WILLIAM FRITH.
12th January 1820
Reference Numbert18200112-44
VerdictGuilty
SentenceDeath

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252. WILLIAM FRITH was indicted for that he, about the hour of eight o'clock in the night of the 18th of December , at St. John, the Baptist upon Wallbrook , the dwelling-house of Francis Gregg , Esq . there situate, feloniously and burglariously did break, and in the same dwelling-house, feloniously and burglariously did steal, 34 silver spoons, value 34 l., the goods of the Master and Wardens of the Guild or Fraternity of the Body of Christ of the Skinners of London ; 30 silver table forks, value 37 l.; 12 silver desert forks, value 9 l.; 12 silver table-spoons, value 14 l. 14 s.; eleven silver desert-spoons, value 7 l. 10 s.; nine silver tea-spoons, value 3 l. 10 s.; four silver salt-spoons, value 1 l.; one silver urn, value 80 l.; one silver pepper-stand, value 2 l, 12 s.; one pair of sugar-tongs, value 16 s.; one soup-ladle, value 6 s.; three gold mourning rings, value 1 l. 10 s.; one ivory scent-box, value 1 s.; five guineas; two half guineas; three seven shilling-pieces; one shilling; 90 l. in other monies numbered; one 40 l. Bank note, and 100 Bank notes for payment of and value 400 l., his property.

For the Prosecution, MR. ADOLPHUS.

FRANCIS GREGG , ESQ. I am a solicitor, and clerk to the Skinners' Company ; by virtue of my office I have a house on Dowgate-hill, in the parish of St. John the Baptist, Wallbrook - it is my own dwelling-house. I have a desk in my office, of which I keep the key myself, and in a drawer of that desk, of which I keep the key, are kept the keys of my own and the Company's iron chests, and other places where I keep my property. The company is designated right in the indictment.

Q. In your iron chest did you usually keep money - A. Yes, there was above 400 l. in Bank notes, also some guineas and half guineas, some foreign gold coins and seven shilling-pieces; there was also three mourning rings and a small ivory scent-box, all in the iron chest.

Q. In the Skinners Companys' iron chest, was there any plate belonging to them - A. A great deal; there was also a good deal of my plate in the pantry, such as silver spoons and forks, which were in use. I had a large silver cup or urn, which was presented to my father by the Company - it had an inscription on it; my father left it to me. It was kept in a red leather case in my dressing-room, up one pair of stairs, next to the pantry - it was under lock and key.

Q. Was the prisoner ever in your service - A. Yes, for six or seven years - he has left me about five or six years. I procured him a place in the Customs, which he left about a year ago. He had a complete knowledge of my premises, and knew where I kept my valuable property.

Q. Were you out of town on the 18th of December - A. I left town about twelve o'clock that morning. I arrived in town next day, and found every thing gone. The drawer, in which I keep my keys, was opened, and all the property mentioned in the indictment gone. I lost above 700 l. worth of property. The lock was wrenched off the urn-case, and the urn gone.

Q. In consequence of a message, did you afterwards see the prisoner at Coldbath-fields - A. I did, on Wednesday or Thursday after Christmas day. I neither threatened or promised him. I did not speak a word to him. I had never objected to his visiting my house.

ELIZABETH BARNES , I have the care of the prosecutor's house when the family are out of town. On the 18th of December they were all out of town, except my master

and the young gentlemen; they went that day. The prisoner frequently called at the house as an old servant of the family. On the 18th of December he came about noon, and asked if my master was going out of town? I told him the whole family were going except myself and Jane Newberry - we were left in the house alone that night.

Q. How long did he stay - A. Till about one o'clock - he left about an hour after. He said we need not let him out, for he could do that himself. He went up stairs and did not return, to my knowledge.

Q. At any time in the night did you think you heard any thing - A. As we went up stairs to bed about ten o'clock, Newberry observed that she heard a noise which she imputed to a strange cat; I did not hear it, and thought nothing of it, as she was timid; I shut up the house in the evening after dark, as usual - several persons came in the evening, but none but what I let out. The last person I let out was at about half-past nine o'clock. I then carefully shut all the doors and double locked and bolted them. I arose about twenty minutes after eight o'clock in the morning, and took a parcel to Gracechurch-street for the stage to take to my master's country-house at Case Orton. When I went out I found the doors on the single lock, but Newberry was up before me, so I thought she might have opened them, and did not notice it. A little after ten o'clock Newberry went into my master's office to clean it, as was usual on a Sunday morning; she called me, and I, observed some gold coin lying on the desk, and a key lying on some papers on the desk. My master's iron chest was open, and some canvas bags lying on the floor, empty. I immediately suspected thieves had been in the house, went up to the pantry where the plate is kept in a drawer, and found the drawer empty - the plate was all gone.

