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Newspaper reports of Ann Orchard's trial

{Her first married name was Ann Dinham} 


Monmouthshire Beacon      

Saturday August 16, 1851

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Monmouthshire Summer Assizes


CROWN COURT   Friday August 8


(Before Mr Justice Erle)




Janet Matthews, charged with having feloniously married Charles Robinson, her former husband being then alive. -- One month’s imprisonment. [1]




BURGLARY AT USK -- Francis Davies stood charged with having, at Usk, on the 7th of January last, feloniously and burglariously broken and entered the dwelling-house of Hannah Barnard Davies. -- Mr Skinner prosecuted, and Mr Smythies defended. -- Ann Dinham had also been indicted with the prisoner Davies, for inciting and counselling certain persons to commit the above robbery.  Prisoner Dinham, who kept a public-house at Abergavenny, was formerly a dressmaker, and had been about four years ago working at the house of the prosecutrix, Miss Davies, making dresses for her and her sister.  This was thought to have given her an opportunity of knowing where the prosecutrix kept her plate and other valuable property.  Her husband [2] had absconded in consequence of the robbery, and could not be found. -- The first witness called was Henry Clarke who, having been found guilty on another charge of house-breaking last assizes, was now under sentence of transportation and brought from prison to give evidence in this case, in the character of a kind of Queen’s evidence, being himself an accomplice in the present burglary.  He said that on the 7th of January last, he was a lodger with the prisoner Dinham.  On that day Mrs. Dinham and her husband called him and the prisoner Davies up stairs, and they asked whether they would go that night and rob Mrs. Davies house.  The wife said there was plenty of money there; a gold watch worth £20 or £30, kept on the mantelpiece; money kept in a round thing like a stool; and that there were no locks on the doors, only bolts.  We went that night (continued the witness) across the chain bridge from Abergavenny to Usk.  We changed sixpence to pay for the going over the bridge.  When we arrived at Usk it was in the dead of night, and all was quiet.  We went to the house; bored a hole in the kitchen door, pulled back the bolt, and opened it.  When we were in, Davies struck a light.  We broke open several apartments, but could find no money nor the gold watch. -- We went to the cellaret, and found there some bottles of wine.  We broke into a cupboard, and took away a sugar tongs.  We went into one room and found some cards there.  We carried away some silver forks, a decanter, a sugar tongs and several other things.  On our way back we drank the contents of the bottles and got drunk, and lost the decanter and silver forks. -- Miss Hannah Barnard Davies, whom was rather deaf, stated that she remembered, about four years before the robbery, the prisoner Dinham working at her house.  There was at the time a gold watch in the house; this is a card (produced) I lost the night of the robbery.  This silver fork is mine; and this decanter is mine. -- Cross-examined; I remember that my servant gave the prisoner Dinham a glass of wine from the cellaret.  We were not in the habit of keeping plate there.  I had no reason to believe there was plate there when the servant gave prisoner the glass of wine. -- Mary Ann Davies, sister of the prosecutor: I had a gold watch.  I remember once putting it on the chimney-piece, while prisoner Dinham was measuring me for a dress. -- Elizabeth Davies: I take the toll on the chain bridge, near Usk.  I remember on the night of the robbery, at eleven o’clock, two men coming through the gate; they gave sixpence to pay.  