Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 05 October 2022), October 1784, trial of ELIZABETH LEONELL (t17841020-68).

ELIZABETH LEONELL, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 20th October 1784.

1000. ELIZABETH LEONELL was indicted for feloniously assaulting Hannah, the wife of Samuel Boardman , on the 23d of September last, in a certain place called the privy of the New Prison , near the King's-highway, and putting her in fear and danger of her life, and feloniously taking from her person, and against her will, four shillings and sixpence in monies numbered, the property of the said Samuel .

HANNAH BOARDMAN sworn.

I was taken up with a shilling warrant, a woman and I had a few words, and I was set down crying in the prison, it was on a Wednesday, I am almost sure it was last Wednesday was a month, my heart was ready to break, and the prisoner came to me, and said what are you crying for; I said, I have done nothing that I know of; says she, I have a kinsman that will bail you; I said, how can that be, a man I never saw. I have not got much money. I searched my pocket, and found sixteen-pence; says she, I will take that sixteen-pence, and carry it to Mr. Roberts, to go to carry to the Justice of Peace to get a copy of your commitment, against my kinsman comes to get you out of prison.

Court. You gave her the sixteen-pence for that purpose? - Yes, she said, I must have more money, says I, I have no more; says she, take off your stays, says I, how can I go without my stays? I pulled off my stays, and sent my own child with them, and she brought me four shillings and sixpence, and a duplicate; when she saw the girl bring me the four shillings and sixpence, says she, they shall not hear what you and I say, come here to the vault; and when we came to the vault, says she, damn your eyes you old bitch, give me that money you have in your hand; I said, I will not give it you; says she, you bitch I will have it, and she put her hand before my mouth, and put one hand over my mouth, and with the other hand she took the money out of my hand.

In what manner did she take it out of your hand? - She pulled my hand as hard as she could, and held me so, that my nose and mouth all spun out with blood.

She pressed you so hard with her hand? Yes, I was almost stifled with my own blood; she went to the rest of the prisoners and set herself down, and left me in the vault almost fainting; after I stopped the blood and came to myself, I went to her, and says to her, Bet give me that money you took out of my hand; blast you, says she; you and the money, I take your money! if you say I took any of your money, I will kill you this minute: the turnkey, the fat, jolly man, came and took her away, or else she would have murdered me.

Prisoner. Mrs. Boardman, look in my face, and say, did I ever take any money from you? I am really innocent, she sent me for beer and gin, she has been learned all these things in the gaol.

THOMAS ROBERTS sworn.

I am one of the turnkeys of New-Prison, Clerkenwell; two or three days before this happened, the prisoner was committed to our prison on suspicion of a robbery, I belive this was on Thursday the 23d, I only go by the duplicate which I saw, the prosecutrix has it now: I heard the disturbance, my fellow servant went down and I followed him; he is not here, she came and said she had been robbed, her mouth bled a little, I asked her what she had been robbed of, she said four shillings and six-pence, which her child had brought in, and says she here is the duplicate, which she gave me: I then called the prisoner and asked her, she denied it, I took her immediately from that part of the prison and locked her up; she had been searched but nothing could be found, I did not search her myself.

Did you hear the prisoner use any threats to the prosecutix? - No, I cannot say I did.

Court to Prosecutrix. Is there any other witness who knows any more of this? - No, only my child.

How old is she? - She was ten years old last August.

Prisoner. Indeed upon my word I am as innocent as God is in Heaven, she did not say this, she only said her money was spent in gin and twopenny, and she not bailed out, she told me to raise her two guineas and she would not come against me.

Jury. We wish that the child should be examined to know whether she gave the money to the mother.

Court. You see thus far appears in evidence, that a duplicate for four shillings and six-pence was in the possession of the prosecutrix, for the turnkey says that she upon the complaint shewed him the duplicate, which was for four shillings and sixpence, which duplicate she now has; now whether after the child has heard all that has passed you will receive any additional satisfaction, is for your consideration.

Court to the Child. How old are you my little girl? - Ten, the last sixth day of August.

Do you know any thing of the nature of an oath? - No Sir, I do not.

Do you know what it is to be sworn? - No Sir, I do not.

You have never been told the nature of an oath, or the consequences of telling a lie if you are sworn? - No Sir.

Jury to Roberts. Was any money found on the prisoner? - Some of the prisoners said she had swallowed it, others said no, she had hid it in such a place which is very indecent to mention; I took her immediately and locked her up, I did not search her.

Court to Jury. You see when she went and mixed with the other prisoners there certainly was time enough for her to have parted with the money, but there is no evidence one way or the other as to that.

GUILTY , Death .

Jury. My Lord, the whole Jury desire to recommend her to mercy.

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.