Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 03 December 2023), August 1786, trial of GEORGE LEE ALEXANDER SEATON GEORGE CONNOWAY (t17860830-16).

GEORGE LEE, ALEXANDER SEATON, GEORGE CONNOWAY, Theft > animal theft, 30th August 1786.

676. GEORGE LEE , ALEXANDER SEATON , and GEORGE CONNOWAY were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 27th day of July last, two live bullocks, value 20 l. the property of Robert Hill .

(The witnesses examined apart, at the request of the prisoners.)


On the 24th of July I drove down thirteen beasts to Mr. Hill's marsh at Poplar ; I saw two of them on the Wednesday following at Mr. Hill's slaughter-house alive.

What time of the day did you see them there? - Towards the evening.

Do you know what became of them afterwards? - No, Sir, I do not.


I found my master's locks open, the same morning the beasts were stolen from Poplar; which was Wednesday morning; there had been thirteen, but there were but eleven; I did not see the thirteen there; I saw the eleven on Wednesday morning between three and four; I am sure there were but eleven beasts there.


I am patrol and watchman of St. James's, Duke's-place; I had an information on Monday, to the best of my knowledge, the 24th of July, that there was a cow to be brought into the parish; I suspected it was stolen; I watched during the night for this cow, and I gave a signal to this watchman; nobody came; on the Tuesday following, I had information it was to be bullocks; and not a cow; on the Wednesday morning, as near as I can recollect, about a quarter after four comes a man to the watch-house to me; in consequence of which I went round the parish to see, and found nobody on the Wednesday morning; presently there came to the watch-house a constable that was coming round, and said, Stewart, start up, the bullocks are coming; this was a quarter before four; then I run, and I saw them directly, and I saw the prisoners driving two bullocks in Houndsditch; there was two men and a boy; Lee was on the pavement on the right hand side, and Seaton on the left hand side, and Connoway was in the middle; the three prisoners were the people; I never saw them before; I ran up directly and laid hold of Lee, Connoway ran away; he over run me; Seaton was stopped by the constable and another; the other made his escape from us; we gave charge of the bullocks, while we took Lee and Seaton to the compter; as soon as we had delivered the prisoners to the compter we came back and too the bullocks down to Whitechapel-market, to see if any of the butchers knew to whom they belonged; and they were known to belong to Mr. Hill in East-Smithfield.

What did you with them after that? - We went down and knocked at Mr. Hill's door; he sent up his son to see if they were his, and he owned them.

Prisoner Seaton. Did you see me driving bullocks? - I saw no other person in the street; at the same time he was on the left hand, and Lee on the right hand, and Connoway in the center; I first saw Lee with the bullocks in Church-row.

How near was he to the bullocks? - He was standing still; he stood still a very little space; he walked off; he passed me twice; the bullocks were standing still all the while.

Did you see Seaton at this time? - I did not.

Did you see the boy? - I saw him rest himself, and sit down at the corner of Church-row, when I first saw the bullocks.

How near the bullocks was he sitting? - He might be fifteen or sixteen yards off; he sat there till about a quarter before four; they all three joined together; I first saw Connaway at half past three, sitting with the bullocks; he sat there till about a quarter before four, then he got up and brought the bullocks out of Church-row; I saw him go to the bullocks and drive them into Houndsditch.

At that time were any of the other prisoners there? - They were both there then; I did not see Lee come back; I saw the boy get up and drive the bullocks; I did not see Lee nor Seaton at the time the boy sat down; but at the time the boy got up; I did not see Lee at that time.

At the time the boy got up did you see Lee there? - I did not.

Did you see Seaton there at that time? - I did not; when I saw the boy with the bullocks, I ran back to the other officer, and so lost sight of them for a short time.

When you first came back again where were the bullocks? - When I came back again the bullocks were going up Houndsditch; Connoway was walking in the middle of the road behind the bullocks; it might be a dozen yards.

Did you see either of the prisoners then? - Yes, I saw Lee and Seaton, both of them.

Where did you see Lee then? - Lee was upon the pavement on the right hand side of the way going up Houndsditch; he was walking the same way with the bullocks; he was behind the bullocks some distance, about twelve or fourteen yards; we stopped them directly.

Before you stopped them did Lee say any thing or do any thing that shewed whether he was driving the bullocks or not? - Not one single syllable in my hearing.

What had he in his hand? - Nothing in his hand of a weapon.

What had the boy in his hand? - I did not see any thing in his hand.

You did not see Lee do any thing then, but walk along the same way the bullocks went, you did not hear him say any thing? - Not any thing; Seaton was on the left hand side of the pavement walking the same way as the bullocks.

How far from them? - Much about the same distance as Lee was on the other side.

Had he any thing in his hand? - No, nothing; I neither heard him say any thing, nor saw him do any thing.

Lee and Seaton did not attempt to run away? - No, the boy did.

Did you at all see the prisoners speak to one another? - I did not.

Not at all? - Not at all.

While you were taking the prisoners to the compter, did Lee and Seaton talk together? - Not in my hearing.

Was there any thing from which you could discover whether they knew one another? - I could not see any thing; they denied any knowledge of one another.