Q. Did you know whether it was there just before - A. I had not seen it that day. I went to my master's dressing room, and found the case which had the urn in it standing in the middle of the floor empty - I knew there was an urn in that case. I went down to a drawer in the kitchen where I had money for the use of the house, and found 4 l. in notes and 25 s. in silver and copper all gone; there was a red mark on one of them, which I had received from Sarah Mills , one of the servants - I cannot swear to it; I also missed a pound and a half of tea from the drawer. I then went into the cellar where the Company's plate-chest is kept, and found it open - I did not know what it contained. There were some things left.

JANE NEWBERRY . I was in the house with Barnes that night. As I was going to bed, about ten o'clock, I thought I heard a noise - it was like one of the hall chairs moving. I got up about eight o'clock in the morning, and did not open the street door before Barnes went out - nobody else was in the house. After breakfast I went to clean my master's office, and found the office door wide open, which I had locked at nine o'clock the night before. After Mr. M'Daniel had left the house, I had locked it, and left the key in it. On opening the shutters I found some gold lying on the desk, and papers scattered about, which was not so the overnight. I called Barnes, who came and saw the iron chest open. I have heard her account, and it is correct as she has stated it. There was no appearance of violence on my master's door, or the street door.

GREGORY EMERY . I am butler to Mr. Gregg; I had a silver urn in my list of plate, but never saw it - I had been nine months in his service. I left the house about noon on the 18th of December with my master - I had the care of the plate up to that time; he had the articles enumerated in the indictment, and two dozen and nine large table-spoons of the Skinners' Company. I went to town, on the Sunday in consequence of information of the robbery; I got there before my master - all the things were gone. I guess their value to be from 150 l. to 200 l. Nothing has been found that I can speak to.

WILLIAM SALMON . I am an officer of Middlesex. In consequence of the robbery, I was employed to go to the prisoner's house, No. 10, Nelson's-terrace, Hackney-road, on Monday, the 20th of December, about three o'clock in the afternoon. It consists of two rooms; I found an old woman below, he lives next door. The prisoner was in the upper room, on the bed, and appeared to be asleep; he was dressed. I ordered him to get up; the house is his. He got up and asked me what I wanted? I said I had a warrant to search his place, and would search him first. In his right-hand breeches-pocket I found two guineas in gold, 1 ls., and two sixpences. I asked him where he got the guineas? He said they were his own, and he had had them for several years. On searching him downwards, I found a guinea of George the First on the floor, and asked him if it was his? He said No, it was a plaything which his wife had given the child - Mr. M'Daniel was with me. I called the prisoner's wife up, and asked her if the guinea belonged to her? - he must have heard me. She said No; the prisoner then slipped by the side of me and went down stairs. I followed and secured him immediately, took him back and searched the room, but found nothing else there them. I took him down, searched the room below, and found two new pieces of stuff for gowns, and about eight yards of new flannel. I asked his wife, in his hearing, if they were hers? and where she bought them? She said she bought them on Saturday at a shop in Shoreditch. I told her that she must have bought them on Monday, but she insisted that it was Saturday, and said she would not tell me the shop she bought them at, but I must find it out - Mr. M'Daniel was in a small yard, belonging to the house, at this time; he brought a small canvas bag in, and said, in the prisoner's presence,

"Here is something, I have found this under the tiles over the privy.". I asked him if he had examined it? He said he had not, and I opened it in the presence of them all; it contained two guineas, two half guineas, three seven shilling-pieces, three gold mourning rings, and an oval ivory scent-box. I asked the prisoner if they belonged to him? He said No, he knew nothing about them. I took him before J. E. Conant, Esq., that night, and after a slight examination he was committed.

Q. When did you go to his house again - A. Some few days after - his wife was in custody at the time; Eliza Grew , who is present, had the care of the house. In the chimney-piece of the upper room, between two bricks, I found two guineas and two half guineas in a small piece of paper - Mr. M'Daniel was present. I have kept them ever since.

