Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 10 August 2020), July 1852, trial of JOHN M'DONALD JAMES DOHERTY FRANCIS HARRIS ELIZA JONES (t18520705-738).


738. JOHN M'DONALD, JAMES DOHERTY, FRANCIS HARRIS , and ELIZA JONES , burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling bouse of John Cotton, and stealing 1lb. of tobacco, and other articles, value 1l. 7s. 6d.; his goods.

MR. RYLAND conducted the Prosecution.

JOHN COTTON . I live at No. 3, College-terrace, Bond-street, in the parish of St. Luke, Chelsea—I carry on business as an oil and colourman. On Monday night, 21st June, I went to bed about 11 o'clock, my house appeared safe—we all went up to bed together as nearly as possible—in the front of my house I have a cellar, covered with boards which shut down, and on those boards I place some large water butts of a night—the water butts were on the boards that night—if any person were to move those butts and lift up the boards they could get into the front cellar, but not without a great deal of trouble—there is a communication from the front to the back cellar, which opens to a back yard, and the back parlour window opens into that yard; a person could get through that into the house—I was disturbed about 1 o'clock on Tuesday morning—my daughter came down and said something to me—I listened a little while, and we thought we heard a noise down stairs—we then went down and found the back parlour window open—it had been shut overnight—there had been a desk there, in which I kept my money—it bad been shut, and safe, when I went to bed—when I came down it was open—there were two drawers in it; I kept silver in one drawer, and gold in the other—the drawer in which the silver had been, was lying on the top of the flap of the desk, and the silver was gone—the gold drawer was quite safe—the room was in confusion, an ornament that I had on the mantelpiece and other things were removed—when we went into the shop I missed copper money out of the till, and 12s. 3d. from a shelf by the side of the counter—the policeman was knocking, in the shop, and he said, "Do you know your door is open?"—I said, "No"—I looked, and found it was open—it had been safe when we went to bed—if a person had got in at the back parlour window he could have let himself out at the front door—I missed about one pound of tobacco, out of a jar behind the counter.

JOHN LEWIS . I am a plasterer, and live in Little College-street, Chelsea. On Monday night, 21st of June, I was at a raffle at the Cheshire-cheese, at Chelsea—there were a good many persons there—I saw M'Donald and Doherty there, when I first went in at 8 o'clock—I left about ten minutes to I—the prisoners had been gone before I left—I did not see them long—my way home takes me past Mr. Cotton's shop; I live hut two doors from it—when I got there, I saw Doherty on the flap of the cellar, and M'Donald was close by—I passed them without saying anythiug, and after I had passed I heard the tubs move—I had to turn a corner soon afterwards, and when I turned I met Daley—I knew him—I had seen him about—I had not seen him at the Cheshire-cheese that evening—I had not seen him at all that night before I met him—I passed him, but did not speak to him—I saw Doherty about 2 o'clock the next day, in College-place—he spoke to me first, and asked where I was going—I told him I was going out for a walk, and I said his master had been after him to go out with his fruit (he lives in the same house that I do)—he said he did not mean to go out with any more fruit, he meant to go stealing—he said—"I must go now," and he went, and I did not see him till he was taken—when I met him he took some tobacco out of his right hand pocket, and filled his pipe and went away.

JAMES RICE (policeman, B 248). In consequence of information I apprehended M'Donald and Doherty on the Wednesday night after the robbery, about 20 minutes past 12 o'clock—they were walking and talking in the King's-road—I said, "I want you two, for breaking into Mr. Cotton's house"—M'Donald said, "I am sure I know nothing about it;" and Doherty said, "I am sure you know nothing about me"—I took them, and on the road to the station M'Donald said to the last witness, "You tell Daley that we are cocked" (that means "taken"); "tell him that Butcher has got us" (that is a nickname they give me); "and tell Frazer Wilson that we are taken, and he will send us something to eat; and tell Daley to keep out of the way, you know who I mean, him that was with us last night"—at the station M'Donald said, "I can prove I was in Jew's-row at half-past I this morning"—he afterwards said, "I can prove I was in bed at 2"—Doherty said he was at home at a quarter before 1, or he left Jew's-row at a quarter before 1; I could not distinctly tell which.

Cross-examined by MR. T. SPICER. Q. You say Lewis was with you? A. Yes, at the time I was taking them to the station—I knew Lewis.

M'Donald. Q. Did I tell Lewis to say anything? A. Yes, to tell Daley you were cocked.

JOHN BLENKARN (policeman, B 118). I was on duty on the night between Monday, 21st, and Tuesday, 22nd June—I passed Mr. Cotton's door it 1 o'clock; I saw everything safe—I observed the street door; it was safe—I passed again in about twenty minutes, and the door was open.

