Birth Name WESTCOTT, John 1a 2a 3a 4a
Gramps ID I2871
Gender male
Age at Death unknown


Event Date Place Description Notes Sources
Birth [E2890] 1843 Exeter, Devon, England  
Residence [E2891] 1861-04-07 Anchor Lane, St Edmund, Exeter, Devon, England  
Death [E2892]      
Birth [E2893] 1844 Exeter, Devon, England  
Residence [E2894] 1851-03-30 Rosemary Lane, St Edmund, Exeter, Devon, England  
Birth [E2895] 1843 St Thomas, Exeter, Devon, England  
Residence [E2896] 1877-11-14 Frog Street, Exeter, Devon, England  
Residence [E2897] 1878-01-11 Exeter, Devon, England  


Relation to main person Name Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father WESTCOTT, William [I2980]
Mother WEBBER, Elizabeth [I2981]
    Brother     WESTCOTT, Robert [I2687]
    Brother     WESTCOTT, John [I2686]
    Sister     WESTCOTT, Mary [I2874]
    Sister     WESTCOTT, Ann [I2866]
    Brother     WESTCOTT, William Robert [I2881]
    Sister     WESTCOTT, Martha [I2690]
         WESTCOTT, John [I2871]
    Brother     WESTCOTT, George [I2870]
    Brother     WESTCOTT, Samuel Richard [I2442]


1877 November 14th

George Howard, Exe Island, William Wotton, Frog Street and John Westcott Exe Island, labourers, were charged with unlawfully having in their possesion a number of Rabbits, and being unable to to give a satisfactory account of how they became possesed of the same.

Mr Friend prosecuted and Mr Toy defended,.

In Consequence of information received a number of policemen were told off on duty to watch the neighbourhood of Pynes, On the night of November 1st P.C. Mansfield saw the defendants with two bags in their possesion and accompanied by a lurcher dog leave the Bonhay Road and maketheir way to the towards the Red Cow Village,. The officer followed them to Cowley Hill where he missed them. Shortly afterwards he heard them in a meadow nearby. On the following morning Mr Symes, butcherof Thorverton, saw the defendants in the Cowley Bridge Road. They had two lurcher dogs with them and two of the men were carrying bags which were filled with something. Their boots were dirty.

Shortly afterwards P.C Eveleigh, who was stationed at the Red Cow Village, saw the defendants, Their boots and trousers were dirty,Howard had two lurcher dogs and a terrier with him, and the other two were carrying bags, which on inspection were found to contain a number of rabbits. They were dead but warm.

Westcott had ten rabbits in his Possesion and about the same number were in Wotton's bag. Mr Toy in defence argued that the case had not been made out, as Wotton and Westcott bought the rabbits off another man, Howard had nothing to do with the others, having only just met them accidently. The Bench fined the defendants £4 each and the costs, or two months' imprisonment with hard labour.

1878 2nd January, Friday
The Haldon Poaching case
William Wotton, John Spencer and John Westcott were charged on remandwith night poaching on Haldon. Mr Friend appeared for the prosecutionand Mr White appeared to defend the prisoner Spencer. Mr Friend said he asked for a remand last week in order to perfect his evidence against the prisoners, and since then he had found that there was strong probability that others besides those before the bench were mixed up in the affair.His reason for not disclosing the evidence he now had was it would not conduce to the ends of justice.He wished to ask for a remand for another week.Mr White said he must strenuously and stoutly oppose the application. Although Mr Friend had had the last week to complete the case, he had not done so; and he, thought Mr Friend should, in justice to Spencer have completed his case there that day. Mr Friend asked for the case to be taken privately The case was not one of summary jurisdiction, but was an Assize case, and the bench therefore had power to clear the court. The court was then cleared and the case was heard in private .The witnesses called for the prosecution were A Bennett and H. Atkins., keepers. P.C Vanstone, P.C Dymond, Inspector Wreford and P.C Gillard and Captain Cunningham.The bench decided to liberateSpencer on entering into his own recognizance of £20 to come up againif called upon. The other two defendants were futher remanded until Friday next.

