A study of the Victorian poacher raises several points of interest for historians of nineteenth-century society. First, he was such an ordinary figure, an accepted and normal part of rural life. In recent works of oral history, old people recall just how important poaching had been for their predecessors, and for the family and village economy. An examination of the statistics of rural crime in the nineteenth century reveals that, together with theft, trespass, vagrancy and Poor Law offences, poaching offences absorbed a major share of the magistrates' time. For example, in 1843, one in four convictions in Suffolk were against the Game Laws, whilst in Norfolk over 2,000 poachers were fined or imprisoned in the years 1863–71. Landowners such as Lord Ashburnham of Battle in Sussex, and Lord Musters and Sutherland in the Midlands, fought a daily, and sometimes losing battle, against these people. In the second quarter of the century poaching was widely regarded as one of the fastest growing crimes in Britain, and, unlike arson, highway robbery, cattle, horse and sheep stealing, it continued to be a prominent and permanent part of the rural scene. Even in the 1880s and 1890s contemporaries were periodically shocked by the bitterness and violence which accompanied this particular criminal activity. A study of poaching, therefore, tells us a good deal about the secret world of the village and the labourer.