21st April 1784
Reference Numbert17840421-23
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence

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398. JOHN PETTITT and JOHN AYRES were indicted for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of William Bailey , about the hour of eight in the night, on the 28th day of March last, and burglariously stealing therein one flute, called an English flute, value 4 s. and two fifes, value 1 s. the property of the said William .


I live at No. 42, St. Martin's Le Grand , I am a flute maker , I lost two flutes, I do not remember the day of the month, but it was the day Mr. Pitt came into the city, my wife laid in, and somebody knocked at the door, and my apprentice went down, and I followed and saw my window was broke, and a flute was taken and two fifes, I saw my property at the watch-house that night.

Mr. Rose, Prisoner's Council. When had you seen that window before? - An hour before.

Are you sure it was so late as that when you had seen it? - Yes.

It was at eight in the evening? - Yes.

Your doors were not fastened, were they? - The lock was let go, it goes with a spring lock, and always fastens.

Whether this door was shut or no, you do not know? - No.


I live facing the prosecutor, I was sent out to change a guinea for my mistress in Angel-street, and as I came back I heard some people singing a song in St. Martin's Le Grand about Pitt, so I went and heard it, and I heard a pane of glass break, and I watched these two lads, and I saw them pull out the fifes out of the window, the little boy pulled them out of the window, and the big one put them into a sack, when they had done they walked away, and I knocked at the door, and the apprentice came down stairs, and him and me followed them into Fleet-lane, and there they went into an ironmonger's shop to sell them, and they played on them to try them.

Who played on them? - The thieves did, then they came out of that house, and went into the Cock ale-house, they did not sell any in Fleet-lane that I know of, and they were taken to the watch-house.

What were they in? - They were in a sack.

And they were these two prisoners, were they? - Yes.

Mr. Rose. Had you ever seen these lads before? - Never in my life.

Are you very sure that they are the lads? - Yes I am a very sure they are.

You was attending to the singing about Mr. Pitt. - Yes, I went up to hear it,

but instead of hearing it I heard a pane of glass crack.

There was a good many people about this song? - About ten or twelve.

Was there any body between you and the window? - Nobody.

At what distance might you stand? - About three or four yards from the window.

Was there any lamps in that neighbourhood? - Yes, one facing.

Did you follow them immediately? - Yes.

Were the boys that you thought took these things from the window, out of your sight before you got to the house? - No.


I followed the prisoners along with the last witnes into an old iron shop, we stood opposite the house, and heard them playing, then they came out and went down to Fleet-market, to the Cock alehouse, there they went in and had the things out, and we sent for Mr. Baillie and took them up.

(The things deposed to.)


I am as innocent as the child unborn, I never had any flutes or fife.

A WITNESS sworn.

I took the little boy and went into the Cock, and he pointed to these two lads, one of them had a bag, I took hold of one of them by the collar, and delivered the other to the watchman, and as they were crossing the way they dropped the flutes from them, and a coach run over them and broke them.

Court. Then the flutes were not in the bag? - No, they were wrapped up in some part of them, I do not know in what part.

Did you hear them fall? - I did.

You cannot tell from which of them they fell? - I believe they fell from Pettitt.

Court to Prisoner Pettitt. What are you? - A shoe-maker .


I am as innocent as the child unborn, I have no friends to speak for me.

Court to Jury. Gentlemen, there is no difference in point of law between breaking a pane of glass and breaking open a house; but to be sure in point of enormity of offence there is a very substantial difference; therefore, you would not incline to press a fact of this sort beyond what it does necessarily import; the boy says he heard the cracking of the glass while he was listening to the singing; he did not see it done; somebody else might have broke the window, and if after this pane of glass had been broke, one of these boys had taken the things out, he would have been Guilty of stealing them, but not of breaking and entering the house; therefore, perhaps you will think it sufficient if you find them Guilty of stealing, but not of breaking and entering the dwelling house.


GUILTY Of stealing, but not of breaking and entering the dwelling house .

Transported for seven years .

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

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