8th June 1791
Reference Numbert17910608-19
VerdictGuilty > theft under 40s

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244. JOHN JENKINS was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 1st of April , thirty-two yards of Scotch linen, value 20 s. four kerseymere shapes for waistcoats, value 20 s. twelve cloaks, value 4 l. fifteen yards of woollen cloth, called swan-down, value 4 l. twelve yards of kerseymere, value 40 s. six yards of duck, value 6 s. twenty yards of Irish linen, value 20 s. forty yards of muslin, value 10 l. twenty-six yards of Irish buckram, value 20 s. eleven night-caps, value 11 s. two yards of cloth, value 12 s. one hundred and forty-four waistcoat buttons, value 5 s. one hundred and sixty yards of black lace, value 8 l. fourteen yards of silk florentine, value 5 l. twelve yards of thread fringe, value 15 s. fifteen pieces of Nankeen, value 4 l. and one hundred and forty-four bed laces, value 9 s. the property of Samuel Nicholson and Robert Harrison , in the dwelling-house of the said Samuel Nicholson .

A second Count, charging him with stealing the same property in the dwelling-house of the said Samuel Nicholson and Robert Harrison .

(The case was opened by Mr. Garrow.)


I am employed by Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison as a traveller in the country: the prisoner at the bar was their porter . In consequence of Mr. Nicholson's desire, and a suspicion which he had, I went down to Wells, and after some inquiry I found the prisoner at the house of Jacob Bartlett , a farrier, in Wells; I procured a search-warrant, to search Bartlett's house: when I went in, I inquired for the prisoner, and was informed he was below stairs in the kitchen, under ground: I sent down, in order to speak with him, but he would not come up; I went down, having assistance with me, and told the prisoner I had got a search-warrant to search the house, respecting a parcel of goods which had come down, which were suspected to belong to the prosecutor; he affected to know nothing about the matter; I do not recollect the words he said; upon that I observed to the constable and the vergers, who were with me, that we had better go up stairs, and search there: when we got up stairs, on the first floor, we found a trunk, which we searched; (the prisoner staid below stairs:) I do not recollect whether it was locked or no; in this trunk I found a great many suspicious goods, which I suspected might be the property of Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison; in the same trunk also were many of the clothes of the woman who cohabited with the prisoner. By this time there was word brought up stairs that the prisoner had made his escape: there was a young man with me of the name of Nesbitt; says I, Nesbitt, do you go after him, I cannot leave the house: after that, I went into another room on the same floor, a back room and a bed-room, in which the woman who went by the name of Jenkins at that time was.

Had you known her in London? - I had not. In the corner of the room were four or five boxes, some of which were locked; I asked the woman for the keys, which she readily gave; in these boxes I found a great many haberdashery goods; and at the foot of the bed, at the window, lay a chest; and I asked her for the key of that, and that I did not immediately procure: we got removing some part of these goods to the mayor's house: during this time, I set a man, in one room, to watch what goods I had there; and when I came back, I found this chest, which I had before left found,

broke at its hinges; I looked into it, and I saw clothes in it, it was not quite empty; and we went on to search again, and went up the second pair of stairs, and there we searched the bed; and between the bedclothes we found a great deal of sewing silk loose, in skains, about ten or twelve pound weight: then we came down to the bedroom, on the first floor; in a box, at the foot of the bed, not the chest, we found several more modes and Persians, in half or quarter pieces, quite new: then we proceeded to search the cellar again; or, as it may be called, the kitchen; the place where we first went; there we found some black lace and some Persian, just put on a shelf, put out of the way, in a place where they were liable to be spoiled: these goods were conveyed to the mayor; a part of which I proved to be the property of Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison, by their marks; I cannot swear to all, but I swear to some by the private marks of the prosecutor: the examination took place before the mayor, and Mr. Lovell, a justice; he was asked how he came by those goods I pointed out; he said he knew nothing at all about them: the mayor then enumerated several other articles, which are now produced; he said he bought them of the Jews; some others he said he had bought on board a ship, and pointed at the Nankeens. -

[Mr. Fielding, Prisoner's Counsel, moved the Court, that, before any further proceedings were gone into upon this trial, a felony should be proved. This was objected to by Mr. Garrow, as he conceived he had a right to carry on the prosecution in his own way; and if, at length, a felony was proved, I was sufficient. Mr. Fielding's objection was over-ruled, and Mr. Garrow directed to proceed, by the Court. The examination of the witness was then continued]

Whiteman. He was afterwards committed.

