Old Bailey Proceedings.
12th January 1787
Reference Number: 17870112

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Old Bailey Proceedings front matter.
12th January 1787
Reference Numberf17870112-1

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Printed for E. HODGSON (the Proprietor) And Sold by J. WALMSLAY, No. 35, Chancery Lane, and S. BLADON, No. 13, Pater-noster Row.



KING's Commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the CITY of LONDON, &c.

BEFORE the Right Honourable THOMAS SAINSBURY , LORD MAYOR of the City of London; the Honourable Sir WILLIAM HENRY ASHURST , one of the Justices of his Majesty's Court of King's Bench; the Honourable JOHN WILSON , one of the Justices of his Majesty's Court of Common Pleas; JAMES ADAIR , Serjeant at Law, Recorder of the said City; JOHN WILLIAM ROSE , Esq; and others his Majesty's Justices of Oyer and Terminer of the City of London, and Justices of Gaol Delivery of Newgate, holden for the said City and County of Middlesex.

First Middlesex Jury.

* Richard Mountain

* Richard Parke served the last day as foreman of this Jury in the room of Richard Mountain.

John Hurst

John Morgan

William Cowderoy

John Holdsworth

Samuel Cleaver

John Clarke

Samuel Remnant

Peter West cot

John Jeakes

John Wright

John Pass .

Second Middlesex Jury.

Richard Parkes

Francis Keysall

George Sage

William Ashley

John Wilmot

* John Fell

* Thomas Kendall served some time in the room of John Fell.

Peter Jennings

John Page

Thomas Blincow

Thomas Burrows

Henry Hamlet

William Holbrook .

London Jury.

Thomas Hitchings

William Wade

James Fitch

Richard Curry

Thomas Chapman

Henry Wood

William Hales

Stephen Pilgrim

Joseph Head

James Webb

Lawrence Tatham

David Blythe .

12th January 1787
Reference Numbert17870112-1

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155. SOPHIA PRINGLE was indicted for feloniously and falsely making, forging, and counterfeiting, on the 14th day of December last, a certain deed, with the name William Winterbourne thereto subscribed, purporting to be a letter of attorney, and to bear date, 13th of December, 1786, signed by one William Winterbourne , and to have been duly sealed and delivered by the said William

Winterbourne ; the tenure of which said false, forged, and counterfeit letter of attorney is in the words and figures following, that is to say;

"Know all men by these

"presents, that I, William Winterbourne ,

"of Cannon-street, St. George's, sawyer,

"do make, constitute, and appoint

" Elizabeth Winterbourne , of the same

"place, spinster, my true and lawful attorney,

"to sell, assign, or transfer all,

"or any part of 100 l. part of my interest,

"or share in the capital or joint stock of

"reduced annuity, at 3 l. per centum consolidared,

"by acts of parliament charged

"on the sinking fund, &c. and also to receive

"the consideration money, and give

"receipts for the same, and to do all lawful

"acts requisite for effecting the premises,

"hereby ratifying and confirming

"all and singular, &c. dated the 13th

"of December, in the year of our Lord,

"1786, William Winterbourne . Signed,

"sealed and delivered, being first duly

"stamped, in the presence of James White ,

"baker, Clapham, Surry; Charles Butcher ,

"taylor, Clapham, Surry," with intention to defraud the Bank.

A second count, For uttering the same, with the like intention, knowing it to be forged.

A third count, For forging the same, with intent to defraud William Winterbourne .

A fourth count, For uttering the same, with the like intention.

A fifth count, For forging the same, with intent to defraud John Adey .

A sixth count, For uttering the same, with the like intention.

A seventh count, For forging a certain letter of attorney, to sell, assign, and transfer 100 l. part of his stock, with intention to defraud the Bank.

An eighth count, Differing from the last in the description of the stock.

(The prisoner appeared to faint when brought into Court, and was supported by Mr. Only, the surgeon, and the two keepers.)

Mr. Garrow, one of the Counsel for the prosecution, opened the indictment.

And Mr. Silvester opened the Case as follows.

May it please your Lordship, and you Gentlemen of the Jury, I have likewise the honour to attend you as counsel for the prosecution against Sophia Pringle : The charge has been fully read to you, I shall shortly state the facts, and endeavour to state them as clear and accurate as I can, for you to judge of the guilt or innocence of the prisoner; the story that I have to tell you is of the most serious nature; perhaps this is the most serious trial you ever had before you in the course of your lives, it is no less a forgery than on the Bank, in which so many thousands of your fellow creatures property are interested: and very wisely certainly is it entrusted in the hands of a governor and proprietors, who are so watchful over it, that on the least attempt to defraud, diligent search is immediately made, and so diligent is that search, that no man can think of escaping; the case which I shall state to shew, will prove that this has not been done by a common ignorant person, but by a person possessing more art than at first one would conceive, from a person of the description of the young woman at the bar. Gentlemen, the prisoner Sophia Pringle , is the daughter of a journeyman taylor, who lives in Cannon-row, Ratcliffe-highway; the person whose name is forged was a sawyer, and at the time this forgery was committed, lodged at the house of this young woman's father; in 1785 she left her father's house, and hired herself as servant to a lady, in Duke-street, Portland-chapel, whilst she was in that service she got acquainted with a lottery-office keeper, and a matrimonial connection was thought of; she persuaded him she had some property; and looked upon him as a man of property; during her service with this lady she became acquainted with a man of the name of William Lewis , a hair dresser, who lived in Oxford-street,

