Posted by: Christine | September 3, 2012

From London to Prison

In my last post I mentioned that the history of Thomas Madder’s children was another story. Well here  is that story – before I forget all the details!

Burial of Thomas Madder at St George Hanover Square (Image LMA collection at

Thomas Madder died on the 24th November 1831 in St Georges Hospital. He was aged 49 and left a widow, Sarah, and four children; Mark was 16, John Thomas 12, Elizabeth just 10 and the baby Thomas Clement had been born in January that year (He not baptised until 18th December and his father’s occupation was given as deceased.) Twins Charles and Samuel had been born in 1824 but Samuel lived less than a month and Charles died in December 1830.

The first few months after Thomas’ death must have been difficult as little Thomas Clement died in February 1832. I had been unable to find what happened to this child until I tried a search of the London Parish Registers on Ancestry using just the forenames Thomas Clement and no surname. I limited the date from 1831 to 1841 (he was not on the 1841 census). High up the list was the burial of Thomas Clement Maddox at St George Hanover Square. The age (1 year) and place (St Marylebone) fitted. It was not a mis-transcription – the entry clearly reads Maddox, but a mistake by the clerk. Sarah was illiterate so couldn’t check the spelling. A good tip – If you can’t find an entry try different spellings, or even, as I did here, leave the surname blank when searching.

Thing then go quiet until 1837, when Mark gets into trouble. Several years ago I found the documents concerning this case when at the London Metropolitan Archives. I was taking a break from looking through films of parish registers and decided to search their catalogue and up popped a reference to Mark Madder, so I ordered the documents. (Both the catalogue and the parish registers are now online – how things have changed)

The document contains the statements made at Hatton Garden Police Office on 4th January 1837 after Mark’s arrest  – he was charged with larceny. Evidence was given by William BALE, shopman to William BATEMAN of No 14 Theobalds Road, cheesemonger. He stated that:
About ¼ to 10 last night I was in the shop and I saw the prisoner as he passed the window take a piece of ham from the inside of the window and walk away with it – I followed and caught him about 30 yards off with it in his hand. He said he picked it off the ground – I gave him in charge. The ham produced is the same, my masters property – it weighs about 3lbs and is worth about 1/6″
The policeman, Robert DUCKETT esq swore:
“I received the prisoner into custody with the ham produced. He said he had found it on the ground”
It adds “The prisoner says nothing.”

Looking at the Criminal Registers (online) we find that he was found guilty at Clerkenwell Sessions and sentenced to 1 month in prison. It also gives the extra information that he was aged 25 (in fact 22) and could read and write “Imperfectly”

First entry for Mark Madder in the Criminal Registers of 1837 (Image from

He was in court again a few months later in Kent. Charged on 29 June 1837 at Maidstone Court with Larceny from the Person. This time he was acquitted (there was a verdict of “No Bill” which, I think, means there was insufficient evidence to proceed) . I have been unable to find him in the 1841 census, but in a later census he gives his place of birth as America. Perhaps he had gone there and returned. He married in 1857 and had thirteen children. He was a labourer and died at the age of 75 in Strand Workhouse.

1837 was to be an even worse year for Mark’s younger brother John Thomas (known as John). He also appears in the Criminal Registers, but his trial was at the Central Criminal Court, so details can be found at the Old Bailey Online. He was also on trial of Larceny, but had stolen rather more than a piece of Ham.

“John  Madder was indicted for stealing, on the 12th of October,1 shirt, value 6s.; and 1 printed book, value 2s.; the goods of   Benjamin Peck: 1 printed book, value 2s., the goods of   William Bates: 1 handkerchief, value 5s., the goods of   Martha Hayward: 1 shirt, value 2s. the goods of   Peter Sprott: 1 pair of boots, value 6s., the goods of   James Ratcliffe: and 1 printed book, value 2s., the goods of   William Taylor”
All these men (Martha is a misprint of Martin) were soldiers of the 2nd regiment of Life Guards and the clothes and books (Bibles) had been stolen from the Regents Park Barracks. John was caught red handed and tried to claim that the clothes were dirty linen. His occupation was a whitesmith and we will explore the reason he might be collecting dirty linen from a military barracks later. He was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for seven years. The transcript states that  he was aged 19, in fact he was only 18.

