John Massey, Theft > burglary, 23rd October 1754.

Reference Number: t17541023-41
Offence: Theft > burglary
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

507. (M.) John Massey , was indicted, for that he on the 8th of July , about the hour of two in the night on the same day the dwelling-house of Susannah Nobbs , widow, did break and enter, and stealing out thence one promissory note of Agathy Child and Co. then bankers and partners, for 31 l. 10 s. being then due and unpaid; 40 guineas, 10 half guineas, 10 36 shilling pieces, the goods and money of Susannah Nobbs and Thomas Nobbs ; one other note payable to the Governor and Co. of the bank of England, for 60 l. payable to a person unknown to the jury, being then unsatisfied for; and 20 guineas, the property of George Holland ; 6 gold rings, val. 3 l. one other gold ring, one 5 guinea-piece, one 2 guinea-piece, one Luidore, val. 15 s. one piece of antient gold coin, call'd, a 25 s. piece, 3 silver medals, 6 silver table-spoons, val. 50 s. 1 silver strainer, 1 pair of silver sugar tongs, 1 other silver spoon, the goods of Ann Mallery , widow , in the said dwelling-house . ++

George Holland . I am servant to Mr. Nobbs an oil-man in the Strand . On the 8th of July at 11 at night I went down as usual into the warehouses, to see if all was safe; there is a door that comes out into Durham-yard, that was safe locked and bolted; there was a passage from this door which was locked, which leads into the other warehouse, which I call the second warehouse, in which was an iron door which was then locked, in which was a chest in a cavity in the wall, in which were these things mentioned in the indictment; it is a place of security to preserve things from fire. In the morning about 7 l ordered the porter to take down some broken glass, which he, attempting to do, found the door that enters the stairs from the house fastened within-side.

Q. Had that us'd to be open?

Holland. It did, to go down; he call'd to me to shew me that he could not open it: I attempted to open it but could not; then I sent him up into the shop for an iron instrument with which we rench'd the door open, and on the inside found the key push'd in above the latch to prevent its rising. I asked the porter if he did it; he said no. I sent him then for the broken glass, he went and returned, and said there was something amiss below. I went with him, when I came to the bottom of the stairs I found a parcel of bricks, and this instrument, (producing the head of a paviour's new pick-axe.) I found the iron door open, and the lock taken off the wooden chest that was inclosed within the iron door, was three parts or better drawn out; it had a sliding lead which was pushed back, and two bags that contained the cash mentioned in the indictment, were taken out.

Q. Had you ever seen the bags there?

Holland. I am sure there was that money in them, I put it there my self the day before; the notes were there also.

Q. Was the chest locked?

Holland. No, it was not. About four yards from that iron door I found a box open that had several pieces of plate in it, which box was some time before delivered to me to be put into the chest by Mrs. Nobbs, lapp'd up in brown paper, tied and seal'd, and said it contain'd plate, the property of Mrs. Mallery. When I went into the other vault, which had a door out into Durham-yard, I saw four holes bored in that door, one under each bolt, and two that came opposite to the wooden bar that went a-cross, and the box that the lock shot into I found had been forced from the door-post, from this I imagined it must be done by some body that had lived in the house; and the prisoner being the last person that went away from us, I suspected him; so the next day I went to a shop in a passage, either Red Lion or Gray's Inn passage, near Red Lion square; I am not sure of the name, where his aunt and mother live; I

asked if they knew John Massey ; the aunt told me she did, but had not seen him some time; the prisoner's sister asked me my business; I said I heard he was going into the excise; and I came to wish him a good journey; then the mother came to me and ask'd me when I had seen him; I said at the Three Cups on the Friday before; and that he told me he was to be station'd in the excise.

Q. Where did you meet with him at last ?

Holland. It was at Mr. Fielding's; I was not there at the first examination; I went out of town that very day.

