Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 16 January 2019), April 1794, trial of MICHAEL BALL (t17940430-17).

MICHAEL BALL, Theft > burglary, 30th April 1794.

245. MICHAEL BALL was indicted for burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling house of William Ward , about the hour of three and four in the night, of the 8th of March , and burglariously stealing therein fifty pounds weight of iron, value 4s. 2d. the goods of the said William Ward .

(The case opened by Mr. Knapp.)


I live in Old Brentford, in the parish of Eling . On the 8th of March last my house was broke open; I believe I was last up, I cannot pretend to say rightly whether I was or was not, because we all went to bed together.

Q. How many is your house composed of? - Six.

Q. Are you a married man? - No.

Q. Who was in the house? - My apprentice and journeyman, and three of my sisters.

Q. What part of the house do you step in? - The garret.

Q. How many garrets had you? - Three.

Q. Where does your apprentice and journeyman sleep? - On the first floor backwards, and my sisters sleep on the first floor forwards.

Q. After you went up to bed, how soon was you alarmed? - Between three and four in the morning.

Q. Who alarmed you? - George Jenkins , my journeyman, he came up to my room, then I got up, and George Jenkins and I, and my apprentice, we went down to my shop, George Jenkins and I did, when we got to the shop we saw a light.

Q. How is the shop situated? - It is down at the bottom of the yard.

Q. Before you went out of the house, did you unlock all your doors? - Yes.

Q. Did you find them all fast? - Yes.

Q. When you came down to the shop, how did you find the shop? - Locked.

Q. How did you get into the shop? - I unlocked it, I had got the key.

Q. When you came into the shop what did you see? - When I was outside of the shop I saw a light in the shop, but on opening the door, I found the light put out, I did not see it put out, but I found it go out.

Q. What did you do when you got into the shop? - George Jenkins went forwards, and felt about for the man.

Q. You was then in the dark we understand? - Yes, George Jenkins went forwards, and found the man out, and called out to me not to let the man go out.

Q. What did you do on that? - I stood at the door till such times as he had found him, then he told me to come to him, and I went to him.

Q. When you went to him what did you observe then? - I saw nothing but a man, we brought him out of the shop, and we took him to the cage.

Q. Who did this man turn out to be? - Michael Ball , the prisoner at the bar

Q. Did you make any search in this house, in this workshop? - Yes, directly after I had taken him to the cage.

Q. When you went to this shop had you a light with you? - Yes.

Q. Was it dark when you and Jenkins went to the shop the first time? - Yes.

Q. Was it dark the second time? - Yes, and then we found half a dozen of tiles taken from one corner of the shop, at the roof.

Q. Was there any buildings adjoining to the shop? - Yes, a shed.

Q. Did you observe any other part that was broke about the shop? - No.

Q. Was this break large enough to admit a man to get in? - Yes.

Q. What else did you observe in the shop? - There was a bag containing about fifty pounds weight of iron lay under the place, directly where the tiles were taken off, and a string tied to the bag that contained the iron, all doubled up together.

Q. Then it was not tied to any part, of the building? - No.

Q. Do you happen to know, or had you made any observation whether the tiles had been off the night before you went to bed? - No, they were not off when I locked the shop.

Jury. What tiles was it covered with? - Pantiles.

Court. Where was the bag? - On a shelf, directly under where the tiles were taken from.

Q. Had you put a bag with the iron there the night before, or any time previous to this? - No.

Q. Had you put any iron on your shelf at any time before this? - Sometimes.

Q. Had you to the extent of fifty pounds weight? - No, never.

Q. Did you look at this iron that you put in this bag? - Yes.

Q. Was that iron your property? - Yes.

Q. Have you got it here? - Yes.

Q. What did you do with that iron? - I took it down from the shelf, and took it before the justice.

Q. Now who took that bag with the iron, before the justice? - The constable.

Q. Did you send for a constable? - Not then.

Q. Did you deliver it to a constable? - Yes, as soon as it was day-light.

Q. Did you deliver it yourself? - Yes.

Q. Was that the same bag that you found in the shop, and was on the shelf? - Yes.

Q. Did you see that iron before the justice? - Yes.

Q. Was that the same iron that you had seen in your shop? - Yes.

Q. That iron you say was your property? - Yes.

Q. What is the value of that iron? - Four shillings and two-pence.

Q. How soon did you see the prisoner at the bar after you had brought him out of the shop, at any light? - Directly afterwards, we took him to the cage, we got a light from the watchman.