JOHN M'DANIEL . I am clerk to Mr. Gregg. On Saturday,

the 18th of December, I left the office about eight o'clock in the evening; I gave Elizabeth a parcel to take to the stage in the morning, and told her I was going - Newberry opened the door to receive the parcel, and I went away; there is a door between the office and the house. I am certain I closed the door - it has a spring lock, and cannot be opened from the office side without a key - I pushed it to, and tried it; it merely communicates between the house and the office. After that I pulled the office door to which leads into the passage; I shut that, and tried it - it was quite fast. I then came to the hall gate, which has a spring lock, pulled that to, and tried it - it was fast.

Q. That is the outer door of the whole of Skinners' Hall - A. Yes, and after that there is an iron gate, which I pulled to - any one can open that, but you cannot get into the house without opening three strong doors, all of which were secured with spring locks. Any one can get out of the house with ease, but nobody can get in - there is no keyhole outside, so that the lock cannot be picked. Nobody can get in without force.

Q. On Monday did you accompany Salmon to the prisoner's house - A. Yes, he has stated correctly what passed - I went into the yard, and looked under the files of the privy, put my finger into a small hole, and pulled out a bag, which I took in immediately, and did not open it, till Salmon did in the prisoner's and his wife's presence. It contained three mourning rings, a scent-box, some guineas, and some smaller gold.

ELIZABETH GREW . I live at No. 9, Nelson's-terrace, next door to where the prisoner lived. On Sunday, the the 19th of December, the prisoner's wife called me in and paid me 1 s. for sprats, which she had bought of me in the course of the week. The prisoner gave me a guinea to fetch some liquor; I brought a pint of gin, and gave the change to his wife. On that Monday, before I got the gin, she gave me four half guineas to go to a pawnbroker's, in the Minories, to redeem some bombasin. The pawnbroker refused them as being light, and said he would take them at 9 s. each - the prisoner was taken up while I was gone.

Q. Next day, did the prisoner's wife give you any money - A. On Tuesday I went to wash for her; she gave me half a guinea to fetch liquor, which I did, and gave her the change. On the day she was taken into custody, which was on the Monday after Christmas-day, she gave me a guinea to go to Mitchell's, in Hackney-road, to redeem two table-cloths and a sheet, which were pledged for 12 s. I redeemed them, and gave her the change. I never pledged for her. After she was taken I was left in care of the house and child, by Mr. M'Daniel. While I was in the house, no one ever came into it but my mother, who came to sleep with me.

Q. Did you know any thing of the guineas being concealed among the bricks - A. No; the officer came and found some on the Thursday evening.

JOHN HALL . I am servant to Mr. Mitchell, who is a pawnbroker, and lives in Hackney-road. I have known the prisoner and his wife about six months; they very often came to our house to pledge and redeem - they pledged for various amounts. I have known them pledge for 5 s., and lower. The highest I recollect was a silver watch for 25 s. Grew redeemed a sheet and table-cloth for 12 s., and gave me a guinea for that purpose.

SAMUEL FISHER . I am shopman to Mr. Cater, who is a linen-draper, and lives in Finsbury-place. I know the prisoner's wife; I saw her once - she bought eight yards of flannel, eight yards of stuff, which, I believe, was purple, and four yards and three-quarters of plaid, on Monday, the 20th of December; they came to 37 s. 9 d., she gave me a 1 l. note and a guinea, which I gave to Mr. Cater. He afterwards gave the same note to Salmon; I have seen it since in his possession, it is the note I took of her - (looks at one produced by Salmon) - it is the same, I am positive, by the name on the back, which I wrote with pencil at the time it was paid. There is a sufficient trace for me to know it - I put my initials on it.

MR. M'DANIEL. My initials are on the note in red ink; it must have been in my possession. I cannot say what I did with it. I am frequently in the habit of receiving drafts for the prosecutor.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Then, my Lord, I will withdraw this note from the prosecution.

WILLIAM SALMON re-examined. I produce the mourning-rings and scent-box, which Mr. M'Daniel found in the tiles of the privy, and gave to me.

MR. GREGG re-examined. I know the rings - one is my father's mourning-ring, the others are my wife's mother and a sister. The scent-box is mine, and was in the iron chest.

