Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 20 July 2019), July 1746, trial of John Smith (t17460702-24).

John Smith, Theft > grand larceny, 2nd July 1746.

270. John Smith , of the Parish of St. Anne's , was indicted, for that he, on the 14th of June last, did feloniously take and carry away one Promissory Note, No. 384, subscrib'd with the Name of Ralph Morrison , Value 20 l. the Property of William Twiss .

Council. Please your Lordship, and Gentlemen of the Jury, I am Council on the Side of the Prosecutor; the Prisoner stands indicted for feloniously taking and carrying away a Promissory Note, No. 384, payable to Mr. Thomas Floyd , the Property of William Twiss . My Lord, the Case is, in short, this: Upon the 14th of June last, one Mr. Griffith sent a Bank Note to Mr. Twiss, to be exchang'd for Silver; Mr. Smith, the Defendant, receiv'd it; I believe every Body knows there has been a considerable Loss of Bank Notes; Mrs. Twiss being afraid she should be impos'd upon, compar'd it with the Notes in the Advertisement, and therefore was willing to change it. The Prisoner was sitting in a little Room of the Publick House, and desir'd Mrs. Twiss to let him have a Look at it, which she did, and he return'd it again. As she was going away with it, he (the Prisoner) desir'd she would favour him with another Sight of it; being in a Hurry Mrs. Twiss leaves the Note in the Prisoner's Hands. The Prisoner had with him a little Girl, about eight or nine Years of Age; and while Mrs. Twiss was counting up the Change, he took the Opportunity to go away with the Note, Mrs. Twiss's Back being towards him; but missing the Prisoner, she told her Husband of it, upon which this Man was immediately pursu'd; they follow'd him to his Lodgings, at one Mrs. Jones's ; when they came there he was at the Vault; for some Time he offer'd to go before a Justice of Peace, or deposit the Value in Mrs Twiss's Hand: There was one there passes for his Wife; she desir'd there might be no Noise about the Note, for it should be produced: She said, Nay, it may be among the Child's Playthings, for she is exceeding fond of Paper. There was one Mr. Clark and Laurence call'd to their Assistance, as a sort of Guard; yet he run out of the House, and went into Hare-Street, Piccadilly; there he stay'd for some Time: From thence he made his Escape, got out at the Back-Door, into a Gentleman's Airy, where he was taken and carry'd to the Watch-house. The Bank Note was not found upon him, nor had he any Money about him at that Time. The next Night Mrs. Jones, his Landlady gave the Note to Mr. Twiss.

My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, I have open'd the Case, and will call my Witnesses in order to prove it. I shall not attempt to do any thing by way of Exaggeration against the Prisoner; but if we prove him guilty we hope you will find him so.

Council for the Prisoner. May it please your Lordship, and Gentlemen of the Jury, I submit it whether, according to his own Opening, 'tis not a Breach of Trust.

Q. (to Mrs. Twiss) Where do you live?

Twiss. At the Horse and Dolphin by St. Anne's, Soho.

Q. Have you ever seen the Prisoner at the Bar before?

Twiss . I never did, 'till the Time he took the Bank Note.

Q. When was it?

Twiss. Upon a Saturday, the 14th Day of June; I had an Acquaintance along with me in my Bar-Room. This Prisoner came into the House, introduced himself into the Bar-Room, and was very free with my Acquaintance, Mrs. Catherine Wood . I was backward when the Prisoner came into the House. There was a little Girl he brought along with him; Mrs. Wood said, Do you know this Man? I said I knew the Girl; she came three or four Times a Day to the House; she lodg'd at a Neighbour's. And as he sat there, by and by, Mr. Griffith, a Master Taylor in Gerrard Street, sent a Bank Note (by Giles Webb , his Apprentice) and desir'd I would give him Change for it to pay his Men. The Advertiser lay upon the Table in the little Room; I stepp'd into the little Room, and said, I will look if this Note is not one of those advertis'd. When I had look'd at it, the Prisoner said, Pray let me compare the Note and the Paper together; which I did, my Lord, and stood by to receive it back again: He return'd it to me again, and in a Moment after he had done it, he said, Pray indulge me a second Time, and let me compare the the Names. The Boy stood by me, my Lord, that wanted the Change, and said, My Master is in Haste for Change; so I went to the Box, directly facing the Room; the Boy sat facing the Door, and I had my Back to it: The Gentlewoman that was in the Room came out, and, as she past, clapp'd me on the Shoulder, and said, Take Care of your Note. My Husband was then come into the Room, and was backwards and forwards, and ask'd me how much Change Mr. Griffith wanted; I said, Twenty Pounds; he said, I know that, but did he want Gold or Silver; but the Boy that I gave the Change to saw the Man go out. When I had done I went to the Bar, and said to my Husband, Have you got the Note? he said, No; then said I, Run after the Man that lodges at Jones's, for he has got it.

