18th February 1795
Reference Numbert17950218-36
VerdictNot Guilty

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148. HARRIOTT MERCHANT and SOPHIA BRYANT were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 22d of January , from the person of John Denison, privately and without his knowledge, a canvas bag, value 2d, six guineas and five shillings, and a bank note, value 10l. the goods of the said John Denison .


I live in King-street, Portman-square, a butcher . The two prisoners at the bar, and a woman that is admitted an evidence, they accosted me in Bond-street .

Q. When was this? - The 22d of last month.

Q. They were all three in company? - I cannot possibly say they were all or not.

Q. How can you say they accosted you then? - They did accost me.

Q. Who was it did accost you? - The tallest of the prisoners at the bar.

Q. What time was it? - Between nine and ten o'clock. They took me to No. 13, in Oxford-buildings, they took me up one pair of stairs back room, all the three.

Q. What state were you in at this time? - As sober as I am now; I only drank part of some porter and some spirits, only three six penny worths of rum and water, and part of a tankard of porter, that was all I had that evening.

Q. Did they all come into the room with you? - Yes.

Q. Did you see them all in the street together? - No, I cannot positively say I did; they all came into the room when I did.

Q. Then you only see one in the street at the time? - No, Harriott Merchant.

Q. Then all the prisoners came into the room at the same time? - Yes; they prest on me to treat them with something to drink; I told them I had no objection to treating them, but I did not wish to

have any further connection with them. I had no money except the money I had in my purse; I gave a shilling to the least of the prisoners at the bar, Byant.

Q. Then you pulled out your purse? - Yes, and she went and fetched some liquor.

Q. Who remained in the room while she was gone? - The woman that is admitted an evidence, and the tall prisoner, Campbell. When the liquor came back, I cannot positively say what liquor she brought; they asked me to partake of part of it, but I refused it; I told them I did not want it, they might take it themselves; I then told them I should make the best of my way home; they were very officious in lighting me down stairs; I told them I could go down very well without them; when I got down stairs, and got to the bottom of Oxford-buildings, before I crossed Oxford-street, I felt in my pocket to find whether I had my property or not.

Q. How far is that? - About twenty or thirty yards up. I felt in my pocket, I found my purse and money in it. I then crossed Oxford-street, and in about forty yards of Mary-le-bone-lane, the said three women came round me; the woman that is admitted an evidence she came in the front of me, and the other two came one on one side of me and the other behind me; they hustled me very close, and I looked round and saw they were the same girls, and I told them I did not want any concern with them; at the time when they pressed on me so very close, the two prisoners at the bar parted from me, and went away from me; I immediately felt in my pocket to see whether I had my money, and I found it was gone; I immediately seized the woman who is turned evidence, and took her to the watch-house; the watchman took charge of her that night, and she was searched and no property was found about her; she desired she might be admitted an evidence, and she would cause the others to be apprehended; and they were apprehended by her directions the next morning; they were taken down to Marlborough-street.

Q. When did you see them again? - I see them the next morning in the same room; I went to the watch-house, and then I went to their room, which is at No. 130, Oxford-buildings, with the constable of the night, he searched the room, but he found no property in the room belonging to me; they were brought to the watch-house, and taken down to Marlborough-street.

Q. Did you ever find your money again? - No.

Q. What had you in your purse? - I had a ten pounds bank note.

Q. Are you sure they are the women? - Yes, I am. They are the same women that surrounded me in Mary-le-bone-lane.

Q. Did you know them again at that time? - I did.

Q. Are you perfectly sure that you found your purse safe then? - Yes; I put my hand in my pocket in Oxford-street.

Q. Did you take it out? - No.

Q. What pocket was it in? - It was in my coat pocket. I had a pair of breeches on that had no pockets.

Q. Then, I suppose, it was out of your coat that you pulled your purse when you was in the room? - It was.

Q. How long was it before the women came to you in the street, that you felt your purse? - Not a minute hardly; I only went about forty yards before they came to me.

