Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 18 February 2018), January 1768, trial of Mary Anthony Anne Claxton James Dollanson (t17680114-24).

Mary Anthony, Anne Claxton, James Dollanson, Theft > shoplifting, 14th January 1768.

128, 129, 130. (L.) Mary Anthony , Anne Claxton , and James Dollanson , were indicted for stealing seven pair of silk stockings, value 3 l. the property of James Shannon , privately in the shop of the said James , Dec. 12 . ++

The evidences were examined apart.

James Shannon . I am a hosier , and live in Smithfield ; on Saturday the 12th of December I was in my back room behind my shop, the two women at the bar came into the shop to my young men; I observed through the glass, Anne Claxton looked very sharp at some silk stockings; I came to the middle of the shop, and pulled out my watch, and told my young man it was half an hour past seven, and I would go to the butcher's to buy some meat; Mary Anthony asked for a pair of stockings with red clocks; my young man pulled down a parcel; having lost some goods on the 28th of November, I was very desirous to set some of these thieves, for if we make a show in our windows, these people will take them away; I signified by my words that he might have a sharp look out; I went on the outside the door, and there saw James Dollanson standing facing the door, about a step or two from it; I saw this parcel of silk stockings in the window, when I was on the outside the door, among other goods; I had before tied a string to the parcel, and the other end of the string I had fastened to the bolt that fastens down into the threshold of the door; Dollanson turned to the right, and I to the left; I looked back, and saw him come to his former standing by my door; I went still farther, because I saw him look after me, till I went to the corner of Cloth-fair, then a woman met me, and I crept behind her till within two doors of my own shop; then I saw Dollanson creep down towards my door, he took up this parcel in his hand; then I made towards him, I saw him put the parcel under his arm, and make towards me about four steps; when I saw my property invaded, I made towards him; I observed he either turned round to see what stopped him, or the cord turned him round, I know not which, but he turned round; he was got the length of the cord, I took hold of him; then the parcel sell from him towards the wall; the parcel, containing seven pair of silk stockings (produced in court, tied up with a cord about four yards long fastened to it;) it is in the same condition now as it was then; I craved the woman's assistance, she was big with child and gave me none; my young man missing the goods came to the door; he and a carpenter assisted me in bringing him in; the cord was still fastened at the other end at the bolt.

Patrick Shannon . My master left me in the shop between seven and eight that night; the two women at the bar came in, I shut the door after them; Mary Anthony asked for a pair of blue stockings with scarlet clocks; Mr. Shannon came into the shop, and pulled out his watch, and said he would go to the butcher's; he went out and left the door half open; just as he went out Anne Claxton stood by the window, and leaned over; Anthony was looking at the stockings, and seemed to find fault with the colour, she wanted more goods to be pulled down; I looked towards the window; Claxton was between me and the parcel, so I bid her go and shut the door, that the wind might not come in; then I missed the parcel of stockings from the window; I then went to the door, and saw Mr. Shannon and a carpenter struggling with the man at the bar, by the door; we got him in; then the carpenter went and fetched the parcel in: when Dollanson was in the shop, he seemed not to know the women, and Claxton said she did not know him; Anthony looked like as if she was frighted; Claxton said to her, what are you afraid of.

Samuel Carrol . On the 12th of December, between seven and eight in the evening, I was behind my counter, and heard a noise at the window; I went towards the window, in about a minute there was screaming out, as if murder was committing; I ran to the door; there was Dollanson, and the two women at the bar, in company; Dollanson was using another woman ill; this I mention, only to prove the three prisoners were no strangers to each another.

The string connecting the parcel in the position the owner of the parcel had fastened it; had the string broke, or been separated but an inch, it would have been a felony; this was a felony began but not compleated, they were all three Acquitted .

This contrivance may be improved in the following manner; place a small weight of lead, with an upright pin, about an inch long on the top, upon the end of a shelf; let a loop at the end of the string be put over the upright pin, which will disengage itself as she lead falls, which fall may either disturb a tell, or full upon any thing that will alarm.