Ordinary of Newgate (the Chaplin of, Newgate, the nearby prison, who was responsible for ministering to those condemned to death), reports that Thomas Wilson, aged 20, and condemned to death for robbery, during his final confession:

remaind very desirous of taking upon himself the Robbery committed on Thomas Ackersly, of his Hautboy and Flagelet, as he came from Kentish-Town; declaring that he robb’d him and threw the Haut boy away near the Road.

Throughout the 19th Century, there are around a dozen trials where part of the indictment includes something related to the flageolet. Particularly interesting is that the indictment usually includes the estimated cost of the flageolet, which gives an idea of the value of the instruments commonly owned in London during this period.

The most common offence is the stealing of a single flageolet. The convictions recorded are for: Henry Godrey and John Jones (juveniles), in 1822, for a flageolet worth 5s; William Wyatt, in 1832, worth 4s; William Edmonds, in 1835, worth 15s; James Storey in 1842, worth 10s and Albert Morgan and Hermon Sommers, in 1890, value unknown.

The second offence is theft of a variety of goods, including a flageolet. James Martin was acquitted in 1828 of such an acquisition, which included a flageolet valued at at 20s and a violin valued at £3 (the equivalent of 60s). Thomas Chad was found guilty of a similar offence in 1831, included a flageolet valued at 15s; Charles Drayball, likewise, in 1838, worth 10s; John Axford in 1845, worth 10s and George Woodley and Charles Sharp in 1856, value unknown.

The conviction of Edmond Hamer in 1845, falls into the same category but is somewhat more interesting as Hamer was convicted of stealing from George Wood, a flute-maker and his sometime master, 2 flageolets, worth £8, 3 clarinets, worth £6 and 24 flutes, worth £2 8s.

Finally, there is the case of William Martin who as part of a defence to a house-breaking, accused Thomas Turner, a flageolet-maker of being his accomplice who talked him into the house-breaking.

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