– poaching remains Buckinghamshire
several young pheasants were stolen from the outskirts of Chesham.
A gamekeeper used to be employed to protect the birds against poachers trying to steal them. Some gamekeepers used to be poachers so knew all the tricks of the trade, hence the phrase ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’.
The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies provided us with the papers of Edmund Waller, of Hall Barn, Beaconsfield, which reveal poaching cases brought before him as a Justice of the Peace.
Gamekeeper James Coleman, from Beaconsfield, caught two poachers in 1788 including Joseph Jessep, a labourer from Beaconsfield, who used a wire engine, commonly used to destroy game, with intent to ‘kill and destroy the game of this kingdom’ when he was ‘not qualified by the laws of this realm to do so’.
Jack Lack from Beaconsfield gave evidence to say he saw Jessep with the wire engine. Jessep was found guilty and ordered to pay £5. He could not pay and so was imprisoned.
Mr Coleman also caught labourer Henry Lack, from Beaconsfield, with a hare in his possession, in March 1788. Lack admitted the offence and was ordered to pay £5.
Mr Waller also dealt with Ralph Parrott, a labourer from Chalfont St Giles, who in April 1788 was caught with two hares by the aforementioned Henry Lack. Parrott was ordered to pay £5 for each hare.
Thomas Green, a sawyer from Chalfont St Giles, was another poacher caught by Henry Lack using three wire engines in The Birchwood in Chalfont St Peter and was ordered to pay £5.
Finally, Thomas Smith, a shopkeeper from Denham, was caught with a hare in his possession by Richard Gibbons from Hedgerley. Mr Smith was summoned to
ng; (below) a brace of Mr Waller’s Beaconsfield home but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
While poaching is usually considered an old fashioned crime, it is still going on today.
After last week’s pheasant theft in Chesham, police took to Twitter to appeal for information, asking if people have been offered any for sale.
In 2011, a stretch of the River Chess was
than it’s ever been at the moment for hare coursing and
systematically poached of its fish, which resulted in the Angling Trust recruiting volunteers from angling clubs to work alongside officers from the Environment Agency to provide intelligence and check rod licences.
The trust also developed a Poacher Watch website for anglers to report poaching.
Farmers still have to deal with poaching today.
Chairman of the National Farmers’ Union’s Berks, Bucks and Oxon branch, Ian Waller, who owns Hampden Bottom Farm in Great Missenden, explains: “It’s worse than it’s ever been at the moment for hare coursing and deer poaching, but not so much pheasants any more.
“Hare coursing is totally illegal and they use hunting dogs, which is causing us a lot of problems, such as disturbing the livestock.”
To tackle the problem, farmers are forced to take extra precautions to secure their farms, such as padlocking gates.
“Things like that can sometimes be quite inconvenient,” Mr Waller said.
“It means you have to stop the vehicle in the middle of the road to open the gate rather than driving straight into the field.
“This sort of crime mainly happens at night and a lot of it doesn’t get reported because you can’t always get a good idea of what’s going on when it’s dark.
“I think the police are doing the best they can, certainly over the last five years or so they’ve focused more on rural crime.”
‘POACHING WAS RIFE’: Bucks county archivist Roger Bettridge