Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 22 February 2019), October 1784, trial of CHARLES HUGHES (t17841020-64).

CHARLES HUGHES, Theft > shoplifting, 20th October 1784.

996. CHARLES HUGHES was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 21st of October , one pair of silk stockings, value 6 s. the property of John Williamson privily in his shop .


My father keeps a hosier's shop, in Holborn ; I was in the shop on Thursday a little before dusk, a little man much less than the prisoner, came into our shop, and asked for some silk stockings with clocks; I shewed him some, he begged to try on a pair of silk and worsted, which he did, and just as he was drawing them on, in came the prisoner, and asked for some unaccountable article, this was on Thursday after noon; my suspicions then were exceedingly strong that they were confederates, says I, to the Gentleman, it is very strange you should ask for an article which I have not got! I called my father to serve the prisoner, while I attended the other; my father turned his back, and I saw the prisoner put his hand to his breast, I did not see him take any thing; the little man offered less than the stockings cost, he went out, and the prisoner followed him; I told my father that I had a very great suspicion of them, I followed them two or three hundred yards, I saw the little man go up to another hosier's shop, and the prisoner went up to speak to a woman in a bath cloak, who seemed to be waiting for him; whilst he was talking to the woman, I spoke to a neighbour, and observing his side pocket bulged a little, I spoke to the prisoner, and there was a pair of silk stockings in his pocket; these stockings are my father's own property, I took them from the breast of his coat myself.

When he put his hand to his breast, did you see him have anything? - I did not: the stockings are spun silk, they stood us in seven shillings and eight-pence a pair, but I have laid them only at six shillings.

Prisoner. He acknowledged before Sir Sampson Wright, that he saw me put them into my pocket? - I said no such thing.


I was with Williamson when he stopped the prisoner, and I saw him take the stockings, the prisoner denied, and said he had them not, Mr. Williamson insisted on taking him to the shop.


I was going to my agent, he lives by Golden-square, one Mr. Green, for some prize money for the Don frigate; going along Holborn, I met a little man in a brown coat that stuck up pictures, I understood his name was Jones; says he, Hughes, will you give me a dram, says he I have got a pair of stockings to sell, and if you will buy them I shall be glad, I bought them, and gave him five shillings and sixpence, and a quartern of gin; we drank the gin, and I have a witness that saw me give him the money.

A WITNESS sworn.

I am a servant, I live at Shoreditch with my mother at present, I am out of place.

Court. What is your mother? - She is an engine-windster by trade.

Have you any father living? - Yes.

What is he? - He is a weaver.

How long have you known this man? - He and his wife lived in the house where I lived servant, I have known his wife many years, and I have known the man since he has been home, about six or seven months, he is a very honest man.

Mr. Williamson. This is the same woman that met the prisoner.

Prisoner. She was along with me, and drank the dram, and saw me give the money.

Witness. I met the prisoner coming from Bloomsbury-square, he asked me how I did, he was speaking to another man; and the man said, my dear, you may as well have a dram of something to drink; he was giving something to the man, but what it was I cannot tell.

Court. Your meeting was quite accidental I suppose? - Yes.

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.