JOHN DUXBERRY, WILLIAM FOX, REBECCA MULLINS, Theft > housebreaking, Miscellaneous > perverting justice, 15th February 1827.

Reference Number: t18270215-57
Offences: Theft > housebreaking; Miscellaneous > perverting justice
Verdicts: Guilty; Guilty; Guilty
Punishments: Death; Death; Death
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550. JOHN DUXBERRY and WILLIAM FOX were indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of George Willingham , about twelve o'clock at noon, of the 22d of January , at St. Mary-le-bone (no person being therein), and stealing two Bank of England notes, for payment of and value 10l. each; 5 sovereigns; 1 watch, value 5l.; 1 coat, value 3l.; 1 shawl, value 5l.; 1 pelisse, value 5l.; 5 rings, value 16l.; 1 shirt-pin, value 1l.; 2 brooches, value 3l.; 1 pair of ear-rings, value 3l.; 4 necklaces, value 8l.; 2 neck-chains, value 2l.; 1 miniature-picture, value 5l.; 1 child's gold coral, with bells,(one of the bells being deficient), value 3l.; 1 other child's coral, value 3l.; 2 table-spoons, value 3l.; 9 silver teaspoons, value 12l., and 2 pairs of sugar-tongs, value 2l. , the property of the said George Willingham, against the statute; and REBECCA MULLINS was indicted for that she, before the said felony was done and committed, at the same day and place, unlawfully and feloniously did comfort, aid, abet, assist, counsel, hire, and command the said prisoners to do and commit the said felony, against the statute , &c.

MR. ADOLPHUS conducted the prosecution.

SARAH WILLINGHAM . I am the wife of George Willingham. In January, 1826, we lived at No. 13, Park-road, Regent's-park, in the parish of St. Mary-le-bone - we rented the house; I had known the prisoner Mullins, for twelve months before that, and knew her daughter, Mary; she and her daughter, had access to our house, from Michaelmas till December - they took care of a cottage next to it - her daughter Mary frequently came to play with my child - the mother came for money, which I lent her, and the linen to wash. On Sunday, the 22d of January, 1826, I had no servant, as she had left me for a week, having lost a friend; she was to return on Monday- we went on that Sunday to Christ church, Stafford-street, Lisson-grove; it is four or five minutes' walk from our house - I, my husband, and child, who is in her twelfth year, went to the morning service, and left no one in the house; I fastened all the doors myself, and took the keys with me - I fastened the kitchen window down the last thing; we returned from church about ten minutes or a quarter-past one o'clock; I put the key into the door; it opened as usual, so did the garden gate in front of the house; there was nothing amiss with them; we had a Newfoundland dog inside the house; when I got in, I found the back parlour door wide open; I had left it shut when I went out; there are folding-doors from that room to the front; I went in, and saw papers scattered about; I then went up to the drawing-room, and found that door open; the drawers were rifled, and a great deal of wearing-apparel scattered about - I found the next room door open, and every cupboard and lock forced open; I went down, and called my husband out of the garden; I then went into the kitchen, and found the dog tied up to the dresser with a silk handkerchief: he was loose when we went out, and had the range of all the stairs; he was tied up very tight with a handkerchief put under his collar, and tied to the leg of the dresser; my husband cut the corner of the handkerchief off to get the dog loose; it was our own handkerchief; a fore-spring of pork, which I had left on the dresser, was thrown down to the dog, who was tied up too tight to get at it; there was a slop of salt and water on the tea-tray on the table - the tray was quite clean and wiped up when I went out; my husband went to look for an officer immediately, and brought Gibbs in two hours after; we then proceeded to examine the house with him; I found the kitchen window, which I had fastened the last thing before I went out, was broken open; it was large enough to admit three men; we had lost two 10l. notes, five sovereigns, nearly 20s. in silver, a watch, a coat, a shawl, a brown silk pelisse lined with white, five rings, a shirt pin, two brooches, a pair of earrings, six necklaces, two neck-chains, the miniature of a man in soldier's uniform, set in gold, a gold coral, which wanted one bell, two silver table-spoons, nine tea-spoons, and two pairs of sugar-tongs, one of which was twisted in an old-fashioned way; we only lost one coral; the property, at a moderate calculation, including the money, was worth full 100l.; we obtained no intelligence of the robbery for a long time; we had several hundred bills printed, offering 40l. reward; my husband afterwards received this anonymons letter (looking at it) - we received it, I think, the first week in February - I cannot positively swear to the hand-writing - I have seen Mary Mullins' writing, but never saw her write; I heard nothing more till the beginning of this year, when I found some persons who gave me information.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q. Have you found any of your property? A. I think I saw the brooch at the office the beginning of this year; I think I have seen two small coins.

