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 1843.

A THIEF was transported for seven years after stealing ducks from a Herefordshire village.

Labourer William Yapp appeared before a court charged with stealing four ducks and two drakes from John Pugh of Downton on the Rock, on the border with Shropshire, in March 1843.

The court heard from waggoner Thomas Morris that he had got up at about 5am on the morning of the theft and heard someone leaving the house by the back door.

On investigating, he spotted a man running away in the dark and chased him to a wall, where he lost sight of him.

But when he returned to the spot in the daylight, he found a white hat and a bag containing four freshly killed ducks and two drakes.

Further investigation revealed that six of the eight ducks that had been shut away in the duckhouse the night before were missing.

Another witness, Thomas Watkins, said he had been going to work at around 6am on the morning the crime was discovered when he saw the prisoner coming down the road leading from Downton.


Yapp, who was hatless, appeared "very warm" and was wiping the sweat from his face with a blue and white pocket handkerchief, the court heard.

The white hat found at the scene was produced in court and identified by a Mary Prosser as a hat which she had sold to the prisoner, and further confirmed as belonging to Yapp by a Thomas Brown.

PC Richardson, who had apprehended the prisoner at about 9am that morning said a comparison of his shoes with tracks found at the scene of the crime found they matched, while his pockets were bloody and contained duck feathers.

The 26-year-old, who was reported to be of bad character, was found guilty and transported for seven years for the theft.

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