1853 : Stephen Pluck on Trial for Housebreaking

Title: The Proceedings of the Old Bailey : Ref Number: t18531128-43
Date: 28 November 1853
Place: London

STEPHEN PLUCK and WILLIAM CHARLTON, breaking and entering the dwelling-house of George Hedge, stealing 1 watch, and other articles, value 1l. 15s., and 12l. 18d. 10d. in money; his property.

MR. SLEIGH conducted the Prosecution.

GEORGE HEDGE.   I am a general dealer, and reside at Edmonton; I rent the house. On Tuesday evening, 18th Oct., I had occasion to leave the house, between 7 and 8 o'clock, with Mrs. Hedge—I left no person in the house; I secured the outer doors—I returned between 11 and 12 o'clock the same evening; I went in at the front door—I found the outer washhouse door which I had left fast, open—it was broken open by forcing the bolts.

COURT. Q.   Was the wash-house door outside?

A.   Yes; at the back of the premises—I found the front door the same as I left it—there is an inner door between the wash-house and the other parts of the house, which leads into the kitchen, that was broken open—it was forced open from the bolt—the bolt was pushed away—I went up to the bedroom, and found the drawer the money had been in, broken open, and the money taken away—I had left 12l. 18d. 10d. in that drawer—there were two half sovereigns, and all the rest in silver—it was in a canvass bag—there was one sixpence with a hole in it, which I had had by me for two or three weeks.

MR. SLEIGH.  Q.   I believe there was a watch taken away from a cupboard?

A.   Yes, a silver watch, from a cupboard in the front room down stairs—in the drawer in which the money was there was a silk handker chief, which was missing; and from my-wife's workbox two eardrops had been abstracted, and two small pieces of silver, one of which had a hole in it—this is my silk handkerchief (produced); here is the "G. H." on it, marked with silk by my wife—this watch is mine, I had had it about nine months—it belonged to Mr. Pitkins, who is here; I had it to take care of—I know this sixpence with a hole in it—I am quite satisfied this is it; I had had it three weeks before—I know it by its being an oldish one—these eardrops are mine.

Cross-examined by MR. O'BRIEN.  Q.   Did any one live in the house with you except Mrs. Hedge?

A.   No; there are other houses in the same street adjoining mine, on both sides—there are gardens at the back—it was dark before I left—it was between 7 and 8 o'clock—I locked the front door, and I had bolted the back door myself about two minutes before we came out—I recollect bolting it—I saw those articles again on the 19th, about 12 o'clock—my house is only one story high—I know Pluck well; he lives about 100 yards from me, in the same row of houses—there is a beer shop at the top of the street—the nearest public house to my house is the Eagle.

COURT.  Q.   Do you know Charlton at all?

A.   Yes; he lives next door to Pluck—I know Pluck well—he was in the habit of coming to my house—he knew I was not without money; he had seen me with money in my pocket—I do not expect he had any means of knowing I had that money in the drawer.

SARAH FROST.   I am the wife of George Frost; we keep a beer shop at the top of Claremont-street, Edmonton. I know the Eagle public house—on Tuesday night, 18th Oct., about 8 o'clock, I saw Pluck and Charlton at the top of Claremont-street—I knew them previously quite well—I cannot tell how far they were from the prosecutor's house—his house is at the bottom of the street, and these men were at the top—it is rather a longish street, about a quarter of a mile—these men were in conversation—Charlton came up at the time I was standing there, just in front of my house—I left them in conversation—I did not stand there above two or three minutes—I went into my own house—Pluck stood with his back against our sign-post.

Cross-examined.  Q.   Do they both live in the same street?

A.   They; both lodge there, I believe—I believe Pluck's house is nearer to where I saw them than Hedge's is.

JAMES BOSHER.   I work in a brewery. On Tuesday evening, 18th Oct., I was at the Roebuck public house, which is about three quarters of a mile from Claremont-street, Edmonton—it was about 11 o'clock at night—I saw Pluck there—I had known him a little while—he had a bag with some money in it, but what there was I cannot say; it was a largeish bulk, and he had a handkerchief likewise—he pulled the bag out of his pocket; it was darkish, something like a sample bag—I think it was canvas, I could not say—it looked more like that—he had a handkerchief round his neck; he pulled it off and put it in his pocket—I should know the handkerchief again if I were to see it—this is it (looking at it)—he drew a watch from his waistcoat pocket, and he showed it to all that were in the room—he tried to open it, but could not for a little while, and he said he would throw it across the room—at last he opened it, and showed it to all round the room—when he first came in he saw me, and said, "Will you stand half a pint of beer?"—I said I had got no money, and after a little while he drew the bag from his pocket, and said, "Never mind, I have got plenty of money, let us have a pot"—this is the watch he had—I did not have it in my hand, but I looked at it the same as others—there was no key or guard to it—he said he had left the key and guard at home on the shelf.

