26th April 1786
Reference Numbert17860426-7
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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325. JAMES MAY was indicted for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Charles Argil , about the hour of one in the night, on the 13th day of January last, and burglariously stealing therein, 3300 lb. weight of hempen cords, value 16 l. 10 s. his property .

EDWARD THOMPSON (a Black) sworn.

I am servant to Mr. Argil in Narrow-street, Limehouse ; he keeps a large warehouse, a ship chandler , deals in cordage; the warehouse and the dwelling-house is like one, you cannot go into the warehouse without going into the dwelling-house; the warehouse is near the water; there is an opening towards the water, the doors open fronting the water. The evening before the robbery, I secured the warehouse at night; I am sure I made the folding-doors towards the water fast, and bolt ed them; the next morning, about five, I went to work, and struck a light; I observed the door open, I looked round, and I went backwards, and there was a plank taken out of the back of the necessary.

Did that afford an opening sufficient for any body to get in? - Yes.

Has the necessary a communication with the warehouse? - Yes.

Was the warehouse open or shut? - It was open, the folding-doors; I missed a quantity of rope, as near as I can tell, there was about two ton wanting, and six bundles of paper stuff.

Where did this plank lay? - I found it on the platform; that platform has a communication with the river; there were holes in the plank, which appeared to be made with a gimblet, and afterwards they took a knife and cut it, so as to get a stick in.

Was that hole sufficient for a man to get in? - Yes.

Did you acquaint your master with this circumstance? - As soon as ever I saw this, I acquianted my master.

Court. Do you happen to know how that plank was secured, whether it was nailed, or whether it was only laid down loose in the necessary? - It was fastened.

How? - Nailed.

When you saw it, did you look to see whether the nails were drawn? - They were forced out.

Were the nails whole in the plank when you saw it forced out? - Yes.


I deal in cordage; I live in Narrow-street, Limehouse; I was alarmed by my servant that my house was robbed, on the 13th of January; I fastened my doors; there was no man in the house but myself; I saw the doors fast, and went to bed with my family; I did not get up till my man alarmed me; he said, master, master, your house is robbed! My wife and me came down stairs; and when I came, I missed this rope and six bundles of paper stuff, and some junk; I observed the board laid there, and the board that belonged to the outside of the warehouse was put up by the carpenter, and never removed till it was broke off: this stick was found in the place, and they took and knocked another board through the necessary, and here is where it has been cut with a knife; they came through the necessary, and unbolted the door; the outside plank and the inside plank of the necessary were forced out.

Where does that outside of the necessary look to? - The necessary is below in the warehouse; the dwelling-house, warehouse, and necessary communicate together.

Where does the back of the necessary look to? - It looks to the water.

How could they get at it from the place where you found the planks forced out? - There are stairs directly under it; upon those stairs is built a little bit of platform, about three feet wide, and they stood on that. I sent for William Elby ; we went to Deptford, to the Ship upon the Redhouse walk, and there we found one Passmore, a constable, and four men, the prisoner and three more.

Court. Was there any thing found on him? - Yes, this gimblet.

Did you compare that with the hole which you found in the platform? - Yes.

(A part of the Plank produced.)

Jury. There is nothing can be judged from that.

Did you go in search of your property? - Yes.

Where did you go? - We went to Woolwich, to one Mrs. Bayley's.

Did you find all your property at Bayley's? - Yes; we found it all in a cellar, where there was candles and some tallow.

Have you subpoened Mr. and Mrs. Bayley? - No; she came before the Justice, but she went away without saying any thing about it.


On the 12th of January last I was out on my rounds, and I saw the prisoner Harvey, and three more together near the Water-gates in Deptford; that was about a quarter after eleven at night; I saw no more of him that night: about twelve the next morning, Mr. Argil came to me, and told me he had been robbed; it then struck me these were the people; we went to Red-house wharf, we stopped to drink some beer in the sore room, and saw the prisoner at the bar and three more drinking in the taproom, Hagg, Marshall and Harvey; I went out, and called Mr. Argil and Mr. Elby, and we went in and searched them, and found a gimblet on May; I then secured him, and we went to Woolwich, and in Mr. Bayley's cellar we found some rope.

Did Harvey, before the Justice, acknowlege this, and charge May? - Yes, he acknowledge himself to be guilty of this fact.


I was with the last witness when the

property was found; the prosecutor said he could swear to it.


I was concerned in this robbery. Charles Lee bored holes with this gimblet, till we got this stick in, at Mr. Argil's; Haggs Marshall, Lee, and myself got in, all but May; he staid in the boat; we got the cordage through the door; we got the boats from Deptford to Limehouse; we carried the cordage to Mrs. Bayley's; only May and me carried it to Mrs. Bayley's; we got three guineas and a half for this cordage; I confessed before the Justice; May was below stairs.

Court. How long had you been acquainted with May? - A very little time. We met at the Welch Harp house by Deptford-yard gate; we were all together there.

Where did you go to from thence? - Down to the Water-gates, and got a boat.

Do you remember seeing any thing of Passmore that night? - No.

Where did you go with the boat? - We took one from Limehouse. This is the gimblet; May had the gimblet afterwards.

Did not you charge May with having been out another night? - Yes, another night, but I had forgot that.

When you had sold the cordage, where did you go? - We walked up to Deptford; we all went to Woolwich; but two of us only sold the stuff; we went to the Redhouse about one or two o'clock.

What was you doing in the mean time? - We were drinking at Woolwich.

(The Cordage produced and deposed to.)


It was the evidence went to get it; I had nothing to do with it at all.

GUILTY , Death .

He was humbly recommended to his Majesty's mercy.

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron EYRE .

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