and likewise with a person of the name of Mears, whose wife kept a green stall, and he was a cobler; after she left her service she went to lodge at the house of Lewis, who promised to introduce her as a millener, being very clever in that way; in that house she lodged, but being taken ill, the office keeper came to lodge in the same house, and she made herself answerable to the landlord for the lodging and board; this continued for some time, but Mr. Lewis receiving no money, he became exceedingly pressing, and she used to talk of going to her friends at Clapham. In November last, Lewis became so pressing for money, that she then told him she would endeavour to sell out some stock which she had in the Bank, on purpose to discharge that debt; she then applied to a Mr. Good, to know who was his broker, he living in the neighbourhood of her mistress in Portland-street; upon which, without any idea of an ill purpose, the name of Langdale was wrote upon a piece of paper; with this paper, on the 13th of December, she applied to Mr. Langdale the broker, and informed him she wished to have a power of attorney, to sell out a hundred pounds stock; she described her father to be a man in age, and living at Clapham, but having received an injury by a nail in his foot, he was unable to come to town, therefore it was necessary for a power of attorney to be made out to her; they went into the office, and there she gave verbal instructions to the broker, to have the letter of attorney filled up; she there described Winterbourne as a sawyer, living in Cannon-row, and herself as his daughter; the power of attorney was filled up, and he read it to her to know if the description he had given was correct; she then acquiesced in the description being a right one; as soon as she had given the name of Elizabeth Winterbourne , the next thing necessary was to get this signed: on the 14th she returned to the Bank with this power, compleatly filled up, the date to it, the names perfectly correct, with their additions; when it was produced the broker made the use of it he would of a genuine one; the stock was sold out; and the sum it produced was paid into her hands; at that time not the least suspicion had fallen on the prisoner: but a few days after, on the 20th of December, she again returned to the Bank, and applied again to the same broker for another instrument of the like nature, and that she said was for the purpose of selling out 150 l; Langdale knowing that he had transacted one power of attorney, and that that had met with no opposition, at that time had no idea that any thing would happen in this; but a circumstance struck him, which was, that the young woman who had appeared on the 13th to the 15th of December in the habit of a servant, should so recently return in a different situation, with her muff and feathers and dress, which it seemed she could not afford; he however gave her the power of attorney; a second power of attorney was accordingly made out in the same way, and this power she was to receive a day or two afterwards: This, her appearance had so forcibly struck Mr. Langdale, that meeting with a Mr. Simpson, a gentleman who resided near the place where this gentleman was described to live, he mentioned it to him as a very odd circumstance; enquiry was made, and Mr. Winterbourne was desired to attend; the young woman came for the power of attorney, and when she came there, in her presence, and in her hearing, Mr. Winterbourne was asked if that was his daughter; upon which, he immediately recognized her to be the daughter of his landlord, and not his own daughter, and this second power was not made use of: In the first I should have mentioned, that when a power is first used, there is a requisition on the back of it, which she signed by the name of Elizabeth Winterbourne ; the Bank, who are exceedingly active and diligent in detecting these forgeries, immediately made enquiries in what manner or how this could have been committed, because it was clearthat upon the face of the instrument, the hand writing was not of the name of Winterbourne, nor the name of the witnesses; diligent search was made, and though she might at that time think, that from the obscurity of the persons she employed they could not have been discovered, yet the activity of the Bank did discover it, and they have possessed themselves of the whole story, which is this: she applied to Mears, whose wife kept a green stall, and he was a cobler, and asked him if he could write; he said, he could not write; she asked him if he knew any body that could; he said, yes, there was a chairman in the neighbourhood, Dick Ayres , who he believed could write; she desired him to call him in, he came, but he wrote so bad a hand that it would not do: he said, I cannot write well, but there is my partner Devenish, he writes a good hand, I will call him in; upon which Devenish was called in; she was sitting at the table, and the warrant of attorney was so doubled up they could not see any thing of it; she produced to him the three names on paper; she told him it was a little bit of fun, this Christmas time; he wrote the name of Elizabeth Winterbourne ; she then desired him to write a smaller hand; she then apologized she had no money; he said, he did not mind money, she was very welcome: A few days afterwards she returned again, and went to Mears's, and desired his assistance a second time; he was not at home, but he came in in a few minutes; she then sent for Devenish; says, she, I want you to write those names again, for the fun was all lost, I lost the paper; upon which he complied with her request, and wrote the names; at that time he did not write the date, he was called back by Mears, or somebody; he put in the date, and she gave him a shilling for his trouble; the man was very thankful, did not wish for any thing, and went away. Gentlemen, it is certain that there were the names of three persons on this paper, how she got these names, or where she got them I cannot possibly give you in evidence, but the fact was, three names were produced, but how they were produced we do not know; having possessed herself of the warrant of attorney, and having been to Mr. Langdale, it was perfectly easy for her to transfer this stock; Mr. Langdale could not have any suspicion of a young woman that came to him in the name of a gentleman whom he knew very well, and the two chairmen could suspect nothing. Gentlemen, as to the law upon the subject, it is perfectly clear, a person forging the name of another, to defraud a third person is an offence, and an offence of a very high nature indeed; in this case the Bank have been defrauded, they are answerable and have made good the loss to Mr. Winterbourne, whose name has been forged. Gentlemen, the Bank in this case, think it their duty, though as men, they lament their situation, for it is a painful one, to bring a young woman to be tried at this bar for so high an offence; but it is a duty they owe themselves, a duty they owe the public, and also to every one of you, to put a stop if possible to these kind of practices; the property that you have acquired, you have placed in the hands of men from whom you expect to receive it; your earnings which you have placed there you expect to leave to your children; it is therefore incumbent on the Bank to protect that property, and to bring every criminal of this kind before you: This scheme seems to have been calculated more artfully, than one would expect from such a young woman; but Gentleman, the facts are, I am afraid, too plain; for it will be given in evidence to you, that she went to the Bank in the character and name of Elizabeth Winterbourne , and demanded to act under that power of attorney as such, and in that character received the money. Gentlemen, I say, if the crime is too plain and too pointed, it is incumbent on you to discharge your duty, which though a painful one, you will be forced to do, namely, to pronounce that young womanguilty of that high crime of forgery, for which she must answer with her life. But Gentlemen, if on the other hand, I have opened facts which cannot be proved in evidence, I shall be the first person to desire you to blot them out from your memory, and give them no attention at all; I have stated them not to direct, but to guide your judgement, and you will give that attention to them which I trust they deserve.


