Benjamin Read, Theft > burglary, 28th June 1738.

Reference Number: t17380628-17
Offence: Theft > burglary
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

19. Benjamin Read , of St. Mary, White-chappel , was indicted for breaking and entering the Dwelling-House of John Chettle , between 2 and 3 in the Night, and stealing three Linnen Shirts, value 8 s. two Holland Shirts, value 5 s. and a Linnen Table-Cloth, value 2 s. the Goods of Martha Lawton , May 30 .

Martha Lawton . I live in Mr. Chettle's House, on Little Tower Hill, some call it Rosemary-Lane . On the 29th of May, at Night, my Shop was shut up fast; the out-side Bar was put up by another Person, and I key'd the Pins. About 2 o'Clock, as I lay a Bed, I heard a Tugging at the Shutters, and I said to my Daughter, who was a Bed with me, that some Body was getting into the House. I listen'd till the Watchman came by, and then I was satisfy'd; for as the Noise did not cease when he came along, I thought 'twas some Cats might be lock'd into the Shop. So I laid myself down again to sleep, but presently I heard a Bounce, open flew the Casement of my Chamber Window. O my dear, says I, they are coming in at the Window! Lord have Mercy upon me, says she, and so they are; and she got up and shut the Window again: Then there was a little sort of a Silence, but in a little while we heard the Noise again; then I got up, and went up Stairs to call a young Man that lay in the House, and as we were going down Stairs, a young Woman knock'd at the Door, and told us our Shop was broke open. We found the Bar broke, the inner Bolt unfasten'd, and three check'd Shirts, two white ones, and a Table cloth, were taken from the Shelves next the Window.

The young Woman that knock'd at the Door told us, she saw the Man draw the Things out of the Window, and she described him to us; she said he had a green Waistcoat on; a red Jacket, and a Pair of Towsers. My Washerwoman hearing this Description, directed us to a Cellar where such Out of-the-way Fellows resorted, at all Hours of the Night, and told us,

there was one of them that she knew answered the Description.

William Griggs . The Prisoner and I broke open this Woman's House on the 30th of May last, with this Ripping-chissel, about two o'Clock in the Morning; the End of it was broke off by wrenching the Bar down. He put his Hand in, and took out three check'd Shirts, two white ones and a Table-cloth, and gave them to me The white ones I carry'd, and he carry'd the check'd ones himself; in the Morning he sent his Wife out with the three check'd Shirts and the Table cloth to pawn; we kept a white Shirt a piece, and the rest being pawn'd for 4 s. 6 d. we had each of us 2 s. and 3 d.

Prisoner. I never saw this Fellow before in my Life.

Griggs. We liv'd both together in the same House.

Prisoner. I never saw him before he swore against me.

Griggs. We liv'd together two Months in Mrs. Trantum's Cellar, in Rosemary Lane. Mr. Harris and Mr. Gribble, took us both out of this Cellar; - they broke open the Door upon us.

Nathaniel Harris . The Thursday after the Robbery, Mr. Richardson told me there were some House breakers conceal'd in a Cellar; so I went, and with difficulty got the Door open, and took the Prisoner and this Griggs. When they were before the Justice, Griggs desired he might be admitted an Evidence; and the Prisoner pray'd likewise that the Justice would make him the Evidence; for (said he) I can hang five for the Scamp; that is, for Robberies on the Highway; and he mentioned one or two, that he had been concerned in, in Stepney Fields, and said, that Griggs had only been out with him in Housebreaking. When the Justice had admitted Griggs's Evidence, the Prisoner told him he had not put all their Facts into his Information. The Prisoner was admitted an Evidence himself about 2 Years ago.

Prisoner. Ask him if ever he saw me with this Fellow in his Life:

Harris. The Day before the Prisoner committed this Robbery, I met him and Fanny Read , and the Evidence and his Wife, upon Ludgate-Hill, by Ashley's Punch House.

Martha Cuttiford gave the same Account with her Mother (the first Witness) adding, that Mrs. Trantum told her, the Prisoner and the Accomplice were dancing with their Women, 'till Two o'Clock in the Morning, and then they went out; and that when they were taken, the young Woman who saw the Burglary committed, being with them, they cry'd, - dear young Woman, - we are young Men, - don't go to take our Lives away. She said farther, that while the 2 Men were before the Justice, the white Shirts and the Chissel were brought in.

Mary Miller . I saw the Prisoner take the Things through a Hole in the Window, and give them to this Accomplice; I informed the People of the House of what I had seen, and was at the Cellar when they were taken from thence into Custody. They beg'd I would not swear against them, nor take away their Lives. I am positive the Prisoner is one of them: He had the same Cloaths on then, which he stands in now, only he had a Bird's ey'd Handkerchief on at that Time. I never saw them before that Time in my Life. Before they took the Goods, I saw them at the Tavern Bench, in Queen-Street.

Thomas Gribble . I was at the taking the Prisoner and the Evidence out of the Cellar; there's a Trap Door to it, which we forced open, and found the two Men and two Women. While we were at the Justices, the Man at the Fourteen Stars brought two of the Shirts to us.

Martha Cuttiford declared further, that the Prisoner told her, he knew he should be hang'd, and that he did not value his Life, but only on his Wife's and Mother's Account.

Robert Tuck confirm'd Harris's Evidence.

Prisoner. This Harris wanted me to make myself an Evidence, but I refus'd, and told him I knew nothing of the Matter. He has been with me several Times in Newgate, and would have given me Money to swear Peoples Lives away. I beg George Greenaway (a Prisoner) may be call'd, and ask'd whether he has not seen Harris several Times with me?

Greenaway. Harris, and a little Man that is a Butcher, and Tom Sylvan , came and talked to the Prisoner, but I don't know what they said to him.

Ann French . The Prisoner liv'd with me, and from the first of May to the last, he was never out of my House, any farther than the Garden. I know it, because I was always at Home, and never was out of the House myself.

Councel. Why did not he live in Trantum's Cellar?

French. Yes; but that was after May. The 29th and the 30th of May he was never out of the House He had been sick, and went abroad the first of June.

Counc. What Distance is Trantum's Cellar from your House?

French. I live at Poplar, Trantum I know nothing of, I am his Mother.

Margaret Cudlick , Eliz Palmer , Catherine Brown , and Abraham Izard , gave the Prisoner a good Character. Guilty , Death .


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