Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 09 June 2023), September 1812, trial of JAMES WESTBROOK ELIZABETH PHIPPS SUSANNAH PHIPPS SAMUEL WESTBROOK (t18120916-3).


627. JAMES WESTBROOK , ELIZABETH PHIPPS , SUSANNAH PHIPPS , and SAMUEL WESTBROOK , were indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Joseph Covington , about the hour of eight in the forenoon, on the 1st of April , and stealing therein, eighteen gowns, value 3 l. seven petticoats, value 1 l. six pair of blankets, value 3 l. a feather bed, value 3 l. a bolster, value 5 s. two pillows, value 5 s. a time-piece, value 6 l. a silver cup, value 1 l. and five yards of muslin, value 5 s. the property of Joseph Covington .

JOSEPH COVINGTON . I am a licensed hawker . In April last I lived in Angel and Porter-court, Golden-lane, in the parish of St. Luke, Old-street . I am the occupier of the house. It consisted of three rooms. Two rooms I let out. I let the ground floor to Corcoran, and I occupied the one pair of stairs. Susannah Phipps and her daughter lived in the two pair of stairs room.

Q. Did you know that any other person lived with her - A. No, not to my knowledge.

Q. On what day did you leave town - A. On Monday, the 1st of April, between six and seven in the morning, I fastened my door with two padlocks, and a common lock. I left my door quite secure.

Q. At the time you left were all the property which is stated in the indictment in your room - A. Yes.

Q. Were there eighteen gowns in the room - A. Yes, and seven petticoats, six pair of blankets, two pillows, twelve waistcoats, a time-piece, a telescope, eight yards of muslin, four table-spoons, and seven silver table-spoons.

Q. What is the value of them altogether - A. About one hundred and twenty pounds. I returned on the 1st of May.

Q. When you came home in what state did you find the door of your room - A. My wife was there first. She sent to me. I came immediately. I found all the locks of the room door broken. My wife sat in the chair crying, and every thing was gone in the boxes and the drawers.

Q. On that day did you receive some information from your lodger, Corcoran - A. Yes, the same night, and in consequence of that information I went to Wayman's.

Q. Afterwards did you receive from Wayman any of your property - A. I did. I received the timepiece and the muslin. He promised to bring the telescope, but he did not.

Q. Did you then cause Corcoran to be apprehended - A. I did; and afterwards the prisoners were all four taken up.

Mr. Adolphus. What are you - A. A licensed hawker. I deal in lace. The gowns were my wife's: The telescope was for my pleasure.

Q.Where do you live now - A. At Bedford. I am going to throw up the house in Angel and Porter-court.

MRS. COVINGTON. Q. When you returned to town in May, in what condition did you find the door - A. I found the door was broken open, and the top hatch was entirely gone. The door was open, and the property was all gone.

Mr. Adolphus. Were these all your own gowns - A. Yes. I had eighteen left behind.

PETER CORCORAN. Q. You lodge, we understand, at the prosecutor's house - A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember his going out of town on the 1st of April - A. Yes.

Q. Did you know whether any person besides Mrs. Phipps lived in the two pair of stairs room - A. I did. James Westbrook and the daughter lived there with the mother.

Q. Now, at what time in the morning did you first observe any noise up stairs on the 1st of April - A. Mrs. Phipps awoke me at seven o'clock. She told me to get up, and I got up. She went up to her daughter, and she and her daughter was scolding. She afterwards came down, brought a small bundle, went out, and came back again. She always called me every morning.

COURT. Who went out with the bundle - A. Susannah. That was a bundle belonging to herself, I supposed. After that she came back at eight o'clock. She said, she should go to work. In a little while after she went out I heard a noise up stairs. I heard a creaking, and after the creaking, I heard a person walking, as if they had no shoes on, in Covington's room, over my head.

Q. At that time did you know that Covington and his wife had gone out of town - A. I did not know. In about half an hour afterwards I observed James Westbrook going out with some bundles. I observed the daughter going out with the time-piece. She said, she was going with it to a person of the name of Smith. She came back. I saw her go out with another bundle. Her mother and Samuel Westbrook were standing at the corner of the court.

Q. What was done with the bundle the daughter last carried out - A. She gave it to Samuel Westbrook .

Q. How near was the mother to Samuel Westbrook when the bundle was given to him - A. She might be a dozen yards from him.

Q.She gave the bundle to Samuel - A. Yes.

Q. Was there any more bundles taken out after that - A. There was, by James Westbrook and the daughter, Elizabeth Phipps .

Q. How long did this taking out of bundles continue - A. Some time after eight o'clock, until near one.

Q. When these bundles were all gone, what became of James Westbrook - A. He and Elizabeth Phipps locked the door of Susannah Phipps , and wanted me to have the key. I refused. The child with them had the key. Elizabeth Phipps said, if my mother comes home and makes a noise, she would do for her mother and somebody else. Elizabeth Phipps and James Westbrook went away. They never returned again that night.

