23rd February 1785
Reference Numbert17850223-120
VerdictsNot Guilty; Guilty
SentencesCorporal > whipping

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410. ROBERT SIMPSON was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 22d of February one shoulder of mutton, value 2 s. the property of John Wright :

And GEORGE RIDLEY was indicted for feloniously receiving the same goods, on the same day, knowing them to have been stolen .


I am a butcher , my shop is in St. James's Market, my dwelling house in Jermyn-street, I have lived there thirty years; on the 22d of February, when I returned from market between eight and nine, from the information I had, I went and got a search warrant, and took one Price Rounds a constable with me, I took him into Ridley's house, and I gave him the warrant; Ridley keeps the Red Lion, in Jermyn-street, he has kept that house I believe about four

years; I called for Ridley, and he came to the bar door, I told him I came for a shoulder of mutton he had of mine; he seemed a good deal confounded.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner Ridley's Council. Do not tell us what he seemed? - I will venture to swear that he seemed surprized, I will venture to say he was frightened when I came in.

Mr. Garrow. I submit to the Court, whether such evidence ever was given or endured in a Court of Justice, the witness comes here and attempts to describe the operations of a man's mind; it is perfectly competent for him to give an account of what the prisoner did, as for instance, if the prisoner said you shall not look into such a place.

Wright. I said to Ridley, no hesitating, come along wi th me, I will shew you where the mutton is; when I asked him for the mutton he made no answer at all, I then took the constable along with me.

Court. Did he follow you, or attempt to run away? - He followed me, he did not attempt to run away.

Did he make any opposition to your going into the room? - No, he did not, I went into a little room which is the middle part of the house next the parlour, he followed me into the parlour, there was not any body in the little room but the constable and myself, there I found a shoulder of mutton, the constable took it to his own house.

Had that shoulder of mutton any thing remarkable about it? - Yes, Sir, in a shoulder of mutton we have always one particular score.

What do you mean your sheep? - Yes, Sir, the man always marks them all.

Are they all marked with one score? - There may be one score more or less, when the sheep is hot they take and score them three or four, more or less.

Are not all the shoulders of mutton that you have in your shop, scored much in the same way? - Yes.

Is not mutton in other shops scored much in the same way? - Never, they differ, most people differ in the score.

Can you venture to swear from the marks of this mutton, that this was scored by your people? - Yes, I believe I can venture to swear that it was scored by the man that stole it.

Can you swear that you know this to be the score of your shop? - Yes, Sir, I can bring you three or four or half a dozen now that are the same, they are Dorsetshire sheep, and they are most remarkable from any other sheep.

Had you any other sheep but Dorsetshire sheep in your shop? - No, none except a few Wiltshire.

Did this appear to you, to be a shoulder of a Dorset? - Yes.

Would you venture to swear that? - I will swear it, Sir; I took my man the prisoner Simpson, to Sir Sampson Wright's, and the constable brought Ridley; the constable is here that took him up, and here is a confession of Robert Simpson ; Simpson went with me to the Justice's the day following; I did not say a word to him, I told him I wanted him to go with me a little way, Simpson was my servant, he has lived with me thrice, and this last time, about six or seven months.

Did not you give him a hint, which way you were going? - None at all, we went to Bow-street.

Did he make any objection to going there? - None.

Did not he ask you any questions, all the way going to the office? - Not a word passed the whole way.

Who was the Magistrate? - Mr. Justice Addington.

Was that confession taken in writing? - Yes.

Did you see it signed by the Magistrate, and the prisoner? - Yes.

Was it read over to him? - Yes.

Mr. Chetwood, Prisoner Simpson's Council. When you was at the office, Sir, was there nothing passed between your man and you? No, Sir, I cannot recollect that there was.

It is impossible but something must be aid to him? - All I said to him is this, I asked him how much gin and beer he had for a shoulder of mutton, and he said he could not tell me.

Did not you say to him, that if he would make a confession, it would be better for him? - No.

I suppose Ridley was the man you levelled at, not Simpson? - No, Sir, not one more than the other.

This man had some wages in your hand at the time? - How much do you think?

May be eight or ten pounds? - No, Sir, I believe there may be five pounds, or more.

(The confession read.)

"The examination of Robert Simpson

"charged with felony by John Wright ,

"taken before William Addington , on

"the 23d of February: - who confesses

"that between six and seven yesterday morning,

"he, this examinant, feloniously stole

"the shoulder of mutton now produced,

"which he immediately carried to the house

"of the said George Ridley , and left it in

"the parlour telling the said Ridley, he

"had left it there; and that he had carried

"several shoulders of mutton there,

"and always received a gratuity in gin and


Mr. Garrow. Your Lordship knows that confession does not at all affect Ridley.

Mr. Garrow to Prosecutor. This prisoner, Mr. Ridley, has kept a publick house in your neighbourhood about four or five years? - Yes, this and another before.