I believe the prisoner Davies was one of the men. -- Francis Corbett: On the morning after the robbery, I found in my meadow, on the roadside between Usk and Abergavenny, the decanter just produced. -- Benjamin Hill: On the morning after the robbery, between Usk and Abergavenny, on the roadside, I found the fork just produced. -- Patrick Cusack stated that he apprehended the prisoners Clarke and Davies; but on searching them did not find about them the centre bits and other irons now produced.  I compared the irons with marks left in furniture and doors at Miss Davies’s house.  I went to prisoner Davies’s lodgings after and found that the centre bit corresponded with marks made by a centre bit at Davies’s lodgings.  These marks appeared to have been made by way of trying the centre bit.  I have before had both Davies and witness Clarke in custody.  I had frequently seen them both together, and also at Dinham’s house. -- Alfred Lewis: I am constable at Usk.  I produce these silver forks, this mesh, and pieces of door.  I once saw Mrs. Dinham, and spoke to her about the robbery.  I went to her house to make inquiries about the robbery, and called for a pint of beer.  She first asked me, had I found anything of the robbery at Miss Davies’s house?  I said, No.  I afterwards searched the house.  I found there some cards; and told her that Miss Davies had lost some cards, and I would take them into my custody.  These now produced are the cards. -- Thomas Watkins: I am police constable at Abergavenny; I was drawn to the cell of prisoners Davies and Clarke, by the noise I heard there.  I found the irons now produced.  They were picking the walls with them.  Having heard that the cards were found at the Dinham’s house, I took her into custody on the 18th May.  I had been looking for her before for some time, but could not find her.  Her husband is not to be found now anywhere. -- Henry Charles Watkins, another policeman at Abergavenny, said that he overheard two men conversing with the prisoners when in the lock-up.  one of them said to Davies, “It is a bad job about those irons they have found;” when he answered, “Yes, I am afraid they will do me on that.”  When I took Mrs. Dinham into custody, she was crying, and said, “I hope you will let me go this time.”  Clarke I believe was a servant at Dinham’s. -- Elizabeth Watts said: I live at Abergavenny, opposite prisoner Dinham.  Prisoner Davies lodged with me.  This centre bit found at our house did not belong to me.  I do not know who made the mark on the door. -- Mary Ann Wistance, with whom both Clarke and Davies had been lodging, said, I remember one day some time ago finding a centre bit in the house hidden.  Some time afterwards prisoner Davies came to me and claimed the centre bit and took it away under his jacket.  Both Clarke and Davies had been lodging with me. -- Benjamin Walker: I was last winter foddering cattle at my farm near Abergavenny, and found in the butt wall this centre bit; and in two days prisoner Davies came to me, and made enquiries about it.  I gave it to him, and he took it away.  -- David Isaacs, pawnbroker, Abergavenny:  Prisoner Davies came to me, and asked whether it was 14 or 16 ounces that were to the pound of silver, and what it was per pound; that he had made a wager about that with a person.  I told him we bought it generally by the ounce at the rate of 5s. per ounce. -- The jury found both prisoners guilty, but recommended the female prisoner to mercy, believing that she acted under the coercion of her husband.  His Lordship said that their recommendation should receive his due consideration, and that in order to make enquiries how far she had been influenced by her husband, he would defer the sentence of both prisoners to the morning.  A former conviction of felony was proved against the prisoner Davies.



