Mary Smith, Theft > pocketpicking, Theft > theft from a specified place, 2nd July 1755.

Reference Number: t17550702-17
Offences: Theft > pocketpicking; Theft > theft from a specified place
Verdicts: Guilty
Punishments: Death

268. (L.) Mary Smith , widow , was indicted for stealing 24 guineas, privately and secretely, from the person of Samuel Meadwell , his property.

The indictment charged her a second time with stealing 24 guineas, the property of Samuel Meadwell , in the dwelling-house of Thomas Green. Jan. 13, 1749 . ||

Samuel Meadwell . I live with Mr. Richard Belson , a distiller on Breadstreet-hill, in the capacity of a distiller . In January the 10th, five years ago, there came two young women to me, one about nineteen, the other about thirty years of age, to my master's.

Q. Where did you live then?

Meadwell. I lived then with Mr. Henry Simpson , a distiller on Snow-hill. They told me there was something very particular in my face; and if I would cross their hands with a bit of silver, they would be of very great service to me.

Q. Was the prisoner with them then?

Meadwell. At that time she was not. On the day following, which was the 11th, to the best of my knowledge, at near eight in the morning, as soon as I had opened shop, the same two women and the prisoner came.

Q. Was any body with you in the shop at that time ?

Meadwell. There were Alexander Robinson , and Philip Davis in the shop at the time. The other two told me privately, they had brought a person that had practised Astrology for many years. Then the prisoner desired I would step with her a little to a public-house. I went with her to a public-house over the way. There the prisoner at the bar told me she could be of great service to me in a day or two, if I would follow her directions.

Q. Did the other two go with you?

Meadwell. They did.

Q. What directions did the prisoner give you?

Meadwell. In the first place I was to get two peppercorns, and a little salt, and two guineas, put them into the corner of my handkerchief, and she was to procure a little mould and put it to them. Then I was to put it into my pocket; saying she could not be of service to me that day, but the next day she would tell me what to do; and by the morning she would provide the mould, and desired I would have the two guineas in my handkerchief, which I did; and the next morning at the appointed time, between seven and eight o'clock, being the 12th, she came.

Q. Did the other two women come with her?

Meadwell. They did, then we all went to the public-house again. The prisoner asked me if I had got the two guineas ready? I told her I had. They were in the corner of my handkerchief. She had got some mould, and stirred it in along with the gold, salt and peppercorns in the handkerchief. Then she asked me how much money I was worth of my own? I told her I believed I was at that time worth 25 l. She told me I must against the morrow morning get it all into my own hands, and wrap it up in the corner of my handkerchief; and that in such a corner of the cellar a very large quantity of money had been hid.

Q. Whose cellar?

Meadwell. In my master Henry Simpson 's cellar; and I was to receive that money hid in the cellar, if I would follow her directions; I being a young country lad just come to town, not knowing the nature of these cheats, thought to be over rich in a hurry. I endeavoured to get all my money together against the next morning; there was some money due to me from my master for wages, but I did not think it proper to ask for that, so I went to Mr. Morris, an apothecary in Coleman-street, and borrowed 10 l. and I had the rest in my own custody. That made it up 25 l. 4 s. or 24 guineas, which I put all together in my handkerchief, with the mould, salt and peppercorns.

Q. What countryman are you ?

Meadwell. I am from Northamptonshire; they all three came to me the next morning as usual at the time; they were very punctual as to time; it was about 8 o'clock, they did not chuse to go to that publick-house any more. Then we went to the house of Thomas Green, a publick-house at the bottom of Fleet-market . There they talked to me a great deal in regard to my good fortune. They ask'd me to see the handkerchief and the money; I produced it, and opened it my own self, and held it in my right-hand, as it was in the corner of my handkerchief.

Q. Did you take it out of the handkerchief ?

Meadwell. No, I did not, it lay in it; then the prisoner came and stroked it over, and crost it with her finger; and likewise said some verses, what they were I cannot say. She had her hands very busy all the time, on one side my hand, and the other on the other. And at this time I believe she privately got my Money from me; she told me there was some plate with this large fortune I was to receive; but she did not desire any of the plate, but expected I would make her a present of some of the money. She likewise desired she might tie one knot, and I the other of the handkerchief, which I granted; and we did so.

Q. Which knot did she tie, the first or the last?

Meadwell. To be positive I cannot tell which she tied, she bid me put the handkerchief into my pocket; I did, and thought I had my money there. She desired I would not look at it till two or three hours after the time I put it in my pocket.

Q. Were the two other women with you all the time ?

Meadwell. They were; at the three hours end I was to go down into the cellar of my master, and in such a corner; she named the farthest corner on the right-hand, and there to open my handkerchief, and there the money was to be; and with only putting my hand to the stone, I might lift it off, and there I would find an iron pot with the money mentioned in it, then we parted. I came home, and was anxious to know my good fortune; and I believe I opened it rather before my time, for I began to think I was flung; it came into my head there could be no such thing.