Have you since examined into the Nankeens which he stated he had bought on board a ship? - We generally tie up the Nankeens in bundles of ten pieces in each bundle, and we mark the outermost of them; one of these was marked by Mr. Nicholson himself.

Is there any regular course of their trade by which such goods are carried on board a ship? - No, not Nankeens; their trade is principally in the country.

Have you looked at any other articles; were there any marks on those which he said he bought of the Jews? - Yes, on two pieces of Scotch linen.

Are those the linens without stiffenings? - Yes.

Did you ever sell linen in that state? - No.

Then you was not present at the time the prisoner was taken? - I was not. (Some goods the witness selected before the mayor of Wells, and deposed to then, were now produced.) All these he said he knew nothing of; I found them with the other things which he said he had of the Jews, and bought on board of ship.

Did you find any cloaks? - Yes, scarlet ones; and at the mayor's he desired me, when I wrote home to Mr. Nicholson, to be as favourable as possible to him.

Did you give him any reason to expect he would be at all benefitted by making this confession? - I did not.

Did you threaten him? - I did not; I do not know I said any thing.

Mr. Fielding. There was one word you made use of, and very properly, and that was, that you do not know you made use of any inducement to make him say what he did? - I do not recollect what I said to him; I cannot swear I did not; for I forget what I said, as to the words.

You live with the prosecutors, Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison, as a rider? - I do.

In that employ you are mostly out of town? - I am.

It is not your business to transact the business of the shop? - I do frequently, when I am in town.

How long have you lived with Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison? - Since September last.

Of course, then, it is only from September last you can speak to the marks used

in this firm; what part of that time have you been in the country? - I do not suppose above five weeks in the house.

Five weeks, taken at different times? - Yes.

Then five taken altogether, at different times, is all the time that you have had opportunity of knowing the marks? - By no means; for I take patterns, that are marked, out with me.

How many people does Mr. Nicholson deal with in Somersetshire? - In Somersetshire there are many customers.

When you came into the house first, there were a great number of goods made up, with marks on them? - Undoubtedly there were.

They did not vary the marks at all? - I do not know they did.

So that goods sent out last month, or those that came out a twelvemonth ago, would be marked in one and the same manner? - Yes.

Do you know Mr. Scott? - Mr. Scott was a warehouseman to Mr. Nicholson when I first came into employ.

These Nankeens the mayor did not ask any question upon them? - The mayor enumerated the article of Nankeen.

Was that bundle of Nankeen produced and put before the prisoner? - All that the mayor asked was on the different goods that were there; the mayor asked the question; there are Nankeens, and several other articles, where did you get these?

He did not put any distinct question on that bundle of Nankeens? - No, not as to the producing of them before him.

Now then, when you went down to the house of Mr. Bartlett, you seem to have made the search immediately on your entering? - No, we went down into the kitchen below first, and there he was.

You got an easy access to the house? - Yes.

And was let in immediately? - Yes.

I believe, when you took away these goods from Mr. Bartlett's, you likewise took away a quantity of goods that were certainly not with any mark of Mr. Nicholson's; India goods, smuggled goods? - I do not know; I cannot swear to India goods.

They were goods, however, in this way of business, that you had not the least suspicion of their belonging to Mr. Nicholson?

Mr. Garrow. You do not mean to say that? - I did not mean to take any thing that I did not suppose or believe belonged to Mr. Nicholson, although I took away many goods that were not marked.

Jury. I think you said Mr. Nicholson never exported Nankeens? - Never, to my knowledge.


My partner's name is Robert Harrison : I am an wholesale haberdasher , in Cateaton-street : I have the dwelling-house; my partner does not live there, but he bears the expences of the house equally: the prisoner at the bar was in my service about four years; he was a very useful man, and was employed in the silk wrappers.

Did you employ the woman that you thought was his wife? - She was employed for a considerable time to make up scarlet cardinals, and hats, which we sell both abroad and at home; the man had so much the good opinion of us, that he used to take the cloth home, and cut it up at his own house, and the woman made them up.

