In keeping with my recent theme of pleading insanity in sticky situations, I have another story, this time from my own family tree. My 2 x great-grandfather, Jourdan Nottage was a police constable in the Met (yes, I do have some law-abiding ancestors!). Even though Jourdan policed Acton for 30 years, his career wasn’t particularly illustrious. However I did find one report in the Illustrated Police News that revealed him in action.
On 1 March 1877, Charles Gant, a plumber, ‘who looked ill’ was tried for the theft of tools belonging to two local carpenters. Gant had been suffering from ‘the shakes’ so had been held in custody until he was recovered enough to face charges. PC Nottage testified in court, stating that the prisoner had been a hard-working man who had ‘given way to drink’.
Charles Gant pleaded guilty and said that ‘there had been something the matter with his head’. The gaoler added that the prisoner had indeed been acting very strangely on the morning of the trial, singing songs and saying he was troubled by devils. Just before the trial concluded, Gant changed his plea and said that he had found the tools in a handkerchief. He was placed back on remand.
PC Jourdan Nottage also featured in one other court case when he examined a carman’s horse that had been so weak that it had fallen in the road. Not exactly a high flier!