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1785 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (3)

Record
Date 1785
Topic The Robin Hood and Robin Hood Yard, Leather Lane, Holborn, figure in a case about theft
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Site of the Robin Hood, Leather Lane, Holborn.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-06-18. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-10-18.

Record

[14 Dec. 1785:]
WILLIIAM HANCOCK sworn. What age are you? - About eighteen, I live in Mint-street, No. 14, with Mr. Millington; this woman brought me up when I was a child; my master is the son-in-law of this woman, he maried her daughter.

Who brought you here to-day? - Mr. Russel.

Who is Mr. Russel? - A coachman in Robinhood yard.

Who applied to you to come here? - He, himself.

What connection has he with the prosecutrix or the prisoner? - He came to me, and told me I was to come here and speak the truth.

Then take care you do? - I know nothing at all about it, she brought down a summons to me at night, on Tuesday night, which Lord Mayor's day was on Wednesday, and told me I must come to her house to breakfast on Wednesday.

What summons did she bring you? - A summons from Justice Blackborough.

Did you go? - Yes, I went, then we had a breakfast; then she sent me out for a quartern of gin, I drank a part of it with her, then she got ready to go away; and going down Saffron-hill we had part of another quartern; and when we had done there, we went to Turnmill-street, to Mr. Chambers, and there we had another quartern; and with that she told me I was to take this false oath, to say that I saw this young man take these clothes, in a sheet under his arm.

Upon your oath, did she tell you to say so? - Yes, your Worship, she did.

What else did she tell you to swear? - To swear that I saw him take them out of a white sheet, and take them up to the stable that was in the corner; she said to take that oath before the Justice, and that would commit him to gaol.

Did she bid you say nothing else? - No, she told me to stand to that.

Was that all? - Yes.

Recollect yourself again as well as you can, whether she told you any thing else? - No, she told me nothing else that I can remember, but I was very much in liquor when I came away from the Justice's; that I could hardly tell what I said, or did.

Who was present when this conversation passed? - Nobody, but herself, and me.

Where was Mr. Chambers? - He was not come into the room at that time.

How came she to pick you out for this particular business? - Because she thought I was one that she reared up, and she thought I would do, or swear any thing in the world for her; and she took it upon that circumstance, she thought I would swear any thing for her.

Had you been at her place the day that she lost her things, at all? - No, I had not.

Upon your oath you had not? - Upon my oath I had not.

You are sure of that? - I am certain sure of that.

Did you never tell her that you had, before this time? - No, Sir, never.

You never told her that you had been there, or had seen any thing about it? - No.

Upon your oath, young man? - Upon my oath.

Court. Is there any body here from Mr. Blackborough's?

(Mr. Blackborough's clerk was sent for.)

Hancock. I really ask the Court's pardon with all my heart for what I have done, and will never do the like again; but it was very wrong in her to take an apprentice, and one that hardly knows a letter in a book.

Mr. Silvester. If there is any doubt about the case, I will call two witnesses.

Court to Hancock. Did your master keep you at home? - He could not spare me.

Court. Is any body here from Mr. Blackborough's, this is a very black business on the one side or on the other, and I am determined to get to the bottom of it.

WILLIAM BRACHNEY sworn.

I belong to Mr. Blackborough's office, I cannot positively say whether I was at the office at the time of the examination; but I know something of the business: this lad came with the prosecutrix, I do not recollect any body else; he had got a good story when he did come, I believe it was the morning of Lord Mayor's day, I am not positive; I believe they were together before they went into the Justice's, and had been drinking at the public-house; the first I knew about the business, Mr. Isaacs and I had a warrant to apprehend the prisoner; we went to look for him the first time, and could not find him; then the man came, Isaacs took him, I was not by; he came before Mr. Blackborough, and they took his master's word to bring him the next day; then they got a summons for this lad, it was either the day that the prisoner came to Mr. Blackborough's, or the day before; when he came before Mr. Blackborough, he seemed to tell a very good story; but to the best of my opinion, I think, he was learned that story first; because, I thought the woman was a very bad woman; I heard no conversation between the woman and the boy, before they went into the Justice's, I was in the office when they came in; I cannot pretend to say particularly, whether any body particular stood by the boy; when the woman went in, the boy seemed to be sober, but she was rather in liquor, for she was full of jaw.

Then the boy was not so drunk, as not to know what he said, or did? - I do not believe he was so drunk.

Who took the examination? - His clerk.

What is his name? - Edward Lavender; I believe the boy went in after this examination, to have his examination taken, but I cannot be positive.

Mr. Silvester. Was Chambers there? - Yes, he was concerned in the business, he was concerned for this, he came with them, and was with them I believe before they came in.

Court. You do not think the boy was drunk? - I do not think he was, he did not seem drunk, I never saw him till he was brought in by Mr. Chambers and the woman, I never saw the woman before I went with her to serve a warrant on the prisoner, my reason for saying he was instructed is, I thought there was some people with them that might give them a little education, you know as well as I do, I do not like to mention people's names, but I thought so I assure you.

You thought this woman had got into bad hands in plain English? - I thought she had got into hands that would give her a good lesson; but this I am sure, the place where Hancock said he saw the man, it is impossible he should see the lock broke off, for it is in a hay loft, and you are obliged to look down, he said he had been in sleep in this hay loft or straw loft, but they are obliged to stand and look as if they were looking underneath this desk, it is a place so dark, in my opinion, that it is impossible to see the door without leaning over.

Could he, in the hay loft, see the door without leaning over? - He could not, I am sure of that, because I was in the hay loft, it is the same as standing at this bench and leaning over to look under it; at the time he was examined I think, to the best of my remembrance, it was said, that it was a thing impossible that a man could see the lock brok open with a knife or any thing of that kind.

Court. Step for Lavender: and in the mean time examine the prisoner's witnesses apart.

MARY WOLFE sworn.

I keep a public-house in Leather-lane, the Robinhood and Black-boy, I have known the prisoner these three years, he lives in the yard adjoining to the house, that is, he works in the yard, Mr. Beach keeps coaches in the yard; on Wednesday, the 2d of November, I very well remember the prisoner coming to my house about ten minutes before two, he was not out till five, the old-clothes woman came in at nine in the evening, and said she had been robbed, she said nothing to him about it, he was in the house at the time.[1]

Source notes

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.

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