1878 9th January Friday

William Wescott ( it should say John) and William Wotton, labourers of Exe Island, were brought up on remand, charged with poaching on the preserves of Sir Lawrence Palk of Haldon on the night of December 19thand George Howard, an elderly man was now brought up for the first time charged with being implicated in the same offenceMr Friend appearedfor the prosecution and Mr White for the defence of Westcott and Wotton.The evidence taken last week was read over and confirmed by the various witnesses,it appeared from these depositions, which it will be remembered were taken with closed doors that on the night of the allegedoffence four of Sir L Palk's keepers heard the discharge of guns nearthe Belvidereand between eleven and twelve oclock they sighted three men with guns in Shillingford Wood. The poachers at once presented their guns to the keepers and after a time turned and ran, Two of the keepers managed to keep up with the poachers and the latter being brought to bay repeated their threats.For the third time they got away but were again brought up, and then on presenting their guns declared that they would not be kept about any longer in that way and Westcott said to one of the others " Give it to them, let them have it, go closer and make sure" this caused the keepers to let the poachers go on their way while they gave information to the County Police. Between three and four oclock the next morning Westcott and Wotton, who were positively sworn to by the keepers were seen coming from the direction of St Thomas by a policeman stationed on Exe Bridge, they were arrested and searched but nothing was found on them, their boots and trousers however were wet and muddy and the soil on the boots of one of them was found to correspond with that in a field ajoining the wood, whilst a footprint found there was similar to that of one of their boots.

During the day following the night of the affair one of the keepers went with a policeman to a tan-yard in the city and there picked out a man named Spencer who was subsequently arrested as the third man seenin the woods, he however declared that he was not near Haldon that night and although he was an old poacher he had given up the game since he was last fined. .On the road to the Central Police Station and again at the latter place said that although he was sworn to he was not the third man, the real offender was a man named Howard who had that morning come to him, told him about the affair and asked him to fetch his gun that he had left in a linhay in a field between Ide and Haldon.
After hearing this evidence the Bench discharged Spencer at his own recognizance to come up when called upon But Wotton and Westcott were remanded until today. In the meantime Howard had been arrested and theonly additional evidence now offered by Mr Friend had reference to this man. John Spencer was called and said he was one of the three at first apprehended on the charge but he now swore on his oath he was noton the scene of the poaching. He was taken into custody on the Thursday evening, The same morning Howard had come to Wilson and Tremlett's tan-yard and said " Jack I want you" Witness then went to talk to him,Upon which Howard said " it's bad job, this, Jack, they had Westcottand Wotton this morning on Exe Bridge,they searched them and then they went to their homes and then they took them" He Added " I ran away and went home and slipped into bed" Howard (interrupting) " oh you rascal" witness continuing said Howard then asked him in case he was 'had'during the day to fetch his gun which was in a linhay belonging to MrLoram of Alphington in a field up a lane behind Mr Walkey's. Howard, " I suppose you know that field well then don't you John?" ( laughter)Witness continuing said he told Howard he should not fetch it becauseif a policeman saw him with a gun he would be 'had' He did not fetch the gun.

In cross- examination witness said when Howard called him out he did not say P.C Dimond looked at his boots as he came over the bridge thatmorning but that he had been too artful for him, Howard- " Didn't youtell me you said to Dimond " You are rather too late this morning?" witness "no" Howard " what a lie" James Cornish and John Fay labourers at the tan-yard proved that an interview took place between Howard andSpencer on the Thursday morning outside the yard, and that Spencer must have been in some way called out by Howard as the former was working under a shed in the yard and could not see anyone in the road.
P.C. Gillard apprehended Howard the previous day
Keepers Bennett and Atkins were now called but could not swear to Howard as one whom they saw in the wood. The Magistrates dismissed Howardand commited the other two for trial at the Assizes

Castle Hall, quarter sessions
1878 23rd January
The Haldon Poaching case

William Wotton, 27, labourer and John Westcott, 35,were indicted for,having on the 19th december 1877, at Exminster,unlawfully entered, with others at night ,armed with guns, upon certain lands belonging to Sir L Palk, for the purpose of taking game and rabbits.

here were also counts in the indictment charging the prisoners with threatening the keepers. Mr Bucknill and Mr Kekewich appeared for the prosecution and Mr St. Aubyn for the prisoners.

Witnesses in this case were ordered out of court.

Mr Bucknill, in opening this case, said this prosecution had been instituted in the hope that an end might be put to these nightly depredations of poaching and threatening acts of violence which for some time been common, and which had made landowners roundabout apprehensive of the consequences that might follow in the neighbourhood of Exeter.

The circumstances of this case, as opened by the learned counsel and detailed by the witnesses for the prosecution, were these.

