Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 21 October 2020), December 1752, trial of Francis Leonard John Keys (t17521206-45).

Francis Leonard, John Keys, Theft > theft from a specified place, 6th December 1752.

54, 55. (L.) Francis Leonard , and John Keys , were indicted for stealing forty pounds weight of lead, value five shillings, belonging to the masters and wardens of the company of merchant taylors , fixed to a certain dwelling house, belonging to the said company; it was said over again for stealing lead fix'd to a certain house, the property of persons unknown , Oct. 31 .

William Jones , On the 31st of October, a gentleman that lives joining to this house that is now empty, that belongs to the merchant taylors company; came and told me he believed there were people stealing lead or something in that empty house, I went along with him, and found by feeling at the window shutters, they were loose, I found also the door open; I went in, and up one pair of stairs, I found the prisoner Leonard, behind a door, and the lead lay close by the side of him: (I had a light with me,) I asked him his business there, he said he came to look for his pickax ; I thought I heard somebody go up, I asked the prisoner Leonard, who was gone up, he said John Keys ; I left Leonard, in the possession of the gentleman that was with me; and went up another pair of stairs; there I found John Keys .

Q. Did you know either of them before ?

Jones. I knew them both very well, when they came both together Leonard said they came for his Pickax; the other said no, they did not, but they had made a fine piece of work of it; we sent for a constable, and they were both committed; this lead was taken from a gutter, from the top of the house.

Q. What quantity?

Jones. About forty pounds weight of it, I have since match'd it to the place where the lead was gone from, and it fits exactly; I had seen the lead in its place before; Keys confessed the taking the lead before the sitting Alderman the next day, he said that Leonard had fetch'd the lead down stairs, but the other said he never saw it.

John Butler . On Friday in the evening, the 30th of October, one Ann Blackstone came and informed me she saw a man get into this house, I went and informed Mr. Jones of it, and went with him to the house, we found the door upon the jar, and the window shutter open; my servant had a candle, and lanthorn to give us light. Mr. Jones went up stairs first, he passed him, and left him to us, and went higher in pursuit of Keys; Leonard said he came for his pickax, the other said they came upon no such errand ; they were carried before the sitting alderman the next day; and Keys confessed that they came there on purpose for the lead; and that it had been a consented scheme betwixt them for some time.

Q. What where the words Keys made use of?

Butler. I understood him that he said Leonard took the lead down.

Ann Blackstone . I saw one of the prisoners take down the bar of the window, and open the shutter.

Q. Which of them was it?

A. Blackstone. I can't say which it was.

Q. When was this?

A. Blackstone. It was the 31st of October, I saw one get over the sail window, and the other stand at the door till he within open'd it ; one said to the other if you can't open the door get the pickax.

Robert Willis . I was inform'd two men had broke into this empty house, I went there and found the evidence here had seized two prisoners; and the lead was lying behind the door, near one of the prisoners, after they were committed, I took the lead and carried it up and placed it in its proper place; the situation of the place is such, that it could not have fitted had it not been the lead that came from that place.

For the Prisoner Leonard.

Sarah Hall. I have known Leonard three years, and he has a very good character.

Hannah Dover . I have known Leonard a year and above; he is a very quiet peaceable man, and very honest.

Thomas Batling . I have known Leonard about a year and half, and he is a very honest man; he lodg'd with me, and kept good hours.

John Wood . I have known Leonard but a very short space of time; he is a very honest hard working man.

Paul Steen . I have known Leonard about two years; he has a good honest character.

Both Acquitted .