When did the prisoner leave your service? - On the 25th of March: he applied to me to make him a warehouseman; as he was in every respect a very useful man, I told him, if you could any way try to write, I should give you the preference to any man I know: he told me he intended to try for such a place; I told him, I would have you to consider that you have a very advantageous place, and, added to that, your wife has work; and, if it is wages you want, four or five guineas a year more shall make no difference, for I will give it you: after two or three days, he said he would quit the place, and go and learn to write, and fit himself for a better place.

Did he intimate to you any intention of leaving London, and taking his wife with him? - No; but, on the contrary, begged

she might work for the house as she used to do; and a few days afterwards we had occasion to send to employ her: on inquiry, the house was found shut up, and he had left the place, having quitted it with great caution.

How soon after this was it you discovered he was at Wells? - About ten days or a fortnight before Mr. Whiteman went down. On finding he had quitted the town in that way, I thought it necessary to inquire more particularly what the neighbours would say, from which I had reason to believe that he was at Wells; in consequence of which I directed Mr. Whiteman to go down.

Have you since looked over any of these articles which are produced? - Here are forty-six yards black lace, I can swear to the mark on the card, it cost 2 s. 8 d. per yard; here are sixteen yards of Scotch linen, cost 10 1/2 d. per yard, an article bought in a state to be stiffened by me into buckram, and not at all saleable.

Did you ever sell any in that state? - No, except to one country customer at Norwich, and that must be at least two years ago. Here is another piece of buckram, cost 10 3/4 d. per yard; here is another piece of Scotch linen, unstiffened, of the same value of the former, 10 1/2 d.; here are forty-two yards of black lace, which have my own mark upon them, at 2 s. 3 d. per yard; here are thirty-eight yards and a half of black lace, at 15 d. per yard; here are twenty-six yards of Irish linen, in an unstiffened state, at 12 d. per yard; we have never sold any of this quality in that state.

Have you any doubt about that linen being your property? - I have not the smallest doubt of it.

Court. What is it worth? - Twenty-six shillings.

Mr. Garrow. What is the course of your trade respecting Nankeens? - Chiefly the country trade; and, in case of Nankeens going for exportation, they go without any mark upon them, with the other goods, on board of ship.

Are these Nankeens marked? - They are, one of them.

Then you are able to say, for a certainty, that that never was intended for your export trade? - I can beyond a doubt.

Whose marking is it upon these Nankeens? - These Nankeens have my mark, with my own hand-writing.

What is that piece worth? - About six shillings, or five shillings and sixpence.

What may be the value of all the property which you believe to be yours? - I did not make an estimate, but I believe it somewhere better than 200 l.

Upon looking at them, are you able to say that you have a strong belief that they have been your property? - I have, most certainly.

Now I will ask you a question; are you able, by any examination into the state of your affairs, to say whether you have been robbed or not robbed? - Our gross profits have been less for two or three years back, and I had reason to suspect that some one or other had robbed us.

That we may go to the whole fact, are you able to say that any particular piece, of Nankeen, or silk, or any other of the articles there, has been missed? - It is impossible I can, in my business; I am not able to say as to one article.

[Mr. Fielding submitted to the Court that they would not call upon the prisoner for his defence; Mr. Garrow objected; and the Court allowed the objection.]

Court. As to the Nankeen, that is certainly evidence for the consideration; but, as to the general evidence which has been given in this case, there is nothing at all applicable.

Mr. Fielding to Mr. Nicholson. You say there is a piece of Irish linen you never sell in that state? - Yes, there is, and it has my own mark upon it.

Can you say that Nankeen to be yours? - I say it was mine, and I think it is mine.

- SCOTT sworn.

I am employed by Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison, as a warehouseman.

Do you remember any night-caps being made for a customer? - They were bought

for a customer, and returned by that customer to our house.

Were such ever sold by the trade? - No.

Were they afterwards missing? - They were.

Did you find these night-caps on examining your stock? - They are amongst these articles.

(The night-caps produced.)

Did you ever sell such night-caps in your shop? - No, never in my life.

They ought still to be in your stock? - They ought.

What do you know of these kerseymere waistcoats? - They are damaged in the printing, and returned; and therefore I believe they were never sold; and they are not in our stock now, where they ought to be; because, being damaged, they are unsaleable.

