14th February 1798
Reference Numbert17980214-1
VerdictsNot Guilty; Guilty; Not Guilty; Not Guilty; Not Guilty

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144. ELIZABETH LANG , WILLIAM GRAVES , JAMES, otherwise THOMAS FIELD , MARY JOHNSON , and ANN PARSONS , were indicted, the first three for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of William Cooke , about the hour of three in the night of the 22d of January , with intent the goods therein to steal, and stealing nine dozen pair of silk stockings, value 60l. two dozen pair of stockings, with silk legs and cotton feet, value 8l. and three dozen pair of stockings, made of silk and cotton, value 9l. the property of the said William Cooke , and the other two for feloniously receiving, harbouring, and maintaining the said William Graves, and James Field , knowing them to have committed the said burglary .(The case was opened by Mr. Knowlys.)

WILLIAM COOKE sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am a hosier , No. 434, in the Strand, near Round-court ; my shop was broke open on Tuesday morning the 23d of January; I was alarmed between one and two o'clock in the morning, before day-break, it was very dark indeed, when I found my shop window was broke; I came down directly, I missed nine dozen of silk stockings, two dozen of cotton and silk, and three dozen of silk and cotton, to the value of between 70 and 80l. on examination I found, as I supposed, that, by a centre-bit, they had cut away the pannel of one of the shutters, which was lined with iron very strong; it appeared to me as if they had forced the iron in, indeed the place was so large, that if it had not been for the shew-board, a person might have walked into the shop almost.

Q. Was this hole large enough for a man to creep in by? - A. Yes; the lower part of the iron was forced in so, that it formed an elbow.

Court. Q. Were the things you missed lying in the window? - A. They were part of them in the bottom of the window, and the rest upon what we call the shew-gate, which is above the shew-board; I sent for a carpenter, and in consequence of what he said, I gave information at Bow-street, his name is Rose.

ROBERT ROSE sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am a carpenter; I have known Graves some years, he lived with Mrs. Lang, No. 1, Newtoner's-court, Chandos-street, St. Martin's, about 100 yards from Mr. Cooke's.

Q. Do you know what part of the house it was that Graves lived in with Lang? - A. The ground-floor; I was sent for, on Tuesday, to mend Mr. Cooke's shutter, and I found it had been cut with a centre-bit; I communicated some suspicions that I had, and a search warrant was obtained, I repaired the sash, and then they fetched me from my own house; I went with Taylor, the officer of Bow-street, and Mr. Cooke, and the Beadle of the parish to Graves's lodgings; the street door was open, it was about half past seven on Tuesday morning; on going into the parlour, I believe the beadle of the parish was before me, Mr. Taylor followed me into the parlour, on the ground-floor, where Mrs. Lang and Graves had lived; the door was fast, and Mrs. Lang got out of bed, and let the officer in; the officer immediately proceeded to search the drawers, where Mr. Taylor found two chissels, and a centre-bit, and an iron brace, a tool that smiths generally make use of, they were found in a drawer, I believe it was open, I am not certain; after the officer had found these things, there was some doubt, whether there was not another centre-bit, which answered the description of the shutters, I immediately searched the drawers myself; after the officer had searched them, I took the drawers entirely out, and found another centre-bit, and I found upon the floor, under the bed, where Mrs. Lang lay, two pair of black silk stockings; I took that centre-bit to my own house, because I knew the other had not been made use of, I tried it with the shutter, I knew, when I found it, it was as near the size as could be, and, on sitting it together when I got home, the centre-bit had run against a nail in the stile of the shutter, and stopped its progress; I sitted the centre-bit to the shutter, and found it answered the size.

Q. Have you any doubt that that is the centrebit, which had been used upon the shutter? - A. I am clearly of opinion that it is.

Q. Is a centre-bit an instrument in common use amongst carpenters? - A.It is.

Q. Did you see Graves after he was in custody? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear him say any thing? - A. I did not chuse to have any conversation with him upon the subject.

