Sarah Beeston, James Gibson.
25th May 1732
Reference Numbert17320525-68
VerdictsGuilty > theft under 1s; Not Guilty

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87. Sarah Beeston was indicted for stealing in the Parish of St. Martin's in the Fields , two Books, called, The Antiquities of Westminster, Value 15 s. 1 Book called, The Antiquities of Rochester, Value 5 s. 3 Books called, The Antiquities of Surry, Value 25 s. and 12 other Books, Value 5 l. the Goods of Edmund Curll , in his House , May 5 . And

88. James Gibson was indicted for receiving the same, knowing them to be stolen .

Mr. Curll sworn.

Court. What is your Name?

Curll. Edmund Curll.

A Juryman. Curr did you say, or Cull?

Curll. No, Curll, C , U. R double L.

Court. What have you to say against the Prisoners?

Curll. My Lord, for about a Month past, I have been obliged to attend on some of my best Customers at the other End of the Town, and in that Time I lost a great many Books. I may say, with a good Conscience, to the Number of 60 Volumes. I could not imagine which way they went, till going thro' Russel Court, I saw 17 Volumes of 'em lying all a-Row upon Gibson's Stall. Seeing more but his Wife in the Shop, I ask'd her where her Husband was? and she called him down. I told him those were my Books, and asked him who he bought them of? He told me, Of a Girl, who said she brought 'em from a Relation of hers in York-street. That he had bought 3 Parcels of her, for which he had given her 10 s. beside 2 s. 6 d. which he lent her on the last Parcel. Well, says I, don't expose yourself, but come to my House and drink a Dish of Tea with me to morrow, and I will shew you the respective Glass-Cases from whence these Books were taken. So I took away the 17 Volumes.

Court. Had you a Constable with a Warrant?

Curll. No, my Lord, In the Warmth of my Loss, I took them without a Warrant, for which indeed Mr. Justice Du Veil blamed me.

Court. And with good Reason, you ought not have done so; it was very wrong.

Curll. It was more than I knew, my Lord; but if I have committed any Error, I hope your Lordship will excuse it. Mr. Gibson delivered the Books to me very readily, and he came to drink Tea with me next Day, and I shew'd him the respective Places where the Books were taken from. Then I call'd down my Girl (the other Prisoner) she's about 15 Years old. And Mr. Gibson said, it was she: that brought him the Books. I tax'd her with it, and she own'd that she had sold several Parcels to him, for which she had receiv'd 12 s. 6 d. I justly had more Resentment against the Buyer than the Child, and tho' I have been obliged to do Justice in this Court, God, forbid that I should be guilty of the Blood of any one! I have done nothing hither to without the best Advice, and will do nothing but what is just and honourable. I would take the Directions of this Court in any Case; and as Justice and Mercy always go together, here I hope to have them both. The Girl had lived with me about 3 Months, and I am sure I had the greatest Tenderness imaginable for her; I doved her next to my own Flesh. I can prove nothing of my self, I know nothing but by her own Confession; and God for bid that I should charge her with any thing farther than I know.

Court. What did you do after she had confest this?

Curll. I did not do any thing with her that Day; I cou'd do nothing, but it gave me much Pain. I have told the naked Fact with the strictest Justice in the World. God forbid I should do otherwise!

Court. What Books did you lose?

Curll. Let me see. I have them all in Court, but they are sealed up in a Bag. Here, Cholmly the Constable, bring the Bag forward, break open the Seal. Pish! Here, here; you take it the wrong way. Ay, now you are right; give me the Books. Three, 7 and 5 is 12 - 16 - one more, that's right. Here's 17 Volumes. Here's the 4th Volume of the Antiquities of Surry in Octavo, large Paper. There are 5 Volumes in the Set, which I value at 5 Guineas, 2 Volumes ditto, small Paper; the whole Set is 5 Volumes, Value 3 Guineas, 2 Volumes of the Antiquities of Westminster, one Volume of the Antiquities of Rochester. These 3 Antiquities in my Hand are the Breach of 3 Sets, all span new, 11 Guineas as good as any in my Pocket. Then here's L'Estrange's AEsop compleat, Denham's Poems, the devout Christian Companion , and the Lord knows how many more. O! here's a particular Volume that I lost out of my own private Closet up 2 pair of Stairs backwards; 'tis a Collection of Pieces relating to Dr. Sacheverell, The Mouse Trap, Van's House, Meditations on a Broomstick, and several other Things bound up together,

Cholmly, Constable. After Mr. Curll had taken the 17 Volumes at Mr. Gibson's House, I went with a Warrant to search for more, and found 3 other Books, which Mr. Curll pick'd out and own'd. I really believe that Mr. Gibson bought them in Ignorance, for he told me readily that he had bought several of the Girl; as for the rest of the Books that have been produc'd, I had them at Mr. Curll's Shop, and cannot say whether they were ever in Mr. Gibson's Possession.

