WILLIAM JOHN LANCASHIRE.
6th April 1796
Reference Numbert17960406-14
VerdictGuilty > theft under 40s
SentenceTransportation

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240. WILLIAM JOHN LANCASHIRE was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 12th of February , four pieces of cambrick, containing thirty yards, value 25l. the property of John Hounsom , in his dwelling-house .

JOHN HOUNSOM sworn.

I am a linen-draper , in Fleet-street : On Friday the 12th of February, about half past three in the afternoon, I was told that two young men wanted me: I was writing in the counting-house; I went forward and found the prisoner, Lancashire, and another person, whose name I since find is Thomas Williams, in my front shop; Lancashire told me they came from Mrs. Newland of Clapham, a very old friend and customer of mine, for some patterns of striped ginghams, and striped calicos, for waistcoats and trowsers, that they were going to the East-Indies; I showed them what few I had, and offered to get, them some more, which they agreed to call for at half past five the same evening; they called about that time, and my servant came up to me, and said, they had called and asked if I had any message; I said, none but my compliments; On the Tuesday following, I wanted some cambricks, they were kept upon a shelf, in an iron safe, in the counting-house; I put my hand up, and there were no cambricks; I enquired of my two shopmen if they knew any thing of them; they searched every place and could not find them; in the afternoon, one of my servants said to me, Do you know that the two men, that came from Mrs. Newland's, wrote a letter in the counting-house?

Court. We must not hear what your servant said to you. - A. The next morning I went over to Clapham to learn the truth of their account, and found no such persons came from Mrs. Newland, and there were no persons of that description in her house; suspicion immediately sell on the prisoner; I took out a warrant at Guildhall for his apprehension on the same morning; I traced him to the Merlin's-cave, in Spa-fields, where he was taken on the Friday, and this piece of cambrick I have in my hand, was found in his lodgings by my servant.

Q. Did they obtain what they wanted for Mrs. Newland? - A. That was only some little slips for patterns.

JOHN PRICE sworn.

I am journeyman to Mr. Hounsom: On Friday the 12th of February, I was standing in the shop, the prisoner came, and a friend with him, of the name of Williams, and asked if Mr. Hounsom was at home; I called Mr. Hounsom, and the prisoner told him he came from Mrs. Newland's of Clapham, an old customer of his, and wanted some patterns of ginghams. and calicos for jackets and trowsers, that they were going abroad; Mr. Hounsom said, he had but sew, but as it was for an old customer, he would get some patterns, and send that evening by the post; the prisoner said their was no occasion to do that, they should be by in the evening, and would call for them; Mr. Hounsom sent me into the city to procure the patterns; I got them, and between five and six o'clock, the prisoner and Williams came for them; I went up to Mr. Hounsom, and said, they were come for the patterns; he said he had nothing to say to them, but give them to them, with the price and his compliments; I delivered them to them in the counting-house; the prisoner then said to Williams, you had better write your letter; he said, he would, it would save time; he asked me for a sheet of writing-paper, which I gave him at the desk; I staid while he wrote some part, and then gave him a waser, and lest them and went into the other shop; I did not suspect any thing then; they staid about twelve minutes, and then went away, carrying the letter with them; on the Tuesday following, Mr. Hounsom missed his cambricks, and asked me if I knew any thing of them, I told him no; I could not think what could be come of them; suspicion fell directly on the prisoner and Williams, as they were lest alone; I went with the constable and found the prisoner at Merlin's-cave, a public-house, in Cold-bath-fields, on the Friday; I gave charge of him to George Allen , the constable; we then went with him to his apartments, which were just by; when we came there and found the cambrick, the prisoner told me to take it out of his apartment at my peril; I brought it away to Mr. Hounsom, and he took it to Bow-street.

Q. Where did you find it? - A. On the table, between the two windows, under a glass; it lay folded up without any paper over it, in the same way as it was in our shop; I knew it to be my master's property, there is a private mark upon it in Mr. Hounsom's hand-writing.

Prisoner. Q. When you came to my apartments, where did you find the cambrick? - A. On the table, with a dozen or fourteen pair of silk stockings upon it.

Prisoner. Q. Was that private mark upon it at the time? - A. It was.

Prisoner. Q. When I was at the bottom of Cold-bath-fields, do you remember my putting a mark upon that cambrick? - A. Yes.

Court. Q. Do you know your master's mark? - A. Yes; it is C D A.

Q. Have you any doubt that that property belongs to your master? - A. None in the world.

Q. What is the value of this property? - A. I suppose twenty pounds and upwards.

WILLIAM MARSH sworn.

I am a constable: I know nothing more than feeing the shopman find that piece of cambrick in the prisoner's apartment, on Friday the 19th of February, in a house near Merlin's-cave; Price took it away, and when we came to the bottom of Cold-bath-fields, the prisoner marked it.

Q. Do you know what mark the prisoner put upon it? - A. No; he marked it with a pencil.

GEORGE ALLEN sworn.

I am a constable.

Q. Do you know any more than the last witness? - A. No; only executing the warrant; I took the prisoner on the 19th.

(To Mr. Hounsom). Look at that property. - A. This is my property; My mark is on it now, it is C D A, with a stroke coming down; there was about seven yards and a-half in each piece.

Q. What is the value of the piece found upon him? - A. It cost me 5l. 15l.; and this was the lowest of all the pieces; the mark has been attempted to be rubbed out; there was a ticket at the end, which is torn off and gone.

