The Poacher


James Seamark 1831-1919


Relationship to Frederick George Seamarks, Grandfather




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James Seamark spent two terms in Bedford New House of Correction for Poaching within the space of three months,


1852 December 11, Residence Stagsden Age 21, Height 5ft 4 Inches, Complexion fresh, Colour of hair Brown, Eyes Grey, Education Read Imperfectly, Identifying marks : 2 front teeth gone, mole on right check, complaint by Henry Littledale Esquire, Offence Game Laws, Sentence 21 Days Hard Labour or pay 1 pound 5 shillings, summarily convicted, date of discharge 10th January 1853. [Blars QGV10/3 - 2125]


1853 February 19, Offence Game Laws, 2 Calendar Months Hard Labour or pay 2 Pound fine and 18 Shillings and Sixpence Costs [Blars QGV10/3 - 2232]



extract on Bedford Prison environment;


The most severe and feared of the new prisons was Pentonville, built in 1842, to which many Bedford convicts were sent to wait for transportation. The new Bedford Gaol, finished in 1849 as an extension to the house of correction, followed the pattern set by Gloucester and Pentonville. All prisoners had their own cell in which they worked all day, to keep them apart so that they could not talk to each other. They were allowed to leave their cells for exercise, but then they were separated by each being made to hold a knot in a rope held taut between prisoners. The knots were 15 feet (nearly 5 metres) apart. Prisoners also attended services in the chapel, where they also sat apart from each other, facing the preacher. 


From 1843 onward, the government expected a minimum standard of food to be given to prisoners in all establishments throughout the country. Prisoners serving different sentences had different amounts. Diet improved as sentences were longer and the type of work was harder. Convicts were still expected to be given less food than the worst off outside prison, that is the people in the workhouse.


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