The Newgate Calendar - THOMAS LYELL AND LAWRENCE SYDNEY

THOMAS LYELL AND LAWRENCE SYDNEY

Swindlers, who cheated with Loaded Dice and were pilloried for Fraud, 2nd of June, 1742

IN April, 1740, these pests to society were committed to Newgate, charged on the oaths of several gentlemen of distinction, with cheating and defrauding them with false and loaded dice at the masquerade, on Thursday morning, about three o'clock, to the amount of four hundred pounds.

It also appeared, on their examination, which lasted from six o'clock in the morning till three in the afternoon, that they had cheated a number of other gentlemen of upward of four thousand pounds more. Nine pairs of dice were found upon the sharpers, and on being cut asunder they were all, except one, loaded --that is, to introduce a piece of lead in a direction into the die which, when thrown, will generally turn a number suited to the owner's game.

They were brought to the bar of the Old Bailey for these infamous practices, and after a long trial, in which such scenes of iniquity were discovered to have been committed by sharpers of this description as astonished the Court and jury, Lyell and Sydney were found guilty, and sentenced to be imprisoned one year, and during that time to be pilloried.

On the 12th of June, 1742, above two years after, Thomas Lyell and Lawrence Sydney, the principals of the gang, were brought out of Newgate and carried to the Haymarket, where a pillory had been erected to receive them, facing the Opera House -- the scene of their depredation -- amid the scoffs and taunts of an enraged populace.

The following evidence given in the Court of King's Bench, the 29th of November, 1796, will discover some of the tricks of this description of swindlers.

A cause came on before Lord Chief Justice Kenyon, on the statute against gaming, and one John Shepherd being called as a witness for the injured party, he swore that he saw hazard played at the gaming-house of the defendant in Leicester Street. Every person who was three times successful, paid the defendant a silver medal, which he purchased from him, on entering the house, at eight for a guinea, and he received six or seven of these in the course of an hour for the Box Hands, as it was called. The people who frequented this house always played for a considerable sum. Sometimes twenty or thirty pounds depended on a single throw of the dice. The witness remembered being once at the defendant's gaming-house, about three or four o'clock in the morning, when a gentleman came in very much in liquor. He seemed to have a great deal of money about him. The defendant said he had not intended to play, but now he would set to with this fellow. He then scraped a little wax with his finger off one of the candles, and put the dice together, so that they came seven every way. After doing this, he dropped them into the box and threw them out, and afterwards drew all the money away, saying he had won it. Seven was the main and he could not throw anything but seven. The young gentleman said he had not given him time to bar. A dispute arose between the defendant and him; it was referred to two or three persons round the table, and they gave it in favour of the defendant. The gentleman said be had lost upward of seventy pounds. The defendant said: "We have cleared him." The witness had seen a man pawn his watch and ring, in several instances, and once he saw a man pawn his coat and go away without it.

After the gaming-table was broken by the Bow Street officers, the defendant said it was too good a thing to be given up, and instantly got another table, large enough for twenty or thirty people. The frequenters of this house used to play till daylight, and on one or two occasions they played all the next day. This is what the defendant called "sticking to it rarely." The guests were furnished with wine and suppers gratis, from the funds of the partnership, in abundance. Sunday was a grand day. The witness had seen more than forty people there at a time. The table not being sufficient for the whole, half-a-crown used on such occasions to be given for a seat, and those behind looked over the backs of the others and betted.

The person above mentioned (whose name was Smith) who pawned his coat corroborated the above evidence; and added that he had seen a person, after he had lost all his money, throw off his coat, and go away, losing it also.

 

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