Cross-examined.  Q.   He had a handkerchief round his neck?

A. Yes; this same handkerchief, that I can swear positively, without any doubt—I had not the curiosity to take it and examine it—I swear to it by the colours—I am not a particular good judge of colours—I took notice of it when he first came in—I had been in the beer shop about half an hour when he first came in—we had one pot of beer amongst four of us—I can positively swear to this handkerchief—I sat close to him—I saw him have it on his neck, and saw him take it off"—I did not describe it to any one before I saw it next—though I had not the watch in my hand, I can swear this is it—I sat close to him—he held it under the gas light for everybody to look at—I took such, a view of it that I can swear it is the same—I cannot tell how many were there—there were only four of our own party, one was Bail, one was Bass, one was Brown—Brown and Bass are at home at Tottenham—I do not know who served us at the public house, whether it was the landlord or the lady—the potboy always brings it in—the boy is not here, nor the landlord, nor the landlady—I think there were six or seven in the room when this watch was handed round—the bag was a dark canvas bag, I saw it had something in it: a large bulk—I cannot say whether it was leather, it was a dirty bag, like a sample bag, such as they carry samples of corn and seed in—it was something like this one—I did not look at the clock, when he came in—I know it was about 11 o'clock from the time we left our own place—we left just before them—Clark started first I know—Bail is here—he remained in the room with me till I left—we both went away at one time—we do not live one way—he and I were at work together that day—we work together now—we had only one pot of ale before Pluck came—I do not know how much more we had—we did not stop a great while—we had not above two pots between ourselves—Pluck called for one—somebody else came in with him—when I left, Pluck was gone—the party who came in with him left before him—it was two men who came in with him—I did not know either of them, they were strangers to me—I live at Tottenham; I work at the brewery which is near the Roebuck—one of the men who came in with Pluck had a smock frock on; I did not take much notice of the other—they did not remain long after they came in, perhaps a quarter of an hour—they did not sit down.

JOSEPH BAIL.   I am a carman, and live at Tottenham. On 18th Oct. I was at the Roebuck when the last witness was there—I saw Pluck; I knew him previously by sight—I did not know his name—we were there just before 11 o'clock—I know the time by the time we left work—after we were there, Pluck came in the parlour where we sat—there were four persons in our company before he came—there were no strangers—Pluck first asked Bosher if he could stand half a pint of beer—he said-no, he could not—Pluck then offered to toss for a pot, and after that he produced money in a bag, something similar to a sample bag—it was rather a dirtyish colour—I cannot say whether it was canvas or leather—it was not leather—I did not see him take any money out of it, but it appeared to have money in it—he took out a watch, and showed it round—it was in a silver case—I think this is the same watch—I did not have it in my hand—I was near to it—he handed it round in his hand—he showed a handkerchief—I believe this handkerchief before me to be the one—we did not stay long; we left Pluck there when we came away.

Cross-examined.  Q.   You say you and Bosher and two others went in together?

A.   Yes; there can be no doubt about that—I am sure that I and Bosher did not go in alone—we four went in—I live close by where I work—there was Bosher, and me and another one next door, and another one—we were all in the lane together when we met, 200 or 300 yards from the Roebuck—we found no one in the Roebuck when we went in—there was nobody in the parlour but us four when Pluck came in—he came into the parlour alone the first time—he went out, and was a very short time gone, and another one came in with him into the parlour.

