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Doing it Themselves Text  Between 1700 and 1850, about 135 private societies for the prosecution of felons were established in Staffordshire. Inhabitants of an area would subscribe to a common fund which would be used to meet the considerable expenses of pursuing private prosecutions and also to provide rewards to those who assisted in apprehending felons.

These are some of the articles of association of such a society in the Rugeley area. Article IV shows what would happen in the event of the theft of domestic animals:

“ . . . if any Horse or Horses, horned Cattle, or Sheep, be stolen from any Subscriber, upon notice thereof, by him given, to five or more of the Society, they shall forthwith meet, and together with the sufferer, appoint such pursuer, and direct such pursuit as they may think expedient; having (what may appear to them) sufficient proof of the theft, to prevent such search being made after such as have strayed only; and shall draw from the Treasurer, Money to discharge their expences, by an order under their respective signatures; the sufferer, or some person whom he may appoint in his stead, to be one of the pursuers.”

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