(Examined by Mr. Fielding.)

You are a broker? - Yes, Sir.

Do you know that unhappy young woman at the bar? - Yes.

Where did you first see her? - It was about the 12th of December that she came to me at the Stock-Exchange, in company with another person, an old woman whose name I have since understood is Mears, and asked me if my name was Langdale; I told her, yes; she produced a piece of paper, with the name wrote upon it; she likewise asked me if I did not do business for Mr. Good, of Queen-Ann-street, East; I told her, I did; she said, she wanted a power of attorney to sell 100 l. three per cent. for her father who was in the country; I asked her name, she said Winterbourne; that Mr. Good was her father's intimate friend, and that he had recommended her to me; that her father, William Winterbourne, of Cannon-street, sawyer, for that was his name and description, as she mentioned Ratcliffe-highway, had run a nail into his foot, and was at Clapham for his health, and could not come; and that her father had wrote her a letter, desiring her to take out a letter of attorney to sell out 100 l. part of his three per cents, and for her to be the attorney; this I think was the 12th of December, or thereabouts; it happened to be about two o'clock; I asked her which three per cents; she said, she did not recollect, for she had left her father's letter at home; I told her, if it was the three per cent. consolidated nothing could be done for a month, that she might go away for that day; and she returned the next day, and said it was the three per cent. reduced annuities; the books of that stock were open; I wrote the instructions, and carried them to the clerk; the description agreed, the Christian name, the sirname, the place of abode, and the profession, according to the books; I left her in a corner of the office with the proper clerk to make out the power, which he did; she said, she would go over to Clapham that afternoon, and get the power executed, and bring it the next day; the next day she brought it, and left it with the proper clerk in the office; I looked at it, and upon inspection it appeared to me to have all the necessary parts; it was left; the next day she came according to my desire, and said, if the power was passed she would do the business; that was on the 15th; when she came the next day, seeing her, I went and asked whether the power was passed; he said, it was; accordingly as I could have no suspicion of the business, and all was regular, I sold the stock, and paid her the money; this was on the 15th; I paid her 73 l. 12 s. 6 d. nett, in three 20 l. notes, and the rest in cash; I always take a memorandum of the number of those bank notes; she went away, and I believe she said, she was going to Clapham; I think there was a young woman with her when she went to Clapham; she was then dressed in a very plain decent manner; on the 20th she made application to me again to transact some business of the same sort; but I cannot say I recollected her immediately on her coming, she had metamorphosed herself so much; I did not know her till she told me her name.

In what rank of life might you have supposed her to have been in the first time? - As the daughter of a sawyer, a man in trade; the next time she was dressed like a lady; she told me her name was Winterbourne; I looked at her and discovered it was the same; she then said her father wanted to sell another 150 l. reduced annuities, and desired I would take out another

power of attorney; accordingly I gave the necessary directions to the clerk as before; but having been struck with this alteration in her garb, I recollected that Mr. Simpson had done business for this person before; on inspecting the books to see whether the account was right, therefore I applied to Mr. Simpson, and in consequence of something that he said, Mr. Winterbourne attended on a subsequent day, when she was in the accomptant room; on the 22d, when she came to bring the second power of attorney, she was asked whether her name was Elizabeth Winterbourne ; she said, yes; I then asked her whether she saw her father sign this power; she said, she did; as soon as these questions had been asked, the old man, Mr. Winterbourne, who was in waiting, was called into the room, and he was asked whether that was his daughter, and he answered no, it was not, nor did he recollect at that time who it was; but upon the reply of the old man, the prisoner fell down in a very strong fit; after she fainted away he recognized who she was.

Who did he say she was?

Mr. Knowlys. I object to that question, she was in a fit, and must be considered as not being present.