Q. How long do you believe it was before you opened it ?

Meadwell. I believe it was two hours before I did; when I opened the handkerchief, to my great surprise, I found only five shillings in silver, three pennyworth of halfpence, and two pieces of lead, or pewter melted down; one of them had an Impression on it, like the stamp of a halfpenny, the other I think was plain.

Q. Did you open your handkerchief in the cellar?

Meadwell. I did.

Q. What before you had searched in the corner she mentioned?

Meadwell. Before I had strictly searched it.

Q. How could you expect to find money there?

Meadwell. I wanted to know where my own money was - I began to think then, when I found these things only instead of my own money; I went up stairs, and was very solitary.

Q. Did you shew what you found in your handkerchief to any body?

Meadwell. I did; the first person I shewed them to was my two evidences here, Robertson, and Davis.

Q. Did the prisoner tell you where she lived?

Meadwell. She said she lived by the Fleet-market, and had for twenty years; but I cannot positively tell the house now.

Q. Did you go to look for her?

Meadwell. I did; I went round and inquired for such a person; but could not find her.

Q. When did you see her again?

Meadwell. I never saw her again till the fifteenth of May last; then I took her up.

Q. Where did you find her?

Meadwell. I was standing in Mr. Belson's shop, my master, on Bread-street, hill; and saw her at thirty yards distance. She came up to the door, and came a little way in; whether she knew me or not I cannot say; but she directly turned out again, and went away.

Q. Do you know whether she saw you or not?

Meadwell. I know she saw me.

Q. Did she walk gently away, or in haste ?

Meadwell. She walk'd a good pace away, and went in a grocer's-shop, over the way. I stood at my master's door till she came out again, The moment I first saw her, I was all of a tremble. When she came out, I went over and asked the clerk in the shop, what was her pretence in coming there? He told me, she asked him if he would buy any stockings; she went down the hill,

and I after her; I past her, and turned and faced her, and looked well in her face; I let her go out of our neighbourhood.

Q. Was she alone?

Meadwell. There was another woman with her. I let them go into Queen-street, Cheapside; there I took her.

Q. Did you know that other woman that was with her.

Meadwell. I can't say that was one of the women that was with her when she came to me on Snow-hill. The first words I spoke to her, when I stop'd her was, can't you tell me my fortune. She said, Lord bless me, sir, I never knew any thing of that kind in my life. I said, don't you remember seeing me at such a house; did you not defraud me of so much money? Then the other woman jump'd up to me, and laid hold of my hand, and begg'd for mercy; and said, the prisoner never had been in town in her life before, being come to town but that very day. * The prisoner said, sir, you are mistaken; I am not the person. I reply'd, I am very positive you are the woman that defrauded me. Then they both hung about me, one on one arm, and the other on the other, and begg'd that I would be merciful to them. I told the prisoner, what mercy the law would afford, she should have, and no farther. They desired I would consider what I was about. I said, I was certain the prisoner was the woman, and she should go before my lord mayor. They ask'd me to go into a house before we got there, just at the bottom of Walbrook; but I told them my time was very short, and she should go there. They both cry'd, and begg'd I would give her a little time. Then the prisoner halted, and fell lame all on a sudden; and said, she had got a sore leg. They both, at that time, hung about me, and begg'd I would be merciful to her. The other woman came as far as the bottom of the steps at the Mansion-house; and would have went in with her, but the prisoner said to her, No, no, you must not come. She then went away, and I took the prisoner before my lord; and he examined the prisoner and me. There I swore she was the person that robb'd me. His lordship committed her to the Poultry-compter.

* For the truth of this, see the time her prosecutrix swore she was robb'd by her, last sessions, in Aldermanbury, No 235.

Q. Now, look upon her again; the time you speak of is a great while ago; be careful; are you now sure that is the very woman?

Meadwell. Yes, my lord, I am; I am positive she is the woman.

Court. Consider; the time you speak of, was in the year 1749.

Meadwell. I do consider: I am very positive to her. She told me several times, when her hands were busy about mine, to look at her face, and ask'd me, if I should be sure of knowing her again. I believe she said a hundred times, (do you think you shall know me, if you see me again) said I, I am sure I shall know you again. She then appointed to come the next morning to have her dividend of what I was to give her out of what I was to find in the cellar; but she never came near me. She preach'd a deal of godliness; and told me she practis'd such things by the art of astrology, before very great people, princes, and the like; and that she had many good books.

Cross examination.

Council. I think you say, when she came to you, she directed you to get two pepper-corns and a little salt; and she was to procure a little mould; and you was to put these, with two guineas, in the corner of your handkerchief; and after that, you say, you got twenty four guineas?

Meadwell. It was so.

Council. Did you put the twenty-four guineas in the handkerchief?

Meadwell. Yes; I did put twenty-four guineas in the handkerchief including that two guineas.

Council. Can't you recollect who tied the first knot?

