1st December 1819
Reference Numbert18191201-53
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence

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53. HENRY PEERS was indicted for sacrilegiously and burglariously breaking and entering the parish church of St. Martin, Ludgate , about five o'clock in the night of the 31st of October , with intent to steal, and sacrilegiously

and burglariously stealing therein, six brass ornaments, value 18 s., and two candle branches, value 12 s., the property of Thomas Abbott Green and William Patten , churchwardens of the said parish.

SECOND COUNT, the same, only stating them to be the property of the inhabitants of the said parish .

ROBERT HUGGARD . I am a porter, and live in King-street, Drury-lane. On Monday morning, the 1st of November, about four o'olock, I was coming up Ludgate-hill - it was dark. I came by the church, and perceived the prisoner standing at the door, which was open; he was alone. I cast my eye upon him, passed on six or eight yards, and then thought proper to turn back; he was then coming over the iron gate, which is outside the door - the gate was fastened. As soon as he jumped down, he stumbled, and I laid hold of him; two large brass knobs fell from him, on the pavement, and I picked them up. He had a good many things in his pockets and hat.

Q. When they were put together did they make any brass ornaments - A. Yes, my Lord; he cried out to me to let him go. I said I would not, and called Walker, the watchman, who assisted in securing him. We took him to the watch-house, and I left him there with the articles - he was quite a stranger to me.

RICHARD WALKER . I am watchman of Ludgate-hill. On the morning of the 1st of November, I was crying four o'clock down Pilgrim-street, nearly opposite the church - it was quite dark. The man cried,

"Watch!" I went across, and laid hold of the prisoner, whom Huggard was holding, close by the iron gate of the church - the iron gate was locked. I took him to the watch-house, and the constable took him to the Compter. I saw Harris take a green bag with a bottle in it, some matches, some brass work, three keys, a screw-driver, and a chisel were also found in it. Some brass was found in his breeches, waistcoat, and coat-pockets.

JAMES SNOW . I am beadle of St. Martin, Ludgate. I was in the church on the 31st of October, until about twenty minutes after four o'clock in the afternoon. I was not the last person there; I bolted the doors myself, and always do, but the sexton locks them after me.

Q. Was any service performed after that time - A. No, my Lord. Nobody had any business there afterwards - when I left, the ornaments of the church, and the candle branches were all in their proper places. I left them safe. The iron gates were double locked, and are about four feet from the ground. About a quarter after four o'clock the next morning the watchman called me up - I live in Creed-lane. I went over to the church, and found the door open - it did not appear to have been forced. I unlocked the gate, and went in.

Q. How had the persons got entry into the church? Had the lock been picked - A. No. My opinion is, that it must have been done by some person, who had concealed himself inside. No person could by any means, have entered from without; when I got to the porch, I found the door open, and the bolts drawn. I missed six brass knobs belonging to the churchwardens' pew, which were in their proper state before, and two more from the organ loft, worth about 18 s. I also missed two candle branches from the reader's, and two from the clerk's desk. I found the knobs and candle branches at the watch-house, which I am sure belong to the church. The candle branches were worth 10 s.

REES HARRIS . I am constable of Farringdon Ward. I was at the watch-house when the prisoner was brought in, and assisted him in unloading himself from the heavier brass. He was loaded with candle branches and knobs in his different pockets. The heaviest were brought in by the watchman. I took him to the Compter, then found the brass work, seven keys, a handle with two beds to fit in the screw-driver, and a chisel. On searching the church, I found a saw answering to them. I found a box, which produces instantaneous light, a bottle of vitriol, and some matches; also a small hand-vice, a long chisel, a broken spike-bit, and a pen-knife, He said he had secreted himself there, for he was much distressed, and did not know what to do.

THOMAS ABBOTT GREEN , ESQ. On the 1st of November I was churchwarden of St. Martin, Ludgate; Mr. Patten is the other. I do not know his christian name - I had not seen the ornaments early before.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. It is a separate parish.

(Property produced and sworn to.)

JAMES SNOW re-examined. I know Mr. Patten's name is William.

Prisoner's Defence. My Lord, it is the first time during my life, of twenty-eight years, that I have had the painful task of standing before a Judge and Jury. My situation is more distressing, having been brought up in a religious way, and having a mother now far advanced in years, who at present is unacquainted with my melancholy situation; she must know it, and I fear it will break her heart. I have likewise a wife and child who are ignorant of it. About five years ago I engaged in business at Bristol with 15000 l., and through the distress of the times, in four years I was under the necessity of calling my creditors together, and paid them 15 s. in the pound. I came to town for a situation, and remained out of one for some time, but at last engaged with Mr. Thompson, who is an ironmonger in Oxford-street. I was trusted with considerable sums of money, and the keys of the till, but many of my creditors not being satisfied with the dividends, applied to me for more, which produced a dispute between Mr. Thompson and me, and occasioned me not to do my duty to him as I ought. He was satisfied with my honesty, and will speak to my character. If any mercy can be shewn me, I hope this will be taken into consideration.

GUILTY. - DEATH Aged 28.

Of sacrilegiously stealing, but not of breaking and entering .

London Jury, before Mr. Common Sergeant.

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