Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 23 October 2018), September 1784, trial of GEORGE GREEN BENJAMIN COLEMAN (t17840915-69).

GEORGE GREEN, BENJAMIN COLEMAN, Theft > shoplifting, 15th September 1784.

846. GEORGE GREEN and BENJAMIN COLEMAN were indicted for feloniously stealing on the 13th of September , two pair of silk stockings, value 16 s. the property of John Smith , privily in his shop .

JOHN SMITH sworn.

I live at No. 280, Holborn , I am a hosier , the two prisoners came into my shop, about four o'clock on the Monday in the afternoon, the 13th of September.

Did they come in together? - Yes; they asked to look at some striped silk stockings that lay in the window, I reached them down, they asked me the price, I told them half a guinea a pair, then they asked to look at some white silk, I then took another pair of the same price from the window, and George Green asked me to shew him some that were lower priced, I never saw him before to my knowledge, I reached him some out of the paper, there were seven pair in the paper when we reached them down, we always mark on the outside how many there are; he told me they were too large a size, he would be glad if I would shew him some smaller, I then reached a dozen of women's silk, them I asked him nine shillings for, he then said, he did not understand silk, he would look at some cotton, I did not offer to reach him any more, the other prisoner said, he wondered he could give the gentleman so much trouble, the other man went out after he had said them words, and this Green was going to follow him, and said, he would call in the morning, and bring somebody that understood them, and he was going out, and I missed a pair of striped silk.

Court. What before he was gone out? - Yes, I collared the little one, and told him, I would make him pay for what he had got before he went, he then fell a crying, and said, if I would give him leave to go, he would give me what he had got, and he pulled out a pair of white silk stockings out of his pocket, which pair the constable has, that was a pair I had not missed, I have never recovered the others nor seen them since, I left him with a young girl that was in the house, and went to look after the other, but I could see nothing of him then, but he was taken about nine the same night.

Mr. Knowles, Prisoner Coleman's Council. You seem to swear pretty hardly, Sir, you tell us Sir, that the other person took the striped silk stockings, did you see him take them? - No, Sir, I did not.

Did you give the same account before the Magistrate? - Yes, Sir, to the best of my knowledge.

Did not the Magistrate tell you, that if you described there to be the value of five shillings, that the indictment would affect the prisoners lives? - He did not to my knowledge.

Will you swear that he did not? - I will not.

Then a little after that, you said, you would lose your life or hang these fellows? - I did not.

In what package were those stockings? - The stripe silk were taken out of the window.

For ought you know, the prisoner you laid hold of might have secreted these blue silk stockings as well as the others? - I dare say, he did not.

Will you swear he could not possibly have done it? - He was searched in our parlour by the constable.

Court. How long was it before the constable came? - Not two minutes.

Did you find any thing on Coleman when you apprehended him? - Nothing of my property.

Have not you lost a great many things? - Yes.

Then I conceive you was irritated, and angry? - I cannot say I was, I should be glad to apprehend those kind of people.

Court. Is the price you have mentioned, the reasonable selling price? - It is laid less than they cost me.

So that they were of the full value of eight shillings? - Yes, Sir.

You never saw any of the prisoners before? - Not to my knowledge.

JOHN PROSSER sworn.

I am the constable of St. Giles's, and Mr. Johnson and me were sent for together, he gave charge of the prisoner Green, he said, two men came into the shop, and robbed him of there stockings, Mr. Smith delivered them into my custody.

What did Green say? - He owned himself guilty, I took Coleman upon the information of Green, at a public house in Bedfordbury, I cannot tell the sign, the moment I laid hold of him, Mr. Smith said, that was the man that had been in the shop with Green, we found nothing upon him, but a pocket book and knife, which are here in Court.

JOHN JOHNSON sworn.

I am a constable, I was with Mr. Prosser at the taking this prisoner, I live near Mr. Smith in Great Turn-stile, Holborn, it was this day week, between three and four the prisoner Green was there, I searched him, and found these buckles, and this box of shaving powder upon him, the stockings were delivered to Prosser, they were white.

Was you present when Coleman was taken? - Yes.

Was any thing found upon Coleman? - A pocket book and knife, nothing else.

Mr. Knowles. You have related every thing that took place when the constable was sent for? - Yes, as far as I know.

PRISONER GREEN's DEFENCE.

My Lord, this man is a very slight acquaintance of mine, only I lodged with him two weeks, I met him in Holborn, he asked me where I was going, I said to buy a pair of stockings, as he was a better judge than me, I asked him to go with me, when we came to Mr. Smith, we went in and looked at some, I cannot tell how many, he asked half a guinea, I asked to look at some at nine shillings, he shewed me some and I thought they were too big, and he shewed me some smaller, and this man went out of the shop and took a fancy for a pair, and before I could get the money out of my pocket Mr. Smith stopped me, and to my great surprize, I had changed my breeches, and I had left half a guinea in my pocket, and had only four shillings about me, he said, I should not go unless I paid for the pair which the other man had got, so he charged me with a constable.

PRISONER COLEMAN'S DEFENCE.

I was coming down Holborn, and I went with Green to buy these stockings, and I saw somebody go by as I was in the shop, and I went out after them, I wished Green well, he was a slight acquaintance of mine, Smith said, he would hang both of us if he could.

Prosecutor and Prosser. Green had but four shillings and some halfpence in his pocket.

GEORGE GREEN, BENJAMIN COLEMAN.

GUILTY, 4 s. 10 d.

Each to be transported for seven years .

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