Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 01 December 2022), January 1804, trial of THOMAS HOLMES (t18040111-61).

THOMAS HOLMES, Theft > mail theft, 11th January 1804.

121. THOMAS HOLMES was indicted for that he, on the 26th of October , being employed in certain business relating to the Post-office, that is, in receiving and carrying divers letters and packets, to be sent by the post from the General Post-office in London to divers places, a certain letter, intended to be sent by the post, from the said General Post-office, to one Jane Griffin , at Oakingham, in the county of Berks, containing therein two Bank-notes for the payment of the sum of 1 l. each, came to his hands and possession, being such person so employed; and that he afterwards did feloniously secrete the said letter containing the said Bank-notes, the said Bank-notes being the property of one Richard Maxon .

Second Count. Charging it to be a packet, instead of a letter.

In Two other Counts. For feloniously secreting like Bank-notes, one stating them to be contained in a letter, the other, in a packet, and charging them to be the property of Jane Griffin , instead of Richard Maxon .

And in Four other Counts. For feloniously stealing from and out of a certain letter, and from and out of a certain packet, like Bank-notes; in two Counts, charging them to be the property of Richard Maxon , and in the other two, of Jane Griffin .

(The indictment was opened by Mr. Myers, and the case by Mr. Garrow.)

LUCY MAXON sworn. - Examined by Mr. Woodfall. I am the wife of Richard Maxon .

Q. Where do you reside? - A. At No. 6, Spring-street, Portman-square.

Q. Do you remember, about the 25th of October last, having written a letter into the country? - A. On the 25th, or 26th of October last, I am not certain which, I went into Gloucester-place.

Q. Did you send a letter into the country on one of those days? - A. Yes.

Q. What did it contain? - A. It contained two one-pound Bank-notes; it was directed to Mrs. Jane Griffin , Broad-street, Oakingham, Berks.

Q. When did you make that memorandum you are about to look at? - A. The instant before I enclosed them in the letter. (Produces the memorandum.) (Reads.)

"No. 13858, 13th August, 1803. No. 1057, 24th May, 1803."

Q. What did you do with the letter? - A. I met the bellman in Gloucester-place; I gave him the letter, telling him it contained property, and he refused it.

Q. Was any other bellman within hearing at that time? - A. Not that I recollect; I then went on to the top of Gloucester-street , on the border of Portman-square.

Q. How far from the other bellman? - A. I cannot exactly say; it was all in one straight line.

Q. Have you shewn the place, where you delivered the letter, to any one? - A. Yes, Mr. Fergusson, the inspector.

Q. Was that other bellman walking, or standing still? - A. I could scarcely distinguish whether he was or not, it was very foggy; I heard his bell ring, and called to him; he took my letter in one hand, and pressed it in the other, and then, apparently to me, dropped it in the bag.

Q. Had you any conversation with that postman? - A. None, that I recollect, further than giving him a shilling to pay the penny.

Q. You were some minutes with him then, of course? - A. Yes, waiting for change.

Q. Did you notice his person at all? - A. Yes, he was a tall man.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. Is your husband alive? - A. Yes.

Court. Q. Was the other bellman a tall man? - A. Not so tall as this.

Mr. Knapp. Q. Are you able to say with which hand the person took the letter? - A. I believe he took it in his right hand, and pressed it in his left.

JOHN MOSS sworn. - Examined by Mr. Myers. Q. You are an officer of the Bank, I believe? - A. I am a clerk in the Bank.

Q. Look at that Bank-note - what is the number of it? -

Mr. Knapp. Q. Where did you get it from? - A. From Mr. Parkin; it has been in my possession before.

Q. Did you put any mark upon it? - A. No; it has been in my possession several times, backwardsand forwards to and from Mr. Parkin; I know the note perfectly well, No. 13858, 13th August, 1803, one pound.

Q. When was that note brought into the Bank of England? - A. On the 18th of November.

Q. By whom was it brought into the Bank of England? - A. It was brought from Esdaile and Company, with some other notes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. With some other one-pound notes? - A. Yes.

Q. Were you the person that received them? - A. No, I only know it from the Bank-books.

Q. Are the Bank-books here? - A. No.

Mr. Garrow. Q. Look at that - has that been paid into the Bank? - A. Yes, on the 12th of December.

Q. How do you know that? - A. Only by reference to the Bank-books.

Mr. Garrow. We will send for the Bank-books.

