Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 08 March 2021), April 1802, trial of HENRY BORCOMBE JOSEPH RAPHELL JOHN STOKES JOHN HARRIS (t18020428-52).

HENRY BORCOMBE, JOSEPH RAPHELL, JOHN STOKES, JOHN HARRIS, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 28th April 1802.

317. HENRY BORCOMBE , JOSEPH RAPHELL , JOHN STOKES , and JOHN HARRIS , were indicted for making an assaults in the King's highway, on Peter Theodory , on the 14th of March , putting him in fear, and taking from his person, a silver watch, value 3l. a silver watch chain, value 7s. a silver seal, value 1s. a coat, value 3l. a waistcoat, value 10s. a pair of breeches, value 20s. a shirt, value 5s. and a silk handkerchief, value 5s. the property of the said Peter.( Peter Theodory , the prosecutor, being a foreigner, an interpreter was sworn.)

Q. What happened to you on Sunday, the 14th of March? - A. I was robbed about two o'clock.

Q. Where had you been? - A. I was going from a public-house by Wapping to Whitechapel .

Q. Was any body with you? - A.Nobody.

Q.Relate the circumstances of the robbery? - A.There were about four or five of them together.

Q. Of what were you robbed? - A. A watch, with a silver chain.

Q. Had you any bundle with you? - A. Yes.

Q. Was that bundle taken from you? - A. I cannot say as to the bundle, whether it was taken from me, or whether I dropped it.

Q. Are you sure the watch was taken from you? - A. Yes, I am sure of that.

Q.Describe the manner in which it was taken from you? - A.They ran against me, opened my coat, and put their hands into my pocket, and took out the watch.

Q. Was the taking of the watch done by one, or more of those persons? - A. By one.

Q. Was it taken from you by force, or were you consenting to its being taken away? - A. By force.

Q. Do you know the person of the man who took the watch from you? - A. If I see him, I should know him.

Q. Look at the prisoners at the bar, and see if either of those persons is the man? - A. Yes; that man. (Pointing to Harris.)

Q. Are you sure that man was actually the same person? - A. I am positively sure.

Q. Were you sober, or drunk? - A. I was rather merry.

Q. What countryman are you? - A.From Lisbon.

Q. How much had you been drinking? - A I was at a public-house in Black-horse-yard, and drank some gin and beer.

Q. What quantity? - A. I cannot tell.

Q. Were you able to know the person of the man who robbed you, so as to be certain Harris was the man who took the watch? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you know any thing of the persons of the other three men? - A. Yes, the little one, Raphell.

Q. Had you ever seen either of these men before? - A. Never before.

Q. How soon afterwards did you see them again? - A. The next day, at the Justice's.

Q. What did you do after you were robbed - where did you go? - A. I went into a public-house close by.

Q. Had you nobody with you at the time you were robbed? - A. There was nobody in company with me; several people were passing by that saw it.

Q. Was the watch taken out of your pocket by force, or did it come away readily? - A. By force.

Q. Was it in your sob? - A. No; in my jacket pocket.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. Did you ever see the prisoner, Harris, before? - A. Never.

Q. How many glasses of gin had you been drinking that morning? - A. I am not certain to the number of glasses.

Q. Were you not so drunk that you had employed a boy to shew you the way to Blackwall? - A. No.

Q. What quantity of beer did you drink, as well as gin? - A. I cannot tell.

Q. Had you been drinking alone, or in company? - A. With company.

Q. With how many? - A. With some shipmates of mine, but I don't know how many.

Q. Were the shipmates, in company with you, by at the time you were robbed? - A. No; I was alone.

Q. Do you not know that you shall be entitled to a reward of forty pounds for each of these men that are convicted? - A. I don't know any thing of that.

Q. Have you never been told of it by any of the officers? - A. I never heard such a thing.

Q. Since this happened, have you not been living with the officers, and kept at their expence? - A. I was there, and I believe the Justice pays for me; I don't know who.

Q. How happens it you are able to speak to one person, when you cannot speak to the others? - A.Because I could recognize this man that robbed me, because he came in front of me.

Q. Did they not all come in front of you? - A. There were four or five all round me, and this man came in front of me.

Q. The persons who robbed you, were not taken till the next day? - A. That night.

Q. When you did see them, did not the officers of Justice point them out to you? - A. I pointed to this man who took the watch, the moment I saw him.