Q.   Are you sure it was only one?

A.   When we came out there were two others—another came in, and looked in at the door—he did not come into the parlour, that I noticed—I do not know that he came in and partook of any of the beer—Pluck did not treat us with a pot of porter; if he did it was more than I knew of—he might have treated some of the other company—he offered to toss for a pot of beer; whether he stood any I do not know—I do not know whether he tossed any one or not—I do not know whether the other man did that he brought in—I have seen that man on the road; I do not know his name—I have not seen him since to my knowledge—he did not remain long—I can speak positively to the handkerchief—I saw it at the Roebuck, and I saw it at the Angel, where the Magistrates sat—I cannot say how many days that was after I saw it at the Roebuck—I was fetched, but what day it was I do not know—I think it was about 28th Oct.—it was in Oct., I know—I do not remember the day—it might be a week after I was at the Roebuck—it was on a Thursday; I was at the Angel—it was the Thursday week after I was at the Roebuck—that was the first time I had seen the handkerchief, except at the Roebuck—I saw sufficient of it at the Roebuck; there was plenty of time to see it—when I saw it at the Angel, I knew it as soon as I looked at it—I did not take it in my hand and examine it—I felt it—it was by feeling I knew it—I felt it at the Roebuck—I knew it because I saw the mark on it—Pluck did not show me the mark, but it happened to be where I touched it—I saw the mark at the Roebuck—I believe it to be a mark—this is the mark, here are the letters "G. H."—I swear I saw "G. H." at the Roebuck—I did not point out the letter when I was at the Magistrate's; I was not asked—I did not hear all Mr. Hedge's examination; I was not there quite so soon—I was there when I identified the handkerchief—I was not there when he pointed out the marks—I told Mr. Hedge I saw the letters on the handkerchief—I told him so that afternoon, after we had been first to the hearing—I had mentioned it before I appeared before the Magistrate—I had mentioned it to those who spoke about it—I had mentioned it to Mr. Hedge and Mrs. Hedge—I cannot tell how many days that was before I went before the Magistrate—it was after I had the summons—I was not in the Roebuck above an hour—I walked to the Magistrate's with Bosher; we were both fetched together from our work—I heard of the robbery the following morning—some one came and told Bosher—I knew Hedge; he belonged to the same society that I did—I do not know whether Bosher knew Hedge—I heard of the robbery the next morning; some time before dinner—I saw Hedge three or four days before we went to the Angel—I did not go to Hedge's house after seeing "G. H." on the handkerchief—I do not know where he lives, to the present time—I know where the street is—I could find out the place of the robbery if I went to look; but I had plenty to do without going—I did not go to Mr. Hedge at all, I met him—I did not notice that any money was produced out of the sample bag in the Roebuck—he opened the bag, and nestled it up—I could see it was silver—by what I could see it looked very much like a sample bag—I do not say that I will swear to this watch without any doubt—I thought it was the same—it looks very much like it—I believe it to be the same; I had not it in my hand at all—when the money was shown in the room there were only us four and Pluck—there was one came in directly afterwards—the baker and Brown are at Tottenham.

MR. SLEIGH.  Q.   How was it you saw silver in the bag?

A.   He opened it, and put it up a little; I did not see it in his hand, but I saw it—all that I saw was silver—I went away from the Roebuck with Brown, Bosher, and the baker, Bass—while I and the others were there one or two came in, and went out again.

THOMAS HACK (policeman, N 411).   In consequence of information, I apprehended Pluck on the morning after the robbery, in the tap room of the Bell, at Edmonton, about a couple of hundred yards from Claremont-street. I took him to the station, and I then went to the house where he lodged, in Claremont-street—before I left him, I said I was going to search him, and he pulled out what property he had in his pocket, and said it was his own—he pulled out a knife, 1l. worth of silver, and 6d. worth of copper—I then went to his lodging, in Claremont-street—his mother and sister live there—it is his mother's house—I searched, and found a 4d. piece and a 1 1/2 d. bit, I believe, or a 3d., or something of that sort—the big piece has got a hole in it—I think it is a 1d piece; no, it is a 3d. piece (looking at it)—in the bed room I found these two pieces of money and these ear drops, in a flower pot on the table—there was a flower pot there, and flowers, and dirt—they were deep in the dirt—these are the tear drops—I did not find anything else in that room—I found this watch and 11l. 18d. 10d. in money, buried in the lower part of the garden at the back of the house, five or six inches in the earth—the ground appeared as if recently disturbed—it was about ten yards from the house—this is the money (produced)—another officer, Maskall, was with me—I believe he scraped the dirt off, himself—this handkerchief was found in the garden—the money and the watch were in the handkerchief—I did not find anything else in the bed room when I found the silver pieces.

Cross-examined.  Q.   What part of the house was this bed room in?

