Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 27 November 2021), September 1788, trial of JOHN DANCER (t17880910-2).

JOHN DANCER, Theft > housebreaking, 10th September 1788.

498. JOHN DANCER was indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Daniel Dancer , about the hour of eleven in the forenoon, on the 9th day of June last, no person being therein, and feloniously stealing therein a silver tankard, value 6 l. a tin cannister, value 6 d. a base-metal snuff-box, value 12 d. and ten guineas, his property; and one Goldsmith's note for payment of money, purporting to be a receipt signed by and under the hand of Charles Ray , for Messrs. Hoare and Co. dated the 30th of March, 1787, for the sum of 325 l. to account for on demand, the said Goldsmith's note for payment of money being the property of the said Daniel Dancer , and the sum of money thereon secured then due to him .

(The Case opened by Mr. Knowlys.)


I am a farmer at Harrow-Weald-Common ; I know the prisoner, he was about my house and place and would not go towork; about five days he was doing nothing, and I recommended him to go to work somewhere else, for I was not in business; I employed him to work after that, one day, that was on the Friday, and on Saturday he worked with me also, that was the 7th of June; he came on the Monday into the field, and staid about only for a little job; he said he was so bad he could not work, I bid him lay down under the hedge in the field which joins to the yard; he lopsed about in that way; I did not think of his breaking into my house; I left my house about ten on the Monday, nobody was in it when I left it; the house was locked, there were several doors, I am perfectly sure that I locked them; when I left the house I saw that the prisoner was in the field near the house and in the yard; I returned to my house about twelve at noon, and two of the doors were open that I had locked; I cannot tell how they were opened, one was fastened within side, there was no force appeared upon them, I thought they had been opened by a turnkey; I missed a silver tankard, value 6 l. I also missed a pacquet with several writings in it, which I had laid on a chair covered with a parcel of rags; I had been at London on the Friday; I had not seen it from the Saturday morning, when I laid it out of my pocket; nobody went into my room but myself; It was in my bedroom; I constanly kept my bed-room locked, and no other woman to attend it but myself; I am sure I had locked it that Monday; I also lost a snuff-box out of my bed-room which lay at top of another bed; the tankard was in the bed-room likewise, nobody but myself slept in the bed-room; I lost also a tin cannister that was taken from my bed-room also, I saw it there the day before; there are a great deal of other things lost that I cannot mention; If I was to count the value 50 l. would not make it up; there were some 3 l. 12 s. pieces that were not mentioned, there were some guineas in a little white stocking foot, they were rather light; I lost a note from a banker's; I had been at London on the Friday to settle things at the Commons, and I had taken all my papers in my pocket; when I came into the room I found the rags and pacquet were all gone together; he was taken up almost three weeks afterwards.

Court. Whose house is this? - The house belongs to me, and is mine, nobody lived in it besides me.


I know the prisoner; he sent for me up to Pigs Lane, by Uxbridge, on the 9th June, about eight in the evening, that is about eight miles from Harrow-Weald; the prisoner was tossing up for pies, and and he said he had found such a property he did not know what they were; he said he thought they were bank-notes; I saw them tied up and read them, it was brown paper like a book; after that he asked where William Lee was; I know Lee; the prisoner desired me to see for Lee that he might look them over; he thought Lee might know better than I did; when Lee came he told him the same as I did, that they were of no use to any person except the person they belonged to, and if he had done any thing amiss to return them again; if he had robbed any man of them I desired him to return them; he said he had not, and Lee told him the same; after that we delivered them to him again; I should know them again; after that we left him at some distance, he whipped over a gate, and I had some suspicion he had hid these writings; he was not gone over the gate five minutes; I saw him again after that, and was drinking with him after that, and I asked him if he had them writings about him; he said no, he had not; I asked him what he had done with them, and I and William Lee and one Mr. Kibbol, who was the landlord of the house, went to search for them; we went up to Pigs-lane, and got over the same gate he got over, I am sure it was the same gate and the same lane; we could not find any thing at that time; this first search was on the 9th of June; I went again the nextmorning and could not find them; I went again the third time, the same day, and then I found them; they were not under the rick, they lay just on the stands hardly covered over with straw, that the people had been cutting; they were wet; no one was with me when I found them; I went and carried them down to Mr. Lee Mr. Kibbol, and they saw them, they were in the parcel then, and they were looked over by Kibbol and Lee; I delivered them up to Captain Holmes and Mr. Dancer before the Magistrate at Uxbridge; the next time I saw him was at Kibbol's; Kibbol came and told me the same person was there again.

