Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 07 December 2021), September 1788, trial of EDWARD MERRELL WILLIAM JOHNSON (t17880910-123).

EDWARD MERRELL, WILLIAM JOHNSON, Theft > grand larceny, Theft > receiving, 10th September 1788.

584. EDWARD MERRELL was indicted for stealing, on the 21st of July last, two pair leather of men's shoes, value 6 s. a pair of steel snuffers, value 12 d. two wooden lasts, value 6 d. an ivory tambour needle, value 6 d. and nine pair of children'sleather shoes, value 9 s. the property of George Wiltshire .

And WILLIAM JOHNSON was indicted for feloniously receiving, on the same day, nine pair of children's leather shoes, value 9 s. part of the beforementioned goods, knowing them to be stolen .


I am a shoe-maker in Little-Newport-street ; on the 20th of July last, I was informed the two prisoners were going into partnership; I got a warrant on the Monday following, to apprehend Merrell; and I went to Johnson, and asked him if he had any of my property; he denied it; and in his back room, I found three of my lasts, one written on

"Mrs. Williams," by myself; and the officer brought in Johnson's wife, with nine pair of children's shoes, which were my property. In Merrell's apartment, we found a tambour needle, a pair of snuffers, and two pair of men's shoes, which were mine; the shoes had my mark; the snuffers we lost out of the shop, about eight days before; there were some lasts there, one of which I swore to; I never missed any men's shoes; we are always selling shoes; I missed children's shoes; I mitigated the value at fifteen shillings; Merrell had been with me near a twelvemonth; and Johnson is a boot closer, and worked for me.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner's Counsel. Both these persons had been employed by you? - Yes.

Both very good workmen I believe? - The prisoner, Johnson, is a very good workman.

The other was your clicker? - Yes.

He had worked for you at first, for twelve shillings a week? - Yes, and in a fortnight I gave him fourteen shillings a week, and four pair of shoes yearly; Johnson worked by the set price.

You entertained a high opinion of both of them? - I did.

You never suspected either of them, till you were told that they were going to set up in partnership? - No.

Is it all uncommon for persons who work occasionally on little orders to borrow their master's lasts? - Not without asking leave.

Are these snuffers conscientiously worth six-pence? - I cannot say.

Do you recollect ever selling any children's shoes to Johnson? - I do, four or five pair; but I never sold him a red shoe.

Will you swear you never sold these nine pair of shoes, that were found in his apartment to any body? - It is impossible a person that keeps a public shop can be certain.

Pray what sum of money did you offer to take to compound this felony? - I never consented to any thing of the kind.

Was not you to shew lenity to them on condition that they did not go into partnership, and set up against you? - It was a matter of indifference to me.

Court. I must have a direct answer to the gentleman's question? - I never had any concern at all about partnership, nor knew nothing about it.

Did you promise them lenity upon any condition? - None at all; when they made application to me to compound felony, I told them, I should have nothing to do with it.

Did not you authorize your attorney, that on receiving a sum of money, and on these men undertaking to enter into no partnership, this bill should not be found? - I did not.

What may be the value of the tambour needle, a penny, or two-pence? - God knows, I do not.

Are not you in Merrell's debt? - I owe him money.


I am an officer; I searched Johnson's apartment; and took some shoes from the woman; (as the last witness has related) I produced the last; I understood that Merrell had left some other shoes, (six pair of men's) that we found there, to be bound; and the prosecutor said, he should take no account of them; I went with Mr. Wiltshireand Mumford to search a place, which they said, was Merrell's apartment, but I do not know that it was; and there we found, a last, and two pair of men's shoes, an old pair of broken snuffers, and a tambour needle; I understood that one of those pair of shoes belonged to the man that kept the lodgings; I do not know his name; the other pair, Merrell said, were his own; they hung up to public view.

(The last deposed to.)

Court. This seems to be a very small trifle; might not such a thing as that, in the common course of business, be taken home by your servant, or by Johnson? - I put it up in a particular place; I have often enquired of Merrell, where it was, and never could find it; I had it made for Mrs. Williams, in St. Martin's-lane; these shoes are all mine; here is my writing; I missed them about three weeks before; I can swear I never sold them.

Who sold in you shop besides? - Nobody but Merrell.


This last was brought to me by Johnson's apprentice, to make a pair of shoes.

Is not it common for a workman to borrow his master's last? - Some will do it; it is not common.

Mr. Garrow. I have twenty or thirty witnesses to character.

About thirty respectable witnesses appeared in court, several of whom the Jury knew, upon which, they said, they were satisfied, and the prisoner's were BOTH ACQUITTED .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice GROSE.