ELIZABETH SMITH sworn. - Q. You are the wife of Robert Smith ? - A. Yes.

Q. Where did you live? - A. I live at No. 4, Lombard-street, Mile-end.

Q. Where were you on Sunday, the 14th of March, about two o'clock? - A. I was going to Bethnal-green to see my mother, and I saw the foreigner; when I saw him first, he was led by a boy; he was coming up Hunt-street, on the other side of the way, in Hunt-street, I saw three or four young men, one crossed over.

Q. Were there only three or four, or a great number? - A. I cannot say whether it was three or four; one of them crossed over, and he went in front of the foreigner to tantalize him, like as if he wanted to play with him.

Q. What did he do to him? - A. He did nothing at all to him; the foreigner then kicked at the boy.

Q. What did the boy then do? - A.Nothing at all, that I saw; then John Harris, and another came over.

Q. Was Harris the person who came in front of the foreigner? - A. No.

Q. Did you know John Harris before? - A. Yes; I saw him cross over, and another young man.

Q. Was that other young man one of the prisoners at the bar? - A. I cannot take upon me to say; John Harris pushed the foreigner down, and kneeled upon him, and took his watch.

Q. Where was his watch? - A. I cannot say whether it was in his sob, or not.

Q. Did you see him take hold of the watchchain? - A. No.

Q. How do you know it was the watch? - A. I saw him snatch, and afterwards had a glimpse of it in his hand.

Q. Were you near enough to know it was the watch? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you see any thing of the bundle? - A.After he took the watch, he and another ran over the way, and then the others ran the other way with the bundle.

Q. Did you know the persons of any of them before this time? - A. I have known Harris a good while.

Q. What is he? - A. I don't know.

Q. Do not you know what his occupation in life is? - A. I don't know that he is in trade at all; his mother takes in washing.

Q. Does the son do nothing for his livelihood? - A. I cannot say.

Q. Do you know any of the others? - A. I have known them all by sight a good bit; I know that young man, (pointing to Barcombe), but I always thought his name was Hoyle.

Q. When the foreigner had his watch taken from him, did you hear him call out? - A. He made a very comical noise in his way; he called for his watch and his bundle.

Q. Did he say, watch? - A. He said, watch.

Q. Did he mention the bundle? - A. I knew what he meant, because I saw the bundle.

Q. Will you take upon you to say, whether that bundle was taken from him, or whether it dropped from him? - A. No, I cannot; I saw some of the men running away with it.

Q. Did the man run away with it, before Harris took the watch? - A. No; after Harris took the watch, the other ran away with the bundle.

Q. Did you see any of the prisoners at the bar, besides Harris, do any thing to him? - A. No.

Q. What were they doing when the foreigner kicked at one of them? - A.Trying to play with him.

Q. Did they offer him any violence, to make him kick at them? - A. Not that I know of.

Q. What became of the boy during this? - A. I cannot say.

Q. Was the boy by at the time the watch was taken? - A. I do not know.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. You are sure he was led by a boy? - A. Yes.

Q. The foreigner began upon them first by kicking? - A.Because they went before him.

JOHN WILLES called. - Court. Q. How old are you? - A.Going of thirteen.

Q. Do you know what an oath means? - A. No.

Q. When you are sworn to tell the truth, do you know what will become of you, if you tell a lie? - A. No, I don't.

Q. If you are wicked, what is to become of you? - A. I don't know.

Q. Have you heard of a God? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you heard what is done with wicked people after they die? - A. No.

Q. Have you a father and mother? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you ever go to church? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you ever been taught your cathecism? - A. Yes.

Q. What is your father and mother? - A. My father is a sawyer, and my mother is a washerwoman.

Q.Were you never taught any prayers? - A. Yes.

Q. If you are wicked and tell lies, are you to be punished; what is to become of you. - A. I don't know, indeed.

Q. Did you ever go to school? - A. Yes.

Q. Were you never taught any difference between good and evil? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you never read any of the Bible? - A. No.

Q.When you went to school, what did you read? - A.Nothing but the spelling-book.

