JOSEPH ROBSON.
20th September 1797
Reference Numbert17970920-67
VerdictNot Guilty

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550. JOSEPH ROBSON was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 1st of August , a wainscot board, value 3s. a lignum vitae tool, value 2s. two gouge bits, value 1s. one reed bit, value 3s. a steel reed mandrit, value 3s. a burning iron, value 1s, a trumpet reed and tongue, with block and socket, value 3s, thirty pipe mandrils, value 10s. two chissels, value 2s. and two mahogany mouldings, value 1s. the property of John Avery .

(The case was opened by Mr. Knowlys.)

JOHN AVERY sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am an organ-bulder ; Somewhere about last August, I lost a number of tools; the latter end of July, I returned from the country, and, in consequence of some information, when the prisoner called upon me, I told him I would have no more to do with him, that I had often been told he had robbed me, and I should not employ him, until some things that remained upon my mind were cleared up; this, I think, was upon Saturday; I had some more information on the Monday, and on the Tuesday morning he came again; I gave orders for him not to he admitted; he came again in the course of half an hour afterwards; I heard that he had made his way into the yard to the door of the workshop; I went out, and he told me he came for the remainder of his tools; I then told him to get off my premises, and asked him how he could dare to come there; he said, he came for his told, and his tools he would have; I told him, if he would write down what tools they were, and would send my friend, they should be delivered to him; he would not go away, but insisted upon having them; it was with some difficulty, he being as powerful a man as myself, and younger, that I got him out of the yard; he put his hand to my face, and said, d-n you for saying I am a thief; I will have you in Newgate before night; I then went to the Police-office, for a search-warrant; I went with Bowyer and another constable to his lodgings in Little George-street; I told him I came for my tools and things that were there; he said, he had got nothing of mine; he then asked by what authority we came; the officers said, we have authority enough; we searched the bed-room, and in a tool-chest we found, of my property, a lignum vitea tool, called a knocking up tool, which was made under my particular direction, and turned under my own eye; we then found two gouge bits, and the other things named in the indictment; the constable has them; they are all mine; they may be worth perhaps altogether about ten shillings; we found in the room these mahogany mouldings, which are struck with a very particular plane belonging to me.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. I was in hopes your wrath towards this poor man would have been abated by this time; there was a scuffle between you; you charged him, and he charged you? - A.Exactly as I said before.

Q. He talked about Newgate? - A.Exactly as I told you before.

Q. You told him that you suspected him, and would not employ him? - A.Exactly so.

Q. And that as early as the Saturday? - A. Yes.

Q. He called upon you on the Tuesday again, so that there was ample time to have removed any thing? - A. Yes.

Q. I am very sorry that he was rude enough, even, I believe, to assault you? - A. I gave the assault first.

Q. Did you ever till that think of pursuing him for robbing you? - A. I had been well informed before that he had robbed me.

Q. He was an extremely ingenious man? - A. I have taken pains to make him so; he was a very useful man.

Q. Is it not a custom in your business, that journeymen are entrusted with and keep the tools for a considerable time? - A. Not off the premises.

Q. You know the tools are wanted where the organ is put up? - A.The tools that are here spoken of, are tools that we use for making our work; when we go to put up an organ, screw-drivers and pincers only are wanted; I have said to this man a number of times, that I have been told that he has hawked pipes about the trade, and he denied that he ever had done it.

Q. He had done work for others in the trade? - A. But he could not conceive that I would lend him my tools to do it.

Q.On the Saturday he came to you to know what he was to do, wishing to continue in your employment? - A. Yes.

Q. Then, after you had shewn this anger, you never took any steps till Tuesday? - A. No.

BOWYER sworn. - I am an officer belong ing to Queen-square; I went with Mr. Avery to search the prisoner's lodgings; the prisoner at first hesitated to let us search; he asked by what authority; I told him I had a search warrant, and then he said I was welcome to search, for he had no property whatever of Mr. Avery's; Mr. Avery picked out these articles, and claimed them; he said, some of these things were Mr. Avery's; that he had had them to finish some work. (Produces a wainscot board).

