14th September 1785
Reference Numbert17850914-65

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788. JOHN ASHBOURNE and JOSEPH WOOD were indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of George Whitmill about one in the afternoon, on the tenth of August , no person being therein, and feloniously stealing therein one cotton gown, value 17 s. a camblet gown, value 10 s. a linen gown, value 2 s. a cloak, value 5 s. a pair of leather breeches, value 3 s. a linen waistcoat, value 9 d. a piece of linen, value 1 d. a shift, value 2 s. the property of the said George Whitmill .


I went out about five o'clock in the morning, and left my wife at home, when I came home, my wife, who had been out, came home, and as I was coming home I met my daughter, who was coming down to the field where I was at work, to tell me,

and as I was going home I saw two men, with each of them a bundle, in a field adjoining to the wheatfield which I came out of; I was reaping wheat; that was about half a mile from my house, this was about half after one.

Who were the two men that had the bundles? - They are the prisoners at the bar, who were strangers to me then; I am positive to the prisoners; they were going from my house across the field towards Harrow on the Hill, I went back to the field I came out of, and called to the two men that were reaping in the field, and told them I really thought my house was robbed; they came to my assistance, and the prisoners ran across a hedge into a plowed field; I had heard at this time that my house had been broke open, I pursued them about ten or a dozen yards, but after they threw the bundles away I returned back to pick them up; I saw the bundles picked up; the prisoners were taken in less than half an hour; when I came home I saw a back window was broke open into the orchard, the glass was unnailed, and one side of the light, and two of the staves, were broken down, and the case was pulled out.

Were the things that are contained in those bundles in your house that morning? - Yes.

In what part of your house were they? - In my lodging-room.

Prisoners. When you saw us pass over the hedge, how could you see us heave the bundles away when you was the other side of the hedge? - Oh lack-a-daisy! you did not throw the bundles away till we had run after you six or seven yards; there was only a hedge that parted the plowed land from the field; we could have touched them if we had but a rod when they first jumped over the hedge.


I was reaping on that day I saw the prisoners, I pursued them; they are the men; I saw them both have a bundle in their hands; I saw them throw away the bundles; I was about nine or ten yards off when they threw away the bundles; we were both on one side the hedge; the prosecutor stopped to take care of the bundles, and me and Tooley followed them; in the space of half an hour we took them; we ran three quarters of a mile; we took one of them in a meadow-field, that was John Ashbourn ; Wood run away, and concealed himself, and there was an alarm made, and he was taken, and brought to the other in less than an hour.


I was with Reading at the taking of Ashbourn; I saw a bundle in each of their hands; I saw them both throw the bundles away; I know where the prosecutor lives; when I first saw them it was about a quarter of a mile from his house; they were coming from his house; it was between one and two; Wood was taken in about half an hour.


I went out of my house the morning of the robbery, about eleven, as nigh as I can guess; I made the door very fast, and the windows very fast, it was not a casement, nor nothing of that sort; I have five children; two of them were reaping in the field with my husband, and two in school, and one I had with me, a little infant; I came back between twelve and one, but I cannot say justly to the time; when I came to the house I unlocked the door, and looked strait forwards, and saw one light of the window broke, and one of the staves pulled right down; this was the back window to the orchard; then I looked about my house, and saw that my house was broke open, and I ran up stairs immediately, and saw the chest open, and missed my clothes, and I saw some things laying about the room.


I am the constable; I produce these things; I was sent for to the Red-lion public house on Harrow-hill common, and they gave me charge of the prisoners at the bar, and the things, I have had them in my custody ever since.

(The things deposed to)

Sarah Whitmill . Here are a red cloak, and a cotton gown, I have the cuffs to it, which did not lay with it, this gown cost my husband a guinea, I have not worn it above three times.

Is the other gown yours? - Yes.

What is that worth? - Seven or eight shillings.


Me and this man were looking after work, and we saw a man come running down a bean field, two of us together; we saw him heave down two bundles, nobody came to pick them up, but we took them and carried them, then they came to me, and I have it down and run away; I know no more of the house being broke open than your Lordship.


I can say no more than he has said, we have no witnesses.


GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron HOTHAM .

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