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 1786.

A TEENAGE maid was executed after setting fire to a barn in Herefordshire in 1786.

Susannah Minton, of Kilpeck, was in the employ of Paul Gwatkin at the time of her crime.

The teenager, who was reported to have been of good character until committing the offence, had stolen a box belonging to her employer and containing "sundry items".

The papers of the time reported that Minton's mistress had exhibited some "articles of finery in her presence, which had proven a temptation not to be resisted by Minton, who was said to be of "weak intellect".

The Hereford Assizes heard that the young servant had come up with a plan to get her hands on the items by setting fire to a barn, which stood a short distance from the house.


She had set the fire in a bid to draw her employers and colleagues away from the house, the court heard, while she purloined the items.

Minton was found guilty of the offence of arson at the assizes, and sentenced to death.

Her behaviour ahead of her execution was "truly penitent", it was reported, as she confessed her crime and "acknowledged the justice of her sentence".

She approached the gallows, it was said, with quiet composure, and bore her fate with resignation and a "decent fortitude".