Quarter Sessions.

William Owen and the case of the Saw Pit Roller

November 1818


Q/SR/411, Quarter Sessions rolls for Epiphany 1819.


Folio 25

The examination of William Owen taken before Robert Smith Esquire.


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Folio 24

Information against William Owen taken before Robert Smith Esquire.


The statement of Christopher Harding.


The statement of  Eliza King.


The statement of  Thomas King.

the said Christopher Harding for himself saith that

between the thirteenth ___and fifteenth ____ days

of November instant, one Ash __ Pitt Roller, of

the value of two shillings and sixpence the property of

this Informant, was feloniously stolen taken and

carried away from his saw pit in the Parish of

Milverton aforesaid, and that he hath good cause to

suspect and doth suspect that William Owen

the younger, _ _ _ who is now present, did feloniously

steal taken and carry away the same, and this

Informant further saith that he hath looked on the

Saw Pitt Roller now in the custody of the said Informant

Thomas King, which is the Saw Pitt Roller aforesaid.

the said Eliza King for herself saith that about

nine oClock on Saturday night she went from

the dwelling house of her husband Thomas King

to get some fire, that she saw Betty Owen, wife of the

said William Owen who is now present, and who

lives near the House of this Informant’s Husband coming

towards the said William Owen’s house with something

under her arm, that she this Informant heard a noise and

looked up the road and saw the said William Owen roll a


piece of timber, out over the Hedge into the Road about one

hundred yards from where this informant

was standing, that it was a moon light night, that this Informant

then went and called her Husband, who was near and

desired him to go up to William Owen as he had thrown

something out over the Hedge into the Road, and this

Informant thought it was something belonging to Mr Leekey

her Husband’s landlord, that this Informant and her

Husband went up to the place where William Owen was standing,

that her Husband said what is that you William, and the said

William Owen said there I found it, and there I’ll have

it, and thee may take it.

the said Thomas King for himself saith that on Saturday

evening last night last about nine oClock the said

Informant Eliza, his wife told him that the said William

Owen now present had thrown something out over the

Hedge into the road near this Informants Dwelling

House and desired this Informant to go and see what it

was, that this Informant then went up to the said William

Owen, and when this Informant came near him the said

William Owen came towards this Informant, that Informant

said to him what is that you William, and the said

William Owen said something but what it was this

Informant cannot tell, that this Informant then took

took up a piece of timber which was against a gate were

the said William Owen was standing and carried it home

to his own house and found it was a Saw Pitt Roller, and

it is the same Saw Pitt Roller which this Informant

and it is the saw Pitt Roller which this Informant hath

produced to the said Informants Christopher Harding,

and Samuel Potter, and the same is now in this

Informant’s possession.

With the evidence against him William Owen was committed to Wilton gaol to await his trial.


Q/AGW/15/2  Wilton Gaol Description Register


Entry for William Owen of Milverton 17 November 1818


Epiphany session 1819 Calendar Orders &c.


William Owen   -    The Kings evidence not bring ready and he having entered into a Recognizance to appear at the next Session to answer an indictment to be preferred against him for stealing one Ash Sawpit Roller the property of Christopher Harding Let him be discharged.


William Owen did not appear at the next session (Easter 1819 Q/SR/412) or the following session (Midsummer 1819 Q/SR/413).


What’s the bigger picture


This is what makes family history come alive. All these people are part of an active community, a small village, where everyone has their part to play. Checking other records adds more to the picture each snapshot of the past adding to the overall  so it becomes almost tangible, it is almost possible to look through the window and see back in time. I hope I’m not being too melodramatic or sentimental.


We have Christopher Harding, Gentleman, the owner of a saw-mill, Thomas King the blacksmith and his wife Eliza and Samuel Potter a carpenter (and forensic examiner). They all present compelling evidence before Robert Smith which indicts William Owen of stealing an Ash saw-pit roller. William Owen is sent to gaol to await his trial at the next sessions. After spending 55 days incarcerated he appears at the sessions to learn that the Kings evidence has not been prepared.


Was an ‘Out of Court’ settlement reached? The evidence against William seemed overwhelming It is my belief, that the rest of the family must have stepped in to somehow secure William’s release. William’s grandfather, father, 4 uncles (including my great-great-great-grandfather) and 5 brothers were all living in Milverton, at that time, or was it the women.

Or did Christopher Harding think William’s time in gaol was punishment enough, he did get his roller back after all.




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The statement of  Samuel Potter.


the said ^ Thomas Potter for himself saith that he hath seen

the ash Saw Pitt Roller, now in the possession of the

said Informant Thomas King, and that he knows the

same to be the property of the said Informant

Christopher Harding, and that he this Informant now

hath several times seen the same

^ the said Saw Pitt Roller at the said Christopher Hardings

Saw Pitt in Milverton aforesaid on Friday last that on

Sunday morning last, he this Informant went to the said

Saw Pitt of the said Christopher Harding, and saw the

print of a man’s shoe there, and by which it appeared

that a man had lately been at the said Saw Pitt, that

yesterday he this Informant compared a shoe that was

taken off the Foot of the said William Owen now

present, with the print at the said Saw Pitt, and it

exactly corresponds with the Shoe of the said William

Owen, and also with the nails in the said Shoe.

William Owen

R Smith Esq

Nov 17








By whom committed








Married or





- - - - - -

Removed to the sessions Jan 11th 1819

Sessions or Assizes


How discharged and when


Several old sores on L leg cut on the upper lip cut on 3rd & small finger of R hand latter crooked




Stealing Timber

If maimed or otherwise particularly marked

Where born


Last Residence

Charge or Offence