Pobjoys and the Law

Dealings with the law are both carefully preserved and readily located. Wills, leases, bankruptcy proceedings and the like are of great assistance in researching family history, but other records can be more colourful. Below is some of what these records reveal about Pobjoy victims and perpetrators of crime and guardians of public order.

James Popioy of Norton St Philip (1635-1705): Assault on an excise man
Richard Pobjoy of Frome (1670-??): Victim of theft
Isaac Pobgee of Frome (1674-1737):
Samuel Pobjoy of Frome (1681-1755): Victim of theft
Thomas Popejoy of Ramsbury (1712-62): Constable of the Parish
Sarah Pobjoy of Mells (living 1757): Victim of theft
Abraham Pobjoy of Frome (1720-63?): Alleged assault
John Barnes als Popjay (d 1751): Hanged for rape
Fortescue(?) Pobjoy of London (?) (living 1802): Criminal conversation
Joseph Pobjoy of Brixton (1793-1833): Toll dodging
John Pobjoy of London and Van Diemen's Land (1800-1833): Theft of a horse
Jasper Popjoy of Norton St Philip (1807-??): Charged with highway robbery
George Popjoy of Bath and Western Australia (1816-93): Highway robbery
John and James Popjoy of Bath and Australia: Theft
James Popjoy of Reading(?) (d 1852): Death in prison
Samuel Morris Popejoy of London (living 1854): Organised pickpocketing
Matilda Pobjoy of Bath (1839-79): Victim of theft
Jane Popejoy of Bagshot (1880-98): Starved and beaten by her mistress

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James Popioy of Norton St Philip (1635-1705):
Assault on an excise-man

Non compt Ricus Greenland de Norton St Phes for assaultinge Wm Burford
an Exciseman Bridges, Harrington, Roynon Jacobus Popioy de eadm p con
Quarter session records, Wells, XVIII Car 2 (8th Jan 1666/67), Somerset Record Office Q/SO/6 p.107

Marek Lewcun, who gave me this reference, has made a study of 17th century clay pipemakers of Norton St Philip, including Richard Greenland and James Pobjoy. He has in his possession two of the latter's pipes, stamped 'IAME PBGE' and 'IAMES POBJAY'. For James's family, see the pages on the descendants of Walter and Margaret.

Abraham Pobjoy of Frome (1720-63?):
Alleged assault

On 21st Nov 1729 Abraham Pobjoy of Frome, Somerset, and Isaac Pobjoy of the same, labourer, pledged the sums of 20 shillings and 10 shillings respectively to Richard Champneys, lord of the Manor of Ordchardleigh and Justice of the Peace, that Abraham Pobjoy should personally appear at the next General Quarter Sessions to be held at the city of Wells and "there answer all such indictments as should be preferred against him touching his assaulting and beating John Moxham" and that he should not depart the court without leave.

This is recorded in a 'recognizance', a receipt issued in the manorial court. Parchment recognizances for the county, strung together and rolled into dusty bundles, are kept in the vaults of the Somerset Record Office. Many thanks to Marek Lewcun who, at some risk to his health and eyesight, has worked through them extracting references to families with Norton St Philip connections.

Who are the Abraham and Isaac in question? Abraham, son of Jacob and Ann Pobjay, who was baptised at St James, Trowbridge, in 1720 and Isaac his brother, buried at St John's, Frome, in 1731, are too young. Isaac Pobjay (1713-1773?) had a brother Abraham who died as an infant, as did his father Isaac (1674-1737?). Another Abraham Pobjay, son of Isaac, was buried in Frome in 1740, but was apparently an infant. The jury will have to stay out on this one!

John Barnes als Popjay (d 1751):
Hanged for rape

"At the delivery of the gaol of our Lord the King of the County of Somersett holden at the Castle of Taunton in and for the same County on Monday the 30th day of March [1751]" James Lumbard, William Toope and John Barnes alias Popjoy pleaded guilty and were sentenced to be severally hanged for a rape committed against Mary Hill, spinster. The said James Lumbard, William Toope and John Barnes alias Popjoy pleaded not guilty to feloniously robbing the aforesaid Mary Hill in a field near the Highway of Shinnon Capser (barely legible - Shepton Mallet?).

Gaol books 1729-1753, Public Record Office ASSI 23/6

Thanks to Marek Lewcun for spotting a reference to this execution in the Bath Journal. It is difficult to identify the particular John Pobjoy this record relates to. Why was he also known as John Barnes - was he illegitimate? While it is conceivable that someone called Popjay could take the alias 'Barnes' to conceal their identity, the reverse seems unlikely!

The name 'Toop' is not uncommon in contemporary Frome. There is a Pobjoy connection in the 1786 marriage of Robert, son of John Pobjoy, to Rachel Toop. Robert was born in 1753, however, so is clearly not John Barnes's son.

Fortescue? Pobjoy of London(?) (living 1802):
Criminal conversation

Joseph Pobjoy of Brixton (1793-1833):
Toll dodging

There were Pobjoy drovers and butchers in Brixton until 1830. Meat came into London on the hoof until the railways were built, and it was only in the 1860s that milk was brought in from the country. At this point some of the South London Pobjoys moved to Islington where the Metropolitan Cattle Market was established.

Under the heading CAUTION TO DROVERS & CATTLE DRIVERS the Times for 13th May 1820 reports an attempt to avoid payment for using one of the toll-roads that led into London:

Joseph Pobjoy of Brixton was yesterday brought before the sitting magistrate [at Union-Hall] charged... with evading the toll of Kennington-gate upon 200 sheep by an altered ticket from the Kingston-gate.- Fined 40s and costs

For Joseph's family, see the descendants of William and Sarah

Jasper Popjoy of Norton St Philip (1807-??):
Charged with highway robbery

From the Times, 12th Aug 1826

Wells Summer Assizes, 8th August

...James Francis, aged 15, and Jasper Popjoy, aged 17, were indicted for assaulting Thomas Cray, on the King's highway, putting him in fear and feloniously taking from him two 1 notes of the Bladud Bank.

The prosecutor was an old military pensioner, receiving his pension every quarter at Bath. On the occasion in question he had received it (3) in notes of the Bladud Bank. He stopped at a public-house, at which the prisoner Francis was employed, as an occasional ostler. He left there almost tipsy, and was stopped about quarter of a mile off, as he said, by the two prisoners, who robbed him of the two remaining notes, and the change he had received out of the other. He admitted he was not sober. One of the prisoners changed a note of the Bladud Bank on the following day; but the prosecutor could not identify it; and it was admitted by one of the witnesses that the Bladud Bank-notes were in very general circulation.

The Jury acquitted the prisoners.

The old soldier - perhaps a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars - must have felt very aggrieved that the theft of his 3 months' pension went unpunished. The roads leading up out of Bath to the south were evidently no safer in 1826 than when James Pobjay had feared "ruffins" on his journey home in 1770, or than when William Harding tottered back home 30 years' later (see above George Popjoy).

Jasper and his sister Agnes married a Bull sister and brother, Mary and George. James and Mary - who was born in the Scilly Isles - were not in Somerset at the time of the 1841 census, but the 1851 census shows them back in Norton St Philip. But by 1861 Mary is a widow on parish relief, although there is no record of Jasper's death in the civil indexes or burial in the parish registers. It is possible that he been transported.

For Jasper's family, see the pages on the descendants of Richard and Mary.

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