1830 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (1)
|Topic||Robin Hood and Little John (Hoxton)|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-19. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-08.
[14 jan. 1830:]
JOHN REYNOLDS. I am a smith, and live at No. 5, Hare-street, Hoxton. In December Bennett introduced me to Tomkins, as I had asked him for work, about eight o'clock in the morning; it was on a Saturday - Bennet told me Tomkins was the foreman of the works; I went and asked him if he could give me work - Tomkins told me he should like to see me at the Gun in Shoreditch; I went there between twelve and one o'clock, and Tomkins said he had got a job in hand, and where could he meet me on the Monday - I appointed the Robin Hood and Little John, and met him there between six and seven o'clock; he came in while I was there taking a pint of beer with a man named Balls - Tomkins asked me to walk out with him, and we went as far as the new church, Haggerstone; I asked him what the job was - he said, it was to break open the iron chest of the Imperial Gas-house, which must be done on a Wednesday night, as there was most money in it then; I said I did not understand it myself, and he might apply to other persons who would do it much better- he said he had applied to others, who had disappointed him; I said I did not wish to have any thing to do with it- I went home and spoke to Balls of what had passed; I went to Tomkins two days after the robbery, and said,"You have done the job you wanted me to do" - he said,"No, I have not done it, I can prove I was in bed and asleep at the time; I had a man at my place with the tools and keys to do it with, but I had put it so far in his hands, that he went out at the beginning of the evening and did it" - I then went home; Bennett came after that, and said Tomkins, the foreman, had sent me 30s., and we had a drop of hot together - two days after Christmas, I met Tomkins, who gave me 30s. more, and said, "I hope you won't say any thing about the robbery, as you were seen with Bennett, you are very likely to be taken up;" I told him where I lived, and said, "You may send Mr. Vickers, or any one to me, and I will clear myself, and pay the 30s. when I get work" - I went down to Balls, and told him what had passed; on the Saturday morning, Balls went and gave information; I was sent for - I went before the gentlemen of the Company, I think about a week after I saw Tomkins.
Cross-examined by MR. CLARKSON. Q. You have been a smith? A. Yes, and in the bedstead line, and can turn my hand to any thing in the labouring line; I was intimate with Balls - I have done hay-work for Mr. Rhodes; I was not taking up dead bodies on the 6th of March, no one can say that; I do not know whether I was charged with stealing dead bodies on the 6th of March - I might be taken up for getting the worse for a drop of liquor; you cannot bring any one to swear that I was taken up for breaking into a church-yard and stealing dead bodies- that might be a charge against me or it might not; I have taken goods to Camberwell, but never was in Camberwell new church-yard, and do not know where it is -I never was charged with stealing dead bodies from there; I do not know whether I was in custody at all on the 6th of March - if I was ever charged with stealing dead bodies it was unknown to me; I do not know a man of the name of William Burt, who lives in Mill-row, Kingsland - I never went by the name of Read; I know Phillips, who lives in Bridgewater-gardens, by sight and by drinking with him - I do not know that I was with Phillips in Camberwell new church-yard on the 6th of February, or in any church-yard; I was never charged with stealing dead bodies from St. Thomas', Hospital, which were afterwards returned from the London University - I do not know a man of the name of Sherrin, or Sherrill: I never borrowed a sack of him, and took it back the following morning - I do not know such a person as William Burt, and I did not meet him against the Hand and Sheers, in Cloth-fair.
Q. Did you not ask him how he got on for work? and did not you tell him you could put him into a plan, by which he could get some money - he asked you how, and you said, the foreman at the gas manufactory had a good situation, and he might go to him and say, if he did not send you money, you would go and tell his master he had done the robbery; and if Burt did not know him, you would go and show him the person? A. I do not know the man.
Q. Do you know this man (a witness)? A. I have seen him about with a man of the name of Tom Sheels, who went breaking open Shoreditch dead-house, but I did not know his name; the reason I said I never saw this man was, because I did not know his name - I did see him in a public-house; I do not know whether it was near Cloth-fair - I do not know such a place; what you have stated as passing between him and me respecting the Gas Company is not true, so help me God - he did not say "I do not like the job;" nor I did not say I would go and try it on, but I hoped he would say nothing about it - Balls is here to-night, he came with me, and he was here last night - he is no relation of mine; he lives at No. 6, Canal-road; no person was present when the conversation took place between Tomkins and I - I did not then know Tomkins' name; I knew him by having seen him once before, but he asked me to break open the iron chest, there is no mistake about that - I stated before the Magistrate that he said there was a man in his house with the tools - that he had put it in his power, and he had done it unknown to him; I heard of a reward of 50l. after I got the last 30s. - I saw it on the wall near the factory; I did not hear it from Balls.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. You were never accused of stealing dead bodies? A. No; I was the worse for liquor. and was sent to Guildford as a vagrant - that was some time last year.
THOMAS BALLS. I am a smith and farrier. I went to get a pint of beer at the Robin Hood and Little John, in Hoxton with Reynolds - I saw Tomkins there; he stopped a few minutes, and went out with Reynolds - I do not know what day it was - I never paid any regard to it; I went to Tomkins' house, in Margaret-street, near the Gas Company's works, on Saturday week - I tapped him on the shoulder, and said this business must be settled on better terms between Reynolds and him; he said, "Reynolds! I do not know such a man;" I said,"Do not you know the young man to whom you proposed to do that job for you at the counting-house?" he said,"I don't know him;" I said, "You must know the young man you gave 3l. to, to say nothing about it" - he went in, and staid about ten minutes, when he came out and said, "I can't see the other parties to-day;" I said, "It must be settled to-day between one and two o'clock, there is 50l. reward, and you must do the best you can, or things will go forward in the job" - he said,"Will you have any thing to drink?" I said, "I do not mind," and we went into a public-house, I believe the Antelope - I said I did not like gin, and we had a quartern of rum; we came out, and he said, "I will meet you to-morrow at the Robin Hood and Little John, between four and five o'clock" - I said that would do, but I did not go.
IRHB has silently regularized the use of spaces before punctuation marks in the quotation and corrected the HTML text at Proceedings of the Old Bailey from the PDF of the original printed edition.
- Not included in Sussex, Lucy, compil. 'References to Robin Hood up to 1600', in: Knight, Stephen. Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 262-88.
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- Robin Hood and Little John (Hoxton).