This story of poaching in Redlingfield appeared in the Suffolk Chronicle of January 1827:
At the Ipswich Quarter Sessions John Albon, William Dade, Henry Howard, and Thomas Howard were charged with having entered an enclosed wood in the parish of Redlingfield, the property of Alexander Adair Esq. and occupied by Edward Platfoot, armed with guns with the intent to destroy game. (Two others were involved but not brought to trial.)
Witness Edward Platfoot said that he was a farmer [of Hill Farm] in Redlingfield and had orders from his landlord to preserve the game in Redlingfield Wood. He was disturbed on Sunday night, December 17th between 11 and 12 o’clock by the barking of a dog. He got up and looked out of the window but seeing nothing he was about getting into bed again when he heard a gun fired. He then called two of his servant men and sent them to call William Green and Noah Pyett. He himself went and called Richard Johnson [farmer of Mill Farm]. The witness, his two servants, Mr. Johnson and his servant went to the wood. They left witness’s servants at the entrance of the wood. The others had not gone far into the wood when they heard another gun fired at the further side of the wood. They went towards that part of the wood and jumped into a pasture field. As soon as they were in the field two men came up to the gap in the wood with guns in their hands. The witness called “Halloo!” and the men retreated into the wood. Directly after, the witness saw a man in the wood without a gun. The witness got back into the wood and took hold of him. It was Henry Howard, he had a bludgeon, witness took hold of his slop [smock]. Mr. Johnson and his men came up, on being called and then Henry Howard called out for help. On this, two men came up with guns and then two more with guns and one without. William Dade went up to the witness and presented a gun at him, swearing that if he did not leave hold of the man he would blow out his brains. Mr. Johnson said “Let him go” which the witness did. When witness left hold of Howard he struck him on the breast. Witness then returned through the wood and met his assistants near the outside. He seized William Dade and then George Bolton and another took away his gun. The gun was now produced in court. At the time it was taken from Dade it was loaded. Dade escaped and Albon was taken.
... Dade said he was not in the wood. Henry Howard asked him how long he had known him. He replied he had never seen him before. To a question from Thomas Howard he answered that he had not said that he was one of the persons in the wood.
Edward Platfoot’s account was supported by Richard Johnson, George Bolton, blacksmith at Redlingfield and William Green, a labourer. Richard Johnson added that John Albon was taken to Edward Platfoot’s house where he [Albon] took a cock pheasant out of his pocket.
George Bolton was called again. He said he was present at Aspal Hall, residence of Dr. Chevallier, Magistrate, on December 23rd when T. Howard was examined and made his confession. After the examination witness went out with the prisoner. Howard told witness as they were going, that he had seen Albon and agreed to go on the Sunday evening to Redlingfield Wood with him, Howard’s two brothers, King and Dade. They went to the wood and were there an hour examining if anybody was about before they fired. Dade, when he lost his gun, went to his comrades and said “They have got poor Albon and I am afraid he will lose his gun”. Howard said “Dade’s was a particular good gun, it would kill a hare or a rabbit at forty yards ... ”.
... Henry Howard said no one could say he ever went after any such thing. “So help me God.” ... his brother Joseph Howard ... said his brother Henry was in bed with him all that Sunday night which he believed was Christmas Day. Thomas Howard in his defence said he never was in the wood. He might have made a confession when at Dr. Chevallier’s but he was in liquor and knew not what he said.
The Chairman ... said that the evidence was so clear that he did not see how the Jury could do otherwise than find the prisoners guilty. The Jury very soon returned a verdict of guilty against them all. The Chairman ... said that three of them had been convicted before and there was no hope that they would ever be good men in this country, but he hoped if they were sent away from their wicked connections they might amend in a distant country and still become useful members of society. They were sentenced to seven years transportation.
All four appear in online records showing they were held on prison hulk Leviathan in Portsmouth Harbour. This gives their ages as Henry 20, Thomas 33, William 26 and John 36. Henry arrived in Tasmania on the Woodford, having been a ploughman at home he was to be employed as a farm labourer. His brother Thomas arrived in Sydney in 1828 aboard the Phoenix to be employed as a labourer. On 13th January 1834 Thomas was granted a certificate of freedom having completed his sentence. It is likely that he stayed in Australia. Nothing was found concerning the fate of William and John.
Linda Hudson (Published in Athelington, Horham & Redlingfield News Spring 2018 issue No 41).