Q. Was it not possible that any body else might have taken it? - I kept my hand in my coat pocket I am sure till the time the women met me.

Q. Which pocket was it? - My left hand pocket.

Q. Did they all hustle you? - They all three hustled me, the one that is admitted an evidence came in front of me.

Q. Was this done with a degree of violence? - They seemed to hustle very close to me.

Q. How long did they stay with you? - Not above a minute.

Q. How long was it after the two women at the bar were gone that you missed the purse? - As soon as they were gone I missed it.

Q. When was the woman that is admitted an evidence searched? - As soon as she was in the watch-house.

Q. How far was the watch-house from this? - About eighty yards from where the robbery was committed.

Q. Then you know how it was done of your own knowledge? - I cannot say; but they are same two women that were about me in Mary-le-bone-lane.

Prisoner Merchant. He says he had his money safe when he went out of my room, and I never see him any more till I was taken up.

Court to Prosecutor. Did you and the woman go out together? - No, I did not.

Q. Did either of them light you down? - They neither of them lighted me down all the stairs.

Q. Who opened the door to let you out? - I opened it myself.

Prisoner Merchant. He said he had his money in his breeches pocket before the justice.

Prosecutor. I declared that I had a pair of breeches on that had no pockets in them.

Court. What time was this in the evening? - About nine minutes past ten o'clock.

Q. Had you any watch? - No.

Q. Did you feel their hands in your pocket? - No, I did not.

Q. Your information at the justice's mentions the prisoners hands being in your pocket? - I felt them very close.

Q. Is it true, or is it not? Had they hold of you at all? - They had hold of me, and were very close to me indeed.


I am a watchman; between ten and eleven o'clock at night, this robbery was committed, at Portman-square, I was standing on my own walk.

Q. Whereabouts is Portman-square? - In Mary-le-bone; I saw some of these ladies come by arm in arm, and that little one said she was very glad she had got hold of his ten pounds bank note.

Q. What street was this? - Coming out of Orchard-street, going into Baker-street.

Q. Were they in Orchard street? - They were in the square.

Q. Did they come up together? - The little one (Bryant) came up with two more, and the words she mentioned were, that she was very glad that she had got the ten pounds bank note.

Q. Did you take any notice of them? - No.

Q. Which way did they go? - Towards Baker-street.

Q. How do you know it was the little prisoner at the bar? - I knew her before.

Q. She had two more women with her? - Yes, she had; Harriott Merchant was not with her, but two more were.

Q. When was it that you saw any thing of the prisoner afterwards? - The next day; I helped to take them to the watch-house.

Q. Did you see any thing of Margaret Dunnivan that night? - No, I was out on duty.

Q. Then you did not go into the

watch-house that night? - No, I did not.

Q. Then all she talked about was the ten pounds note? - That is all.

Q. Did she talk of any purse? - No.

Q. Was she walking very fast? - Yes, they were walking arm in arm together.

Q. How are you sure it to be the prisoner Bryant while she was with the other woman? You was not at the watch-house that night? - No, I was not.

Prisoner Bryant. Why did not he stop me when he heard me say I had the ten pounds note?

Witness. How could I stop her in that manner, I did not think of doing it.


Q. Remember the situation in which you stand, and say nothing but the truth, and relate what you know of this business? - On the 22d of January, last month, I was along with these two girls that are at the bar now, they asked me to have part of a pint of purl, in Woodstock-street, and in coming out of Woodstock-street, going to Bond-street, we met this gentleman, and they asked him how he did? he said he was very well; they asked him to go home with them; he said he did not care; he walked home with them to a one pair of stairs back room, we all went with him, and he gave a shilling out of a bag from his pocket for something to drink.

Q. Which pocket did he take the bag from? - It seemed to me to be as his coat pocket, to the best that I could see then, and while the least of the two was gone for something to drink, the tall one told me to go out of the room.

