Up The P-rr-tt Society Contents Contact

Family Notes March 2012
Family Notes March 2012 Family Notes June 2012 Family Notes December 2012



Family Notes - March 2012

This is a sample of the information provided to members of the P*rr*tt Society in the March 2012 edition of Family Notes. Family Notes is a 56-page printed magazine that is distributed to society members every quarter.

horizontal rule


Thimble Rigger!

SOUTHAMPTON 9 Sept 1841:

On Friday before P. Breton Esq, 5 thimble-riggers were placed at the bar charged with conspiracy to defraud a gentleman named Edwards, residing at Millbrook, of certain sums of money and his gold watch - to wit, a sovereign, a £50 note, 70 sovereigns, making £171 and a gold watch which had cost £60. Thomas Edwards esq., deposed that he resided at Millbrook; was of no profession. On Tuesday last he went to the racecourse on the Common, about one o’clock. Saw several persons standing in a ring. Was induced to go there. In that ring was a table and three thimbles, the three prisoners, Benjamin Parrott, John Purcell and Francis Verrier, standing round the table, a person shifting the thimbles and offering to bet for a sovereign and upwards. Saw several sovereigns won and lost. Someone turned to him and said, “Try your luck, Sir”. Took out his purse and placed the only sovereign he had in it on the table. It was won by his betting the pea not being under it. To the best of his belief Parrott then said, “Try your luck again, Sir”. I said “No, I have nothing but a £50 note and I will not change it.” The parties round the table were playing but he could not swear the prisoners did, for sometimes £10, £20 and £30. A man who was standing behind the man playing the thimbles, whenever the thimbles were turned over, took up the thimble that had the pea under and said, “Now’s the time, Sir, you are sure to win”, while the man who had the thimble said ”I’ll bet £50; 50 sovereigns are staked, will anyone bet?” The prosecutor walked away, followed by Parrott who expressed his sorrow at his ill luck, imputing it to nervousness. Was persuaded to go back and look on. The parties appeared respectable and he had no doubt of their meaning being friendly, and he was induced to accept loans of sovereigns at two or three times from Verrier, to the amount of 70 sovereigns, as he was told by them, Verrier putting the money towards him and then on the board. He lost the whole in two or three stakes.

Having walked away with Parrott, was followed by Verrier and at his earnest request, wrote in a memorandum book he produced and acknowledgement that he owed him £70. (The memorandum was afterwards destroyed). They soon ran against the table again and at their persuasion he staked 20 sovereigns, and again 30 sovereigns, lent him by Purcell, and lost all. He handed his gold watch as a security for £20 to Purcell. He then gave a bill for the £50 – Purcell forced the money upon him. Parrott described Purcell as a gentleman able to buy half of Southampton. He wished to get his watch back and agreed to meet the parties at the Nelson that evening to settle; but thinking afterwards better of it, he sent a note of excuse and appointed next morning. Having consulted Messrs. Dearon and Long, they accompanied him there, met the prisoners, who insisted on their claims, and the police, by arrangement, came in and took the prisoners into custody. The watch and securities were found upon the prisoners, but the principal, supposed to have the money, did not appear, having walked away. The course of examination pursued by the prisoners was to show that the transaction was in the nature of a debt. Inspector Enright had searched the prisoners’ lodgings at the Nags Head Tap and found a large quantity of wearing apparel (disguises). Verrier had one shilling and seven pence upon him (modern = 8p), Parrott £13 18s.8d (modern: £13.94p) and watch, etc; and Carran £1 2s 10d (modern = £1.14p) and a watch. The prisoners were remanded till Wednesday next.

What is Thimble Rigging?

The game requires three thimbles, and a small, soft round ball, about the size of a pea, and often referred to as such. It can be played on almost any flat surface, but on the streets it is often seen played on a mat lying on the ground, or on a cardboard box. The person perpetrating the swindle begins the game by placing the pea under one of the shells, then quickly shuffles the shells around. Once done shuffling, the operator takes bets from his audience on the location of the pea. The audience is told that if a player bets and guesses correctly, the player will win back double his bet (that is, he will double his money); otherwise he loses his money. However, in the hands of a skilled operator, it is not possible for the game to be won, unless the operator wants the player to win or if the player is allowed to touch the shells, in which case the player has a chance. The player must turn over any two shells saying that the pea is under neither of these. Since the pea is usually palmed, it is not under any of the shells and the operator has no choice but to pay up. This can only be done once. When an individual not familiar with the shell game encounters a game on the streets, it appears that bets are being placed by numerous players, when in reality, the people around the game are all part of the confidence trick. The apparent players actually serve various roles in the swindle: they act as lookouts for the police; they also serve as "muscle" to intimidate victims who become unruly and some are "Shills", whose job is to pretend to play the game, and entice the mark into betting. Once a victim enters the circle of apparent players and faces the operator, the gang surrounds him to discourage an easy exit and to keep other pedestrians from entering and disrupting the confidence trick gang's action on the main mark.

horizontal rule

It's in the papers...

Another selection of items found in old newspaper reports...

Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California 23 September 1905:


There is a slight misunderstanding in the Catholic church as the result of the de Guigne - de Tristan wedding in San Mateo a few weeks ago. The de Guignes, when in town, go to the little French church in Bush Street, which is attended by the smartest Catholics in San Francisco and naturally, as all the parties concerned in the wedding were French, it was desired to have a French priest perform the ceremony. Father Hamer was invited but the priest at the San Mateo church said, “Nay, nay. It is not very often that I have a chance to marry a Parrott grand-daughter and a real life vicompte and I am not going to allow any French priest to take my place.” In spite of the desires of the de Guignes and the Parrotts he would not recede from his position and so the relations were slightly strained in clerical circles .

Portsmouth, New Hampshire 12 May 1899:


Alderman Parsons, for the Committee on Streets, reported that his committee found no objection to the money which was left for that purpose by the late James Parrott being expended in setting out trees on the Marginal Road, but would like the sense of the Board in regard to changing the name of Jenkins Avenue to Parrott Avenue.

South Australia Government Gazette 3 August 1876:


Notice is hereby given that the District Council of Julia have caused to be made an assessment of all rateable property within the above district with the names of occupiers of such property, and that copies of the assessments have been made. Such copies are deposited at the residences of Councillors Thomas Parrott and Quinliven and are open for inspection at all reasonable times.

Unknown North American Newspaper, 1961:

MISSING RELATIVES - PARROTT (brothers or sisters, names unknown)

It is known that one brother who was leaving for service in war of 1899 visited brother Daniel at St. Francis Home, Brentwood, Essex, England. and left later for Ottawa, Canada. Any relatives of same communicate with Daniel Parrott (age now about 75). Mr. Daniel Parrott, 29100 Terrence Drive, Michigan, USA.

The Times, London 11 July 1789:


William Parrott, alias Price, and Edward Glynn, for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Elizabeth Brooks in Primrose Street, in the daytime and stealing 2 silver salts, a silver teaspoon, etc.

Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California 24 June 1905:


The pretty church wedding of Miss Marie Louise Parrott and Francis McComas, the artist, will be celebrated at Trinity on the 28th and will be followed by quite a large reception and breakfast at the Richelieu, where Mr. And Mrs. Louis Parrott, the bride’s father and mother have made their home for years. Society is much interested in the wedding for the Parrotts are of San Francisco’s first set concerning which there is no dispute. Miss Parrott’s younger sister is Mrs. Parker Whitney, whose romantic elopement occurred a couple of years ago.

Portsmouth Herald, New Hampshire 19 April 1900:


A man who won a reputation for cool daring and almost eccentric fearlessness along 1000 miles of the south western border died in Texas a short time ago - died, too, in bed, like a Christian. This man was A.C.Parrott, formerly a sergeant in McNelly’s company of Texas Rangers. On night in 1875, about six months after Parrott left the state service, he was sitting in a house in a little town in south west Texas playing chess with a friend. It was a warm night and the chess board was on a table close to an open window. -15- -16- Parrott had the white men. His queen was in a direct line with the black king, but a black knight was between the two pieces. It was Parrott’s move. Suddenly there was a sharp report outside and a bullet whistled in through the window and buried itself in the wall. Parrott had been bending over the board and the bullet was evidently intended for his head. But for a few seconds he did not stir. Then, in his peculiar, drawling, hesitating way he said “Check”.

Kokomo Tribune, Indiana 10 March 1941:


Indianapolis, March 10 (AP): Mrs Gladys Parrott, 28, was visiting a neighbour when her mother, Mrs. Flora Young hurried over and told her there was a burglar in their house. Mrs. Parrott borrowed her neighbour’s shotgun, went back home, captured a young negro who was trying to hide in her bedroom and held him until the police came.


horizontal rule


Henry Herbert Ostrander (1876-1951) came from Iowa and in 1920 was described as a ‘smelter, fireman’. In 1897 he married Leonora M.Perritt (1876-1968).

Leonora had started life in Pueblo, Colorado; later moved to Benton Arkansas and finally spent many years in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was a real Southern belle and was the daughter of William J.Perritt born 1854, and his wife Amelia, born 1852, both in Tennessee.

Martha Elizabeth Bursey Parrott

Born in Poole, Dorset in 1846, daughter of John Perrott and his wife Martha. She married Alfred Frederick Hood, a sailor, in 1868 in Poole; he is thought to have been born in Church Knowle, Dorset. By 1871 she had moved to Southampton and in 1881 was lodging in Croydon, Surrey. Martha died in Southsea in 1925.

William Parrott/Barrett, originally from Leighton Buzzard, pictured in old age in Parishville, New York State, USA. William was born 6 Oct 1867. The date of his emigration to Canada has not been determined but by 1891 he was resident, as a boarder, in Zorra, Ontario, aged 24, a wage earner, ‘domestic’, labourer, and a Methodist. Following a move to the USA he married Esther (‘Nettie’) Kimpton in New York State in 1900 and died in 1958.

horizontal rule

Send mail to webmaster@p-rr-tt.org.uk with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: 22 July 2018