10th April 1793
Reference Numbert17930410-90
VerdictNot Guilty

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374. MATTHEW LOWTHORP was indicted for stealing, on the 18th of March , thirty five pounds weight of bees wax, value 3 l the goods of John Falshaw and John Horner .

(The case opened by Mr. Knapp.)


I am a servant, a porter, to Mr. Falshaw and Mr. John Horner, they live in Upper Thames-street , they are wholesale chymists and druggists ; the prisoner was a laboratory man . On the 28th of March last I suspected Matthew Lowthorp; I saw him after the usual time of leaving work in the laboratory, between the hours of eight and nine, his usual time was eight o'clock, which gave me a suspicion; I walked up the laboratory, and turning myself about I saw a bag laying containing something that I did not know what it was, on an hamper of dirty bottles, I immediately went to this bag and I put my hand on it and I found it contained something very hard, and I immediately went into the shop to one of the journeymen and desired him to see Matthew Lowthorp if he brought any thing out; I had no sooner spoke these words than I saw the prisoner light a candle, he was in the laboratory, I saw him take this bag containing the bees wax under one arm, and took a lighted candle to go up a one pair of stairs, and at the top of that one pair of stairs, there was a communication to another pair of stairs which belongs to the dwelling house of my master in Old Fish-street.

Q Was he used to go down that way when he left work? - No, that door was very seldom used on any occasion, that second stair case led to a warehouse, and the dwelling house was over it.

Q. You say here is a communication from one house to the other that was by a door way that was broke through? - It was in order for a communication.

Court. When he got up one pair of stairs, was it there you found him? - I found him with the door partly open that opens into the street.

Mr. Knapp. There are two houses in Fish-street? - There are.

Q. And there is a communication to both these houses backward, but they both open into Fish-street? - It is so, there are No. 10 and No. 11, one the private door and the other the shop door.

Q. When you went up stairs, what did you do? - I took a broom in my hand and went out into the street by the shop door, then I saw a light over the door, the private door in Old Fish-street, and I steps to that door, and I heard the chain let down, and I heard the bolt go back; then I saw the prisoner with his head partly out to see if the coast was clear; I immediately went up to the prisoner and asked him what he had got in that bag? the prisoner was then in the passage, he was not willing to let me see it, I told him I would see it, I insisted upon seeing what he had,

and I got the bag from him and shut the door; then the prisoner takes me fast round the middle and desired me not to say any thing to Mr. Horner as he was a married man, he said, he would give me any thing not to say any thing concerning of the wax, but I told him I would not see my master robbed.

Q. Had any conversation passed between you what was contained in the bag before that? - No, I got it from him and I took it up to the place near where he took if from and laid it down.

Q. Did you make any promise that you would not say any thing about it? - No, I did not; I then took it into the parlour with intent to shew it to Mr. Horner, but I found he was not at home; then I took it from there to the kitchen and let it remain there till my master came home; I opened it to see what was in it, there were seven pieces of bees wax; he desired me not to mention it to Mr Horner; I told him I would not hide it from my master, I would shew it him immediately as he came home, then the prisoner went home to his lodgings.

Q. How came you not to take him then? - I did not know what was best to do with him; he was taken up on Saturday, after this happened on the Thursday before Good Friday.

Q. Did you go to his lodgings? - I did not

Q At the time you got into the passage, after you saw the prisoner at the door, was any body else with you in the passage? - Nobody at all.

Mr. Knowlys. How long had you lived with your master at the time this happened? - Six weeks.

Q. This man had not lived perhaps so long? - Yes, he had lived three years and upwards.

Q. Till you came into the family was there any complaint made of his conduct? - I never heard of any.

Q. They tell me servants do not always agree together. Had not you had repeated quarrels with this man? - We all of us had a few words together, and I had a few words with him, but not to bear any malice, it was concerning some glass that he sold and took the money.

Q. He would not allow the perquisites that you claimed? - I don't know what perquisites I did claim any more than we wanted the money divided among us, that the glass was sold for.