Q. Are you sure that is the same man that you saw in the shop, that you took to the cage? - Yes, we never let him go.

Q. I understand from you, you had put no part of that iron in the shop? - It was in the shop the same night.

Q. When had you ever seen the iron before? - I cannot pretend to say.

Q. How lately had you seen any iron there? - There is always iron there.

Q. What sort of iron is it? - Old iron.

Q. What part of the shop did the iron use to lay in? - Some all over the shop, in different parts of it.

Q. Where had you any iron laying that night that you know of? - There was some iron where this bag was, in a loft.

Q. Is there a loft in the shop? - Yes, where the iron is.

Q. Did you lock up the shop yourself? - Yes.

Q. What time of the night did you lock up the shop? - My apprentice locked it, but I was present when the shop was locked.

Q. What time of the night was it? - Six o'clock; he locked it and gave me the key.

Q. Might not that bag be in the place before the shop was locked up? - The smith can say (James Knott.)

JOHN PAGE sworn.

I am an apprentice to Mr. Ward. On the 8th of March I locked up the shop.

Q. Who was with you? - My master.

Q. What time of the day did you lock it up? - Six o'clock in the evening.

Q. Your master is a wheelwright, is not he? - Yes.

Q. He has a good deal of iron about his shop has not he? - He has.

Q. Is there a loft in his shop? - Yes.

Q. Was there any iron in that loft? - Yes, laying loose.

Q. How lately had you been in that loft before you locked the shop up? - I had not been in the loft, the smith had been in the loft.

Q. Then you did not observe the tiles before you went out of the shop at all? - I shut up all the windows but I did not observe the tiles at all.

Q. You was alarmed with your master and Jenkins? - By Jenkins.

Q. Did you go to the warehouse on this alarm? - No, I was sent to the back part of the shop.

Q. Did you see these tiles afterwards? - Yes.

Q. Where were the tiles taken from? - From one side of the corner of the roof, and laid on the roof.

Q. Then no tiles had tumbled down? - No, they were laid on one side of the hole.

Jury. Where there any laths broke? - No, I cannot say that there were.

Q. Do you know what distance the laths were from each other? - Eighteen inches.

Q. Was there room enough for a man's body to go through? - Yes, there was.

Q. Had you the curiosity to see whether any part of the house had been broke open? - No, no part.

Q. Windows nor doors? - No.

Q. Do you know this iron? - No.


I am journeyman to Mr. Ward, I was alarmed between three and four o'clock in the morning, I heard he dog bark, it was quite dark, I got out of bed and got up to the window and see a light through the tiles of the shop, I immediately got up and alarmed my master and John Page the apprentice.

Q. Where did you and your master go? - We went down into the shop.

Q. How far is the shop from the house? - About sixteen or eighteen yards, more or less.

Q. Is it surrounded by any fence or wall? - All round by a tence, the fence goes compleatly round all.

Q. When you and your master came down to the shop, did you find the door secured, was it fastened? - Yes.

Q. Your master had the key had not he? - Yes; when we came down to the shop I looked through the crack of the door and I could see a man, I could not distinguish who it was.

Q. Was you able to discern what this man was about? - I could see him with a bit of iron in his hand and I could hear the iron rattle; he had a light, his back was towards me stooping down; we went to unlock the door, and as soon as the door moved the light was put out, when I got into the door, I bid my master stand at the door, and I rushed in towards where I saw the light, and I laid hold of the man in the dark, and pulled him down on his back, and called for my matter to come.

Q. Where was he when you did this? - In the shop; I had seen him with a light.

Q. What did you do with the man? - We took him to the watch-house, to the cage.

Q. Who was that man? - The prisoner at the bar, I had known him for years before this. After I had got him in the cage went back to the watchman, got a light, and see who it was, and went afterwards with the light to the shed and we looked to see how the prisoner had got in, and we see half a dozen pantiles were off, over the lost where some old iron lay.