Mr. Fielding. When the girl recovered so as in your opinion to have her intelligence about her, did he say who she was? - I continued in the room but a short time with her; I left her in that situation in the accomptant's room.

Had any thing more been said in her presence and hearing by Winterbourne who she was? - I do not recollect there was; the next day I saw her in the Bank parlour at the examination.

Who were present at the examination, was Winterbourne there? - During part of the examination; I do not recollect whether he was there the whole time; I believe not.

At that time did he say who she was? - I do not recollect indeed; we did not ask him.

Then what was said to the girl about this? - He said nothing to her in my hearing.

What was said to the girl when she was in her senses? - It was during the time of her fainting away.

Mr. Knowlys. You are not to tell us that.

Mr. Fielding. But I mean the next day, what she said or was said to her about her real name? - I cannot say: we all then knew very well her real name was Sophia Pringle .

Yes, but was any thing said to her about it? - I cannot say; I cannot give you an account of her examination, if you mean that; I was in the corner of the room giving my own evidence.

Court. These examinations were taken in writing; are they returned? - Yes.

Did you speak to her on the subject of her name, when you had collected that her real name was not Winterbourne? - No, I did not.

Mr. Knowlys. I do not ask him any thing at present.

(The prisoner being left for a minute fell down, and after some time Mr. Only, the surgeon, desired some wine and water might be given the prisoner, for she was recovering, but was very low; some wine and water was ordered by the Court, and brought to the prisoner, but she instantly fell into a second fit.)


I am a clerk in the three per cent, reduced office, in the Bank; I have here the stock ledger.

Be so good as to tell my Lord and the gentlemen, whether William Winterbourne, of Cannon-street, Ratcliff, in the parish of St. George's, was possessed of any stock on the 14th of December, and before that time? - (Reads.)


"Winterbourne, 1786, May 30th, by

" John Gunston , 400 l." The description of the proprietor is not in the ledger; the first transfer was made the 15th of November,

1786; the 15th of December 100 l. was transferred to John Adey .

Does it appear whether in person or not? - It does not; it appears by the transfer book, William Winterbourne , Cannon-street, St. George's, Sawyer; transfers 100 l. by attorney, to John Adey , subscribed Elizabeth Winterbourne , attorney to William Winterbourne . I witnessed this transfer.

Who was the person that made the transfer? - The prisoner at the bar.

You recollect her person? - No, I cannot say I do.

Then some person signed that name? - Yes.

Is that demand to act witnessed by you? - It is signed by me.

Was that signed by the same person that signed the transfer? - It was.

Was it indorsed on that letter of attorney? - It was.

Court to Langdale. You likewise witnessed that transfer? - Yes.

Who was the person that signed that demand to act, and the transfer? - The prisoner at the bar.

Is that the first power of attorney, that was procured on your application in pursuance of the directions you have stated to have received from the prisoner? - It is the very same.

Filled up according to her instructions? - Exactly so.

You said there was an application to you for a second letter of attorney? - There was.

Is that the instrument that was issued in consequence of that application? - It is the very same.

Is that the instrument which was produced to you on the 22d, and under which she then demanded to act? - It is.

Mr. Knowlys. Was this which I see now, written all at one time? - The body of this first letter of attorney was most certainly written all at the same time, excepting the date and the execution, she was to take it when it was filled up; of course it was.

Were these instructions after it was written, never altered? - I never altered them; and I know they were right.

Were they ever altered in your presence? - No certainly not.

Was the description ever altered? - No.

Was the description of Mr. Winterbourne altered at any time? - No.

Is that exactly in the state as when you first received it? - Exactly in the state as when I received it; there is no alteration that I can perceive, nor no erasure; there is no other addition made on the face of the power, except the bank notes.

Has there been any alteration in the name by which it is executed? - None at all that I can perceive.

Do you know of any alteration? - None at all.

Mr. Garrow. Have you any doubt whether it was altered at all after it was delivered to the Bank? - Certainly, not in the least; the Bank never suffer a power to go out of their hands after they receive it, especially after it is acted upon.

The indictment read and examined by Mr. Knowlys.

The letter of attorney read.


I live in Edward-street, Mary-le-bone; I am a shoe-maker; I have known the prisoner very near a twelve-month.

What is her name? - Sophia Pringle .

Did you see her any time in December last? - I really cannot say, it was a little before Christmas.

Do you remember any thing particular that passed at your house? - I remember her coming one morning as I was at breastfast, and she said, how do you do? Mr. Mears; how do you do Sophy? says I; with that, says she, I want to speak to you; I went with her into the back kitchen, and there was a chairman with me, one Dick Ayres ; and she asked me whether I could write, I said no, she asked me if I knew any body that could, and I

told her no, I did not; she said do you think that chairman can write, and she asked him; he took a pen in his hand and wrote, but what, I cannot tell; she said something to him, but whether it would do or would not do, I cannot tell; but however, he said, I will step and fetch my partner who can write; he fetched his partner, who wrote what she wanted; his name is Francis Devenish , I think; I am not well acquainted with the man; he wrote something, and went away, but what it was I could not tell; and she went soon after he went away; in about a week after she came again, and asked me if I knew where the chairman was, for she had lost the writings which he had wrote for her before, and she wanted him to write them few lines over again for her; I met with him in Portland-street, with a horse job, all of a sweat, and he came and wrote, and she made him a present of a shilling, which he said he did not desire; she asked my wife to go with her into the city, and she said, I cannot, for I have business and I have no shoes, says Sophy, here are three shillings, that will buy you a new pair of leather; and I went and bought them, and my wife put them on, and went with her into the city.

