Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 05 February 2023), August 1842, trial of JOHN BROWN JOSEPH PALMER (t18420822-2279).

JOHN BROWN, JOSEPH PALMER, Theft > theft from a specified place, 22nd August 1842.

2279. JOHN BROWN and JOSEPH PALMER were indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the warehouse and counting-house of Nunn Morgan Harry and others, on the 15th of August, and stealing therein 1 pair of spectacles, value 8s.; 1 watch, value 6s.; 1 child's coral, value 2s.; 1 snuff-box, value 6s.; 1 eye-glass, value 1s.; 3 knives, value 2s.; 3 seals, value 5s.; and 1 necklace, value 1s.; the goods of Alexander Brockway.

MR. BALLANTINE conducted the Prosecution.

DANIEL BLAY (City police-constable, No. 159.) On the 15th of August, a little before two o'clock in the morning, I was passing New Broad-street, and heard a noise like a lock being forced inside No. 19, which is the Peace Society's Office—I stopped listening a little time—I then called for Thomas, another policeman, and sent for the sergeant—we continued listening about twenty minutes—I went round to the back of the building, in Bell-square, and in about five or ten minutes heard a noise as though some one was coming over the roofs of the out-buildings—I stood at the corner of the square, and distinctly saw the two prisoners drop into the square—I immediately took Palmer into custody—the place where they

came off leads to the Peace Society's Office—they came the way they would most naturally have come if they came from the back—Thomas and the sergeant ran after Brown, I got some ladders, and went into the office—I got in by the front way—in the back office I found a writing-table with the lock forced, and the articles mentioned on the table—there is a partition between the back-office and the warehouse, a door communicates between the two—a large hole was cut in the panel of that door, apparently by a knife—nobody could get through the panel of the door—there is a skylight above, which I examined—it might be reached from the outside by climbing up—there was a pane of glass broken out of it sufficient for a person to get through, on doing which they would arrive at the office.

Cross-examined by MR. PRENDERGAST. Q. By getting through the skylight, would they not tumble on the floor? A. They would drop on the floor—they would hold by the edge of the fan-light—it is a dome fan-light, with an edge round inside—the piece that was broken was on the top—the glass was lying broken on the wall outside—it was picked out—I do not know that it had been broken from within—it seemed to have been broken roughly, not cut with a diamond—I could not tell How to do it—the premises of two or three different people lay between the Peace Society's Office and the place the prisoners came over—I had never seen Brown before—he dropped, and was off—there was a gas-light in the square—there was sufficient light for me to recognize him—he did not show me his face—I had them in the square, I suppose, three seconds dodging them, trying to apprehend both—he was moving about as fast as he could—I did not catch hold of him—I was about a yard and a half from him at one time, but generally much farther off—I was about twelve yards from him when he dropped—I saw his face then—I did not know his name at that time, but I knew the man so as to be able to swear to him—as soon as he dropped, he turned round to me—I saw his face, and he was off directly—he passed close by me, under the gas-lamp—I can tell bow he was dressed.

Cross-examined by MR. FRAZER. Q. Did you take Palmer? A. yes, I know him as well as Brown—I took Palmer in the square—I was sent there by the sergeant—it is a small square, with a wideish opening to it—at the time I took Palmer, he was trying to make his escape—I took him in the square, not coming down the pipe—he was dodging about the square—I knew nothing of him before.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. How long was it after Brown came down that he was brought back to you in custody? A. Five minutes—I recognized him directly—Bell-square is very small, with one lamp at the corner, and it has only one entrance to it—there were no other persons in the square but myself and the two prisoners.

FRANCIS THOMAS (City police-constable, No. 137.) I was with Blay on the night of the 15th of August—I heard very distinctly the forcing of locks, while listening at the door, I fetched the sergeant, and then we all three listened—Blay then went round the square, by order of the sergeant, and I placed another policeman in Broad-street—I and the sergeant remained at the door, we knocked and all was then quiet—we then heard a jumbling noise, like getting on the roof of the premises—I ran round directly to the London Missionary Society house, thinking they might go through their premises, because they are unoccupied at night—I heard Blay call for assistance, in Bell-square—I ran to his assistance, and Brown, who is a most notorious thief, ran away from me—I attempted to seize him by the chest—

he got away from me—I followed him through Finsbury-circus, and took him in Little Moorfields, about a quarter of a mile from Bell-square—I did not lose sight of him at all—a private watchman tried to stop him, but he knocked him down, and ran away—I laid hold of him, and took him into custody—I afterwards went back to the house—I found no person inside who could have made the noise—I, the sergeant, and the other policeman got in by means of the lamplighter's ladder, at the time he was putting the gas out—a ladder was afterwards found inside.

Cross-examined by MR. PRENDEROAST. Q. Who is this private watchman? A. His name is Smith, he is not here—he and Brown were both lying on the ground struggling together—I know Brown well—I have seen him several times—I saw him running from Bell-square as hard as he could—I did not call him by any name, he did not give me time—I called "Stop thief!"—there was no one about but him—the watchman was at Guildhall at the time the prisoners were examined—he was not bound over—Brown did not appear in the least intoxicated—the watchman and he were both in the kennel—I saw them both fall.

THOMAS DUNGLISON (City police-sergeant.) On the night of the 15th I was at these premises, in company with the two other officers—after the prisoners were in custody I got into the premises, by borrowing two short ladders of Mr. Jay, the builder—we joined them together by our belts, and got on the roof of the premises, and into the inner office—I found the place in confusion—the lock of the door had been broken open, and the door which leads from the back-warehouse to the front was partly broken from the panel—the lock had been forced, but being a mortice lock, they could not open it—I found a rope lying on the floor, directly under the skylight—it had a large weight attached to it, but they had taken that off—I have not got the weight here, I have only brought the rope—it is evidently what the parties were let down by to cut the cornice of the skylight, and it fits—I showed the inspector that it was possible for a man to get through, by getting through myself—I did not get in by the rope—by one person getting down, and putting the ladder on the table, the other could easily get down—he could assist the other down—these are the articles I found.

Cross-examined by MR. PRENDERGAST. Q. Does this rope belong to any part of the premises? A. I cannot say—I did not slip through the pane of glass—I got up the ladder from within, and put my body partly through the glass, sufficient to show that it could be done.

Cross-examined by MR. FRAZER. Q. How far is Bell-square from the roof where they fell from? A. About thirty yards—I suppose they got through the skylight, and found no other means.

ALEXANDER BROCKWAY . I am assistant secretary to the Peace Society, where offices were broken into—I act under a committee, who are a self-constituted body—I have charge of the things that were disturbed, and of all the property in the house—the occupiers of the premises are Nun Morgan Harry and others—they are the lessees of the place, under the London Missionary Society—Mr. Harry pays the rent of the premises, and is one of the honorary secretaries—these things are all my property, and were in the table-drawer, which was locked—this rope hung from the skylight.

(The prisoners received good characters.)

BROWN— GUILTY . Aged 19.

PALMER— GUILTY . Aged 22.

Of Larceny only.— Confined One Year.