London Evening Standard

Ilford Petty Sessions

Monday, 20th May 1861

Duke Cooper, an elderly-looking gipsy, was charged with sleeping in the open air in Hainault Forest, and not giving a good account of himself as to the way he obtained his livelihood.

A Police-constable of the K division stated that on the previous night, about eleven o'clock, he found the prisoner asleep in a tent which was pitched in the forest at Woodford. The tent was open at the side. He asked the prisoner how he obtained his livelihood, and he replied that he did not know. Witness then took him into custody. Two of his children, ten and twelve years of age, were also in the tent. One was very ill, and had to be removed to the union on a stretcher.

The Chairman -

Has he ever been in custody, and how does he live?

Officer -

His children are in the habit of begging and running after carriages and throwing somersaults. He admits having been in custody some time ago.

The Chairman -

Well, prisoner, you have heard what the officer states; what have you to say?

Prisoner -

I am well known at the Forest, and have been about there for years.

The Chairman -

No doubt, like many others of your class; but how do you maintain yourself?

Prisoner -

I have done some chairmending, and now and then I buy a horse.

A woman, who said she was related to the prisoner here came forward to speak as to his mode of life, but all she knew was that he was about the Forest.

The Chairman said they were not satisfied as to the account the prisoner had given of himself. They, therefore, convicted him of sleeping in the open air, under the Vagrancy Act, and sentenced him to 14 days in the House of Correction.

The Prisoner said there were many others who did the same thing, and was then removed.

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Extracted From:
London Evening Standard - Monday, 20th May 1861
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  • Duke Cooper