Jury. Q. Did you find the stock that the centrebit is worked by? - A. The officer has got it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. You have known the prisoner Graves for some years? - A. I have.

Q. You have known Lang for some time? - A. I have known her from seeing her in the neighbourhood, no otherwise.

Q. You know, that previous to that time, they cohabited together? - A. I have seen them frequently together at this house.

Q. They lived together as man and wife? - A. I should imagine so.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. Was this centre-bit of a very uncommon size and shape? - A. Not at all.

Q. Then any other centre-bit, having its edge turned, would have made the same impression upon that shutter? - A. Yes.

Q. There is nothing at all particular in the effect of that centre-bit upon the shutter, but that the edge is turned? - A. Yes; there is a nail that the edge is turned against.

Q. I take it for granted the centre-bit is not of all other tools the most free from accident? - A. Yes. we take great care of our centre-bits.

Q.Suppose it had dropped down, would not that turn the edge? - A. No, not of steel, as this is.

Q.Suppose, by any accident in turning, you meet with a nail, it would turn the edge? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you come here without any hope of interest? - A. I do.

Q. Did you never hear of such a thing as a reward in a burglary? - A. No; I did not apprehend them, I sent others to apprehend them.

Q. But you give evidence, you know, and assist in convicting; if they should be convicted should you not think it a very good thing to have a share of three forties? - A. I do not expect any such thing.

Court. Q.What is your reason for knowing where Graves lived? - A. I had seen him there, I knew him very well two years ago.

JOSEPH TAYLOR sworn. - I am an officer of Bow-street; I went with the last witness to the house of Mrs. Lang, and the prisoner Graves; I found in the room, near the foot of the bed, upon the floor, these two pair of black silk stockings, they were not under the bed, but very near the bed's foot; in a drawer, in the same room, I found these tools. (Produces a centre-bit, a stock, two chissels, and a gimbles.)

Rose. This iron brace is what the smiths use, it is the same as a carpenter's stock, only theirs is made of wood, and this is made of iron, it is very different from what we use; there was a nail that I had at Bow-street, that was in the shutter that the bit had run against, but being over careful, I have lost it; the iron plate upon the shutters was put on with small tin tacks, very imprudently, and the centre-bit had forced the iron forwards, and turned it like a piece of brown paper.

Taylor. Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. Do you know this to be Graves's lodgings? - A. No.

Q. Do you know that Lang and he lived together? - A. No.

ANN ALLEN sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am sister-in-law to Mr. Cooke, I always serve in the shop in the evening: Before the robbery, about six o'clock, when the lamps were lit, I observed the prisoner, Graves, at the shop-window, he went away on seeing me; I put the lamps into the window and went away; in a little while after, I saw him again at the same window, on the right hand side, on seeing me he cast his eyes down to the street, he turned his back towards me, and went out to the edge of the pavement; I went to the shop-door and saw him retire to the end of Round-court, we are two doors from Round-court, there were more people with him; a little while after he was at the same window again; on seeing so ill-looking a man so often at the window I removed the silk stockings that laid loose upon the show-board from the window; thinking he meant to cut the glass; he was backwards and forwards the whole evening, I dare say I saw him eighty times in the course of the night till we shut up shop, which is generally about nine o'clock; he once came to the shop-door, and looked all round the shop, I watched him all the evening; I saw Field once in the course of the evening, he went by, laughing very loud, which occasioned me to notice him; he did not stop, his head was tied up as it is now, he was not with Graves at that time; Graves always retired to the court whenever I missed him, I made it my business to look; I know no more, except that the property is Mr. Cooke's.

Q. Look at these two pair of stockings, and tell me if they are your brother's property or not? - A.They are entire silk; and this pair of stockings, with the white feet, has my own mark upon it; the other has not the ticket upon it, but it is a particular rib, and is the only pair we had of this pattern, they were folded up with the white feet hanging out underneath; it was folded up, by myself, in a bundle for show, and that pair was the top-most; they were all safe at twelve o'clock at night when I went to bed; I always go round the shop the last thing before I go to bed, to see that every thing is safe.

