Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 20 February 2019), February 1797, trial of THOMAS GEE Barbara Gee (t17970215-57).

THOMAS GEE, Barbara Gee, Theft > burglary, 15th February 1797.

175. THOMAS GEE and BARBARA his wife were indicted for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of James Buss , on the 17th of January , about the hour of ten in the night, with intent to steal the goods therein, and burglariously stealing 28lb. of fal-ammoniac, value 40s. the property of the said James; the said James and others being in the said dwelling house .

JAMES BUSS sworn. - I am a chymist and druggist , No. 12, Cock-hill, Ratcliff-cross : On Tuesday, the 17th of January, between the hours of four and seven in the afternoon, my servant brought in 28th. of sal-ammoniac, and put it down on the right hand counter, near the door, in the shop; I saw it there some time afterwards, till nine o'clock, when the shop was shut up, but not the shutter of the door; there was a light in the shop, and the shutter of the glass door down; the next morning, between eight and nine, I missed the article off thecounter; I supposed it to be taken away between nine and half past ten at night, because the shutter of the door was not up, and when the boy went to shut it up, he found the door open; I sent to an opposite neighbour in the same business, to tell him if any body came to offer 28lb. of sal-ammoniac, in a paper parcel, to stop it; I then went out, and soon after they sent to inform me it was stopped; I saw it at the Justice's at the Police-office on the Friday following.

JAMES FORD sworn. - I am errand-boy to Mr. Buss: On Tuesday, the 17th of January, in the afternoon, I brought the sal-ammoniac into the shop, and put it on the counter; I cannot say what time in the afternoon, I believe about four o'clock; when I went to put up the shutter of the door, between ten and eleven at night, I found the door wide open; we did not miss the sal-ammoniac till next morning; the shutters were up at nine o'clock, and the door was on the latch.

Q. Did any of the family go out or come in between nine and ten o'clock? - A. I don't know; we missed it in the morning, between eight and nine o'clock; I saw it on the Friday, at the Police-office.

Q. Whose sal-ammoniac was it you saw there? - A. We thought it belonged to us, because there was nearly the same weight we lost; I fetched it from Fleet-street; it was weighed when I received it, and it was weighed when it was offered for sale.

Q. Were you present when it was offered? - A. They sent over for my master, he was not at home; I went over and saw it weighed; there were 28lb. all but a quarter, it was in little bits, in a brown paper bag.

Q. Can you swear to the bag? - A. No; it was in the bag when it was found.

Q. Did it look like the same bag? - A. Yes; I saw the woman prisoner at the shop where it was stopped; I asked her where she got it, she said the would not tell me.

JOHN KIRK sworn. - I am a chymist and druggist, No. 119, Cock-hill, nearly opposite the house of the prosecutor: On the 18th of January, in the morning, the prisoner, Barbara Gee , brought a piece of sal-ammoniac into my shop, between nine and ten o'clock; she asked me if I knew what it was; I told her, yes, it was sal-ammoniac; she asked me if I would buy it; I told her it was very dirty, and that unless I saw the whole of it I could not tell her any thing about it.

Q. Was it dirty? - A. No, that was only an excuse; after we had been talking about it some time, she said, she would bring the whole of it; she said there was about twenty pounds of it; in the course of a little time she brought the whole of it; as soon as I saw it, I sent over for Mr. Buss, who had informed me of his loss, and desired I would stop it if it was offered me, he was not at home; I weighed it, it weighed twenty eight pounds; while I was weighing it, I asked her where she got it, if I was safe in buying it; she said, I was in no danger in buying it; if there was any danger she was in the most danger, by standing so long in the open shop; I asked her if it came from on board of ship; she told me, yes; that a man had left it at her house to fell; when my boy came back, and told me Mr. Buss was not at home, I told her if she would leave it an hour or two I would consider what the price was, and give her what it was worth; she told me she would not leave it, but would bring it again in about two hours; I let her take it away, and she brought it again; and told me to weigh it again that I might see she had taken none out; Mr. Buss was not come home, she said, was the reason of my not buying it before, because I was afraid; I told her, no; I was informed Mr. Buss had lost such a parcel the night before, and I would not buy it till he saw it; she said, she was sure it was not Mr. Buss's; I said, if she could make it appear it was not I would buy it of her; she behaved extremely well; she said, she would with Mr. Buss to look at it; Mr. Buss was not come home, but the lad (the last witness) came over, I was serving a customer, I bid him walk backwards and forwards, and see if that was the parcel they lost the night before; he looked at it, and said, he thought it was; she said, nobody should have it till an officer was sent for; then I sent for an officer, and he took her to Shadwell office; in the evening, Thomas Gee came into the shop, and told me, he came to me concerning the woman at the office; I asked him what woman; and he said, Barbara Gee, that was taken up for the article in question; I asked him if she was his wife; he told me, yes; and he said he had found the article I stopped that morning between five and six o'clock; I asked him where he found it; and he told me, in an alley, the back of Mr. Furlong's house; I told him that was not very likely, because the bag was very clean, as if just taken off the counter; and it was a moist morning, if it had laid there it would have dissolved; just at that time the officer came to me to attend the office, and we all went to the office together.

Q. Was the boy present and saw it weighed? - A. Yes.

JOSEPH WARD sworn. - I am a publican: The prisoner, Thomas Gee , came into my house between five and six in the morning, on the 18th of January, to get a pennyworth of purl; he brought a bit of stuff, it appeared to me to be white; hewas asking two men what it was; he took it up and put it in his pocket, and went out; it was about the size of my hand.

JOHN RYLEY sworn. - I am an officer of the Police at Shadwell: On the 18th of last month, I was sent for, by Mr. Kirk, to take the woman into custody, at the same time I took the property; the same evening I took the man into custody; the property is here. (Producing it).

Q. (To Ward.) Is that the same sort of thing the man had in his hand? - A. I cannot swear to it, I did not take notice; it appears like it.

Thomas Ger 's defence. I have been a watchman these fifteen years, within an hundred yards of where this gentleman lives; after five in the morning, I went into Mr. Ward's house and had a pennyworth of purl; going up an alley by my own house, this was lying at the back door of Mr. Furlong's, on the flag stones; I took a piece to Mr. Ward's house, and shewed it to a watchman, and asked what it was; he told me to go to Mr. Kirk's in the morning, and he would tell me what it was; I never was in the gentleman's house.

Barbara Gee's defence. My husband came home at fix in the morning, and said he had found a paper bag with something, he did not know what it was; I beg for mercy, as I have four children.

Q. (To the Prosecutor.) Do you know what this man's character is? - A. The man bears a very honest good character.

Q. How far is Mr. Furlong's, where this is said to be found, from your house? - A. I suppose two hundred yards, it is up an alley in Love-lane, I never was up the alley in my life.

Q. What was the situation of your shop from nine to ten o'clock? - A. The door was left on the latch; two or three customers had been in, and they might have left the door open; the prisoner has a large family, and is, I believe, a very industrious man; the sal-ammoniac is charged rather high in the indictment, if your Lordship, and the Gentlemen; of the Jury, can shew him any mercy, I shall be obliged to you.

Three other witnesses gave the prisoner, Thomas Gee, a good character.


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