Q. (To Mrs. Maxon.) Cast your eye upon that note - is that one of those that you inclosed in the letter to your mother? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you put any mark upon it? - A. It is the same number and date.

JANE GRIFFIN sworn. - Examined by Mr. Garrow. Q. Where do you reside when you are at home? - A. At Oakingham, in Berkshire.

Q. Is Mrs. Maxon your daughter? - A. My daughter-in-law.

Q. Did you receive any letter from her in the month of November last, inclosing two Bank-notes of one pound each? - A. No.

Q. Did you expect some remittances from her? - A. Yes.

Q. It never arrived? - A. No.

HUGH FERGUSSON sworn. - Examined by Mr. Woodfall. Q. You are inspector of letter-carriers? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you recollect accompanying Mrs. Maxon to any part of Portman-square? - A. Yes, I do.

Q. How long since may that have been? - A. It may be about a week, I cannot exactly say the day.

Q. Did she point out to you the spot where she delivered the letter? - A. Yes.

Q. On the 26th of October, within whose collection would that place have been? - A. Thomas Holmes 's.

Q. Are the letter-carriers confined to particular districts? - A. Yes.

Q. Can they receive letters in any other districts? - A. Not in any other.

Q. On the 25th and 26th, was it the duty of Holmes to have been there? - A. It was.

Q. Upon letters being delivered to him, what was he to do? - A. To put them into the bag, of course.

Q. Have you got that bag here? - A. Yes. (Produces it.)

Court. Q. Do you mean that that is the very bag the prisoner had that night? - A. Yes.

Mr. Woodfall. Q. To whom is the bag afterwards delivered? - A. To a clerk at the Post-office.

Q. Is the bag hung over the shoulder? - A. I believe it is usually carried on the arm; some carry it across the shoulder, and some on the arm.

Court. (To Maxon.) Q. Is that the sort of bag that the man had, to whom you gave the letter? - A. I am quite ignorant of that, it was dark.

Q. How did he hold it? - A. I think, under his arm.

Q. And did he hold it under his arm, when he gave you the change? - A. Yes.

Mr. Woodfall. (To Mr. Fergusson.) Q. Is it possible to extract a letter from that bag, notwithstanding it is locked? - A. Yes, I have seen that done; they may shake out all the letters, but not any particular letter.

Q. I understand it is the duty of the carrier to convey this bag to Stratford-place? - A. To the end of Bond-street, where a man is stationed with a cart to receive the bags; that is the rendezvous for all of them at that end of the town to go to Bond-street, that they may assist one another not to come so far.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. I understand you to say, the prisoner was on that beat that night? - A. No.

Q. You did not see him upon the beat? - A. No; it was his duty to be upon the beat that night.

Q. But whether he was, or not, you cannot tell? - A. No.

Q. One postman will very often assist another in his duty? - A. If a man is taken ill, or has leave of absence, we have people to do that duty; it is never done without acquainting me; we have proper officers for that duty.

Q. The corner of Bond-street is the end of his district? - A. No, his district is Portman-square, and he brings his letters to Bond-street, which is a general place of rendezvous.

Q. Sometimes they do not go to the full extent of their beat? - A. No, they are saved by one another.

Q. Then, supposing a man with that bag did not go to the extent of his beat, and another person taking the letters on that part of the beat that he did not go to, would have the letters? - A. He would have the whole bag; sometimes another man carries the bag, but the letters of that district are all in one bag.

Q. Look at your book, and see if he was on duty that night? - A. Yes, and on the 25th; he came upon duty after his illness; he came to the office on the 25th.

Q. And upon the 26th, was he there? - A. He was.

WILLIAM CHAPLIN sworn. - Examined by Mr.Myers. Q. You are the post-master at Oakingham? - A. Yes, I am.

Q. Did the bag arrive as usual, on the 26th and 27th of October last, with the mail from London? - A. Yes.

Q. And the letters were duly delivered? - A. They were delivered by the letter-carrier within half an hour after they came in.

Mr. Knapp. Q. Delivered by your letter-carrier? - A. Yes.

Q. Is your letter-carrier here? - A. No.

WILLIAM FOLKARD sworn. - Examined by Mr. Garrow. Q. Are you a letter-carrier at the Post-office? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you at any time receive that Banknote, (shewing him one), and from whom? - A. I received this note from the prisoner.

Q. Is there a regulation at the Post-office, that the Bank-notes passing through the hands of the carriers, shall have their names written upon them? - A. Yes.

