Author Topic: Want of Sureties  (Read 4305 times)

Offline chinakay

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Want of Sureties
« on: Thursday 14 September 06 16:47 BST (UK) »
Hi all,

Looking at the Bedforshire Gaol/Jail Recods archives, an interesting and useful site at
http://apps.bedfordshire.gov.uk/grd/search.aspx
I noticed one of the people I'd been searching for had been convicted, twice, of "Want of Sureties". His sentence was six months or find sureties.

This guy had been convicted for many offences ranging from stealing potatoes to threatening to kill his wife. The most he got for anything else was three months.

So, my question is twofold: What does "Want of Sureties" mean, and why was it so heavily punished?

Thanks,
China
Moore/Paterson~Montreal
Moore/Addison~New Brunswick
Jubb/Kerr~Mirfield~Halifax~Moffatt
Williams~Dolwyddelan

King~Bedfordshire~Hull
Jenkins~Somerset
Sellers~Hull

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Offline jorose

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Re: Want of Sureties
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 14 September 06 18:45 BST (UK) »
A Surety is someone who agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of another.  You'll see sureties in the old court records in the form of bail - a bond of money and sureties who would swear on that person's good behaviour until the next quarter sessions, and that they would reappear at court at that time.  If they ran, the sureties were responsible and their money would be lost. 

I've also seem them referenced in bastardy orders, where the sureties would be held responsible if the agreed upon child support was not coughed up.

In this case, I suspect it might have been a side-effect of one of his other crimes; either he had to find people who would swear to his good behaviour for the next six months, or they'd just toss him in the bridewell for that period.  As it sounds like he wasn't the sort of gentleman usually found to be on his best behaviour, I guess he couldn't find anyone willing to bet on him keeping his word for that long. ;)

Sounds like quite an ancestor you've got there! Have you looked at the Black Sheep Society?
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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Offline chinakay

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Re: Want of Sureties
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 24 September 06 02:31 BST (UK) »
Thanks jorose, I've been chewing it all over. Looking at this person's record it's not surprising he couldn't find any sureties. Thank you for a very clear explanation!

Best,
China
Moore/Paterson~Montreal
Moore/Addison~New Brunswick
Jubb/Kerr~Mirfield~Halifax~Moffatt
Williams~Dolwyddelan

King~Bedfordshire~Hull
Jenkins~Somerset
Sellers~Hull