Viscount Weymouth of Drayton Manor ordered his gamekeeper Thomas Lane to despatch some game to London. In the evening of 11th November 1753 the gamekeeper went to “the house of John Farnell in the Parish of Drayton Bassett in the County of Stafford Victualler” to arrange for some game to be sent to London.

There he saw Edward Bassett, a notorious poacher, whom he suspected was going out to trap game animals. He called round to his colleague William Brown, gamekeeper to the Right Honourable Lord Middleton of Middleton Hall, and asked him to go along with him to see if they could catch Edward Bassett red handed. (The Lords Weymouth and Middleton were between them High Stewards of Sutton Coldfield throughout the eighteenth century).

They accordingly set out and waited a considerable time in “a wood called New Park within the Liberty of Middleton”. Towards midnight they heard a hare cry out. They crossed the road (now the A446) and over the brook which formed the boundary between Middleton and Sutton into Robert Lucas’s meadow. There they saw two men standing in the meadow and a dog.

The dog was a lurcher, and there were slat nets and gate nets there, all a poacher needed to kill hares. When they approached, “the said 2 men set out to make their escape but were

soon overtaken”, and the gamekeepers recognised them as Edward Bassett of Sutton

Coldfield, labourer and John Farnell of Drayton Bassett, victualler. Edward Bassett and John Farnell “begd for mercy and offered money to let them go” but this was refused.

Bassett said it was no use denying it, and showed them the nets and a brace of hares which they had taken and killed - they found “9 Slatt Netts and 4 Gate Netts nets and the said dog and a brace of Hares lying near the said Netts within the said Meadow and within the Jurisdiction of the Parish of Sutton Coldfield.”

The next day, 12th November 1753, the poachers appeared at Sutton before John Addyes Esquire of Moor Hall “one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for The Corporation of ye Kings Town of Sutton Coldfield in ye County of Warwick”. They were each fined £10, or if they were unable to pay the Constable was ordered to take them to the House of Correction at Warwick, Bassett to be detained for four months because it was his second conviction, Farnell for three months.

This event gives the lie to Riland Bedford’s remark in his History of Sutton Coldfield that “the Addyes family…do not seem to have taken much part in local or general politics”.

View from Lindridge Road - Middleton New Park Wood is in the background, the meadow where the hares were caught is somewhere underneath the roads.