Q. Had that the prisoner's name upon it? - A. Yes, and I wrote my name under it.

Q. Are you quite sure you received it from the prisoner? - A. Yes.

Q. For what purpose? - A. He said he could not make his money even for the Receiver-General's office, without change for a pound-note, and I gave him change for it.

Q. You are not able to ascertain the actual day, I understand? - A. No; I paid it into the Receiver-General's office that same morning.

Q. Do you remember sometime afterwards, an enquiry being made respecting this note? - A. Yes.

Q. In consequence of that, had you any conversation with the prisoner? - A. Not till after he had been at Mr. Parkins's; he then said to me that he had taken them of Mr. Jennings, at the Three Compasses, by carrying him silver.

Q. What did he say he had taken from Jennings at the Three Compasses? - A. He said he had carried six pounds worth of small change, and had taken six one-pound notes; he said this was one of the six one-pound notes he took at that time.

Q. Did he give any account of what he had done at the time, as to writing, or any thing of that sort? - A. No.

Q. Did he say how long before he had taken them? - A. No; he said he always signed the name of the persons he took them from, and as he took that of Mrs. Jennings, he had signed her name to it.

Q. Does the name of Mrs. Jennings appear upon it? - A. Yes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. When this conversation took place between you and the prisoner, you don't know? - A. No; this was the day he had been to Mr. Parkins.

Q. But when that was, you don't know? - A. No.

Q. Are you a letter-carrier? - A. Yes.

Q. Is it an uncommon thing for you to find publicans in change, where you stop to get refreshment? - A. No, by no means.

Q. Then there was nothing particular in the account the prisoner gave, that made you think that uncommon at all? - A. Not at all.

Q. How long have you been in the Post-office yourself? - A. Fourteen or fifteen years.

Q. Is it your custom to put upon a note the person's name from whom you receive it? - A. I generally get the person I take it of to sign it themselves, and then I put my name upon it.

Q. Do you know how long the prisoner has been in the office? A. Many years, I cannot say how long; he was there before me.

Q. Was there any person in the Post-office entitled to a better character than he was? - A. I never heard a better character given to any man in my life, in the office, or out.

Q. Do you know Mr. Jennings's house? - A. I have been there.

Q. Have you been in the habit of getting notes changed there? - A. I have, in the course of last summer, been with the prisoner to Jennings's house, when I have seen the prisoner give him some change, and he has given him ones and twos for it.

THOMAS COLEBACK sworn. - Examined by Mr. Woodfall. Q. You belong to the General Post-office? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you recollect early in December last to have seen the prisoner upon the subject of any Bank-notes? - A. Yes; upon the Bank-notes being put into my hand, I saw the names of Folkard and Holmes, whom I recollected to be letter-carriers.

Court. Q. When was it - do you know? - A. On the 10th of December, I requested Folkard might be sent for into the inspector of letter-carrier's room; I sent for both, but I sent for Folkard first; I asked Holmes if he had paid that note to Folkard; he said, if I did, it has my name upon it, and when I shewed it him, he, without the least embarrassment, acknowledged the name of Holmes to be his hand-writing, and appeared perfectly unembarrassed; I asked him if he had any recollection from whom he had taken it; he begged to look at the note again, and said, yes, I have written the name of Jennings upon it, from whom I took it; he keeps the sign of the Compasses, in Portman-mews.

Q. Did any thing more pass? - A. He went out of the room, and I made out the usual statement for the information of Mr. Parkin, and there I left it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. Then he appearednot to have the least suspicion, and made no secret of any thing? - A. Perfectly unembarrassed.

Q. How long have you been in the Post-office? - A. Twenty-two years.

Q. How long has he been in the Post-office? - A. I am not much in the habit of seeing letter-carriers; I have known him by sight five or six years.

Q. What sort of a character did he bear? - A. I never heard any thing against him.

JAMES COCK sworn. - Examined by Mr. Myers. Q. You are clerk to the Receiver-General of the Post-office? - A. Yes; I paid to the house of Esdaile and Co. 1342 l. in Bank-notes, and the remainder was in two checks; upwards of one thousand of them were small notes, in ones and twos.

THOMAS PRICE sworn. - Examined by Mr. Garrow. Q. You are a clerk in the house of Esdaile and Company? - A. Yes.

Q. Did your house, on the 7th of November, receive from the office of the Receiver-General, 1342 l. in Bank-notes? - A. Yes, (refers to his book), 512 notes of one pound each.

Q. You are not able to give us the dates or numbers? - A. No.

Q. Did you afterwards tie them in a bundle, to be carried to the Bank the next day? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you put them in the usual place for depositing those things? - A. Yes.

