Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 21 August 2014), August 1786, trial of ESTHER ABRAHAMS (t17860830-4).

ESTHER ABRAHAMS, Theft > shoplifting, 30th August 1786.

664. ESTHER ABRAHAMS was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 27th day of July last, twenty-four yards of black silk lace, value 50 s. the property of Joseph Harrop , and Charles Harrop , privily in their shop .

HANNAH CROCKETT sworn.

I live at the prosecutor's in Coventry-street ; I have been a shop-woman there these twenty years.

What is the firm of the house? - Joseph and Charles Harrop ; on Thursday the 27th of July the prisoner came into the shop, between two and three, and asked for some black lace; I took down a box and shewed her some, and she took up one piece; there was another person in the shop, that was serving another customer; she is here as a witness; I shewed her a piece of black lace, and asked her two shillings and tenpence, but told her I would take two shillings and nine-pence; she bid me measure it, and there was nine yards; she asked what it came to, I turned round and took a pen and cast it up, and it came to one pound four shillings and nine pence.

Did you turn from her? - Yes, and the mean while I turned, she took a piece of lace; I was obliged to turn my back to her to get the pen; she then said, she would not give me any more than a guinea for; I then looked in my box, and missed a piece of black silk lace.

How much might there be in this piece? - Twelve yards; the prisoner said, she would give no more than a guinea; so missing the pice of lace, I said, if you will stop, I will see if there is any thing here that will do for you; I looked in one box, and then in another; she went away and got two doors from us; I went after her, and said, you have taken a piece of lace, and she said, she had no such thing about her, and while Elizabeth South who was in the shop serving, went up stairs, she put her hand and dropped two cards of lace; I heard them drop, and I said, there you wicked devil! you have dropped two cards of lace.

Can you swear it dropped from her? - Yes, I can; I saw her put her hand down; I heard them drop; there was the laces; and one by putting it into her pocket was off the card; I took up two pieces of black silk lace, twelve yards in each; they were the property of the prosecutors; I can swear to the private marks that was upon the cards, one of the marks is, E. P. and P. R; they are the hand writing of Mr. Charles Harrop ; I can swear to the writing; the one I missed first is marked P. R. she dropped two, but I missed only that one; I know the pattern; we had only one of that pattern, which made me miss it.

Did you ever examine to see if the other was missing? - I did after we had been at the Justice's; the second card of lace was in the shop that morning before the prisoner came, and we had sold none that day; we sell it for three shillings and four-pence; it costs us two shillings and sixpence.

Was it an old house keeper? - I fancy we have had it about a twelvemonth; the other was twelve yards, valued at twenty-pence per yard.

Had you any idea of this woman's taking it? - I had not, till I saw it was gone.

Did you see her at any time make any mot on at which time you might conceive she took it? - No, not at all.

She did nothing that could induce you at the time to think she was taking it? - No.

Jury. Pray had she any money in her hand? - I did not see any; I did not search her.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner's Counsel. You say you did not search her yourself, was not she searched by any body? - She was not searched at all.

Not in the back parlour? - No.

Nor in the shop? - No, not at all.

Was she so long in the shop as twenty minutes before you followed her? - I dare say she was.

Yours is a pretty large shop? - Yes.

How many people were backwards and forwards in the shop? - There were two people, but they were gone, besides Bartlet and South; the customers were gone before I shewed her the lace.

Are you sure of that? - Positive of that; I was on the opposite side of the counter.

Were they men or women? - It was a man and a woman.

Court. Was there no lace lying about the counter? - None at all; they never lay about the counter; we sold the other customer black Barcelona handkerchiefs.

Mr. Garrow. Was Elizabeth Bartlet in the shop? - Yes.

She is not here? - No.

You had not sold any lace in the course of that morning. - No.

How many persons serve in the shop besides you? - There are two persons besides me, two shopmen; the shopmen were at home; they had never shewn any lace that day; the men are never allowed to shew lace till I am present.

How near was this woman to the counter at the time you supposed the lace to have fallen from her? - She might be the space of half a yard.

With her back to the counter? - No, her face to the counter.

From which side do you suppose this lace to have fallen? - The right hand pocket; I was standing at her right hand side.

As soon as she went out of the shop you overtook her, before she got two doors from the shop? - Yes.

Then of course you went out almost immediately after? - Certainly, Sir.

Now I wish you to swear positively, if you chuse it, and recollect that the life of that woman depends on your answer perhaps; will you venture to swear that the lace did not fall from the counter? - Yes, I will.

Did you see it drop? - No, I heard it drop, and that is sufficient.

A pretty common lace for a cloak is it not? - It is not a common ordinary cloak lace.

Is not it a very usual cloak lace? - Yes.

Now how many thousand yards like that do you think I could purchase in the street where you live? - I cannot say to that pattern.

Court. Are they both common laces? - Yes.

Mr. Garrow. Are not they both remnants? - We do not look upon it as a remnant; there are different lengths.

How much is there in a piece? - There were thirty-three yards of this originally; now there are twelve yards, a proper quantity for a cloak.

Do you take this to be a whole piece? - Sometimes we have them in twelve yards.

Upon your oath do not you know it is not a whole piece, look at it, has there been none cut from it? - It may be cut.

Upon your oath has it not been cut? - I am not sure, I cannot say.

Upon your oath has it not been cut, and do not you know it has? - I have not cut it myself.

Upon your oath are not you sure it has been cut? - I told you I cannot tell nothing at all about it; I cannot take my oath to it.

Do not you know it has been cut by the inspection of it? - It may have been cut.

Do you believe it has not been cut? - I cannot tell.

ELIZABETH SMITH sworn.

I live with a friend, one Mrs. Brown, in Silver-street, Mrs. Brown and I always use the shop for what we want; and I happened to be in the shop, and saw the prisoner there, (and I saw Mrs. Crocket shewing her lace,) on the 27th of July, between two and three; I am sure it was the prisoner; I was in the shop, and the other shop-woman was serving me; her name is Elizabeth Bartlett ; nobody else was in the shop but Mrs. Crocket serving the prisoner with the lace.

And you saw no more than that? - I saw the lace on the ground as Mrs. Crocket moved the prisoner.

How near might the lace be to the prisoner? - Close to her; Mrs. Crocket said, I insist on having this woman searched, and the prisoner immediately put her hand under her cloak; then I saw the lace on the ground.

Mr. Garrow You was purchasing something of Miss Elizabeth Bartlett I understand? - Yes.

And then you saw the lace on the ground? - Yes.

Prisoner. I leave it to my counsel.

The prisoner called three witnesses, who all gave her a very good character.

Guilty of stealing, but not privately .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. ROSE.

[Transportation. See summary.]