14th December 1785
Reference Numbert17851214-47
VerdictNot Guilty

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37. WILLIAM TILL was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 2d of November last, three linen gowns, value 5 l. a silk gown, value 40 s. three pair of sheets, value 50 s. a silk cloak, value 20 s. fourteen linen handkerchiefs, value 20 s. nine yards of thread lace, value 40 s. the property of John Henly , in the dwelling house of William Beach .


I lost the things mentioned in the indictment, it was seven weeks next Wednesday since this man robbed me, it was on a Wednesday, between three and four o'clock, on the 10th of November, I was gone out about three quarters of an hour; I went out about a quarter after two, I am a lodger, I left nobody in my apartment at all; when I returned, my door was broke open, and I missed the things mentioned in the indictment; I never found any of the things again; the prisoner was the man that took care of my place, and he always professed to take care of it, and took money for me, and took messages, and I left him at home, I told him I was going out.

Had he the key of your room? - No, I had it in my pocket.

Then it is for neglect of duty you charge him, for not taking better care? - No, Sir, it is no such thing; when I came back, I asked him if any body was looking for me, and he asked me why I did not stay at home and take care of my place, and he spoke a very wicked barbarous word, I could not tell the meaning of it; I have a little boy, and I says to him, light a fire for me; says my little boy, this Till will pay all the money he owes in Leather-lane; about a quarter after nine I missed my things, I did not miss them when I came home.

When you found your door was broke open, did not you look? - No, Sir, I did not, he has gone into my place very often before.

Did he ever break your door open before? - Never to my knowledge, only when my little boy would open it, when I was not at home, sometimes he would push back the lock, the lock was now pushed back.

That was a common thing? - The little boy used to do it, and I asked the little boy if he broke the door open, and he said he did not; the reason I have for suspecting the prisoner, is, I have a fox dog, and he makes a great noise, and he barked and barked at a quarter past nine; I went to the loft door with a candle, and I saw this prisoner, and I called to him, and he had a great bundle of cloaths, but I do not know that they were my things; he made no answer then; in half an hour he came, and I told him I was robbed, and he d - ned me, and swore in a most sad manner; I asked him if he knew any thing of my little boy, and he said he had sent him of an errand; I saw nothing, but to the best of my knowledge and opinion, I saw my own yellow gown, I am positive sure that it was my gown.

Do you swear that you saw your gown in his possession? - To the best of my opinion, it was in that room lapped up in the sheets, there was a sleeve hung out, and I saw a robbin to it, I hallowed to him, but he did not come back, he went on, he was close to me, he was going by the stable door.

Why did not you lay hold of him? - I was up stairs, and I had no opinion of his robbing me, he was under me, he was on the ground, I was on a flight of stairs; there is a hatch door, and I held down a candle to see who it was, and it was this man, this was four hours after I was robbed, it was nine o'clock, and I was at my own room by four o'clock at the furthest.

And can you swear, in that situation, that you saw your gown? - To the best of my knowledge it was my gown, I have no other witnesses, I have nothing more to say.

Mr. Silvester, Prisoner's Council. What is become of your witnesses? - There was a young man that was apprentice to my son-in-law, but they would not let him come; it is seven weeks next Wednesday; I went to Justice Blackborough the day after the robbery, and I did not get a warrant 'till the Friday.

Was not this man before the Justice on the ninth? - No, Sir, not to my knowledge; it is seven weeks next Wednesday, I am sure it was on a Wednesday in the afternoon.

When did you go to the Justice's? - On Friday.

Mr. Silvester. Is not your name Grey? - No, Sir, my other husband's name was Grey, but he is dead, and I have been married to John Henley since that; I never was in this court but once, that is above twelve years ago, I have not been lately in this court by the name of Grey, nor as a witness.

Is Henley alive? - Yes, he does not live with me; I came home a little before four, and from that time I did not go out 'till past nine, then I went into Mr. Wolfe's, the public house, to look for this man, he was there, and sat against the wall.

Did you charge him then with the robbery? - No, Sir, but I asked him if he knew any thing about it, and he blasphemed most sadly.

