John Durant, Joseph Brittle.
12th October 1743
Reference Numbert17431012-31
VerdictsNot Guilty

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493, 494. John Durant was indicted for stealing a great Cloth Coat, value 5 s. the Goods of James Pearce , October 8 . and Joseph Brittle for receiving the same, knowing it to be stole

Mrs Pearce . I was going out of Town, and ordered the Coachman to stop at the London Assurance to take up Mr Pearce; Mr Pearce's great Coat was behind the Coach, and I saw the Coat thrown into a Hackney Coach.

Q. Did you see the Coat taken away?

Mrs Pearce. I did not see it taken away; but seeing the Coat thrown into the Coach; I said, Pray now, why did you take away my Coat; the Prisoner Durant said, he thought it was a Hackney Coachman's Coat; said I, that Coat does not look like a Hackney Coachman's Coat; whereupon the Coat was brought back directly.

Q. Was the Man that brought it back, the same Man that took it away?

Mrs Pearce. I cannot say that; when the Coat was thrown into the Hackney Coach; I said, That is my great Coat; and Durant brought it back directly, and put it again in its Place.

Q. Did he attempt to drive away?

Mrs Pearce. Not till the other Prisoner was taken up.

Henrietta Martin Pearce . While the Footman was gone into the London Assurance-Office, the Coat was thrown into a Hackney Coach; I called to the Prisoner, and he took it directly out of the Coach, and brought it back again.

Mrs Pearce. The other Man who is charged with receiving it, only made a Joke of it.

Q. How near were the Coaches to each other?

H. M. Pearce. They were so near, that the Man straddled from one Coach to the other, and they could not hand the Coat from one to the other without my seeing of it.

John Rawlins . Capt. Pearce gave me charge of John Durant ; I met Durant's Master, Mr Alexander, in Lombard-street, as I was going along with Durant; said he, You have done for yourself very finely; I would rather have given 500 l. than this Thing should have happened; I would have you learn to be honest; Friend, said Durant, to me, I am

afraid this will touch my Life; said I, I cannot tell the Consequence of it; and, he said, he did take the Coat from behind Mr Pearce's Coach, and threw it into his Partner's Coach: Afterwards we met young Mr Alexander, said he, how comes this about, that you have stole a Gentleman's Coat; he said, I cannot help it now, and if I was to be hanged. I would speak the Truth; I did do it, and slung it into my Partner's Coach; and the other said, he thought it was a poor Hackney Coachman's Coat, and that they took it up for fear it should be lost; I apprehend Durant was learning to drive a Coach; and Brittle drove the Coach, that the Coat was thrown into; Brittle made a Laugh at it, and owned, that Durant did sting the Coat into his Coach.

James Redmain . I was coming up Cornhill last Saturday; and Mr Pearce's Coach was waiting at the London Assurance-Office; Mrs Pearce and Miss Pearce were in the Coach; and hearing something of a Dispute; I asked Mrs Pearce what was the Matter; she said, a Person had taken a Coat from behind her Coach, and put it into another Coach, and wished that the Man could be secured; a Soldier came by immediately afterwards, who stopped, to hear what Mrs Pearce was saying; and he heard Mrs Pearce talk of a Coat that was taken from behind her Coach; I said, If you will go along with me, we will secure him; I asked Durant how he came to take the Coat; he said, I thought it had been a Hackney Coachman's Coat, and as it was so, I did not think there was any Harm in it, but I will go and ask Mrs Pearce's Pardon upon my Knees he owned, that he took it, from behind Mr Pearce's Coach, and hoped she would excuse him.

- Holloway. I was coming by the Royal-Exchange, about one o'Clock, on Saturday last, and heard Capt. Pearce's Lady make an Outcry, and say, that she was robbed of her Husband's great Coat, and that the Person who took it was just by; I desired her to shew me the Person that took it; and, she said, it was the Man in the blue Grey (Durant) I said to Durant, Don't take it amiss, but you must take a Walk to the Lady's Coach; when he came to her, he made a Sort of a Bend, and said, he never knew any Harm before; and begged that she would forgive him; I heard old Mr Alexander say, I gave you a Caution to be honest, but I find you did not regard it; and afterwards I met young Mr Alexander; and he said to him, You will not be honest; and Durant said, he would be honest.

Q. Did he run away?

Holloway. He was willing to be backward, he had no Mind to go forward.

Thomas Gower . I folded the Coat up, and put it behind the Coach upon the Step; I was going into the London-Assurance-Office to let my Master know that the Coach was ready, and by that Time I came back the Coat was gone, and they had got a Constable, and secured the Prisoners.

Q. Was it not possible for the Coat to fall down?

Gower. I had placed it so upon the Step that I thought it was impossible for it to fall down.

Q. Was the Coat fastened to the Step?

Gower. There was no fastening but only the Step to hold it.

- Alexander, Senior. The two Prisoners at the Bar are very honest Fellows; one of them has lived with me between five and six Years, and the other a Year; they came from Mr Jennings's to me; I had a very good Character of them; there are not two honester Fellows in the World.

- Alexander, Junior. I know both the Prisoners; I believe them to be very honest sober Men: I have a particular Reason for saying so of John Durant , because when he first came to me, I employed him to drive the Horses upon the Road, and gave him Money to defray Expences, and I kept a private Account against him, and did not let him know that I kept any Account, and when I settled with him his Accounts were always very fair and just.

Liscomb Price. I have known Brittle ever since he lived with my Father-in-Law, Mr Alexander; I had Occasion to remove, and I entrusted him with near 2000 l. Value; and if I had the same Occasion for him To-morrow I would entrust him again.

- Bridware. I have known Brittle some Years; he is looked upon to be a Man of an exceeding good Reputation; I know Mr Alexander to be a Man of one of the best Characters in the World, and I know that he respected him - The I know but little of.

- Rooke. I know both the Prisoners I never heard but that they bore the Character of very honest Men; they are singular Men in their way, as Hackney Coachmen, for they generally hear but very indifferent Characters. I have done Business for Mr Alexander twenty Years, and he says he never had two such Servants in his Life.

Mr North. I have sometimes had occasion to make of Mr Alexander, and have been drove by Brittle, and he always was a sober honest Fellow to the best of my Judgment.

- Quiron. I believe them to be as honest Men as any in England; Durant when he was but a Lad lived two Years with Mr Jennings, of Acton-Place;

I was Fellow-Servant with him, he behaved vastly well; he was as good a Fellow-Servant as ever I had in my Life; he came from thence to Mr Alexander.

Mrs Crewis . Durant has been my Servant to drive me for about two Years, and always behaved very well; and if he was discharged he should be my Servant again. Both Acquitted .

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