Q. And how long was this after you gave him the Note the second Time ?

Twiss. When I had given him the Change, which was only nine Pounds in Silver, and the rest in Gold, and when I went to the Bar it was gone; it might be three or four Minutes.

Q. Do you know any Thing further?

Twiss. No more than that I went to his Lodgings, to Mrs. Jones; when we came, they said he was at the Vault ; he went through the Passage into the Vault; so I said to my Husband, Pray fetch him out, he will make away with the Note: When he came out he said, What is it you want? I said, I come for the Note; he said he had return'd it; I said, that he did the first Time, but not the second. The Woman said she would examine the Girl, for she was exceeding fond of Papers; she said, may be she had it among her Playthings.

Q. Who was this Woman?

Twiss. The Woman he lives with, one Mrs. Chaff, sometimes goes for his Wife; they began to quarrel before us; he said, this is what you have brought me to, &c. for she said, if it was not found she would answer for it. He said we had no proper Officers, and could not detain him; then . Thomas Laurence desir'd us to send for somebody else, which we did, we sent for Mr. Clark; when he came he call'd for a Light, but we could have none, and the Prisoner made his Escape into Jones's Shop, and hid himself there ; but Laurence and Clark serch'd him out : Then, Sir, immediately after that he burst open the Door, and got out into the Street .

Q. (to Catherine Wood ) Do you remember being at Mr. Twiss's ?

Wood. Yes, it was the 14th of June, being Saturday .

Q. Did you see the Prisoner come into the House?

Wood. I was in the Room when the Prisoner came in and sat down, and I thought I had as much Right to sit there as he, and I kept my Place. I was there when this Note came to be exchang'd. Mrs. Twiss took up the Paper and brought the Note in her Hand; the Prisoner desir'd to see the Note, and she gave it him into his Hand, and he gave it her again: As she turn'd her Back he desir'd he might be indulg'd with the Sight of it once more; which she did, and gave it him again.

Q. Did he return it again?

Wood. He did not. I got up and went away; as I went into the publick Room I desir'd Mrs. Twiss to take care of her Note.

Q. Pray, how came you to bid her take care of her Note?

Wood. I can't say I lik'd the Person.

Q. So he was perusing the Note when you went away?

Wood. Yes, My Lo rd.

Q. Did you know the Prisoner at the Bar before?

Wood. No.

Council. Then you had no Reason to have a Suspicion of him?

Wood. When he receiv'd it the second Time he held it up to the Window, and said it was possible to cancel it; that he thought it possible to put out Thomas Floyd , and put in Edward, which was advertis'd.

Richard Hall. On Saturday the 14th of June I call'd to see Mrs. Twiss, being old Acquaintance. I went into the Publick Room; she said there was an Acquaintance of mine, Mrs. Wood; she shew'd me into the little Room behind the Bar. While I was there, there came a Bank Note to be exchang'd. There lay the News Paper on the Table before the Prisoner.

Q. Did any of you know him?

Hall. I never saw him in my Life before. When the Note came, said Mrs. Twiss, I will look and see if 'tis one of those that are advertis'd. The Prisoner being very officious, he was desirous to see it: The Person for the Change being in Ha, she desir'd it of him again; he return'd it, but he desir'd just to be indulged with another Look again . He held the News Paper in one Hand, and the Note in the other; I can't say how long at that Time . Mrs. Wood went away, but I remain'd in the Room . I was the last, I did not see him deliver the Note again to Mrs. Twiss.

Q. Where was Mrs. Twiss ?

Hall. Mrs. Twiss was in the Publick Room giving the Change .

Q. Then there was No-body in the Bar-Room but you and the Prisoner?

Hall. No; there was a little Child came in and out.

Q. What happen'd after that Time? Was he perusing it ?

Hall. The Prisoner soon went away: I was the last in the Room, and he must take it away, for there was nothing left in the Room.

Q. How long might be the Time that you was in the Room after he went off.

Hall. I went away directly after him.

Q. Where was Mrs. Twiss?

Hall. Mrs. Twiss was in the publick Drinking Room, and had not finish'd giving the Change.

Q. Did you follow him?

Hall. I stay'd in the Room; it might be two Minutes after him.

Q. Do you know whether the Child was in the Room when he was comparing this Note? Was she there the second Time? Do you know, in the first Place, whether the Child was, or was not, in the Room?

