John Downs, Theft > burglary, 13th September 1758.

Reference Number: t17580913-12
Offence: Theft > burglary
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

269. (L.) John Downs , was indicted for that he, on the 12th of August, about the hour of three in the night, the dwelling-house of Margaret Taylor , widow; did burglariously break and enter, and one pair of silver shoe buckles, value 10 s. three silver tea-spoons, value 3 s. one small knife, value 1 d. one gold ear-ring, value 6 d. one five guinea piece, one three pound twelve, eighteen thirty-six shilling pieces, ten moidores, fifty guineas, and forty shillings, in money, the money of the said Margaret, in her dwelling-house, did steal, take, and carry away .

It was laid over again, that he being in the house in the day-time, did burglariously break out of the said dwelling-house, in the night-time. *

Margaret Taylor. I live in St. Mary Ax , and keep an alehouse ; on Saturday the 12th of August, I was rob'd of all I had.

Q. Can you tell who rob'd you?

Taylor. The prisoner lived with me above twelve months, and some of the things were found upon him; the things that were in my pocket on the Saturday night, were in his pocket on the Sunday morning.

Q. What time did you go to bed on Saturday night ?

Taylor. At 12 o'clock; and arose at 7 in the morning.

Q. Was any part of your house broke open?

Taylor. My maid got up first; and came and told me that my cellar door, that was bolted with two bolts, was open; she told me she found my keys thrown about the cellar, and she brought them up to me. I told her I had put them into the till of my table, by my bed-side.

Q. Are you sure you put them there?

Taylor. I am certain I did.

Q. Did you go to those several places that those keys lock'd?

Taylor. These were the keys of my cupboards, and places where I kept my liquors.

Q. Where was the key where your money was kept?

Taylor. It was in the bureau where I left my money. I double lock'd the bureau, and left the key in.

Q. Where was your bureau ?

Taylor. It was at my bed's feet, in the room where I lie. When I came to look there, I found my lock spoiled and all my money gone.

Q. Was all this money mentioned in the indictment, in that bureau?

Taylor. It was. I had put some in when I went to bed.

Q. Did it appear to have been forced open?

Taylor. By pulling, the wood was forced, so that I was obliged to have the smith to mend it. My shoe buckles were in my shoes, and the teaspoons in my pocket at my bed's foot, and my ear-ring and little knife.

Q. When you missed all this money, what did you do ?

Taylor. I had some friends came in and desired me to advertise my loss. After it was advertised, there came a man out of Rosemary-lane, and said that this man at the bar came into his shop, and had a great deal of gold in his pocket; and he had bought all new cloaths, and changed his old ones, he did not name the prisoner, only described him; he had bought a shirt, and stockings, and other things.

Q. What day was this ?

Taylor. This was on the Monday morning about 10 o'clock.

Q. How long had the prisoner been gone from your service?

Taylor. He had been gone about fourteen months.

Q. Did you guess it to be the prisoner?

Taylor. A neighbour stood by, and said it is your Jack that liv'd with you.

Q. What did you do upon that?

Taylor. The man said, I have got a knife and an ear-ring, which were in his pocket, I will fetch them, may be you may know them; he brought them to me, I knew them to be mine, and in my pocket on the Saturday night. Then my neighbours set out to see for the prisoner, they took him and carried him before justice Fielding; they searched him where they took him, on Saffron-hill, as they told me. They brought 22 l. and some half-pence, which they said they found upon him. I was at justice Fielding's with him, he said he found this money in the Fleet-market. I ask'd him where he found my buckles, he said along with it. He owned he changed the buckles and three tea-spoons, to buy a pair of buckles for himself. He said he was not in my house on the Saturday night after he went out at 9 o'clock.

Q. Did you see him in your house on Saturday night?

Taylor. I did. He would not confess at the justice's.

John Linstead . I live at the crooked-billet, Rosemary-lane. I am a stocking-maker by trade; but I keep a little shop, and sell linen and other things. The prisoner at the bar came to my house to buy a shirt, and he bought also a pair of stockings, and a stock, on the 13th of last month about 9 or 10 o'clock; he had bought a hat of Mr. Boyce, and changed a three pound twelve to pay for it.

Q. How do you know that?

Linstead. Both the prisoner and Mr. Boyce told me so; and the prisoner owned the same before justice Fielding. He had bought a suit of cloaths of Mr. Johnson in Rosemary-lane; he had the cloaths on his back before the justice. Johnson is not here. After he had bought these cloaths he came to my house, and he went to be shaved, and left all his new cloaths in my house. He returned and shifted himself in my house; he went backwards and pulled out silver spoons, and a handful of broad pieces of gold, in the sight of a woman, who told me of it, the moment he went out. He said I have been five hours in this lane laying out money; I have received 40 l. and have taken 10 shillings in half-pence. Next morning I read the advertisement of Mrs. Taylor's losing 130 l. in St. Mary Ax; I went to her, and acquainted her with what I had observed. I describ'd the prisoner, and mentioning spoons, she said there were some spoons gone with the rest of the things. She and the servants said, sure it is not Jack, or John Downs . Then I said I had all his old cloaths in my house, and an ear-ring and a knife, which I found in his breeches pocket. I went and fetch'd them; and she owned the knife and ear-ring immediately, and her servants said the same. He had put a pair of square silver buckles into his shoes; and when he was before justice Fielding he had a pair of round ones on.

Q. to Mrs. Taylor. What sort of buckles were yours ?

Taylor. They were square ones.