Meadwell. To the best of my knowledge, I did; but I am not certain.

Council. Did you ever deliver the handkerchief to her?

Meadwell. No; I did not.

Council. Had you the handkerchief in your hand the whole time?

Meadwell. I had.

Council. Can you take upon you to swear you did not deliver the handkerchief with that money in it to her?

Meadwell. I can sware it; I did not deliver it to her.

Council. Who put it into your pocket?

Meadwell. I did.

Council. Was not she to put it into your pocket?

Meadwell. No.

Council. Then, when you put it in your pocket, you really believed there was such a sum of money in it?

Meadwell. I being a raw country fellow, believed that.

Council. Did you really contract with her to give her a sum of money?

Meadwell. It was to be left to my generosity.

Council. At whose house was this?

Meadwell. At the house of Thomas Green.

Council. Where is that house?

Meadwell. That house is pretty near the bottom of the fleet-market.

Council. Where did you live then?

Meadwell. I liv'd then on Snow-hill.

Council. About what time of the day was this handkerchief tied up?

Meadwell. About eight o'clock in the morning.

Council. After the last knot was tied, what did you do with it?

Meadwell. I put it directly in my pocket.

Council. How long did you stay in that house?

Meadwell. I believe I was twenty minutes, or a quarter of an hour in that house.

Council. Are you sure you had the handkerchief in your pocket from the time of putting it in, till you opened it in the cellar?

Meadwell. I am sure I had. I kept my hand upon it, as I carried it home from the alehouse.

Council. Did you all the way home?

Meadwell. I believe I did.

Council. How long was the time you was to have staid before you opened it?

Meadwell. I believe I was to have staid three hours after I got home; and instead of that, I opened it in about two hours.

Council. Did not you lock it up in a drawer after you got home?

Meadwell. No, I did not; but kept it in my pocket.

Council. Which pocket?

Meadwell. It was in my breeches pocket.

Council. What was you about the two hours after you got home?

Meadwell. I was about my master's business in the shop.

Council. Did you ever pull up the stone to look for the money?

Meadwell. I did.

Council. Did any body see you?

Meadwell. I believe the two witnesses here did; but I will not take upon me to say, they were there. I shew'd them what I had got in my handkerchief, in the room of the twenty-four guineas.

Council. Are you sure this is the very woman?

Meadwell. I am. I would not take a false oata for five million of money: may, I would not, if I was sure to gain the world by it.

Council. Can you say she had your 25 l.

Meadwell. The other women never came near me, so as to touch me all the time.

Council. Have you been in Newgate, since the woman was there, to see her?

Meadwell. Yes; I have.

Council. What was your business with her?

Meadwell. I carried a person that was defrauded by her since I was, and he knew her; but would not take upon him to have to do with it, it being a scandalous affair. He is an officer in the excise, and lives in or near Moorfields.

Council. Can you say, after all, you are certain as to the woman?

Meadwell. I positively declare I can swear to her in any part of the world.

Alexander Robinson . I was apprentice to Mr. Simpson on Snow-hill, when the prosecutor came to live there in the year 1748. I saw the women that came; but it was by the light of a lamp we had in our shop. I never saw 'em by day-light; I can only mention the circumstances of his being defrauded. I can't swear to the prisoner.

C. Give an account of what you know.

Robinson. To the best of my knowledge it was in January 1748 - 49; I can't positively take upon me to swear to the day; to the best of my remembrance it was about the 10th or 11th; he shew'd me his handkerchief in the forenoon, in the bed-chamber where we lay. There were in it 3 d. in halfpence, 5 s. in silver, and two pieces of lead; one was plain, the other had an impression on it.

Q. Did you go with him into the cellar afterwards ?

Robinson. No; I did not. He then informed me he had borrowed 10 l. of an apothecary in Coleman-street, to make up 24 guineas at that time.

Q. Did he tell you in what manner she had defrauded him?

Robinson. He said he had what he shew'd me in exchange for the 24 guineas which he had tied up in one corner of his handkerchief.

Philip Davis . I don't know the woman. I liv'd with Mr. Simpson at the time this happen'd. The prosecutor told me of it two or three days after he had lost his money. I know it was within a week. I was with him that morning that a woman came to him in the shop; but I did not see her face. They went over to the Swan on Snow-hill together.

Q. Did you go into the cellar with him afterwards to see the stone?

Davis. No; I did not. He shew'd me the two pieces of lead, and said there were 5 s. in silver, and three pennyworth of halfpence; but I did not see them. He said he lost 25 l.

Prisoner's defence.

They accuse me wrongfully, my lord; I know nothing of it; I never saw him in my life.

Court. Have you any witnesses?

Prisoner. I have. She call'd Susannah Norman , Peter Norman , and Charles Tompson ; but neither appeared.

Guilty Death .

See the trial of Mary Norman , who was transported for a crime of the same nature, No. 424. in alderman Cockayne's mayorlty.


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