Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 02 October 2022), December 1795, trial of JOHN WEBB JOHN TAYLOR (t17951202-48).

JOHN WEBB, JOHN TAYLOR, Theft > grand larceny, 2nd December 1795.

47. JOHN WEBB and JOHN TAYLOR were indicted for feloniously stealing four gallons of rum, value 3l. the property of John Chatfield , William Chatfield , and Robert Chatfield , November 28 .(The case was opened by Mr. Knapp.)

RICHARD BUNCE sworn.

(The witness cried.) - Q. What is the reason of your being frightened; is there any reason for it? - A. I dont know that there is. I am a carpenter by trade, and live with my father, No. 49, in the Little Minories.

Q. Do you know Messrs. Chatsield's cellar, in Sheepy-yard ? - A. Yes; on Saturday I saw Taylor, Mr. Chatsield's servant , open the door and go in.

Q. Don't be frightened, there is nothing to frighten you? - A. Perhaps there will be.

Q. Had Taylor any light? - A. No; it was between three and four in the afternoon; on his going into the cellar, I went and told Wade, the other witness, as I was ordered to do; I returned to the cellar, and Wade followed me; I then saw a man, with a basket on his shoulder, come out of the cellar that Taylor had gone into.

Q. How long was that after Taylor went in? - A. About eight minutes, not longer.

Q. Do you know who that man was? - A. Yes; the other prisoner that stands by Taylor.

Q. What makes you so frightened? - A. Because I am brought here to condemn these men.

Q. Wade was with you? - A. Yes; we followed him into the Minories, and the constable took him into custody, and took him to the Fountain public-house; we searched the basket, and found a large bladder in it.

Q. What was in the bladder? - A. According to the smell of it, it was rum; it smelt very strong; Wade took him to the Compter: I left them at St. Mary-Axe, because I wanted to go back to my business.

Q. Are you sure there was but one bladder? - A. I am not certain; I did but just look into the basket.

Q. You had seen Taylor before? - A. Yes.

Q. You are sure it was he that went into the cellar? - A. Yes.

Q. You are sure the other man was Webb? - A. Yes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Ally. - Q. Who gave you instructions to come here and prosecute these men? - A. The constable; he gave me notice to attend at Mr. Knapp's house this afternoon.

Q. What were you doing at Mr. Knapp's house? - A. Nothing at all, but sitting there till I came here.

Q. On what business were you at Mr. Knapp's office; tell the truth; you must out with it? - A. I was waiting there till I was sent elsewhere; Mr. Wade ordered me to be there at half after four.

Q. Mr. Knapp is the attorney for this prosecution? - A. Yes.

Q. Upon your oath, what conversation had you there? - A. I had no conversation but with my mother, who was with me, and sat next me.

Q. What where you frightened about when you came into this court? - A. I was frightened to speak about these men.

Q. Upon your oath, what conversation had you with Mr. Knapp's clerk, about this prosecution? - A. When I came to the house, he said, come in and sit down; I had no conversation with him after I came in and sat down; I don't think a word passed after that.

Q. Who sent you to watch the prosecutor's cellar? - A. My father; he told me, if I saw any body go into the cellar, to tell Mr. Wade.

Q. You saw Taylor go into the cellar, and afterwards you saw the other man come out? - A. Yes.

Q. Then you did not see that man go in? - A. No; nor did I see Taylor come out; as soon as Taylor went into the cellar, I went to tell Wade.

Q. Then you don't know but this man took the basket with him into the cellar, which you saw him bring out? - A. No.

Court. Q. When Taylor went down into the cellar, had he a basket with him? - A. No; he had not.

Court. Q. Where did you dine to-day? - A. At my father's.

Court. Q. Have you had any liquor since dinner? - A. No.

GEORGE WADE sworn.

