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1909: Thief at Tentercroft

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Brighton Gazette - Wednesday 31 March 1909


A Haywards Heath Charge

An interesting story was unfolded at the Haywards Heath PT sessions on Monday with regard to four £5 notes, which a fashionably dressed young woman, giving the name of Mary Louise Bowdage (alias Naylor and Vivian) was charged with stealing from the house of Lieutenant Colonel Woods, of Tentercroft, Cuckfield.

Edward Anscombe, postmaster at Cuckfield, said that on the 12th of October last, he received from Haywards Heath post office four £5 bank notes, which were paid out next day.

Mary A Keape, wife of Albert Keape, Cuckfield, said that in October last she was employed at the Cuckfield Post office. On 13th of October a Miss Woods drew £20 out of the post office savings bank, the money being paid to her in four £5 notes; they were put into a registered envelope and addressed to Clonsilla, Dublin.

Mrs Woods, wife of Lieutenant Colonel Woods, Tentercroft, said prisoner lived with her as housekeeper. In October she received for £5 notes from Dublin. She put them in her writing desk the same day as they were received. On 11th or 12th of December they were missing. The envelope the notes came in was addressed by her sister-in-law who lived at Clonsilla, Dublin.

Stapleton Fulke Greville, Clark in the bank of England, produced for £5 Bank of England notes. They were all stamped with the Haywards Heath post office stamp, dated 12th of October. They have been paid in by several London banks.

Mrs Woods could not identify the handwriting of the endorsements.

Mr Anscombe said no banknotes were paid out from the Cuckfield post office on 12th of October other than the four £5 pound notes.

Law court and Police Station in Paddockhall Road where trial was held

How the notes were changed.

Frederick Hoadley, grocer, Cuckfield, manager of Mrs Binny and co-, said he knew prisoner as Mrs Naylor living at Tentercroft Cuckfield. About the 19th of November, at 8 o'clock in the morning, he changed a £5 note for her, and paid it into the firms banking account. Henry Holden, booking clerk, I. E. And S. C. R., now stationed at Crowborough, formerly of Haywards Heath, said that in November last he cashed a £5 note for a passenger early one morning. It was paid in on the 25th of November.

Ethel Holland, assistant to Messrs Dickens and Jones, Regent Street, London, said the prisoner ordered goods to the amount of £2.03 shillings and nine pence and paid with a £5 note. She gave the name of Mrs Naylor, Tentercroft, Cuckfield.

P. S. Suter, Haywards Heath said on the 15th of March he went to London and found prisoner detained at Scotland Yard. She made no reply when he read the warrant. P. S. Thomas Davis, of the Metropolitan police, said to him in prison his presence that he arrested her at a boarding house at Bedford Place, at 1 am, and whilst searching a chest of drawers she produced a bank passbook, on which was written the name of Mrs Naylor. Prisoner said it was the only thing she had belonging to them (meaning the woods). She said she had done nothing with it, but had put her name on it to make people believe she had money. She added, “This comes of doing silly things for other people. It's awful to be so degraded. I must be thoroughly bad.”

The clerk said the passbook belonged to the woods.

Prisoners lodgings searched

Witness said he went to prisoner's lodgings at Bedford Place Whitehall and searched her room. He found an envelope produced, and a number of cheques (produced). On the 16th of March he charged her with stealing four £5 notes, the property of Colonel Albert Henry woods. She made no reply. Later in the day on the way to Lewes prison she said, “Will the case be finished next Monday? it will simplify matters if I tell you I took the notes. I changed one at Beeny’s and one at the Euston Hotel. I cannot think for the minute where I changed the others. I am ashamed of myself, but I meant to have replaced them, only Mrs Woods discovered they were gone before I could do so. I cannot help it. If I see anything I must take it and convert it into money. It has much attraction for me. About a fortnight after I came out of my last three months, I was staying with some friends from whom I stole a prayer book, but I was not found out. It seems as if I must take it; and when I come out I shall go on just the same, if I do not get into a home or a convent where they would be strict with me. I do not want to end my days in prison”.

Prisoner was committed for trial to the quarter sessions.



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