MARY MULLINS . I shall be thirteen years old the beginning of November. (This witness appeared perfectly aware of the obligation of an oath.) The female prisoner

is my mother; I had a brother named George, but he has left the country - I know the two male prisoners very well- when this matter happened my mother lived in Stamford-street - my brother George lived at home the beginning of last year, and Duxberry lived in the same house with us - Fox came to the house almost every day; he and Duxberry were intimate with my brother and mother - about a week before this robbery happened, my mother said to my brother George, and the prisoners, that now would be the time to rob Mr. Willingham's house, as the servant was gone away into the country; she was coming back and would be blamed for it; I heard no more conversation between them before the robbery. On the Sunday afternoon following, my mother, my brother George, and the two prisoners, were together - my brother said they had robbed the house, and had got the things - Fox gave my mother five sovereigns into her hand; she said she would put it away, but did not say where - nothing more was said then - I did not see any thing else given to my mother.

Q. Did your brother, or any of the parties, complain that they had been hurt? A. They did not complain then; they were all there together again on the Monday afternoon, and my brother gave my mother a pelisse and shawl; he complained of his leg being hurt - the pelisse was a brown silk - I did not notice whether it was lined - she put it into a bundle with the shawl; I had seen that pelisse before on Mrs. Willingham's back - John Duxberry gave my mother two silver table-spoons that afternoon; my brother gave my mother the rest of the articles, the rings, trinkets, and a watch; my brother said his leg was very bad from the bite of Mr. Willingham's dog; they all said the dog had flown at them, that they had tied him up, and given him some meat - nothing more passed then.

Q. Were the prisoners together again with your mother and brother? A. Yes, on Tuesday night, the next day; they were talking together, and sent me out on an errand - I did not hear what passed.

Q. Look at this paper, and tell me whose writing it is? A. Mine, and so is the direction - my mother told me to write it.

Q. Did you ever at any time, find a coral that wanted one bell? A. No - nor did I ever tell my mother that I had, nor any other coral at all - my mother never beat me about stealing a coral.

Q. When did you first tell any thing you knew about this matter to Mr. or Mrs. Willingham? A. I was put into the workhouse on a Saturday, a week after last Christmas, and Mrs. Willingham came to me on the Monday. I was afterwards examined before a Justice at the Police-office. I gave the same account that I have now. I saw a coral in my mother's possession; it was red, and the mounting was a gold colour. I also saw a man's blue coat in her possession - I do not recollect seeing her with any thing else.

COURT. Q. At the time you saw these things, did you live next door to Mr. Willingham? A. No, in Stamford-street, which is two or three minutes walk from there.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q. Have you been to school? A. Yes, to two or three; the last was Mr. Prior's, in Crawford-street; it is a private school. My brother George is eighteen years old next March; he was at home when this house was robbed. I have no father; I heard my brother say the house was robbed on the Sunday afternoon on which it was done, which was the 22nd of January; I knew five days before, that it was to be done when Mr. Willingham was at church; no other robbery but this had been talked about. I saw Fox give my mother five sovereigns on the Sunday afternoon that it was done; I do not know that that was from the robbery. I wrote this letter about three weeks after, by my mother's desire - I should not have wrote it if she had not desired me; I did not suppose that I was in any danger, or that she was - I did not like to do it at first; but I did not say I would not do it, but I did not like to do it.

Q. Was that because you might bring her into trouble? A. Yes; I did not tell her so - I should have concealed it if she had not told me to write - I never said a word about it to any body - I do not know how they came to know that I knew of it.

Q. Who first spoke to you about it? A. Mrs. Willingham came to me at the workhouse - my mother was then in custody; I had heard the officer say that on the Saturday, as he was taking me to the workhouse; I had not, at that time, told any body that I knew any thing of the robbery - I knew when I wrote the letter that there had been a reward of 40l. offered. Mrs. Willingham came to me at the workhouse on the Monday, and said, if I did not tell her about it, she would have me locked up. I said, at first, I did not know any thing about it; she said if I did not tell her she would have me locked up among the rats and mice, to frighten me. I said I did not know any thing about it - that was a lie; but I said so because I did not wish my mother to be hurt - I know my mother's life is in danger by this trial, and knew it at that time.

