JOHN WATSON, Theft > theft from a specified place, 30th August 1786.

Reference Number: t17860830-5
Offence: Theft > theft from a specified place
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death
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665. JOHN WATSON was indicted, together with one ROBERT PATCH , for feloniously stealing, on the 24th day of June last, one silver watch, value 4 l. one steel chain, value 1 s. one metal seal, value 6 d. one steel key, value 2 d. one pair of silver shoe buckles, value 10 s. one silver stock buckle, value 2 s. one cloth great coat, value 10 s. one dimity waistcoat, value 2 s. one linen shirt, value 5 s. two stocks, value 6 d. three handkerchiefs, value 4 s. one pair of leather shoes, value 2 s. one pair of cotton stockings, value 1 s. one pair of leather gloves, value 1 s. and 6 s. in monies numbered, the property of John Barrell , in the dwelling house of Humphry Evans .


I was in the house of Humphry Evans the 24th of June last, in the Vine, in Vine-street , a public house; I lost a silver watch, and the other things in the indictment; (Repeats them.) I lost them in the day time, from a little parlour at the front of the house; it was about three or four in the afternoon; I came to town to see my brother, who lived with a gentleman in Brompton-row, and to get a place; I was walking up the Hay-market as fast as I could, and a short fellow overtook me; he was an entire stranger; he said he came out of the country; I had not been in town two hours; I came from Great Brampton in Essex; I was in town once before, three years ago; the short fellow came up to me, and said, Sir, do you come out of the country? I said Yes; he said he came out of Nottinghamshire two days before, after some parish business; and he was going to his attorney's to receive one hundred and twenty guineas; and near the upper end of the Haymarket he ran and picked up something, which he said he thought was a garter.

Did you ask him what it was? - No, he said it of his own accord; I said nothing; he said it felt heavy; he run pretty brisk about thirty yards before me; I thought he was gone away from me; he appeared quite like a countryman, with a great coat and a flapped hat on; after he took it up he stopped till I came up to him, and then he said, it does not appear like a garter, it seems heavy; and he said, when we come to a public house we will go in and see what it is, it is a poor prize that will not bear a pint of beer; we went on, and when we came to a public house, says I, here is a public house, we may as well go in there, for I am very dry; no he said he did not chuse to go in there, he would go to a house right over to his attorney's, where he put up when he came to town, to receive his money; he took me up several turnings to a public house which I since found to be the sign of the Vine in Vine-street; when we came in there the prisoner sat in the parlour, seemingly doing business in his pocket-book, writing; and he did not seem to take any notice of us, or we of him; we called for a pint of beer when we went in, and he sat a while, and after he had done he asked if either of us two could give him a wafer; and we told him, no; then he went out under pretence of getting one; he was gone the space of two or three minutes, and while he was gone this short man pulled out a long silk purse, and untied it, and at one end of it there were some papers, and he took them out, and asked me

to read them; he said he could not read; and I read them, and one of them was a bill and receipt for a brilliant cluster diamond ring; the receipt was this, I remember the words, Received of Mr. Smith, a brilliant cluster diamond ring, value two hundred and fifty pounds some odd money, but I do not know what; after I had read it this prisoner came in, and the short man would not believe my reading it, he thought I must be mistaken; the short man seemed very much surprised and overjoyed, and asked the prisoner to read it; he read it the same as I did; and he seemed to be very much overjoyed, and asked the short man whether he was to give me any of it, and he told him, yes, he had agreed to give me part of it, for he said if he had not picked it up I should; I told him it was a thing of great value, and a thing of consequence, and it would be advertised; and the prisoner said, no, we had no occasion to be afraid of that, for it was Saturday, and could not be advertised before Monday; and I told him the person that lost it had an undoubted right to it, and the prisoner said sho, sho, you need not disturb yourself about that, cannot you keep your own counsel; I shall never speak of it to be sure, says he, for I am a capital distiller, and do not do it out of any regard to money; then the prisoner asked this short man whether he was agreeable to give me part of it, and the short man said, yes; then the prisoner asked the short man how much he would give me; then I said I did not care what he gave me, if he gave me five pounds I should be content; then the prisoner asked the short man if he would leave it to him, and he would do justice between us both, so the other man agreed to it; and he said, let the prisoner say what he would it should be right; then the prisoner said, the man that picked up the ring was to have one hundred and fifty pounds, and I was to have one hundred; then the prisoner asked this short man if he had the money, and he said no, he was going to his attorney to receive one hundred and twenty guineas, and if I and the prisoner, whom he then called a gentleman, would stop a quarter of an hour, he would go over for it, the prisoner said he was in a great hurry to go to Weston about some business , but he would stop a quarter of an hour; accordingly this short man went out of the room under pretence of getting the money; he was gone nigh a quarter of an hour, when he returned he said his attorney was gone to little Chelsea, and would not be at home till eight at night; and he said he asked the attorney's lady whether she could let him have the money out of her private purse, and she told him no, she had not so much money; then this short man seemed confused, he said what am I to do now? I want the ring for a friend in Nottinghamshire, a very particular gentleman, he said he did not like to part with the ring, for it would be of more service to him than ten times the worth of it; then the prisoner says to him; Sir, will you trust me with the ring; and he said to the prisoner that he would; accordingly he gave him a direction where he pretended to live, at No. 20, Old Bond-street, a capital distiller.

