This is one of the most surprising articles I found in my recent trawl of the British Newspaper Archive. It comes from the 10th September 1850 edition Sussex Advertiser and concerns my 4x great-grandfather William Trower and the residence in question was almost certainly Harwoods Farm in Henfield, Sussex.
BURGLARY.-On the morning of Sunday, the 1st inst., the residence of Mr William Trower, near New Inn, was broken into by four men, disguised in masks and with muffled shoes. The most violent threats and imprecations were used by the villians against Mr Trower and his wife, whom they awoke for the purpose of demanding where their money was. They remained in the house nearly two hours, and after ransacking it in every part, regaled themselves with some home-made wine they found on the premises. On leaving they took many articles of clothing and provisions, and it is hoped that the property, most of which can be identified, may lead to the detection of the ruffians.
I detect a hint of sensationalism in this story and a touch of humour with the ruffians regaling themselves with some home-made wine, although of course there is a serious crime underlying the story, which I have not been able to follow-up on yet. I would love to find out if anyone was ever brought to justice for the crime.
What is particularly surprising to me is that my 4x great-grandparents had anything worth considering stealing. I have always envisaged them being a fairly poor family, albeit a family that had their own farm, but maybe I need to look again at that picture I have of them.