AS part of our weekly Crime Files series, we are taking a look back at the archives to bring you stories from Herefordshire's history.

The following story dates from 1801.

A BURGLAR and his accomplices were found hidden in a wheat field after escaping from their cells in Hereford in 1801.

Thomas Jones was sentenced to hang at the Hereford Summer Assizes in 1801.

The court heard Jones and two others had broken into the home of Edmund Stallard Esq, at The Moor in Clifford, which was later demolished after the Second World War.

The trio had entered Mr Stallard's bedroom, knocking him down and leaving him for dead before compelling housemaids to bring them lights and show them around the house while they ransacked it.

Six male servants, who were sleeping in the outhouses, were left undisturbed until the robbers left.

All three were soon caught and committed, but it was not long before they were back on the streets, having broken out of jail alongside a sheep rustler.

The four, it was reported, had sworn to stand or fall by each other if attacked.

But they were separated, and Jones was recaptured in a wheat field at Eign Hill, taken back to the prison, and chained to the floor.


He confessed to his captors that he and his fellow escapees had been hiding in the field all day, sawing off their fetters, and at one point hearing their pursuers coming within a few yards of them.

Jones' accomplices were all let off, but Jones was capitally convicted and executed in front of the county gaol in Hereford by hanging on August 15 that year.

Seven others were also sentenced to hang at that summer's assizes; John Treherne for burgling the home of John Matthews in Bullingham, Lawrence Lary for burgling the Green Dragon Inn's coach office, 13-year-old Mart Evans for burgling the home of William Hollyock, Sarah Cooke for burgling the home of John Griffiths, Anne Harris for breaking into the home of James Pendry and stealing money, Robert Cooke for horse stealing, and James Green for sheep stealing, but all were reprieved.