I am a constable: On the 28th of November, between two and three o'clock, in consequence of an information, I laid watch at Mr. Chatfield's cellar, in Sheepy-yard; I went with Bunce, the last witness, and saw the prisoner, Webb, come out of Mr. Chatfield's cellar, with this basket (producing it); he had it on his shoulder; I let him pass me, and followed him; I being a city constable, thought I had no power to stop him in the out-parts; I let him pass me till he got to George-street, which is in the city, there I stopped him, and askedhim what he had got there; he informed me he had got a little rum; I asked him where he was going to carry it to; he said, the Lamb and Flag, Crutched-friars; he said, if I would take care of the rum for him, he would go and fetch a person to give him a good character; I took him to the Fountain; he said, he would leave the rum in my possession, if I would let him go and fetch a person from Tower-hill, to pass his word for his appearance; I left the rum with Mr. Crump, the landlord of the house, and took him to the Compter; I then went to Mr. Chatfield's house, and told him I had taken a person with some rum, which I supposed was his property; that I had left it at the Fountain, and taken him to the Compter; I found Taylor at Mr. Chatfield's, and took charge of him; he did not say any thing; I took him to the Compter; I went in the afternoon to the Fountain, Mr. Crump's, and took the property I had left there to Mr. Chatfield's, it was the same I had left, and the same that I took from the prisoner Webb.

Q. Did it contain the same things it contained before? - A. Yes; two bladders of rum. I attended the magistrates on the Monday; as I was taking Webb to the Compter, he said, he was taken in for the take of a few shillings; Taylor did not say any thing.

Cross-examined by Mr. Ally. Q. You saw Webb come out of the cellar? - A. Yes; I did not see him go in.

Q.Therefore you cannot tell in what manner he went in, nor what he took into the cellar? - A. No.

Q. For ought you know he took that into the cellar, and brought it out again? - A. I cannot say.

Q. This basket lay some time at the public-house? - Yes; I suppose half an hour.

Q. You had not opened these bladders? - No.

Q. Therefore the contents of them might have been changed, for any thing you know? - A. No.

Q. It was out of your possession half an hour? - A. Yes.

Q. The prisoner Taylor said nothing to you when you took him up? - A. No.

Mr. Knapp. Q. Had they the appearance of being the same bladders that were in the basket before? - A. I will swear it; I set a mark upon them; one of the bladders had burst, and run out a great quantity.

Q. Did you know what was contained in the bladders at all? - A. Yes; by the leaking of them, and putting my finger to it, and tasting it; and I tasted what laid upon the floor.

Court. Q. What did it taste like? - A. Very nice rum, my Lord.

Mr. Knapp. You were set to watch upon this cellar? - A. Yes.

Q. Was the cellar in a state of security? - A. It was when I first went round; there are two ways, and it was fastened secure.

Q. How was it afterwards? - A. I cannot say.

ANN BUNCE sworn.

I am the mother of Richard Bunce ; I live in Sheepy-yard; I saw Wade and my son go past in a great hurry; I saw a man come out of the cellar with a parcel under his right arm, tied with a blue and white handkerchief; I saw another man come up from the same cellar with a bunch of keys in his hand.

Q. What time of the day? - A. As near as I can guess, it was after three o'clock.

Q. How long after Bunce and Wade were gone? - A. Not a minute.

Q. Should you know the person of the man that came up with the keys? - A. I did not take any particular notice of him.

Q. Look round the court, and see if you can see him? - A. I do not see him.

Q. Did you see the door looked? - A. No; he came strait up.

Q. Do you recollect how the man was dressed that had the keys? - A. He had a leather apron tied up to his breast, and a brown jacket, I believe; but I did not take particular notice; he went up Sheepy-yard, towards the Great Minories.

Cross-examined by Mr. Ally. - Q. This leathern apron is a common appendage to men in that line of business? - A. Yes.

Mr. Ally to Wade. - Q. You apprehended Taylor? - A. Yes.

Q. That was some time after the other prisoner was in custody? - A. Yes; I apprehended him at Mr. Chatfield's house.

Q. And that was some time after? - A. I suppose three-quarters of an hour.

Q. Might he not have gone away? - A. I look upon it he might.

Mr. Knapp. Q. How was the prisoner, Taylor, dressed? - A. In a leather apron, a brown jacket, and a hat; a common labouring dress.

Mr. Knapp to Richard Bunce. Q. How was the prisoner, Taylor, dressed, when he went into the cellar? - A. In a brown jacket, a leather apron, and a hat, with the brim cut round.

