Whilst researching family history you can discover some amazing stories. Below are some examples of incredible facts that I’ve come across over the years. Names and places may have been changed for privacy. Vocabulary, grammar and spellings may vary, as information used is of the time.

Old Bailey Case of Stolen Shoes 1829

Offence: Theft – simple larceny
Verdict: Guilty; Not Guilty

Punishment: Transportation

Miss R and Miss J were indicted for stealing, on the 8th of August, 17 pairs of shoes, value 3l. 8s., the goods of Mr Thomas.

MR THOMAS: I keep a shoe warehouse in the Borough. On the 8th of August I received information, and missed eighteen or twenty pairs of shoes – I had known Miss R for two years; she used to bring a few pairs of shoes of her own manufacture to my shop, for sale two or three times a week.

MISS M: I live in Cock-alley, Norton Falgate, and know Miss R by her coming down that alley to see Miss J. On the 8th of August I was in Camberwell Road, and saw the two prisoners together, a good way from Mr. Thomas’ shop – they asked me where I was going; I said I was going home – Miss R said she was going to the shop to get some shoes to bind; Miss J and I waited – Miss R went to the shop and brought out six pairs of shoes, and gave them to us to mind, on the step of a door; she said she had to go back in half an hour – that was some distance from the shop; I did not see the shop – she then brought out some more, and put them altogether in her lap; and as we were coming over London-bridge, Miss R said, “Miss J, how you tremble, if there is anything amiss I will take it all on myself” – we went home and counted the shoes on the bed; there were seventeen pairs, which she said she had from Mr. Thomas’ to bind – they were bound, and I said they did not want binding; she said they did – we then went out with them, and she pawned some; she said she wanted 1l. 12s. to get a young man out of prison – she pawned one pair at Mr. Francis’, and one pair further on, and then we stopped at the corner of Old-street, and she said she pawned some, but I do not know how many – I pawned one pair at the corner of Long-alley, and gave the money to Miss J; I went to pawn another pair in Aldersgate-street, and there I was stopped.

Cross-examined by MR. LEE: Q. How long have you known Miss R? A. About two years – we were at a considerable distance from the shop; I did not see it – we watched her as far as we could see; as we were coming past the shop, she said that was Mr. Thomas’ – I thought it must be wrong when I saw the shoes were bound; it was the first time I had been with her – Miss R was at the door when I was taken; I did not partake of the produce – Miss R bought a penny pie, and gave us some of it; I met them casually on the road.

MR JOHNSON: I received information from Miss M’s father went to a house in Shepherd’s-court, and saw Miss R, and took her – Miss J was there on a bed; I took them to the watch-house, and told Miss R it was my duty to ask a few questions, and that what she said might come in evidence against her – she then said she had got six pairs from Mr. Thomas’; had given some of them to the witness, some to Miss J, and she had pawned some herself.

Cross-examined: Q. Where was Miss R? A. Behind a bedstead – she went into hysterics; I put her into a chair, and told her not to be frightened, nobody would hurt her – Mr Joseph was below stairs when I took her; she said she was pregnant.

MR JOSEPH: I went with Mr Johnson. I said to Miss J, “I suppose you know our business?” she said, “No, I don’t” – I said it was about some shoes; she then began crying, and said she knew, and that she had pawned one pair – Miss R had been denied by the woman of the house; but Miss J said she was concealed upstairs.

Cross-examined: Q. Did you go upstairs where Miss R was? A. Yes – there was no violence used towards us.

MR GEORGE: I live in Aldersgate-street, and am a pawnbroker. Miss M came in and asked 4s. on a pair of shoes – she said they belonged to her father, who was a shoemaker; I asked if he made them – she said Yes; I knew that to be false, as I knew they were Northampton shoes, and I gave her into custody.

MR JOHN: I received Miss M in charge with this pair of shoes.

MR FRANCIS: I am a pawnbroker. I took in these shoes on the 8th of August, but I do not know of whom.

MR RICHARD: I am a pawnbroker. I have three pairs of shoes, all pawned by Miss R, at different times – the last two pairs on the 8th of August; I questioned her, and she said they belonged to her father – I examined them, found Mr. Thomas’ name, and gave information.

Cross-examined: Q. How often have you seen Miss R. A. About four times – they were pawned in the name of Miss R and Miss S, and different addresses, which raised my suspicion; I found the label on a pair which had been pawned on the 27th of June, which I examined when she left the last pair.

MR MATTHEW: I am a pawnbroker, and live in Holywell-lane. I have some shoes pawned by Miss R, on the 8th of August, in the name of Miss T.

Cross-examined: Q. You knew her name was Miss R? A. Yes – when she gave me the name of Miss T, I asked if that was her name; she intimated she was married, and her husband was a shoemaker – I took in two pairs.

MR HENRY: I am a pawnbroker. I took in these shoes of Miss M on the 8th of August, between ten and eleven o’clock, in the name of Miss D.

THOMAS. This pair of shoes were given up to me at Guildhall; these I have brought to match – this pair have my own writing in them.

MISS R – GUILTY.  Aged 18.      Transported for Seven Years.


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