It’s surprising what you can find out from the comfort of an armchair. All manner of weird and wonderful stories can be found in old local newspapers, which can be looked up on the internet. Most present some sort of human interest. And all the more interesting when it involves your own family!
Mrs Armitage’s ducks
The earliest Dexter “clipping” I have found involves William Dexter (born in Ticknall, about 1770).
The Derby Mercury for 3 December 1789 contains this:
In the Derby Records Office (again via the internet) I also found his “voluntary confession” dated 5 December 1789 taken by a Justice of the Peace. It reads,
“On Monday night last, he with a dog of William Bryant went into Mrs Armitage’s yard, that in a coal house in the said yard he set the dog at some ducks, that the dog killed two of the said ducks in the coal house and he caught one himself, that he took the three ducks away with him, that he took the two dead ones to his uncle John Bacon who received the same from him, that he put the live duck into John [. . .]’s stable, and afterwards turned it into William Hoolley’s yard.”
A William also appears again on 15 January in 1823, stealing hay. Is this the same old rogue? We know our William had a younger brother, Thomas. Imprisoned for one month.
And now in the Leicester Chronicle for 10 December 1842, “obtaining a cart under a false representation.” Maybe this is William again?
Dexter crimes seemed many and varied. This, from the Derby Daily Telegraph reporting in February 1887. Thomas Dexter farmer of Derby Hills was accused of “allowing an ass to stray”.
And sometimes we were on the side of the law. From the Mercury for 1 July 1896, Richard Dexter giving evidence against someone accused of stealing rushes.
Even giving evidence against a family member (Derby Daily Telegraph – 15 October 1903)! Not all the newspaper clippings will reproduce here but in this case John Dexter is giving evidence against his own son-in-law John Loake for being drunk and disorderly in his (John Dexter’s) home and for “using bad language and wanting to fight”!
Low fat milk
One headline was “Fat wanted!” (Derby Daily Telegraph – 17 July 1909) This was a case of a farmer being accused of watering down his milk to be able to sell more of it. The farmer is our Henry Dexter of Oaks Farm, then aged 83 years. Henry claimed the inspector had not stirred the milk enough before it was tested! Fined 1 shilling and costs of £1.
And dear old uncle Philip! (Derby Daily Telegraph – 13 January 1913). Older members of the family recalled stories about his drinking. Found in Main Street (he would have been 43 years) “lying on the ground, very drunk and incapable of looking after himself.” Fined 1 shilling or seven days hard labour!
And finally, a drowning from the Derby Daily Telegraph (26 June 1905). Richard Dexter, our relative, was called as a witness at an inquest held at the Wheel Inn. A man had been found drowned after swimming in a pond nearby. A sad tale but with a co-incidence. The drowned man is believed to be an ancestor of Teresa Johnson. Teresa is a mainstay of many local Ticknall research activities, including helping to put together the First World War event in 2014.