Q. You have heard of a God? - A. Yes.

Q. What does God do to wicked people after they die? - A. I don't know.

Q. Have you never heard, if it makes any difference whether you live wickedly or virtuously? - A. No.

BENJAMIN MARTIN sworn. - Q.Where do you live? - A. At No. 13, Clement's-Inn.

Q. With whom? - A. Mr. Macdonald, an officer in the army.

Q. Were you near Bethnal-Green on Sunday, 14th of March, about two o'clock? - A. Yes; I had the liberty to spend the evening where I thought proper, and I went to my father's - I was going along Spital-street, and I saw three of the prisoners going down Spicer-street.

Q. Look at them? - A. I am confident they are the same: I followed them a little way, and then two others joined them against Ram-alley.

Q. Who were the first three that you saw? - A. I was too far off to distinguish them, till after they were joined; I followed them till they came to Hunt-street-They consulted together under the sign of the Red Lion window, and the foreigner turned into Hunt-street with them.

Q. Where was the foreigner? - A.They met together at the end of Hunt-street; the foreigner went up on one side the way, and they on the other - They crossed over to the foreigner; I did not see them take any thing from him; I had no suspicion of there robbing a man in the day time - I saw them going up to him in a disorderly manner: it appeared to me the foreigner was very much in liquor.

Q. Did you see any of the prisoners at the bar cross over to him? - A. I recollect them all four perfectly well.

Q. At the time they were concerting, did you hear any thing? - A. When they were under the Red Lion window, one of them said, d-n you, now is the time, if it is to be done.

Q.Which of them said that? - A. I cannot say.

Q. After saying that they immediately crossed over to the foreigner? - A. Yes, immediately.

Q. What did you see then? - A. I did not see them do any thing, only going up to him in a disorderly manner: I did not observe any thing more till I saw some of them run away.

Q. Can you now speak to any one with certainty who did run away? - A. I did not speak to them before the Justices, because it is a critical thing to swear to a man running.

Q. Can you say with certainty which of them then run away? - A.Those two in the middle(Stokes and Raphell) - Stokes had a bundle under his apron; they ran down Ram-alley together.

Q. Did you see any thing of Harris? - A. I did not see him run away; I cannot say; I know Harris by fight very well.

Q. How came you to know him? - A. I used to see him in that neighbourhood very often; I lived there with my father.

Q. Did you see any boy? - A. Yes, leading him by the hand; the prisoners pushed the boy away from the foreigner.

Q. Did you know who that boy was? - A. There were two or three boys round the foreigner; and one of them was leading him, a little boy of the name of Downes.

Q. Had you ever seen Downes before? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you see any thing of any watch? - A. No.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. Are you sure he was led by a boy? - A. Yes.

Q. And you are sure the foreigner was very much in liquor? - A. He appeared to me to be in liquor.

ROBERT WALKER sworn. - Q. What are you? - A. A weaver in Carter's-rents, Spital-fields.

Q. Do you remember, on the 14th of March last, being in company with any of the prisoners at the bar? - A. Yes; at first I was only in company with John Harris , Joseph Raphell , and Joseph Nowlan, who is not taken: I met with them in Whitechapel-road-Going along we saw this foreigner lying upon a bench tipsy; he had a bundle lying by him at a public-house door, facing Whitechapel-church; they all sat down by him; the foreigner rose, and they began teazing of him, by catching hold of him, and pulling him about, and he ran after them, being a little in liquor: then the foreigner came into Brick-lane to buy some oranges of a Jew; they kept teazing him, putting their hands towards his pockets, and he called Raphell a tees.

Q. Did he speak English? - A. He said he was a tees; he did not speak it plain, but I could understand what he meant - Then he went and bought sixpenny-worth of apples at an apple-stall, and Raphell put them into the foreigner's pocket for him; and then John Harris threw the foreigner down.

Q. In what way? - A. He put his foot before him, and he sell down; then the foreigner's bundle sell down, and Harris told the foreigner to take the bundle up and not be afraid; then he got up and went walking along the streets, and they plaguing him; and a great many people took the foreigner's part - Raphell told the people he had bought sixpenny-worth of apples, and would not pay for them.

