Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 28 September 2022), September 1788, trial of THOMAS JOHNSON ELIZABETH SHAKESPEAR (t17880910-89).

THOMAS JOHNSON, ELIZABETH SHAKESPEAR, Violent Theft > robbery, 10th September 1788.

588. THOMAS JOHNSON and ELIZABETH SHAKESPEAR were indicted for feloniously assaulting Isaac Lewis , in the dwelling-house of William Howard , on the 16th of July last, putting him in fear and danger of his life, and taking from him a cotton waistcoat, value 1 s. 6 d. a tin tobacco-box, mounted with silver, value 2 s. 6 d. a pair of spectacles,and a spectacle-case, value 6 d. a knife, value 1 d. a handkerchief, value 1 d. and 3 s. 6 d. in monies , numbered his property.


On the 15th of July last, about eleven at night, I was coming over Little Tower-hill; the woman prisoner spoke to me, and made such applications as she chose; I made her little answer; I was going to Rosemary-lane, to speak to an acquaintance; she followed me, and I went to Cable-street, and I found that the house was secured, and I could not see the person I wanted; says she, will you ask me to drink any thing; says I, why should I, but you shall be welcome to a draught of porter; we went in, and we had a pot of porter; she complained she was very hungry; I gave her half a crown to go and buy what she liked; she went and bought a plate of pork, I believe it was, as much as I remember; she brought it so far, and she said, I shall carry it to my lodgings; I said, why did you not bring it here? says she, if you like to go to my lodgings, we are very private, and very clever, and very sober, and I went there; we eat a part of it, and drank a pot of beer; she had the candle in her hand, and I sent her for another pot; then directly I heard a most horrible noise, and running up stairs, just as if all the devils in hell had been loose; I am come to speak the truth; says I, what is the cause of this? this is as if all the thieves and pickpockets were here; I made an attempt to come out, and should have been glad to have been out; oh, says she, it is only the landlord, with some people that are quarrelling with him; the landlord of the house, he tells me his name is Howard; I was frightened out of my wits; the noise was ceased; then, in a trifle of time, she says, have you got any money about you? I said, money! why, I gave you half a crown to get the beer and the pork, and you have not given me any change; no, blast you, says she, I insist on having all your money before you go; and, says she, if you do not give it me kindly, I will send them that shall make you do it; why, says I, I behaved very civil to you, I asked you both to eat and drink, according to your request; b - st your old eyes says she, d - n your old eyes says she, I will send them that shall make you; with that she wrapped, and this prisoner Johnson burst in at the door; there is a staple lock; he flew directly up to the chimney-piece where the candle stood and was going off with the candle; says I, what are you after; G - d d - n and b - st your old b - g - g soul, d - n you, says he, we will murder you if you do not be peaceable; says I, for God's sake do not murder me, we are not come upon that footing; I clapped hold of his collar, he took hold of mine; says he, I insist upon it you shall hand the money directly; the woman had a case knife in her hand; says she, d - n his old eyes why don't you rip him up; I should have first told you before this came about, that I realy was sleepy like; I pulled off my coat and waistcoat but did not attempt to go to bed, I laid down on the bed.

What did you pull off your coat and waistcoat for? - Why, to lay down with the lady, but I could have been very glad to have had the opportunity of putting that coat and waistcoat on again, but they would not let me; and so, do you mind, what money, b - st you, says she, have you got, and he backed her, and said d - n you, you old b - g - r, why do not you give us your money, and do not let us have any delays; they went on in such a wicked manner, so at last to save my life, as I thought, I put my hand in my pocket and took out three shillings and sixpence, and she received it; I was going down stairs, she caught hold of me, and flew to the bed and got my coat and waistcoat; says I, for God's sake, what my money and my cloaths too! what a pretty figure I must cut in the morning, says I, do not do that; then they robbed me of my coat and waistcoat; I took hold of it, says I, do not strip me of my money and cloaths;they took my coat, though it is not mentioned in the indictment; they took my waistcoat and three and sixpence in money, a tobacco-box, which will be produced in court, and a pair of spectacles and the case, they were in a handkerchief, and another handkerchief I lost; I kept there in fear, and got under the bed, for I dare say there was not less than twenty of those d - n'd villains.

Did any more come up into the room after? - No, I went down stairs and walked about the streets without a coat or waistcoat; there is but very little night, this was between one and two, and by two o'clock it was light; I called as soon as possible I could for assistance; then I directly sent to the constable for assistance; I told the constable my case; he saw me in the situation I was in; I said to him, I have been robbed to night; we took the two prisoners on Saltpetre-bank, at a house, I cannot tell the sign, but the constable can; there they were both of them as drunk as the devil could make them.

Court. Where have you been this afternoon? - I have been waiting here in the Old-bailey; those are the same people.


On the 16th of July, I was called up about six in the morning, and I went with the prosecutor, he was without a coat or waistcoat; he said he had been robbed, but he had half a guinea which they had not found, and he bought him some cloaths; I went to several houses about our quarter; at last I went to Saltpetre-bank; I looked round, and the prosecutor pitched on the girl and the man; I took them both into custody, and took them from there to the public-house, and searched them, and found the waistcoat on the man's back, and those things in his pockets; we could not find the coat; here is a tobacco-box, a knife, a pair of spectacles, and a coloured handkerchief; the girl said for God's sake, Mr. Bassett do not hurt me and I will tell you the truth; says I, you had better, may be the man will mitigate it, if you give him the things; the man said the girl gave him the things.

Was the old man in liquor that morning? - I did not perceive he was.

(The things deposed to by the prosecutor.)

I know these spectacles, the case, and the waistcoat; I know the tobacco-box, there are two W's upon it; that man that used it before I used it, his name is William Wynch ; I took it out of pawn, it was pawned for five shillings and sixpence, by his desire.


I was going out one night, I met with this old gentleman, he asked me to drink, and I did so with persuasions; this man was sitting in the box, and he asked this man to drink, and he asked him to go of an errand for him, and he said yes; he asked me if I was married, and he asked me if he should go home with me; I said nothing; he took off his waistcoat and gave it to this man; my prosecutor was very much in liquor.


The old gentleman asked me to drink, and gave me his waistcoat to carry to pawn.

Court to the constable. Whose house is this? - It is William Howard 's, it is a cloaths-shop, he lives directly facing me.

Mr. Lane, one of the door-keepers, informed the court, that this man, the constable, was the man that came to give the woman a character last night, and did not know her name.

Court to Bassett. Is it so?

Bassett. It was so.

The jury desired to look at the tobacco-box.

One of the Jury. I engraved that box myself for Mr. Wynch, he was at that time a timber-merchant in Printing-house-square;he has since failed, and is in confinement.


GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.