Fagin was the character in Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’ who trained young boys as thieves and pickpockets. The same thing was happening in Eynesbury in 1836!
Lace was an important St Neots product at this time; some of it was made by young girls at Elizabeth Brimley’s ‘lace school’. The school was in fact a cover for underhand activities!
Three girls Anne Green, Eliza Nichols and Charlotte Brimley were sent to Huntingdon jail for stealing silk handkerchiefs, ribbons and similar things from St Neots traders.
At their trial it emerged that Elizabeth Brimley had instructed the girls in theft, she would receive the stolen items and give them some small reward.
Unluckily for her,
the girls were seen in the act in the shop owned by Mr Goodgames
and Mr Shrosberry (number 37b in the
They were followed back to their lodgings, where the stolen goods were found hidden under a mattress.
The girls were treated quite leniently, but Elizabeth Brimley was sentenced to 14 years transportation! It was recorded that 500 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of her as she left the town.
The shop where the girls were spotted thieving