Thursday, 22 December 2011

22nd December 1811: Burglary at Lewcote Gate, West Hallam

At 1 a.m. on 22nd December, the home and grocery shop premises belonging to Elizabeth Handley at Lewcote Gate, West Hallam, were broken into by a number of men, whose faces were covered with handkerchiefs. Gaining entry through the shop, 2 of the men confronted Handley in her bedroom, holding a pistol to her head, while the third went through her belongings, taking all of her money as well as a diamond ring. They warned her not to raise the alarm, and then joined the other raiders in the shop downstairs. The burglars set about helping themselves to the contents of the shop, including all of Handley's cowslip wine and even cooked bacon on the fire. After spending an hour eating and drinking, they took a horse from a neighbouring field and made off. The horse, which belonged to a neighbour of Handley, a Mr Chouler, was found the following morning a mile away, near to the toll bar at Ilkeston. The only trace of the raiders was an empty bottle of cowslip wine, which was found half a mile from Handley's house.

Over the next 2 weeks, South Derbyshire would be beset by a series of burglaries, of which the raid at Handley's home and shop would be the first.

As reported in the Derby Mercury of 2nd January 1812.

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