Q. Did you claim the produce of that glass as a perquisite? - I did not.

Q. You quarrelled with that man that he would not allow it you, you never thought to tell this gentleman that? - That gentleman never asked me.

Q Pray how long before you found out this man's dishonesty was this quarrel? - It all happened on the same day.

Q You was wonderfully acute in finding out the dishonesty of this man? - Why should that make any difference.

Q. Then from that moment you was determined to spy out whether he was an honest man or not. How came you to put yourself in the way to spy out your master was robbed? - I could not help seeing it.

Q You told my friend that you suspected him, and therefore you went on purpose to observe him? - I did.

Q. Then you could have helped seeing, could not you, if you had not been purposely on the watch for this man you would not have seen it? - I was not purposely on the watch for this man.

Q. How came you to tell me that you went purposely to observe him, and now you say you did not go purposely to observe him? - It was after his usual time of leaving work.

Q. That is any thing but an answer. As it was after the hours of work you would not have suspected that he was there except you had gone purposely to watch him? - I do not understand you.

Q. Do you mean to swear that you did not go purposely to watch him? - I did not.

Q. Had you any business in the laboratory? - I had business to put my hat and lay down my knot.

Q. Then the laboratory is the place where you put your hat and your knot? - Sometimes I have put my hat and knot there.

Q. Now tell us what business you had there? - If you must know, I went back to make water.

Q. Then you went back to make water in your masters laboratory; after this don't tell us where your masters shop is, for we shall not like any thing that comes out of your masters laboratory; then the reason you first gave is not true, for you went there to make water? - Yes, sir, and put my hat and knot down too.

Q. Then we are to understand you, that putting down your hat and knot is a preface to making water. This young man he acknowledged that he stole the bees wax; for God's sake, he said, don't tell your master; you was examined before the sitting alderman on Saturday? - I was.

Q. Upon your oath did you mention a single circumstance of that man's clinging round you? - No, I did not, I was not asked.

Q. The magistrate he knew nothing at all about this business, he told you to tell your story? - He did.

Q How came you to tell me then that when you was asked to tell your story you did not tell the magistrate he used those expressions which implies guilt so strongly; upon your oath did you mention a word of that before the magistrate? - No, it was not mentioned.

Q. I dare say that you must think it was very extraordinary that he should crave mercy of you? - He offered me any sum of money

Q That you omitted to tell the magistrate also? - It was not mentioned.

Q. You say you never thought of detaining this man? - I did think of detaining him, but I did not know whether I had best let him go or detain him.

Q. Did you desire him to stop? - I did not.

Q. So this man there he stayed in his lodgings, to be taken, from Thursday night till Saturday? - Because he thought Mr. Horner would look over it.

Q. And so he was taken on Saturday in his own lodgings; did not you say before the magistrate that he dropped the bag at the door that goes from the house into the warehouse? - There is a warehouse at the top of these stairs; I swore before the magistrate that he dropped it at the door in Fish-street.

Q. This man's work is in the laboratory? - It is.

Q. This bees wax is of a nice quality? - It is.

Q. Therefore of a good quality for making ointments.


On the 28th of March, Thursday, I was in the prosecutor's shop, between eight and nine in the evening; I heard a noise and I went to the bottom of the stairs, which stairs lead to the warehouse on the same floor with the laboratory and shop; the first word that I heard was Thomas Cox saying, that he would be damned if he would see his master robbed in that manner; the prisoner was standing close by him at that time, and he appeared rather agitated; Thomas Cox took the bag up stairs into the parlour, determined to shew it to the prosecutor as soon as he came home, he was followed by the prisoner into the parlour directly, I followed the prisoner likewise into the parlour, the words that I heard the prisoner make use of, to the best of my recollection were, that he begged he would make no noise about it to Mr. Horner, but let it drop, I had said nothing to the prisoner.