Had you any reason from what they said or did, to think otherwise? - I had not.

How soon after the boy was taken? - In the course of a week after; I am quite sure he was the same boy I saw with the bullocks.

Was you present when the prisoners were examined? - Yes.

Did you ever hear them say any thing about this matter? - No, I did not.

Prisoner Seaton. When he stopped me ask him whether there was not a man ahead? - I saw no other person.


On the 24th of July, there was information brought into the watch-house that three men were to bring a cow; on Wednesday the 26th in the morning, between three and four, I saw the three prisoners, two of them stood at the corner of the Minories.

Where did you first see the bullocks? - In Houndsditch.

Was Robert Stewart with you? - No, he was not in Houndsditch.

Who did you see with the bullocks? - I saw Connaway drive them in, and then he sat him down at the corner; I went past, and I saw Lee and Seaton at the corner of the Minories.

How far is that from Church-row? - I dare say it is two hundred yards; they were standing there.

What were they doing at the corner of the Minories? - They were standing leaning against a post, one on one side of the way and the other on the other; they were not together; I saw them do nothing at that time; I went round the parish, and I met Lee in Shoemaker-row; he came directly after me; he went down Houndsditch; I followed him, the bullocks waited in Church-row, and the boy sat down there till the watchmen went off; when the watch went off at four o'clock they all three went into Church-row, and drove the bullocks out.

Did you see them drive the bullocks out? - Yes; when I came back the boy was standing at the corner of Church-row; I saw him go up to the bullocks, and they came out.

Did you see the other two prisoners at that time? - Yes, at the corner of Church-row; I am sure of that.

Was Stewart there? - No

Was not Stewart there when the boy drove the bullocks out of Church-row? - No, I did not see him there; I ran and called Stewart, and we both of us came, and some of the watchmen; we got a-head of them and came in front of them; they were all three behind the beasts in the middle of the coachway; they were all three together: I had drove Seaton into the pathway; says he, when I laid hold of him, I am not driving the bullocks; the boy ran away, and Lee and Seaton I held fast; they neither of them attempted to run away.

Did you see them speak together? - No.

Did you hear any of them speak to the bullocks, or see them do any thing to the bullocks? - No, only Connoway had a stick in his hand, the others had none.

Prisoner Seaton. Ask that man when he stopped me if I was not on the pavement and whether I did not call out, why do not you stop that man a-head? - No, I did not see any other man in the place.


On Monday I was in Smithfield-market; a butcher's boy came to me; his name is Joe; and I went with him to the prisoner Seaton's house; it was about twelve; when I came there the prisoner Seaton said he had a cow to sell; I asked him to let me look at it; he said, he could not let me see it, because he had not got it at home; and he promised he would bring it to me on Tuesday morning; I never saw him no more till the Tuesday night, after I was in bed, much about nine; then he came to my house with another young man with him.

Who was that young man? - I believe it was the prisoner Lee.

Are you sure it was him? - I will not take upon myself to be positive it was him because I had been asleep; and he told me he could not bring a cow, but we will bring you two bullocks in the morning; I told him, if he brought the two beasts in the morning, I would shew him a person that would buy them; on the Wednesday morning they called me up between three and four; they came and called me, one of them.

Which of them? - It was that young man in the white coat, Seaton; he said, they were coming, where will you take them to; I asked them if they was not afraid that the beasts would be stopped before they got as far as Aldgate.

Where were they to take them to? - They promised on the Tuesday night they would bring them to me; I told them in Spital-fields I would shew them a man that would buy them; I asked them if they were not afraid of their being stopped before they came there; and they said no, for the man that was with the beasts had a note in his pocket; I went on the Monday night before; after I saw this young man that came, and he promised he would bring me a cow, I went to the watch-house, and it was Levi's night the constable, and gave the information to him.

How long have you known Levi? - I have known him a great while, ever since I can remember.

Did you ever give him any information before this? - No.

How happened you to give him this? - Because I thought they were not honestly come by; I went to the watch-house, I did not know justly that that was his night up-my oath.

How came this boy to offer the cow to sell to you? - The young man that saw me in Smithfield-market offered it.

How came they to pitch upon you? - I cannot tell; I went there to see the cow; I do not know.

Are you used to buy these things? - No, I never did in my life.

Who is that young man? - A butcher that lived in Whitechapel, he asked me if I knew any body that would buy them; I told him yes; when I first went I intended to buy cow.

How soon did you change your mind? - That night when they did not bring the cow.

Did you get up and go and tell your friend Mr. Levi that they would bring two bullocks? - Yes.

Did not Mr. Levi tell you that two bullocks were twice as good as one cow? - No, he did not tell me any thing but that he would be out in the night; he never mentioned any reward to me, nor I to him.

Upon your oath was not it settled what share you was to have of this reward? - Upon my oath there never was a word mentioned in my presence about a reward.

Then without any expectation of a reward you got out of your bed and told Levi?

Prisoner Seaton. I have two witnesses that this man wanted a guinea not to appear against me; and then he came to ten shillings.

Is that true? - No, there were two people several times at my house, and I denied myself; I went with Levi to shew him where the bullocks were; I went to the prisoners when they were apprehended.

