Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 10 December 2022), October 1775, trial of ELISHA BASSET CHARLES JOHNSON JOHN HALL (t17751018-53).

ELISHA BASSET, CHARLES JOHNSON, JOHN HALL, Theft > grand larceny, 18th October 1775.

765, 766, 767. (M.) ELISHA BASSET , CHARLES JOHNSON , and JOHN HALL , were indicted for stealing six cotton handkerchiefs, value six shillings; and six linen shirts, value fourteen shillings , the property of William Sweeting , Sept. 16th . *

(The witnesses were examined apart at the request of the prisoners)

William Sweeting . I am a linen-draper at Bow . Upon Saturday, the 16th of September, when I was in an inner room, my sister called to me, and said, there was a little boy gone out of the shop with something in his hand; she said, he had on a brown coat and round hat. I was shifting myself. I went in pursuit of him as soon as I could get my cloaths on; a neighbour who keeps a public-house, informed me there had been such a boy at his house with two men, but he did not know which way they were gone. I pursued them towards Stepney; I met one of the men and the boy coming towards Bow; I did not suspect them because they were coming that way. I passed them, and heard them say something about shirts, that made me look at them; but seeing nothing in their hands, I thought they were not the persons, and went on. When I came further in the field, I saw Johnson lying in the grass at the further end of the field: it being wet weather, I thought he could not lie down to rest himself, but that there must be some bad design: in the mean time some of my neighbours called out to me, they had seized Hall, and were pursuing Basset, who was coming towards me. I stopped him, and he begged of me to let him pass: he said, he had done nothing, but was pursued son taking blackberries. I said, if that was all he had done, I would take care he should not be hurt for that I went forwards and took Johnson likewise; my neighbours then came up, and some of them searching about found a blue apron near the place where Johnson lay at, with my things in it. I said, if they were my things, they were six shirts and six handkerchiefs; it was opened, and the things were found in it. I charged a constable with them, and took the boy to my house, and my sister knew him directly. I took them before the magistrates at Whitechapel, who committed them.

Ann Dunton . I am sister-in-law to Mr. Sweeting; Basset came into the shop on the 16th of last month of an errand. I saw him again soon after go out of the shop with something under his arm; that was a little after one o'clock. I was coming into the shop; I saw no one in the shop but him. When he was in the shop before, I observed he had a blue apron tied round him (a blue apron shewn her). It was like that: he came the first time and asked for a pennyworth of twist. I did not serve him with any. When I saw him go out with something under his arm, I looked in the window and missed six shirts and six handkerchiefs that were lying there. I called to Mr. Sweeting to go after the boy; he was then dressing himself, and could not go after him immediately, but followed him in a few minutes; he was afterwards brought back; I knew him again directly; I am sure the prisoner Basset is the boy. The goods were brought back; I am sure they were the same I laid in the window in the morning; they were tied up in the same form when they were brought back. I saw nobody but Basset in the shop.

William Mason . I am fifteen years of age; my father keeps the Black Swan at Bow.

Q. Do you know the nature of an oath?

Mason. Yes; it is to speak the truth. I was present when Johnson was taken in a field just by our house; he was lying on the ground, A gentleman that was with me, who took him, desired me to jump over the hedge to see if I could find any thing there; I found some things in a blue apron (looks at the blue apron) this is the apron the things were in. A lad that was with me opened the bundle; there were six shirts and six handkerchiefs in it. I believe these to be the same.

Basset's Defence.

I never was near the shop.

The other two prisoners were not put upon their defence.

Basset, guilty .

The other two acquitted .

[Transportation. See summary.]