4th January 1841
Reference Numbert18410104-535
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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535. JAMES STEPHENS was again indicted , for that he being employed in the Post-office, did, on the 9th of June, steal a certain post-letter containing 1 gold medal, value 10l., the property of her Majesty's Post Master General.—Five other COUNTS, varying the manner of laying the charge.

JOSEPH JOLLIFFE . I am a jeweller, residing at Portsea. On the 8th of June I sent a letter directed to Messrs. Collard and Furbur, refiners, No. 17, Jewin-street, Cripplegate, and enclosed in it a gold medal, on one side of which was an effigy of Charles the Tenth, King of the French—I did not take particular notice of what was on the reverse side—I can hardly say what was on it, it being some time since, I forget—I do not know whether it was of the French or English alloy—I do not know the exact weight—I took no memorandum of the weight—before I sent the medal away, I made a mark with a file on the edge, and tried it with aquafortis—I have tested the medal now produced, since, in the same way, and it is precisely the same quality, as far as the test of aquafortis will prove, and I believe it is the same piece of gold, for that reason—I gave the letter to my assistant to take to the Post-office.

Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. What effect did the aquafortis produce? A. It laid on it like water, and produced no effect, from the gold being so good—it was nearly, or quite pure gold—it exhibited no alloy in the least—we have no other means of testing in the country—the medal I sent appeared not quite so large round as this, but it was thicker—I cannot swear this is the medal—it is battered, in such a state—it is my belief it is the same—I have little or no doubt in my own mind that it is the same, because I tested it—this piece of gold is exactly the same quality as the piece I tested.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. I apprehend no gold in absolute purity can be worked into a medal, or any thing? A. There is always some alloy in medals, to give it firmness—if gold had no alloy in it, it would bend a little—there is alloy in all coins—copper and silver is what we alloy gold with—according to the quantity of alloy, there would be a black mark on it in testing it—I examined this medal yesterday with a strong magnifying glass, and saw a fleur-de-lis on it perfectly plain, and also the letter "E"—I cannot say whether there was a fleur-de-lis on the medal I sent to town—I recollect "Charles X." was on it, I cannot recollect whether in French or Latin—this has been hammered at the edge, and the face also—it has not been cut or filed—I have made a mark here with a file since it has been found.

ALPHONSO DANIEL . I am assistant to Mr. Jolliffe. On the 8th of June last I remember his inclosing a gold medal in a letter—it was of

Charles X.—the word "Charles," I am certain, was in English—I think the rest of the inscription was in French—I remember "Roi," and, I think, "Fran sa," or "se" I cannot remember which—I weighed it three or four times—it was 2oz. 14dwts. 18 or 19 grains—Mr. Jolliffe sealed the letter, and directed it to "Collard and Furber, Jewin street, London"—I took it to the Post-office at Portsmouth, delivered it there, and paid 8d. for it—I filed the medal in two or three parts across the edge, and between the two edges, and tried it with aquafortis—I did not file it so as to make it lose in weight, only slight marks—I found that it was very good gold—I do not discover any thing on this medal that I can swear to—I have examined it with a glass, but saw nothing I could swear to—I do not perceive any thing on it—there is something in the shape of the back of a head here—I weighed this piece of gold about a fortnight ago, and it is the same weight, within a grain—it weighs 2oz. 14dwts. 19 grains—on the former occasion the medal weighed 2oz. 14dwts. 18 or 19 grains, I cannot say which—I put it down at the time, but have no memorandum of it—I had told Mr. Jolliffe the weight before I weighed it the last time, and he put it down on a piece of paper—I believe this is the same quality—it is the same kind of alloy—I have tested it myself since.

Cross-examined. Q. There is not so much alloy as in jeweller's gold? A. No—we are not paid for fine gold—I can tell whether gold is worth 40s. or 50s., and perhaps I could tell between the two—I could not swear to it—we never can tell properly unless it be assayed—when aquafortis was placed on this it remained the same colour—there is not much alloy in this; or it would be perceivable.

WILLIAM GARNETT . I belong to the Post-office at Portsmouth. I remember a letter of some weight being brought about the 8th of June—I am not certain of the date—a letter was given in, containing something of the appearance of coin, and 8d. was paid for it—I do not remember who it was directed to—it weighed above 3oz.—I passed it over to Baker, the other clerk, after marking it.

HENRY BAKER . I was a clerk in the Post-office at Portsmouth in June last—it was my duty to receive letters from Garnett, and despatch them. On the 8th of June, I cannot say to the exact time, but I recollect the circumstance of a letter, said to contain a gold medal, being given in at the window—it was put into my hand by Garnett, and was forwarded to London, with the other letters, by that night's post—the person who brought it said it was a gold medal.

WILLIAM GARRETT LEWIS . I am a clerk in the Post-office in London. On the 9th of June I received the Portsmouth bags safely—there is no report of any error in the book, so that they came in their usual state.

Cross-examined. Q. Who would the report of error come from, if there was one? A. From me—I have only the amount of the paid and unpaid letters which come, no description of letters.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. If the number of paid letters bad been incorrect, or the bag unsealed, should you have reported it? A. Yes, I mean if the amount of money had been incorrect—the letters are not counted, but if the postage had been short, such a bag as the Portsmouth, having a great many, might be 8d. short without its being noticed.

JAMES FURBUR . I am a partner in the house of Collard and Furbur, gold-refiners, in Jewin-street, Cripplegate. On the 9th of June we received

no letter from Mr. Jolliffe, of Portsea—I have not received a letter with a gold medal of Charles X.—this medal is nearly fine gold—almost all medals are made of nearly fine gold—this is a sort of gold medals would be made of—I should say this is nearly pure, much better than our coin—it is seldom medals are made of any thing but fine gold, on account of the impression.

