On Thursday 30th June 1836 Richard Watson, a labourer from Stillington aged 10 years, was brought before the court in Northallerton charged with obtaining money under false pretences.
The offences were alleged to have taken place at Stillington Mill which was owned by Colonel Harry Croft.
Watson collected bones and took them to the bone mill for a payment of 6d per pound. On the 21st May that year he presented a ticket to Christopher Harker (Colonel Croft’s bailiff), from Francis Moyser (the miller), stating that he had brought consignment of bones weighing 43 Stones, for which he was paid £1 1s 6d
Two days later he brought another load of bones, this time in his father Thomas’ name, receiving another ticket from Moyser which he presented to Harker and was paid £1 14s for 68 stones 11lbs of bones.
This second, very large consignment of bones delivered in such a short time after the first, raised the suspicions of Mr Harker. He began to have doubts about the ticket that had been presented to him. On investigation it was discovered that Watson had 'a stub of lead pencil about his person' and it was alleged he used it to alter both tickets changing 3 stones to 43 stones and 18 stones 11lbs to 68 stones 11 lbs.
A severe punishment
Watson was convicted of the offences, sentenced to prison with hard labour, a severe whipping and it was ordered that he be kept under solitary confinement.
From The Yorkshire Gazette and original indictment documents.