William James, Theft > shoplifting, 16th January 1754.

Reference Number: t17540116-29
Offence: Theft > shoplifting
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

115. (L.) William James was indicted for stealing six dozen of worsted hose, val. 10 l. and one yard of hempen cloth, val. 6 d. the goods of John Roberts , in the shop of the said John, Dec. 21 . ++

John Roberts . I am a hosier , and live at the Three Kings in Fenchurch-street . On Friday the 21st of December last, between the hours of five and six, as I was writing in my compting house, which is even with the front of my shop, my servant Ebenezer Fidge called me out to look to the shop. I went out, and he went in haste to pursue the prisoner; he and my other servant Harrison returned and brought the prisoner, and goods mentioned in the indictment, into my compting house, and said the prisoner had stole them. I then sent for a constable, and gave him charge of the prisoner.

Q. Did you know the prisoner before?

Roberts. No, my Lord. I never saw him before, to my knowledge. The stockings produced in court and deposed to.

Q. What are the stockings worth?

Roberts. They cost me 11 l. and upwards.

Q. Where were they taken from?

Roberts. From out of my shop window.

Q. Were they withinside, or out?

Roberts. They were within the shop, which, at night, when we shut up, is all inclosed.

John Harrison . I am servant to the prosecutor. On the 21st of December I was within the shop, about two or three yards from the door. I saw a man's face, and two hands take a truss of stockings, as it stood on the bulk, and put it on his head. I was surprized, and could not speak, but ran out directly.

Q. Was that man in the shop?

Harrison. No. He took it from the outside.

Q. Is that bulk part of the house?

Harrison. It is. When we shut up our windows that place where the truss stood is shut in.

Q. Do you reckon it part of the shop?

Harrison. We do. The prisoner was walking softly along with the truss on his head, and I laid hold on his arm. He turned about. I said, You have stole these stockings out of the shop window; he then threw them down, and said, I have taken nothing of yours, stop me at your peril, and would not go back with me; upon which we had a struggle, and he got about four or five yards from me. I got hold on his collar again, and he tore his shirt, and got away again, and went about four or five yards farther, when I again took hold of him, and kept him till I had assistance. We then brought him, and the stockings also, to my master's compting house.

Q. Had you so much sight of the face, as to know it again?

Harrison. I can't say it was the prisoner's face.

Ebenezer Fidge . On the 21st of December, between five and six in the afternoon, I was looking over a parcel of goods, in order to pack them up. All on a sudden John Harrison sprung away from me out of the shop, and looking out at the door, I saw him struggling with a man. I made up to them, and picked up this truss of stockings within about four yards of the door.

Q. to Harrison. Whereabouts did you first seize the prisoner?

Harrison. It was about four yards from the door.

Evidence continues. I brought the truss into the shop, and calling to my master to come into the shop, immediately went to assist Harrison; I believe they were about twenty yards from the door. We had several people come to our assistance, we brought him to my master's compting house, and there I left him.

Prisoner's Defence.

As I was going along Fenchurch-street, near an open bulk, the goods were seemingly piled one upon another, and no grating. A porter was going along with a hamper, which took hold of this truss, and pulling it down, almost stunn'd me. I took it up, and called after the porter, saying he had dropt something; but he kept going on. I had put them on my head, in order to carry them after him, when this man came and laid hold of me. I said to him, They are none of yours; he took hold on me, and I cleared myself of him as well as I could. They then called, Stop thief, and I came back, and went into the shop.

To his Character.

Mr. Carpenter. I have known the prisoner twenty years. I am a wine-cooper, and he is a vintner; I have trusted him with brandy, rum, and wine. He has carried them out and brought me the cash, and this within these two months.

Thomas Priod . I have known him betwixt eleven and twelve years. I was with him abroad in the East Indies five years. He is a very honest man, and his general character is good.

Thomas Cook . I have known him above two years, and he is an honest man, as far as ever I heard.

Anne Gibbs . I have known him about a year; he is a very honest industrious man.

John Booth . I have known him twenty years and upwards; he always bore an honest character; he portered for me.

Francis Hays . I have known him about nine months; he is very honest, as far as ever I heard.

Guilty Death . Recommended to mercy.


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