Former court reporter John Hoskins looks at another old case from the archives...

Ann Boyd and her two elder sisters had grown up in the more liberal atmosphere of India where she happily "romped" with the servants, irrespective of their gender. Though "romping" in the terminology of those far off days meant nothing more than playing blind man's buff and other parlous games in the kitchen.

But all that was to change when her family moved to Hampshire in May, 1836, and encountered the stifling attitudes of middle-class England.

Their naivety left them vulnerable to predators, and what subsequently ensued left their mother in a dilemma. Bringing two men to justice for attempting to entice the teenager away meant exposing family secrets and circumstances she desperately wanted to keep concealed.

The saga began when the family came to live in Alton in May, 1836, after leaving India where George Boyd had worked for a commercial company, but within two years of settling in their Country life existence, he was called back on pressing business.

His wife was soon subjected to "a system of attack and annoyance" which forced her to hire Pc Edward Orford to guard the house and prevent the three daughters being lured away. He remained there for several nights before duty entailed him to be elsewhere and arranged for his son Edward to deputise.

However, instead of acting as a guardian angel, he and his other brother Sidney schemed otherwise.

Daily Echo:

It was thus on March 6, 1838, they appeared at Hampshire Assizes, accused of abduction.

"The offence of which they are charged is only a misdemeanour, yet it is one, the enormity and cruelty of which I scarcely need to attempt at description," scorned prosecuting barrister Mr Rawlinson of their conduct in his opening address to jurors.

The case also underlined the old adage there is no honour among thieves.

Ann Boyd was infatuated with Edward Orford's best friend, Richard Gray, but in enticing her away from her mother, he was primarily thinking of himself. He knew she would eventually come into property and planned to entrap her into marriage.

Mrs Boyd revealed how without her knowledge or consent, Gray had regularly gained entry to the house and on one occasion she discovered her three daughters were missing but located them within hours at his home.

As a result she was advised to get Pc Orford to protect her house and occupants. But when duty called him away, he sent his son to the house but within hours Ann had vanished.

Daily Echo:

"When I asked him where my daughter had gone, he said he did not know but Mr Gray said she had drowned in King's Pond. Orford told me to search the house but I did not discover anything of my daughter that night."

It was not until the following week that she was traced to London and a local clergyman brought her home.

The teenager told the court how she had gone away with Gray before Edward Orford had been told by his father to look after the house. She related how on their first meeting, Orford had offered to bring her letters from Gray but she refused.

"He told me Gray had offered him a sum of money if he could get me out but I said 'no.'

But she later relented after Gray agreed to take her to a friend's house.

"Orford said 'Go, the back door is open.'

He told her his brother Sidney was waiting at the gate. The railings were high but with a rope ladder, she succeeded in climbing them and went to the house.

"Edward Orford came and said there was a great noise about me getting away. My mother was extremely angry and had all the room searched. He also said if I went back, my mother would lock me in the garret or send me to Winchester jail."

Daily Echo:

Edward Orford told her he had seen Gray and it was suggested she should travel to London by cart. His brother brought up their father's gig but instead they took the train.

In his closing speech, defence barrister Mr Missing sought to chastise Mrs Boyd on her negligent behaviour in allowing her daughters to "associate and romp" with her servants.

"It appears her mother was not in the least enlightened as to the practices carried on in her house till her three daughters were walked off and then she chose a constable as a nursery maid - and a worse selection could not have been hit on. I further submit there is no proof that Sidney Orford had anything to do with the transaction."

But in summing up, Mr Justice Maude reminded jurors the defendants had been charged with taking Ann Boyd away against the consent of her mother and not herself.

"How much the young lady might have been assertive is of no consequence as the object of the law is to protect parents from the pain and misery arising from their children being inveigled from them. You will apply the evidence to one single question - namely whether these two persons took this young lady away without her mother's consent.

"It does not appear the mother wanted her to leave because she employed men on purpose to protect the house. It appears with little doubt these two men acted in concert, and if you entertain this opinion, then it is clearly established they took away this lady's daughter, not for the purpose of conveying her to Richard Gray but she was taken away by the defendants for Edward Orford himself. That appears to me to be the inference drawn from the facts stated in the evidence."

Daily Echo:

Quickly convicted, the brothers were castigated by the judge for committing the offence under circumstances of great aggravation.

"Edward Orford, you knew you were placed in a situation of confidence and there is therefore no extenuation of your conduct. You have been found guilty of a gross breach of trust in conspiring to take this young woman from home. Your brother perhaps is not quite to the same extent so blameable as you in the abduction.

"You were not in the situation of a young man who, entertaining feelings of affection or regard for a young girl, took her away for the purpose of marrying her.

"On the contrary, you were actuated by the most sordid motives and have acted with great basement and perfidy. The girl as you were aware was likely to possess property. You also knew of her attachment to your best friend Richard Gray and yet you enveigled her from her mother's house for the purpose of entrapping her into marriage with yourself."

Stressing they should not be punished with equal severity, he jailed Edward Orford for 12 months and his brother for nine.