Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 26 October 2021), January 1777, trial of GEORGE BARRINGTON (t17770115-13).

GEORGE BARRINGTON, Theft > grand larceny, 15th January 1777.

82. GEORGE BARRINGTON was indicted for stealing a pair of silver studs, value 1 s. a silk purse, value 1 s. an half guinea, and 3 s. 6 d. in money, numbered , the property of Ann Dudman , widow , December 18th .

ANN DUDMAN sworn.

Upon the 18th of last month my pocket was picked in the pit of Drury Lane playhouse by the prisoner of my purse, containing half a guinea, a half crown, and a shilling.

Cross Examination.

Was the playhouse very full the night you was there? - Yes.

The king and queen were there that night? - They were that night at the play-house; they were not come in.

The theatre was very full? - It was.

What part of the pit did you fit in? - Near the door.

You was very much crowded? - Yes, very much by the prisoner.

Did you detect the prisoner with your purse in his hand, or did you detect his hand in your pocket? - I felt his hand come out of my pocket; I seized him by the arm with my purse in his hand.

On what side did the prisoner stand? - First on my right, then on my left hand.

In the immensity of that crowd, how can you take upon you to assert, that the hand you felt in your pocket was the prisoner's hand? - By his crowding me very much: I am positive it was his hand; I had hold of his hand, and took the purse out of it.

Can you be peremptory in swearing it was the prisoner's hand, under all the circumstances of the great crowd that must be there? - Yes.

Was your purse dropped? - No, I took it out of his hand, and secured him directly.

By what means was he secured? - By a constable, I believe.

When you called out did you point the prisoner out to the persons to whom you called for assistance? - I did.

- MARSHALL sworn.

I was in the pit of the play-house: there was only Mr. Barrington between me and this Lady; she said Mr. Barrington had taken her purse; I charged him with it; he said he was a gentleman of fortune, and lived in Pallmall, and we were taking a gentleman's character from him; he was secured.

COURT. Did she ever express any doubt about his being the man? - No; at the instant she said she had lost her purse, she held it up; I saw it in her hand, when she said she had lost her purse I saw him draw his hand away across his breast.

Cross Examination.

Was not the theatre much crouded that night? - It was.

On what side of the lady did the prisoner sit? - On the left hand, and on my right.

Do you remember the first falling to the ground of the purse? - It did not fall; I saw it in Miss Dudman's hand; she took it from him, as she said; I did not see her take it from him, but I saw his hand come athwart his own breast; and at that instant she declared that the man had picked her pocket of her purse, and she charged him with it, and so did I.

Was no different relation given before the magistrate to what is now given before the court? - Only that he crowded Miss Dudman before that she complained to me; I desired him to be civil; he said, civility was not to be expected at that place.

Did you accompany the lady to the magistrate? - I did.

She was as peremptory to the prisoner then as she is now? - She was.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

My lord and gentlemen of the jury,

The evidence which has come before your lordship and these gentlemen, I hope you will not think sufficient to convict a man of the crime of felony; I shall relate the transaction as briefly as possible: I was in the play-house in that part of the pit which is called the standing part, and it was so very crowded that the doors were obliged to be screwed up, in order to push the people in; the seats were all taken, and those that were in the standing part were endeavouring, as far as they could, to procure seats; the crowd was so great that they hurt each other; this lady was before me, making towards a seat; I, as every person then present, was doing the same, and she cried out that some person had their hand in her pocket, and that she had taken her purse out of their hand; she looked round immediately and fixed upon me, at the same time that she was surrounded by many people, that it was a minute at least before she could turn round; I immediately professed my innocence, and called upon the company to declare, whether it was possible for such a transaction to happen without some person being privy to it, and seeing it, in such a place where so many people were assembled together; and every gentleman, who was present, was of the same opinion, and were unanimous in saying they were certain I was innocent. My lord and gentlemen, upwards of 5 minutes had passed in this altercation, and the noise in some measure had subsided; but some gentlemen, who had lost their property at the play-house that night, hearing a rumour, came immediately and declared, if there was a suspected person there, it was necessary he should give satisfaction and clear himself; that he should retire to some place and be searched; to this I assented, and was retiring at the time with several people who were there, when we were met by the constable, who told me I must go before Sir John Fielding ; when we were there I was searched, my property was taken from me and detained for 8 days, and then returned, because no person could claim a single article; if the evidence this lady has given is sufficient to convict me of the crime, it is in the power of any one to take away the life or liberty of any person whatsoever; such a crime as this could never happen in such a place without some person being witness to it; the lady might have found a hand in her pocket, and her fear might make her believe the man had her purse in his hand and she had taken it out, but the crowd was so exceeding great that it was impossible to turn; the people were crying out they were so excessively squeezed, and I hope it will have weight with the gentlemen of the jury; I mentioned just now that it was so exceedingly crowded, that, if such a transaction had happened, it was almost impossible to fix upon the person; the lady, I don't mean to reflect upon her, but I am obliged to take hold of every circumstance, in order to extricate myself, the lady is blind of one eye; this I conceive adds to the impossibility of fixing upon the identity of a person; and I would beg leave to ask the lady if she is acquainted with a Mr. Groves?

