Theft in Hertfordshire.
A wonderful seventeenth-century poem helped the English peasantry express their outrage at the English Enclosure movement, an act which allowed the fencing off of commons land to be sold or given as private property.
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.
My ancestor, Thomas Finch lived in Hertfordshire and he, like the goose, decided to ‘go and steal it back’. Thomas was a poacher.
He was caught red-handed in 1655, in an area of Hertfordshire where three small villages sit side by side: Much Hadham, Great Hadham and Bishop’s Stortford.