Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 04 October 2023), July 1798, trial of JAMES M'NELL GEORGE CLARKE (t17980704-54).

JAMES M'NELL, GEORGE CLARKE, Theft > housebreaking, 4th July 1798.

459. JAMES M'NELL and GEORGE CLARKE were indicted for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of James Maclaurim , about the hour of four in the afternoon of the 3d of June , no person being therein, and stealing six silver teaspoons, value 1l. 6s. 6d. a pair of silver sugar-tongs, value 8s. 6d. a pair of silver shoe-buckles, value 1l. 6s. a pair of shoe-latchets, value 12s. a silk cloak, value 3l. 3s. two gowns, value 2l. 10s. and two petticoats, value 20s. the property of the said James; five linen shirts, value 1l. 5s. and two pair of silk stockings, value 3s. the property of John Duff ; and two guineas in money , the property of John Young .

JAMES MACLAURIN sworn. - I live at No. 6, Featherstone-buildings, London-wall : I went out on the 3d of June, and left my brother in the house.

JOHN MACLAURIN sworn. - I went out after my brother, I left nobody in the house, I returned about a quarter past four; when I came to the door I found it half way open.

Q. Were there any marks of violence upon the door? - A. None at all; I went up stairs, and found the chests of drawers all scattered about; and then I went up to the next room above stairs, and found all the boxes in the room with the locks broke, and all the things scattered about.

Q. Do you know any thing of the prisoners? - A. No; I never saw them till I saw them in custody.

Q.(To James Maclaurin ). When you came home did you go up stairs? - A. Yes; I found a chest of drawers, the locks had been broke, and sprung open; I went to a cupboard up one pair of stairs, and missed six silver tea-spoons that I had used at breakfast that morning, and a pair of silver sugar-tongs; I went up to my own box, and missed a pair of silver shoe-buckles, and a pair of silver shoe-latchets; there was a silk cloak I missed out of my wife's box; but I do not know so well about her things, and she is not here.

Q. Is Duff here? - A. No, nor Young.

Q.Have you ever seen them since? - A. No, I have not; I had given one pound six shillings and sixpence for the spoons, a very short time before, eight shillings and sixpence for the sugar-tongs, one pound six shillings for the buckles, and twelve shillings for the latchets.

Q. What reason have you to suspect the prisoners? - A. I went to my next door neighbour, and got information from Maria Wheatley.

MARIA WHEATLEY sworn. - I live next door to Mr. Maclaurin: On Sunday the 3d of June last, about half past three o'clock, I was looking out at the window, and saw a man in a brown coat standing by Mr. Maclaurin's door, looking about him for some time, till a man in a green coat came up and took hold of his collar; the man in brown, which was the prisoner Clarke, looked very hard at me; I then went up stairs, and saw the same man, Clarke, knock twice at Mr. Maclaurin's door; then he looked round, and not seeing anybody, he stooped down to the key-hole, but I did not see him put any key in, I saw him open the door, and go in; and after that, I saw the man in green run up the steps, go in, and shut the door.

Q. Who was the man in green? - A. I do not know, I did not see his face at all; my mother called me down stairs, and I saw no more of them, nor thought any more about it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. Had you ever seen the man before that you suppose was Clarke? - A. No.

Q. How soon after that did you see the person that now stands at the bar? - A. On the Tuesday after.

Q. Then he was taken up? - A. Yes.

Q. You saw him in custody? - A. Yes.

Q. Was any body in custody with him? - A. Yes, the other prisoner.

Q. You went there expecting to find one of the persons who had robbed Mr. Maclaurin's house? - A. Yes.

Q. And then you thought he was one of the persons? - A. Yes.

Q. You did not see him break the door open? - A. No.

Q. He went in at once? - A. Yes; I had described him to the officers before he was taken up.

Court. Q.And in consequence of your description he was taken up? - A. Yes.

SUSANNAH COLLINS sworn. - On the Sunday after Whitsunday, the 3d of June, at half past three o'clock, I went to my own door, two houses from Mr. Maclaurin's; as I was standing for a little air, I saw a man in a green coat; after some time, a young man in brown came and spoke to him.

Q. Do you know the man in green? - A. Yes, the prisoner M'Nell; I did not see them go into the house.

Mr. Gurney. Q. Where this man came from, or where he went, you do not know? - A. No.

WILLIAM BLACKITER sworn. - I am an officer: I went to the prisoner Clarke's lodgings, in Cow-heel-alley, Golden-lane, on the 6th of June, in company with other officers; we searched the house, but found nothing in the house except a broken crow, a large gimblet, and a false key for taking impressions off, there is some wax upon it; now his wife's sister lived in the house too; it was a deplorable place to see.

Q.Were these things in the apartment in which you found him? - A. Yes, in a closet under the stairs.

Q.Did you take him up in consequence of the description Maria Wheatley had given of him? - A. Yes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. They were lying in a concealed state? - A. Yes.

Q. So that they might have been lying there and persons in the house not know any thing of it? - A. They might; I was obliged to put my arm a great way under to find them.

JOHN WRAY sworn. - I was with Blackiter, and searched the apartments of Clarke; I also searched the apartments of the other prisoner in St. John's-street, but found nothing but a phosphorous bottle; he was in bed.

Blackiter. I forgot to mention to your Lordship, that this crow I took to the prosecutor's house, and compared it with the marks of violence on the drawers, and they corresponded.

Mr. Gurney. Q. Do you not know that that is the most common sized crow that can be met with? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you not know that there are hundreds such to be found? - A. Yes.

Court. Q. Are these crows a thing which people make use of in a regular trade, or business? - A.Never any but thieves make use of them.

RICHARD FERRIS sworn. - I know no more than the other officers.

M'Nell's defence. I am entirely innocent of the charge.

Clarke's defence. I went to dine with my uncle at Islington; at one o'clock; from thence I returned home about half past four o'clock; I am entirely innocent of what is alledged against me.

M'Nell, GUILTY Death . (Aged 28.)

Clarke, GUILTY Death. (Aged 25.)

Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. Justice LAWRENCE.