JAMES WHITE sworn. - I am journeyman to the prosecutor; this board is my master's property it corresponds in the grain and knots and every thing with another piece that is now in the yard.

THOMAS FLEWIN sworn. - I am journeyman to Mr. Avery; we searched the shop, and found a board that matches with this exactly.

Prisoner's defence. That board I can prove I bought at a timber-yard, and the mandrils I made myself; I will call a person who made the mahogany mouldings himself; he struck them with Mr. Avery's plane, which he borrowed of Mr. Avery; I had begun business for myself, and this is done entirely because he was jealous that I should take his business from him; about six weeks before he made me a prisoner, he was arrested for debt, and durst not be seen at home, and he allowed me to take tools home to my house, to be ready to put up an organ at Whitehall, and another at Mr. White's, the auctioneer, at Storey's-gate, and he has now got some of my tools in his possession; he owes me 2l. 4s. to this day; he would not let me have my tools, and pushed me out of the yard; I was enraged at that, and made use of improper language to him.

For the Prisoner.

JOSEPH BUCK sworn. - Examined by Mr. Fielding. I am a labourer in the organ business.

Q. Is it or not the custom for the journeymen frequently to have their master's tools at home to work? - A. It is a rule for every man that works in the organ line, to have his master's tools.

Q. Did you ever give a piece of wood to the young man at the bar? - A. Yes; I gave him a piece of mahogany.

Q. Look at those mouldings? - A. This is the mahogany, it was in one piece, I worked it myself; I gave it to the prisoner before I worked it; it is for a moulding to go round an organ case; I worked for Mr. Avery, and cut it with his plane; the wood was given to me by a young man.

Jury. Q. Did you take the plane home to cut it? - A. Yes; I took it over night from Mr. Avery's shop, and returned it the next morning.

Jury. Q. Is it a rule in Mr. Avery's shop for the men to take home their master's tools? - A. Yes, it is customary in every shop, and the masters take the men's tools; my master, Mr. Holland, is in the country, and has got some of my tools now.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q.What young man was it gave you this wood? - A. He was a German, named Frederick; it is five or six years ago.

Q. When did you give it to the prisoner? - A. A great while.

Q. How many years have they been made? - A. Not one year.

Q. Upon your oath, were they not made of Mr. Avery's wood? - A. No, they were not.

Q. Do you know a person of the name of Craile? - A. Yes.

Q.Mind, I shall call him Have you never declared to Craile, that you have taken wood of Mr. Avery's, and worked it for yourself? - A. No, I never did.

Mr. Fielding. Q. Be this the wood of Mr. Avery, or be it not-Did you work it with Mr. Avery's plane, and give it to the prisoner? - A. I did; I gave it to him, I worked it.

Q. Look at that board - Do you know any thing of that? - A. Yes.

Q. Was it every your property? - A. No, it is Mr. Robson's; I was with him when he bought it at a timber-yard, in Little St. Martin's-lane; I do not recollect the gentleman's name; it is about six months ago; he gave near upon 7d. a foot for it; I bought, at the same time, two half-inch deals.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q.Have you ever made application there to know if they could remember the young man buying such a thing? - A. No, never.

Q.You undertake to swear, that that is the same piece of wood? - A.No, I do not; I said, he brought a piece of wainscot there like this; but it is impossible for me or any man to swear to such a piece of wood.

(The custom of lending tools to the journeymen to take home with them was proved by the following organ builders, John Preson, John Wright , and Thomas Gibson ).

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

For the prosecution.

THOMAS CRAILE sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. Are you a workman of Mr. Avery's? - A. Yes; I did work for him.

Q. Do you know Buck? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever hear him say any thing respecting Mr. Avery's wood? - A. No, I never did.

Q. What did you come here for? - A.Because I was subpoenaed.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. You never heard Buck acknowledge that he robbed Mr. Avery, in your life? - A. No, I never did; I should think he would hardly tell me if he had robbed any body.

NOT GUILTY .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice ASHHURST.


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