On the night of December 19th shortly after eleven o'clock, four of Sir Lawrence Palk's keepers heard a gun fired near the Haldon Belvidere, on going there they saw three men with guns. Two of these men were the prisoners, as soon as they saw the keepers the poachers bolted, andthe chase became so hot that two of the keepers were speedily left behind, and only Bennet and Atkins could keep them in view. After a little time the prisoners came to a standstill, presented their guns at the keepers and threatened to blow their brains out, After a little parley the prisoners made another start, and being stil pursued renewed their threat, The keepers were thus kept at bay and eventually the prisoners again set off at a run, but finding they were still pursued they turned around, presented their guns and said they really would not be followed all night and now they really would blow the keeper's brains out. Wotton presented his gun and Westcott said ' go close, shoot them, don't miss them'

After this the prisoners were allowed to go on their way, but the keepers came into Exeter and gave information to the police,A constable of the city force kept lookout on one side of the Exe bridge and on theother side the county constabulary were on the lookout, Between five and six o'clock in the morning the two prisoners came over the bridge from St Thomas, and on being accosted by P.C Gillard they said they had been looking for work, They asserted they had been home all night attheir residences in the City and that they came over the bridge only ten minutes previously,Gillard, however, had been on the watch for four hours and the prisoners had not passed over during that period. The boots and trousers of both prisoners were very wet and muddy. Gillard subsequently took the prisoners to the house of P.C. Vanstone, where they were also seen by P. C. Dimond, and were searched but nothing was found on them.
During the day the police went to Haldon taking with them the prisoners' boots one of Westcott's boots corresponded exactly with a footprint found on the spot where on one occasion during the night the poachers had been brought to bay.

Arthur Bennet, under gamekeepeer to Sir lawrence Palk, was first called and bore out the facts stated by counsel, In cross examination he said when the men threatened to blow his brains out he didn't think much about anything, but he thought possibly they might fire at him. A man named Spencer was apprehended as the third man sen at Haldon on thisnight but witness did not positively swear to Spencer, he simply believed him to be the third man.

Mr St Aubyn said he did not mean to impute to the witness that he wastelling a lie but on the information upon which a warrant was grantedwitness did positively swear that Spencer was one of the three men.

Witness, I did not swear he was one of the men I only said he resembled one.

His Lordship said the witness certainly did say that Spencer was one of the men but it was true that when he was cross examined by the magistrates he only said he believed Spencer was one of the three.What thelearned counsel now meant was that as the witness made a mistake with regard to one man he might make a mistake with regard to another.
Witness said he made no mistake as to Westcott and Wotton, he was sure as to their identity.

P.C Gillard spoke to apprehending the prisoners, In cross examinationhe said when he stopped the men there were blades of grass about their wet boots, He was sure they told him they went over the bridge ten minutes previously, but he was certain they had not passed over

Q, have you heard of the defence these men are going to set up?
A . yes

Q and is not his statement as to the ten minutes very important evidence which it is supposed they are going to set up.

A I should think it was, rather Mr St. Aubyan, I should think it was,very - ( laughter) - He heard that Mr Wotton's father lived at Ide. Did not know if there was a path from Ide to Exeter through fields.

P.C Dimond said when the prisoners were apprehended they said they had only just left home. He went out to Haldon, to compare Westcott's boots with the foot tracks and he found they exactly corresponded. Had not brought either of the 'tracks' here because the soil was sandy and would not bear removal.

Inspector Wreford said when apprehended Wotton said ' I hope I may drop dead if it is me' I have never shot a bird in my life, I have a rabbit or two' and Westcott said ' nor have I

Mr St, Aubyn for the defence said, if his instructions were true - and the responsibiity of the the defence did not rest with him, then these were not the two men who were on Sir Lawrence Palk's land that night. He did not blame the keepers who gave evidence, and he consideredthey acted in a very praiseworthy and plucky manner in following those men who were carrying guns, and who threatened to shoot them. At thesame time he asked them to believe that
never having seen the men before the witnesses had made a mistake.

He the called the following witnesses

Samuel Wotton, father of the prisoner of that name, said he lived with his wife and daughter at Ide. On the night in question, about a quarter past eight oclock, his son came to his house to see his sister. His son said he was tired and witness persuaded him to stay there the night and go to bed there. His son did so and slept in the same room leaving the house at past five oclock the next morning, He did not give his evidence before the magistrates.

His Lordship, what did you have for dinner that night?
A, a rasher of bacon and two or three fried potatoes

Elizabeth Wotton, Mother of the prisoner corroborated last witnesse'sstatement, her son had supper with them it was a little fried potatoes and some meat, she believed it was beef.

His Lordship, was it beef or bacon
Witness said she was not certain but she thought it was beef.

Elizabeth Westcott, Mother of the prisoner said her son lived in Anchor Lane Exe Island.Her Son was at home from 8-oclock until eleven and then went to bed. She did not know what time her son went out in the morning. She aw him getting up and heard him say he was going out to get some Christmassing, He came back about half past six oclock, he was not away more than an hour.

William Conibear living in the same house as the last witness corroborated her evidence

Mr Bucknill, in reply contended that the witnesses for the defence were mistaken as to the dates to which they referred. If it had been on the day they said they would have given evidence before the magistrates.

