Caution to Carriers: John Polley of Wivenhoe 1862

Essex Standard, Wednesday 20 August, 1862 [British Newspaper Archive]

Added by Pat Marsden

An example of an Early Thomas Tilling Horse Bus. 1851. Carrying route boards for the route from Rye Lane, Peckham to the Lord Nelson Public House, Old Kent Road.
© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection at

John Polley is listed on the 1861 Census for Wivenhoe as born in Great Tey but now (aged 53) living in East Street in a grocer’s shop. He is described as a shopkeeper and carrier; he is also described as a Collector of Rents. His wife Sarah is aged 52, born in Wivenhoe, and they have a daughter, Eliza Anne, aged 19, who is present and  listed as a shopkeeper. According to the parish records John and Sarah married on 24 April 1832 and had six children in between 1836 and 1842 but three of them died under the age of five. His son Charles was not present at the house during the census but he may have been working with Mr James Coppin of Colchester (an acquaintance of his father’s) who had a baker’s shop in Crouch Street, Colchester. In 1862, just one year after the Census was taken,  John has a brush with the law for both speeding and providing a service without a license which is reported in the local press:


John Polley carrier between Wivenhoe and Colchester, was summoned for driving a stage carriage within the limits of the Borough at a rate exceeding four miles per hour, without being licensed. – Mr. EVANS appeared in support of the information on behalf of the Board of Inland Revenue; and Mr. JONES appeared for the defendant. – Mr EVANS having pointed out to the Bench the Act of Parliament under which the Information was laid, called Mr. Walter Hitchcock, an officer of the Excise, who stated that on the 5th July he was sent to the railway station to detect the defendant. Witness came off the platform with a number of other persons, and enquired if there was any conveyance to Wivenhoe. The defendant then asked witness if he wanted to go to Wivenhoe; and was answered in the affirmative. Defendant offered to take him, and witness got into the van. They started from the railway-station at 10.35 a.m. and proceeded to Wivenhoe, calling at several places in the town. They reached East Bridge at 11.15, having previously taken up a women and child at the Castle Inn, High Street. They arrived at the reading-room at Wivenhoe at a quarter before 12 o’clock, having stopped at four places on the road, which occupied exactly 18 minutes, and which left 42 minutes fif the journey from East Bridge to Wivenhoe reading-room. When they got to Wivenhoe witness asked the defendant what he charged and he replied “I suppose 1s [shilling] won’t hurt you.” Witness agreed to go back with him, and therefore did not pay him at the time. The 2s [shillings] was to pay for the journey both ways. Witness saw the female get out at Wivenhoe Cross and put something in the defendant’s hand, but witness could not see what it was. The distance from East Bridge to Wivenhoe reading-room, calling at the Hythe goods station, was four miles. They travelled at the rate of 5 1/4 miles per hour. On their return they left Wivenhoe at half-past one o’clock and had no stoppage coming along with the exception of taking up one woman. There were 14 passengers in the van beside witness. The van was fitted up with cushioned seats. They arrived at the goods station at the Hythe from Wivenhoe at 2pm, and came into the town by Magdalen Street for the convenience of one of the passengers. They reached the Castle Inn, High Street, at 2.22, where most of the passengers alighted and witness distinctly saw several persons put some money into the defendant’s hands. Witness then gave the defendant two shillings, and he offered to take him as far as the King’s Arms, where he alighted. During the journey one of the passengers remarked that the driver was driving very fast. Witness had measured the distance from the Hythe railway-station to the corner of Greenstead road,  and it was one furlong. He had also measured the distance from Wivenhoe reading-room to the Falcon Inn, Wivenhoe, and it was 1 furlong and 38 yards. – Cross examined Defendant was entitled to travel at a rate not exceeding four miles per hour; there was nothing extraordinary in the van having been comfortably fitted up; there was not six or seven children in the van; did not know whether any of them were the defendant’s relations; could not say any particular part where the defendant drove more than four miles per hour; could not give the name of any person who paid the defendant money, but saw several pay; there was no attempt at concealment; there were some parcels in the van – In answer to the MAYOR, the witness said one of the passengers observed that the defendant would be better pleased when he had received their sixpence; was quite certain they trotted more than four miles an hour within the limits of the borough. – There was some discussion as to how far the borough extended; and, on the map being produced, it was found to extend to the turning of the road leading to Bromley. – Mr. George Baker said that he had measured the distance from Wivenhoe Falcon To Greenstead corner, and it was two miles and seven furlongs; from Brook Street to Wivenhoe Falcon it was 5 3/4 miles.- Mr. EVANS proved that the defendant was not licensed on the 6th of July. – Mr. JONES  submitted that there could not be a conviction in this case, for there had not been one single tittle of evidence brought forward to show that in any given portion of the journey the defendant drove at a rate exceeding four miles per hour. There were fourteen persons in the van at this time, and it was not at all likely that the horse would go to fast down Clingoe Hill, which as the Bench were aware, was very steep. With regard to the defendant having no license, he (Mr Jones) assured they Bench that the defendant would immediately take one out, so that the Excise should have nothing to complain of. – In answer to the MAYOR, the CLERK said if the defendant travelled at the rate exceeding four miles per hour any part of the journey it was sufficient. – The MAYOR said they were very sorry to pass sentence on such persons as the defendant, but they had no alternative. He (the defendant) had evaded that which he ought legally have paid to the revenue of the country, and he would be convicted in the full penalty of £30; but, fortunately for him, the Bench had the power of mitigation, and they were always desirous of exercising that power when they could do so consistently with their duty, and they should, therefore, reduce the penalty as low as possible, viz.,£5, including costs; but he (the MAYOR) wished it to be understood by the defendant and other persons similarly occupied, that if another case was at any time pressed by the Excuse, the Bench would not pass half so lenient a sentence as they had done in this case. – The Bench granted the defendant a week to pay the money.

This was not the only time that John Polley had a brush with the law as The Chelmsford Chronicle reported on Friday, 20th January 1865 that he was charged on the 16th of that month with cruelty to his horse by driving it when in an unfit condition on the 13th inst., – Sergeant Langley stated the circumstances, and the defendant pleaded guilty. – The bench fined him £1, and 11s costs, or in default 21 days hard labour.


This page was added on 28/06/2020.

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