Q. What money and notes were in the chest?

Holland. There was a promissory note of Agatha Child and Co. dated the 27th of June last, for 31 l. 10 s. payable to Richard Backwell , Esq; or bearer, 40 guineas, 10 half guineas, ten 36 shilling-pieces, the property of Susannah Nobbs ; there was a promissory note for 60 l. and 20 guineas, my property; 6 gold rings, val. 3 l. one other gold ring, one 5 guinea piece, one 2 guinea piece, one Luidore, one 25 s. piece, one silver strainer, three silver medals, 6 silver table-spoons, one pair of silver sugar tongs, one other silver spoon the property of Ann Mallery , widow; but these things of Mrs. Ann Mallery I saw. I observed there had been two or three pinches taken at the frame of the iron door to force it out. After which I imagine they took down the brickwork in order to get two hands in, by which means the nuts of the screws were taken off with-inside, then the door was thrown open; the lock was found amongst the rubbish.

Q. Is this ware-house part of the dwelling-house?

Holland. It is; it is under the house.

Joseph Smith . I am porter to Mr. Nobbs; I was the first person that went down into the cellar.

Q. Have you heard the evidence given by Mr. Holland, as to the condition of the cellars, the morning you went into them?

Smith. I have ( he confirmed the account of the breaking given by him.)

Thomas Nobbs . I am in partnership with my mother, Susannah Nobbs , and live in her house. I was out of town when this affair happened, and had been ten or twelve days; I am not able to give any account of the quantity of money put into the chest. The note for 31 l. 10 s. was transacted when I was abroad; the place that was broke in the cellar was built on purpose for the security of books and money. When I came to town I suspected the prisoner on the account of his telling me he was going into the Excise, when he gave me warning to leave my service; he had left me just a month when I was robb'd; and from the situation of the place, I was pretty certain it must be some body well acquainted with the house that broke it open. I applied to one Mr. Mellish, one of the Commissioners of the Excise, to know whether such a person was appointed for the Excise or not. He went the next day in order to be satisfied, although it was not his turn, he called, and told me there was no such person appointed, nor no such had made application; this confirmed my suspicion. Upon this I advertised the note and money, and described the prisoner, with a reward of twenty guineas for his person. He was taken up by one that knew him, and when he was brought before Mr. Fielding, I was sent for; he there made a full and ample confession, not only of the manner in which he did the burglary, but where he bought the instruments; that he bought a cooper's auger somewhere in Hockley in the Hole; and that he likewise bought a pick-axe with which he forced the lock of the vault door next to Durham yard, and with the same pick-axe pull'd down the brickwork, in order to get at the lock of the iron door; and that he took away the bags out of the repository, and that he got in about the hour of twelve; and I think he staid there about an hour. Mr. Fielding then ordered him to be searched; there were taken out of his pocket 7 guineas and a half, some silver, and a medal, which I have here, and a very remarkable half crown, a William and Mary very finely preserved. Mr. Fielding asked him whose money it was; he said his master's, and that he had it out of his bag.

Q. Who did he mean by his master ?

Nobbs. He pointed to me. Mr. Fielding bid me put them in my pocket and keep them by themselves. The prisoner gave an account of this without being asked; he also, which was remarkable, mentioned the pick-axe, which at that time had not been shewn to him, which we found among the rubbish. He has made several confessions of this; I only mention the first, which Mr. Welch and Mr. Gee heard, being by at that time.

Ann Mallery . I deposited money and a Jernegan's medal, with other things, with Mr. Nobbs; She looks at the William and Mary half-crown; this is very much like a half-crown of mine I lost at the time mentioned; mine was very curiously preserved, and so is this. As to this medal, there

are more struck with the same die; I can't swear to it, but I had such a one. I had amongst other things, 6 great spoons, a child's tea-spoon, 8 tea-spoons, tongs and strainer.

Mr. Welch and Mr. Gee deposed to the voluntary confession of the prisoner before Mr. Fielding and Mr. Nabbs.

Prisoner's defence.

I was at harvest-work in the country at the time this was done. I was frighted into a confession.

Mark Plumber , with whom the prisoner had lived servant between two and three years, Thomas Frow , Jonas Parker, Samuel Grinley , John Coe , and Thomas Weston , who had each known him four or five years; and William Boroughs , who had known him about eight years, all gave him a good character exclusive of this fact.

Guilty Death .


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