Q. Had Cox said any thing to him in the parlour before that? - I don't recollect that he did. The wax then was conveyed from the parlour into the kitchen by Thomas Cox; Thomas Cox took out the cakes of wax from the bag while I and the prisoner was present, and the prisoner at that time urged him very much not to mention it to the prosecutor, but let it drop, the prisoner stayed a short time in the kitchen and then went home, he was apprehended afterwards, I was not present, I was present before the magistrate, and he put down in writing what the prisoner said, which I don't recollect.

Court. Do you know whose property it was? - I cannot swear to the property, we had two kinds of wax in the warehouse.

Mr. Knowlys. This man had got into ill bread about these perquisites of broken bottles? - There was a quarrel about the broken bottles; I understood that the money was to be devided that the broken bottles fetched; we did quarrel that day.

Q. This was the man that made up the medicines? - It was.

Q. He had liberty to take the wax from the warehouse? - He had.

Q. You don't recollect your master complaining about the inferior wax having got its way into the ointment? - I did not.

Q. You say the man was urgent? - He said to Cox, do not talk about such nonsense.

Q. Was you examined before the magistrate on Saturday? - I was examined by the clerk, but not by the alderman himself.

Q. Did you before the alderman mention any expressions of that sort, that you said the prisoner used to Cox, such as desiring him not to tell his master? - To the best of my recollection I mentioned as I do now.

Q. Do you mean to say that the examination was read over to you, because there I find that it is, that you was at the top of the stairs when you heard this conversation? - I said to the clerk that it was the bottom of the stairs; I cannot swear to the property, I never said that I could.

Mr. Knapp. My learned friend has been asking you about the perquisite; what do you mean by these perquisites? - When any large quantiy of broken glass is collected together we usually have a share of it; the prisoner at the bar he did not wish to divide the money.

Q. What was this glass worth think you? - Some tifle or another.


On the 28th of March I recollect Thomas Cox bringing a bag of wax into the lower warehouse to be weighed; when the bag was opened I looked into the bag and saw it was bees wax, and I saw one piece that I believe I had seen in the cask before in the cellar.

Q. Where did you see this wax? - I saw it in the warehouse the same night between eight and nine; and I believe it is the same as I saw in the cellar two or three days before.


I am the constable; I apprehended the prisoner at the bar, and Mr. Horner delivered me some wax; Cox was by and Barnes, it has been in my custody ever since.

Q. Was the prisoner by at the time? - He was. (One piece deposed to by Barnes.)

Court. How came you to take particular notice of this piece of wax? - Being a fine piece, and at that time I found it, it was not heavy enough for what I wanted; I had seen it two or three days before.

Q. Have you been in the cellar since? - I have.

Mr. Knowlys. I suppose its being a fine piece of wax it is the fitter for ointments.

Court to Cox. You told me that at first you desired a man to watch, who was the person? - Barnes.

Prisoner. I lived a servant in this place three years and two months; the first fourteen months I was employed as a workman; I had always the priviledge of making up every article that was wanted in the way of ointments at home, and to take what wax I thought proper for that purpose. On the 27th of March, about seven o'clock in the evening, I went into the cellar to see what ointments were wanting, we wanted green elder ointments, and yellow basilicon; I went to see if we had any good wax in the house, I saw we had some very good, I wanted twenty pounds and twelve pounds; and the next day being Good Friday, it was not in my power to make it in the warehouse that week, for fear it should be made use of in the warehouse, that week, I wished to carry it into the next cellar, and consequently I took it down stairs and opened the latch of the door, and Thomas Cox met me and asked me what I had got in the bag? and he rushed in and felt at it. I told him it was bees wax; he asked me what I said to Mr. Palmer concerning our quarrel that we had a few hours ago? he then said that he would be damned if I was not going to thieve it; I said, I would be damned if I was. Mr Horner and Thomas Cox came to my apartment and charged me with the theft, and said that he would have my house searched that night; I told him he was very welcome whenever he pleased for I had nothing of his property in my house; my wife set up till eleven o'clock expecting Mr. Horner would come on Friday, he did not come on Saturday till about eleven o'clock; I was going into Watling street, turning the corner of Maiden-lane, and he took me.

The prisoner called four witnesses who gave him a good character.


Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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