Did you tell this man of the robbery at all, when you went to Wolfe's? - I asked him if he knew what was come of my little boy; I had a suspicion in my conscience that he robbed me, I did not tell him so.

Why so? - Because I thought he took my things to fetch them back again.

Then you did not think he robbed you? - Yes, I had a very great suspicion he robbed me.

When you was in company at the public-house, did you say to him, that you had any suspicion of him? - I asked him why he did not take better care of my things; Mrs. Wolfe was present, and many more people that I do not know; she heard me saying that I had lost all my things.

When did you see this yellow gown of yours? - On the Wednesday morning I saw it, that I was robbed; I saw it in the possession of this man that same night, I saw him go out with a bundle of clothes,

and afterwards I saw him at the public-house.

How came you not to charge him with it then? - I went up to this house in a little space of time after, he was sitting; and I asked him, did you see my little boy; he damned me, I told him, O William, I am robbed of every thing in the world.

Did you tell him so? - Yes.

Why did not you charge him with it? - I did not.

How long after did you take out a warrant? - On Friday from Justice Blackborough's, he was taken up on the Saturday following.

Was not the reason that you did not take him up before, because you and your friends, John Chambers and Hacking, had not laid your heads together, and concerted this plan? - We did not lay our heads together, they did not advise me to do any thing.

Did not you consult with them? - No, I did not consult with them neither.

Had you any conversation with them about it? - I asked them to go with me before the Justice, I went to no ale-house; I met them in the street.

Where did you talk together before you went to the Justice? - In the street, going along I told them I was going to the Justice, against a man that robbed me.

What did they say? - I cannot tell, but they said, if he had robbed me, he should be punished for it.

Do you know Bagster that keeps the Sun? - Yes.

Was not you there in a back-room with Chambers, and Hacking? - Yes, but not in the morning before I went to the Justice, I will swear that, and swear it again.

You swear that you was not at Bagster's, that keeps the Sun in Turnmill-street, that morning before you went to the Justice's? - No, I was at the Justice's before, and got a warrant.

When was you at the Sun in Turnmill-street, with these two people? - The Saturday after I was robbed; the man was taken up long before that, and gone down to the Justice's.

Why was not you there with Hancock? - No, he was not there till after the prisoner was committed to gaol.

Did not you make the poor boy drink? - No, Sir, I did not.

Nor any body else? - No, no, Sir, that is very false.

Mr. Silvester. Did Hancock go before the Justice with you? - Yes, Sir, he did.

For what purpose? - For the purpose as he saw him take my clothes out of the house; his master would not let him come; his master's name is John Millington .

This is a room over the stable? - Yes.

Who lives in this stable? - Nobody but the cattle.

What has Mr. Beach to do with it? - Why, because he keeps his coach-horses there.

Mr. Beach does not live there? - No, only his coach-horses.

Court. Did you give Hancock any notice to attend? - No, Sir, I went there last week, and I asked Mr. Millington and Mrs. Millington to be so kind as to let this lad come, and he said he would not.

Why would not he let him come? - Because, I suppose they would not let him come without money; and I had not money to employ any body, they asked me what money I had, I told them I no money.

Mr. Silvester. Did you tell this Hancock that you brought him before the Justice, and he must stand it? - I never did in my life.

Did you never instruct this boy what to swear, upon your oath? - No, never in my life, his master is my son-in-law, and yet he would not let him come.

The Justice took bail, did not he? - Yes, Sir, it was with my consent that he took bail.

What are you? - An old clothes woman .

Court. Was any examination of her's returned? - No.


What age are you? - About eighteen, I live in Mint-street, No. 14, with Mr. Millington; this woman brought me up when I was a child; my master is the son-in-law of this woman, he maried her daughter.

Who brought you here to-day? - Mr. Russel.

Who is Mr. Russel? - A coachman in Robinhood yard.

Who applied to you to come here? - He, himself.

What connection has he with the prosecutrix or the prisoner? - He came to me, and told me I was to come here and speak the truth.

Then take care you do? - I know nothing at all about it, she brought down a summons to me at night, on Tuesday night, which Lord Mayor's day was on Wednesday, and told me I must come to her house to breakfast on Wednesday.

