On May 17, 1853, a court sentenced Francis Prout of East Stonehouse, Devon, to six months' hard labor for receiving £1 15s. in stolen money. Prout's “lodger,” a Mary Ann Foss, had stood charged with the theft at the local quarter sessions, but during her trial she denounced Prout as a brothel keeper who profited from crimes committed in his house. With no real warning, Prout found himself tried and convicted. An even more alarming surprise followed a few days later, when the local authorities decided to pursue Prout's property. They invoked the ancient practice by which felons forfeited their possessions, claiming not just Prout's moveable goods, as was common, but also his ninety-nine-year leases on two local pubs and the profits from his freehold on a pub and houses in Plymouth. The latter constituted an unusual decision, in part because the inquisition necessary to seize the property would cost about £150, and in this case no interested party stepped forward to pay the fees. But as the chairman of the quarter sessions argued, Prout's property was “chiefly acquired by the wages of prostitution.” Underneath his talk of “fallen women” and “unfortunate creatures” lay a very modern concern with the illicit proceeds of criminal activity. In such a case, the chairman opined, the property in question should be forfeit.