The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Woe to them through whom the offence cometh

On 28th Dec 1836 John Snare wrote to the Bury Post a letter on his imprisonment

He wrote that he had been twice imprisoned. The first time for three months. He was “Put to Hard Labour upon the wheel, with a small piece of meat on Sundays, skilly for breakfast, and daily bread scarcely sufficient for a child.” He related that the “Punishment was most severe” and he lost a stone in weight. But since Michaelmas he was again committed... “for one month: but what a change in the system! Only it amounts now to solitary confinement, and that at starvation point! I was shut up in a small cell by myself, with a daily walk of about half an hour only, and a very small loaf ... and scarcely hearing a human voice except at Chapel.” Says he came out so weak he had to rely on friends and would rather do 6 months of his former imprisonment “or do the hardest work possible for sixpence a day.

He said he had two objects in writing the letter.


  • To warn people who are most liable to be sent to prison what treatment to expect.

  • To ask the Magistrates if they are aware of the severity of sending “a fellow creature to solitary confinement for two, three or four months.”


“It may be thought that this new system will prevent crime: but as long as men have neither work nor money, it must needs that offence come; but woe to them through whom the offence cometh!

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