A Young but Artful Thief, transported for stealing privately from a Shop in London, October, 1809
THIS offender was not eighteen, and small for his age. He was convicted at the Old Bailey, October sessions, 1809, of privately stealing, in the shop of Mr Wilson, a jeweller, in Houndsditch, a gold brooch set with pearls, a gold ring, set in like manner, and some other articles of jewellery.
Mr Wilson stated that the prisoner came to his shop on Friday evening and desired to see some fancy articles. He selected a number, to the value of fourteen pounds, but contrived to steal several articles, which were immediately missed; and the prosecutor, on searching the prisoner, found the articles, but not one penny of money about him. He immediately sent for a constable and gave him in charge; and it was alleged by some persons that the constable, by direction of the prosecutor, had carried the prisoner on board the tender. The prosecutor expressed a wish not to prosecute the unfortunate youth, in mere tenderness to the feelings of his father, who was an honest, industrious man; he rather wished him to be sent to serve his country, but denied having given any directions to send him to the tender.
The constable denied that he had taken him there. Alderman Newnham deprecated the idea of sending such a person to disgrace his Majesty's service, as the only service for which such persons were adapted was Botany Bay. He was tried at the last Old Bailey sessions for a similar offence, and as he now seemed quite incorrigible, no course remained but to send him out of the country.
[Note: It had long been a practice to send notorious felons and persons guilty of picking pockets from police offices to serve in the navy. This was not only unlawful, but our brave and honest seamen were disgraced by being compelled to associate with such characters. Commanders of ships were also under the necessity of imposing severe discipline to prevent the depredations of those unprincipled miscreants whenever they formed a part of their crew, and the good men in general suffered privations for the conduct of the bad. Thus the service, honourable in itself, was brought into contempt in the opinion of seamen belonging to the merchants. Five delinquents guilty of felony, but suffered to escape by the humanity of their prosecutors on condition of serving the King, were once sent, by order of the sitting alderman, on board the tender. After the constables had conveyed them on board the officer immediately ordered them to be taken back, observing: "We don't want thieves here."]