13th January 1779
Reference Numbert17790113-31

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119, 120, 121. HENRY BALL , THOMAS OSBORNE and WILLIAM HILSDON , were indicted for burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Benjamin Wood , on the 17th of December , about the hour of twelve in the night, and stealing a feather-bed, value 5 l. six woollen blankets, value 3 l. two bed pillows, value 6 s. a linen quilt, value 10 s. three linen towels, value 3 s. a mahogany tea-chest with three tin cannisters, value 8 s. an iron roasting jack, value 10 s. five pewter dishes, value 20 s. ten pewter plates. value 10 s. a copper stew-pan,

value 2 s. a copper tea-kettle, value 8 s. seven tin cannisters, value 10 s. a japanned tin cannister, value 4 s. two pewter wash-hand basons, value 4 s. three looking-glasses in wooden frames, value 40 s. a copper porridge-pot, value 10 s. a copper sauce-pan, value 2 s. a brass candlestick, value 2 s. three pewter chamber-pots, value 7 s. a pewter pan, value 3 s. four other tin cannisters, value 3 s. a powder-box, value 6 s. an hand-bell, value 1 s. eight china images, value 8 s. a glass bottle for tea, value 1 s. a silk quilted petticoat, value 8 s. a linen quilted petticoat, value 10 s. a woollen cloth riding-habit, value 20 s. a pair of woman's clogs, value 1 s. two hempen bags, value 8 d. and five iron hoops, value 2 s. the property of the said Benjamin Wood , in his dwelling-house .


I am the wife of Benjamin Wood . My husband rents a house at Hendon , which we have lived in thirteen years; we are there eight months in the year constantly; the other four months we reside in town, but go occasionally once or twice a week; we quitted the house about the 4th of November. I make it a rule always to be last there, and see that every thing is safe; we go round and try the doors and windows to see that they are safe. On the 18th of December, about twelve o'clock, the gardener, John Groves , came to acquaint us that the house was robbed. I went down directly as soon as the horse was put to; Mr. Wood having been ill, we had not been down from the 5th of November. I went down and found the door that opens into the garden on the back part of the house broke open; the staple had been wrenched; but that is not the door we went out at when we left the house.

Was the fore-door locked or not? - It was locked as it was when I left it; the pair of gates which go into the garden were forced open; when I went in I missed three towels, five keys, and all the other things mentioned in the indictment; they had broke into the cellar and cleared away almost all the liquors. I imagine they drank some in the house, for I found in the fore-parlour a cup that had rum in it; there were three candles that had been lighted, and candle grease dropped about the house, and particularly in one closet where I had never had a candle.


I am a gardener. I was left to take care of Mr. Wood's, garden. On the 17th of December when I left work about a quarter after five, the doors and windows of Mr. Wood's house were all fast.

Was the door facing the garden fast? - Yes.


I am a watchman at Hampstead. On the 18th of December in the morning, about three o'clock, as I was crying the hour, I met a farmer's cart with some lambs; the carman told me there was a little cart coming behind very much loaded. I kept calling the hour. Presently I saw another cart, there was one horse drawing it and a little horse beside it, on which two men rode; there were three men on the cart. I said, good morning to you, and stepping out of the causeway into the road, said, what have you got in the cart? They made no answer, but began whipping the horses, and drove as fast as they could, and drove the cart against the wall of a broker's shop, and overturned it, and broke the shafts. The men on horse-back rode off as fast as they could. I made a stroke at one of them with a hanger as he turned the corner; I missed my blow, and had like to have fallen, but recovered myself. Ball came up, I asked him where he was going to; he said, he did not belong to the cart; he was just come down the town. I asked him what house he came out of, he said out of no house, and made a stroke at me with his fist, and struck me in the neck. I up with my hanger, and said, if he offered to strike again I would cut him down. I secured him, and took him to the cart, and desired my partner, another watchman, to take care of him. Edwards the constable came, and I gave him charge of him; and went and took the goods out of the cart, and delivered them into the custody of Mr. Muddocks, another constable.

Did you observe, in the overturning of the cart, whether any one of the men in the scuffle lost his hat? - No. Muddocks found a hat as he was carrying the goods up to his house.

Do you know the persons that attended the cart? - Yes; Osborne was the first man that rode on the little horse.

Are you able to speak to the other? - Yes; by the colour of his clothes; he lay upon the cart.

Osborne. How can you swear to me by seeing me in so dark a night? - I have known him many years; he lived with Mr. Greenall, and drove his cart.


I am a constable at Hampstead. Ball was delivered into my custody; I searched him and found an iron crow, a chissel, and a parcel of keys upon him; three I believe are common keys, the others are pick-lock keys (producing them.)

Did you try those keys at Mr. Wood's house? - No; Mr. Muddocks, I believe, tried them.


I am a constable at Hampstead. I was called up a little after three in the morning; about fifty yards from the cart I found a hat.

Did you go to Mr. Wood's house to try the keys that were found upon Ball? - I did. When we came to the house Mrs. Wood imagined these three keys to be her's. I went to the different locks she said they belonged to, and tried them, and they fitted exactly. One is the key of the wash-house, another the key of the pantry, the other is the key of a closet in the kitchen. This pick-lock key I tried, and found it opened the front door. I apprehended they opened the front door to get in; and got out at the back door; it was broke open in the inside. There was the track of a cart and one horse from the back door. I tried the chissel and crow found on Ball, with the marks of the door that was broke open, and other places that were broken, and they fitted the marks exactly.


Was you present when Ball was brought before the magistrates on the 18th of December? - Yes.

What passed when he was examined? - I was not in the room.

