Thomas James, Theft > pocketpicking, 23rd October 1754.

Reference Number: t17541023-16
Offence: Theft > pocketpicking
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death
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481. Thomas James , was indicted for stealing one linen handkerchief, val. 12 d. the property of John Neal , privately from his person , Oct. 12 .*.

John Neal . Last Saturday se'nnight I was going through St. Paul's Church-yard ; just by the chapter-house a person that stood with a basket to sell fruit, told me I had lost my handkerchief out of my right hand pocket, and said, - yonder goes the man that took it; I felt and said I had lost it, and desired he would not go away till I had laid hold of him; I then went and took hold of the prisoner, and held him by both wrists, and insisted on his giving an account of himself; he struggled to get away; the other man then came up and took hold of him behind. The mob grew pretty great. I said, we'll go and take him to a publick-house; the prisoner reply'd, what will you go without your handkerchief? I saw a man toss it within the rails, and pointed to something as well as he could; I still held his wrists, and desired a friend of mine to put his stick within the rails and know what it was, seeing something lye there, but it was only a cabbage leaf. I took the prisoner into an ale-house, and he had not his hands at liberty above a minute before the handkerchief was between his feet, lying on the ground; upon that he was taken before Sir John Barnard , and committed.

Q. Did you see him drop the handkerchief?

J Neal. I can't say I did.

Q How came you to let his hands go before you had felt pockets?

J. Neal. I had sent for a constable, so did not think it so well to search him till the constable came, and seeing I had got him safe in the house, I let go his hands.

Q. What did he say for himself?

J. Neal. He said but very little; he pretended to say a man in the room dropped it, but that man was known in the house to be a man of reputation.

Q. What is the value of the handkerchief ?

J. Neal. It cost two shillings, and it is almost new.

Q. Is it worth one shilling?

J. Neal. To be sure it is worth that (produced in court, and deposed to.)

J. Bust. I had a basket of fruit against a post near the chapter house; I saw the prisoner take the handkerchief out of the prosecutor's pocket as he was going by, on a Saturday night about 7 o'clock; the prosecutor was walking along with another gentleman, and the prisoner went between them, and with his right hand took the handkerchief out of the prosecutor's right hand pocket; he made an attempt to put it under his arm. I ran to Mr. Neal and told him his pocket was pick'd, and went and held the prisoner fast by the neck till Mr. Neal came to him; after that, I saw the prisoner drop the handkerchief in the Crown ale-house.

Q. Are you sure you saw the handkerchief fall from him?

Bust. I am sure I did, it fell just by the fire place, as soon as he had got his hand at liberty.

Samuel Magniac . On Saturday was 7 night, I was along with Mr. Neal, I had hold of his arm, going by the chapter house, a man dressed in blue, I suppose it was this last evidence, said to Mr. Neal, you have had your pocket picked of a handkerchief. Mr. Neal ran and took hold of the prisoner's wrists and I his right arm. The prisoner said I saw a man throw a handkerchief into the rails, I felt with my stick and found it to be a cabbage leaf. We took him into a public house: Mr. Neal then let go his hands, after which I saw a handkerchief lying under his feet.

Q. Did you see it fall?

Magniac. No, my lord, I did not. By the position it lay on the ground, it appeared as if it had slid down from under his coat.

Prisoner's Defence.

I was in that house, there were twenty or thirty people, one said here is a handkerchief lies here, now he has dropped it; another said, no, he has not, I was looking at him all the time. A gentleman said, turn him out of the door, I said don't turn that man out. When he was out, I said, let that man in again, but they said he should not come in.

Guilty Death .

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