His Lordship in summing up, said the jury had heard a good deal of what he thought would have been better left out of courts of justice.poaching was an offence and in his opinion a very bad offence which oughtto be put down just the same as any other crime. But there was no reason why it should be put down more than any other offence, only being an offence against the law, it ought to be put down as far as possible, With regard to what had occurred extraneous to the merits of the case, he was unwilling to believe that any juror would be led astray by those common topics which were sometimes addressed to them on the game laws and the offence of poaching.In his opinion it was not easy to state the amount of crime to which poaching gave rise. People began poaching and ended up with something much worse. But he thought next to notpoaching at all the best thing a poacher could do was run away as fast as possible when he saw the keepers. The conflicts, when they came together were most serious and very often gave rise to charges of murder. In this case he did not believe the persons persued intented to carry out their threats, for, bad as poaching was , it was not often thatpoachers did fight unless they were opposed by overwhelming numbers.
The jury found both prisoners guilty

Mr Bucknill said that the Deputy -Chief-Constable of Devon could givesome information about the prisoners

His Lordship said he had a statement before him,He saw that on previous occasions the prisoners had been convicted of small offences but this was the first time the prisoners had appeared to answer a serious charge of poaching.It was necessary to put a stop, as far as they couldto this depredation on the property of their neighbours. For his own part he must confess that stealing game seemed akin to stealing other things

There was an old doctrine by which game appeared to be considered notquite so much a felony as poultery, and this unfortunatley led men inpursuit of game, who would not at least take poultry. The prisoners had so far conducted themselves in the fray that they had not fired, and he hoped, and he was bound to say, he believed that they did not intend to fire, but that they used these expressions by way of threat to induce the keepers to stop following them.

That would make a considerable difference in his sentence.

He wished it to be understood that where resistance was made to a keeper, and in any struggle guns were fired, or weapons used likely to produce serious mischief he should always inflict heavy punishment , Theprevious convictions shewed that the prisoners were of a certain habit of life, and he should sentence each to fifteen calendar months imprisonement with hard labour.


Records not imported into INDI (individual) Gramps ID I2871:

Tag recognized but not supported Line 39111: 3 _FOOT England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Wotton, William Isaac #429 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009), www.ancestry.com, Database online. Record for William Wotton. Ancestry.com,
Tag recognized but not supported Line 39170: 3 _FOOT England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Wotton, William Isaac #429 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009), www.ancestry.com, Database online. Record for William Wotton. Ancestry.com,



Type Value Notes Sources
REFN 2608


  1. WESTCOTT, William [I2980]
    1. WEBBER, Elizabeth [I2981]
      1. WESTCOTT, Robert [I2687]
      2. WESTCOTT, John [I2686]
      3. WESTCOTT, Mary [I2874]
      4. WESTCOTT, Ann [I2866]
      5. WESTCOTT, William Robert [I2881]
      6. WESTCOTT, Martha [I2690]
      7. WESTCOTT, John
      8. WESTCOTT, George [I2870]
      9. WESTCOTT, Samuel Richard [I2442]


Source References

  1. 1851 Census ENG DEV - Webber, Elizabeth #2607 Census; Online Archives [S1064]
      • Page: Database online. Class: HO107; Piece: 1869; Folio: 438; Page: 42; GSU roll: 221017.
      • Confidence: High
      • Source text:

        Record for Elizabeth Westcott

      • Page: Database online. Class: HO107; Piece: 1869; Folio: 438; Page: 42; GSU roll: 221017.
      • Confidence: High
      • Source text:

        Record for Elizabeth Westcott

      • Page: Database online. Class: HO107; Piece: 1869; Folio: 438; Page: 42; GSU roll: 221017.
      • Confidence: High
      • Source text:

        Record for Elizabeth Westcott

  2. 1861 Census ENG DEV - Webber, Elizabeth #2607 Census; Online Archives [S0809]
      • Page: Database online. Class: RG9; Piece: 1399; Folio: 75; Page: 40; GSU roll: 542807.
      • Confidence: High
      • Source text:

        Record for Elizabeth Westcott

      • Page: Database online. Class: RG9; Piece: 1399; Folio: 75; Page: 40; GSU roll: 542807.
      • Confidence: High
      • Source text:

        Record for Elizabeth Westcott

      • Page: Database online. Class: RG9; Piece: 1399; Folio: 75; Page: 40; GSU roll: 542807.
      • Confidence: High
      • Source text:

        Record for Elizabeth Westcott

  3. Newspaper article - Wotton, William #429 & Westcott, John #2608 [S0950]
      • Confidence: Very High
      • Confidence: Very High
  4. England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Wotton, William Isaac #429 [S1339]
      • Page: Database online.
      • Confidence: Very High
      • Source text:

        Record for William Wotton

      • Page: Database online.
      • Confidence: Very High
      • Source text:

        Record for William Wotton