JOB DENTON - THE GREYSTONES RUSTLER
Whilst I was researching the deplorable case of Adam Newton and A Knife Attack in Crookes - Sheffield, I came across another court case that was reported on the same day as Newton's trial. It involved a young man called JOB DENTON who believe it or not was not from Tombstone, but from Ecclesall or more specifically Parkhead.
Details of his christening are as follows
"JOB DENTON Male Event(s)Christening:16th APRIL 1820
Ecclesall, Yorkshire, England
Parents: Father: JOHN DENTON Mother: LYDIA
Source Information: Batch Number:7832031 Sheet:64 Source Call No.: 1126437"
which would have made JOB 17 at the time of the offence
Under the title HORSE STEALING IN SHEFFIELD the local paper paper reported that on Monday, 17th July 1837
"JOB DENTON was charged with stealing a colt the property of John Creswick of Sheffield - Counsel for the prosecution Mr. WARNER; for the prisoner Mr. HEATON. The prosecutor is a farmer from Grey Stones, two and a half miles from Sheffield. On the 9th of June he placed the colt in a pasture about a mile from his house. The prisoner who only lives two hundred yards from the pasture was seen in the field on the last day of June; and on the 4th of July the colt was gone. After an unsuccessful attempt to sell it, it was taken to the King's Head, Sheffield by a person named Ibbotson who had received it from the prisoner. It was seen there and challenged by the prosecutor (John Creswick) the same evening.
Mr. HEATON argued that from the imbecile state of the prisoners mind he could not be considered responsible, and called his father and mother to prove that his head had been injured when five years old by a fall from a building and that he had never been capable of learning a trade.
The jury found him Guilty but recommended him to mercy. His Lordship passed the appointed sentence, transportation for life, but said that it would be commuted into confinement"
The judge undoubtedly showed leniency - horse-stealing or for that matter most types of property theft were viewed with extreme disfavour during the early to mid nineteenth century, and this was reflected in the draconian nature of the sentence.
To say I was surprised and I have to admit amused when I cam across the following reports three years later when it appears that JOB had moved from stealing the odd horse to full-scale cattle rustling. In the Morning Chronicle dated 17th July 1840, there is a report from the Northern Circuit - Crown side that was held in York two days earlier. It is reproduced below
There is absolutely no doubt that this is the same JOB DENTON who was sentenced three years earlier for horse-stealing. Little Common is more or less adjacent to Park Head where the DENTON family lived in the 1841 Census. Furthermore the following directory gives further information on the farmer WILLIAM LOUKS
Transcript of the entry of "professions and trades" for
LITTLE COMMON in Baines's Directory and Gazetteer Directory of 1822
Louks William, vict. Rising Sun - Rising sun, William Louks, Little common.
The Rising Sun is still there and is at the junction of Little Common Lane and Abbey Lane
The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser dated 18th July 1840 added some more details to the case under the heading "STEALING COWS"
This time there was no leniency shown by the judge - ten years transportation. And what is remarkable is the time it took from the time it took from the actual theft to the sentencing - it was less than two weeks. After the verdict was announced, it seems as though JOB was imprisoned in York Castle until the time came for the sentence to be enacted. This came a month later - a report in the Leeds Mercury dated 15th August 1840 stated
They were to be sent from York to Woolwich and the prison hulk Justitia. For full details of the hulk and what awaited JOB DENTON, I must refer you to the following article about prisoners bound for Australia. I do not know as yet what happened to JOB after he joined the Justitia which is a shame as I would be fascinated to know what eventually became of the "Grey Stones Ruster"
Repro ID: PZ9265
Description: Convicts perform hard labour at the Woolwich Warren. The hulk on the river is the 'Justitia'. Prisoners were kept on board such ships for months awaiting deportation to Australia. The 'Justitia' was a 260-ton prison hulk that had been originally moored in the Thames when the American War of Independence put a stop to the transportation of criminals to the former colonies. The 'Justitia' formerly belonged to Duncan Campbell who was appointed to supervise the work of the convicts.
Creator: Unknown Date: c. 1777
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London
Morning Chronicle dated 17th July 1840
The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser dated 18th July 1840
Leeds Mercury dated 15th August 1840
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