A.   The back room on the ground floor as you go in—I did not search the top bed room—the mother was ill—it is a small house—there are three or four rooms—there is a front and a back room on a floor—I have seen Pluck go in that house—I have been a policeman there, very nearly three years—this house is in a row of houses of the same size and character—the gardens run all along—it would be rather difficult to get from one garden to another—they are paled off—I should say the palings are three feet high—they are spiked—I should not like to step over them—on the other side of the garden is a wall I believe nearly seven or eight feet high—no man can see over it—I went there about 8 o'clock in the morning—I was there about half an hour before I found the money—I apprehended Pluck about 8 o'clock—he handed me this bag out of his pocket, which had the money in it—when I went to search the house, I saw his sister, but no one else belonging to him—I believe the prosecutor was there.

COURT.  Q.  Did you see that the mother was sleeping in the bedroom up stairs?

A.   Yes, she was ill—I only know that from what the daughter told me—one of these pieces is a 3d. piece; the other is a half cent, or a half dime.

GEORGE HEDGE re-examined.   I had an American coin—I had a half dime—this is the piece—I may have had it two year, or longer—there was a 3d. piece with a hole in it—this is it—this, and the ear drops, and the half dime, were in my wife's work box.

SARAH HEDGE.   I can swear to this handkerchief—I marked it myself—I am positive of it—it is my mark—these ear drops are mine—I have the tops to correspond with them—both these silver coins are mine—they were in my work box—I saw them the same day, drops and all.

CHARLES MASKALL (policemen, N 70).   On the evening of this robbery I saw Charlton, about a quarter past. 6 o'clock, in Claremont-street—he was going towards Hedge's house—I was with a brother constable when he first saw Pluck, but I left to go after Charlton—I was with Hack at Pluck's lodging—I assisted him in making the search in the bedroom—I believe Pluck's mother rents the house—I found 11l. 18d. 10d. and this watch, buried in the garden, in a silk handkerchief, about 20 yards from the house—I saw Hack find in the bedroom two ear drops and two pieces of coin, in a flower pot, buried in the soil—I examined the rear of Hedge's house, near the washhouse door—it was not paved, it was gravel, but about 100 yards from the house we could trace where footsteps had been—we traced them over the wall into a field at the rear of the house—I took off Charlton's shoes, and compared them with the footmarks.

Cross-examined.  Q.   It was 100 yards off?

A.   Yes—I saw Charlton on the evening in question, about half way up Claremont-street—he lives rather better than half way up the street—he was about fifteen yards from his own house, and was going towards it—I did not take Pluck's shoes off Hack did—I did not go with him.

COURT to THOMAS HACK.  Q.   Was any comparison made of Pluck's shoes?

A.   Yes—the size of some footmarks near the house were exactly like Pluck's shoes in size—I looked at the footmark, and looked at the shoe—I did not make a mark in the ground with the shoe.

Cross-examined.  Q.   You took the shoe, and looked at the mark?

A.   Yes—I have an accurate eye—the mark in the soil was equal in size to the shoe, and looked the same—I did this on the morning of the 19th.

COURT.  Q.   Do you know where Charlton lives?

A.   Yes, next door to the prosecutor's.

JAMES HARRISON (police sergeant, N 32).   When Pluck was in custody, this knife was found in his possession—I went to Hedge's house, and examined a drawer in his bedroom—there was evidence of its being forced open—I compared this knife with the mark on the drawer—it had been put in, and prized open—I placed the knife on the mark—I have the drawer here—the knife corresponds with the mark on the drawer—the lock has been pushed inside the drawer; it is not broken.

Cross-examined.  Q.   Was the drawer out when you made the comparison?

A.   Yes, as it is now, I put the knife on it.

JURY.  Q.   Is there any corresponding mark on the chest of drawers?

A.   Yes, but I could not bring that.

JAMES PITKIN.   This watch is my property—I left it with Mr. Hedge, to take care of it.

MR. SLEIGH to THOMAS HEDGE. Q.   Is this bag your property?

A.   No, the bag in which my money was of a lighter colour than this, and cleaner.

PLUCK— GUILTY. Aged 32.— Four Years Penal Servitude.


Stephen Pluck is PL3476 and can be found in Twig 14.  According to the 1851 census he was born in Woodford about 1821, and his occupation was 'day labourer'. His mother was a widow.   He had three sisters and a younger brother living in their house in Claremont Street, Edmonton.


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