What name did the prisoner call himself? - He said his name was George Bearcroft ; then the short man gave the prisoner the ring; and after that the prisoner asked me what money I had in my pocket, I told him but very little, and was loth to part with it; and he said, I must give him all my things, and in particular my money, as a token of my honesty that I would not go to demand the ring before the short man the next morning; I gave him six or seven shillings, I do not know which, I kept back 1 s. or 18 d. the prisoner wanted more, and after he found I had no more money, he said there is your watch, that will tell up; and he wanted my buckles; I delivered my watch and buckles, they were silver; I had my other clothes tied up in a handkerchief like a bundle, and he wanted them.

Did you give him them too? - Yes; that bundle contained the things in the indictment,

and my silver stock-buckle was in my pocket, I gave him that with my money.

Court. He asked for the bundle and you gave it him? - Yes, he asked for it.

And you delivered it to him? - Yes, He did not get the things off my back; after he got all my things I was quite confused, and wanted to go out of the room; I attempted to go out; and he desired me to keep back; he wanted to know what I meant by going out; after that he wrote a kind of an agreement that I should not prosecute him, and bid me set my hand to it.

Then at his desire he told you to sign it? - Yes, he said you must set your hand to this that you are not to come to demand the ring at my house in Old Bond-street before the other man comes; says he this paper is because neither of you two gentlemen should not bring me into trouble about it; the short man made a mark.

Then he did not use the word prosecute? - No, that we should not bring him into any trouble; after we had signed the paper the short man went out, and I went out, and left the prisoner in the room; and I took out my buckles out of my shoes; and the short man took out his metal buckles out of his shoes, and bid me put them into mine till the next morning; the prisoner said he would send my things to his house in Old Bond-street, and I should have them again the next morning, and the short man was to give me the money the next morning, and he was to keep the ring, I was not to have the ring at all; if he was not there, I was to stay till he did come; and the short man said he could bring the money in the morning; all this was done in the parlour.

What is your silver watch worth? - About four pounds, the silver shoe buckles ten shillings, the stock buckle two shillings, coat ten shillings, almost new, the shirts I value at five shillings, they were worth all the money charged; I went away with the short man, and he told me he would take me into my path again; he took me to Piccadily, opposite St James's church, and there he ran away without speaking a word; he ran across the road; and then I suspected I had been robbed; he ran into a gateway, and I saw no more of him from that time to this; I went to No. 20, Bond-street, but no such person lived there; I enquired for one Mr. Bearcroft a distiller, and the people were milliners, and they told me there was no such person in the street; I went by the place several times, and then I looked for the public house several days, and at last I found it, and they told me these two men had been there two or three times before, and had taken several people's property from them by the same method.

The people of the house told you so, did they? - Yes.

Court. This house ought to be taken notice of.

How came this man to be taken? - I mentioned it to Mr. Hunter an inspector, who went to the house, and threatened to take away their license, and so the prisoner was taken at his own house, and dividing a Scotchman's pack; on the 5th of August, Mr. Lucas the constable came down to me into Essex, and brought me up; I saw the prisoner at Litchfield-street-office the next day; I knew him as soon as I saw him; I am sure and positive he is the man.

Court. When the short man made his escape, did you come back to the public-house? - I went immediately to No. 20, Bond street.

Prisoner. Ask him whether he left his buckles in the bundle? - The short man had the buckles.

Prisoner. Whether I did not advise him and his friend to have the property advertised? - No, upon my oath, I mentioned it to them, it was all I had in the world; I have been five or six years getting them; I have nothing but what I have on.


That is the man that came into our house and one Peters; I am the landlord's daughter, his name is Humphrey Evans ; I am

married; I remember the prosecutor being at my father's house; I suppose it is about two months ago or better since this was; he came into the house since with another man.

Did you ever see the prosecutor in your house before? - No, Sir.