Prisoner Seaton. Was you before them or behind them when we were taken? - I believe I was behind them.

Prisoner. Now that gentleman swears that there was nobody else by; he owes me a spite because I used to watch at the Custom-house, and he had some stolen tobacco and I watched him to the ale-house.


I am son to Mr. Richard Hill ; I went to look at the bullocks; I believe it was Stewart that called me up; they were my father's beasts; I was with him on the Monday as they were bought; I put four clips on the hips of them; I am positive they were two of my father's beasts.

Prosecutor. I was in bed, they called me up to know if I had lost any beasts, I said, no; that was on the Wednesday morning; I saw them afterwards; I have the drover that drives for me to be a witness that they were the same beasts; they were mine; we can tell our beasts; we had them home about six o'clock.

James Hill. They were the same that my father saw.

Court to Dellow. Where did you see the beasts? - Them are two of the beasts that I drove to the marsh.

Who shewed you them in the evening? - Hill understood I sent for him; I knew the bullocks; they were two of the same.


I apprehended Connoway on the 3d of August, I took him to Justice Smith in East-Smithfield, and he was committed. My Lord, with permission, if you will give me authority I will fetch in a man that will give you proof that the information came from Levi.

Levi. The information was not given to me.

JOSEPH SOLOMONS called in and sworn.

Please you my Lord, I was sitting one night drinking at the Blue Anchor, in Rosemary-lane; it was on a Sunday night; there was nobody but myself in company; there were two young fellows came in and told me -

Who were they? - I should know them; if I saw them; they were the prisoners Lee and Seaton; they came to ask me if I wanted to buy a cow; I am a butcher, and I was to let them know on Monday; they told me they would pay me for my trouble; I did not know it was stolen; I went back to Smithfield and saw a young fellow at Smithfield, and told him about it; that was Nathan, and I went with him into Rosemary-lane, and I saw the two prisoners up a court close to the Blue Anchor; they said they should bring her up on the Tuesday morning; I know no further about it.

Dawson. This man was in company with two more at the door whom I could not see when I went out; now they were saying to each other, that this man could say something in evidence that would discharge the three prisoners, or on the other hand could say something that would convict them; at least I heard the other man say, that this man and this had been at the watch-house with Levi the constable and the patrols, and that Levi had observed to the other that there was a premium of forty pounds each for stealing bullocks or sheep.

Court to Solomons. Is that true? - No, please you my Lord.

Did any such thing pass as has been now stated? - No.

Had you no conversation with Levi before these men were apprehended? - None at all upon my oath; I never knew a word about it.

Court to Dawson. Was what was said in this man's presence? - Yes, my Lord.

Had you any conversation with that man that was brought in just now? - No, please you my Lord, none at all.

Dawson. Prior to the conversation they had, this man told me himself that a man that is in the yard was at the bottom of all this business, and that it was in the power of this man to assist the prisoners or convict them; he told me had employed them to steal the bullocks, and what they were to have for them, and every thing of the kind.


Now, make a full disclosure of the truth of what you know in this business? - I was one day in Duke's-place, and David Levi asked me to go with him after some men that had stolen some bullocks; I believe it was on a Monday; I cannot rightly recollect the day; there were the patrols and the watchmen of the parish; there were four or five; he said, he had two in custody, and one was not taken yet; I went with him down to the Gun at Hollow-bush, and there the witness Nathan, who goes by the name of Jack Trotter , he was to have bought them; I went and staid there two nights till eleven and did not take any body; they told me it was too late to wait; it would be about four in the morning to take them; and I did not take them.

Nathan. I was not with him.

How long before the men were taken up was it that you had any conversation about it with Levi and Trotter? - It was on the Sunday or Monday, I cannot say which; before they were taken.

What were they to be taken up for? - For stealing the oxen; they told me they were to bring two oxen, I think as near as I can guess.

Did you hear any talk amongst them about any reward for taking these people? - They said, they dare say there would be forty pounds for each.

This you are sure was a day or two before they were taken up? - Yes.

Court to Dawson. You heard a man tell a story similar to this? - Yes, only he mentioned the conversation in the watch-house.

Samuel. I did not mention any thing about any conversation in the watch-house.

Nathan. Was I with you the day before? - Yes, and he told me the day before that there were to be two oxen bought, and that he was to be the buyer.

Prisoner Seaton. There are two witnesses out of doors to prove that that man wanted ten shillings to settle it; that is Nathan, or else he said, he would have forty pounds.


Court. Be cautious what you say, take care to say nothing but the truth - I went to that gentleman in Duke's-place; I cannot say his name; that is the gentleman. (Points to Nathan.) I went to him on Tuesday; it was half an hour past one; I asked him what he intended to do with these men, as I heard they were innocent; he said, he was the chief witness against them, and he did not want to hurt them, and if they could make up ten shillings he would not appear against them. I have known George Lee ever since we were babies together.


I was with this Mrs. Bowers when he offered to take the ten shillings.

Bowers. There was another young man that was with him, but he is not present.


GUILTY, Death .

They were all humbly recommended to his Majesty's mercy .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.