DUDMAN. I am: my lord, I received this letter from the prisoner.

COURT. Do you know it to be his handwriting?

DUDMAN. I don't know his hand-writing.

PRISONER. My lord, I admit that letter came from me: a gentleman came to Tothill-fields Bridewell, to see one of the prisoners in the gaol, natural curiosity prompted him to ask who I was, he was told; he said he was perfectly well acquainted with my prosecutrix, and had often heard her express her regret for the manner in which she had treated me; and he told me if I would address her with a few lines, as he said it was a disagreeable thing to appear in court, that the bill would be thrown out, and I should have no more trouble; this induced me to do it.

COURT. You may look at the letter.

PRISONER. (Looks at it.) This is my hand-writing.

(The letter read.)

'Madam,

'I am happy to embrace the opportunity

'which presents itself of addressing to you a

'few lines relative to a prosecution which

'you have lately commenced; I am convinced,

'Madam, that you are possessed of

'humanity, therefore hope that you will feel

'for my unhappy situation; deplorable as it

'is, you have it in your power to extricate

'me from it without sustaining the smallest

'injury; the Grand Jury are to find the bills

'to-morrow at Guildhall, and it depends

'upon your evidence to have the bill found

'or rejected; what shall I say, or in what

'words shall I address you? innocent or

'guilty, I have suffered severely, suffered

'more than you can think or suppose; my

'character, if not totally lost, is injured in

'the highest degree; my confinement and

'the manner in which I have been exposed

'I shall not mention, though I am certain

'they must have the greatest weight in an

'humane and feeling mind, and by such

'would be considered as a sufficient punishment

'even for a guilty person; may this

'consideration animate your heart, and induce

'you to put a stop to a prosecution which ' cannot be attended by any agreeable reflection;

'though I have received every

'assurance of safety from those who are versed

'in affairs of this nature, yet the thought of

'appearing in a court of justice, where the

'greatest innocence is sometimes ineffectual,

'compels me to address you in this manner,

'and to intrude upon a gentleman who, I hear,

'is acquainted with you, to deliver this letter,

'and to use his good offices, hoping they

'will be effectual, convinced that you are

'superior to interest, or being made an instrument,

'and with the greatest reliance

'upon your feeling and sensibility; I remain

'with the greatest respect your obedient

'humble servant,

G. BARRINGTON."

Tothillfields Bridewell, Monday, Jan. 6.

Directed to Miss Dudman.

FOR THE PRISONER.

HENRY FINCH sworn.

I am a perukemaker in Duke's Court, St. Martin's Lane: I have dressed at the Golden Cross, Charing Cross, for upwards of 16 years; I have seen Mr. Barrington frequently there; he lodged in the neighbourhood at one Mr. Deadcraft's before he came to the Cross; Mr. Deadcraft, where he had lodged, gave him such a good character, and the people at the Cross did too, that I was glad to get such a lodger; as I had a lodging in my house I let him a lodging; he kept good hours; he behaved exceeding civil, and bore one of the best of characters among the officers whom I have the honor to attend; his conduct was very regular; he was never out after 12 o'clock; he used to go out about 10 or 11 in the morning; he paid his trades people very genteelly.

GUILTY .

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice ASHHURST.