With the release by Ancestry of the Criminal Registers in HO26 and HO27 at The National Archives, I think I'd better revise slightly my statement in the Gidley Profile to the effect that the Gidleys were nearly all of good character.
25 references have been found to Gidleys, although 16 of those named were subsequently acquitted. Another was almost certainly a mistranscribed Gidlow. The years and counties covered are Middlesex 1791-1892, and the rest of England and Wales 1805-1892.
Those eventually found guilty were as follows:
1) John Kerswell Gidley (from the Buckfastleigh branch) was sentenced to 18 months for larceny in 1840. He was in Exeter Gaol in the 1841 census. In the Criminal Register he is described as being able to read and write well.
2) Samuel Gidley (of the Woodbury branch) was sentenced to 3 months at the Exeter Lent Assizes in 1820. Other sources inform us that it was for stealing a hind quarter of mutton. His wife Penelope Gidley had been acquitted of receiving stolen goods the previous year.
3) Edwin Bartholomew Gidley (the Winkleigh branch) was sentenced to 6 months for larceny in 1842. On release he must have immediately joined the Royal Navy, where he became a Gunnner First Class.
4) Thomas Gidley (possibly from the Dean Prior family) was sentenced to 4 months for larceny at Leeds Borough sessions in 1850.
5) John Gidley (the Cornwall branch) was sentenced to a week's imprisonment in 1851 at Bodmin General Quarter Sessions for larceny. This could well have been the John Gidley who almost immediately emigrated to Canada.
6) Nicholas Gidley (also of the Cornish family) who was found guilty of burglary at Bodmin Assizes in 1852 and sent to prison for one year. He was probably also sentenced in 1854 in Devon for one week, again for burglary.
The sentences seem to have had life-changing effects in some cases, witness the emigration and enlistment in the Services.
Even being found not guilty also seems to have led to long distance moves, even emigration in one case: Thomas Gidley of the Winkleigh branch found not guilty of housebreaking at the Old Bailey in 1833. Thomas Gidley of the Dean Prior branch possibly moved after his imprisonment from Bradford to Manchester. James Gidley (of the Winkleigh branch, who had moved with his widowed mother to Brighton) moved on to London after he was acquitted of larceny in 1869. Richard Gidley (of my Spreyton and Heavitree branch) was acquitted of sheep stealing in 1834 at Plymouth, presumably whilst living in Ipplepen, and moved on to Heavitree shortly afterwards.
There were two noticeable recidivists who seem to have managed to get away with it for the most part:
1) Joseph Gidley, a costermonger of Deptford, who was acquitted three times between 1837 and 1839 of larceny (twice) and of uttering counterfeit coin. A month after his first acquittal a local newspaper tells us that he was charged at Greenwich Petty Sessions with three others with assaulting several police constables from R Division, which all the defendants denied. All were fined either £5, or given 2 months imprisonment. Joseph, whose parents are still unknown, settled down after he became a family man.
2) William Gidley (of the Winkleigh branch) seems to have been incorrigible. I already had several references in the Exeter Police notebooks to him, including using obscene language, and riding a horse up and down Preston St, Exeter. He was fined 10/- for that. He was probably also the William Gidley acquitted three times for larceny between 1853 and 1867, and charged with aggravated assault in 1857. He was married twice, and his son by his first wife, James Gidley, emigrated to Australia.
Nearly all the offences involved larceny. When it was listed, most of the defendants could either not read or write at all, or only imperfectly. The most serious crime was that of John Gidley accused of assault with intent to ravish in 1873 at Exeter General Quarter Sessions, but he was acquitted.