How did he come in? - The prisoner came in first, then the prosecutor came in with a short man; I do not know his name; I know the prisoner; I will be upon my oath he was at our house when the prosecutor came in; I did not hear any thing pass in that room, no farther than the prosecutor came out and left him, and the prisoner came out directly after with the prosecutor's bundle and came to the bar and asked if a lawyer had left a letter for him.

Did you observe when the prosecutor came in whether he had any bundle? - Yes, he had.

Had he any when he went out? - No, none at all, the prisoner had been at our house once or twice with some people but they did not stop; he went out again.

Then you knew his person? - Yes, Sir, he came afterwards with a Scotchman in a fortnight or three weeks; and then I went to Mr. Hunter to have him taken; Mr. Hunter then directed us to take him if he came; I am sure this is the man that was in the parlour with the prosecutor.

Prisoner. Was the witness in the house at the time when the prosecutor went out? Yes, I was in the bar; the prisoner came and spoke to me, and I saw him go out of the house.


I am a constable under the duke of Bedford; I had divers informations against this man and Patch; and I apprehended him; I found this chaise at the office in Litchfield-street; I went into Essex and fetched the prosecutor; that is all I know.


I assisted Mr. Lucas in taking the prisoner; I know nothing of this affair.

Lucas. The first time he was taken was the 22d of July, and about a week after we took him again; I think on the Sunday following.


From the information I received of the robberies having been committed at this house; I took up the prisoner from the information of the people of the house.


I was writing in this room at the publick house in Vine-street, when this man came in with the other; I sat there about five minutes they took out a paper to read; they forced their discourse to me; they asked me to read it for them; it mentioned concerning a diamond ring; I did not take notice of the value; they said, they found it coming up the Hay-market, and asked me to see it settled for them, as he was a stranger in town; I advised them to go to their friends and have it advertised; and the prosecutor insisted on having part of it; the other man said, he had no money; the prosecutor would not leave him without his part; when he said that, this man then proposed leaving it with me as we were all strangers together, and he said he was willing to leave every thing he had for security for it; I wrote it down; the Magistrate gave the paper to Mr. Lucas; if you please to peruse it.

(Hands up a paper.)

Lucas. I really forgot this paper.

Prisoner. It was by this man's desire that he got me to do it.

Court. Do you desire to have that paper read? - If you please to read it that will be sufficient.

Court to Prosecutor. Was there any mention made of the Red-lion in Piccadilly? - No, my Lord, not a single word.

Prisoner. That was wrote in the presence of this man at the time he signed his name to it.

Court. I can give you no advice, if any matter of law arises, it is my duty as Judge to advise the prisoner; but as to any matter of evidence, the prisoner must trust to his own judgement; if you desire to

have that paper read, you may; take notice, I do not advise you; would you have that paper read, or not read? - Yes, my Lord, I should like to have it read.

Court. Now mind, friend, you make it evidence in the cause.

(The paper read.)

"Signed, Joseph Barrell ;" Robert Anderson 's mark;

" Robert Anderson leaves

"with me John Watson , one diamond

"ring, not to be returned till both present;

"and if the said John Barrell shall

"come to demand it at the Red-lion Piccadilly

"before both are present, shall forfeit

"what he leaves, which is, five shillings,

"a pair of silver buckles, and stock

"buckle, one shirt, two stocks, two handkerchiefs,

"and a waistcoat; as witness

"their hands; and great coat, and a


Prisoner. On the next morning, the 25th of June, on Sunday, at the time appointed, I went to that place, the Red-lion to meet these people; I waited there a considerable time, the other man came and this man never came; and I returned the other man every thing, and the ring too; and I drew up this receipt.

Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, it is proper for you to see how that Red-lion, in Piccadilly is written.

N. B. The words John Watson and the Red lion appeared to be put in a different ink, upon a blank that had been left, and the word Piccadilly was interlined.

(Shewn to the Jury.)

Court to Barrel. Are you sure that the Red-lion in Piccadilly was never mentioned? - As I hope to be saved it never was mentioned nor any such place.

Prisoner. I gave him a direction that day to send it to that place.

Prosecutor. He gave me a direction to send it to No. 20, Old Bond-street; this is all the direction I ever had.

(The direction handed up to the Court.


" George Bearcroft , No. 20,

"Old Bond-street, distiller."

Prisoner. I never gave him that direction at all.

Court to Prosecutor. Did you receive any other direction from him? - I never did.

Prisoner. My Lord, this man could read, now could I give him that direction because he read my name in the other paper.

Prosecutor. The prisoner gave me that direction, and no other.

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice GOULD.

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