Q. That was not true; was it? - A. No, he had paid for them.

Q. What passed then? - A.Raphell took a hat off a boy's head that was with us, to take it to the foreigner to sell it.

Q. What was the name of that boy? - A.Thomas Carpenter, he is not taken yet: then the foreigner threw bricks at Raphell, and kicked him; he would not let him come high him - Then when we got into Hunt-street, Borcombe and Stokes joined us; I had hold of the foreigner's arm, and Harris shoved him down on the steps, and took his watch out of his waistcoat-pocket; the foreigner called out after his watch, and he ran; then I picked up the foreigner's bundle and his hat myself, and one of them whipped the bundle out of my hand, but I cannot tell which it was; it was taken from me backwards - then I gave the foreigner his hat, and I went along with Harris.

Q. What did Harris say? - A. He said come along, I will go home and change my dress.

Q. You cannot take upon you to say, which of them it was that took the bundle? - A. No.

Q. Did Harris go home and change his dress? - Yes; he put on a pair of blue trowsers and a black handkerchief.

Q. Had he any trowsers on before? - A. No, he had on velveteen breeches and a yellow handkerchief; then I went with him to sell the watch.

Q. Was any body else with you? - A. Yes; Carpenter.

Q. Did he sell the watch? - A. He would not let us go in; he told us to stay at the door.

Q. Whose house was it? - A. I do not know.

Q. How many of them were by when Harris shoved him down? - A.There were seven of us altogether when the watch was taken; the four prisoners were there, but I did not know the names of Stokes and Borcombe.

Q. Did he give you any thing out of the watch? - A.Raphell and Nowlan came up, and asked me if Harris was in there; I told them yes.

Q. None of the others besides Raphell were there then? - A. No.

Q. Are you sure it was him? - A. Yes.

Q. Are you sure that Raphell was by, at the time the watch was taken? - A. Yes; after we had been there a little while, Raphell brought out 1s. a piece for us, and I refused it, and said I would have more; then he went in and brought out 1s. more, and I took that.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. - Q. You have not been in custody, have you? - A. Yes, I have.

Q. You were admitted a witness by the Justice? - A. Yes.

Q. When did you tell the Justice this story? - A. A fortnight afterwards; my master told me it was better for me to surrender myself up to Mr. Nowlan.

Q. And you should get clear yourself by so doing? - A. No; he said that I suould suffer the law; if I was not taken now, I should some other time - The officers had been to my master's, and my master told me of it; I heard they were taken, and I was frightened.

Q. One shilling was not pay enough? - A. I asked for more.

Court. Q. How came your master to know you were concerned with them? - A. I never went home afterwards - My master told me Mr. Nowlan, the officer, had been after me; and then I determined to deliver myself up: I would have gone of my own accord, but I did not know how to go about it.

Q. How long have you known Harris and these other people? - A. I have known Harris and Raphell only this last Summer.

Q. How long have you known the others? - A. I had never been in their company before.

FRANKS JONAS sworn. - Q.Where do you live? - A. At No. 1, Flower and Dean-street, Spital-fields.

Q. What are you? - A. I am a Jew.

Q. What do you deal in? - A. I deal in clothes; I buy lots of pawnbrokers, and at sales, and any where.

Q. Do you remember, on the 14th of March last, any of the prisoner at the bar coming to you? - A. Yes.

Q. Look at the prisoners, and see whether you recollect them? - A. Yes, Harris I have known many years; he came to my house on Sunday afternoon; he said he wanted money and brought his own watch to sell.

Q. Did he produce that watch to you? - A. Yes.

Q. Where is that watch? - A. I bought it, the officer, Griffiths, has got it.

Q. He called it his own watch? - A. Yes.

Q. What did you give him for it? - A. One pound six shillings.

Q. Did he come alone, or was there any body with him? - A. Alone.

Q. Did any body come in afterwards? - A. Yes, Raphell.

Q. Do you know his person? - A. Yes, his father lived neighbour by me.

Q. What did Raphell say? - A. He asked me if I had bought a watch from Jack Harris , I told him, I would not tell him, and so he went away; I would not satisfy him, he wanted to know what Harris had sold the watch for, and I would not tell him.

Q. Did you see any body waiting at the door at that time? - A. I did not.

Q. Did you see either Harris or Raphell come out and speak to any body near your house? - A. I did not.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q.What did you say your trade was? - A. I deal in clothes.