Who was present? - They were examined before Mess. Read and Cox. Fletcher will give an account of that.


I am clerk to the magistrates in Litchfield-street. When Ball was brought, I was informed that he wished to be admitted an evidence; knowing his character I told him I could not do any thing till the magistrates came; when they came they would not admit him an evidence. He candidly told who were concerned with him in the robbery.

To M'Donald. In consequence of an information you had received did you go after the prisoners? - Yes; I found Osborne and Hilsdon at the house of a Mr. Davis in Fetter-lane, up two pair of stairs; they were lying on the bed in their clothes; their shoes were all over country dirt. As I was going to hand-cuff them, Hilsdon put his hand in his pocket and pulled out two keys, and was going to throw them away. I asked him what he was going to throw away; he said only two keys that he had had six weeks, which he picked up. There was a towel lying on the bed between them that belongs to Mr. Wood. Grubb who was with me took care of it. There was a crow hid in the chimney. I went to Mr. Wood's house and tried the keys; they fitted the locks of the two closets of the fore-parlour.

(The keys were produced in court and deposed to by Mrs. Wood.)


I went with M'Donald to the house in Fetter-lane; the two prisoners lay on the bed with their clothes on; there was this towel (producing it) between them with Mr. Wood's mark on it. I took it up and put it in my pocket. I found this chissel (producing it) under the bed.

(The towel was deposed to by Mrs. Wood.)


Did you see either of the prisoners on the morning of the 18th of December? - I do not recollect the day of the month; it was the morning of the report of this robbery at Hampstead. As I came through Hampstead, about six o'clock, I heard of the robbery. In coming to London on horse-back I saw the

middle man, that is Hilsdon, at Battle Bridge; he had an handkerchief about his head. Seeing him without a hat, and having heard that one of the men had lost his hat, I had a suspicion of him, and looked hard at him. He came towards me and I thought was going to attack me. I looked very hard at him, and believe Hilsdon is the man. He had on a blue jacket, like a sailor's jacket, very much worn. I told the turnpike men of it, they said if he came that way they would take him. I will not swear positively to the man, one man may be like another, but to the best of my knowledge he is the man.

Grubb. He had a blue sailor's jacket on when he was taken.

Court to Boyce. Have you any doubt that he is the man? - No. It was near seven o'clock when I saw him at Battle-bridge; that is three miles on this side of Hampstead.

Mrs. Wood. I saw the things in the hands of the constable, they are all mine.

Mr. Muddock. The things that Mrs. Wood saw in my custody are the things that were taken out of the cart. There is a tea chest which has been broke open; the mark where it has been broke open, exactly corresponds with the chissel that has been produced.


There may be many tools of that size. I do not know any thing of the matter. I was going through Hampstead and this man stopped me; I was going the other way instead of coming to London.


I can say nothing to it; I never was near the place; the man that has sworn to me never saw me there in his life.


I have people to prove where I was; I was at home all night, and was never out of my lodging.

For Hilsdon.


I live next door to the Falcon tavern in Fetter-lane; I keep a fruiterer's and green shop. Hilsdon has lodged at my house a year and three-quarters. I always shut my shop at dark. On the 17th of December, to the best of my knowledge, Hilsdon knocked at the door, and I let him in about eight o'clock. He went up stairs; I saw no more of him till six the next night.

What time did you go to bed that night? - Eleven o'clock.

Cross Examination.

How was he dressed when you saw him at six o'clock the next night? - He came down in his great coat; he was going to order a chaldron of coals for his uncle, and staid about three-quarters of an hour.

He was taken soon after? - Yes.

What waistcoat had he on? - I cannot say; he had a great white coat on.

What was he dressed in when he was taken? - I did not observe, I was too much frightened.

Do you remember speaking to the young men that came to apprehend him? - The young woman that lives at the Falcon tavern knocked at the door, the gentlemen followed her in, and went into the back room, and began searching it; they looked in the coal-hole and up the chimney. I said they were welcome to search my box.

Did not you tell Grubb that Hilsdon and Osborne came in together both tired in the morning? - I told him no such thing.

You never told Grubb that those two prisoners came in at five in the morning? - No; I never saw Hilsdon till six in the evening.


I am the husband of the last witness; the prisoner Hilsdon has lodged a year and three-quarters with me. I never heard any thing against him in my life. I always thought him an honest man till this happened.

What time do you come home at night? - About eleven o'clock; when I have done my work.


I have known Hilsdon ever since he was born. I know nothing about this affair. He has bore the character of a very honest man.


I live in Newgate-market. I have known Hilsdon from a child. I never heard any thing dishonest of him before. Osborne declared to me in the prison that Hilsdon was not along with them.

- LAY sworn.

I keep a coal wharf. Hilsdon has been my carman near twelve years; he behaved exceedingly sober, appeared to be honest and industrious; I thought him a valuable man; he was in his business the 17th of December, but was not in his business on the 18th.

To Grubb. When you went to the house of Davis, did you see Mary Davis ? - I did. I enquired what time Osborne and Hilsdon came in; and she said they came in about five in the morning, all over country dirt, and that they had been out all night. I told Mr. Chetham, the attorney, to subpoena her to prove it. She tells another tale now.

Edwards. I was there, but do not recollect the words.

M'Donald. I was with Grubb at Davis's; she said Osborne knocked at the door, and came in exactly at five, and Hilsdon came in after him.


I was at Davis's; the woman who passes for his wife told me Hilsdon did not come in till five in the morning.

Grubb. Three went up stairs; M'Donald and I staid below and heard the conversation.


Tried by the Second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice NARES.

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