What summons did she bring you? - A summons from Justice Blackborough.

Did you go? - Yes, I went, then we had a breakfast; then she sent me out for a quartern of gin, I drank a part of it with her, then she got ready to go away; and going down Saffron-hill we had part of another quartern; and when we had done there, we went to Turnmill-street, to Mr. Chambers, and there we had another quartern; and with that she told me I was to take this false oath, to say that I saw this young man take these clothes, in a sheet under his arm.

Upon your oath, did she tell you to say so? - Yes, your Worship, she did.

What else did she tell you to swear? - To swear that I saw him take them out of a white sheet, and take them up to the stable that was in the corner; she said to take that oath before the Justice, and that would commit him to gaol.

Did she bid you say nothing else? - No, she told me to stand to that.

Was that all? - Yes.

Recollect yourself again as well as you can, whether she told you any thing else? - No, she told me nothing else that I can remember, but I was very much in liquor when I came away from the Justice's; that I could hardly tell what I said, or did.

Who was present when this conversation passed? - Nobody, but herself, and me.

Where was Mr. Chambers? - He was not come into the room at that time.

How came she to pick you out for this particular business? - Because she thought I was one that she reared up, and she thought I would do, or swear any thing in the world for her; and she took it upon that circumstance, she thought I would swear any thing for her.

Had you been at her place the day that she lost her things, at all? - No, I had not.

Upon your oath you had not? - Upon my oath I had not.

You are sure of that? - I am certain sure of that.

Did you never tell her that you had, before this time? - No, Sir, never.

You never told her that you had been there, or had seen any thing about it? - No.

Upon your oath, young man? - Upon my oath.

Court. Is there any body here from Mr. Blackborough's?

(Mr. Blackborough's clerk was sent for.)

Hancock. I really ask the Court's pardon with all my heart for what I have done, and will never do the like again; but it was very wrong in her to take an apprentice, and one that hardly knows a letter in a book.

Mr. Silvester. If there is any doubt about the case, I will call two witnesses.

Court to Hancock. Did your master keep you at home? - He could not spare me.

Court. Is any body here from Mr. Blackborough's, this is a very black business on the one side or on the other, and I am determined to get to the bottom of it.


I belong to Mr. Blackborough's office,

I cannot positively say whether I was at the office at the time of the examination; but I know something of the business: this lad came with the prosecutrix, I do not recollect any body else; he had got a good story when he did come, I believe it was the morning of Lord Mayor's day, I am not positive; I believe they were together before they went into the Justice's, and had been drinking at the public-house; the first I knew about the business, Mr. Isaacs and I had a warrant to apprehend the prisoner; we went to look for him the first time, and could not find him; then the man came, Isaacs took him, I was not by; he came before Mr. Blackborough, and they took his master's word to bring him the next day; then they got a summons for this lad, it was either the day that the prisoner came to Mr. Blackborough's, or the day before; when he came before Mr. Blackborough, he seemed to tell a very good story; but to the best of my opinion, I think, he was learned that story first; because, I thought the woman was a very bad woman; I heard no conversation between the woman and the boy, before they went into the Justice's, I was in the office when they came in; I cannot pretend to say particularly, whether any body particular stood by the boy; when the woman went in, the boy seemed to be sober, but she was rather in liquor, for she was full of jaw.

Then the boy was not so drunk, as not to know what he said, or did? - I do not believe he was so drunk.

Who took the examination? - His clerk.

What is his name? - Edward Lavender ; I believe the boy went in after this examination, to have his examination taken, but I cannot be positive.

Mr. Silvester. Was Chambers there? - Yes, he was concerned in the business, he was concerned for this, he came with them, and was with them I believe before they came in.

Court. You do not think the boy was drunk? - I do not think he was, he did not seem drunk, I never saw him till he was brought in by Mr. Chambers and the woman, I never saw the woman before I went with her to serve a warrant on the prisoner, my reason for saying he was instructed is, I thought there was some people with them that might give them a little education, you know as well as I do, I do not like to mention people's names, but I thought so I assure you.

