The children who were abandoned

The Lives of my Ancestors

It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.” 
― Charles DickensOliver Twist

My 3x Great Grandparents William Reubon and Maria Elizabeth Plaskett did the unimaginable, in 1891 they abandoned all 8 of their children at their then home 60 Abbey Lane, West Ham, Essex.

For the next 7-8 years the children were forced to spend their lives as paupers in one of Victorian London’s most unimaginable places ever. ‘Poplar Union Workhouse’

Children_at_crumpsall_workhouse_circa_1895Circa 1895 – Children of the Workhouse

I find it extremely difficult to understand why parents would abandon their children, William Reubon in his early life was a well respected watchmaker in the East End of London a family trade which had been passed down through the ages and can be traced back to the 17th century just before the Great Fire of London.


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Joel Plaskett

Joel Plaskett
(3rd cousin 1x removed)

Joel Plaskett (born April 18, 1975) is a Canadian rock musician originally from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.Steadily transforming himself through the first decade of the 21st century from an admired regional musician to a “nationally adored” icon Plaskett is comfortable playing in an eclectic array of genres, from blues and reggae and folk to rock and country and pop.
Plaskett is based in Dartmouth, and his songwriting frequently contains allusions to his home city. With his band The Emergency, he has toured throughout North America and Europe with such performers as The Tragically Hip, Sloan and Kathleen Edwards.

A little Information about the criminals who burgled my elderly 4x Grt Grandfather “William Plaskett” in 1878.

William Morris, Edward Lowther and Arthur Powell
A little Information about the criminals who burgled my elderly 4x Grt Grandfather “William Plaskett” in 1878.

William Morris was born in 1855 in the city of London, Middlesex, England
In 1881 he was serving time in Wormwood Srubs Prison, his occupation was listed as being a printer.

Edward Lowther was born in 1860, London, England
In 1881 he was serving time in Her Majesty Convict Prison “Princetown”, Tavistock, Devon his occupation was listed as being a painter.
In 1871 – Edward was living at 14 Blue Anchor Lane, St James, Bermondsey and was working as a House Decorator. His parents were Charles (a Gas fitter) and Harriet Lowther . He was one of 9 children.

Arthur Powell disappears from the records after 1878, he may have died before the 1881 census took place.

1881 England Census For Edward Lowther
1881 England Census For Edward Lowther
1881 England Census For William Morris
1881 England Census For William Morris


The Proceedings of the Old Bailey – 6 August 1878

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey
6 August 1878
William Morris / Arthur Powell / Edward Lowther

(There were two other indictments against the prisoners for burglaries, in one of which they obtained £700 worth of watches, and in the other £30 in money, and in both cases the same jemmy had been used. The COURT ordered a reward of £3. to the officer Lucas.)

