This was an offence, though scarce so scandalous as swan stealing, yet worse than poaching—that dread crime against the pleasures of the great; more unpardonable in them, than the yeoman's killing the partridge on his own land that devoured his corn, or the hare eating the tender plants of his garden. It may be called a game larceny, seeing that in this instance, as the Court determined in the case of the swans, the stolen pheasants were not "ferae naturae," but tame domestic animals of the barn-yard.
George Kendrick was put to the bar at the Middlesex Sessions on April 11th, 1810, charged upon an indictment with receiving eight live pheasants, the property of William Butler, Esq. knowing them to be stolen. Mr. Butler has a seat in the county of Hants, where, as well as in other places, he keeps a considerable number of the most beautiful pheasants, all tamed and bred to the hand. No less than 68 of the finest of them were stolen and carried completely off. By some circumstances he was led, in a about a month after, to suspect that the defendant was in possession of some of them, and he accordingly obtained a search warrant, and, accompanied by Pearkes, the officer, went to his house in Piccadilly. There he saw the defendant, whom he interrogated respecting such pheasants, and respecting a person of the name of Gough; but he denied all knowledge of such birds or of Gough. This did not satisfy Mr. Butler, and he proceeded upstairs into a room where there were about 200 pheasants running about; and seeing also some in baskets, they were searched, and eight of the stolen birds were found. Mr. Butler had marked his pheasants in the feet; and, to remove such marks, the poor birds were "dreadfully cut in the feet, insomuch that the blood was then visible. On this discovery being made, the defendant then acknowledged that he knew Gough, and that he agreed to buy 14 pheasants from him for 1l. each, and that Gough had sent them to him for that purpose.
There was other evidence against the prisoner. On his behalf he called a man who was a clerk to him to support his case respecting the 14 pheasants; but in this he failed, and the jury found him guilty. The Court then sentenced him to be imprisoned twelve months in the House of Correction, Coldbath-fields, and at the end of that time to give security to keep the peace for two years, himself in 500l. and two sureties in 200l. each, and to be further confined till that security be given.