At the first writing, was your wife at home? - No, she was out at a day's washing.

Mr. Leach. You say Devenish was twice at your house? - Yes.

And at both times wrote something on a piece of paper? - Yes.


I am wife of the last witness.

Do you know that unhappy young woman at the bar? - Yes.

What is her name? - Sophia Pringle .

How long have you known her? - About a twelvemonth.

Do you remember to have seen her at your house in December, before Christmas? - I do not remember the time; she applied to me to go with her into the city the day she was taken; I went with her once before to the Bank; the first time she did not do any thing, but the last time she left me in the street, and I waited for her pretty nigh an hour and half; she did not stop two minutes the first time.

How long was she absent the last time? - I never saw her after she left me in the street.

Do you remember Devenish coming to your house? - Yes.

The first time you went with her, who did you see? - A gentleman came to the door and spoke to her.

Should you know that gentleman again? - I do not know.

Look at that gentleman, Mr. Langdale? - Yes, that is the gentleman; I heard her tell that gentleman that her father was at Clapham; I saw Devenish at our house, but I did not know his name, he was doing something on a piece of paper, but what, I cannot say.

Was he writing? - He had a pen in his hand, who gave him the paper I do not know; that young woman stood over him.

It was the second time you went with her to the bank? - Yes, and she left me in the street with her muff, and bid me wait, she should not be long.


I am a chairman, my partner's name is Francis Devenish ; I know Mears; he lives in Edward-street.

Do you remember seeing that young woman at Mears's, at any time? - I cannot say; I told the Grand Jury so before.

Do you remember seeing any young woman there at any time? - Yes.

Was Mears present then? - Yes, it might be a week or ten days before Christmas.

What passed between you and that young woman who was there? - This man is a shoe-maker; I went for a pair of shoes; a young woman was there; and Mears knew I could write, and he asked

me if I would be so kind as to write a person's name for the young woman.

Was that in the hearing of the young woman? - Yes, I told her I could write a very indifferent hand, and she brought a piece of paper, and a pen, and ink, and I wrote about five letters of my Christian name, and she said that would not do.

What passed then? - She said she wished I knew of any body that could write a good hand; I hesitated a minute, and I recollected my partner Devenish, and I told her so; she wished I would go and fetch him, and I did; and there was a pen and ink, and she desired him to write, that she might see how he wrote; and he did so, he wrote once or twice, and she said she thought it would do, only she mentioned one word, she said she wished it to be fuller at the top; then he wrote that word again; then she desired him to write the name upon another piece of paper.

Who produced that other paper? - She had the paper there, then he wrote a name upon that other paper, but what name I cannot say, I did not take any particular notice.

Where was the young woman at the time he wrote on that paper? - She was sitting close by him.

What was done with the paper after he wrote? - That I cannot pretend to say; I went out and left the young woman there with the papers, and Devenish went out two minutes before me; I stood by the fire; I did not look over them; I am sure I should not know the name.

Mr. Knowlys. You say you do not know who the young woman was? - No, I do not indeed.


I am a chairman, and partner with Ayres.

Do you know Mears? - Not till lately; I was at his house twice, that was all that ever I was there; Ayres the chairman carried me there; there was Ayres and Mears, and a young woman; I saw her face this morning, it was the same face I saw this morning and the person; but there was a great alteration in her dress; Ayres came to me, and he said, I wish you would come to Mears's, there is a young woman there wants something wrote, and I have wrote a word, and cannot write it well enough; I went and there was that gentlewoman, she sat upon a chair on the side of the table, and she shewed me a piece of paper, with a name upon it, and asked me if I could write like that, and I said yes; it was pretty near my hand; then she gave me a piece of blank paper to write on first, and I wrote; then she gave me some names to write down, and I wrote them; she said, she was very much obliged to me.

Upon what did you write them? - Upon a piece of paper folded up; it might be two or three inches in length.

Look at this letter of attorney? - That is my writing, all the three names, it was doubled up in quarters; she had some pieces of paper in her hand; she said it was a piece of fun; she was very merry, and laughed, and I went away, and she gave me thanks; I saw her again in three or four days before Christmas; there was a gentleman came to me in the morning to fetch home some things upon a chair man's horse; coming home I stopped at our public house, I sweat very much; and the master of the public house said, here has been somebody here wants you, at No. 11, Edward-street; and as I was going home to the gentleman's door, Mears the shoemaker, (I did not know his name then) he said I must come to his house; when I went, there was the same woman, but I did not know her again, till she spoke to me and said, chairman, I want you again to write these names, I have lost the other piece of paper; I sweat very much, and the sweat run down my face; she said to the woman of the house, see if there is any brandy in the bottle; and the woman gave me half a glass of brandy, and I drank it; and then she shewed me a single name, which I think was William Winterbourne , or some such name, on a single piece of paper; I fancy it was the same she shewed

me before; then she put a piece of blank paper, and desired me to write the name first, I wrote it; oh, says she, that will do very well, write it down here, so I wrote it down again; then she did not shew me the other two names; she desired me to write two names more, and told me the names, and spelled them to me, and I wrote after her two names; and she put her hand in her pocket, and said chairman, I will not trouble you twice for nothing, here is a shilling for you; I went away, and said, madam, I am obliged to you; when I got a little way, Mears called called me back again, chairman, chairman, you are wanted; and I went back, and she had got the paper, says she, you have forgot to put the day of the month; there was hardly room to put the day of the month, I could but just write it; then I went home, that is all I know: in the second that I wrote, the last name is very large; this is the last.

