Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 02 April 2023), February 1783, trial of CHARLES BAIRNES (t17830226-38).

CHARLES BAIRNES, Theft > grand larceny, 26th February 1783.

197. CHARLES BAIRNES was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 3d of February instant, one gold watch chain, value 4 l. three stone seals, set in gold, value 3 l. one gold watch key, value 10 s. one gold trinket, value 10 s. one gold mourning ring, value 20 s. and one small silver key, value 2 s. the goods of Charles Western , Esq .

(The prisoner being a German, was asked by the Court, whether he chose to have one half of the Jury composed of his own countrymen, to which he replied in the affirmative, and the following Jury were sworn.)

James Manley

John Brewer

John Williams

William Massey

Alexander Grant

Henry Bensley .

Gottfried Kleinert

Andrew Schabner

Frederick Lang

Gabriel Buntebart

Frederick Beck and

Christian Burkard .

John Bessell was sworn Interpreter.

CHARLES WESTERN Esq. sworn.

On Friday the 20th of December, I left town, to go to Mr. Calvert's in Hertfordshire on a visit; I took my watch chain from my watch, as I usually do when I travel, and laid it in a pair of stockings; I laid it on a table, or on a chest of drawers, and with many other articles put them all in the trunk together; my trunk was locked up, the prisoner was Mr. Villiers's servant ; the next morning when I got up to hunt, my own servant was gone for my horses, and I undid the trunk myself; my hunting coat was at the bottom of the trunk, and in pulling it out, I pulled out several things, which I laid indifferently about the room; among the rest, I am positive there were these stockings, with either the chain, or something of metal in them; pulling on my boots, one of them was tore; Mr. Villiers was there on a visit, and his servant came in to assist me, to get off the boot; I put on another pair of boots, and went down stairs, when I got on my horse, I sent my servant up stairs to take care of my things, telling him, I had left them about, whether I left the prisoner, who was Mr. Villiers's servant, in the room, or whether he went into the next room, I cannot be positive; that was soon after we had taken a short kind of breakfast; till then my servant was with the horses, when I came home from hunting, I sent my servant to the stables; I looked for the chain, but not finding it I concluded my servant had put it up somewhere; the next day I asked him for it, and he said I had not brought it from London, for that he had not seen it, when he unpacked the things; that is all I know, I did lose it; and it is to be produced.

Prisoner's Council. Your servant was then intrusted with the key of your box? I had the key.

How was he to lock up your things? - I meant him to put them away in some drawers.

Did you complain to any body there of it? - I mentioned it to my servant, and told him I had lost it.

Did you mention it to the gentleman, at whose house you was? - No.

Did you mention it to Mr. Villiers? - I had suspicions of my own servant, who was a very idle fellow, and who has defrauded me.

Did you advertise it as lost in Hertfordshire? - No.

Not as being lost, I see (Looking at the advertisement) at Mr. Calvert's, or any particular place? - No, I did not.

Then you had no idea it was stole then, I take it? - Yes.

And yet still you chose to advertise it, as a thing lost? - I did advertise it so.

You seem to be tolerably careful of your things, is that always the case? - I suppose I am as careful as any other gentleman, I was told it was asserted at Bow-street, that I am very inattentive, which I think very extraordinary.

Keep your temper Mr. Western, because in such cases as these it is not right to be out of temper, there is a case I want to mention to you about your absence of mind, you lost some money I believe? - Yes.

And when you left Enfield, you came back supposing your money to be left at Mr. Hamlinton's, and not knowing where it was? - Yes.

That is a pretty good instance of carefulness; you came back, supposing you had left your money at Mr. Hamlinton's, and it was found in the inn yard I believe? I left some money at Mr. Hamlinton's, which I came back for, I had in my pocket when I set out from home, several guineas, I put about ten of them in my fob over my watch, and when I came to take out my watch, the paper came out with the money; which I did not recollect at the time; I happened to feel for it, and it was lost; I came back to the inn, and looked for it in the yard, and there it was found.

Then you got into your chaise, and came to Ware, and there you lost your money a second time? - I put it into my boot.

You did not recollect havi ng put it there? No, I did not.

That is a pretty good instance of memory, you see Mr. Western? - That has very little to do with this case.

It shews you know that you did not take care of your money? - I think it shews that I had some thought about it.

Was Mr. Villiers dressing at the time you went into his room? - Possible he might.

You know it was just at breakfast time, you were both of you going a hunting? - I think he was dressing, but I think he was down before me, his servant was assisting him.

Do you recollect whether you pulled off your boot in that room or not? - I think I pulled it off in my room, but I will not be positive.

Was the boot pulled off in Mr. Villier's room, or your room? - I think that is a thing very immaterial.

I do not want your opinion at all? - Whether he pulled off my boot in his master's room, or whether with a boot jack, or whether it was in my room, I cannot say.

If it was pulled off in his master's room, what business had he in yours? - He might come in out of civility.

I ask you what business he had in your room, if the boot was pulled off in his master's room? - You may ask me any questions about it you please.

I ask you what occasion he had to go into your room? - I will lay you a wager he was in my room.

There is no bet on it you know? - No, there is not.

Had he his boots on? - I do not know.

You think then merely out of civility, he came into your room? - Suppose you ask the prisoner, may be he recollects.

Yes, he does recollect, he recollects he was not in your room? - I am positive the man was in my room.

ELIZABETH SALMON sworn.