To Mr. Nicholson. Why are they not saleable? - Because the colour of the spots and stripes is run into the ground.

What was the wages of this man? - Half a guinea a week.

How much might he make of his situation altogether? - Sixty or eighty pounds a year.

Mr. Fielding to - Scott. How many lived in the house of Mr. Nicholson altogether? - Five altogether, exclusive of Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Harrison.

Are you the sixth? - No, I am the fifth.

What is your employ? - My employ is to prepare the goods for orders.

Then you yourself do not make any bargain of sale with the different customers of Messrs. Nicholson and Harrison? - Sometimes I do.

Did you ever sell goods yourself? - I have.

Did you order goods without their knowledge? - I have.

Have you ever sold any goods to the prisoner at the bar? - I have frequently let him have goods.

How did he pay for those goods? - He allowed for them out of his wages.

Can you say whether you ever sold him a kerseymere waistcoat? - I believe I have sold him one waistcoat.

Do not you know that you have frequently let him have goods, and he was to pay for them out of the deduction of his wages? - Some goods he has had.

He used often to have small articles, and allow for them out of his wages? - That was very seldom the case.

Did you know the wife, or the woman he lived with? - Yes.

She was employed in making up cloaks? - She was.

Some goods then you have let him have? - I have.

Did you live in the house all the time he was there? - I was in the country about four months.

You might have sold many articles that Mr. Harrison and Mr. Nicholson might not know any thing of, except by your account? - Certainly I might.

You therefore have taken many goods out of the shop, have determined on the sale, made the agreement yourself, without the interference of your masters; so that it might have happened, that many of these articles, so sold by you, would not have been known by them as sold, unless Mr. Nicholson or Mr. Harrison should come to the spot and make the search; they could only rely on your account? - Certainly.

Mr. Garrow. My learned friend, by repeating it so often, has made it appear that you might have sold many articles to this man; how much might you have sold to him altogether? - About two guineas worth.

Were they things to sell, or for his own use? - For his own use, or his wife's.

Did you ever see him wear it afterwards? - I believe I have.

Did you ever sell him more than one waistcoat-shape? - I cannot positively say.

Had you any conception that he was going into trade that required such a stock as this? - I had not.

Did you ever sell him any quantity of sewing silk? - Never.

Any buckram? - Never.

Any Irish linen in an unfinished state? - Never.

Any night-caps? - Never.

- LUMBLY sworn.

I left the night caps at Mr. Nicholson's when I left Mr. Nicholson's; which was before this transaction took place.

- PALMER sworn.

I am the constable of Wells: the account, as given by Mr. Whiteman, of finding these things, is true: I went in pursuit of the prisoner, and found him standing still, near the Hovel-house, about half a mile from Wells, and about a hundred people about him.


I was at my house at Wells when they came to search.

How long had these boxes and trunks been at your house? - One had been some time before he came down, and two more came down with him; what was in them I did not know; I never saw what was in them till I saw them before the mayor.

When he came down to Wells, had you and he any talk about the goods to which this letter relates? (A letter produced.) Did he inquire whether any boxes had come down before him? - He did; I had had advice, by letter, they were to come.

Is that the letter that brought the advice? - I cannot say, unless I read it.

In whose bed-room was it the chest was found? - In the room the prisoner lay in.

Do you know of any money he had when he first came down? - I know he had money, five or six and twenty pounds, or more.

What did he come down into your country for? - My wife died, and I thought that my daughter could mind my house, and, as I heard he was a young active man, I could learn him my branch of business, especially as I was in low circumstances.

Then when he came down what steps did he take for that end? - He paid the most of my debts; I owed, I believe, fourteen pounds, and was afraid of being arrested; and he laid me in a stock of leather besides, about five pounds worth or thereabouts.

How long had this partnership been thought of before he came down? - I suppose very handy on a twelvemonth.

How often, during that twelve months, did you receive goods of him? - I never received any thing but one box.

Some of these goods came to you by this letter, dated in February, 1789? - That was the first box that came down.

(The letter read by the clerk.)

Prisoner. I leave it to my counsel.

- LAMB sworn.

I live in Chiswell-street: the prisoner was a servant of mine about five years ago; he lived three or four months with me; I likewise gave him a character to Mr. Nicholson: I believe him to be a very good servant.

GUILTY, 39 s.

Transported for seven years .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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