Are you sure that is your hand-writing? - Yes, I am very sure.

Mr. Knowlys. What do you call yourself? - A chairman.

How long have you been in London? - I was in London when King George the second died.

Have you constantly followed that business? - No, Sir, I have been in several other employments off and on; for these seven years, I have done nothing else but chair work and horse jobbing.

How long is it, that you have been ready to write names for any person that asks you? - I never was in any scrape before, I hope I shall be careful for the future; nobody ever asked me before, I took her for a gentlewoman.

Then you state yourself to be a man that would at any time write your name to any thing whatever? - No, Sir, I should not, if I thought there was any harm in it.

Have you ever seen that person who desired you to write that name from that time, till this morning? - No.

At whose desire did you go to see this person this morning? - The keeper went up with me.

Was not you told at the time that the person for whom you had written the name, was in custody for it? - No, he opened the door, and asked me if I knew that woman; I said I took that to be the woman I had written the names for.

How came you to Newgate? - I went with one that forced me, I went with the keeper of Tothilfields; he never said a word till he opened the door.

You never saw this person before you wrote the name? - No.

WILLIAM LEWIS (a black) sworn.

Do you know that young woman at the bar? - I have not seen her since she was taken; I cannot see her face.

Go and look at her? (The keeper forced up her head.) I know her, I have known her about a twelvemonth.

What is her name? - Sophia Pringle , that is the name I have known her by all the time; my wife has known her the same time.


I live at Clapham; I am collector of the land-tax there.

Do you know any such person as James White , a baker, at Clapham? - No, Sir, not to my knowledge.

Do you know such a person as Charles Butcher , a taylor? - No, Sir, I do not, I have known Clapham above thirty years, and I do not recollect any persons of those names.

Mr. Knowlys. I take it in your department, you take no notice of the very numerous persons that come to Clapham for their health? - No, Sir, only housekeepers.

If any person of the name of White, a baker; or Butcher, a taylor, came to lodge any little time at Clapham, should you have known them as lodgers? - No, Sir, only as house-keepers.

Many thousands of people have lodged at Clapham during the time that you have

known Clapham, that you have known nothing or? - Certainly.


I am collector of the poor rates; I have lived at Clapham these ten years.

Do you known James White , a baker; or Charles Butcher , a taylor? - No.

Mr. Knowlys. You take no notice of lodgers in your office? - No.


I know the prisoner, she lodged at my house for three months and a fortnight.

By what name? - Sophia Pringle .

Did you ever know her by any other name? - No.

Court to Prisoner. Would you wish to say any thing for yourself.

Prisoner. I leave it to my counsel.


I am a taylor in Virginia-street, Ratcliffe-highway; I have known the prisoner nine years, if I live till next February; her general character, till this unhappy affair, has been always good, and praise-worthy; about nine years ago I lost my wife, and a little girl of mine went out to board with her father and mother for five years; of five years and a half, there was not a Sunday but what I breakfasted, dined, and spent the day with them, and took the prisoner to church with me; I know her character to have been good and praise-worthy.


I live at Hackney; I am a carpenter; I have known the prisoner and family for near twenty years; I never knew any thing amiss of her till this time; her father and mother were tenants to me several years.


I am a gardener in Hackney parish; I have known the prisoner ever since she was a little child till this time; her character has always been praise-worthy.


I have known the prisoner fourteen years, always in the most respectable character that any one young person could be; she behaved with sobriety and honesty all the time.


I live in Charlotte-street, Portland-place; I have known her between three and four years; she lived exactly opposite my door for a twelvemonth; she deserved a good character from me.


I have known the prisoner from her infancy; I never heard any thing against her character, but I have not known her for these four or five years past.


I live in Duke's-court, St. Martin's-lane; I am a salesman and taylor; her father worked for me; I have known her four or five years a very worthy good kind of girl; she lived servant with a relation of mine at Hackney.


I have known the prisoner as long as I can remember, a very honest good character.

The learned Judge summed up the evidence to the Jury, during which the prisoner attempted to write; and Mr. Akerman informed the Court, that she wanted to speak to Mr. Jonas, her attorney; Mr. Jonas went and spoke to her, and informed the Court that she did not intimate any thing material.

The Jury conferred a few minutes, and gave their verdict GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. Justice ASHURT.

12th January 1787
Reference Numbert17870112-2

Related Material

156. MARY CUMMINS , otherwise FORBES , was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 1st day of January , forty-nine yards of thread-lace, value 49 s. and

one hundred and nine yards of silk ribbon, value 40 s. the property of Robert Dyde , privily in his shop .