What are you? - I keep a silver smith's shop, in the Strand, No. 40, the prisoner brought a gold chain, on the third day of this month, about eleven in the forenoon, he wanted to know if it was gold; he asked if it was gold; I asked him how he came by it, if he did not know whether it was gold or no, he said he found it in Germany; I told him it belonged to somebody in England, he said he bought it in Germany, I told him, let him buy it where he would, it was English gold, I asked him where he lived, he said he lived in the Strand, I told him this was the Strand; then he said he lived at St. Paul's, and we were going to St. Paul's with him to his master, but he would not go; then I said, I would take him before a Justice; we took him to Bow-street, then he told who his master was, and he mentioned different people first; his master was sent for, who bailed him, and took him home with him; the next morning after, he brought four more things to our shop belonging to the chain, that he had taken off the chain, a pump seal and mourning ring, a gold trinket and a gold key.

What did he bring them there for? - He brought them there, and said they belonged to the chain, I had kept the chain, he left them at our shop and we sent them to Bow-street; he did not say what he brought them for.

Did he give no account, and say why he brought them? - I understood his master sent them, because they belonged to the chain; the things I produce are the things he brought to me, and they have been in my possession ever since.

(The things deposed to by the prosecutor.)

Prisoner's Council. Your husband keeps this silver smith's shop? - Yes.

Do you speak German? - No, sir.

When he came there with this ring and these trinkets, did not he desire they might be returned to the owner? - No, sir.

What did he say? - He said the chain was his own.

- Yes, but when he brought the trinkets? He said nothing particular.

Why what were the trinkets to you, or you to the trinkets; was there nothing said I not a word? - Nothing at all, only he said they were belonging to the chain.

Court to the Prisoner's Council. As the prisoner is a foreigner, - though I cannot consistent with the practice of the court, allow you to make a speech for him; yet you may state your facts to me.

Prisoner's Council. I thank your Lordship; the prisoner went down with Mr. Villiers, to whom he was servant, to Mr. Calverts in Hertfordshire; and going down there, he found this chain with the other things belonging to it, he offered it to this silver smith in the Strand, to know whether it was gold or no; not to sell it, but to return it to the owner: as to the absence of mind, which has made the prosecutor so very angry with me, it is only to prove that when he thinks himself certain that the prisoner was in his room, he may be mistaken and have forgot, as he had done, in the cases I have referred to; I shall now call several witnesses of great respectability and credit to the character of the prisoner at the bar.

The Hon. - VILLIERS, Esq; sworn.

This man I understand, was a servant of yours? - He came to me on the 20th of October last.

What character had you with him? - I had two written characters in German, that was interpreted to me, of the highest recomendation of honesty, and fidelity to his master, he conducted himself with me, in all respects perfectly honest, he had repeated opportunities of taking all my wearing apparel, and likewise money that lay about, he had the keys of the drawers frequently in his power; I said but two days before this came out, I hoped nothing would oblige me to part with him, as he was the best I ever had; I kept him in service after this, I pledged myself if he went off, he had frequent opportunities to go off; I told him he must wait till Mr. Western came to town, he said, he was clear he was innocent, but was only afraid I should dismiss him for having any thing without telling me of it; when the prisoner was dressing me at Mr. Calvert's, Mr. Western knocked at my door, and desired the assistance of the man to help him off with his boot; and as near as I can recollect, my man helped Mr. Western off with his boot in my room; I asked Mr. Western, if my servant could assist him further; and I said to him, go and ask Mr. Western, if you can assist him again; I was not forward in my dressing at all, but Mr. Western coming in, burried me excessively, at seeing him so forward; the man had not dressed my hair, I told him to make haste back, to dress my hair, I was the last person in the room at breakfast, and was accused of being very lazy that morning.

Did you send him with the trinkets to the watch-maker? - No, I did not know of it, till Mr. Calvert told me of it, saying but how does he account for all the trinkets not being all together.

Court. Did you leave your servant behind, when you went out a hunting, or did he go with you? - I left him at home.

The Hon. JOHN VILLIERS sworn.

I never told the man to carry the trinkets, I never knew that the trinkets were carried; I tried to draw what I could from him, but I saw no reason to advise my brother to discharge him; the servant of my brother's is a great friend of his, and I admonished him to try to get it from him, if he was guilty.

CHRISTIAN WATER sworn.

You are servant to the honourable Mr. John Villiers ? - Yes, I am.

Do you know the young man at the bar? - Yes, he was but a boy when I left Germany, I have not known him only since he has been with Mr. George Villiers .

Did you speak to him about this matter?

Court. We cannot take the evidence of the prisoner's own declarations at another time.

How has he behaved himself? - Exceeding well.

JOHN FISHER , Esq; sworn.

(His evidence interpreted.) I am a commissioner of the King of Prussia's mines, and I came over to this country upon researches of mines; the prisoner came over with me in the same vessel; he behaved so well during the passage, that I admitted him to dress my hair, and on account of his good behaviour, I kept him till he had a master; he has frequently been in my room, but I never lost any thing; he went directly from me to Mr. Villiers's.

- BARBOR sworn.

You live, I think, with Mr. Villiers's brother Lord Hyde? - Yes, I have known the young man at the bar ever since he has been with Mr. Villiers, he was always very sober, and very diligent, as to what I saw.

Court. There is no witnesses can convince us more than Mr. Villiers has done, that the man has behaved very well.

HENRY CANNING sworn.

Was you ever consulted by the prisoner at the bar about advertising a chain? - I never saw any thing of the advertisement, I told him if it should be advertised he must give it back again; then he told me he would keep it for his own use; that was a good while before he was taken up.

Court. How did you know that he had it? - He came to me, and shewed it to me.

Did he ask you about the value of it, or any thing? - No, I asked him where he found it, he said his master sent him out to get post-horses, and there he found it, rolled up in a piece of paper.

NOT GUILTY .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.