Upon your going in and asking Ridley, whether he had not a shoulder of mutton, upon the oath you have taken, did not he immediately say, I have a shoulder of mutton: was not the constable by? - Yes, he was.

Be a little attentive, whether in the hearing of the constable, he did not immediately say, I have a shoulder of mutton and I will shew it you? - No, he did not.

Then I am to take it, he did not shew you nor tell you so; you will swear that positively? - Yes, I will.

Now as to the mark of this mutton, had you ever seen that shoulder of mutton, before you saw it at his house? - Yes, as sure as your name is Garrow.

What were the marks? - Upon my word I cannot exactly tell you how many marks there were, there might be four or five.

Then there is no particular number of strokes universally used through your shop? - No, not that I know of, just as it pleases the man who dresses them.

You are a killing butcher? - We kill our own meat; the man has always one method of marking, he hardly ever alters it.

Court. When this examination was taken it was read to the prisoner, was Ridley present? - He was not.

Mr. Garrow. Explain to us, who are not fortunate enough to know, the reason of your marks? - No, you know the taste better.

Explain to us the reason of those marks? It is only for ornament.

Just so? - They never hardly vary.

Now Mr. Wright, pray how many shoulders of mutton do you think there were in Newport-market that day, that could not be distinguished from that by the scoring? - I suppose there might be five hundred for what I know.

So I thought, therefore I need not travel into all the markets in town? - It was Dorsetshire mutton.

And there were so many shoulders of Dorsetshire mutton, that no man can guess? No, I suppose not.

Some hundred shoulders? - Yes.

Then for any thing we have been able to learn yet, these scores might be made on them too? - No! no! no! you mistake yourself, I know my own mutton as well as you know your brief.

Do you so, now we will try that a little, I know that by my see, and by the name of the party, and of the attorney, now have you any such reason for knowing your mutton? - I know my own mutton when I see it.

Why, how? - I have swore it.

That will not do? - I hope the Jury will be satisfied.

How do you know your mutton from any other Dorsetshire mutton? - I know it was my shoulder of mutton.

But you must give us some reason? - Because I am sure of it, the shoulder of mutton is in being, and we will send for it, I will swear to it, because I know it.

You must answer me Mr. Wright? - I shall give you may be such an answer, that you shall not like.

I shall take care not to deserve any such answer; but I must have a plain answer from you; by what is it that you are able to swear that is your shoulder of mutton? - I know it to be my shoulder of mutton, by having it in my shop, and in my house several days before.

By what marks? - By the common score that is used in my yard, when the man is killing, and by the very sort of mutton.

Why you have said there was mutton of that score, and that mark, to the amount of five hundred? - No, not as I know.

Yes, but you have? - Then you have extorted the question from me, the shoulder of mutton is here, and I will send for it.

That is no answer? - First I know it by the score and by the cut of it.

That score is common to other mutton? - It may for what I know.


I am constable of St. James's, on the 23d of February, about twenty minutes before twelve, Mr. Wright came to me, and told me he wanted me to go a little way along with him; I went with him to the house of Mr. Ridley, of the Red Lion, in Jermyn-street; upon my entrance at the door, he gave me a warrant; I followed Mr. Wright into the kitchen, and when we went into the kitchen, Mr. Wright looked into the scullery, where the girl washes her dishes, then he looked into the cupboard; I did not know what he was looking for, but he said, where is Mr. Ridley; there were three men in the kitchen by the fire, and one of the men said, I hear him coughing in the tap room; I turned my head in this manner, and I saw him through the bar, I called Ridley, and he came immediately; upon his entrance, Mr. Wright said, Mr. Ridley, I understand you have a shoulder of mutton of mine here; Mr. Ridley and Mr. Wright both went, Mr. Ridley took hold of a brass nob, that there is to open the door of the kitchen, I cannot say which turned it, but they both had it in their hands together; Mr. Ridley said, there is a shoulder of mutton has been left here these two days, I do not know who it belongs to, and he said he had no charge of it, nor did not know how it came there, but it had been gnawed by the cats, by being laid about; I saw it, and it was gnawed: Mr. Wright took it in his hand, and turned it about, and said Mr. Rounds, this is my property, I deliver it into your custody, and he gave it to me, as constable; I took it into my own house, Mr. Wright desired me to take care of it, and he would meet me at one o'clock, I saw him about one, and he said I will go and get Bob and the boy to the office, and do you bring Ridley and the mutton; by Bob and the boy I understood that this man's name was Robert.

How soon after was it that you took Ridley, to carry him to Bow-street? - About an hour and half.

When you came to take Ridley, did you find him at home? - Yes, I went in and said, Mr. Ridley can you boil me this bone of mutton, it is two raw for me, his wife said there is some veal and bacon and pease for dinner, if you will wait you are welcome; I did not tell him then, I told him after he must go along with me, about the shoulder of mutton, and he said he would, he went very agreeably.