I live in Pall-mall ; I keep a haberdashers shop ; the prisoner came to my house on Monday, the 1st of January, under the character of a country shop-keeper, to purchase a quantity of goods, which she was to pay ready money for; I desired Isaac Smith , one of my shopmen, to wait upon her; I went into the back shop; she stopped in my shop, to the best of my recollection, near an hour; and during that time the shopman came to me, and told me he suspected the woman from her actions to be a shop-lifter; he said, he believed he had missed two or three pieces of ribbon off the counter, and that the prisoner had got them; I told him to go back and wait on the prisoner as before, and I would send for a constable; I accordingly sent another person for a constable, and ordered the constable to wait at the door till she went out of the shop; she went out of the shop half an hour after; she was an hour, or an hour and a half in the shop; she looked out a parcel of goods that amounted from the appearance of them, from seventy to one hundred pounds; when she went out of the house, I sent the shopman after her to bring her back, and the constable took her up stairs; as there were several ladies in the shop at that time, I did not wish to create any confusion in the shop; I was present when she was searched, and the constable found upon her a card of lace, and seven half pieces of ribbon, and a remnant of about ten yards; the whole of the ribbon was one hundred and nine yards, or something more, I believe; I saw them taken from her; she was taken to Justice Hyde's; I went there; the constable attempted to search her, and she took the chief of them out of her pocket, and begged we would let her go, and not expose her; the thread-lace is one shilling a yard, and the ribbon is worth about five-pence a yard; the value of the ribbon is four pounds nine shillings; she was committed.

Did she tell you who she was? - She first said her name was Forbes, but before the Justice, she said her name was not Forbes, but Cummins; I do not recollect seeing her before; but when she came into the shop, she said she had been in the shop a year ago, and bought a parcel of goods, and paid ready money for them; and one of my clerks says, he recollects her; nobody came with her or after her as I can recollect; nobody appeared connected with her, or belonged to her; she passed entirely, and acted in looking out the goods, as a woman that knew business exceeding well.


I am shopman to the last witness; the prisoner came to our house, on the 1st of January; I was to serve her; she first of all wanted something in the millenery line of one of the ladies in the back warehouse; on returning out of the room, I asked her if there was any thing I could serve her with; she said she wanted several articles in the haberdashery line, she kept a shop at Winchester; she said first ribbons, she looked out a considerable quantity; I turned to reach a different colour that she wanted; and when I turned back, I missed some pieces off the counter; I had every reason to suspect the prisoner guilty, there not being another customer near me at the time.

What did you miss when you turned back again? - Two half pieces of ribbon; nobody was near but her and me, except two or three of the servants in the shop that were passing and repassing; I did not find the colour that she wanted; I informed her I would look into the drawer of cut ribbons; I reached that out, and she fixed on the colour that she wanted.

Did you see her take any thing? - I cannot positively say I saw her take any thing, but I thought I saw her put something into her pocket, which I took to be the end of a ribbon block, which is the

white paper put over the end of the ribbon; she fixed on two or three different colours of ribbons which she liked in the drawer, which were cut; I informed her if that was not a sufficient quantity, I would get her a piece of the same, she said she would take what there was of them; I then went and informed my master that I suspected her; I immediately left him and went and shewed her more pieces of ribbon.

Did you then tell him you had seen her put something in her pocket that appeared to you like the end of a ribbon block? - I did not.

But are you sure that you saw it? - I am sure that I saw it; after I had done serving her with some ribbons, she asked to look at some lace, and I shewed her two or three different drawers, and she looked out a very considerable quantity to a very considerable amount; they were not measured; after she had looked out what lace she wanted, she said, I will not look out any more now, can you measure these things over now while I am here; I said it will take some time to measure them; she said if you will be so obliging to do it immediately, I will call in the course of two hours, and I beg you will have a bill made out of the lace and ribbons, and to mark the ribbons that I may know what to sell them for, and the lace likewise; she begged I would not delay any time, as she was under the necessity of returning to Winchester that evening; this was the morning of the first of January; I cannot say the hour; she begged I would get them all ready to pack up in a chest, and get the chest ready, and a bill and receipt, and she would pay for them on her return, I then suffered the prisoner to go out of the shop; after she had got about eight or ten yards, I went after her, and told her that there was some part of the ribbons that I was not sensible how she would have them charged; I begged her to come back and tell me; she came back, and I desired her to walk up stairs in the dining room; and the constable went with me; immediately upon her entering into the room, she took from under her cloak, upwards of forty-nine yards of lace, a large card, I saw her take it from under her cloak; I did not see her take any of the lace in the shop, and I had not the least suspicion of her taking it: at the time she took the lace from under her cloak, she was amazingly confused; I begged she would put her hand in her pocket; the constable was then present, and pulled out the ribbons which she had taken of Mr. Dyde's property; she pulled out all I believe she had.

Did she say any thing? - She was very much confused, and hoped we would not expose her; she delivered up the whole of the property that she had in her possession, and begged we would let her go; she was immediately taken to the Justice's where I was present; she was examined there.

Was that examination taken in writing? - Yes.

Had you ever seen her before? - Never in my life to the best of my knowledge.

Were these pieces of ribbon and the lace together? - She had them in her possession.