JAMES TARLING sworn. - Examined by Mr. Woodfall. Q. You are a clerk to Messrs. Esdaile and Co.? - A. I am.

Q. Do you recollect, on the 8th of November, that you took any notes to the Bank? - A. Yes, I recollect it perfectly well.

Q. To what amount? - A. I cannot recollect the amount; my signature is to the paper.

Q. Did you take the bundle that Mr. Price made up? - A. Yes, I took it to the Bank.

WILLIAM JENNINGS sworn. - Examined by Mr. Myers. Q. You keep the public-house, the sign of the Three Compasses, in South Portman-mews, Portman-square? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you know the prisoner at the bar? - A. Yes, very well.

Q. What do you know him to be? - A. I know him to be a postman; he used to deliver letters in Orchard-street and Portman-square, and that district.

Q. I believe you have been in the habit occasionally of receiving cash of him? - A. Yes, I have.

Q. Did you ever receive any thing besides cash? - A. Yes, small notes, from one pound up to ten pounds, for which I gave him notes of five pounds and ten pounds value.

Q. You don't mean to say you never gave him any small notes? - A. I cannot say I never did; I don't remember the time when I did give him any; I have given him two-pound notes.

Q. Did you ever give him a one-pound? - A. I never did, if I had two's.

Q. Will you swear you never did give him a one-pound note? - A. No.

Q. Did you use to write your name upon notes? - A. Hardly ever, without it was a five pound, or ten pound, and then I used to write the name of whoever I took them of.

Q. Have you ever seen the prisoner write his name upon any notes? - A. Yes, I have, upon large notes that he received from me; I have asked him whether I should write my name upon them, or he, and he said, it did not signify which, it made no difference.

Q. Do you recollect seeing him write his name upon six one-pound notes in one day? - A. No.

Q. Did you ever give him six one-pound notes in one day? - A. Never, to my knowledge.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. You were sent for to be examined upon this subject? - A. Yes.

Q. At that time you knew there was some question as to what had become of a Bank-note which should have gone in a letter? - A. I had the letter sent me; Mr. Parkin told me so.

Q. And you know probably, that with whomsoever that Bank-note might be found, they might get into some trouble? - A. Yes.

Q. You will not swear you never gave him six one-pound notes at a time? - A. No.

ANTHONY PARKIN sworn. - Q. You are solicitor to the Post-office? - A. I am.

Q. Did you at any time, in consequence of this letter, and Bank-notes being missed, see the prisoner, and receive any account of the transaction from him? - A. On the 12th of December, Mr. Jennings, Mrs. Maxon, Mr. Fergusson, the inspector of letter-carriers, and Mr. Coleback, came to my house; a Bank-note at that time was produced to the prisoner; he looked at it, and saw his own name upon it in his own hand-writing; he saw also upon it the name of Jennings; he said he had it either from Mr. or Mrs. Jennings; it was pointed out to him that the name upon it was Mr. and not Mrs. Jennings; upon which he said, then he must have had it from Mr. Jennings; Mrs. Maxon stated the circumstance of delivering the letter to the postman , and described the place; she also said, the postman, who received the letter from her hand, apparently to her put it into his bag; the prisoner observed upon it, that if it was put into the bag, he could not get it out, or at least could not without great difficulty. Mr. Jennings suggested to the prisoner, that he had been ill, and probably he might not have been upon duty on that day; the prisoner said he had been ill, but did notknow whether he was then recovered, or not; I asked the inspector if there was any means of knowing whether he was upon duty, or not; he said, there was; I then sent to the Post-office to ascertain that fact. Nothing more passed at that time, the parties separated, and I believe he went to the Post-office. On the 18th, I sent to him to come again, he came, and I desired he would particularly state the circumstances respecting his having taken a note of Mr. Jennings. Upon that occasion, I took down in writing what he said, that on the morning of the day on which he received the note from Mr. Jennings, Mr. Jennings spoke to him, and said, he wanted a good deal of silver and small change against the evening, and that about half past four in the afternoon, he called upon Mr. Jennings with six pounds worth of small gold and silver; that Mr. Jennings was not at home; that he saw Mrs. Jennings, to whom he gave the six pounds in small gold and silver, and she gave him six one-pound Bank of England notes for it; he took a pen and ink, which stood upon the mantle-piece, and wrote Mrs. Jennings's name and his own under it, in her presence; he did not see where she took the notes from; this was done in the same room where he gave her the gold and silver; on Saturday he received the Bank-notes from Mrs. Jennings, and on Monday, having five pounds fourteen shillings to pay into the Receiver-General's office, he requested change of one of the letter-carriers, that he might give even money; Folkard gave him change, and he paid the other five notes into the Receiver-General's office; he does not know the number of any of the said notes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. How long had the prisoner been in the Post-office? - A. I understand, about sixteen years.