Hall. I can't be positive of that.

Court. But the last Time you saw the Note it was in his Hand?

Hall. In his Hand, my Lord, and it might be two or three Minutes, or thereabouts, before he went away.

Q. (to Giles Webb ) Do you remember carrying any Bank Note to Mrs. Twiss?

Webb. On Saturday Night, the 14th of June, I carried a Bank Note to Mrs. Twiss, to give me Change: She was in the Bar Room, and the Prisoner at the same Time; she took the News Paper, and look'd at it. I turn'd into the common Room, and left her and the Prisoner there: A little after I came to her again, and told her I was in Haste, and she left the Prisoner in the Room and Bank Note, and came to a little Box in the Bar-Room to give me Change; the mean while I saw the Prisoner go out.

Q. Had he the Child with him when he came out?

Webb. I did not see the Child go out with him: The Child did come to Mrs. Twiss while she was telling the Money, so we desir'd her to go away because we could not tell the Money; she was fingering of it .

Q. (to John Clark ) Will you give my Lord and the Jury an Account of what you know of it?

Clark. On Saturday the 14th of June I was sent for by Mr. Twiss in a great Hurry, for what, I did not know 'till I came into the House; said he, I beg you will go to Mrs. Jones's, and assist my Wife in taking a Man that has robb'd me of a Bank Note. When I went to Jones's, they were all in Darkness; I asked for a Light, but it was refus'd me by the Landlady Mrs. Jones; she refus'd me several Times. There was a Woman that has gone for the Prisoner's Wife; she came, and, in a soothing Way, said, Mr. Clark, I beg to speak to you: I said, Madam, I doubt there is no Good if you are concern'd in it; she desir'd me to be quiet; she said, if the Note was lost, she would lay down an equal Sum 'till it was found.

Q. Was that in the Presence of the Prisoner?

Clark. The Prisoner was in the Room, but I had not seen him; by and by he made his Escape backward. I had some Suspicion when I heard she was concern'd in it, that it was him; so he made his Escape into the Work Shop, which was very dark. I went into the Work Shop, and grovel'd about for him; I believe I was in the Shop the best Part of ten Minutes: At last I found something stir'd, for he had Opportunity of seeing me; he rises up, and I pinion'd him after this Manner, and carried him so into the House; he said I had no Authority to detain him, and used me with a great deal of Insolence. I was conscious I was got into very bad Hands; I sent for Mr. Twiss, but he did not come so readily as I could wish. Then he made a Push into the Street, and swore he would do us a Mischief, me in particular, if I dar'd to presume to follow him. When we came to the first Corner, he made a Push to get away; we followed him into Hare-Street, Piccadilly, there he went into the House of one Miller; I left Laurence to watch him; there he was a considerable while. Mr. Twiss went to St. Anne's Watch-house, and I went to St. James's Watch-house; these are the People here that took him.

Thomas Laurence . On Saturday the 14th of June last, when I came to Mr. Twiss's Door, he told me he had lost a Bank Note; I went to the House, the Gentlewoman that past for the Prisoner's Wife, she pretended the little Girl had got the Note, that she was very forward for Paper, Pictures, &c. and in speaking of it, she pretended the Child knew that she had lost the Note .

Q. Did you take him?

Laurence. Yes, my Lord ; he got over two Walls from Mr. Miller's House; he got into one Mr. Dowdel's Airy, and we took him there, and had him to the Round-house.

John Fenton . When we came to Mr. Miller's Door in Hare-Street, the Woman of the House said he was gone backward ; so we took him in Mr. Dowdel's Airy .

Dowdel . I was in Bed, my Lord, about Twelve o'Clock, and my Servant up two Pairs of Stairs heard a Man in my Garden, that there was a strange Man had made his Escape to the back Part of my House . I got up as soon as I could put on my Night-Gown , and that Gentleman (Mr. Fenton) and Mr. Laurence had got Hold of him in my Area. I went to the Watch-house with him, and I appear'd before Sir Thomas to support the Charge. Mrs. Twiss made Use of my Name coming to her Husband, in Relation to this Bank Note. This Woman they call Mrs. Chass , came to my House the next Day, to let me know that she believed the Note was found; upon which I said I am glad of it, that they might not lose their Money. Upon her assuring me this, I went to Mrs. Twiss, and enquired for her Husband; she told me her Husband was at Westminster; I told her I desired that he would not advertise the Bank Note, but come to me the next Day. The next Day Mrs. Jones came to me, and said she had the Note, and said also she was frightened out of her Wits about it, and she wanted to part with it; well, said I, you must carry it to the Person that owns it.

