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1851: Haywards Heath home: robber confesses

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Oxford Journal - Saturday 26 April 1851


Lewes, Tuesday, April 22.

Since the committal of James Hamilton (the magistrates having refused to take his evidence on behalf of the Crown), he has made a full confession of all the burglaries which he and the gang have been engaged in during the last twelve months. The document is of a very extraordinary character, and shows the immense amount of daring possessed by these men. He has also made some revelations to the police officers engaged in the case, by which they have been enabled to discover the receivers of the stolen property, but for obvious reasons we are prevented at present from mentioning their names. It is, however, believed, that some portion of the great amount of valuable property which has been stolen may yet he restored to the owners.

Hamilton, in the commencement of his confession, states that the gang consisted of himself, Levi Harwood and Samuel Jones (hung for the murder of Mr Hollest), Samuel Harwood, John and Edward Isaacs, Wm. Brooks, Joseph Carter, John and James Jones, alias Smith, Hiram Smith, Thomas Toot, alias Morgan, William Hilyer, John Brooks, Alary Crowder, Sarah White, and James Jones. John Isaacs was duly elected captain; and all the others acted under his directions. They were all sworn to obey the orders of the captain; and if any one attempted to back out or refused to take part in any robbery or murder, if necessary, he or she was to be instantly shot: and if any one left the gang without the consent of the captain, he or she was to be followed, and, if overtaken, to be shot.

He then proceeded to describe the mode in which several other burglaries in which they were concerned were effected. The principal of these was in the house of two ladies of the name of Kennard, at Hayward's Heath, which was perpetrated the second day after the Kirdford burglary. A large quantity of plate and other property was amongst the booty on this occasion, and the approver minutely describes the manner in which it was apportioned.

Poster advertising a £20 Reward for information leading to apprehension of robbers who stole from the Kennards in Haywards Heath

The particulars of the robbery at Miss Farncomb's, in which nearly the whole of the gang were implicated, are also given. In this case also, several watches, trinkets, plate, and a considerable sum in money were carried off. It is estimated that the amount of property stolen by these men during the last two years cannot be less than £1,500. When Isaacs was apprehended at Frome, Mr. Morten, the superintendent of the Tunbridge Wells police, succeeded in tracing to the possession of the prisoner a valuable diamond ring, a gold chain, and a silver hunting watch, which were a portion of the property stolen from the Misses Farncomb in December last. These articles were not on his person, but in the house where he was staying.

Mr. Morten immediately seized them, and the friends of the prisoner forthwith applied to the County Court at Frome, and procured a summons, which has been served on Mr. Morten, for the amount of £10. 10s., the alleged value of the articles.

The band of burglars known as "' the Frimley gang" is now completely broken up.



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