Mr. Cooke. These are my stockings, this pair with white feet; we had but two pair of that quality in the house, and the ribbed ones were with them; the ribbed pair are what we call a very blue white stocking, they being unfashionable I dyed them.

Mr. Gurney. Q. It is not an uncommon thing to dye stockings black? - A. Upon my oath I believe them to be mine, they are a very remarkable pair.

Court. (To Mrs. Allen.) Q. What kind of light was it when you first saw Graves? - A.It was quite dusk, we were putting in the lamps.

Q. How could you distinguish the countenance of a person at that time? - A. The lamps were just put, it is a large two light burner, and our windows are excessive large.

Q.And they throw sufficient light into the street to enable you to distinguish the features of a man? - A. Yes.

Q.And you had an opportunity of seeing him twenty times during the course of that evening? - A. I believe so.

Q. Field you saw but once that night? - A.Only once; he was passing laughing very loud, which occasioned me to see him.

Q. Can you undertake, from that transient circumstance, to swear that it was Field that you say you saw pass laughing? - A. Yes, I can; I am very positive of it, I saw his countenance and his features.

JOHN SMITH sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am a Hackney-coachman: On Tuesday morning, the 23d of January, I was called by a person named Mary Johnson , that is her, (pointing to the prisoner), about twenty minutes after eight in the morning; I was called from Charles-street, Covent-garden to Wild-street, the end of Stewart's-rents; the two men prisoners then came from a house in Stewart's-rents, and put a box into the coach, it was a black box; I drove them to the hither end of Old-street, next Aldersgate-street, they paid me my fare, and walked down Old-street; Graves put the box upon his shoulder.

Q. Are you sure these are the the two men? - A. Positively.

JOHN MILLER sworn. - I am one of the officers of Bow-street: I apprehended Graves and Field at the White-swan, Little St. Andrew's-street, Seven-dials, between eleven and twelve in the morning, Tuesday the 23d of January last, the same morning that the robbery was discovered; on Graves I found a five pound note, and two one pound notes, two guineas, and a seven shilling piece; on Field, a silver watch, and two guineas; Graves got up behind the tap-room door in order to conceal himself, when I went into the tap-room, while we were looking about to see who was in the room; there were two guineas taken from Lang.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. You apprehended the two prisoners at the public-house? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you mean to say they were in company together? - A. Yes; they were drinking out of one pint of porter, one was standing by the fire-side, and the other just by.

Q. And there were several other people just by them? - A. Yes; there might be six or eight.

Prisoner Lang's defence. I am an innocent woman; I was out, and never saw this man, Graves, after four o'clock in the afternoon of the Monday.

Prisoner Graves's defence. I know nothing at all of the robbery, nor was I in that house were the property was found, from four o'clock in the afternoon to this time; I went into the public-house where I was apprehended, and this young man was sitting by the fire-side; I called for a pint of porter and began drinking of it, and the officer came in and tied us together; I never saw this man before.

Field's defence. I accidentally went into that public-house to get a pint of beer, and some bread and cheese, for my breakfast; I was sitting by the fireside, and this man was just by the door, he was never in my company at all, and before I had drank my beer they came in and took me as a prisoner.

PHILIP GOODES sworn. - I am a taylor, in Chandos-street: I have known Graves fourteen years, he has bore a very good character till within these two years; but he has lost his mother, and since that he has got into loose company, which has brought him into this unhappy situation.

SARAH WILLIAMS sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. Do you know the two prisoners, Lang and Graves? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you know of their living together as man and wife? - A.Apparently as such, always; they lived in Newtoner's-court, Vine-street.

The prisoner Lang called five other witnesses, who had known her from five to fifteen years, and gave her a good character.


Graves, GUILTY DEATH . (Aged 25.)


Johnson, NOT GUILTY .

Parsons, NOT GUILTY .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Baron THOMPSON.

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