Part of John Madder’s Trial at the Old Bailey 1837 (Image Old Bailey Online)

We can now track John in a variety of documents:
As prisoner number 4240 on the Prison Hulk Fortitude (Prison Hulk Registers 1802-1849 – HO 9/11) he is listed as single, occupation whitesmith and could neither read or write. It also gives the date (20 Mar 1838) he was transferred to the ship “Bengal Merchant” which was to take him to Australia. He is listed in Australian Convict Transportation Registers 1791-1868 (HO 11/11). Details of the voyage (in which he is not mentioned) can  be found in Royal Navy Medical Journals 1817-1857 (Browse for ship name) and his arrival in New South Wales (Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849). The Bengal Mechant arrived in Australia on 28th July 1838. I have been unable to find out anything about John after this date! All the above records can be found here on Ancestry

Meanwhile, on 4th June 1838, while John was on his way to Australia, his mother, Sarah got married. The groom was John Higgate – he was a private in the 2nd Lifeguards. In the 1841 census Sarah’s occupation is given as Laundress. I think we now know why John was collecting dirty linen from the barracks.

So did the family settle down and live happily ever after?

Not quite.

There was another arrest I found in the LMA. This involved Elizabeth Madder, but as a victim, not the accused. She was at the Thames Police Court on 7th November 1840 when Jane Shenley was charged with Felony.  Elizabeth’s evidence was as follows:
“I live at No 38 Cumberland Market Regents Park with my Father and Mother. On Wednesday last I met a young man in the street he gave me some drink and I partook rather freely of it. It was at the Angel Public House where we had it. The prisoner was in the Room. It was in the morning part that we went to the Angel – about 3 I think it was. Elizabeth Long came in. The young man with me spoke to Long, and they got a cab and took me to Long’s place and put me to bed. I fell asleep. About 5 o’clock I woke up and missed my shawl and my handkerchief and spoke to Long about it. The handkerchief produced is the one I missed it is my property. My shawl was a plaid one with red and green Stripes.”
Elizabeth Long then gave evidence that she was “an unfortunate girl [prostitute] and live in Albion Street” Her evidence agrees with Elizabeth but adds that she went out for “half a pint of Gin” and met Jane Shenley wearing Elizabeth’s shawl. She and Elizabeth returned to the Angel pub and found Long wearing the handkerchief.
Shenley’s evidence was: “The soldier asked Long for a bed and Long said to me, Jane let us take ‘em home to my place. Long gave me a half a crown and said the soldier had give her 5/-. This handkerchief was in the soldiers hat. He said he wasn’t comfortable and went away and I went out after him. It came on to rain and I put it on my neck. I thought it was his.”
Once again the verdict was “No Bill”.
There was no other mention of the young man/soldier, but I wonder if Elizabeth might have lost more than her shawl in this encounter. Although, if she was in the habit of wandering the streets of Wapping accepting drinks from young men …..

Part of Elizabeth Madder’s evidence – at least she could sign her name. (LMA ref. MJ/SP/1840/10/023)

Jane Shenley got away this time but she was in court again a few months later, at the Old Bailey, where she was found guilty of stealing clothes from a sailor she had taken home (from the Angel public house!). This time she was found guilty and transported for seven years.

For some time I suspected that this Elizabeth was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah, but had no proof. I could not find her in the 1841 census. Then I had a thought – her mother had re-married. Was she entered under her step fathers name? It took me  a lot of searching but I eventually found Sarah (50) and Elsa (15) Higgat in the Regents Park area of St Pancras. Elsa was in fact Eliz-th. Ages are rounded down in the 1841 census, so although Elizabeth was nearly 20, the age was entered as 15. The address was just Do (ditto) so I had to scroll back several pages to find the address – it was Cumberland Market – the address Elizabeth had given in her police statement. I love it when everything comes together.

Sarah Higgat and Elizabeth in the 1841 Census. Notice the name of John has been entered and crossed out – he was still a soldier at this date (Image

So what happened to Elizabeth? In the 1851 census John and Elizabeth Higgate have a visitor called Elizabeth Nul who fits the age and place of birth of Elizabeth. Her occupation is dressmaker. The other member of the household is a two-year old “nurse child” called Ellen White, place of birth not known. I will leave it to my readers to draw any conclusions.

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