Q. Who was present when Mrs. Willingham talked to you? A. The matron of the workhouse, a little girl, and Mr. Willingham's clerk - Mrs. Willingham said it would be better for me to tell the whole truth - the clerk wrote down all I said.

Q. Did Mrs. Willingham tell you your mother would be saved if you told the truth? A. Yes; she told me that several times. Fox did not lodge at my mother's - he lived at Kilburn. I should not have said a word about this if Mrs. Willingham had not frightened me. I told her all the truth: she asked how many persons committed the robbery - I said I could not tell who they were, only I saw them with the property afterwards; she then again said, if I did not tell her she would have me locked up. I heard Fox and my mother quarrel about a fornight after the robbery; she said she would be a match for him; he said "You can do nothing to me - you have nothing to lay to my charge." She charged him with being one of the party who robbed Mr. Willingham - he denied it, and said "You know better" - he did not come to my mother's place again for a long time. I went before the Justice the day after Mr. Willingham came to me. I saw the account, which Willingham's clerk had taken down, in the Justice's hands - he read it. My mother went out to market during church-time on the Sunday.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Was the expression your mother used - that as the servant was in the country it would be a good time to rob the house?

A. Yes. I have been a good while at school: there are thirty-one days in January and in March. I do not think my mother can write; my father has been dead eleven years; my brother could write - he and I are the only children living; he remained at home six or seven months after the robbery.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. How long did you read about the reward before you gave information to Mrs. Willingham? A. We had the paper in our parlour the day after the robbery was committed; I never said a word to any body about it. The quarrel between Fox and my mother was before I wrote the letter.(The letter was here read as follows:) -

To Mr. Willingham, Solicitor, 13, Park-road, Regent's-park. - "My conscience won't let me keep it a secret concerning that robbery that was committed at your house; and I will tell you the names of the three who committed that robbery - Thos. Duxberry, Portland Town; Wm. Sturdy, Little James-street, and Wm. Tonks, Devonshire-place, No. 1."

Q. Your mother never told you to name Fox in the letter? A. No. Fox came to our house after the quarrel - it was a long while after; before the summer was over, my mother and he were as good friends as before. He came to see my mother again before my brother left home.

Q. Was what Mr. Willingham's clerk wrote down read over to you, to refresh your memory, or did you give an account to the Magistrate yourself? A. I read it over myself - I gave evidence to the Justice by my memory - I was then on oath.

MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Had Duxberry a brother named Thomas? A. Yes; that brother was taken up after the letter was written; I do not know how many times he was examined. Nobody had been taken up till I gave information to Mrs. Willingham; it was after I had given the account to Mrs. Willingham that Thomas Duxberry was taken up. I do not know how many times he was examined; I did not see him taken up or examined, and do not know when he was taken - I saw him after he came out again; both he and his brother John lived with their mother - John remained at home, at his mother's, after Thomas was taken up, and he was taken there - he had time to have run away if he chose.

MR. ANDREWS. Q. When you consented to write the letter, had you reason to believe that Fox was one of the men who had robbed the house? A. Yes; I did not write his name because I was not told. I knew Tonks; Sturdy's mother lodged with us - I had no reason to believe either of them were concerned - I wrote their names because my mother told me. I have been living at the workhouse ever since she was taken.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. You were just turned eleven years old when you wrote this letter? A. Yes. John Duxberry was lodging at my mother's when I wrote it."Thomas Duxberry, of Portland Town." meant his brother - I know nothing of Thomas Duxberry being taken up, except what I have heard. I have not been out of the workhouse since I went there, except to go to the office - Thomas Duxberry never came there to see me.

Q. Then, when you speak of his being out of custody, was that before you went to the workhouse? A. Yes, a great while before - I did not tell Mrs. Willingham about this till after I was in the workhouse. I saw Thomas Duxbury last night, as I was going home.

