29th June 1785
Reference Numbert17850629-64

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671. BENJAMIN MOORE , THOMAS GROVES , and JOHN WILLIAMS were indicted for feloniously stealing on the 4th of June one table spring repeating clock, value 6 l. one purse made of silk and gold, value 6 d. and one reading-glass, value 1 s. the property of Frances Cotton , spinster , in her dwelling house .

(The witnesses examined apart at the request of the prisoner.)


I am gardener to Mrs. Cotton, I lodge in the house, in the morning of the 4th of this month, about half after two or near three, I was alarmed by the house dog; I got out of bed and went up the great staircase, I stopped some time, and heard no noise below, I went to bed again for a minute, and I got out again, the dog still alarmed me, and I went out upon the leads, I heard the noise of the great iron gate, which makes a creaking, I immediately went to the parapet wall and looked over, and I saw five men in a boat, which lay about forty yards off in the river, about thirty yards from the ground; I went down stairs and found all the doors wide open, I went into the sore court and found the hall door open; I went to see what o'clock it was to be punctual to the time, the clock was gone; I saw it when I went to bed, and I heard it strike eleven and twelve ; then I called up my fellow servant to come down and shut up the house that I might pursue the thieves, for the house was robbed? the men in the boat went off towards Crabtree, down the river, William Mumford was with me, and nobody else, till I came to Chelsea, then we alarmed Mr. Graves a waterman, and he came to our assistance, but in the mean time there were two or three more, and I desired them to man a galley, for that the galley which contained these five men, that I took particular notice, came from Hammersmith, I called up our butcher, Mr. Hammond of Hammersmith, to get a horse, and when we came opposite to Chelsea waterside, we saw the same boat and persons, I immediately manned a boat, and sent four men after them; I took such particular marks of the boat and of the men, as near as I could by the time in the morning.

Should you know the men again? - No, I know so far as to their stature , but I never swore to the men. I have a suspicion that these are the men, I can swear to the marks and colour of the boat and the clothes of the men, but not to the men's persons; the colour of the boat was the inside painted green, almost new apparently to me, and the sculls painted lead colour.


I am servant to Mrs. Cotton, I know the blue and gold purse and reading-glass to be in the bureau. I was the last person that saw them there, when the bureau was locked, that was near a month before the robbery was committed; the key of the bureau was with Mrs. Cotton, who was at her town house in Harley-street .


I pursued this boat from Chelsea in my own boat, rowed by three men, and I steered it.

Did you overtake the prisoners? - I followed them as far as Nine Elms, Battersea , then they went on shore; I told the men to row, and pull as fast as they could, we got assistance from the maltmen, and they apprehended them.

Are you sure it was the same men? - The very same men; I found nothing about them but two keys, which I took out of Groves's pocket.

Prisoner Groves. Where did you see us first? - Opposite Chelsea church .

Did you call out to us before we went on shore? - No.


I am a waterman at Hammersmith , I went with Pearson in pursuit of the five men in the boat, and when we came to Chelsea they were right a breast of us, and we took them, I did not see any property upon them, we found a cutlass and a brace of pistols in the barge.


I am a maltsman, I was at the Nine Elms , I remember the prisoners coming there by water in a wherry, there were four and a waterman came down, somebody hallooed out, stop thief, I saw the men, and they rowed a-shore at the causeway at Nine Elms , they ran by me, and I saw the man run by me with a pistol and a cutlass in his hand, that was the prisoner Groves; they gave no account of themselves to me.


I am a fisherman at Chelsea, I was in the pursuit, here are two iron crows, one was inside the barge, and the other stuck in the plank.


I am a bargeman , I saw the three prisoners running, seeing me they went back, and they were stopped; I went up and assisted; I saw the prisoner Williams stopped, this bunch of picklock-keys was given to me by a waterman, and this pistol was picked up by somebody that is not here.


I am a waterman , I produce a cutlass, which I found in a barge; I saw them run by the barge, but I saw them throw nothing in; I helped in taking them, they were not charged with anything.


