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I have come across this prison offence for one of my ancestors:

Sentence

I have read the offence to be:

Trespass, Damaging Underwood fence

This offence was in 1844.

I understand this offence to mean that my ancestor trespassed a fence to a wooded area of some kind. I am not sure if this is what the term meant in the mid 1800s.

The sentence was one month in prison. Her husband also had children from his first wife who died. And his firstborn also had a prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread. He had some other sentences. Life must have been hard for them.

Have I understood the offence correctly?

  • @ColeValleyGirl I can’t see any definitions for Lindenwood. – Andrew Truckle Aug 25 '19 at 17:58
  • @ColeValleyGirl Now I can find references to linden wood fence panels. Thanks. – Andrew Truckle Aug 25 '19 at 18:06
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    Lucky I didn't make my guess an answer :) – ColeValleyGirl Aug 26 '19 at 5:55
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I think you'll find it's actually

Trespass Damaging underwood fine / 2

(I'm assuming it is the second of the two similar offences shown)

"Underwood" in this contest was the small trees & shrubs that grew beneath the taller timber trees.

If the fine wasn't paid, then a prison sentence would follow. This is what I suspect has happened to your ancestor.


If you look in this volume of Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons, there is an example on page 617 from the returns of Berkeley in Gloucestershire where the listed offences included "damaging underwood". The entry also has a column showing the "Maximum and Minimum Term of Imprisonment if Fine not paid".


It is also worth checking the British Newspaper Archive for 1844 to see whether the conviction made the local papers. If so, it is possible that will give you further detail or context.

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