James Stead, William Smithson.
22nd February 1769
Reference Numbert17690222-13
VerdictsGuilty; Guilty; Not Guilty
SentencesTransportation; Transportation

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156, 157. (M.) James Stead and William Smithson were indicted; the first for stealing a silk gown, value 20 s. a linen gown, value 2 s. and a mahogany tea chest, value 1 s. the property of Samuel Tite ; and the other for receiving the same, well knowing them to have been stolen . February 3 . +

Sarah Tite . I am wife to Samuel Tite . We live in Ironmonger-row, Old-street . On the 3d of February, between eight and nine at night, my parlour sash was put up, and I lost a silk gown and a linen one, and a tea chest, out of the room. Last Thursday I was sent for to Guildhall, and saw them again in the custody of a constable. (Produced and deposed to.) I lost also at the same time a watch stand.

John Swinton . I am a pawnbroker. On the 3d instant, February, Smithson, whom I knew before, brought the silk gown to pledge with

me; he said he brought it from another person. I lent him 16 s. on it.

Benjamin Walmsley . I am a pawnbroker, and live in Bridgewater-square. I had this linen gown brought by Reuben Biggs , with other things.

Michael Wood . I found the tea chest in Smithson's house. I took up Reuben Biggs with a warrant, who has impeached five men: four of whom have been taken up since.

Reuben Biggs . I have known Stead two years, and Smithson five or seven months. Smithson is an ivory spoon maker . Lads used to come to his house with handkerchiefs, he bought them and sold them again in Field-lane: such that we have picked out of gentlemens pockets.

Q. What business is Stead?

Biggs. I never saw him at work; he is a sawyer I believe; he gets his living by thieving. I have not been concerned with him above four months; I cannot recollect the particular day. Steed and I went into Ironmonger-row, and seeing no light in the room in the prosecutor's house, I opened a little gate which went to the house, and shoved up the sash and went in; I do not know whether it was a parlour or not; I took out these things and gave them to Stead, and he put them into a bag, and we went away with them. I was taken up in a public house by Mr. Wood, who told me he had had a great deal of trouble after me. When I was before the alderman, I was asked about a robbery: I said I knew nothing of that; but I made information of several robberies that I had been engaged in, and particularly this.

Q. What colour was this bag?

Biggs. I bought three yards of black cloth; two of them went to the making the bag; it was yard wide.

Wood. I took this bag out of Stead's pocket. (Producing a black bag.)

Biggs. This is the same bag. I took a watch-stand out of the room, but, it being of no use, I threw that away, about an hundred yards from the prosecutor's house; and we carried the rest of the things to Smithson's house, who was at home when we came there. I turned them out of the bag in order to see what we had got. I asked Smithson to go and pawn the silk gown; he went; and came and told me he had pawned it for 14 s. which he gave in; but since I find he pawned it for 16 s.

Stead's Defence.

When I heard Biggs was taken up (he and I had laid together two nights ) I sent a young woman, who was daughter to the woman where I lodged, to him; he desired every thing that belonged to him might be carried to Mr. Smithson's, in Shoe-lane: I put the bag in my pocket to carry to Mr. Smithson's, and unfortunately I met with the constable, who took the bag out of my pocket. I live in Golden-lane, and was going up Barbican when he stopped me.

Biggs. The last night Stead and I were out together, he took the bag, and a tool we had made on purpose to break houses, home to his house.

Smithson's Defence.

The evidence broke my door open, and carried the things in; I was out at the time: he lodged in the house, and used to trade with people: he has sold pounds worth of things in the house; and has desired me to pawn things, which I have, and brought him the money.

To Smithson's Character.

Thomas Metcalf . I live in the Little-Old-Bailey, and am an ivory brush maker. I have known Smithson about eight years, who always bore a good character. He has done work for me many times since he has come from sea. The last he did for me was about two years ago.

Q. How has he got his living since?

Metcalf. That I do not know. I believe he works at his business, and is a very honest, industrious man.

Thomas Hibert . I am a brush maker. I live in Boswell-court, Charterhouse-lane. I have known him twenty years. I took him apprentice. He has been out of his time about ten years. I can give no account how he has lived since. I have often seen him at work: it is not above three weeks ago since I saw him at work in Robinhood's-court, Shoe-lane, where he lives. I never heard any ill of him.

Philip Parker . I am a tallow-chandler. I have known Smithson fourteen or fifteen years: he was paid off on board a ship along with me. I never heard any thing amiss of him before, and am sorry to hear it now.

Patrick Spruing . Smithson was a shipmate of mine. It is five years ago since we left the ship; we left it both together. I sell poultry in the Fleet-market, and he has bought rabbits and fowls of me; I never knew any thing bad of him; he behaved well on board.

Stead guilty . T .

Smithson guilty . T. 14 years .

(L.) They were a second time indicted; the

first for breaking and entering the dwelling house of John Negus , on the 4th of February , about the hour of seven in the night, and stealing a silk gown, value 20 s. a cotton gown, value 5 s. and a stuff petticoat, the property of the said John ; and the other for receiving the same, well knowing the same to have been stolen . ++

The only evidence to the fact was Ruben Biggs , the accomplice.

They were both acquitted .

There were three other indictments against them.

See Smithson tried before, No. 16. and No. 342. in Mr. Alderman Nelson's mayoralty.

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