30th April 1783
Reference Numbert17830430-5
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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250. JOHN WHARTON was indicted for feloniously and burglariously breaking and entering into the dwelling house of Robert Askey , on the 1st day of March last, between the hours of twelve and three in the night, and feloniously stealing therein three pieces of gold coin of this realm called Guineas, value 3 l. 3 s. and 30 s. in monies numbered, the monies of the said Robert .

Another Count. That the said John Wharton , on the 9th day of March last, between the hours of twelve and three in the night, the dwelling house of the said Robert, feloniously and burglariously did break and enter, and feloniously steal therein twelve pounds weight of soap, value 5 s. and 3 s. in monies numbered, his property.

Another Count. That he the said John Wharton afterwards, on the 31st day of March last, between the hours of twelve and three in the night, the dwelling house of the said Robert Askey , burglariously did break and enter, and feloniously did steal therein 12 lb. weight of soap, value 5 s. and 20 s. in monies numbered, and 48 pieces of copper called half-pence his property.

A fourth Count. For that he the said John Wharton afterwards, about the hour of two in the night, on the 5th of April inst. the same dwelling house feloniously, did break and enter, with intent to steal the goods of the said Robert against the King's peace.


I am shopman to Mr. Askey, oil and colour-man Tothill-street, Westminster , the

prisoner was a workman of my master's at that time, but did not lodge in the house, in the evening of the first of March, my master asked me what money I had in the shop, I went to the desk and told him I had ten guineas in gold, and about four in silver, he told me to put the money in the desk, and he would ask me for it in the morning, it was in the desk that night, I locked the desk and put the key in the till, and after shutting up the shop, I put the key of the till in my pocket; about ten I locked the till, and between seven or eight I locked the desk, I shut up the shop at the same time; the desk stood close to the till in the shop, I fastened the door and windows of the shop; I got up about six in the morning and opened the shop, I went to unlock the till as I usually did, and found it open, and the desk likewise; I examined the desk for the money and found three guineas missing out of the ten, and about 30 s. in silver; my master asked me for the money about nine o'clock in the morning, I did not tell my master till then, that the desk was opened, I was rather afraid, I did not perceive in what manner the money was lost, I examined the house all over.

Court. When you came down in the morning, how were the doors and windows of the shop? - They were all fast.

On the ninth instant had you on the over night reckoned the money? - I could not rightly tell the quantity.

How much do you suppose was lost? - About twenty shillings.

Court. How do you know there was any lost, if you did not know what there was? - I am sure there was 50 s. by the quantity, I put 40 s. in out of the desk, and there was some in before; but I cannot tell how much exactly; the next morning I found about 30 s. it was about six when I opened the shop, the till was left open, the desk was left open, and the key dropped into the till, but not locked; of this I did not tell my master, as the money was lost before, I did not mention to him, as it could be laid to nobody but myself.

Had he accused you before, or expressed any suspicion? - Not to me as I knew of; on the 31st at night, I put 25 s. in the desk, there was not above one or two; I locked it as before, and put the key into the same place; the next morning we found about 6 s. of it, and a quantity of half-pence was lost out of the till, the desk was unlocked, and the key thrown in the same way as before.

Court. How were the fastenings that morning; - The shop front, my lord, was all fast; on examining the premises; the back part, I found the door that leads out of the cellar into the shop had been open.

Was it locked the night before? - No, it was made fast with a stick with a pike at the end of it, that stick was forced away; the force had tore the door very much, a piece was split off, the door opened inwards; on going into the the yard I found the two fastenings of the window which leads into the cellar, it was a flap shut down, and two casks stood on the top of it, that was the usual way of fastening it, in the morning the two casks were off, and the flap was down, on lifting up the flap, I perceived by the dirt and rubbish a person had been down, I made these examinations first myself, after that I alarmed my master, I called him up, this was about half after seven, it was about six when I opened the shop; I informed him that the house had been broke open, and robbed as before, I shewed him where the person had gone down, and in what manner the door was from that time; my master and me sat up every night, till Saturday the 5th of April; on the Sunday morning a little after two, I sat up in the parlour just over the cellar; my master was in the adjoining yard with his neighbour, I heard a person coming down the yard, I heard him lift the two casks off that stood upon the window, and lift the flap up, and go into the cellar; after I thought he was down, I heard something make a noise, similar to the falling of a trap, which we had set for him in the cellar: In about a minute after he entered the cellar, I heard my master halloo out, I have got him; I opened the door, and I saw the prisoner with him, when I went in the yard my master said to the prisoner, John, how can ou use me in the manner you have

done, you have robbed me three times within a month, of money, soap, starch and blue; the prisoner said he never robbed him of any starch and blue, only of money and soap; more of money than of soap.

Court. The second time that you missed the silver, you did not tell your master? - No.

The third time did you tell your master of that? - Yes, that was the time we perceived how we were robbed.

Now not telling your master the second time, till then how did you make up the account? - I had not given in the account.

Prisoner's Council. The prisoner had been your master's servant a long time? - Yes.

How long? - Two years.

Perhaps as long as you? - No, Sir, I served my time there.

The first time the money was missing was on the first of March? - Yes.

That was three guineas, and some silver? - Yes.

You did not tell your master of that? - Yes.

No, but not till he asked you for the money? - No.

You rose at six, and at nine your master asked you for the money, then you told him of the robbery? - Yes.

You lodged in the house? - Yes.

There was no appearance then of any body getting in? - No.

