4th April 1779
Reference Numbert17790404-9
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence
SentenceImprisonment > hard labour

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195. JOHN CLOSE was indicted, for that he, in the king's highway, in and upon John Ward , did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person a leather pocketbook, value 6 d. ten dollars, one half-dollar, and 8 s. in monies, numbered, the property of the said John , March 26th .

JOHN WARD sworn.

I am a soldier in General Burgoyne 's regiment. I have been lately discharged on coming home from America. We landed at Portsmouth. I came home in the Hallifax. I think I came to London on the 25th of March. I was robbed on the 26th. It was late on Thursday night when we came in; we enquired where we could have quarters; we were directed to a Mr. Kennedy's, the sign of the Angel, in Chapel-street, Westminster. We laid down our knapsacks, and drank pretty heartily.

How many comrades had you with you? - Six or seven. We found the prisoner at Kennedy's; he offered us his bed for that night; he lodged in Kennedy's house. I said we were obliged to him, and three of us slept in his bed that night. The next day we went to the War-Office to get our billets to go to Chelsea, and then returned to Mr. Kennedy's for our package. I took the prisoner to be a friend; he pretended to be a countryman of mine; he is a soldier; he went with me, and some of my comrades, to Chelsea. The day was pretty well on when we left Mr. Kennedy's. When we came to Chelsea, and I had got my billet, he asked me to take a walk to pass away the time; we went to the sign of the Square and Compass, and had four pots of beer; we staid there two hours or more; he had had no dinner. I paid for a dinner for him. I then took my pocket out, and changed a dollar. I had ten dollars and an half, four pisteroons, and four pieces of money they call 7 d 1/2 pieces, and some small money; it was all in my pocket-book in my breast pocket. I changed a dollar with him at that house; then we walked to another house; he asked me to have a bottle of beer, and took me into a house that I thought not good; it was then, I think, between four and five o'clock. I asked him then to go with me to Mr. Kennedy's; I wanted to spend two pots of beer at his house, as he had been kind to me, and to return him thanks, because he had charged nothing for my eating. I desired him to come out of the house where we were; he would not; upon which I left him, and went to Mr. Kennedy's by myself, and he came in afterwards; we drank two pots of beer together, and then Mr. Kennedy desired him to see me home, and he went with me.

What time of night was it? - I cannot say, I was pretty much in liquor; he went out with me, and as we were going along, he took me out of the road, near the Queen's gardens ; he laid hold of my lame arm (I had been wounded, and had no strength in that arm) and took the pocket-book out of my pocket, and went away and left me. I went to the serjeant of the queen's guard, and asked the favour of a man to go home with me.

Did you tell the serjeant of the guard that you had been robbed? - I said not a word of it till I got home.

When did you miss the book? - Immediately as he took it. As he turned away, I desired him to give me the pocket-book; he made me no answer. I knew I was not in a condition to follow him; and thought

if I did, he might use me worse. I kept it as still as I could, as I knew him, left he should get away from the place. I went to Mr. Kennedy's, in the morning, and found him there; I told Mr. Kennedy of it, and he charged him with it; he went up into his lodging and brought down the pocket-book.


I keep a publick-house, the sign of the Gun, at Buckingham-gate. The prisoner came to my house on Friday the 26th of March, between eight and ten at night, and called for a quartern of brandy to treat the sentry who was opposite my house; he opened a pocket-book, and took out a dollar; I saw a good many foreign pieces, and asked him how he came by them, he said he was just come from America; that he had been wounded in the fleshy part of his thigh; he was a good deal in liquor; I took some pains to get it from him; I said he would loose it before he got home; I could not get it from him. I was obliged to shut the door to keep him out (the dollar was produced).


I keep the Sign of the Angel, in Chapel-street. The prisoner was a lodger with me about a week before these people came. He is a soldier in the third regiment of foot guards. John Ward , with several others belonging to the 74th regiment of foot, came from America, and came in late at night on Thursday the 25th of March; they were recommended by some of the sentries to my house; I made shift, as a good many of my lodgers were on duty that night, to give them lodging. They had some beer and victuals after their march. The prisoner was in the house; he got into their company. Ward and he pretended to be countrymen, and were very intimate. The next day Close went to Chelsea with them. In the afternoon the prisoner and Ward came to my house, much in liquor, they went away together about six o'clock. John Close came to my house the next morning, about seven o'clock; he was for duty that day; he went up to clean himself; while he was up stairs, Ward and some of his comrades came in and took me aside and said Ward had been robbed by the prisoner. I went up and told him they were below, and said he had taken some money and a pocketbook from Ward; he said he had not; I bid him come down and speak to them; he did, and while they were in the passage talking together, it was noised among the people in the house, and some of them said they had seen Close with a pocket-book that m orning, and if I searched, I might perhaps find it; I went up and found a pocketbook in the closet; I showed it to Ward, and he said it was his book. There was in it two bad six-pences, eighteen-pence in half-pence and a farthing.

(The pocket-book was produced in Court and deposed to by the prosecutor.)

Ward. There was a square breast buckle in a piece of paper in it.

Kennedy. I did not see the paper, nor buckle. A buckle was produced at the justice's.


I keep a publick-house in Petty-France, the Black Horse. The prisoner came to my house, and three more with him, the same night the gentleman was robbed, and called for half a gallon of beer; he pulled out his pocket-book, and wanted change for a dollar; it was such a pocket-book; they had four gallons of beer, and every time wanted a dollar changed; I changed four of them; he had half a dollar besides, and wanted half a gallon of beer to change that; I would not let him have it.

(The dollars were produced in court.)

To Ward. You cannot swear to the dollars? - No, I cannot.


He gave me the dollars when I was fetching the beer to him.

For the Prisoner.


I am a serjeant in the guards. The prisoner has been a year in the guards; he has done his duty; I know nothing more of him.

GUILTY of stealing, but NOT GUILTY of the robbery .

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Baron EYRE .

[Imprisonment. See summary.]

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