“the law was clear and didn’t differentiate between men and woman”
The two magistrates who tried the case were the Rev. Thomas Harris of Swerford and the Rev. William Carter of Sarsden.
Rev. Carter had already spent the years 1852-1868 as the Vicar of Shipton and may have had prior knowledge of the villagers of Ascott.
Six of the women were Baptists and one was a Methodist and their persuasion may well have further antagonised the Church of England J.P.s at a time when the swelling growth of non-conformists was a ripening source of irritation to the established church.
Hambidge demanding justice, pressured Harris into pronouncing the severest sentence possible under the law and although Carter was reluctant and agonised over the decision before finally concurring with his colleague, one woman was acquitted whilst nine more were sentenced to seven days in gaol and the other seven to ten days. To add insult to injury the sentence was to be served with hard labour.