Riddiford Family History

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I The Granny Hanging

At the Summer Assizes of 1816, 69-year-old Dinah Riddiford was sentenced to hang. What he nous crime had she committed?

Every family has its embarrassing stories. They might be about embezzlement and theft, dark and dastardly deeds, or sexual impropriety on the side. When I discovered the story of my distant relative Dinah Riddiford, I thought I'd come across a family criminal with an intriguing tale. But this so-called skeleton in the cupboard is tinged with sadness.

Back in November 2004, I received an email from Cathy Longman, a distant cousin in Perth, Western Australia. She said she'd been corresponding with Heather Palmer at Thornbury museum, in South Gloucestershire, and had discovered some very interesting information.

Heather had found some antique letters written by a woman named Sarah Greenwood in 1816. Her great-great-granddaughter, Mary Bruton, had donated

^ ar copies of them to the museum, along with all manner of things relating to the Riddiford family. One of the more remarkable letters read:

stealing some much needed provisions. They arrived at the house of Daniel Reed, a cordwainer in the town. From his humble home they stole two sides of bacon, two pigs cheeks, one tongue piece and two sweet bones. They took 36 pounds of salt butter in an earthen pan to the value of £4 and a small copper tea kettle.

The thieves were soon apprehended and brought to trial. On 17 August, along with Abraham Riddiford, Dinah's elderly labourer husband, and her younger son Aaron, their

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