The keys were all found on the spot where you left them? - Yes.

The next time you did not tell him of it at all? - No.

That time there was about twenty shillings lost, I think you say? - Yes.

None of this money was marked at all? - No.

No suspicion of the prisoner? - No, nothing but that, for the course of two months past, sometimes he would work a day or two, and sometimes play.

How came it that the money was not marked that was in the till? - We had no suspicion at all, at that time.

The third time it was half after seven, before you told your master? - Yes.

Then you perceived somebody had got into the house? - Yes.

You was the only person that found that out? - Yes.

Who fastened that door backwards? - Myself.

And put the casks over yourself? - The maid of the house did.

You yourself did not see the prisoner in the cellar? - No, Sir, I heard him.

That is, you heard a noise? - Yes, when I came into the yard, I found the prisoner in the yard.

Did the prisoner appear to be drunk at that time? - No, Sir, very sober.

Is your master's the corner of the passage, or is it the middle of a row? - The middle of a row.

Council for Prosecution. Must the prisoner come over more places than one? - He came over four walls.

Was no money found on him? - Nothing Sir, we did not search him.


On the evening previous to the first of March, I desired the last witness to give an account of the monies he had in his desk, as I had a payment to make, he is a very trusty servant, the most honest one that can be, he told me that he had ten guineas in gold, and about four pounds in silver; eight guineas of the gold, I saw in the desk myself in the evening; in the morning I desired him to bring me in the cask, he informed me that when he came down in the morning, he found the till unlocked, that he went to the desk, and found that there had been taken out of that ten guineas, three guineas and thirty shillings in silver; I saw that the silver had been taken away; I inspected the premises; I knew the witness strictly honest, his sister is servant to me, which I believe to be as honest as himself, and there were only Mrs. Askey, myself, this brother and sister and a little boy, who was upon liking; in the morning of the 31st, I was called up, and he told me we had been robbed again, I had myself taken from the desk in the afternoon two guineas, in consequence of which, there was no gold left, but about five or six guineas in silver, I asked him to the best of his knowledge what he thought

he had been robbed of, he said he thought there was about twenty shillings in silver gone, we were then very cautious of taking bad halfpence, but I found the till principally consisted in bad halfpence, I then went to the cellar coming to inspect that part, which I thought a boy of ten years old could not have gone through scarcely, for he must put himself on his belly; I said it must be John Wharton , I borrowed a man trap, and I planted it in the cellar at the bottom where the feet must touch, I then thought from the appearance of the prisoner, in the course of the week, and from his drinking, it was himself, I said to my neighbour Edward Taylor , will you sit up with me to night, for I have reason to think the person that robbed me will be here to night; we went to the further end of my premises under one of my warehouses, and there we sat from twelve, till about five minutes after two, then I heard foot steps in my neighbour's yard, and I said to him the thief is coming, he came over that part of the wall, over the tiles where I sat down, after walking about four paces on the wall, he dropped into my yard, by the light of the moon, I saw the prisoner perfectly, in about ten minutes I heard a noise, which I thought was the trap, and a man struggling in my cellar, I immediately said, my friend we will run down the yard, I am confident he is in my house; and within five yards of the window, I met the prisoner coming from my dwelling, I called my servant to open the door, and that I had got the prisoner, he immediately came, I found the casks from off the flap, and that the window had been opened and entered; I asked the prisoner, how he came to rob me, as I had been so indulgent to him for some time past, he answered he could not help it; says I, John you have robbed me three times within the last month, of monies soap, starch and blue; he said no, I have not taken any blue or starch, I never took any thing but money and soap, the soap I sold to Mr. Knight, who keeps a shop in the neighbourhood; I found his leg had touched the ring of the trap, and drawn it from the spring.

Court. Did you examine his leg? - I did not; I hardly knew how to contain myself.

Has his leg never been examined? - He has had medicines from an apothecary's to dress himself with, but his leg has never been examined, I took him prisoner myself.

Prisoner's Council. When you saw him, he was in the yard, five yards from the cellar window with his face to you? - Yes, as near as I can judge.

His leg never was examined? - No.

Supposing a man to have got into that window, must not he have been a considerable length of time in getting out again? - By repeatedly going in, he had cut away a piece of ground that made it not so intricate as it was at first, there was a matter of eighteen inches broke away, at first it must have taken up several minutes for a man to get out again.

Court. As soon as you thought you heard the trap you came, did you make the prisoner any promises? - No, none in the least.


I watched with my neighbour Mr. Askew, a man came over the tiles into the yard, but I could not see who it was, I saw him after he was taken, I said if you offer to lift up a hand I will cut your head off.

What did Mr. Askey say? - I cannot say, as we were going to take him to Tothillfields he owned then that he robbed him of the money and soap, I cannot tell what he said exactly, it was something about taking money and soap.

Court to Mr. Askey. Had this man any dark lanthorn or matches, or any thing of that sort? - I did not search him, I should have conceived he could not have had a lanthorn, without it was in his pocket.

Is there any light in your shop of a night? - No.


I went down the alley, there is a necessary at the bottom, I was going to case myself, and there was a man stood upon the

wall, the man said he would go over, I got over after him, and then Mr. Askey and Mr. Taylor said I should stop or they would blow my brains out; my wife and I had a few words and I went out, and went down there on purpose to ease myself.

Guilty of the whole indictment, ( Death .)

The prisoner was humbly recommended to mercy by the prosecutor.

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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