13th January 1779
Reference Numbert17790113-15
VerdictGuilty > theft under 1s
SentenceCorporal > whipping

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100. PETER KELLY was indicted for stealing two quadrant glasses, value 1 s. three steel arbors, value 2 s. three steel broaches, value 1 s. a steel countersink, value 6 d. two steel files, value 2 d. a brass and steel center, value 6 d. a steel chamsering tool, value 6 d. and a pair of steel dyes, value 6 d. the property of Jesse Ramsden , October 12th .


I am a mathematical and optical instrument-maker ; I employ a great many workmen, and each workman has his own private drawer where he keeps his tools locked up. The tools being frequently lost, and having a suspicion of the prisoner, I and another witness contrived to open the prisoner's drawer, and marked two arbors, and put them in the drawer again. As the prisoner was going from me; I thought it proper to get a search warrant, and search his apartment. In a private drawer I found a number of things, among which were the things mentioned in the indictment (repeating them.)

You find the workmen in tools? - Yes.

Do not they frequently bring their own tools? - Not that I know of.

You do not know that this arbor was yours? - No; only by its being in the prisoner's drawer. I concluded that the tools in that drawer were my tools.

They may bring tools of their own? - They may undoubtedly, but I do not know that they do. Some of the tools are my own making.


The prosecutor and I having a suspicion of the prisoner, we opened his drawer, and marked two arbors, a piece of brass, and two files; this is one of the arbors (producing it); the files are not here. I can prove several things that were found in the prisoner's apartment to be my master's property which are not marked.

(All the things mentioned in the indictment, except the files, were produced, and deposed to by the witness.)

This broach I used two or three years ago, but had missed it for a year; I enquired after it several times, but could not find it. I imagine he took it out of the shop.

I thought all the things had been seen in his drawer? - No; only the arbor.


I have two sexton glasses which were found in the prisoner's lodging; they are part of the instruments he was generally employed in making. I know them to be Mr. Ramsden's by the size; they are the size we always make them.

Have not other opticians glasses of the same size? - I do not know that they have; they may.

HENRY PYE sworn.

Here are a pair of cutting pliers I know to be Mr. Ramsden's.

Counsel. They are not in the indictment.

Cross Examination.

Have you ever said to any body that you should be turned away, if you did not come and give evidence against the prisoner? - It is the first time I ever heard the word. I know nothing of it.


I am a constable. I searched the prisoner's room, and found these tools.


When I went first to work at Mr. Ramsden's, I found myself deficient in working tools; I went to him and asked him for tools; I found my asking him affronted him, therefore I brought a quantity of tools of my own at different times. I am a tool-maker by trade, and as I was going away I thought I had an undoubted right to take them away with me.

For the Prisoner.


I have known the prisoner upwards of five years, he has an undoubted good character. If he was at liberty I would employ him to-morrow; he is a good workman.


I have known the prisoner five or six years; I never heard any impeachment of his character. I worked at Mr. Ramsden's shop five years; his shop is very poorly supplied with tools. It is common for men to bring their own tools to the shop.


I have known the prisoner four years, he has borne an exceeding good character for honesty, sobriety, and industry. He has a wife and children.

- HIGGINS sworn.

I have known the prisoner four years and a half; he worked with me, and behaved very well. I believe him to be a very honest man.

- LEWIS sworn.

I have know the prisoner between three and four years; I never knew a blemish in his character before this happened. I went to see him in Tothilfields prison; as I returned I called upon Mr. Pye; I said, so one of your shop-mates is in prison! he said he was sorry for it; that he would not appear against him only he was afraid of being turned out of his work.

Pye. I said no such a thing.

- SPICER sworn.

I was apprentice to Mr. Ramsden when the prisoner came to work there. I have known him four years. He always bore a good character.

Is it not usual for workmen to bring tools of their own? - At times it may happen so.

Court. Did he bring any tools with him when he came to work at Mr. Ramsden's? - It is not usual; I did not see him bring any; I cannot say he did not.

GUILTY of stealing the things to the value of 10 d. W .

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury before Lord Chief Baron SKYNNER.

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