Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 06 December 2023), December 1795, trial of WILLIAM TAYLOR (t17951202-47).

WILLIAM TAYLOR, Theft > grand larceny, 2nd December 1795.

46. WILLIAM TAYLOR was indicted for feloniously stealing thirty pounds weight of Spanish wool, value 50s. the property of Edward Hanson , John Hanson , Thomas Styles , and William Pearson , Nov. 28th .(The Case was opened by Mr. Knowlys.)


I am a warehouseman ; we have warehouses in Seething-lane, Crutched-friars ; the partners are, Edward Hanson , John Hanson , Tho. Styles, and William Pearson ; we have been in the habit of losing large quantities of Spanish wool from those warehouses; the prisoner has been in my service, on and off, some time; he was in my service at the time he was taken; he was employed in the warehouse the best part of that day; we have lost to the amount of two or 300l. in two years and a half, or three years; he has been in our service nearly the whole of that time.

On his cross-examination, he said, there is a warehouse in Hart-street, opposite Seething-lane, and another in Tower-street, that takes in Spanish wool; that they lock up the warehouse as soon as it is dark, except they are taking in goods; that it was locked up that evening about six o'clock; that he was there that evening about five or six o'clock, that he supposed the gate was shut that evening about half after five, or a quarter before six o'clock; that if a person had carried out a large parcel of wool at that time, he must have been observed; but that there are other ways of getting it out, through the windows that look into the street.


I am a constable, in the city; I know the prisoner; On last Thursday evening, the 28th, between five and six o'clock, I was in Crutched-friars; I saw the prisoner come out of Seething-lane, with a pack at his back; he was between a run and a walk; he went across the road into London-street, and up the steps into another London-street; I suspected by his running he had got something he had not come lawfully by; Charles Phillips and I followed him: In London-street I observed another man going close to him; they turned down Fenchurch-street, towards Whitechapel; at the corner of Jewry-street, Aldgate, the prisoner pitched the bundle on the post, the other man then came close up to him; I crossed them, and went across Jewry-street, that turns down to Crutched-friars; again the prisoner took up the bundle, and went down Jewry-street, towards Tower-hill; about half way down the man that was with him went up to him, and said something, what I could not hear; then they immediately crossed Jewry-street into George-street, that leads into the Minories; I was on the right-hand side of George-street, and the prisoner on the left; the man who was with him came on the right-hand side; I crossed him, and looked him full in the face; he then went off, and we saw no more of him; the prisoner then went down the Minories, and crossed into Swan-street, which leads into Prescot-street, Goodman's-fields, about half way down, there is a dyer's there; the prisoner slung the bundle down, and we came up to him, and asked him what he had there.

Q. Do you know whether he knew that you were following, before he threw the bundle down? - A. I cannot say; he said he had got a bundle that a person gave him at the corner of London-street, and he was to have 28d. for carrying it; he did not say where he was to carry it to; I asked him what the bundle contained, he said he could not tell; I took him into custody; I then took a piece out, and said it was cotton.

Q. Where did you see him bringing it from? - A. Seething-lane.

Q. Then if it had been given him at London-street, you must have seen it? - A. Yes; he had it before he came to London-street; he said he was to carry it to Church-lane; that theman that gave him the bundle was to meet him there, and give him 1s. 6d. and begged I would go there with him; we went with him to Church-lane; he pitched the bundle, and said, he was to wait till the person came for it; we waited about a quarter of an hour, to the best of my knowledge, and nobody came.

Q. Whereabout was the weight of this load? - A. It appeared to be above fifty pounds weight; the way he went from Seething-lane to Church-street is, I suppose, half a mile about.

On his cross-examination he said, he did not know that the other man was in company with the prisoner, till he saw him speak to him at Jewry-street; that he first saw the prisoner in Seething-lane, close upon London-street; that there were many persons passing when he pitched the bundle in Aldgate-street; that he did not know the man that was with the prisoner; that he was a constable, and had been sworn in about a month; that he did belong to the Police-office, but had left it; that the reason of his leaving it was, he had taken half-a-guinea of a black, who had been ill-used on board of ship; and that he had been ordered before the magistrate, and refused to go; that the prisoner went very readily with him when he took him.


I am a piercer, in the ornament way: On Saturday the 28th, between five and six o'clock, I was in company with Taplin, in Crutched-friars; I observed the prisoner, with this bundle on his back, come out of Seething-lane, and cross over into London-street; we followed him; there was another man with him: he pitched it for a few minutes on a post the corner of Jewry-street, Aldgate; he then went on to Swan-street, and pitched it again; the other man was then gone; I believe he observed us following him, and thought proper to docamp; I came up to him, with Taplin, and asked what he had got; he said, he did not know; I put my hand to it, and pulled out a piece, and told Taplin it was wool; he said, he was to carry it to the corner of Church-lane, and there a man was to meet him; accordingly we suffered him to take it up, and went with him to the corner of Church-lane; we staid about a quarter of an hour, and no man came: I said, my friend, you may as well come with us, for, if any man comes, I will be bound to eat the wool; he took up the wool, and we took him to the Police-office.

Cross-examined. - Q. How long have you been a thief-taker? - A. I employ myself sometimes that way, for the good of the public.

Q. How long have you been acquainted with Mr. Taplin? - A. Above a twelvemonth.

Q. In consequence of that, you left off piercing and turned thief-taker? - A. Yes; any thing in an honest way.(The wool was produced in court.)

Pearson. - It is impossible to swear to wool; there is no mark, and it is impossible to speak to the matting in which it is packed; as to the wool, we never pack found wool in that way, only damaged wool.

Jury. - That is not damaged wool? - A. No; it is found wool, it is worth about 3s. 6d. a pound.

Prisoner's defence. - I had taken that of a man, to carry it for him to the corner of Church-lane; he followed me, and came up to me at Jewry-street, and said, take that down to Church-lane, and I will come to you; I went that round with my employer; I have but 14s. a week, and often porter after I have done work.

The prisoner called Benjamin Mason , Christopher Thomas , Ann Whecler, George Chapman , and Mr. Pearson, who all gave him a good character.


Tried by the first Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Baron PERRYN .