You thought this woman had got into bad hands in plain English? - I thought she had got into hands that would give her a good lesson; but this I am sure, the place where Hancock said he saw the man, it is impossible he should see the lock broke off, for it is in a hay loft, and you are obliged to look down, he said he had been in sleep in this hay loft or straw loft, but they are obliged to stand and look as if they were looking underneath this desk, it is a place so dark, in my opinion, that it is impossible to see the door without leaning over.

Could he, in the hay loft, see the door without leaning over? - He could not, I am sure of that, because I was in the hay loft, it is the same as standing at this bench and leaning over to look under it; at the time he was examined I think, to the best of my remembrance, it was said, that it was a thing impossible that a man could see the lock brok open with a knife or any thing of that kind.

Court. Step for Lavender: and in the mean time examine the prisoner's witnesses apart.


I keep a public-house in Leather-lane, the Robinhood and Black-boy, I have known the prisoner these three years, he lives in the yard adjoining to the house, that is, he works in the yard, Mr. Beach keeps coaches in the yard; on Wednesday, the 2d of November, I very well remember the prisoner coming to my house about ten minutes before two, he was not out till five, the old-clothes woman came in at nine in the evening, and said she had been robbed, she said nothing to him about it, he was in the house at the time.

Did he make use of any improper language to her? - None at all, he never

spoke to her nor she to him, I know the old woman by living in the yard, it is an open yard, the prisoner is a very good honest man, I never knew any harm of him, he has used my house every day for three years, breakfast, dinner, and supper; the prosecutrix on the evening complained of being robbed, she said nothing to this man nor he to her, she said she had been robbed, somebody had broke open her door, and taken a great quantity of things, she run on with a great deal of it; I am sure that day she came to complain at my house, the prisoner came in at a quarter before two, and did not go out till five.


I am a coachman, I know the prisoner, I saw him the 2d of November, at Mrs. Wolfe's, I went there a few minutes before one, he came a little before two, then we dined together, and he fell asleep, and slept till his master came with the coach, till past four; I knew him very well, and I knew the old-clothes woman, I have seen Hancock before, but I never spoke to him, I saw him about two months before that in the yard, I never did see him above three times in my life, I did not see him at all that day.


Do you remember Hancock's coming to your office to be examined? - Yes, my Lord, it was on Lord-Mayor's day I believe; this information was taken by me from his mouth.

What situation did he appear to be in, drunk or sober? - The time I examined him he appeared to have a good deal of terror upon him, and sweat very much, and as he signed his name he could scarcely do it, he shook in such a manner.

Did he appear drunk or sober? - I believe he was perfectly sober, I think so.

Who was with him when he was examined? - Mrs. Henley and young Mr. Chambers, and I think Mr. Hacking was in the office at the same time.

Had you an opportunity of paying any attention to him before he was examined? - No, my Lord, I had not.

You did not observe whether he conversed with her? - No.

On the first examination of Till, this lad was never mentioned by the woman? - I cannot tell when the first examination was, I believe it might be on Friday the 4th of November, nothing was mentioned of this lad then, the constable brought the prisoner on a warrant, and she seemed to have so good an opinion of him, that she desired he might go; two or three days after he came himself, he was at liberty.

When was the first mention of this lad? - On the second time that he came.

Court. Let the prosecutrix withdraw out of court.

Lavender. The first time that she came, Mr. Blackborough told her that unless she had more evidence than what she had related herself, he could not think of committing him; when she came again she was attended by Mr. Chambers and Hacking, then she said she had this Hancock, who could prove that he saw him take the things and break open the door, and desired Mr. Blackborough to grant a summons, for his master would not let him come without, the summons was granted of course.

When was that? - I cannot recollect, but I am sure it was a day or two before the second examination.

Court to Hancock. Where were you, in truth, on the 2d of November, the day this robbery was committed? - I was at home at work, my master was very bad in bed, he could not get out of bed, he is a coach spring maker and tire smith; I was at work that day, on making an axletree; my master has four children, his wife is living; he has another journeyman besides me, his name is Harper, I do not know his other name, but he was not at work with us at that time, we had another man at work with us that day, Robert Sellers .

