Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 07 December 2021), July 1784, trial of WILLIAM PRUDENCE (t17840707-25).

WILLIAM PRUDENCE, Theft > burglary, 7th July 1784.

685. WILLIAM PRUDENCE was indicted for burglariously and feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of William Penn , at the hour of ten in the night, on the 31st of May last, and burglariously stealing therein, one looking-glass set in a walnut tree frame, value 15 s. one linen gown, value 4 s. one cotton counterpane, value 2 s. one camblet gown, value 1 s. one serge coat, value 1 s. one sheet, value 1 s. and four brass candlesticks, value 1 s. his property .

WILLIAM PENN sworn.

I am a Weaver at Bethnal-green .

Who went last to bed in your family the night your house was broke open? - It was broke open a quarter before ten, on a Whitsun Monday, I was out.

HERBERT POCOCK sworn.

I am a lodger in the prosecutor's house, it is in the broad place; I was at home when the house was broke open, on the 31st of May last, about nine in the evening, I left the house, I left nobody in the house, and I returned about a quarter before ten; when I returned I observed the street door and the kitchen door were both open, and I saw the prisoner in the house.

What was he doing? - He had a brown linen apron on full of things, the property of the prosecutor, he was looking into the drawers belonging to the chest of drawers which stood in the kitchen, I collared him and he run away, I pursued him he was stopped by Hatchman, I never lost sight of him, I saw him drop the things at the door, the things were all taken up afterwards, when he was brought back and carried to the watch-house; they were taken up by Hatchman.

Did you secure the door when you went away? - I latched the door, I only latched it.

Prisoner. Ask him, whether he did not bring a woman before the Justice, that said she knew the man that dropped the things? - I saw the prisoner drop the things.

JAMES HATCHMAN sworn.

I apprehended the prisoner, and took up some things which the constable has, to whom I delivered them.

- STUCKER sworn.

I am the constable, (produces the things which had been in his possession ever since.)

(The coat and one of the candlesticks deposed to.)

Court to Pocock. Are you sure you latched the door after you? - Yes, Sir, I am sure of it.

Can you swear to that positively, take care what you swear? - Yes, I can.

When you went out it was not dark enough but what you could distinguish one man from another? - Yes, I could.

Prisoner. Ask him whether he did not come last Saturday and say he was almost starving, and if I could make up half a guinea he would make it up? - I say that is wrong, I went to his wife in this manner, signifying if she could make up the man's property, I should be very loth to take away the man's life.

Court to Hatchman. When you was called did you see the prisoner? - I stopped him, and the prisoner said do not stop me it is only a sight.

Did he give any account of his being there? - No, no further.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

My Lord I was not in the house, I had been to see my mother who was sick, the woman that belongs to that there gentleman, said she was last out, at the Justices.

JUDITH PENN sworn.

I am wife to the prosecutor.

Who went out of this house last? - I did out of my own kitchen.

Did you go out after Herbert Pocock ? - Before him, I went out between five and six to my mother's.

The prisoner called two witnesses who gave him a good character.

Court to Jury. Gentlemen, with respect to the larceny it is very strong evidence, but there is a difficulty about the capital part of the charge, the lodger said it was about nine o'clock, and they do not pretend to any degree of accuracy; therefore it was dark when he returned, yet when he opened the latch, it was sufficiently light to acquit him of the capital part of the charge.

GUILTY Of stealing, but not guilty of breaking and entering the dwelling house .

Transported for seven years .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice HEATH.