Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 27 November 2021), July 1786, trial of ELIZABETH BAYNES (t17860719-32).

ELIZABETH BAYNES, Theft > shoplifting, 19th July 1786.

592. ELIZABETH BAYNES was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 12th of July last, twenty yards of dimity, value 18 s. the property of Christopher Hill , privily in his shop .


I am a journeyman to the prosecutor; he is a man's mercer and button-seller , he lost some dimity on the 12th of July; between eleven and twelve, the prisoner came to our shop to buy some horn buttons, she bought half a dozen, and paid for them; and a gentleman came in, and she said she was in no hurry, she could wait; I served the gentleman, and whilst I was serving that gentleman I perceived the prisoner go to the counter, where these dimities lay; we have two counters in the shop; I suspected her, I perceived this piece of dimity was moved from its place; she desired me to shew her some other buttons; when she came back from the other counter I observed the dimity had been moved; I went to the further end of our shop, to get some other buttons; I opened them, I cut half a dozen, she laid down a penny for them, and turned to go out of the shop door; I perceived the piece of dimity was gone; the gentleman went out as soon as I had served him; I followed her out, she reemed rather to hold the door that I should not open it; I pulled her into the shop; and as she got into the shop she dropped this piece of dimity; I saw it drop from under her cloak, I took it up immediately; she was close to the counter, close by the door; I am very sure I saw it drop from her cloak; it could not slip off the counter; the dimity that was missing laid at the other end of the counter, this is the dimity, there are twenty yards; I know it to be Mr. Hill's by the marks L. E. R. in my master's hand writing; I can swear it to be his hand writing; he was not at home at the time; I saw the dimity on the counter after the gentleman was gone out of the shop.

Are you sure of that? I can swear it.

What is the lowest value of it? - It cost my master nineteen shillings and three pence; we sell it for more.

Did not you see her hand or her cloak move? - I saw her hand behind her all the time she was in the shop.

Then she was leaning against the counter where this piece was? - Yes.

Did not you see her move? - I saw her elbow move.

Now, have you no doubt but that was the time when she took this piece of dimity? - I have no doubt but what it was.


The man took me and sent for a constable, and then he picked up this piece of dimity, and told the Justice, that he went to the further end of the shop on purpose to give me an opportunity of taking it; he said, you have robbed me, but shall never rob me any more; here I am as innocent as the baby unborn.

GUILTY Of stealing, but not privately .

To be privately whipped , and confined six months in the House of Correction .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. ROSE.