Where is Sellers, now? - I do not know, I heard that he worked in Red-cross-street, with a cart-wheel-wright.

Did you go to Mr. Henley's at any time between that Wednesday the 2d of November,

and the Tuesday following? - Yes, I believe, I went one night before she brought the summons to me, to see her home.

How often had she been at your master's after the 2d of November? - Not above twice.

When did she come first? - I cannot rightly say, but I believe it was two or three days after she was robbed; then she said, I have been robbed; says I, how comes that about? she said, I believe it was William Till that robbed me, but she said nothing to me that night about my giving evidence at all; she said she suspected Till, and would get a warrant to take him up on suspicion, that was two or three nights before she brought the summons; she came to my master's afterwards, before she brought the summons; she did not speak to me, I was at work, and she did not offer to come into the shop.

When she brought the summons, and desired you to come to her the next morning, did she tell you what it was for? - No, not before I had my breakfast.

Court. Call in Mrs. Henley. This lad Hancock lives with your son-in-law? - Yes, I knew him a great while.

How soon after the robbery, did you go to your son-in-law? - I went there the day after the robbery.

Did you see this lad then? - Yes, and I told my daughter that I was robbed.

Millington is your son-in-law's name? - Yes.

Was Hancock, the boy, present? - Yes, I believe he was.

Did you say anything to him in particular? - Nothing in particular; but he said, he knew the man that robbed me, a short man that takes care of the cattle, he told me that the day after the robbery, indeed he did.

Was your daughter present when he told you so? - I cannot tell indeed, I do not know indeed.

Did you go alone to talk with this lad? - I do not know whether my daughter was within or no.

Why, you told me this minute, that you told her of the robbery? - I told her of the robbery, and then I think the boy came in out of the shop, and I was crying sadly, he said, what do you cry for, I said, I am robbed of all I have in the world; then says he, I know the man that robbed you.

He told you who it was then? - Yes, he told me so.

Did he tell you how he had seen him? - Yes, he did, he told me he was up stairs in the loft.

Was not your daughter there, or was she gone? - I think she was gone.

How came she to leave you alone? - I do not know, she had her family to mind.

Was your son-in-law at home? - No, I did not see him.

This was before you went to the Justice? - Now, really I do not know, I cannot tell, I do not recollect, I believe it was; I did not go to the Justice till the Friday in the afternoon, this was the Thursday, the day after the robbery; it was the day before I went to the Justice's, and my daughter, Millington's wife, went with me to the Justice.

Did you tell your daughter what Hancock had said? - I do not know, I was crying, and breaking my heart; I said, I shall be obliged to come to the parish.

Then do you mean to say that you have any doubt whether you told your daughter, what the boy had said to you? - No, my Lord, I did not, I believe, tell her; I do not think I did, for I had a very great suspicion that he would hide the things, and fetch them back again; I did not tell my daughter what the boy had said that day, I did not mind to tell her of it, I did not indeed think much of it, I was both crying and breaking my heart, I did not think much of it, and I did not know what to tell her, I thought he only took them away to frighten me like, and fetch them back again, I thought all this was a joke.

Then how came you to be so very uneasy?

- Because, I asked him whether he knew anything about my things.

Why did not you tell the Justice of this other witness? - So I did, when I went again.

Why this was before the first time you went to the Justice? - Yes.

You did not tell him so at first? - No, I did not.

But why not? - I did not think nothing at all about it.

Why, the Justice told you he could not commit him without there was more evidence.

Court. Gentlemen, this last examination of this woman seems to put the matter out of doubt.

Jury. Certainly, my Lord.


Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

Court to Jury. Gentlemen, your opinion upon the evidence at present is, that there is strong grounds to suspect this woman with her confederates.

Jury. Certainly.

Court. Then I shall order her to be committed on the charge of subornation of perjury.

Mr. Silvester. This is a poor man, I take it up out of charity; I will be at the expence of the prosecution.

Court. The Court will relieve you, Mr. Silvester, by ordering a prosecution.

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