I am a fisherman at Chelsea, I went in pursuit of these men, I apprehended them, and I found this dark lanthorn, and a bunch of keys in the boat.

Was it in the boat that they had been in? - Yes, the same boat.

Are the prisoners the men? - Yes, I am sure of it.


I am a maltsman, at Nine Elms , I joined in apprehending the prisoners, I found nothing, I had this cutlass from Robert Norcott , who picked it up.

Norcott. I gave it to him, I saw a man that picked it up in the barge, they got out of their boat and got into a barge, and there they dropped the things.


I am a waterman at Arundel-stairs in the Strand, I took a fare from Arundel-stairs to Paul's wharf, four men took a boat of me to go to Chelsea , they were the three men at the bar and another, they asked me what they should give me, I said 18 d. and at Chelsea, they asked me to go to Chiswick, and were to give me 3 s. it

was about ten, and they went to a friend's house and stopped a couple of hours, and came and brought some bread and cheese to me and gin, and they asked me to go to London, with them, and I said I will if you will make it up 6 s. coming down on the side of Chiswick, one of the men asked me if I would let them go on shore to see another friend, the three men that are here now went on shore, and the other man that is not here stopped half an hour, and then he said I will go and see whether they are coming, and they all returned back to the boat, and brought a bit of a basket with them, as far as I could conceive; I thought it was greens or lettudes , or some flowers from a friend; they desired me to row to London, which I did as fast as I could; coming off Chelsea the man that got away, said, there is a man on horseback, and from thence we rowed down opposite to the willows, and the other man stood up and said, by God there is a galley coming after us, I do not know what they want, and he desired me to put him on shore at Nine Elms ; and he stood up, whether he chucked anything overboard I could not tell, by the flushing of the oars, but the basket was in the boat empty afterwards; as soon as ever I landed my boat's head on the ground, the people in the galley hallooed out stop thief; and they went to Sir Sampson's, and I followed them.

Court. Was there any search made for these things? - Yes, I understood they did, they were thrown out below watermark; my boat was painted green, and black oars, and the lower part of my boat was red, below water-mark.

Prisoner Williams. Whether he saw any of us bring anything into the boat? - No, none of you three, but the tall man that run away.

That man was in the boat before we took you? - No, you all came down together.

Court to Pearson. What is the value of this repeating clock? - It was 10 l. I believe, they valued it at 6 l.

Do you believe it is worth 6 l. - Yes, it was a spring repeating table clock.

Allen. It was a good clock, and went well.

Court to Pearson. Were the doors all fast at night? - Yes, I went last to bed, and was first up in the morning, and I found them broke open.

What had they been broke with? - The window-shutters was broke, wrenched in two in the middle.

There is nobody here speaks positively to the value of the clock? - No.


We are really innocent, we hired this waterman to go up the river, we went on shore at Chelsea, and got some liquor, and some bread and cheese, we then rowed up to Chiswick to my cousin, we were all very much in liquor, we went on shore there and could not find my cousin out; we went to the public-house, and we stopped, then we all returned to the boat, and bid the waterman carry us home, going on shore at the Elms , to get something to drink, we heard the cry of stop thief, the man that was with us, whether he was in liquor I do not know, but he ran away, we stopped, so they took us; the man was a stranger to us that got away.

Prisoner Groves. I have nothing more to say than what my fellow prisoner has said.

Prisoner Williams. I have nothing more to say, I am very innocent.

Jury. Did you perceive any fire-arms about these men when they came into the boat ? - They had great coats on.

The prisoner Moore called two witnesses who gave him a good character.

The prisoner Williams called one witness who gave him a very good character.

Court to James White and John Coates . Did either of you see a basket in the boat? - Coates. Yes, I saw a basket.


Court to Waterman. Your conduct has been extremely suspicious, I hope from the fate that attends these prisoners, you will take warning, and be more careful in future.

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice HEATH.

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