Linstead. I told the prisoner before the justice, they were not the buckles that he put in his shoes at my house; he said they were, a good while; but at last he owned that he had changed them and the spoons away to a silversmith, for a pair of new buckles. I went where he directed, and amongst a number of buckles, I picked them out.

He is here and will give an account. ( The knife and ear-ring produced in court.)

Mrs. Taylor. These are my property.

Thomas King . I am sixteen years of age next January. I am servant to the prosecutrix, the prisoner came in, and called for a penny-worth of beer on Saturday night about nine o'clock. I drew it, he followed me down the stairs, he went down one pair of stairs, and I another. Some time afterwards I went to draw some more beer, he was left below. I called to him thro' the door to know if he would have a candle; he staid there I believe ten minutes; he made an excuse to go to the little-house. He came up and drank his beer, and went away directly.

Q. Did you see him afterwards ?

King. No, I did not. The next morning I told her he had been down in the cellar. There was a neighbour called to me, and said, Tom how came you to leave your cellar window open.

Q. Did you leave it open?

King. No, I did not. It was shut on Friday night.

Q. to prosecutrix. Was there any lock to that cellar door?

Prosecutrix. There were two large bolts.

Q. Was it bolted when you went to bed over night?

Prosecutrix. That I do not know.

Q. to King. Is this the cellar window that the prisoner went into?

King. It is.

Susannah Draper . I am servant to the prosecutrix, Mrs. Taylor; on the 13th of August, a Sunday morning, it was just half an hour after six o'clock in the morning, when I came down by the dial. I went down into the cellar; one has the necessary, the other the beer. Going to step into the necessary, I kicked something before me; I found it to be keys; I groped about being dark, I picked up some large and some small ones; I knew them to be my mistress's keys.

Q. Was that window bolted?

Draper. I am sure it was bolted on the Saturday; it is never opened but when the brewers come. As I was coming up out of the cellar, a neighbour called, and said your cellar window is open. I was afraid my mistress was murdered, and dared not go up for some time. I called her once or twice before she answered me. I went to the side on her bed, and told her I found her keys off the ring, and the cellar door open. She got up and missed her gold and things, and said I have lost all I had in the world. I put her things on, she was in such a flutter. I missed he buckles out of her shoes; after she was gone down she said she had some money in her pocket at the foot of the bed. I went up for it, and it was all gone. She had not a half-penny left in the house, neither gold, silver, or brass. On the Monday morning about 10 o'clock Mr. Linstead came, and asked my mistress if she had any suspicion of any body committing the robbery; he described the prisoner at the bar, we all said it was Jack Downs . He went and brought the ear-ring, and we knew it, our boy having found it in the tap-room the Tuesday before, and delivered it to my mistress; she said if any body owned it, they were to have it, if not it was her own; and she put into her pocket.

Cross examination.

Q. What time did you see the cellar door fast?

Draper. On the Saturday between 12 and 1 o'clock. I found my mistress's chamber door open, and the lock was wrench'd.

George Smith . (Produced three tea-spoons and a pair of square silver buckles.) On the 14th of August the prisoner came to our shop, and asked me to look at some buckles.

Q. Where do you live?

Smith. At the golden cup at Holborn-bridge. I shewed him some; he pitched on a pair, when he went to pay me he pulled out these, and asked me if I would take them in exchange.

Mrs. Taylor. These are my buckles, which were in my shoes when I went to bed; the spoons are mine, here is one of the fellows to them. (Producing one.)

Smith. I took these buckles in exchange. On the Thursday following there came Mr. Webb and Mr. Linstead to demand the buckles and spoons. I went with them to the justice's, the prisoner was gone to Newgate. Mrs. Taylor was gone, but she called on me another day, and owned the things.

William Townshend , Wine-merchant. On Tuesday we had intelligence that the prisoner had been seen on Saffron-hill, on Sunday and Monday. We got a warrant of justice Fielding. I and two other neighbours agreed to go. We took him about 11 o'clock. I searched him, and found nineteen guineas, four half-guineas, six pence,

and three pence in half-pence, and a watch; (producing it.) I found several bills in his pocket, where he had been laying out money, to the amount of about 20 l. more, for household goods; I asked him how he came by the money, he said he could give a very good account of it before the justice; his mistress asked him how he could serve her so, who had been so good to him; he turned round and said, you cannot say I have hurt you. On the Thursday before the justice, when I asked him what he had done with the money; he said there was not above 70 l. part of which you have got, and part I laid out for the goods. I told him that did not amount to 70 l. he said he had spent some little, and some he had given to the girl that was with him.

William Townshend , Distiller. I am a neighbour to the prosecutrix, and went with the last evidence to apprehend the prisoner at the bar. I took an account of what was found upon him, in gold nineteen guineas, four half guineas, six pence, three pence, a silver watch, tradesmen's bills to the amount of 21 l. 9 s. 2 d. ++.

Prisoner's defence.

I found to the amount of upwards of 70 l. in the New-market; the buckles and tea-spoons.

For the prisoner.

John Hine . I know the prisoner, he is about seventeen years of age; as far as I have hear d he is a very honest, and a very harmless lad; I always heard a good character of him.

Q. Did you ever see him flush of money?

Hine. No, never.

Thomas Wood . I have know him this four years, he bears a very good character.

Peter Maclawlin . I have known him almost seven years, I always heard a good character of him.

- Downs. I am his father; he is seventeen years old the nineteenth of May old stile.

Guilty , Death .


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