Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 24 January 2022), February 1788, trial of ANN WHEELER ELIZABETH BARNSLEY (t17880227-54).

ANN WHEELER, ELIZABETH BARNSLEY, Theft > shoplifting, 27th February 1788.

194. ANN WHEELER and ELIZABETH BARNSLEY were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 26th of February , eighteen yards of muslin, value 6 l. the property of Enoch Hodgkinson , George Warrener , and John Percival , privily in their shop .

The indictment was opened by Mr. Knowlys.

JOHN PERCIVAL sworn.

I am a linen-draper in Bond-street , partner with Enoch Hodgkinson and George Warrener ; on Tuesday the 26th of February, about four o'clock in the afternoon, I lost the things in the indictment; I was in the fore-shop, I met Mr. Cundel coming out of the back-shop from the ladies; he desired me to attend to them; upon my entering the back shop, I observed Wheeler pull some muslins off the counter into her lap, they were both sitting close to the counter; she then concealed it under her cloak and muff, she had a very large white silk cloak on, trimmed with furr, and a very large muff.

How long did they stay after that? - About a quarter of an hour; they bought a remnant of Irish, which they had asked for before, about five or six shillings, they paid for it, took the parcel, and were going away together; upon their approach to the shop-door, at the distance of eight yards from where they were sitting, I attempted to lay hold of the prisoner Wheeler's apron, and she immediately turned round, and returned to where she had been sitting before, the other followed her; I saw her drop the muslins; and the other immediately picked them up, and laid them on the counter.

How far were they from the counter, when you saw them drop the muslins? - Close to the counter.

Was any thing said by either of them at the time of dropping them? - Not till I charged them with it; Wheeler said she was surprised I should charge her with taking the muslins; Barnsley said her name was Williams, that she lived at Cold Bath-fields; Wheeler said she was acquainted with Lady Spencer, that she was a customer at the shop, and had frequently come with her servants; I sent for a constable and took them up.

Mr. Silvester. Those ladies came to your shop, bought a piece of Irish, and paid for it; what did they give you? - They gave Mr. Cundel a ten pound note.

They bought some muslin as well as Irish? - Yes.

You never charged them at all with the theft, till the muslins were on your counter? - No.

You shewed them a number of pieces of muslin? - The counter was littered all over with muslins.

Then some of the pieces might have fell down? - No, there were none down.

WILLIAM CUNDELL sworn.

I am shopman to Mr. Percival; on the 26th of February, about four o'clock, the two prisoners came into the further end of the back shop together; Barnsley desired to see some muslin, the same as they had seen last week, that it was ell wide at nine shillings a yard; I served her with three ells of muslin, which came to thirty-five shillings, and which she bought and put in her pocket; she said I must give her change for a ten pounds note; but she recollected before I gave her change, that she wanted a small quantity of Irish, the same that she had some of the week before, at four shillings and two-pence a yard, and added, that the little man, then in the front-shop would know the sort; I left the ladies and went into the front-shop; I met Mr. Percival in the front shop, I desired he would walk into the back shop to them; they were sitting about ten yards from where I met him; I looked among the remnants of Irish, and found one, which Barnsley bought, and gave six shillings for it; I then gave her her change out of the ten pounds note; they had got their parcels, and were going out, as they were approaching the back shop door, Mr. Percival attempted to take hold of Wheeler's apron; she then turned round, and went to the place where they had been sitting; she was immediately followed by Barnsley; I saw Barnsley pick up the muslins from the floor, and lay them on the counter; when Mr. Percival immediately took the muslin, and charged Wheeler with the theft.

How far was it from the place wherethey had sat down, to the place where Mr. Percival attempted to lay hold of Wheeler's apron? - Six or seven yards, or thereabouts.

Did you observe any muslin on the floor, before they turned back? - I did not; I think if there had been any, I could not but have seen it; Barnsley said that her name was Williams, that she lived in Cold Bath-street, Cold Bath-fields; Wheeler said that she was very well known, that Lady Spencer knew her; (the muslin produced in Court.) It is in four pieces, I marked the length of them on the muslins, previous to my taking them to Bow-street, (looks at them) upon this piece is marked three yards and five-eighths; the next piece is marked two yards and three quarters; the next is marked two yards and five eighths, and the other piece has ten yards marked upon it.

Are you able to say they are your master's property? - Yes.

And the very property that were taken up at the time by Barnsley? - Yes.

Mr. Silvester. These goods had been shewn to somebody, and were laying with great disorder on the counter? - Yes, in some disorder.

Did you observe if any muslins were fell down? - I did not observe any down.

There had been no charge made till the muslins were laid on the counter; where have these muslins been kept? - In the shop under the stairs.

How many of you have had access to them? - Seven of us, masters and all.

For how many days? - Ever since last Wednesday.

They have not been kept under lock and key? - No.

Court. What are your shop marks? - A, E, H, L, O, R, D, K, P,

What is the value? - Six pounds.

Prosecutor. I told the clerk of the indictments that it was not privately, and I desired him not to lay it capital.

Mr. Silvester. When Wheeler returned to the counter, was it not to look at a printed muslin, which she said if she had any, would suit her? - She certainly did.

Wheeler. He said Ma'am, there is a very pretty print; that was the cause of his laying hold of my apron to shew me that, and on that account I turned back.

Is the Constable here? - No.

Why is he not here? - He saw nothing of the transaction.

Barnsley. Whether Mr. Percival did not mark the muslin himself from a great number of other pieces? - No, I did not.

WHEELER's DEFENCE.

As Mr. Percival denies marking the muslin, I have nothing more to say; he marked them himself, from a great quantity in his own shop, before the constable, who could have proved it.

Barnsley. I leave my defence to my Counsel.

BOTH GUILTY, Of stealing the goods, but not privily in the shop .

Transported for seven years .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. ROSE.