Q. I believe he would in a few months, or a short time, have been entitled to an annuity of fifty pounds a year for his life? - A. Of that, the inspector can inform you best.

Q. Do you know the character he has maintained in the Post-office? - A. I understand he has maintained one of the best of characters.

Q. From the 12th of December to the 18th, when he came again to you upon the second summons, he was going about his business? - A. He was suspended upon this enquiry, but he was at perfect liberty.

ELIZABETH JENNINGS sworn. - Examined by Mr. Garrow. Q. You are the wife of William Jennings , of the Three Compasses? - A. Yes.

Q. How long have you known the prisoner Holmes? - A. Some months.

Q. Was he in the habit of furnishing you with any accommodation with respect to small change? - A. Yes.

Q. How long have you lived in your house? - A. Eight years.

Q. Have you known him all the time? - A. No, only a short time.

Q. Your husband used to take small change of him, in change for what? - A. Five pound and ten pound notes.

Q. What sort of change had you from him? - A. Sometimes cash and small notes.

Q. Did you personally transact this business, and how often? - A. Not above three times, I believe; three or four times.

Q. Can you fix when about those times were? - A. The first time was in the summer, in very hot weather; the next time was the latter end of the summer, when he gave me change for a five-pound note.

Q. When was the next? - A. The next was, when I gave him a five-pound note, and a one-pound note.

Q. When was that? - A. On the 10th of December.

Q. And you got six pounds worth of change? - - A. Yes.

Q. Did you at any time about the 25th of October, or after that time, give him six Bank-notes of one pound each, which he changed? - A. No, I don't recollect doing any such thing.

Q. Are you certain he never did? - A. To the best of my recollection I never gave six single one-pound notes.

Q. From October to December you never did? - A. I believe I did not.

Q. Did he at any time receive from you six Bank-notes at any time at once, and write your name upon each of them? - A. No.

Q. Did you never see him write your name upon any notes? - A. Never, to my recollection.

Q. Did he ever write any thing upon them? - A. I cannot recollect that I saw him write any thing upon them.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. You don't mean to swear positively you did not give him six one-pound notes? - A. I cannot recollect it; to the best of my recollection I did not.

Q. Your husband was had up to be examined at Mr. Parkins's, before you were examined? - A. Yes.

Q. How long? - A. I really don't know; he was there some days before.

Q. You understood from him, when he came back, what he was examined about? - A. No, I don't know justly what it was about.

Q. But you knew it was about a note? - A. Yes.

Q. You say he did not put, at your desire, your name upon any note in your sight? - A. No.

Q. Nor you never desired him to put your name upon any note out of your sight? - A. No.

Q. Do you know Folkard? - A. Yes, I have seen him.

Q. Did you ever see him come with the prisoner to your house? - A. I really cannot say.

Q. Did not he use your house? - A. Very seldom; I cannot say I ever noticed him coming in.

Q. Did he ever give you change? - A. No.

Q. Did you never give him change? - A. No.

Q. Will you swear that Folkard neither took change from, nor gave change to you? - A. No.

Court. Q. You spoke to your recollection only of three other times; you don't think he gave you change at any other time? - A. No.

Q. If you had at any time given him six one-pound notes, is it likely you should forget it? - A. No.

Q. Do you remember Holmes taking a pen and ink from the mantle-piece, and writing upon the notes? - A. I cannot say I do.

Mr. Gurney. (To Fergusson.) Q. Can you say whether, according to the course of the Post-office, the prisoner would, in the course of a few months, have been entitled to an annuity? - A. Not a few months.

Q. How long? - A. A few years; twenty years is the allotted time, if a man is not capable of doing his duty, and then by the approbation of the post-master.

Q. That annuity is fifty pounds? - A. Yes.

Prisoner's defence. I received six one-pound notes of Mrs. Jennings, and this is one of them; I signed my name upon them, and her own, in her bar, all at the same time.

The prisoner called six witnesses, who gave him a good character, when the Jury declared they were satisfied as to character.

NOT GUILTY .

Second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Rooke.