This Day in ... 1884
PC LIGHTFOOT LETS POACHER FINISH SOUP BEFORE ARREST
Our Victorian gardener Matthew 'Matty' Lightfoot, is best remembered for his role as Stamford's mace-bearer, but before he took up his position at the Town Hall, he was a member of the local constabulary. In April 1884 he received praise from the Stamford Mercury in a piece entitled 'Clever Captures By The Police'.
'On the 9th inst ... PC Lightfoot, of the Stamford Borough Police, visited the Police-station at Grantham, and reported that a robbery of twenty-one fowls had taken place at Stamford that morning: that two men were in custody, and a third, named Charles Hibbins - who had left Stamford on the 8.30 am train for Grantham, with a fish barrel, supposed to contain the fowls — was wanted.
Sergt Gray (who knew Hibbins) and PC Lightfoot at once started in search, and in ten minutes the man wanted was observed by Gray crossing the Market-place, in the direction of the Dysart Coffee Tavern, into which he went, followed by the two officers. When they arrived upon the scene, he was just ordering a pennyworth of soup. Not wishing to deprive him of this luxury, he was allowed to finish his meal, and then interrogated as to what he had done with the fish tub he had that morning brought from Stamford? Defendant replied, " Oh, it's up at Bob Fowler's, the Shepherd and Dog." On proceeding there, the old fish barrel, covered over with a piece of sacking, and containing twenty-one fowls, was found in an outhouse.
Hibbins, when charged with the offence, admitted having brought the tub from Stamford, but denied all knowledge of its contents, and said it was given him by a man named Rouse to bring to Grantham. He was taken away, and has since confessed that he and a man named Lenton ... committed the robbery.'(1)
SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
(1) The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. All Rights Reserved.
(2) Photograph of Stamford Station kind courtesy of © John Evans via Flickr