This Crime Chronicle features the story of a would-be thief who bit off more than he could chew when attempting to steal from a Rickmansworth fishery.
The incident took place in October 1808, when fishery renter James Inwood, who was concerned about possible poachers, was keeping watch on the site with his friend Thomas Tochfield and three other men.
At 4am, the men spotted William Goodman, who it appeared had come to poach fish. In fact, he was stealing eels that had already been captured by Inwood and placed in storage baskets.
Goodman soon realised he had been spotted and attempted to flee the scene by jumping into the water and swimming upstream. Inwood, armed with a cutlass, chased after Goodman and eventually caught up with him.
A struggle then ensued, in which Goodman pulled Inwood into the water. Inwood lashed out with his sword. Goodman was eventually able to escape, and he fled the scene.
However, he had been mortally wounded, and died a few days later. Inwood was then arrested and charged with murder.
Inwood would later be acquitted of the crime on account of the fact that Goodman, having been stealing the eels, was committing a felony.
As the law dictated, anyone suspected of a felony would be subject to the forfeiture of his life if he was on a person’s property and would not submit to arrest.