Q. How many pantiles do you think were taken off? - Six.

Q. By means of the pantiles being off could any man come in through the laths? - Yes, there was room for them.

Q. What became of the tiles? - The tiles were laid on other tiles on the roof of the shop.

Q. None had dropped to break? - No.

Q. What did you observe in the building? - A bag of iron was under the hole where the tiles were taken off on a shelf, where we lay old iron.

Q. Was it old iron that was in the bag? - Yes, old iron that was collected from different parts of the shop.

Jury. How do you suppose the man got in? - I cannot tell, there were buildings adjoining, there was a double roof and a gutter between the buildings.

Q. How lately had you been in this lost? - In the afternoon to look out for a bit of iron for the blacksmith.

Q. Do you use in general to keep your iron in bags? - No, loose in different parts of the shop.

Q. Had you the day before seen any iron of your's on the shelf? - No, we had no such kind of bag, it was not our bag, we had no such bag belonging to us; there was a large string at the mouth of the bag about ten yards, one end tied about the middle of the bag.

Q. How high was the roof from the ground? - The top of the roof was about sixteen or eighteen feet from the ground up.

Q. How many feet do you think the floor of the lost is to the roof? - About five feet.

Q. How many from the shelf to the floor of the lost? - About two feet. I looked into the bag directly, and saw the iron.

Q. How much did the bag contain? - About fifty pounds weight, it was a little bag and nearly full.

Q. Now, looking at that iron was you able to say whose iron it was? - Some of it; I could say to one piece I had in my hand in the day time before this happened that I could swear to.

Q. Where had you seen that piece in the day time before? - One of the men brought it in out of the yard and put it in the lost, I tossed it up.

Q. Was that the only piece of iron that you could speak to? - I did not take particular notice of any other piece.

Q. Where did you take this piece of iron out of the bag in order to look at it? - In the shop, and afterwards I put it into the bag along with the rest and tied the bag up.

Q. Did you see it again before the justice? - Yes, and I am certain it is the same piece.


I am a constable to the parish of Eling. I was sent for on Sunday morning, the 9th of March, by Mr. Ward, I went to his house, and the bag was delivered to me by Mr. Ward, that is now present in court, and I took it before the justice, and the bag was delivered to me again there, and I have had it in my custody ever since.

Q. Did you take the prisoner before the justice? - Yes, and he was committed.

Jenkins. I know this piece of iron it is a locking plate to a waggon, it is Mr. William Ward 's property.

Q. Is that the same piece that you had delivered to you by a person in the yard, and that you put into the lost? - it is the very same.

Q. Is that the very same piece of iron that you found in the bag and took to the justice? - It is.

Q. Do you go up a ladder to the lost, or how is it? - We go up some steps.

Court. What is there about that iron that you can swear to it by? - I took particular notice of it, for when the mangave it me, he said it would serve Michy if he came there that night, meaning the prisoner.


I am a smith, I work for Mr. Ward.

Q. Do you know that iron? - I know it well, I had several pieces of them in my hand that same day; here is a piece been in the shop these three years, it is belonging to the shaft of a cart, we commonly call it a capping iron, here is another piece of the same sort, with a narrow end to it, they have been both in the shop these three years.

Q. Did you know the prisoner before? - Yes, knew him very well.

Court to Ward. Of whom do you rent your house? - Of Mr. Julion. My father and mother are both dead, and my grandmother she conducts the business for me.

Q. How is it your iron, you don't carry on the business? - It is mine, only she answers her name for me.

Q. Then it is your grandmother's house? - No, I pay the rent, and pay every thing.

Q. Then your grandmother has all the business? - No, Mr. Jenkins can explain it.

Jenkins The grandmother lets him have money to go on with the business.

Q. Where does she live? - At Hounslow.

Q. Did you live with the father? - No, I did not.

Q. How long has the father been dead? - Eight years, come August, his grandfather hired me to carry on the business for him, he was living at that time.

Q. With whom have you accounted for in this business? - To the grandfather while living, and then to the grandmother.

Q. What age is he now? - In his wentith year.

Q. You live in the house? - Yes, and have ever since I have been there with him.

Q. In what name is the trade carried on? - In Ward's name, the grandfather's name is Judd.

Q. Why is this trade for his benefit, there are three sisters as well as he? - They all have the benefit alike.

Q. How are the bills made out? - In William Ward 's name, the grandmother takes the money.


Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron THOMPSON.