Prisoner. My Lord, I beg to be permitted to read my defence, (reads); My Lord, and Gentlemen on the Jury: On Thursday, the 11th of February, about eleven in the morning, I and Thomas Williams , being engaged in the East-India service, went into the shop of Mr. Hounsom, for some patterns of ginghams and calices, and knowing Mrs. Newland, I made use of her name, in hopes of being used better: when we went into the shop we saw nobody but Price and another man; Price came up to me; I informed him I came from Mrs. Newland, of Clapham, and wanted some patterns of gingham for jackets and tsowsers; he made answer, they had no ginghams in the house; in the mean time Mr. Hounsom came into the shop; Price informed him who I came from, and what I wanted; Mr. Hounsom said, he would get some patterns, and send them in a Penny-post latter to Clapham; I said, they were not to go there, but I would call for them; he said, he would get them ready by four in the afternoon; I told him, I would call for them about that time; I went to the India-house, and called for the patterns about the time appointed, and saw the same two men in the shop; Price informed us the patterns were ready, and desired us to walk into the counting-house, which we did; Price went up stairs, and came down and delivered the patterns, with Mr. Hounsom's compliments; Williams asked Price for a sheet of paper, and the loan of a pen and ink; accordingly the paper was produced, and we were desired to walk into the counting-house, which we did, and Williams proceeded with writing his letter; Price was in and out several times while we were in the counting-house, and we were not there above ten minutes; I am positive, the cambrick was not taken while we were there; nor could be taken without his seeing it; and it was not missed till the Tuesday following; can Mr. Hounsom swear, that between the 11th and 16th, that Williams was not in the shop or counting-house, or with any other person besides me? or that he had not been there by himself? or can Price, when he is out about his master's business, can he say who has been in the shop? can a man, by seeing a person only once, swear that Williams, who was there with me, was not there at any time after? my Lord, may this impress your Lordship's mind, and the minds of the merciful Jury; we parted that evening, and I went on my way to the Haymarket: on the Monday afternoon Williams called upon me, at my lodgings, by Merlins'-cave, and begged of me to let him leave the piece of cambrick; he said, that he was going to take it to his uncle at Copenhagen-house; he left my apartment, and I have never seen him since; on Friday, Price, and the constable, Allen, came to me at the Merlin's-cave, I came to the door with them, and Allen said, I had better go to my apartments; he said, he had a search warrant to search them; I said, he was welcome to search any apartment I held; they found this piece of cambrick on the table, and Price took and put it in his pocket; they searched my trunk and chamber, and found nothing more; they told me I must go with them to Guildhall, because Price was going to take it to his master to see if he could swear to it; I told them I had no objection; as we were going along, in Cold-bath-fields, he took the piece of cambrick out of his pocket, and I put a mark upon it; that I might know it again; is it to be supposed, gentlemen, that if I had known the cambrick to be stolen, I should have been so ready to have my apartments searched, and having it marked, unless I was in hopes of being able to find Williams? that I shall leave to the determination of a Jury, where mercy will always prevail, and reason is always studied. My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, after I had put the mark upon the cambrick, Price then left us and went to his master's alone with the cambrick in his possession, while the constable (Allen) and myself proceeded towards Bow-street, instead of Guildhall; that my friends were all disappointed when they went to Guildhall and found me not there; I might have had friends to have bailed me out; if

they had not so disappointed me at Bow-street; I gave every information in my power, that the constable might have found Williams, if he had not heard that the cambrick was found; Williams could have heard it was found, and has never been heard of since; I told the Magistrate the way in which I came by it; my Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, Mr. Hounsom could then find a private mark; Mr. Hounsom then said, that if I would tell him where the cambrick was, he would not hurt me; I told him I did not know, but if Williams was found, there would be a likelihood of obtaining it; that I was an entire stranger to it; and that if he had taken it from the counting-house, it must have been taken at some other time, I was a stranger to it; I was fully committed for trial; then Mr. Hounsom told me he was obliged to prosecute me; but he would do any thing in his power for me; and if I wanted any thing, if I would write to him, I should have it; I received a letter from him, in which he promised me 5s. a week, and desired me to send my wife for it any time after twelve o'clock, which he did; he desired her to call every Monday; he allowed it me for two weeks running; and one Thursday Mr. Hounsom visited me in prison; I asked him if he had heard of Williams; he said, no; he would make him suffer if he could find him; I asked him what I was to do upon my trial; says he, if you take my advice, which is that of a friend, when you are arraigned, plead guilty, that will save a great deal of trouble, and I will intercede for you; I told him I could not do that, for I should be injuring myself, but I would consider of it; he left me; on the Monday I sent to him for the gratuity which he had been so kind as to allow me; he stopped it from that time; and the only reason I could give for it was, that I would not plead guilty when I was arraigned. My Lord, and Gentlemen, I hope what I have said may have some pressure upon your minds, in favour of the unfortunate prisoner at the bar, one young in life; and, Gentlemen, the heavy losses and expences that have attended me, and my losing my former friends, and throwing disgrace upon my character, have turned their backs upon me, that I have been unable to employ counsel; I trust to your Lordship, where mercy abounds, and to that Jury, where mercy is ever shewn to an unfortunate prisoner.

Q. (To Hounsom.) Did you allow this man any thing? - A. I allowed him 5s. a week for two weeks; he told me he was married to a young woman between eighteen and nineteen; afterwards another wife was produced, and I found he was not married to this woman; that was the reason I stopped it.

(The prisoner called two witnesses, who gave him a good character).

GUILTY of stealing to the value of 39s.

Transported for seven years .

Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. RECORDER.


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