Sad case of a damaged Redlingfield apple tree


Extract from Ipswich Journal 9th November 1888

William Muttock and Charles Muttock, labourers, Redlingfield, were charged with having damaged an apple tree, the property of Sir Hugh Edward Adair, Bart., at Redlingfield, to the amount of 1s. Mr. John Clarke, Diss, defended. From the evidence of Mr. G. F. Goldspink, farmer and agent to Sir Hugh Adair, at Redlingfield, it appeared the defendants, who had occupied a cottage for two years, gave up possession at Michaelmas last, and because the incoming tenant would not agree to take the apple tree by valuation, they dug round and undermined the tree, placed a quantity of salt at the root and cut the bark off in the form of a ring, so that it was impossible for the sap to ascend, and he quite thought that the tree would die, and certainly the damage in that case would amount to more than 1s. P.C. Taylor, of Thorndon, having given corroborative evidence as to the damage done, Mr. Clarke said his clients admitted having committed the act mentioned in the charge, but denied it was done maliciously, and they pleaded justification. The fact was, this very tree was taken at the valuation of 1s. by defendants’ grandfather more than 20 years ago. The defendants succeeded the grandfather in the occupation of the cottage and garden two years ago, and considered they then became owners of the apple tree, which the grandfather had taken by valuation and that as the tenant who succeeded them declined to take the tree for 1s. they were perfectly justified in cutting it down or doing anything else they thought proper to it. Betsy Muttock, a single woman, having been called, the Chairman said the defence was a most unreasonable one, and in law would not hold good for a moment, and the defendants would be fined 10s. 6d. each, including damage, fine and costs, which they at once paid. Martha Muttock wife of Samuel Muttock, labourer, Redlingfield, was similarly charged in respect to a pear tree, the damage in this case also being laid at 1s. Mr Goldspink again prosecuted and Mr. Clarke defended. The case was on all fours with the preceding one, and the Bench inflicted a penalty, including damage, fine, and costs of 9s., which Mrs. Muttock at once paid, saying that she was not without a pound. Mr. Goldspink asked to be allowed to say that he did not bring these cases forward in a vindictive spirit, but as a matter of self-defence. He had several cottage tenants under his charge and he particularly wanted them to understand once for all that they could not do such acts with impunity.

Unearthed by Linda Hudson (Published in Athelington, Horham & Redlingfield News Winter 2021-2022 issue No 55).