Robert Stephenson.
7th December 1763
Reference Numbert17631207-5
VerdictNot Guilty

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7. (M.) Robert Stephenson was indicted, for that he, on the 20th of October , about the hour of two in the night, on the same day, the dwelling-house of Ann Wait , widow , did break and enter and stealing 6 dozen of silver tea-spoons, value 8 l. five silver snuff-boxes, value 5 l. one tortoiseshell snuff-box. value 5 s. one silver lid to a snuff-box, value 5 s. one load-stone set in silver, value 15 s. the property of the said Ann, in the dwelling-house did steal . *

William Wait . I am son to Ann Wait , we live in the Fort-street, St. John's, Wapping . She is a watch and clock-maker, and carries on the silversmith business. On Friday morning, the 21st of October, between the hours of five and six, we were knocked up; we found part of the window-shutter had been boared through, and then cut away with a sharp instrument; there were taken out about four or five inches diameter from the pannel of the shutter, near the counter; and the glass of a little show-glass, which we put on the counter on nights, was broke; in which were the things mentioned in the indictment. That was within an inch of being level with the hole they had cut, at about 15 inches distance from the hole.

Q. What things did you lose?

Wait. We lost half a gross of silver tea-spoons tied up in three parcels; five silver snuff-boxes, one tortoiseshell snuff box, one chased silver lid for a snuff box not mounted, and one load-stone set in silver. I delivered warning to goldsmiths-hall about nine or ten that morning; and advertised the things, in the publick papers, the day after. In a day or two, Sir John Fielding sent to tell us, that there were some people taken up, that acknowledged the robbery. I went to Sir John's, there were the prisoner and William's the evidence. Williams was examined as an evidence, and acknowledged the fact. The prisoner said he never was but half an hour in Williams's company in his life. There were two tea-spoons produced with the marks taken out on the backs of them; (produced in court.) I cannot sware those were our property. Williams informed me he sold all the things (mentioned in the indictment) to a person that goes by the name of Scampey.

Q. Did you know the prisoner before?

Wait. No; I never saw the prisoner or evidence before, to take any notice of them.

Edward Williams sworn.

Prisoner. It is not proper that man should be admitted as an evidence; he has been tried, and got clear of three indictments at the Old Bailey. They would not let him be an evidence at Hicks's Hall. He has stopt his wife, that he has had five children by, in Clerkenwell prison; he said, he could hang his wife as well as he could hang me; and, if he will hang his own wife, he will hang me and two or three more.

Williams. Robert Stevenson and me came out of Horselydown, where he lives, and went to the house where the things were.

Q. What business is Stevenson?

Williams. He is no business, he goes upon the highway and the like, and that is what he was tried for.

Court. Begin and tell your story; what you have to say?

Williams. On Thursday, the 20th of October, he came to my house two or three times in Kent-street, and asked for me: I denied myself once, and got out into the garden; he came again and found me at home, and we got to drinking together.

Q. When was this?

Williams. This may be two or three days before this robbery, he has drank with me at several houses in Kent-street.

Q. What was your conversation?

Williams. We talked we would go together a house-breaking.

Q. What house was this you had this conversation at?

Williams. We had been together all the day at the Red Cow, in Kent-street, and walking up and down to see what we could get at night, looking at goldsmiths shops, to see what hung in the windows; then we went into the Fore-street, Wapping, about 11 at night; we had been walking there before, and saw what hung in the windows, and had in the day mentioned going there.

Q. Which mentioned it?

Williams. I did to him. I had not seen the silver spoons; but I said to him there is a parcel of watches hung up in the windows; we drank at a house by the water-side, then we walked to and fro; we observed the window of this gentleman's house, we saw a light go up-stairs and down again; after 12 we began to work, and bored the shutters as full of holes as we could, with a gimlet.

Q. Which bored the holes?

Williams. I did most of them, he stood at the door to listen whether any body was coming out.

Q. What was you bred to?

Williams. My father was a shoemaker, but I never learned any trade. The prisoner and I had each a sharp knife, and I cut away as fast as I could, till we could get an arm in; he got mud out of the kennel to blacken it, that the watchmen might not see it. Then I took a handkerchief, and wrap'd it about my hand, and pushed in a pane of glass; then he put his arm in, and broke a show-glass, and took out some silver teaspoons tied up in parcels, and gave them to me, and I put them into my pocket; he took out three silver snuff-boxes, and a load-stone, and a little pair of scales and weights in a box; he might take out more, and put them in his pocket, unknown to me.

Q. How long might you be about this affair?

Williams. We might be better than two hours about it.