Cross-examined. Q. All medals are made of the best gold? A. Yes.

JOSEPH HUNT . I am deliverer of letters at Messrs. Collins. On the 9th of June I delivered no letter there containing any thing valuable—I only delivered three letters of a trifling sort—I recollect the morning of the 9th of June, by Messrs. Collins asking about a medal, about four days after.

WILLIAM BLOTT . I am a clerk in the General Post-office—the prisoner has been employed there about nine months. On the 9th of June it was his duty to clear the letters from the stamper's table, and carry them to the sorters—he was one of the six or seven men doing that duty—it is impossible to say who carried the Portsmouth letters—he was one of the men who would have carried them.

NICHOLAS PEARSE . I am a police-inspector. I took the prisoner into custody, on the 21st of December, at the Post-office—I went with him to No. 17, Redcross-square—he opened the door there, and said it was his residence—I searched the apartment he led me to—I took hold of a pair of trowsers, and this piece of gold fell from them, I believe this to be the same, it was wrapped up, I believe, in a small bit of paper—it was not in the pocket—I stooped to pick it up, and the prisoner said, "I found that"—that was before I had opened it, when I took it up with the paper on it—he said, "I picked it up by the side of the Thames, near Tooley-street, about nine months ago"—I asked what kind of metal it was, he said he did not know—I asked him if he had shown, it to any person, he said he had not—I asked what he had been before he went into the Post-office—he said he had been a smith and farrier in business for himself.

Cross-examined. Q. Was not the question you asked, whether he had told any body he had found it? A. I think it was, if he had shown it to any body, but I am not certain which.

ROBERT JAMES CHAPLIN . I am a jeweller, and live at No. 17, Redcross-square. The prisoner occupied the first floor in my house—he first came about twelve weeks ago—some time after he came, in the course of conversation, he asked if I could tell him the quality of a piece of gold which he or his uncle had, what it was worth—I said I could not tell him, unless I saw it, there were so many qualities—I said "What does it appear like? is it a coin, medal, or what?"—he said it appeared like a lump, as if it had been hammered, or something of the sort—that he had given it into the hands of a Jew, who was passing through the town where his uncle resided, and the Jew said it weighed nearly three ounces—I said, if it was any thing of a quality, most likely it was worth 10l. or 11l.—he said he should endeavour to obtain leave of absence about Christmas-time, to go to his friends in the country, and he would ask his uncle for it, and should most likely be able to obtain it—he never showed me any gold.

JAMES CHAPLIN . I live at Mr. Chaplin's, and know the prisoner, from his living there—he came there soon after last Michaelmas-day—he asked me to lend him a hammer, on several occasions—I lent him rather a smallish one, three or four times, and I once lent him a large one, as he asked for a large one—here are the two hammers I lent him—I think

when he borrowed the large one he mentioned it was for breaking coals—he did not mention what the small one was for—he returned the large one directly, I think in the course of half an hour.

ESTHER CHAPLIN . I am the wife of Mr. Chaplin. The prisoner lodged at our house—on one occasion he asked me for a hammer, I referred him to the shopman—I heard a knocking in his room on one occasion, it appeared like nailing a carpet—it might have lasted for a couple of hours—I do not think it was louder than nailing a carpet.

Cross-examined. Q. That was not at the time he borrowed the hammer you? A. It was at the time he borrowed it of my nephew, to whom I referred him.

COURT. Q. Was there a carpet in his room? A. Yes, and it was nailed down—I do not know whether it had been nailed before—I was sitting in a room nearly under the room the hammering was in—it appeared to me to be on the floor—it was continually on the floor—it was as if he hammered a short time, then left off and began again, like a nail—it was quite different to the hammering my husband would use in hammering a medal—it was not so hard—I am not prepared to swear the prisoner was at home at the time I heard the hammering.

JOHN DOUBLEDAY . I belong to the British Museum, in the department of antiquities, which embraces the coin department—I have looked at this piece of gold very minutely—it presents the appearance of a struck medal, hammered out—I can discern a fleur-de-lis on this medal, and two capital letter E's—in the field of the medal there is the appearance of the letter M, and the edge appears to have been rather raised—it has been battered down, but there is the appearance of the rim—medals are gets rally made with raised rims—it has every appearance of having been battered down—I have examined the medal with one of the hammers produced, and it would make the same impression on that piece of gold—a piece of copper has been shown to me, on which the hammer has been used, and it bears the same mark as on the gold—the reverse side is that on which the cuts have been, and here is the indication of the fleur-de-lis.

Cross-examined. Q. When did you first examine it? A. It was brought to the Museum about a fortnight ago—I was not examined before the Magistrate, nor required to be in attendance on any occasion but the present.

HARVELL. The prisoner lodged at my house in August last—I have lent him a hammer on many occasions, and I have heard hammering up stairs—there was only him and his wife lodging in the two Looms, and in those rooms I have heard the hammering—this is the hammer I lent him.

Cross-examined. Q. Are you able to say he was at hale when you heard the hammering? A. Yes, I cannot say what day it was, nor what month—I had no reason to remark, not having any suspicion—I was not before the Magistrate.

JOHN DOUBLEDAY re-examined. I have seen this hammer in Court this morning—it is the hammer which produced the marks on the gold and copper likewise—I cannot say who made the marks on the copper—the policeman showed it me this morning—I have not the slightest doubt this gold has been beaten with that hammer—there is a particular mark of a small stroke on the hammer, which corresponds precisely.

NICHOLAS PEARSE re-examined. I got the copper from a shop in St.

Paul's Church-yard—I saw the whole of the marks made on the copper with that hammer.


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