MARY ANN CULL . I live at No. 9, Stamford-street, next door to Mrs. Mullins; she offered to sell me a coral, and produced it to me; it had seven or eight bells, but one was broken off - the bottom of it was coral - it was a gold colour - I did not examine it particularly - she asked me to give her 2s. for it, and told me not to buy it for gold, for it was not gold; and she put it to her ring, which was on her finger to compare it. I took it into my mother to ask her for the money - she had not got it, and I returned it to Mrs. Mullins. My mother gave me the money, two or three days afterwards, to go in and get it - I went, and Mrs. Mullins said, "Thank God you did not buy it, for if you had it would have got me into trouble; for, instead of Mary finding it, she has stolen it from a little girl" - that she had given her a good walloping, and sent her back to the place - here she had taken it from - she did not say where that was - this was the latter end of January, or the beginning of February, 1826. She had told me at first that Mary had found it, coming home from a place where she had been to play with a little girl - she asked me afterwards to direct a letter for her, and also to make a bill out to go to Mrs. Willingham - she asked me at one time if my mother could give her change for a 10l. note - this was a good bit after I saw the coral - she had the note lying on the table by her - I told her my mother could not change it - she asked if I knew where she could get it changed - I said No. Fox and John Duxberry were in the room at the time; but I rather think Duxberry was asleep. I did not take the note up, but I saw Ten on it, as it laid on the table. I went in a few days after, and asked her for 2s. 9d. which she owed me - she said she could not let me have it: after this I saw her wash her hands, and saw her pull three rings off - one was very broad, with thread twisted round it, as it was too large - I have not seen those rings since.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. She asked you once to direct a letter for her? A. Yes, but I did not do it; I was once charged with an offence, but I was not guilty. I had a handsome sum of money paid me by the person who took me up, to prevent prosecution, and also an apology advertised in the newspapers.

COURT. Q. Did you frequently visit Mrs. Mullins? A. Yes - I never noticed rings on her fingers before; the first time I saw her with rings was when she compared them with the coral - one was a broad gold one, with little dots round it, another a small one, and a keeper.

ELIZABETH JONES . I live at No. 11, Little Princes-street - I lodged at Mrs. Mullins' in the beginning of last year; John Duxberry lodged there, and Fox used to come frequently - George Mullins and John Duxberry appeared intimate with him; they were always together. I remember one Sunday coming down, and hearing a fight, about two o'clock; John Duxberry and Fox were in liquor; hearing a noise I ran down; Mrs. Mullins and Duxberry were beating Fox in a very cruel manner; they struck him several blows - Fox accused them of robbing him of two sovereigns and a dollar. I begged of him to go into the back room till all was quiet. I was once scolding Mrs. Mullins about getting in at a window - she

said George was a very bad boy, but he robbed nobody but her - that he had robbed her of a watch and a box of trinkets; this was about the beginning of February.

GEORGE WILLINGHAM . I am master of this house. - Almost immediately after receiving the anonymous letter I caused Thomas Duxberry to be apprehended - he was examined only once, I believe - there was no proof against him, and the Magistrate discharged him. I heard nothing about the prisoners till the first week in January - that was before my wife went to the workhouse.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. This discovery happened full eleven months after the robbery? A. Yes. I have no other Christian name.

JAMES GIBBS . I am a constable. I was called in to examine the prosecutor's house in January, 1826 - every thing was in confusion; Mrs. Willingham has given a correct account. I apprehended the two male prisoners nearly twelve months afterwards; I met Fox in a lane near Maida-hill; I asked his name - he said Fox, and I took him. I took Duxberry in his mother's house, in Portland-town, and Mrs. Mullins at her house in Cochrane-terrace, Portland-town - I was with Morris when he apprehended Thomas Duxberry - it was about a year ago - he was examined once.

Cross-examined. Q. Whose house were you going to after Fox? A. I do not know that it was his master's; I met him coming up the lane.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. You took John Duxberry twelve months after you had taken Thomas, did you take them both on the same charge? A. Yes - John came very willingly with me.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. There was no charge against him when you took Thomas? A. No.

JOHN DUXBERRY'S Defence. Every thing the witness has said is false.

FOX's Defence. I am sure every thing they have said is really false.

MULLINS' Defence. It is false what my child and Miss Cull have said - I never had such things in my possession- I believe my boy to be innocent; he has not left the country on that account.

Four witnesses gave Duxberry a good character, and two deposed the same for Fox.

FOX - GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 44.

DUXBERRY - GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 22.

MULLINS - GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 42.


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