Was you before the Magistrate? - Yes, all the time all the evidences were examined; the shoulder of mutton was openly exposed, it lay on the top of a bureau bedstead, without any paper, or cloth, or anything.

What room do you call it? - As that may be the tap room, and this the kitchen, it is a middle room, there is a window that looks into the tap-room and the kitchen, there is a bureau bedstead in it.

Mr. Garrow. I believe Ridley remained in his house doing his business, sometime before he went with the man? - Yes.

I suppose this is the boy's bed room, is not it? - Yes, I live the very next door to Mr. Ridley, he has kept the house about four years.

Is it an orderly well governed house? - I do not know one so well governed in the neighbourhood, I believe I am the only person that has a complaint against him, and on Saturday night he has a pay-table, and the men stay till eleven at night, and the men come and piss against my-door, which is a private house; he bears a very good character, he had a very comfortable dinner to set down to that day.

He is not a sort of man that usually puts his own mutton, and things that he has to eat on the boy's bed? - No.


Court. How old are you? - Turned of thirteen.

Do you know the nature of an oath? - I should not say any thing false.

What will become of you, if you do not tell the truth? (No answer.)

Do you know your catechism? - Yes Sir.

What will become of you, if you tell stories? (No answer.)

What becomes of bad boys that tell stories? - I do not know, I cannot read.

Court. Then I certainly shall not receive his evidence.

JOHN WRIGHT , Jun. sworn.

I am son to Mr. Wright the butcher, in St. James's Market; in consequence of a slight suspicion, on the 21st of this month, and a positive information, I examined the shoulders of mutton in my father's shop, on Monday morning about nine, and there were nine in number; the first thing that particularly struck me, was that one of the shoulders of mutton was very near tumbling down, which shoulder was the first that I examined, on the back of which was six scores; it had been pretty much strained in the cutting up, and on the upper part, which is called the point of the shoulder, the piece of marked fat was not cut off by me, as usual; this shoulder of mutton was the largest in the shop, it was cut on the Saturday before, and owing to the sharpness of the weather, was very dry; I examined the other shoulders of mutton particularly, and there was not a shoulder of mutton in the shop, with so many scores upon it, as this one which I am now mentioning to you; there was one which was particularly small, that I did not take much notice of, it was a Welch one, about three pound, I did not examine the remaining six so much as I had done them two, and this was the reason why I did not examine the others, because I expected one to be taken that night, and then I should have had the fellow to it, these were my general observations that night, upon which I shut the shop door, and locked it, and took the key home, and laid it on a shelf in the kitchen; Simpson sleeps in our house, I spoke to him that night, just before I took the keys, the next morning when I got up, one of the shoulders of mutton was missing, that was the one I looked at the night before.

Is it usual in the trade, for people to leave half a foot? - It is, or it is not, the mark in the foot was done accidentally, not by way of distinction, I am positive it is the same mutton, I undertake to swear to it; I beg leave to observe in behalf of the prisoner, Robert Simpson , that I have trusted him with seventy pounds at a time, and he has carried it very safe for me; I ought to state to you, that General St. John was here this morning in his behalf.

Mr. Chetwood. There were times when you and your father were absent from the shop? - Yes.

Had not he a liberty of selling? - Yes, to sell and send to the customers, if we were not in the way.

Mr. Chetwood. My Lord, I humbly apprehend, that notwithstanding the manner in which this paper is obtained, it will not at all affect the prisoner Simpson; it is proved by Mr. Wright himself, that he had a liberty of selling the meat, and your Lordship remembers, in the case of Smith, he having a liberty to dispose of the corn of

his master, the Court determined that he could commit no felony upon it; the manner of drawing up these confessions at the office we all know, and I apprehend that in this case, he having a liberty to sell the meat of his master, could not commit a felony upon it.

Mr. Garrow, on the part of Ridley, also argued on the same side.

The Court over-ruled the objection.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, though I do not call any witnesses to Ridley's character on this transaction, yet for the sake of his character in future, and to shew the nature of this prosecution, I will trouble the Court with a few witnesses, out of a great many.


I am a brewer in Oxford-street, Ridley has dealt with me for six years, a very honest man, I lent him three hundred pounds at one time, to go into the Red Lion, which he paid me again.


I am a grocer, the corner of Chancery Lane, and a distiller in Stanhope-street, I have known him about four years, an exceeding good regular steady man.


I am clerk to Mr. Whitebread the brewer, I have known him four years, his character was so good, I would have intrusted him myself.

He was not a man likely to have been the receiver of a stolen shoulder of mutton? - One of the last men I should have thought on.

The prisoner Ridley called seven more witnesses who all gave him an exceeding good character.

Court. It is needless to call any more witnesses for Ridley.



To be whipped and discharged.

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. ROSE.

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