Q. (to Mrs. Twiss) Who advertised the Note?

Twiss. My Husband advertised it, and I am sure, my Lord, this is the Note.

Q. Well, Madam, will you give an Account how you came by the Note again?

Twiss. Mr. Dowdell inform'd me that Mrs. Jones had the Note, and I might have it; so I went to Col. De Veil to know whether I should take the Note again; he was for my taking of it, but to take somebody with me to attest it; so I had the Note of Mrs. Jones.

Q. What did she say to you?

Twiss. She did not say hardly any Thing to me when she gave it.

Q. (to Ralph Morrison ) Look at the Bank Note, and tell us who 'tis sign'd by.

Morrison. I am a Cashire of the Bank, and it is of my signing, Sir.

Council for the Prisoner. I must beg Leave to offer, whether this Thing don't appear plainly to be a Breach of Trust?

Q. (to the Prisoner) What have you to say by Way of Defence?

Prisoner. My Lord, I must beg I have of the Court to Lodgings a few Questions .

Court. You must tell us how you came by the Note .

Prisoner. I went in with a Child, my Lord, into this House; she says in the Room she was in, she has only select Company: I was never in the House before; the Door was open, it seem'd to me to be an open Publick Room. My Lord Scarborough's Servant was there, and talking something of the late Lord Scarborough, and indifferent Matters, this Mrs. Twiss comes out of the Bar; there was a Step or two to come down to this Place: She brings a Bank Note in her Hand, and said I am going to change it; she wanted to know if it was Loyd, or Floyd, in the Advertisement, but it was not the same Christian Name . Then said she 'tis a good Note; I thought my Lord she meant whether it was a real Bank Note. Pray indulge me with it, I said; then I told her she was very safe in changing of it: I return'd it again, my Lord, and I knew no more of it afterwards; she says she took up the Advertiser. When I had the Advertisement in my Hand, and a little Child playing at my Knee, she comes to me to know whether that Note was advertis'd; she mentions that it was but two Minutes that I staid after she left me and went to change the Notes; pray ask her how many Minutes she was upon her Examination; that's nearer than 14 Days ago; she does not know what a Minute is: I was there three Quarters of an Hour after. Did I not speak to my Lord Scarborough's Servant, if he came there again of an Evening, I would drink with him? I treated him, did not let him pay any Thing, and that pretty Lady too I treated. Now, my Lord, if I was not last in the Room, which I take to be the Publick Tap, if I was not the last in the Room, he must be the last; then I could not have spoke to him upon the Bench going out. Give me Leave to trouble you with the next. The first Evidence, Mrs. Twiss, speaks of the Gentlewoman where I lodge, whereas she knows no more where I lodge than your Lordship; where she says I lodge, I have the Woman here present to know, whether I ever lay in the House where this unhappy Accident happen'd. Now, my Lord, she swears so absolutely that I took it away, but it was before Sir Thomas, who has a very beautiful Way of Empire in his own Territories. Did she not send to the Taylor, the Owner and Proprietor of this Note, to know whether the Boy had taken this Note along with him and the Money; that I hope your Lordship will ask. Now as to this wooden this Mrs. W my Lord. I made an As with that she to with the following Week: See whether she will deny that; I hope she is not up to de this honourable Court; I have they are own Cloaths. My Lord, she had an ill Opinion of me; how can so fine a Lady have an ill Opinion of that charming fine Fellow, told me I was at that Time .

This Bar, my Lord, is like the Pulpir of a Church adjoining to the Wall; how then could I go behind the Room? 'Tis a publick Room, my Lord.

Mrs. Wood likewise says, my Lord, that Mrs. Twiss came in and took up the Advertiser, when I had it in my Hand all the Time.

Now, my Lord, here is a Boy that says he saw me: I was remote from his immediate seeing of me, because there was a Partition to prevent it, and I sat with my Elbow on the Table, with the Advertiser in my Hand: That Boy pretends he saw me; I believe he never saw me, for he had been gone Three Quarters of an Hour before I left the Place.

Here is another Man, one Clark; he says, when he came to this Mrs. Jones's House, it was very dark; when it was not; but it was too dark for me, my Lord.

Q. (to Mrs. Twiss.) Is this the Room that you let particular Company into?

Twiss. Yes, particular Acquaintance; the Girl being with him was the Reason of his being admitted.

Q. (to Margaret Jones .) Does the Prisoner lodge with you?

Jones. No, nor never did .