Q. Then Bryant went with the shilling to get something to drink? - Yes, and I went away into the court, and in less that three minutes the two girls came down with the same gentleman; they came down together, all three of them, and the gentleman crossed over into Mary-le-bone parish, and the two girls called me and I followed them, and went up the street and came back again.

Q. Did you go to the girls then? - I did, I met them all three talking together, and the biggest of the two had her arms round him, and I see her hands in his coat pocket; it was Harriott Merchant.

Q. Where was you at this time? - Standing by, I was before him.

Q. Assisting, I suppose? - No, I did not. They ran away directly.

Q. Did you see anything taken out of his pocket? - I see her hand in.

Q. What did you do by standing before him? - I was waiting for them, I did not know what their intention was.

Q. When they called to you what did they say to you? - They bid me to stop, and I did.

Q. Which side was it you saw her hand in? - The left side to the best of my knowledge.

Q. What became of you when they ran away? - The gentleman took me into custody to Mary-le-bone watch house, and I was stripped naked and was searched.

Q. Then you did not tell the gentleman what you had seen? - Yes, I did.

Q. Not before he took you into custody? - No, he said he had lost something, and he took me into custody immediately; I told him the number of the door where they lived.

Q. You had no share of this money? - No, they sent to me while I was in the house of correction, that if the bills were thrown out I should have some.

Q. Then you swear that while you was standing before this gentleman you did not know any intention of their taking his money? - No, far from it.

Q. As to any hustling on your part you had no hand in it? - No, I never touched him, nor put my hand on him.

Q. What did you tell this prosecutor when he took hold of you? - I told him they must be the persons that had robbed him, for I see her hand in his pocket; I asked him if he had lost any thing? and he immediately laid hold of me.

Q. There was nothing said about his purse between the other women and you before you went after him? - No, there was not.

Prisoner Bryant. I wish to ask whether she was not committed from Marlborough-street for stealing from a butcher two guiness and a half? - No, never. I was here and was discharged by proclamation with two other girls. That same prisoner at the bar I only took her in one night and she robbed me of two guineas.

Prisoner Merchant. Whether I did not ask her to shew me a light when she lighted this man down? - No, no such thing, I left her in the room while the man was there, and the other was gone for some drink.

Prisoner Merchant. She did not go out of the room till the other came in; I never had any connection with him.

Prisoner Bryant. She brought this butcher up in our room, and she said it was a friend of her's, and he sent for something to drink, and when I came up stairs he went down, and I never see any thing more of him afterwards.


I live in Oxford-buildings; I see Margaret Dunnivan speak to this man.

Q. Do you live in the house where the prisoner lodged? - No, all that I see was, Dunnivan speak to this man and she asked him to give her something to drink.

Q. Who was with him at that time? - There was only them two.

Q. Did you see where he came from at that time? - No, I did not; she went that way after him and I never see her afterwards.


The prisoner at the bar, Harriott Merchant, was in my house till near half past ten; I keep the house that Harriott Merchant lodges in, she was at home from nine till half past ten, she was in my shop, for I stood talking to her till I shut it up near half after ten o'clock.

Q. Where did she come from? - Out of her own room, the prisoner at the bar was in the room at the same time; I called her down, I wanted to speak to her, she wanted to go to Crown-court, and I persuaded her not to go out any more that night.

Q. When did she want to go to Crown-court? - About nine o'clock, and she staid in the shop till near half past ten.

Q. How long had she been in before nine? - I cannot tell.

Q. And as to the time, how did you know the time? - The watchman was going past ten, and I told her it was past ten; she nursed my child and staid till past ten o'clock.

Q. You know nothing about any man being there? - No, I do not.

Q. Do you know any thing of Margaret Dunnivan being there? - I do not, she is quite an entire stranger to me.

Both not GUILTY .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron THOMPSON.

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