Joseph Fretwell.
12th January 1733
Reference Numbert17330112-39
VerdictNot Guilty

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50. Joseph Fretwell , was indicted for stealing a Wig, value 7 s. and a Hat, value 3 s. the Goods of Joseph Chapman , Dec. 29 .

Joseph Chapman . On the 29th of December, between 9 and 10 at Night, my Girl and little Boy being to go from Strutton's-Grounds to the Horse-Ferry, I sent my Apprentice to light them, when my Apprentice came back, and told me, that a Man had snatch'd off my Child's Hat and Wig, and that he ran after the Rogue, but could not overtake him. Soon after, I was told, that the Prisoner had offer'd to sell such a Hat and Wig at an Orange-Barrow. John Allen , a Watchman, found the Prisoner that Night, and brought him to my House. He had my Boy's Hat upon his Head, and his Wig in his Pocket; he fell on his Knees, and begg'd me to be favourable; my Wife was under some Concern about him as he was a Neighbour's Child, and desired me not to prosecute, and being but a trifling Master I let him go to Bed; but three Hours afterwards, Allen came again, and says he, If you won't prosecute him, I will prosecute you, and so I was obliged to send him hither, which otherwise I should not have done; for I never knew that he followed such Courses, and his Father who is a Pipe-maker and lives in the Neighbourhood bears a very honest Character.

John Allen , Watchman. Between 10 and 11 at Night, Mrs Chapman told me that her Child was robb'd of his Hat and Wig, and that her Husband was gone to look for 'em. A Girl came up and said she had heard that Mr. Fretwell's, Son had got the Hat and Wig, and that some were gone after him to Charing-Cross; then says Mrs. Chapman, I'll see that he shan't go without being prosecuted.

Court. Did Mrs. Chapman say so?

Allen. Yes.

Court. Her Husband swears she desired him not to prosecute.

Allen. You shall hear how that was. I goes away, and meeting with my Brother Watchman, Thomas Bird , I told him there was a Street Robbery committed by Mr. Fretwell's Son.

Court. I suppose you heard of a Reward for taking Street-Robbers?

Allen. I had to, but what I did, was not for the Sake of the Reward I'll assure you; so Bird found the Prisoner and brought him to me, and I carried him to Mr. Chapman; then Mrs. Chapman being frighted, desired her Husband to excuse him: Upon which Mr. Cross, (who lodges in Mr. Chapman's House) says to me, since Mrs. Chapman is frighted and is not willing the Lad should be sent to Newgate, if you will let him go, I will give you a Bond of Honour to secure you.

Court. A Bond of Honour?

Allen. Yes, I am sure he said a Bond of Honour: Then says I, you ought to secure the Prosecutor too. Well, Allen says he, let us keep it as quiet as we can and there will be no Danger. The Prisoner shall go to the Place where the Child was robb'd, and deliver the Hat and Wig to him; so we went, and after the Child had got his Hat and Wig again, I up with my Staff and gave the Prisoner a Knock on the Breast, and said, was not you a Villian to wrong such an innocent Child?

Court. What Right had you to assault him after he had been discharged by the Prosecutor, and while he behaved himself peaceably?

Allen. I did nothing in Derision of Justice, but only in Resentment.

Court. If the Jury should discharge him, he may perhaps make you pay for your Resentment. Why did you afterwards threaten to prosecute Mr. Chapman if he would not prosecute the Prisoner?

A. You shall hear. After I came back I met the Prisoner about one a Clock, standing full in my Walk. Go about your Business, says I, why do you stand brazening here in the Face of Justice? You know this Thing has blacken'd you, and therefore you ought to keep use of Sight for a quarter of a Year, and then if you mind your Work, and behave your self as you should do, perhaps there may be no more Notice taken of it. Lord, says he, I am very told! Well, says I, there's a Half-penny to buy you a Dram, and let me see you no more in my Walks. So I went my Rounds, and coming to my Brother Watchman's Stand, there I saw the Prisoner again. Now, are not you a graceless Villian, says I, to stand so outdaciously here to affront Justice, when I gave you a Charge to the contrary? and with that I gave him another Knock with my Staff.

Court. And for what Reason, because he stood in your Way? Was it an Insult upon Justice to appear in your Presence without Leave?

Allen. Why, suppose any of my Inhabitants had been robb'd, or any of the King's Subjects had been murdered, as I am his Majesty's Officer, the Blame would have been laid upon me, for not making Use of my Authority, in taking Care to prevent such Mischief: And therefore I took the Prisoner, and carried him again to Mr. Chapman ; and Sir, says I, This Villain has not stood in Defiance of your good Nature only, but in Defiance of Justice and Authority, and therefore if you don't prosecute him, I'll proceed against you in a Process of Justice.

The Prisoner in his Defence said, that it was a windy Night, and that he found the Hat and Wig. The Jury acquitted him.


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