John Pallett, the constable for Shearsby in 1841 brought a case to the Lutterworth Petty Sessions on Thursday 6 May, charging James Pawley, William Coleman, Mary Harris and Mary Allen with creating a riot and attempting to rescue a prisoner from his custody.
The previous Saturday he had been at the same court to see Sarah Whitmore committed to a House of correction for three months as a rogue and a vagabond. John Pallett, along with the other two village constables, Richard Messenger and John Wilde, had described her as a woman of loose character, convicted before as a disorderly person who had left her illegitimate children chargeable to the parish.
On arriving back at Shearsby the constables and their charge had stopped off at a public house. The first such house on their route back from Lutterworth would have been at the Baths, a couple of fields before the village itself. It was during this break that Whitmore requested to be allowed “to retire a few minutes”. Pallett granted this request, but, after some time had elapsed and she had not come back, he went in search of the prisoner and found that she had escaped through the back of the premises. She could just be spotted heading down the street in the company of James Pawley.
John Pallett roused the other two constables and they set off in pursuit, soon re-capturing the escapee. But by now others had gathered around her. the constables described ‘a mob’ which followed the party through some fields until they arrived at a stile where a scuffle broke out and Pallett was struck by William Coleman. The constables were able to carry on into the town street in the village itself, but were followed by the mob, who used exceedingly bad language and were throwing stones (and ‘etc’). One stone thrown by Mary Harris struck John Pallett on the shoulder. Mary Allen and James Pawley were present and encouraging the mob but did not use violence themselves.
William Coleman and Mary Harris were convicted and charged 15s. 3d. each in penalty and costs while James Pawley and Mary Allen were acquitted.
In the 1841 census, James Pawley (30) was found in Hill Street a few doors up from Mary Harris (51). John Pallett (25) was a blacksmith and living on Mill Street. Mary Allen (22) lived in Mill Street. Richard Messenger (25) was a farmer living in Church Street.
The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, April 24, 1841
The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 15, 1841
“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NPC8-YBM : 6 December 2014), Sarah Whitmore, 23 Mar 1806; citing SHEARSBY, LEICESTER, ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 595,767