Old Tom Booth

by Bill Carson 

The below extract is from Cornelius Brown’s- Notes About Notts, 1874:

One of the curious characters who had lived in Nottingham was known as old Tom Booth, a notorious deer stealer, who died on the 26th March, 1752. For years the exploits of this individual have been a never-failing subject of conversational interest in various circles. Thoresby relates one of the old man’s feats a follows:-

“In Nottingham Park at one time there was a favourite fine deer, a chief ranger, which Tom and his wily companions had often cast their longing eyes on; but how to deceive the keeper while they killed it was a task of difficulty. The night, however, in which they accomplished their purpose-whether by an any settled plan or not it is not known- they found the keeper at watch as usual in a certain place in the Park. One of them, therefore, went to an opposite direction in the Park, and fired his gun, to make the keeper believe he had shot a deer; upon which away goes the keeper in haste to the spot, which was at a considerable distance from the place where the favourite deer was, and near which Tom Booth was skulking. Tom, waiting a proper time, when he thought the keeper at a sufficient distance for accomplishing his purpose, fired and killed the deer, and dragged it through the River Leen undiscovered”.

Mr F Whiteman inform us that Booth was a stout man, and by trade was a whitesmith. The stone marking his place of interment is in St Nicholas Church-yard, against the southern wall of the church. It bears the following inscription:-

“Here lies a marksmen, who with art and skill,

When young and strong fat bucks and does did kill;

Now conquered by grim death (go, reader tell it!),

He’s now took leave of powder, gun and pellet.

A fatal dart, which in the dark did fly,

Has laid him down among the dead to lie.

If any want to know the poor slave’s name,

Tis old Tom Booth,- ne’er ask from whence he came”.

Old Tom was so highly pleased with this epitaph, which was made before his death that he had it engraved on the stone some months previous to its service being required. In addition to the epitaph itself, the head-stone was made to include Booth’s name, & c, and also that of his wife, blank places being left in each case for the age and time of death. Booth’s compartment of the stone was in due course properly filled up, but the widow, disliking the exhibition of her name on a tombstone while living, resolved that such stone should never indicate her resting-place when dead. She accordingly left an injunction that her body be interred elsewhere, and the inscription is incomplete to this day.

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Tom Booth’s Grave Can Still be found today in St Nicholas Church-yard- Photo Credit: Joe Earp.

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Tom Booth’s Grave located in St Nicholas Church-yard- Photo Credit: Joe Earp

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Close up of Tom Booth’s Grave 1- Photo Credit: Joe Earp

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Close up of Tom Booth’s Grave 2- Photo Credit: Joe Earp

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Close up of Tom Booth’s Grave 3- Photo Credit: Joe Earp

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About nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam

Originally formed in 1965 to try to save or at least record before destruction the cave sites continually discovered during the major redevelopment of the City that took place in Nottingham in the 1960′s. Almost every day new sites were unearthed and destroyed before anyone was notified; last thing they wanted was someone telling them to stop what they were doing; TIME is MONEY. The word HIDDEN in the Team’s title is because a lot of what was being invisibly lost in the redevelopment was our early history in the caves, they are under most, if now all, of Nottingham. In the 80’s and 90’s the Team conducted with the help of Dr Robert Morrell and Syd Henley, research and work on Nottingham’s history, folklore and local archaeology. The Team published quarterly magazines on their findings. The Team lapsed for a few years after the death of Paul Nix who was the team leader for thirty plus years. The Team has reformed and is now back working on Nottingham local history. On this blog you will find a series of history, folklore and archaeological related articles and information. Most of the material published will be specifically related to Nottingham/shire local history.
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