William Gibbs, Theft > theft from a specified place, 17th April 1751.

Reference Number: t17510417-32
Offence: Theft > theft from a specified place
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

297. (M.) William Gibbs , was indicted for stealing twenty three guineas, the money of John Duncombe , in the dwelling-house of the said John , March 13 . +

John Duncombe . I live at the sign of the Cider Hogshead, near Hidepark-corner : On the 13th of March I went to bed at nine o'clock at night, the prisoner came in after I was in bed; I awaked about twelve o'clock, and told my wife it was time to come to bed; she said, she would come directly. The prisoner follow'd her, and said, I would not have you be uneasy, leave somewhat that is good with us, and I'll take care of the house if she goes to bed. She staid about two or three minutes and then went down. I heard my wife crying after this, so I went down, and she was accusing the prisoner with taking the money, mentioned in the indictment, out of the bar in the back room. Gibbs fell on his knees, and wish'd he might everlastingly burn in hell flames, if ever he saw the money; and likewise took his hat, and wish'd his eyes might fall into it if ever he saw it, or knew where it was. There were three more men in the house, Mr. Corbet, Mr. Smith, and Joseph Jackson , a watchman, lying asleep. I held him all this time, he began to pull me by the coat, and trod on my toes, and said, he wanted to speak with me; he took me out into the yard, and said, if I would never speak of it, he would tell me something to my profit. I said, if you will tell me where my money is, I'll never hurt you. Then he said, he watch'd when my wife went into the room, and he open'd the bar and took the money out, and went and carried it into his wife's green-stall, and had laid it upon an upper shelf. Mr. Smith and I went and look'd there, and found it accordingly. He was lock'd up in my house all the time.

Q. How far is the Stall from your house?

Duncombe. It is about thirty yards, my Lord, or hardly so much.

Sarah Duncombe . On the 13th of March my husband had been ill, he went to bed before nine

o'clock ; I believe the prisoner had been in the house some time before my husband went to bed, but he being in another room did not see him. He came down stairs about twelve o'clock in a great passion, and said, why don't you turn the people out of the house? I hurried him up again, and bid him not be angry, saying, I could do better with the company than he could. I went up stairs with him, and staid there about four minutes; the prisoner follow'd us to the stairs foot, and desir'd my husband would not be angry, and said, he would look after the house if my husband would trust him. I heard the door open when I was up stairs, I said, I had left them in the dark, and I must run down, I came directly; they call'd for something in the house, and I served them; there were Corbet, Smith, and another person, I don't know his name.

Altham Corbet. I was in the house on the 13th of March: I had been at the White-bear in Pickadilly to supper: I attend St. George's hospital, we were going to Hydepark corner: Coming by Mr. Duncombe's house, I saw it was not shut up. I said to my acquaintance, we will go in and drink a pint of beer, and we went in; the watchman, Joseph Jackson , was there, and told me, he would go with me, if I would stay there till he came back again; he was going out. I staid till twelve o'clock, the prisoner was in the house before I came in: I remember Mrs. Duncombe's going up stairs to her husband, and the prisoner told her, he would take care of the house, because I was there and did not care to go home, it being late.

Q. Was that all the reason you had for staying?

Corbet. I was playing at cards with a man that was there, and had lost a little money, and was in hopes of winning it back again.

Q. Do you remember any thing of the prisoner's going backwards?

Corbet. I do, for the space of two or three minutes, while Mrs. Duncombe was gone up stairs.

Q. Did you see him go out of the house after this?

Corbet. I can't say I did, for I was employ'd. I remember Mrs. Duncombe coming down stairs, and asking him; if he had let any body into the house; he said, no; she said, he must have the money then. Then he wish'd as before mention'd, and she lock'd the door; he continued in this story of denying it about half an hour; Mr. Duncombe came down without his stockings, he ran about the room like a mad-man; he and the prisoner went out together into the yard, and when they return'd Mr. Duncombe said to me, you may go home for you are very safe, for Mr. Gibbs has confess'd it to me. Gibbs was then in the room, and heard it; I then said, I insist upon your prosecuting him, to Mr. Duncombe; then Gibbs fell down upon his knees, and beg'd for God's sake, I would not hang him, this was in the hearing of all the rest of the witnesses; he confess'd it before us all, saying, when Mrs. Duncombe was up stairs, he went into the bar and saw the key in the till; that he took the purse out, and did not know whether it was gold or silver.

Q. from the prisoner. Did not Duncombe say, he would give a free pardon, and a bottle of wine, to any body that would tell-where it was ?

Corbet. He did, there was a bottle of wine drank, the prisoner took share of it, but they were not friends, for I insisted upon the prisoner being prosecuted; I saw the money afterwards in a green purse.

Joseph Jackson . I am a watchman: I was at the house the 13th of March, I used to light Mr. Corbet home, and was there before he came in; I went with another gentleman, and returned between eleven and twelve o'clock; there were the prisoner, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Corbet, I staid there better than an hour; Gibbs went backward, and presently after went out; Mrs. Duncombe heard the door open, he made a stay out for about six or seven minutes, and was just got in again when she came down stairs. She ask'd him who he had let into the house; he said, no body, to his knowledge; then she said, he must have let some body in, or out, for she had lost twenty-three guineas; then she double lock'd the door, and said, no body shall go out; saying, she would clear all the rest but the prisoner; he then wish'd terrible wishes, saying, he knew nothing of it; at her crying her husband came down, he stamp'd about the house, saying he was ruin'd to all intents and purposes, when she told him what was lost; the prisoner and he went out into the yard afterwards, and came in again, and Mr. Duncombe said, he had found the money, for Gibbs had told him where it was: this was in Gibb's hearing. Then Mr. Duncombe and Mr. Smith went out of doors, and brought in a green purse with the money in it; there was silver and gold in the purse; then the prisoner fell down on his knees, and desir'd forgiveness of all in the house.

Prisoner. That evidence was so drunk that he could not sit on his seat.

Jackson. I was as sober as I am now.

Corbet. The watchman, Jackson, staid to light me home, I believe he was sober, he drank but very little.

Thomas Smith . I was in the house at the same time. He confirmed the above account, saying, he was a lamp-lighter, and was at play at cards with Mr. Corbet, and had just before changed a guinea with Mr. Duncombe.

Prisoner's Defence.

The day that this was done I had been at Sir Walter Blacket 's, when I came home I went to get me a pint of beer; I am a cooper, and live hard by, I have used the house six years; I desire to ask these evidences one question, i.e. Whether any of them know any harm of me, for this I did in a joak.

Corbet to the Q. I have known harm of him by hearsay.

Smith. I never heard any harm of him before this time.

Q. How came you by the guinea you changed there?

Smith. I had it at Christmas time given me for box money.

Duncombe. I have kept the house these three years, he never wrong'd me to my knowledge, only by rubbing out his reckoning, and then swearing he had not had so much; he has a general bad character in the neighbourhood, as any man can have.

To his Character.

William Arnold had known him fourteen years; John Dorset about eleven; Ann Dorset three; Martha Dixon about twelve years, and all gave him a good character.

Guilty , Death .

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