Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 30 September 2022), October 1780, trial of WILLIAM BIRKE (t17801018-22).

WILLIAM BIRKE, Theft > grand larceny, 18th October 1780.

583. WILLIAM BIRKE was indicted for stealing a linen shirt, value 2 s. the property of John Keysell , October 11th .


The 11th of this month I was looking out of a back window which looks into Bartholomew church-yard , where these things were hanging to dry. Mrs. Keysell is a laundress. There is an alley, and a high wall parts the alley from the church-yard. I saw the prisoner and another man in the alley; the other man lifted the prisoner up, and he drew a shirt off the line.

Did you know him before? - No, I saw him in the alley before he took the shirt. I was afraid he wanted to take some of the things, and watched him; when he had got the shirt they both went away towards Cloth-fair I went and informed Mrs. Keysell of of it and we went up Cloth-fair and met the prisoner there. I laid hold of him and asked him what he had taken out of the church-yard? He immediately pulled the shirt from under his jacket, and said he found it. I held him till a gentleman came and sent for a constable, and took him to Guildhall. I am sure the prisoner is the man I saw take the shirt.


I take in washing. I hang my clothes in the burying ground of St. Bartholomew's-church. On Wednesday week I had a good many shirts hanging there. Ann Catherine went out first and stopped the prisoner just by my door before I came out.

(The shirt was produced in court and deposed to by the prosecutrix.)


I found the shirt at the end of the court. I saw two men running into it; I called after them but they would not stop, so I put it under my jacket.

GUILTY of stealing the goods to the value of 10 d. W . and Imp. 6 months .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.