James Burn.
14th January 1768
Reference Numbert17680114-25

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131. (L.) James Burn was indicted for stealing twenty-five copper halfpence , the property of James Gordon , Dec. 19 . +

James Gordon . I keep a shop in Fenchurch-street . I had very good reason to suspect the prisoner, who was my porter , of robbing me. On the 18th of December at night, I left three shillings-worth of halfpence, which I had marked on the edge with a small file, in my till, and only them; the next morning I got up before the shop was opened; I have a sky-light at the end of my shop; I got upon that, and waited till the prisoner came to open the shop; he came in, and went immediately round to the till, and tried if it was open; this was about half an hour after six; the maid let him in and gave him a candle, and went up stairs about her business; I saw him draw out the till, and put his hand in, and take out I suppose a handful of halfpence, and put them in his waistcoat-pocket; then he returned to the body of the shop; there he paused a little, and went to the till again, and took out another parcel; my shopman Samuel Godfrey was with me; I went down into the shop in about ten minutes after, and said to the prisoner, James, go to Mr. Kent's, and get me a quire of paper; I thought that might come to about the money he had taken; I had beforehand informed Mr. Kent of it, and desired him when he came to get halfpence of him if he could; he went and brought me the paper; I went immediately to Mr. Kent, and he showed me six penny worth of them marked halfpence; I missed a shilling and a halfpenny in halfpence, out of the three shillings which I put in the till; I took the prisoner before my Lord-Mayor, and he was committed.

Edward Kent . I am a stationer, and live almost opposite Mr. Gordon; he came to me about the 15th or 16th of last month, and said he had reason to suspect his till had been robbed more than once, and he suspected his porter; he proposed to mark some halfpence over night, and leave them in his till unlocked, and desired me, if he came for paper, to keep the money I took of him by itself; he had not an opportunity to, put it into execution till the 19th; on that morning he sent his young man to desire me to be in the way; the prisoner came and asked for a quire of gilt paper, with which I served him; this was about 8 o'clock, he paid me in ten pennyworth of halfpence; Mr. Gordon came over, in I believe three minutes after, and I showed him the halfpence; these are the identical half-pence, (producing six pennyworth of halfpence;) about three o'clock Mr. Gordon and I went with the prisoner to my Lord-Mayor, and produced the halfpence before his Lordship: they have never been out of my possession since, nor mixed with any other money; (the Court and Jury inspected them, and found them marked as described by the prosecutor.)

Prisoner's defence.

If I was to die this minute, I never wronged my master of a shilling, or a shilling's-worth in my life; he cannot give me a bad character; my master gave me leave to have recourse to the till for halfpence, in order to give change.

Q. to prosecutor. What do you say to that?

Prosecutor. I never gave him leave to put any into his pocket, or to go to the till when I was not in the shop; I have a shopman constantly in the shop.

To his character.

Joseph Wade . I am an orange merchant, and live in Thames-street; I have known the prisoner two or three years; he lived with me about five months as a porter, I always found him very honest.

Thomas Royal . I deal in fruit; I have known him two or three years; he portered for me before he was with Mr. Gordon; I thought him an honest man.

Francis Egan . I am a victualler, and live in Rosemary-lane; I have known him five years, he is a hard working man; I never heard any thing against his honesty till now.

Peter Gilling . I have known him about five years; I never heard any thing to his dishonesty till this.

Martin Doyle . I have known him five years; his character was always very good.

Edward Tight . I have known him about four years; I never found to the contrary but that he was very honest.

Thomas Langford . I have known him between three and four years; he always had the best of characters.

Hugh Collins . I have known him between four and five years; I never knew any thing but what was honest.

John Staple . I have known him five years; he has a very good character.

Q. to prosecutor. Did you give the prisoner any money to pay for the paper?

Prosecutor. No, I did not.

Guilty . T .

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