The Poacher's Tale 3.

"Not far from were I was, there was a big wood, called Narborough Contract, and there a lot of pheasants used to come out and feed.  Well, I got the Idea I could snare them, and I sone rigged some snars and had a try.  I was not verry sucsesful at first, but sone got the hang of that Job …… Well, I was never suspected and got on fairly well, but….. haven time on my hands I must go and get had, and not over Pheasants either."

"It was this way.  In the villige there was a large amount of Comon land, of corse it was enclosed as there were plenty of

rabbits there, and I sone got to work snaren them.  Some kind frend gave me away, and wen I went one morning there was a Policeman and  Keeper there waiten for me."

"Wen it came to it, the Justice of the Piece sentenced me to a Month's hard Labour, wich I did at Norwich Castle"

"Wen I got home everyone looked at me as if I had done some terrible crime, or I thought they did posibly. …………. There is one thing I would like to say to all those who read this book, and that is, never you go to prisson if you can avoid it.  It is not the punishment that hurt you, it is the dark looks and jeers of other People that hurt wen they know you have been there."

These short extracts from the book,  about the Poacher's boyhood in Pentney, are just a taste of the whole thing.  If you once start to read it, you will not want to put it down until it is finished!  The book paints a vivid picture of the stark realities of life for the poor, in Rural Victorian England.  However, it is not a sad book, though sometimes a tragic story unfolds.  The Poacher is a natural philosopher, ending the book with these words:

" Well, I must bring this book to a close.  There is one thing I wuld like to say and that is I have never raided a hen Rost with all the bad deeds that I have done.  I always had the Idea that game was as much mine as any one elses.  Did not God say that he gave all the Beasts and Birds for the use of Man, not the rich alone, and the Green herbs for the healing of the Nation.
I envy not the Ritch man's lot, not the Prince his dream.  I have took a fair share of the ritch.  I am well over seventy and am waiting for the last Roll Call.  If  I had my time to come over again, I would still be what I have been - A Poacher.
         So I remain, Gentlemen
The Ex King of the Norfolk Poachers."

To read the rest of the Poacher's Life, in Norfolk, Manchester and back in Norfolk again, here are the details:-
"I Walked by Night", by The King of the Norfolk Poachers,
edited by Lilias Rider Haggard. 
Illustrated by Edward Seago
First published in 1935. 
Reprinted in The Norfolk Library, 1974.  Reprinted 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1991.
ISBN 0 85115 046 2
List price £14.95

Email: rasheridan@lineone.net

Rita Sheridan, Warwickshire, England