Were they in the same drawer? - No, they were in separate drawers; she looked them out separately.

Did you see her take any of them out of any of the drawers? - She took them, I imagine, from off the counter after she had looked them out of the drawers.

Were they all upon the counter at the same time? - She had not done looking out the whole of the ribbons before I missed some.

Did you shew her the lace after she had done looking out the ribbons or before? - After.


I am the constable; I was sent for to Mr. Dyde's; when I came there the prisoner was in the shop; the shopman ordered me to wait at the door; I waited at the door a considerable time; when she came out of the shop, and Mr. Smith followed

her, and he and I brought her back again; we took her up in the dining room, and in searching her I found this piece of ribbon, and the lace; I stripped her almost naked, as far as decency would permit; I searched her; the first pull I made, was getting the lace from under her cloak; some she pulled out, and some I took out of her pockets; the lace and ribbons have been in my custody ever since.

(Produced and deposed to.)

Smith. I know the whole of them to be my master's property by the private mark; except two half pieces of ribbon which are not marked.

Was it the seeing her have the end of the block in her hand as you thought, that gave you the suspicion? - No, I suspected her from missing two pieces of ribbon; I did not see her take the lace; I had not the least knowledge of her having it in her possession.

Was what you saw any thing wrapped up in paper? - It was like the paper at the end of a piece of ribbon, her hand was over it.

Could it be the lace? - No.

Prisoner. I have nothing to say in my own defence; I rely on the mercy of the Court and Jury.

Have you any witnesses? - Nobody knows any thing of my situation.

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILSON.

12th January 1787
Reference Numbert17870112-3
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

Related Material

157. MARY ATKINSON was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 8th of January , four yards of printed cotton, value 12 s. the property of Richard Birchall and Henry Wilding , privily in their shop .


I am partner with Henry Wilding ; on Monday last, between the hours of twelve and two, a man came with a remnant of printed callico, wishing to know whether it was our's; I told him it was our's; I knew it for several reasons, by the pattern, the quantity, and a particular mark which was on it; the young man took it back; I saw no more of it till I saw it at Justice Hyde's; on the same day, I believe about two, I saw the prisoner, where there was taken from her by one of the runners at that office, a quarter of a yard of Irish, which she had bought at my shop that morning.

Was it in your presence? - Yes.


I live with my brother, the corner of Leicester-square ; the prisoner about Monday last, the 8th of January, came into our shop; our young man waited upon her; I suppose she staid there a quarter of an hour; as she was going out of the door I perceived at the window from the door when she opened it, something under her cloak, that I thought appeared rather large; I immediately leaped from the counter and pursued her into the street, and stopped her, three doors distance from our door; I told her I suspected she had something more than was her own; she immediately said, she had no goods belonging to us; she immediately came back with me, and when she came into the shop, I looked withinside her cloak, and she pulled out this piece; I sent to enquire whose it was; mean while he prisoner made a stroke at some boys that were playing, and she ran away; she was overtaken in Bear-street, and taken to Justice Hyde's; I gave her to the care of the clerk, and on returning home I found it belonged to the prosecutor.

(The piece produced and deposed to by Mr. Birchall.)

Gates. I know it by a figure.

Mr. Peatt, Prisoner's Counsel. I presume you know you have lost a piece of that quantity? - Most certainly.

But you do not know it by a deficiency of stock? - We have not taken stock since.

Is that figure that you say you know, a small figure? - Yes.

Can you swear to a small figure on a piece of cloth? - Yes.


I belong to Mr. Hyde's office; I searched the prisoner, and found a quarter of a yard of cloth in her pocket, which the gentleman said, she bought of him; that is all I know.


I am shopman to Mess. Birchall and Wilding; I served the prisoner with a quarter of a yard of Irish the same day; I cannot swear to the piece; I am sure of the woman; as to this piece of callico I have seen the pattern at our house; there is not the least doubt but it is theirs.

Do you know that that is their property? - I cannot say, because I did not see the woman steal it.


I was shopman at the prosecutors a week preceding that time; I had left him just before.

Was that piece of callico when you left the shop Mr. Birchall and Wilding's property? - To the best of my knowledge it was; I measured it the week before; this is my mark; but I do not know whether it continued in the shop after I left it.

Mr. Peatt. Could you have known that to be your masters property, if you saw it at another shop in turning over a multitude of pieces, without any impression of a theft on your mind? - In all probability there might be more of the same.


I am in the prosecutor's shop; I know this piece of printed callico perfectly well.

Is it your masters property? - Yes, I believe it is; I know it by the pattern; this was the only piece of the kind we had in the house when we took stock.

How lately before the time it was taken away had you seen it in the shop? - Not more than half an hour, I had it in my hands; I do not know that any body was in the shop before I missed it from that spot, except William Lloyd ; I believe I was in the shop during the whole of that half hour; I did not sell it to any body; there was nobody in the shop but the prisoner, till the remnant came from Mr. Gates's.

Lloyd. It was upon the counter when the prisoner came in; I cannot say what part of the counter; I observed it about eleven or twelve o'clock.

How many persons might come into the shop from the time you saw it to the time you served her with the Irish? - There might have been some.

Prisoner. I leave it to my counsel.

GUILTY , Death .

She was humbly recommended to mercy by the Jury.

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

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