MR. WILLIAM ADKINS . I am Governor of the House of Correction, Coldbath-fields, the prisoner was in my custody. On the 30th of December the turnkey brought me a message, in consequence of which I sent for Mr. Gregg, who came - he and I saw him in my house. No promise, threat, or inducement whatever was held out to him. I said,

"Here is Mr. Gregg." The prisoner then said,

"I wish to make a full confession respecting the robbery" - he was in my custody for this robbery. He said, that on the Saturday of the robbery he went to the prosecutor's house in the morning, and came away at one o'clock in the day. He said the robbery was committed by him, and a man named John William Kemp ; that he had known Kemp sometime, and that Kemp had frequently asked him to rob his master, but he never could make up his mind to do it until that time. He said he went on Saturday night to Mr. Gregg's between seven and eight o'clock, got over the iron gate, and went through the yard down to the passage door, which was shut - he lifted up the latch, went in, and concealed himself in the house until after the servants were gone to bed, he then let in Kemp, who proceeded to break open the drawers. I asked him what he broke them open with? he said with a piece of iron, rather bent at one end, but he did not recollect what he called it. I said,

"Did he call it a jemmy?" he said Yes. He said Kemp opened a drawer, and took some keys which belonged to the iron chest; that they proceeded to another room, where there was an urn, and after he had got the urn Kemp went away with it and some other things to Kemp's house, No. 7, Gibraltar-row, St. George's-fields. I asked him how long Kemp was away before he returned? he said about an hour; that he came back, he let him in again, and they proceeded to take away the

plate and other things; that they left the house a little after twelve o'clock, and took a coach in Cheapside to go to Kemp's house. They stopped in Blackfriars-road to get some rum, and then went to Kemp's house with the property - he had more rum there, and came home. He said he brought away from Kemp's, I think, nine or ten guineas, and that the gold which was found on him, the gold he had parted with, and the gold and the rings that were found, were part of the property stolen from Mr. Gregg's. He was asked about the notes, he said that was all he had - that the rest was left at Kemp's. I think he said he never saw any notes. Kemp was apprehended that day, and discharged.

MR. GREGG re-examined. I have heard this account; it is perfectly correct.

JOHN M'DANIEL re-examined. On the 30th of December I was in the yard of the House of Correction, Mr. Gregg was in the Governor's house, the prisoner was coming out of the house, and met me in the yard. He said,

"Well, Mr. M'Daniel, I have told the whole truth, I have confessed to all." I said I was glad to hear it; he immediately replied,

"I hope Mr. Gregg will grant me a free pardon - do you think he will?" I said it was impossible for me to say. I then asked him what had become of all the property?

Q. Did you promise him any thing - A. No; he said he had mentioned the name of the party who had it. I asked him if he had remained in the house from the time he was there in the afternoon of the Saturday? he said, No, he came in the evening, about seven o'clock; that he came into the passage leading to the office, and got over the iron gate, and tore his coat in getting over; that he then crossed the yard, went to the area steps, found the kitchen door shut, and opened it, but did not shut it again; he went up stairs, and secreted himself in the house until the servants were gone to bed; he then let in Kemp, and they effected the robbery.

JURY. Q. I thought you said it was impossible for any one to get in after you left - A. The time he spoke of was full an hour before I left, and before the house was fastened.

Prisoner's Defence (written). My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, I do not pretend to deny the charge, but beg leave to state the inducing cause to commit so base an act. About nine years ago I became acquainted with a person of the name of Kemp, whom I understood to have some property, and also acted as an attorney at law, and during that time I have occasionally spent the evening with him at some public-house. Many times, during that period, he has very urgently solicited me to rob my master's house, and by repeated persuasion I at last unfortunately complied, for which I feel the greatest remorse and contrition. After we had committed the robbery we went to Kemp's house, sent for liquor, and we drank together until I was made quite insensible. Kemp kept all the property, except that found on my person and premises. The robbery was done on the 18th of December, on Saturday night. I was to have met Kemp on the following Thursday, but I was taken up on the Monday previous, consequently I cannot assist my prosecutor in the recovery of his property, which I am very sorry for. I sincerely beg the forgiveness of my prosecutor, and for the mercy of this Court.

GUILTY . - DEATH . Aged 30.

London Jury, before Mr. Common Sergeant.


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