Court. Have you that Warrant in your Pocket?

Constable. I believe not. No, I cannot find it.

The Defence of the Prisoners.

Sarah Beeston. I never stole the Books. There were other People in the House besides me. A considerable Number of Witnesses, who had known her from her Infancy, or who had entrusted her in their Families, gave her an extraordinary good Character.

James Gibson . The Books that Curll found in my Shop, were bought of this Girl. My Wife bought the first Parcel when I was not at home. The second Time she brought 4 Books for which she asked a Crown, and I gave her 4 s. I asked her who sent her; she said an own Cousin of hers, with whom she lived, at the End of York-Street. I thought that she look'd like an honest Girl, and so I bought them with the less Scruple. I have no great Judgment in Books my self; I am a Carpenter by Trade, the Book-selling is my Wife's Business. The Girl came again when I was from home, and sold some more to my Wife. The last Time she came, I told her, I would buy no more of those Books, till she brought the Gentleman whom she said she came from. She told me very readily, that he was not at home then, but she would bring him as soon as he came in. I was in haste to go out, and expecting to see her again, I threw down half a Crown in part for the Books she had then brought. I exposed the Books at my Door, and there Curll found them. I described the Girl to him; he said she was his Servant; that he believed I was an honest Man, and if I'd come to breakfast with him in the Morning, he'd put me to Rights; and so he took away 17 Volumes. My Neighbours advised me not to go alone to Curll, but by all means to take Witnesses with me, for fear he should draw me into a Snare. When I went I knew his Girl at first Sight. He would have had me to have prosecuted her. I told him I knew not how to do it, and as he had taken the Books from me, and had had them in his own Possession a Day and a Night, I could not pretend to swear to them. He was in a violent Passion; he went up Stairs and brought down a Shagreen Box. Here Gentlemen, says he (for several were in Company, and he did not direct his Discourse to any one in particular) this Box has been broke open, and 10 Guineas and a broad Piece taken out of it. Now, what would you have a Man do in such a Case; 'tis hard if I must lose all; I expect some Satisfaction: Take your choice; if you'll give me Satisfaction for my Money, I'll fit down with the Loss of my Books; If you'll make my Books good, I'll take up with the Loss of my Money. As he did not ever pretend that I had any thing to do with his Money Box, I wondred what he meant by making such a Proposal: And as I knew my own Innocence, I was resolved to take my Trial.

Thomas Corbett , Bookseller. I have known Gibson several Years, he's a Carpenter by Trade, and knows little of Books ; but it was his Wife that chiefly managed the Bookseller's Business, she being a Bookseller's Daughter. He has the Character of a very honest Man. Several of the Books he bought of the Girl were odd Volumes, and therefore of very small Value. But if the

Sets had been compleat which Curll values at three Guineas a Set, I don't believe any Bookseller would have given half the Money for them.

Curll. If you don't know how to make so much of them, I do.

William Threadkill . I have known Gibson seven Years, and he bears a very good Character. I saw Curll take the Books from his Stall, and he assisted Curll in looking them out; says Curll, I believe you are a very honest Man, and 't was my Girl that brought you these Books; but her Friends are very able Persons, and if you'll come to my House, we'll set this Matter to rights.

Curll. I could not say that her Friends were very able, because I know otherwise; but I said they were very honest.

Threadkill. When we were at Curll's House, he brought a Box, and told us he had lost (I don't know whether it was 7 or 10 Guineas and a Broad Piece) out of it, and that 't would be very hard if he must lose all, and that if he could have his Money again, he would bear the Loss of his Books; or if he was satisfied for his Books, he would put up with the Loss of his Money. The Constable came in and said, Who Charges this Girl? And says Curll, I can't well do it, but Gibson may. Says Gibson, you have had the Books a Day and a Night in your Custody, and I can't swear now that they are the same as you took from my Shop. There is a Book about Dr. Sacheverell, which I have lent to my Ledger, I don't know but it was bought of the Girl with the others. Says Curll, I have lost no such Book.

Curll. The Book he named was Dr. Sacheverell's Trial; not the Collection of Pamphlets relating to the Doctor.

Several other Witnesses appeared to his Reputation, and gave him the Character of an honest industrious Man. The Jury found Sarah Beeton guilty to the Value of 10 d. and acquitted James Gibson.

[Transportation. See summary.]

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