Court. What parish is Daniel Dancer 's house in? - Harrow; I never saw the prisoner searched till he was brought up to Bow-street; he delivered us some writings to look at; he could not write or read.


On the 9th of last June, between seven and eight in the evening, the prisoner sent for me to Pigs-lane; I know him perfectly well; I carried him some beer in a bottle; John Trott and me were together; the prisoner said he had some property; I asked what it was, he said, he thought it was bank notes; he pulled them out of his pocket; they were tied up with a bit of whipcord, in a book made up of brown paper; then I examined them, and told him they were of no use to any other person but the proprietor whose they were; he said he thought they had been bank notes; and I desired him to return them to the man whom he had them from; after we had drank the beer we all came down Pig-lane; and he leaped over this gate; I saw him get over; he was absent about four or five minutes; he then overtook us; and drank with us at the Plume of Feathers that same evening; the landlord's name is John Kibbol ; nothing else passed only about these writings; I asked him what he had done with them; and he said he had been and hid them; Trott found them the next day; and I went with him and Kibbol between nine and ten the same night, but we found nothing; I took him up the 12th of last August; I found nothing upon him.

Did he say any thing at all? - Yes, he d - d and swore a good deal, but it was to no purpose.

Court. Were the papers delivered to you? - No, I saw them after they were found, but I never had them in my possession; I saw them before the justice; I should know them again.


I live at the Plume of Feathers at Uxbridge; I am the wife of Mr. Kibbol the landlord; I know the prisoner; I know nothing against him any otherwise than he gave me a tea-cannister; I delivered it up to Mr. Trott and Lee; I cannot particularly say when it was he gave it me; William Lee was in company with him.

Lee. It was the same evening; I was in company with him, and saw him give it her.

Should you know that cannister again? - Yes.

Was it marked at all? - Not that I know of.

(The cannister produced and deposed to by this witness.)

To Lee. Look at that cannister? - This is the same; I know it is, because the prisoner took a knife out of his pocket and scratched out a mark here; here is the place where he scratched out the mark; I know it by the scratch; I delivered the cannister to Daniel Dancer .

Prosecutor. I know this to be my cannister.

What is the value of it? - We put but sixpence upon it, but I should have put a shilling.


I live in the New-Road, St Georges; I have seen the prisoner before; I saw him the day before he went to work for Mr.Dancer, and on the day he was a work; I was present when he was brought before the magistrate; I did not take any particular notice of what passed; I only went to Mr. Dancer as a friend; the prisoner was not searched; the papers were produced by Trott and Lee; the prisoner was not present; then he was not then taken; the papers that were then produced, have been in my possession ever since, until they went to Bow-street, then the seal was broke, and they were all examined; I was at Bow-street, and they were delivered to me there; (produced.) these are the papers, and this box was delivered to me at the same time by John Trott.

Trott. These are the papers; here is the note of Hoare's the banker's; they are the same papers.

Prosecutor. They are mine.

Court to Trott. Where did you get that box? - From the prisoner.

Court. Read the accountable receipt.


"Received, 30th of March 1787, of

"Mr. Daniel Dancer , 325 l. to account

"for on demand, for Sir Richard Hoare ,

"Bart. and Messrs. Hoares.

" Charles Ray , 325 l."

Prosecutor. This is my box.


I picked up these things on Pinner Common; and this man that I gave them to kept them as much as eight or nine weeks, and I heard there was a noise about them, and I went and resigned myself up to justice; I have nobody to my character.

Guilty of stealing to the amount of 5 l. and upwards . Death .

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