Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ravensden JP Fined for Shooting Regimental Pet

Friday 10th November: Colonel Joseph Sunderland of Ravensden Grange, Justice of the Peace, has been convicted for shooting a regimental mascot during troop exercises at Howbury. The troops were manoeuvring in Colonel Sunderland’s field, accompanied by a small terrier who acted as the battalion’s mascot. Colonel Sunderland accused Private Horne, who belonged to the Field Transport of the Herefords, of letting the dog chase his rabbits in a nearby field. Private Horne explained that the dog was a pet of the battalion and had not been near his rabbits. Witnesses, including the regiment’s cook, testified that Colonel Sunderland was in a rage and took things into his own hands. When Private Horne refused to put the dog (which he was holding) down on the ground, Colonel Sunderland stamped on Horne's foot and shoved him with a loaded gun, causing a surprised Horne to drop the dog. As soon as the dog was on the ground, Colonel Sunderland shot it and walked away. Whilst the defence made the case that Colonel Sunderland had every right to ‘seize’ the dog, the witnesses pointed out that they would have been prepared to chain the dog up if they had been asked to do so and shooting the dog had been completely unnecessary. The bench at Bedford Divisional Sessions agreed and fined Colonel Sunderland 40 shillings and 12 pence.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 10/11/1916

Colonel Sunderland's erratic behaviour is all the more surprising considering his role as a Justice of the Peace. Bedfordshire Archives has his oath of allegiance to serve as Justice of the Peace in our Quarter Session records [below].

QSR 1872/3/1/8, Oath of allegiance - T J Sunderland, 1872 (Bedfordshire Archives) 

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