Q. Did Mrs. Phipps, the mother, complain to you, that she had been robbed by James Westbrook and her daughter - A. Yes; and the next day, about twelve o'clock, she looked at Covington's door. She said, he was robbed as well as she, and that his property was at Wayman's, in the City-road. She said, she knew where there were a good deal of property, shirts and linen, and if I could spare six or seven pounds, I might buy a bargain, if I could keep a secret, and not tell Mr. Covington; that nothing could hurt her. I said, I had no money to spare. After that time there was no peace in the house. She was always scolding me, as she knew I knew all.

Q. When Covington came to town did you tell him all you knew respecting it - A. I gave him the information I have given you. About a week after he took me up.

Mr. Adolphus. What are you - A. A labouring man at any thing that I can catch.

Q. What were you on the 1st of April last - A. A porter in the green market.

Q. How came you to stay at home that morning - A. I was not well.

Q. You got up, I suppose, when this old lady called you - A. I did. She called me between six and seven. I got up immediately, and sat down by the fire. I went out for tobacco, and eggs for my wife; when I saw these people at the corner of the court I went out for the air. I told Mrs. Phipps I was ill when she called me.

Q.You were a witness here last sessions, were not you - A. I was.

Q. Were you never tried here - A. No.

Q. What is your name? Cochrane or Corcoran - A. Corcoran.

Q. You saw all these people going out with bundles - A. As I told you. Elizabeth Phipps and James Westbrook took the bundles out of the house. I saw nobody else.

Q. You never told any body a word of this until Covington came home - A. I forget whether I did or not.

Q. You were taken up as the thief - A. Exactly so.

Q. And being taken up you told all this - A. I did.

Q. The old woman called you up to hear all this - A. She called me up at different times.

COURT. Did Samuel Westbrook live in the house - A. No.

Q. Did you ever see him in the house - A. I did.

Q. When you went out you saw Samuel Westbrook and the old woman at the corner of the yard - A. Yes.

Q. What distance is that from the house - A.Forty-nine yards.

Q. And there you saw Elizabeth deliver the bundle to Samuel - A. Yes.

Q. Can you tell me whether she saw her deliver the bundle to Samuel - A. I do not suppose she did. Her back was turned.

Q. At what time was it you saw this - A.About eleven o'clock.

MARY CHISWELL . I live at No. 14, Wood's-buildings, Whitechapel.

Q. Did the prisoners, James Westbrook and Elizabeth Phipps, come to lodge with you - A.Yes. He came in the name of James Smith : she came and his wife, on Thursday, the 2nd of April, and that day eight weeks they were taken in custody.

Q. During the time they lodged with you, did Elizabeth Phipps offer you any thing for sale - A. Yes, a red flowered gown, and a dimity petticoat.

Q. to Mrs. Covington. Had you any gown like that that you lost - A. No.

Q. to Mrs. Chiswell. Did she offer to sell you any thing else - A. Yes, When I was taken ill she offered to lend me a blanket, and a great many bed-clothes, as she thought I was in want of them at that time.

JOHN LIMBRIC. I am an officer. I found James Westbrook in custody. I searched him at the Poultry Compter. I found nothing on him, except an handkerchief I took off his neck. In the mean time Elizabeth Phipps came in. I took her with me to Mrs. Chiswell's house, and searched their lodging. In James Westbrook 's hat-box I found this letter, addressed for Samuel Westbrook , No. 8, James-street.

(The letter read.)

="Dear brother, This comes, with my kind love to you, hoping to find my sister and you in good health, as it leaves me. I shall take it a great favour, if you will let me know how things are settled, for I have heard that James Wayman has been with him, and is letting him have the things back again. I will meet you at the Bricklayers Arms. Do not fail coming.


Limbric. I found also in Westbrook's room a duplicate in the name of Smith for a shirt pawned at Mr. Dexter's, on the 25th of May. I found also a chisel in Mr. Covington's house. I tried the chisel to the drawer. It fitted the marks.

THOMAS DEXTER . I am a pawnbroker in Whitechapel. I produce a shirt. The duplicate produced by Limbric is my duplicate. The shirt was pawned in the name of Mrs. Smith, in Wood's-buildings.

Prosecutrix. I know that is my husband's shirt. I made the button holes. I did not make the shirt. My husband had the time-piece and the muslin from Wayman. He delivered them to Hutt the officer. The muslin is mine.

Prosecutor. It is my time-piece.

James Westbrook 's Defence. I am very innocent of what I am indicted for. I was hard at work when I was taken.

Elizabeth Phipps' Defence. On the morning that Mrs. Covington left town, she called me down stairs, between six and seven. She said, where is your mother? Why does not she live at home? Mrs. Covington gave me a five-pound note, and two lace caps. I was rather fearful. I would not take them until I went up to Westbrook. I was to deliver them to my mother in Fetter-lane, where she then was. They all deal in stolen property. The things that were moved out of the place were my own.

Susannah Phipps 's Defence. The man that lives in Covington's house deals in bad-notes, and stolen property. That is how he gets his living.

Samuel Westbrook left his defence to his counsel.

ANN PRICE . I live at No. 8, James-street, St. Luke's. Samuel Westbrook lodged in the house I did. He lived in the one pair. I occupy the second floor. He had been out of work a good while, and on on the 1st of April, he was glad he had got work. I heard him at work all that morning. He is a watch motion-maker. I can safely say he was at home all that morning.





First Middlesex jury, before Mr. Justice Gibbs.