In the year 1820 Richard Edkins probably enjoyed a half-day off from his farming activities at Kingley with a visit to Alcester lair and a chance to meet old friends at the "Greyhound's Head. He didn't bother with a horse or a gig; the weather was good, so he walked the mile into Alcester. And when it was dark he walked home again, a little worse for ale. He had brought with him 10 sovereigns and he was taking 9½ back, for there had been nothing which attracted him at the fair and 10/- more than covered a meal and drinks. He wandered slowly home, staggering now and then; passed through the turnpike bar at Arrow and continued toward his farm at Kingley. He had gone some 200 yards when from the shadows a man appeared, pistol in hand. The farmer had little choice but to hand over his sovereigns and his silver watch: the latter loss annoyed him most of all, for it was a family heirloom. Richard Edkins received no injuries but in the darkness he was able to make a fair mental picture of his assailant.
Mr.Edkins was a member of the "Alcester and Adjoining Parishes Association for the Prosecution of Felons" and to them he turned for help, both financial and practical, in apprehending the foot-pad. Messages were sent to the police office in Birmingham & the constable at Warwick and local coachmen were interviewed -- but none had any knowledge of a man such as Edkins described. Then came a message from the Stourbridge magistrates that just such a fellow had been there and was thought to be heading for Shipston Fair. Edkins himself journeyed to Shipston and found his assailant and arrested him and brought him back to Alcester. For several days the prisoner was examined at the "Swan by a local magistrate; the proceedings were lengthy as the man was able to call a number of witnesses. The solicitor to the Association, William Prickett of Alcester, appeared for the prosecution. Eventually the case was forwarded to the Assizes. Neither the Association nor Edkins had any joy here for the prisoner's alibis won the day and he was dis-charged.
The expenses incurred by the Association on Richard Edkins' behalf were considerable and were entered in great detail by William Prickett in his account book; he was similarly exact in other cases between 1818 and 1820, which he dealt with for the association. It is fortunate for us that the Stratford firm of Slatter did not destroy its old records but deposited them at the County Record Office, for they contain many of Prickett's papers relating to parishes in our area, including the case of Richard Edkins.
The only other reference to the Alcester Association which the Society had in its files is dated 1852; these Prickett entries take its existence at least back to 1818 According to the account books, Prickett was also solicitor for similar associations at Arrow, Bidford and Salford Priors. We know of only one such Association for the Prosecution of Felons which still functions, that at Tanworth in Arden.
Summer 1995 Index