Q. Does he not lodge in your House? Does he not frequent your House?

Jones. Yes, but his general Return is about Ten o'Clock at Night .

Q. Are you the Person that the Bank Note was deliver'd to?

Jones. I was the Person that help'd to search their Appartment for it; I took the Box where the Note was, from the Prisoner's Child.

Q. You made a Search for it; where did you find it?

Jones. I took it out of the Prisoner's Daughter's Hand .

Q. When was it the Child gave you the Note?

Q. Was this Note in a Box?

Jones. I saw it stamp'd with the Bank Mark .

Q. Where was this Box?

Jones. I had the Box out of the Child's Hand: Before this, we had threaten'd to take her before Justice De Veil.

Q. Who us'd this Back Parlour ?

Jones. On Mrs. Chaff; I left it to her .

Court. And in that Appartment the Box was: What Size Box was it?

Jones. A little Snuff-Box.

[ The Box was produced in Court.]

Q. Did she tell you when this was? When was this?

Jones. The Monday following.

Q. Did you ever see the Child with this Box before?

Jones. Not before the Note was lost.

Court. You say you saw the Box that the Child had, with the Note in it.

Jones. Yes.

Q. How could you discern it was a Bank Note in this little Box?

Jones. I knew it by the Fineness of the Paper.

Q. Did the Child sold it up, and lay it in the Box so smooth?

Jones. I can't tell .

Q. Who did you deliver the Note to?

Jones. Sir, I went to ask Advice, then deliver'd it to Mr. Twiss .

Q. Who was in the Room with the Child when you took the Bank Note?

Jones. There was Mrs. Chaff , another Gentlewoman, and the Child.

Council for the Prosecutor. Mrs. Jones, pray explain an Expression you had of Searching their Appartments: Did you examine the Child before the Prisoner was accused of the Note?

Jones. When the Child was with some other Children she was crying for a Note that she had lost .

Council. Then all the Time the Confusion was, the Child was looking for a Bank Note of 20 l. Did you not hear the Prisoner charg'd with it? Did he think the Child had got it? Did you hear the Child was suspected? Was the Child examin'd then? I think the Box this Note was in, was smaller than what is produced. Pray how did the Note lay in the Box?

Jones. It was folded up in the Box.

Council. As soon as you saw it folded up, you knew it was a Bank Note : Pray how came you to take Notice of a Bit of Paper in a Box first?

Jones. There was good Reason when the Note was search'd for .

Q. (to Anne Pagget .) Was you present when this Note was found?

Pagget . The Child said she threw it behind the Red, in a little black Box; the last Witness went and search'd behind the Red, with Mrs. Smith, and they found it behind the Red, that is all that I know of it .

Q. (to Mary Philpot .) What is the Prisoner's general Character?

Philpot. He has lodg'd with me; he never was out of his Lodging after Ten o'Clock; his Character is very good, I never heard any ill of him.

Q. How does he get his Livelyhood?

Philpot . He told me he was come to Town for his Preferment .

Prisoner. I have no less than the Promise of Mr. Jefferys, one of the Secretaries of the Treasury, for a Place in the Stamp-Office.

Q. (to Philpot.) Has he now any Business?

Philpot. My Lord, he is waiting for a Place.

Q. (to Joseph Spendelow .) How long have you known the Prisoner , and what is his general Character ?

Spendelow . I never enquir'd that, my Lord; he employ'd me, and always paid me honestly.

Q. (to George Wrench .) How long have you known the Prisoner?

Wrench. I have known him these three Years, and I never heard any thing bad of him.

Q. (to - Powell.) How long have you known the Prisoner?

Powell. Three or four Years; I was once employ'd by him as an Attorney, and he paid me, &c.

Prisoner. My Lord, as to finding the Note, I hope you will indulge me: This Child, and another, were in the Coach-Yard. At the Time of my Accusation, my little Child was searching about the Dunghill, and looking for the Bank Note she had lost with a Picture upon it.

Council for the Prisoner. My Lord and Gentlemen of the Jury; I would submit it, whether a Person without any Colour of Frand or Pretence, but with the Will of the Party, can be said to have stolen the Note, or have taken it by Robbery; wherever a Person has once a legal Possession, it could not be consider'd as a Felony, as in the Case of Watte .

It was answer'd, the Waite's Case was different from this; that was the Case of East-India Bonds , and he was entrusted by the Company; he had the Custody of the Bonds, and upon the Evidence it did appear, that he embezzled these Bonds in his Custody; and the Opinion of the Court in that Case was, that it was a Felony; and there is a Law made since that to make it a Felony.

Guilty .

[Transportation. See summary.]