Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 22 May 2018), January 1761, trial of James Matthews (t17610116-7).

James Matthews, Theft > grand larceny, 16th January 1761.

44. (L) James Matthews , was indicted for stealing 18 pair of stockings, value 3 l. 14 s. the property of Alexander Herbert , Oct. 13 .*

William Saunders. On the 13th of October last, Mrs. Herbert sent her little boy to my house for a dozen and half of knit ribbed-hose.

Q. What time of the day?

Saunders. About four in the afternoon; I looked them out particularly myself; my young man tied them up, and made the bill out, and delivered them to the lad: I saw him go out with them. The next day his mother came, and told me, that he had told her, a man dressed in the habit of a brewer's servant met with him, about Thames street, and inticed him, by pretending to send him of an errand: he got him a little way out of the street, and then got the stockings from him. I said I did not know how to direct you in this affair, without sending to justice Fielding; then, perhaps, something of it may come to light. The next day I wrote a letter to the justice, and the day after I received a letter from Mr. Tucker, a pawnbroker in Drury-lane, that he had stopped two pair of the stockings, that answered the description that I had given to justice Fielding. I went to Mr. Tucker, and saw two pair of the hose that I had delivered to the child.

Q. By what did you know them?

Saunders. I knew them by being very particular in looking them out: we never mark any.

Q. Do you speak with certainty?

Saunders. I do. [Produced in court, and deposed to.]

Elizabeth Herbert . I am wife to Mr. Herbert: my child came home about five o'clock on the 13th of November, at night, and told me he had lost the hose. I asked him how. He said a man, dressed like a brewer's servant, had taken them from him in Thames-street.

Q. How old is he?

E. Herbert. He is ten years of age next Valentine's-day. I said, should you know him again, if you saw him. He said, yes, mamma, I am sure I should. After Mr. Saunders had been to see the two pair of stockings, Mr. Fielding sent for my child to come there. I went with him. He called the child from me, from the door; there were several men came in, and the prisoner amongst them. A man said, Little boy, do you know the man. He said, yes, Sir, that is the man, and pointed to the prisoner. Then Mr. Fielding had the child up stairs, and he asked him, and he told him the same. The child was twice at Mr. Fielding's. Mr. Fielding came down stairs, and there was the prisoner, the child, and the pawnbroker. The justice asked my child again, if that was the man: he said, yes.

Q. Where is the child?

E. Herbert. He is here. [The child set up]

Q. to child. What will become of you, if you do not swear the truth?

Charles Herbert . I shall go to hell.

Q. Do you know your catechism?

C. Herbert. Yes. [He is sworn.]

Court. Be sure to say nothing but what is exactly true Do you remember your going to Mr. Saunders's?

C. Herbert. I do.

Q. What did you go there for?

C. Herbert. I went there for some stockings.

Q. How many pair of stockings?

C. Herbert. For a dozen and a half.

Q. Did you receive them there?

C. Herbert. I did.

Q. What happened afterwards as you was returning home?

C. Herbert. I was going home, and the prisoner was behind me. Says he, I'll give you two-pence, if you will go of an errand. He gave me sixpence to change: I changed it, and he gave me two-pence out of it. Then he said, Will you go to the sign of the Bell, to one Mr. Wright.

Q. How was he dressed?

C Herbert. He had cloaths on like a brewer's servant.

Q. Where is this sign of the Bell?

C. Herbert. It is in Thames-street. Just as I was going, he said: My dear, you cannot run fast enough with the stockings under your arm: Said I, I can. I just went to turn round to go: he jerked them out of my arm, and put them against a post. I said, God bless you, Sir, take care of them. He said, Yes my dear, I'll take care of them. I went to the sign of the Bell; there was no such man there; and when I came back again, the prisoner was gone.

Q. Was any body near the prisoner at that time, besides yourself?

C. Herbert. No, Sir, I saw nobody near: there were many people in the street. I went to look after him a good while, but could not find him.

Q. Was you afterwards sent for to justice Fielding's.

C. Herbert. I was.

Q. Do you remember seeing the prisoner there?

C. Herbert. I do, I knew him.

Rachael Dixon . The prisoner at the bar offered to pledge two pair of stockings at my house on the 13th of November.

Q. Where do you live?

R. Dixon. I live in Drury-lane: he had got a parcel done up in brown paper, and another parcel a red and white handkerchief; but we stopped only the two pair.

Q. Why did you stop them?

R. Dixon. Because we did not think such a person as he could afford to buy so many stockings at once. We asked him how he came by so many stockings: he said he bought those two pair for himself, and the others for a person on the other-side of the water. The next day his mother came, and desired we would let her have the stockings. She told us he was pressed, and gone on board a tender.

Q. from prisoner. Are you sure it was me that brought them?

R. Dixon. I am.

Q. What sort of cloaths had he on?

R. Dixon. He was dressed like a brewer's servant.

Prisoner's Defence.

I know nothing at all of it: I have my two masters here that I worked for.

To his Character.

Robert Fitz-John . I have known the prisoner about half a year; he has worked for me and my partner ever since the 3d of November, as a labourer in serving bricklayers.

Q. How has he behaved during that time?

Fitz-John. He has behaved with all the decency a man could, and with honesty to us. He always minded his business, and kept his time.

John Kerrison . I am partner to the last evidence, I can only say the same that he has. The prisoner sent for me when he was examined before justice Fielding. There was the pawnbroker's girl with the stockings. She did not say whether she knew the man or not. The lad was asked whether he knew him; he said, I think that is the man.

Q. Was the prisoner at work on the 13th of November.

Kerrison. That I cannot tell.

Guilty .

[Transportation. See summary.]