13 April 2020

Stories from the archives: Edward Theodore Davison

Edward Theodore Davison was born in 1869, to parents George and Elizabeth. George was a wholesale grocer and, in 1871, the family lived in Stockton-on-Tees with Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Jebb, and a servant Phoebe Walter. Ten years later, in 1881, George, Elizabeth and Edward were living together in Stockton, without Elizabeth’s mother or Phoebe.  

On 28 February 1900, Edward committed his first crime – two cases of obtaining money through false pretences in Hull. He received two consecutive sentences of 30 days of hard labour. 

On 28 July 1909, Edward committed the crime of obtaining money by false pretences again, this time in Birkenhead in Middlesborough. He received another two consecutive sentences of 1 month of hard labour.  

In the 1911 census, we find Edward living in Heaton with his wife Mary Maria Nora Davison, who he married in 1889, and their four children – Gladys (born 1890), Mary (born 1891), George William (born 1893) and Geoffrey (born 1905). This census information tells us that Mary had three young children, all under the age of 10, to care for whilst Edward was serving his first prison sentence in 1900.  

A year later, on 10 February 1912, we find Edward in the newspaper reports, having committed another act of obtaining money and food by false pretences from Jane Murray Peters, a widow who lived in North Shields. He was sentenced to 1 month of hard labour. Upon his release on 9 March 1912, he was immediately arrested again and remanded for a week by the Gateshead magistrates’ bench, accused of obtaining money from Isabella Marshall, also a widow, George Charlton, and Elizabeth Walker, in January 1912. The accusers claimed that he had posed as an insurance broker and persuaded them to part with money for insurance purposes. The 1911 census lists Edward as an insurance broker, so this may not have been a lie, but other records such as the record of Crimes, Prisons and Punishments record him as a sailor or second mate. On this occasion, Edward was found not guilty by the jury and discharged. 

However, just a year later, he appears in a criminal record book that we hold in the collections of Ripon Museums. This record book lists the individuals arrested and tried in Ripon Courthouse in the early 20th century. Here we find Edward arrested for five cases of obtaining food by false pretences in Ripon, for which he was sentenced to three months of hard labour. We cannot be sure why Edward was in Ripon, nor can we know why he committed the crime of obtaining money and food by false pretences on so many occasions.  

Interestingly, in the criminal record book in our collections, Edward’s trade is listed as electrician. Insurance broker, sailor, electrician – I guess we’ll never know! 

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