17th September 1794
Reference Numbert17940917-83
VerdictNot Guilty

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541. WILLIAM CROXON was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 4th of August , 49 yards of satin, value 5l. the goods, wares, and merchandizes of Michael Brunswick , then being in a certain ship called the Maria Elizabeth, on the navigable river of the Thames .

A Second count laying it to be the property of Charles Steers .

- KIRBY sworn.

I only own the property; I know this is one piece that was lost; I don't know what day it was shipped, it was the latter

end of July; I know nothing more about the loss more than the piece is my marking.


I am partner in the house of Grote, Myer, and Co. in Leadenhall-street; the ship Maria Elizabeth, Captain Brunswick, bound from London to Hamboro', in the latter end of July I believe she made sail, the 29th or 30th she was wrecked in Blackwall Reach . The shippers appointed a Committee for the consultation of the cargo. The cargo was under the necessity of being relanded, and that Committee gave me the management so far as to take care of it. On Saturday, the 2d of August, the men whom I employed on board to work the ship, among whom the prisoner was one, taking the goods from the wreck into lighters; in the evening, when they had finished their day's work, they were returning on shore, the prisoner, after leaving the wreck, was stopped by one of the King's officers with a piece of satin concealed under his shirt. What I mean by it is, it was covered under his shirt. When the officer had taken it from him, I requested that he might be taken into custody by a constable.

Mr. Ager. Did you see every thing that you have been stating? - Most certainly.

Q. Did you see him coming on shore? - No; I meant to say, that they were returning from on board the wreck to come on shore; that they had left the wreck, and were on board a lighter, as if returning on shore.

Q. Did you see him leave the wreck? - I did.

Q. Did you see him come on shore? - I came on shore with him when he came on shore.

Q. Did you come in some of the lighters? - The lighters did not come on shore; they were lashed along side, and there they remained. He got into the lighter lashed to the wreck, and I see him there, and gave charge of him.

Q. Were not the officers of the Custom-house on board the lighter? - They were.

Q. And he came on board the lighter where the officers were, and he stated he had a bit of silk, which he suspected to be smuggled? - I never heard that before the re-examination.

Q. He asked for the Custom-house officers; did not he? - Not to my knowledge.

Q. He might, and you not know it? - I don't know it.

Q. What did the defendant say? - Not a word, to my knowledge.

Q. I believe he was not committed the first time? - He was committed for reexamination; I not knowing whose the property was, I did not hardly wish to have the man committed.

Q. When he was brought up the second time he stated, that he was carrying up this piece of silk with intention to give it the Custom house officer? - I don't know that.

Q. He came from the ship into the lighter where the Custom-house officers were? - Just so.

Q. Where was this vessel wrecked? - On what is called Blackwall Reach, a little below Greenwich.

Q. Now you stated who are the consignees of this cargo? - She is a borrowed vessel; when she comes to London she is addressed to Grote, Myer, and Co.

Q. They shipped this silk? - No; it was shipped by Charles Steers .

Q. Is she insured? - I don't know; if she is, she is insured in Hamboro', and not in London; I believe she is insured either in part or in whole.

Q. You say this ship is wrecked at Blackwall Reach? - Yes.

Q. Whenever a ship is wrecked of course she falls to the underwriters? - In some cases it is.

Q. Is the ship totally wrecked? - She is so totally wrecked, as she is condemned by the surveyors as useless.

Q. Do you know, in point of fact, whether this loss falls on the underwriters? - No; I do not.

Q. However, from the state of the cargo in which you saw it, there is a partial loss or a total loss, which? - It cannot be called a total loss when things are saved out of it.


I produce a piece of satin; I took it from the prisoner; it has been in my custody ever since; I am an officer of the Custom-house.

Kirby. It has my own hand-writing; it is Charles Steers's property; it was manufactured by one of his journeymen.

Q. Was it put on board by him, or any of his people, as his property? - Yes; for Hamboro' to our Correspondent Sylick and Moll, they bought it of Mr. Steers.

Mr. Ager. These goods were consigned to the house of Grote, Myers, and Co.? - I only know it is Mr. Steers's property.

Q. This cargo was insured? - I know nothing about nsurance.

Q. At whose risk was the cargo shipped? - I don't know.

Q. Is it usual to send away ships in time of war without being insured? - I cannot say.

Q. Is it ever done? - I don't know.

Q. Has Mr. Steers any partner in trade? - No; he has not.

Q. Is there any body connected with him in trade? - Not that I know of.

Court. Did you say that Sylick and Moll purchased the cargo, or bespoke them? - Bespoke them. We took the order; they are never paid for on delivery; they were ordered by letter.

Q. Do you know to whom the bill of lading was sent? - Here is the bill of lading.


I was not present when the man was attacked with the satin; I was on board the ship; I had charge of the man as an officer.

Mr. Ager. What are you? - Headborough of Poplar and Blackwall.

Q. When this man was stopped he said he was bringing this silk to the officers that were on board the lighters? - I heard him say so at the office.

Q. Do you know any thing about the character of this man? - I never saw the man in my life only at the time.

Q. Have you any ground to suspect that this man wanted to steal this? - Not in the least; I did not observe him.

Court to Elliott. You said it was on the second examination that he said that he meant to give the satin to a Customhouse officer. Did he offer to give it to the Custom-house officer? - Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Ager. He might for any thing you know to the contrary? - His intentions might be so.

Court. You said that the ship was wrecked in Blackwall Reach; do you know in what country it was? - I do not; till I went there about this business I never was there before in my life.

Q. Did you see afterwards which side of the water it was? - It was a little below Greenwich, and at low water the wreck ebbed almost dry, but not quite, on this side of the river.

Q. To Hughes. Do you know what county it was where this wreck was? - Blackwall Reach is in the country of Middlesex; the other side of Bow Creek is in the county of Essex.

Mr. Ager to Kirby. Is Steers a British subject? - Yes, he is.

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


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

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