This man's crimes were marked with singular ingratitude. He had been capitally condemned, and received a pardon on condition of working for the public on the river Thames, for a limited time. In consequence of a favourable report having been made of his good behaviour and apparent contrition for his past crimes, he was soon released on a general pardon.
No sooner had this most ungrateful wretch regained his liberty, than he commenced a still worse course of life. For this purpose, having been himself brought up to a mechanical business, he took several boys as apprentices; but instead of instructing them in his branch, he taught them to way-lay other apprentices, and errand-boys, and to rob them of the goods with which they might have been entrusted. Out of this plunder he rewarded them.
Mr. Tookie, silversmith, deposed before Mr. John Fielding, that he had sent a parcel, in which was a quantity of gold manufacture and other valuable articles, to a customer in the Borough, by his errand-boy, a lad of thirteen years of age, and by the way he was met by Flint's apprentice, who, entering into conversation with him, gave him two-pence to do a pretended errand for him, promising to take care of his parcel until his return, and on the errand-boy's questioning him, he pulled out an handkerchief, and gave it to him as a security, which satisfying the boy, he parted with his parcel, and never saw it more. Other charges of a similar nature were made against Flint, and he, with his apprentices, were committed to prison. A man who lived in high style and kept a country house, supposed to have been the receiver of the stolen goods, gave bail for their appearance, but proof could not be adduced to convict them.
Such practices, however, could not long be carried on under the strict police then established in London; as we find that, at the sessions held at the Old Bailey in September, 1778, William Flint was indicted for stealing a silver watch, value 40s, the property of Aaron Coats, privily from the person of the said Aaron, on the 16th of August. Mr. Coats deposed, that being at a fire in Nicholas-lane, on the evening of the 16th of August, he staid about half an hour from motives of curiosity; and that on coming from the fire he felt for his watch in Lombard-street, and missed it: but he owned that he had not seen the prisoner at the fire. Mr. Coats advertised his watch for four days afterwards, and soon learnt that the prisoner was at Sir John Fielding's, charged with that and other offences: on which he went to Bow street where his watch was produced to him. William Adley, a pawnbroker in Cow-cross, deposed, that the prisoner brought the watch to him, to offer it in pledge; that he asked him two guineas, that he lent him a guinea and a half on it; and Flint took a duplicate of it in his own name. Moses Morant, one of Sir John Fielding's officers, deposed, that he went to apprehend Flint, two boys, and another person; that in Flint's parlour he found the duplicate of Mr. Coats's watch, an old seal which had belonged to it; and the watch being produced, was sworn to by the prosecutor. The prisoner, by way of defence, said that a person had given him the watch to pawn for him; but the jury gave no credit to this assertion, and found him "Guilty of stealing the watch, but not guilty of stealing it privily from the person." Flint was put to the bar at the close of the sessions, to receive his sentence, which was, "That he should work at ballast-heaving five years." He was a manufacturer in the silver branch, and lived in West-Smithfield. He had two apprentices whom he trained up to the art of thieving.