JOHN CHATFIELD sworn.

Q. What are the names of your partners? - A. Robert Chatfield , John Chatfield , and Wilham Chatfield.

Q. I do not expect you will be able to swear to the rum, but have you any samples of rum here? - A. Yes; I have a sample taken out of the bladder that was burst; I saw the vat made up, on Thursday last, myself to a particular strength; I took it out of the bladder that burst; it was about half gone.

Q. Is that the same sort of rum? - A. Exactly; I have tried it with the instrument; it is usual to let it alone for a week, that it may be perfectly fine; it is a store vat, and we never draw out of that, but for the wholesale trade.

Q. Do you use such bladders as these in the basket, now produced, in your trade? - A. Never.

Q. Was Taylor your servant at that time? - A. Yes.

Q. Had you given any orders to him to go, between the 26th and 28th of November, to this wholesale cellar? - A. No.

Q. Was any drawn from these vats to your knowledge? - A. No; nor by my orders.

Q. Have you examined the vats since? - A. I have examined the dip; there is a decrease of about sixteen gallons; in our dip we allow a little for the slow, which we reckon about two gallons; so that there is a decrease, I am positive, of fourteen gallons.

Q. Do you use such baskets as this? - A. No.

Q. Is three o'clock a usual time for your servants to go to this store cellar? - A. If they have orders so to do, but not else.

Q. Is it usual to take candles into this cellar, or go without candles? - A. It is not safe to work without candles; our cooper always takes candles, to see if the cocks are safe; for, upon hearing this. I was alarmed, and immediately went with a candle to see if all was safe.

Cross-examined by Mr. Ally. Q. When they go with candles into the warehouse, and a number of men are at work, the superintendant takes candles to see that they do their work? - A. They go to the counting-house and take candles.

Q. How many servants do you occupy in your business? - A. At that time only two, John Taylor and Stephen Lloyd.

Q. What became of Lloyd? - A. He has run away.

Q. What was his occupation? - A. He and John Taylor were upon equal standing.

Q. As well as to wages as to the authority they had about your cellar? - A. Yes.

Q. Has it not been usual for Lloyd to give directions to the other man? - A. No.

Q. Did you not call him your cellar-man? - A. No; we had a cooper who had the superintendance of them; he was ill a fortnight, and I superintended myself; Lloyd took upon himself to order the other servants, and I took him to task for it; Taylor had complained to me that he made him work too much in drudgery of a morning; I told them to do it equally alike.

Q. At what time did Lloyd leave your service? - A. I received a note from him, telling me, that he should be very sorry to appear against his fellow servant; when the hearing was over, if I pleased, he would come to work again.

Q. When did he abscond from your service? - A. He went away on Saturday night, when he was paid, and I have not seen him since.

Q. The same night these men were apprehended? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you no person at all connected with you in business, but those you have mentioned? - A. None.

Q. None who derive any benesit from your business? - A. None.

Q. You have not been fortunate enough to obtain Lloyd? - A. No; I had a warrant today from the Lord-Mayor.

Q. Did you ever find fault with Lloyd for giving orders about conducting your business or trade? - A. No, never.

Court. Q. What is the size of this cellar? - A. I suppose about twenty or twenty-five feet square; there is a cellar beyond it much larger.

Q. Could Taylor get to the cellar beyond it? - A. Yes; there was a door way and no doors; nothing was kept in it but empty casks.

Q. Whether your cellars are so situated, that your man being busy in one, another man could not go down into the other, and take something without his knowledge? - A. If he did not see him, he must hear him; if he has any ears, for there is a large open door way without doors.

Q. Do you think it impossible for a man to go into the other cellar without his knowledge? - A. He could not draw the rum out of that vat, being full, and the cock large, without being heard the length of this court.

Webb's defence. I was hired as a porter to carry that basket out of the cellar; I had nothing to do with filling it, or any thing else.(Taylor left his defence to his counsel, who called Mr. Chatfield, John Hoy , John Harding, and John James , who all gave him a good character.

Webb, GUILTY . (Aged 38.)

Taylor, GUILTY.(Aged 36.)

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury, before Mr. RECORDER.

[Transportation. See summary.]