731. WILLIAM MORRIS (22), ARTHUR POWELL (28), and EDWARD LOWTHER (19) , Burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Charles Tudge, and stealing silk, satin, and other articles and 30l. in money, his property, and a desk and two rings the property of Mary Holliday.
MR. CROOME conducted the Prosecution; and MR. PURCELL defended Morris
CHARLES TUDGE . I am a draper, of 133, High Street, Camden Town—on 31st May I went to bed about 1 o’clock, having seen the house securely, fastened—on 1st June I was awoke about 7 o’clock, went downstairs, and found the inner shop iron door leading to the house, broken open—some goods were pulled out behind the counter, and spread over with tallow candle—I missed a piece of silk, a piece of satin, several pairs of stockings, and several silk scarves, and from the drawing-room, two silver cups and an opera glass; a desk was broken open, eight doors were broken open from the inside, all the doors but one, which is the one leading to the back stairs—the policeman called my attention to the skylight—this satin (produced) is precisely the same as what I missed, in quality—I cannot tell the quantity because it was in cut lengths—these two scarves and these stockings are mine—Miss Holliday is in my employ, and lived in the house.
MARY HOLLIDAY . I am in Mr. Tudge’s employ, and live in the house—on 31st May I left this ring produced, on a hook on the dresser in the kitchen—on coming down in the morning I found my desk in the drawing-room broken open, and missed from it a gentleman’s signet ring, a silver thimble, and other articles; I have not seen them since.
LUCY BUNYAN . I live with my mother, at 148, Copenhagen Street—I know the three prisoners—Morris kept company with me in May and June—on 1st June I visited Esther Lacy, Minnie Collins, and the three prisoners at 3, Cromer Street—Lacy and Lowther lived together, Powell was keeping company with Collins—I slept with, Esther Lacy, and saw the three prisoners come in between 5 and 6 a.m. on 1st June—they had a piece of satin, and several pairs of stockings and neckties, two silver cups and an opera-glass; Powell took the satin out to give to his mother, the other articles were taken out by the prisoners, and I did not see them again, these are them produced—I identify this satin—a jemmy was kept between the bed and the mattress on which I slept, but I did not know it then; that was in Lacy and Lowther’s room, the room in which I saw the three prisoners—this Jemmy produced is very much like it.
Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. I had been engaged to. be married to Morris, we were asked out twice, but I broke it off—Morris did not make a charge against me about a coffee house—Esther Lacy was also charged in this case, and Minnie Collins—they are here—the detectives came to see me—I did not tell them anything about this man.
Cross-examined by Powell. I did not bring these things in on the Saturday morning between 5 and 5.30—I was in bed with Esther Lacy when the burglary was done—I was not with you in the public-house—I did not go up Euston Road with you and ask you to stop there for the night—I did not say, “I am going. with Morris and another young man to do a bus”—I did not show you the jemmy under my shawl—I did not say that I was going to sleep in Cromer Street that night, to let you in next morning.
Cross-examined by Lowther. The quart silver jug was about this height, and the small one has two handles, but we could not very well recognise them because you bent them so shamefully about, you put them in a box, the biggest one had a handle—on 31st May I was moving from my mother’s, and I slept at my lodgings all night.
Re-examined. I broke off the marriage with Morris because I found out what they were doing for their living, and I did not choose to stop with them any longer.
ELIZA SINGER . I live at 23, Cromer Street, in the same house where Lowther lived—Esther Lacy had a room in the same house for ‘six or seven weeks, and Morris called on her twice and Powell once—I saw Lowther once inside and twice outside—I have not seen the prisoners together in the house—I have seen Lucy Bunyan there once; she asked me for a pitcher of water.
Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. Miss Lacy had several young gentlemen visitors.
WILLIAM CLIFFORD (Police Sergeant Y). I have seen the prisoners together lots of times: and at the end of May and the beginning of June daily.
ALFRED GILLHAM (Police Sergeant P 33). On the morning of 18th June I found this jemmy in the back garden of 84, St. John Street Road, where a burglary was committed that morning—that garden abuts on 56, Rawstorne Street.
Cross-examined by MR. PURCELL. A person named Tassel was convicted of that burglary on Saturday. (See page 463.)
JOHN HENRY BURJES . I am clerk to Mr. Leonard Needes, pawnbroker, of 19, Barnsbury Road—on 1st June this piece of satin was pledged with me for 15s. by a customer who I know as Ann Everett—I do not know whether that is her real name.
THOMAS LUCAS (Detective Y). About 9th June I examined Mr. Tudge’s premises, and found marks on several doors corresponding with this jemmy—I went to 26, Rawstorne Street, to a room occupied by Lowther and Esther Lacy, and found these stockings and these two scarves—Powell stated that he gave a ring to Morris’s sister, and I got this ring from Mary Ann Morris—she was wearing it—I heard Powell say before the Magistrate that he gave m a piece of satin to his mother.
Cross-examined by Lowther. I am in error; I found the stockings not at your lodgings, but at Lucy Bunyan’s—she lodges some distance from Esther Lacy.
Powell’s Defence. Lucy Bunyan asked me to stop with her that night I said “Yes.” She said, “I am going with Lowther and another young man to do a bus,” and she asked me to stop and let her in, and when she came to 23, Cromer Street she brought the silk, satin, two cups, the stockings, and a ring, and gave them to me for stopping there all night I gave the satin to my mother as a present I received the silk, but I did not know it was stolen. I know nothing about the burglary.
Lowther’s Defence. What Powell has stated is a lie. He said that he would try and get Bunyan in as an accomplice. I have two witnesses to prove that she was never at my place. When she left him to go and live with Morris she had a little box with silk ties in it—she asked me to let her leave them at my lodging, and I said “Yes.” She had a row with Morris soon after, and came and took all her clean ties away and her under-linen. The silk tie found at my lodging was left there with her dirty clothes. I am innocent I was not with the prisoners on the night the burglary was committed.
GUILTY . They were all charged with previous convicitons, Morris in October, 1876, Powell in November, 1877, and Lowther in November, 1876, to which they PLEADED GUILTY. MORRIS** and LOWTHER**— Seven Years each in Penal Servitude . POWELL**— Eighteen Months’ Imprisonment .
There were two other indictments against the prisoners for burglaries, in one of which they obtained 700l worth of watches, and in the other 30l in money, and in both cases the same jemmy had been used. The COURT ordered a reward of 3l. to the officer Lucas.
Before Mr. Justice Lindley.

