IT is with some concern that we come to a case like this, because we find our national character as a warlike nation sullied in the soldier, who, after behaving with bravery in the field, fighting his country's battles abroad, debases himself in the commission of a petty theft a home.
Charles Lloyd was tried for breaking into the house of William Usher, and stealing therein a silk cloak, his property. It appeared from the evidence, that the prisoner, a handsome well-dressed young man, was a private in the Guards, who had received permission from his Colonel to act as Drill Serjeant to the St. Sepulchre's Volunteers, in which he was also Serjeant-Major. Esther Usher, the wife of the prosecutor, stated, that she lived in Crown-court, Finsbury-square, London, where her husband rented part of a house, none of which was possessed by the landlord. The apartments the prosecutor occupied were therefore described in the indictment as constituting his dwelling-house. Between twelve and one o'clock in the morning, as Esther Usher was sitting in her parlour, she heard a noise like the creaking of a door, which induced her to go upstairs to see what was the matter. She met the prisoner coming downstairs, who said to her "Good morning, madam." She never had seen him before; but being addressed by him in this manner she took particular notice of his countenance. There were other persons living in the house besides her family. On proceeding farther upstairs, she found the door of the room open, which she understood from her daughter, a child of eight years old, had been locked up by her in the morning. The child, however, was not in Court. When the witness observed the door open, she suspected the prisoner had robbed her, and ran out into the street after him, calling "Stop thief." The prisoner, on his part, ran as fast as he could, and kept waving his hat, and calling out, "No Mainwaring, Burdett for ever." She soon lost sight of him, but the pursuit was continued by other persons. On going back to her house, she missed her silk cloak out of the room in question. The prisoner ran along several neighbouring streets and alleys, and at last entered the house of a hair-dresser; but the witness who kept close to him in the pursuit, was not certain whether he went into the yard or parlour of that house.
Sarah Locker, the wife of the hair-dresser, stated, that the prisoner came into her house, and asked whether he could have a tete for his sister of the colour of his hair. He shut the door behind him when he came into the shop, and begged of the witness to give him a chair, as he was very much fatigued. After some conversation (which it is not necessary to detail,) the witness wished to open the door; but the prisoner stopped her, and said, "Don't open it yet, good woman." At this time the man, who had followed close behind the prisoner, was looking about for him in the yard, and the witness could observe through the window that a crowd was collecting about the door. She also observed that the prisoner had a bundle in his hand, which he put into his breeches. He then went out, and was seized, and charged with the robbery. He said to the people who seized him, that he was not the man they wanted; he was a person of consequence; and he wondered how they could suspect him of such a thing. He was a Serjeant Major of the St. Sepulchre's Volunteers.
He was, however, taken into custody; and when searched, a bundle, containing eleven keys, was found concealed within his breeches. The prisoner called several witnesses, who gave him a very good character. A serjeant of the Guards joined in this character, and added, that he had always behaved like a brave soldier in the field of battle. The Serjeant also observed, that it was possible the prisoner might have in his possession a number of keys, in consequence of stores belonging to the Volunteer Corps being under his care.
The jury found the prisoner guilty of the single felony of stealing, acquitting him, agreeably to the direction of the judge, of the capital part of the charge, as there was no direct evidence of the room door having been broke open. They also recommended him to the mercy of the Court.
The prisoner was so agitated at the commencement of the trial, that he could not stand at the bar, and he was allowed a chair, in which he fainted the moment he sat down.