Q. You buy any where, any thing, and at any price? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you been in this Court before? - A. No, and I hope I shall never see it again.

Q. One pound six shillings was a fair price? - A. I could not get my money again for it.

Q. You would not satisfy Raphell about it - you do not very often tell people, when they come to enquire after watches? - A. No; when I heard it was stolen, I gave it up directly.

Q. That was after the officers had been after you? - A. Yes.

Q. You never had the officers of Justice making any enquiries at your house before? - A. Not that I know of, never, they have asked about it, but never found nothing.

Q. I did not accuse you of having property ready for the officers to find? - A.When I heard the watch was stole I delivered it up.

JOHN NOWLAN sworn. - I am an officer belonging to Lambeth-street; I was employed to apprehend the prisoner on the 14th of March, between two and three o'clock; I took them at the sign of the Prince of Wales public-house, the corner of George-street, Spital-fields.

Q. How far is that from Hunt-street? - A. Very high half a mile.

Q.Where were they? - A.Sitting in a box by themselves, in a dark corner, that was between three and four o'clock, or near four.

Q. How was Harris dress? - A. In a blue jacket and trowsers, and a black silk handkerchief about his neck; I went to the house of Jonas with Thomas Griffiths three or four days after, and Smith and I went that evening, but Jonas and his wife were not at home; we asked about a watch, and took his wife into custody; I was not present when he produced the watch.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. He did not deliver the watch till his wife was in custody? - A. No.

Q. YOu knew Jonas before? - A. Yes.

Q. You have had him at the office, have you not? - A. No, I have had his wife in custody.

THOMAS GRIFFITHS sworn. - Q. Did you go to search Jonas's house? - A. Yes; I took his wife into custody, upon suspicion of receiving the watch; then Jonas came to the Flying-horse, just by the office, to see his wife, and he said his wife did not buy the watch, he had bought it of Harris; he said he gave twenty-six shillings for it; he said, he would go and fetch the watch, and he did; I have had the watch in my possession ever since. (Produces it.)

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q.You called him Franks? - A.His name is Franks Jonas, or Jonas Franks, I do not know which.

Q. Did you ever know any thing of him before? - A. I never knew any thing bad of him, I have had his wife.

Q. You did not get the watch from him till after his wife was in custody? - A. No.

Court. Q. Do you know that he was acquainted with the cause of his wife's being detained before he came to you? - A.When he came to me, he told me he had bought the watch.

Q.(To Prosecutor.) Look at that watch, and say if it is your's? - A. It is my watch.

Q. Do you know the number of it? - A. There is no number in it, I have had it above four years.

Q. Is there any particular mark? - A. No particular mark.

Q. Is there any watch-paper in it? - A. Yes, a red one; I have no doubt but it is mine.

EDWARD SMITH sworn. - Q. You were with Nowlan? - A. I was.

Q. What time of day was it? - A. About half past three, I believe between three and four; they were sitting together at a public-house, in Wentworth-street, in the parish of Christchurch, and we took them into custody.

Borcombe's defence. I was sitting in the public-house, having a pint of beer, where these three young men were, and the officers took me out with them.

Raphell's defence. I was out with some oranges till about two o'clock; I went home to my father's and I got some meat and bread, and I went into a public-house to get a pint of beer, and these three young gentlemen were there, and Mr. Nowlan came in and took us altogether.

Slokes's defence. I went into a public-house to have a pint of beer, and the officers came and took me, I was eating some bread and cheese at the same time; I knew nothing of the other prisoners.

Harris's defence. I had been discharged that morning from the Tower-hamlets; I went into the public-house for a pint of beer, and the officers came in and took me into custody.

For Harris.

Mrs. LEWIS sworn. - Q.Where do you live? - A. In Bethnal-green; my husband is a coal-merchant; I have known Harris upwards of twelve years; his sister lived servant with me; I got his discharge from the Tower-hamlets the very day he was taken up; he always bore a good character.

Raphell, GUILTY , Death , aged 17.

Harris, GUILTY , Death , aged 19.

Borcombe, NOT GUILTY .

Stokes, NOT GUILTY .

First Middlesex Jury, before Lord Ellenborough.