1884: A Farmer Robbed in a Shrewsbury Brothel

A farmer flush with cash looks for a cheap thrill but he proves a soft target for the experienced woman of Shrewsbury’s red light district.

Sarah Ann Burgess, Ellen Littlehales, and Margaret Griffiths, prostitutes, were brought in custody charged with having stolen £l7, the monies of Edward Bevan, grazier, Pentre, near Nescliff.

When the case was called on Bevan failed to answer to his name, and the Chief-constable explained that prisoners had been detained entirely on the prosecutor’s responsibility.

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As it was impossible to proceed with the case in the prosecutor’s absence, prisoners were discharged, and left the court accompanied a number of female friends.

It may be as well, however, to detail the circumstances under which prisoners were apprehended. It seems that yesterday morning Bevan brought into Shrewsbury two young bullocks and five lambs, which sold for £l9 7s. 6d.

He subsequently paid £l9 to a money lender, and received from him £16 on another account. This sum he placed into a calico bag. and altogether he had about £l7 in his possession.

Up to this time he had been accompanied by a boy, but on meeting the prisoner Burgess he gave the boy a shilling to go away. Bevan accompanied Burgess to a house in King’s Head Passage [in Mardol], and it is alleged that whilst there the money was taken out of his pocket the woman already mentioned [Burgess], and given to the other prisoners. The foolish man immediately discovered his loss, and from the information he gave to the police the women were apprehended.

shrewsbury square 2
Shrewsbury Square and the Old Market Hall where the farmer was laughed at by the ‘idlers’

As already stated, they were discharged this morning on account of the prosecutor’s absence but a few minutes afterwards (accompanied by his boy) he put in an appearance, and was apparently surprised to find he was just too late. On his way from the court he was loudly laughed at by the idlers who usually congregate beneath the Old Market Hall. It should be mentioned that only a small sum of money was found on the prisoners.

Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales – Wednesday 01 October 1884

You might wonder why he reported the matter to the police. The shame and embarrassment would have been enough to put many off, however when you consider that £17 in 1884 is the equivalent of around £820 in today’s money then you can see why.

For example with that money he could have bought a cow, or 31 stone in weight of wool, or if he so wished hired a builder for nearly 2 months.

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