Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 18 May 2021), February 1792, trial of ROBERT JONES (t17920215-42).

ROBERT JONES, Theft > shoplifting, 15th February 1792.

148. ROBERT JONES was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 5th of January , one pair of silk stockings, value 12 s. the goods of Richard March , privily in his shop .

FRANCIS UPCOTT sworn.

I am in the service of Richard March , hosier , in the Strand : on Wednesday, the 25th of January, between the hours of seven and eight in the evening, the prisoner at the bar came in, and asked to see some white silk stockings: after shewing him a great variety, he made choice of one pair, which I put by on the counter; he then said he wanted a pair of coloured, and a pair of black likewise: I shewed him the coloured silk stockings; he objected to the price being too high; I told him I would shew him some of a lower price, and turned my back: while I was turning round, I heard the pareels on the counter to stir, by a rustling noise, as if a pair had been taken out; I shewed him the second parcel; he objected to them likewise, as being too dear; he then took up his gloves, and was going towards the door; there is a leaf which lifts up of the counter, just by the door; I lifted up the leaf, went out, took the prisoner by the collar, and accused him of the theft; and at the same time placed him on the opposite side of the shop, against a counter, where no stockings had been opened; he put his left-hand into his left-hand pocket, and drew a pair of silk stockings out, and threw them behind him; and they fell by his right foot, on the floor: he then solicited me very much to let him go; that he was a tradesman: I told him, as it was my duty to protect my master's property, a proper person must go with him: I sent to call for a workman up stairs; I was the only person in the shop at the time the stockings were taken; the workman came down, and I requested him to call a constable; and I kept the man till he came, and gave him and the stockings to the constable; the stockings were the property of Richard March ; he has had them ever since; they were marked with my mark before; they might have been marked two or three days, or two or three weeks; I am sure they were the property of Mr. Richard March : these were not the stockings I put by; they were from another parcel; I am certain they were taken out of the parcel on the counter; I remembered seeing this pair on the counter, when I shewed the stockings to him; I knew them by the mark; I am sure they were in the parcel when he came into the shop; there were more pairs than one in the parcel with my mark, but I know this by the pattern; they were coloured silk without clocks; I have sold some in the shop of the same pattern, but not to the prisoner.

Court. Did you know the number that was in the parcel? - No.

Till he dropped the stockings, was you aware that he had any? - From what he had done, and I saw him in the motion of putting them in his pocket; I believe there was but one pair of that pattern in the parcel.

Suppose you had not suspected any thing, should you have missed these stockings from the parcel? - I don't suppose I should.

Court. Mr. Upcott, I observe these stockings are a very common pattern? - They are a very particular pattern, it has not been made above six weeks.

You said you were sure this pair was there when the prisoner came in; can you venture to swear that these stockings were in the parcel? - I am as positive of it, that those stockings were in the parcel, as that I am in this place now; I knew them by the particular pattern of the stockings, and I swear more positively from hearing the noise of the parcel; I don't swear positively, by the pattern of the stockings, that they were in the parcel, but also by hearing a rustling on the counter.

Upon your suspicions of this man, you went round to a leaf of the counter; and by your own account you carried him to the other side of your shop; what is the width? - About four feet.

Now these stockings were found on the floor? - As close to the opposite counter as possible.

How long might any stockings have been open on that counter? - Three or four hours, but not silk; we never have silk on that side.

Can you venture to swear that there had been no silk opened on that side? - It is merely accidental if any are opened on that side; there was not a single pair opened on that counter at that time.

I would just wish to know, so as to see, with all your accuracy, how he took them out? - I took them up at his feet.

I want to know how you could see so much as this? - There were four candles in the shop.

Will you venture to swear that you saw so accurately? - I have sworn it, and I will abide by the whole course of my evidence.

JAMES TALBOYS sworn.

I produce some stockings given to me by Mr. Upcott, and I have had them in my possession ever since; I received them from Mr. Upcott in the presence of the prisoner Mr. Upcott said that he suspected the prisoner because he heard a rustling on the counter.

(Deposed to.)

Mr. Schoen to Mr. Upcott. Did you examine the number of the parcel? - I did not; I only know they were lost, by my suspicions, and what I saw.

Prisoner. I leave it to my counsel.

A WITNESS examined.

What will become of you, if you swear that which is false? - I shall go to the devil.

How old are you? - I am turned of 15.

(Sworn.)

On the 25th of January last, the prisoner came in about some silk stockings, and Mr. Upcott and he could not agree about the price; and he was going out, and Mr. Upcott took hold of him; I told him he had a pair in his pocket, and he put his hand into his pocket, and took a pair out, and throwed them down by his right foot; Mr. Upcott told me to call a man down stairs; the man came down, and went out for a constable.

Mr. Schoen. Who taught you all this? - I only speak what I saw.

Not the young man that was up last? - No, he did not.

Upcott. I thank you for the compliment.

GUILTY of stealing, but not privately . (Aged 30.)

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

[Transportation. See summary.]