SATURDAY, August 9


(Before Mr Justice Erle.)




The court this morning, having opened at nine, was in a few minutes crowded to excess in every part, owing to the intense interest the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood felt in the following trial for perjury, the defendant in which, now resident at Cardiff, is a native of Monmouth.




Several prisoners, whose sentences had been deferred yesterday, were now placed at the bar to receive the rewards of their respective crimes.  His Lordship sentenced them as follows:-


Francis Davies, to whom his Lordship said that he had led a long career of the most flagrant crime, was sentenced for the burglary at the house of Miss H B Davies, Usk, to twenty years transportation.


Ann Dinham, who was found guilty of instituting and counselling prisoner Davies and others to commit the above offence, next received her doom, the Judge remarking that he had made inquiries as to how far she had been influenced by her husband and that he did not know a more remarkable degree of guilt than that of hers.  He then sentenced her to ten years transportation. [3]


David Evans, for stealing two sovereigns, the property of Robert White, Tredegar, was sentenced to three months’ hard labour.


Joseph Lindsey, for stealing a gig apron and strap, the property of Philip Williams, was sentenced to two months’ hard labour.


William Perry, for stealing a tarpauling, one month and hard labour.




The Times       Tuesday August 12 1851






MONMOUTH, August 9




CROWN COURT -- (Before Mr Justice ERLE)


Francis Davies was indicted for a burglary on the 7th of January, in the house of Miss Hannah B. Davies, at Usk, and Anne Denham for inciting him to commit the same.


Mr Skinner conducted the prosecution, and Mr Smythies the defence.


This case was remarkable for the train of circumstantial evidence by which the guilt of the woman was established.   The principal witness was a man named Clarke, who was under sentence of transportation for another offence.   He stated that he had been a lodger in the house of a man named John Denham [4] , the husband of the prisoner, who had been an officer of Monmouth gaol, and afterwards set up the trade of a marine storedealer [5] ; that he and the prisoners and John Denham planned the burglary in question, and that the prisoner Anne told them that they would find a gold watch on the mantelpiece and some wedge (a cant word for silver plate) in a short round thing like a stool, in the house of Miss Davies, and described the house to them; that, following her directions, Davies and himself got into the house and broke open a cellaret, which they thought answered the description of a short round thing like a stool, but found no plate in it; nor did they find a watch on the mantelpiece, but they found some plate in other parts of the house, and took it away, and also a stick, which had belonged to an old gentleman who had resided in the house, and a pack of cards and a bottle of spirits, which last they drank on the road back, and which made them intoxicated.  They had used as a wedge for forcing open a door a wooden mesh for netting, and, in their hurry, left it behind.  On their arrival at Denham’s, they threw mud against a window as a sign for him to let them in, and he accordingly did so.  Anne Denham, on seeing the stick, said, “why, this is the old man’s stick.  What do you keep this for?” and burnt it immediately.  Clarke further stated that Denham went to Bristol the next day to sell the plate, and on his return divided the proceeds between himself, Clarke, and Davies.  A few days afterwards, to an inquiry by Patrick Cusack, a very sharp and shrewd police officer, as to how the mud had got on the window, Anne said that two drunken men had flung it there.  Cusack at the same time seeing a pack of cards in the house, took them up and said, “Cards were lost out of Miss Davies’s house and therefore I shall take these.”  Anne thereupon cried, and begged of him not to do so.  This pack was identified as the one lost from Miss Davies’s.  It was proved that on the night of the burglary a stick belonging to an old gentleman was stolen from the house, and that about four years ago Anne was working as a dressmaker in the house, and had seen a gold watch on the mantelpiece and the plate in the cellaret; and that in neither case were watch or plate kept in those places, but merely happened to be so on that occasion.  The mesh left behind at Miss Davies’s matched with a needle found at the prisoner Davies’s lodgings.  A centrebit, proved to belong to Davies, fitted the holes bored in the door.  The tollkeeper of the chain bridge at Usk proved that a person much like Davies passed that bridge, which is about a mile from the scene of the burglary, about two hours before the time that the burglary was committed, and in taking his change turned his head away from the light as if to avoid recognition.

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After a very long investigation both prisoners were convicted, and Davies was sentenced to be transported for life, and Denham for 10 years.


[1] Bigamy was obviously a minor misdemeanour!

[2] William Cozens Dinham (born Bath 1825, see 1851 Census record for Monk Street, Abergavenny MON)

[3] One wonders what “inquiries” the judge could have made overnight to come to this conclusion!  It is also notable that there is no reference whatsoever to Ann being the mother of two small children and no consideration of their fate.  (The children are noted in her convict record in Tasmania.)

[4] “The Times” uses the spelling “Denham” and refers to Ann’s husband as “John” throughout.  This is not the only difference between the reports in the “Beacon” and “The Times”; the name of the arresting officer and Davies’ sentence also differ.

[5] "Marine store dealer" was a common term used to describe a dealer in scrap materials or second-hand goods. Today it would be probably called a "junk shop". Marine store dealers were often suspected of dealing in stolen property.

This page belongs to Bryan Pready .