Q. Did you see no watchmen?

Williams. Yes, the watchmen and patroles and other people past by; but there is a back street, and as they were coming, we got out of the way, and then returned again. When we had got what we could, we went off, and sold all the things to Abraham Abrahams , in Hounsditch (he is out of the way now); we sold them to him on the Friday morning.

Q. What time in the morning?

Williams. It might be before day-light; I sold them, and Stephenson staid at Darkhouse-lane the while.

Q. How came it that Stephenson did not go with you to Abraham's.

Williams. Abrahams is so knowing, he would not buy goods, if two men came together.

Q. Did Abrahams keep a shop?

Williams. Yes, he did, and sold cloaths.

Q. How old is he?

Williams. He is about 35 years old.

Q. Did you ever trade with him before?

Williams. He has had goods of me two or three times, which we got at other places. Stephenson said he wanted a couple of tea-spoons for his own use, and I gave him those two spoons out of my own hand, when we got into his own room. Two or three days after, he shewed me them, and said he had filed the mark out of them: I know he has got a file for that purpose: these are two which we had at the prosecutrix's house; the prisoner was taken out of the same house I was, with firearms and a long piece, which we took from a house we broke open in the county of Kent.

James Tookey . I am a silversmith, I work for the prosecutrix (he takes the two spoons in his hand) I know these were made at my shop, but I work for many other people besides the prosecutrix, an hundred and more.

Q. Can you perceive any mark to have been on them?

Tookey. The marks appear to have been filed out, the workman's mark and hall mark are filed out, it appears to have been done on purpose.

Richard Pierce . Williams was taken into custody by Brebrook, and brought to Bridewell, where I am deputy keeper: I carried him before Sir John Fielding (the day I cannot tell), he made a discovery there of the prisoner Stephenson; we had a warrant to apprehend him. I went to the house where he lived in Horsely-down, and opened the door, and took him by the hand in his lodging. We had a description there was a hole in the floor, where was a gun and some powder. Brebrook took the tea-spoons out of a tea-chest in the room; there was nobody in the room but his wife and himself.

Prisoner. I never had a wife.

Williams. She went by his name.

Peirce. We asked him before Sir John, how he came by that gun and ammunition: he said, he knew nothing of them: we found a piece of a gun filed off, to make it fit for a man's pocket, some bullets and powder in the hole we had information

of: he said, if any man brought them there, it must be Williams.

Q. Did you hear him say any thing about these tea-spoons?

Peirce. I think he said they were his own.

Edward Wright . I was at the searching the prisoner's lodgings, I haul'd up part of the floor, and found the hole full of sand, and amongst the sand were several pair of spurs, and other things, with the piece of a gun, powder, and balls, two new files, and a large gimlet; he said he did not know how they came there, he had lodged there but a fortnight; he said the tea-spoons were his wife's, and desired us to leave them. We told him Williams had charged him: he said Williams could not hurt him, and that if he had been a thief, he should not have been so ragged as he was.

Prisoner's Defence.

Williams said, in Clerkenwell-prison one night, that he never knew me in his life, no farther than seeing me in prison, when he was there himself 2 or three sessions ago, and wanted some prisoners to swear he was mad, for he did not know what he did. I was abroad in his majesty's service, and served him 13 years, pretty near 6 of them were abroad: coming home, I took up with a young woman, and lived with her: those spoons belong to her: I do not know any thing of them: I have seen her have them several times. Williams said, Brebrook made him drink, and persuaded him to swear to me.

For the Prisoner.

Mary Long (the woman that went for his wife) Williams gave me the two tea-spoons.

Q. When?

M. Long. I cannot justly tell the day of the month.

Q. Who filed them in this manner?

M. Long. They were filed when he brought them to me, they were rough, he bid me rub the handles with a little sand.

Q. Do you remember the prisoner being taken up?

M. Long. I do.

Q. How long was it before that?

M. Long. I cannot tell.

Q. to Williams. Did you give this woman the tea-spoons?

Williams. It is all false, as God is true in Heaven.

Q. How long had you lived in that lodging?

M. Long. We had lived there a fortnight.

Q. Was the prisoner pretty much at home?

M. Long. He was with me some times.

Wright. When I had taken the things out of the hole, she told me I need not feel for any more, saying there was no more.

Williams. This woman was to call us at the hours we wanted to go out at, when we laid down on the bed: she knowed what business her husband followed long before I kept him company.

Acquitted .

Detained to be tried in the county of Kent.

See him an evidence against Beaton for three highway robberies, No. 299, in last mayoralty. He was also an evidence against him for robbing 'Squire Thrale last Croydon assize, where he was cast and executed at Kennington, along with Bragger, another highwayman, on the 12th of August last. For Bragger, see No. 318, in last mayoralty.

See also Williams the evidence, tried for 3 burglaries,

No. 405, in last mayoralty.


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