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

Morris, Powell and Lowther – The Burglars of No. 538 Mile-end-road, Bow, Poplar, London, England

Morris, Powell and Lowther
The Burglars of No. 538 Mile-end-road, Bow, Poplar, London, England
Home of William Plaskett
Friday 12 July 1878
Marylebone Police-court

Extensive Burglary at Bow
Published: Saturday 13 July 1878
London Standard
At the Marylebone Police-court yesterday William Morris, alias Coaly, aged 22, a labourer, Arthur Powell, alias Linton, 34, a butcher, and Edward Lowther, 19, a gasfitter, were charged with being concerned together in burglariously entering the premises, No. 538, Mile-end road, and stealing there from articles of jewellery valued at £700 and about £34, In money, the property of Mr. William Plaskett, jeweller. Last week the prisoners were committed for trial for burglaries committed at 31, Chalk Farm-road, and 133, High Street, Camden town. Mr. William Plaskett, the prosecutor, stated that on the night of May 24 his premises were all safe when he retired to rest, and when he came down the next morning, at half-past seven, he found that the back door leading into the house had been violently broken open, and on-going into the shop he found everything in disorder, the entire stock of watches and jewellery having been stolen.
The ring produced was in his shop on the night of the robbery, as were also the links produced. The value of jewellery stolen was over £700 and £34 in money was also taken. There were about 120 gold and silver watches, and about 216 gold rings among the property.
Detective Serjeant Howlett, K division, said that on the morning of the 25th May he went to the premises, and after a careful examination found that an entry had been effected through a washhouse window, which had been left open, and the forcing open of a door in the back room. Last week he found that the marks on the door corresponded with the jemmy produced. Lucy Bunyon, who had been associated with the prisoners, stated that the jemmy produced was identical with that belonging to the prisoners, and which they used to keep between the mattress and bed. On the 24th May they left her, saying they were going to Bow, on a jewellery robbery. They came back on the following day. On the latter day she saw two girls named Collins and Lacey, also associates of the prisoners with a number of rings on their fingers. She saw the prisoner Morris that morning, and he said he had a good deal of money, as they had had a good “bust” (meaning burglary) that night. The Prisoner bought new clothes on that day, and Morris gave her half a sovereign. The latter told her that he had met a lamplighter that morning, and asked him for a light, and he wondered that the lamplighter did not notice that he had some of the stolen property about him. Joseph W. Brown, the lamplighter in question, stated that on the morning of the 25th May, at about three o’clock, he was in a thoroughfare at the rear of Mr Plaskett’s when a man like Morris called out to him to give him a light, and he told him he had not got one, and went away.
Mary Collins said she used to keep company with Powell, and sometime ago he gave her a ring, which she pawned at Mr. Solomon’s in Gray’s-inn-road, in the name of Buckley. (The Witness seemed afraid to give evidence, as the prisoners kept addressing her in a threatening manner. On Mr. Mansfield saying he would have them removed to the cells they desisted.) The Witness, in answer to questions, said she did not remember the prisoners bringing home a quantity of property. An Assistant to Mr. Solomon having proved that the ring produced, and which was identified by the prosecutor as his property, was pawned by the last witness on May 28. Detective Sergeant Lucas deposed to finding the links in Powell’s cuffs when he was taken in custody. When he took Lowther in custody he asked him to account for his time on the night of the 24th May, and he said he should take time to consider. None of the property had been found except the ring and the links. The prisoners denied being the owners of the jemmy. Mr Mansfield committed them for trial. Throughout the hearing they kept continually laughing, interrupting the witness, and behaving in a disorderly manner. It was incidentally stated during the hearing that the bulk of the property had been disposed of in Whitechapel.

Extensive Burglary at Bow Published: Saturday 13 July 1878 London Standard
Extensive Burglary at Bow
Published: Saturday 13 July 1878
London Standard

25 May 1878 – Burglary against William Plaskett – 538 Mile End Road, Poplar, London

25 May 1878

Burglary against William Plaskett

538 Mile End Road, Poplar, London

Published in the East London Observer

Saturday 1 June 1878

Daring Burglary – Early on Saturday morning last the premises of Mr. Plaskett, Chronometer maker and jeweler, 538. Mile End-road, were entered from the back by burglars, who succeeded in getting clear with the whole stock of watches and jewelry, amounting in value to nearly £700. It is supposed, by the footprints on the garden bed, that there were three in number. Considerable force must have been used in breaking open the kitchen the door with a “jemmy” and it is evident that murder might have resulted had the burglars been disturbed, by the fact that they had removed a formidable chopper and a “lignum vitre” towel roller from below into the shop. So quietly did they execute their work that the inmates, who slept overhead with the door wide open, were not the least disturbed, and the robbery was not discovered until the kitchen door was found in the morning to be tied from the outside, sure of time to escape. They left behind a silk neckerchief, by which it is possible a clue may be obtained. The police have a suspicion of the parties concerned in the robbery. Several attempts have been made during the past year to effect an entrance to the same premises, and upon a previous occasion a man was nearly captured. We may add that some Mr. Plaskett’s friends, being desirous of expressing their sympathy with him in a practical form, have made an appeal to raise funds on his behalf, and we are pleased to learn that up to the present it has been generously responded to. Mr. S. Allen, of Canal-road, Mile End, is the treasurer.

£700 in 1878 is in 2013 worth £67000.00

Published in the East London Observer
Published in the East London Observer