JAMES RICE re-examined. In consequence of further information I went on the Friday after the robbery to Strutton-ground, Westminster—Lewis was with me—as I was going I saw the prisoner Eliza Jones—I followed her to 19, Old Pye-street—she went into the house between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon—I went into the house, and saw Harris standing in the passage—I said to him, "What room do you occupy here?"—he said, "None at all—I said, "It is no use your telling me any stories; I know that you do"—he assured me he did not—I then asked him where his girl was, meaning Jones (I had known them as being together)—he told me he did not know that she was gone out—I told him it was no use his telling me that story; I knew she was in that house, for I had followed her in—after a little time

Harris went into the back yard, and I followed him, and Lewis went into the yard nearly at the same time—I then went up stairs to the top back room—when I got to the door, I heard something thrown into a tin saucepan—I went into the room, and saw Jones turn from a cupboard—I went to the cupboard and took the lid off a saucepan, and in it I found this pair of scissors—I had heard that a pair had been lost—I asked Jones how she accounted for the possession of these scissors—she said, "Doherty brought them here last Tuesday morning"—I told her she must consider herself in custody for receiving those scissors, knowing them to be stolen—I left her in charge of another officer, and I went down and took Harris into custody in the back yard, where I had left him—I told him he must consider himself in custody for receiving this property, well knowing it to be stolen, and I showed him some tobacco and the scissors—he said, "All that I know is that Doherty brought the tobacco and scissors here on Tuesday morning," and on the road to the station he said, "I will tell you all I know about it;" but he did not tell any more—when I was in the top room I saw a small mark on the table, as if some tobacco had recently been removed from the table—when at the station Harris said that he and the female were going to give up the room that night, and he said they were both in the room when Doherty brought these things and asked them to let him leave them for an hour or two.

Cross-examined. Q. Have you known Harris long? A. Yes, upwards of three years—the first I knew of his living with Jones was on 1st May.

JOHN LEWIS re-examined. Q. On the Friday after the robbery, did you go with the last witness to this house? A. Yes; I went into the yard, and saw some tobacco come from the window of that top room, wrapped in a bit of rag—I took it up, and handed it to Rice.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you look up? A. I was looking up and saw it come out of the back window—I have known M'Donald a good while, and Doherty too—I was in difficulty myself, about some pigeons, about eight years ago—a party who was with me was accused of taking them—I have done nothing since.

AMELLA COTTON . I am the prosecutor's daughter—I know these scissors; they belong to me—on the night before the robbery I had left them on a small desk by the back parlour window—after the robbery I missed them—I am sure they are mine.

Doherty. Q. What mark have you on them? A. There were three letters on them before they were ground, and there is part of the marks on them now—I had constantly used them for about eighteen months—I have no doubt they are mine—I had them ground three days before I lost them.

MARY BRENNAN . I am the wife of Andrew Brennan, we live at 19, Old Pye-street—it is my husband's house, we live in part of it—I know the prisoner Doherty by his coming to see Harris and Jones, who lived together in a room in our house, Jones took the room—on the day when Harris and Jones were apprehended they both said that Harris was going home, and they would give up the room—but Doherty and another young man would keep the room on.

(Doherty's statement before the Magistrate was here read: "John Lewis has been convicted of felony, and has also been guilty of two other robberies on Chelsea-common; one was at a shoemaker's shop; he has got one pair of the boots on now; the others were pawned; he has been guilty of robbing Mr. Cotton of a copper.")

M'Donald's Defence. I was out on the Monday night, and was coming round Chelsea-common; I saw Doherty, he said he had got no lodgings I gave him some and went home, and went to bed.

Doherty's Defence. I met this lad and he was going home; I saw him no more that night; on Tuesday I met him again, and he said, "Have you heard of this robbery at Cotton's;" I said, "No!" he said, "You have done felony, I will lag you?" on Wednesday afternoon I met him again, he got telling me about this, and was mentioning about the boots that had been stolen; I believe he burnt some of the boots, and those he pawned I believe he has got out; he has been guilty of two other robberies, and was convicted once at Hicks' Hall; on Tuesday afternoon I went up to Harris, and I bought an ounce and a half of tobacco that day; I picked up the scissors on Saturday, I asked Jones if she would have them, and she asked if I got them right, I said, "Yes."

CHARLES LANE . I am a labourer, and live at 3, Little Keppel-street, Fulham-road—I know M'Donald, I knew nothing of his being taken till the Thursday—I saw him on Tuesday morning, between 5 and 6 o'clock in bed—I had not seen him on the previous night—I do not know what time he came to bed—I was in bed about 11 myself—he was not there then, but I found him in bed when I got up—he was in regular work as a plasterer.

JAMES RICE re-examined. I produce a certificate of Doherty's former conviction at this Court—(read—Convicted, April, 1851, of stealing nine quarts of wine, having been before convicted; confined twelve months)—I had him in custody.

(M'Donald received a good character.)

M'DONALD— GUILTY . Aged 21.— Confined Three Months.

DOHERTY— GUILTY . Aged 20.— Transported for Seven Years.