Tale of a Missing Donkey

On the 2nd August, 1879, Superintendent Haines of Whitchurch received a complaint from Mrs T Ward of Ash Lane that a donkey had been stolen from their meadow.  The Supt. at once dispatched Sgt. Thomas of the Whitchurch force to make enquiries.  The Sgt. then set out in pursuit of the thief, and for six days travelled 300 miles over Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.  On Thursday the 7th inst. he apprehended him at Northwich and the next day he found the missing donkey at a fishmongers at Sale, near Manchester.


The prisoner turned out to be a man named Darcy, a noted character in Cheshire, having served two terms of penal servitude, while in May 1878 he had served six months hard labour for stealing two donkeys from Nantwich.  He was said to be a besom maker and a native of Northwich.


In the meantime, a Constable from Flintshire arrived to say that two donkeys had been stolen from his neighbourhood, so was most relieved to learn that two donkeys had been sold at Altrincham about the same time that the prisoner had sold Ward’s.  There was little doubt that Darcy was the culprit.  Ward’s donkey was sold first for £2, and then for £5.


Sgt. Thomas gave further details of his capture : “On the 2nd inst., having information of a light coloured donkey being stolen, I followed the trail all through Cheshire, of a man with three donkeys.  On the 7th August I apprehended the man at Northwich.  When charged he had nothing to say, but next day, when brought from the lock-up, he said “Sergeant, you have no occasion to put yourself to further trouble, if you will go down to Altrincham to the Bridge Inn, the landlord will tell you the name of the man to whom I sold a light-coloured donkey for £1.7.6 on Monday last.  I know my doom so I may as well have done with it.”  So I went to the Bridge Inn, where I followed the trail to the witness Tasker’s fish shop, where I found the ass in question.”  There being no further evidence, the prisoner was committed to trial at the next Quarter Sessions.


There he plead guilty to the theft and one prior charge of theft and was sentenced to five years.  One would dearly like to know what reasons Mr Darcy gave for his long-standing “Donkomania”.