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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R. v. Watkins [1791] NSWKR 2; [1791] NSWSupC 2

stealing, clothing - Crown mercy

Court of Criminal Judicature

Collins J.A., 27¿ July 1791

Source: Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Minutes of Proceedings, State Records N.S.W., 1147A - 233[1]

[233] William Watkins was charged with having, on Monday the nineteenth day of June in the thirty first year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third now King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith ¿ about the hour of seven into the night of the same day, with force and arms, at Sydney, in the County of Cumberland, the dwelling house of Thomas Howell there situated feloniously and burglariously did break and enter, of one bag, of the value of six shillings, two pairs of nankeen trousers of the value of five shillings, one nankeen waistcoat of the value of two shillings and sixpence, two pair of new shoes of the value of five shillings, one new waistcoat of the value of two shillings, one cheque shirt and trousers, and white waistcoat of the value of five shillings, and eight pounds of flour of the value of nine shillings, of the goods and chattels of the said John Howell, in the same dwelling house then and there feloniously and burglariously did steal take and carry away, against the peace of our said Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity. The prisoner on his arraignment, pleaded not guilty.

            Thomas Howell being sworn deposed that on the day his house was broken open, he was absent from it from about 12 at noon until about 11 at night. When he went out he secured his house by locking the door on leaving the property that he lost, within. On his return at night, he found his door forced off the hinges and thrown across the house. He immediately looked for his chest, but could not find it. [234] The next morning he found his chest about an hundred yards from his garden, broken open and every thing out. He found nothing of his property till this morning when hearing that the prisoner had offered some of his things for sale he told the principal of the watch, who sent for the prisoner to the watch house. A pair of trousers and waistcoat and a shirt produced and deposed to by the witness to be his property.

            William Cartwright being sworn deposed that last Friday night the prisoner asked him if he would buy a shirt, a pair of trousers, and a waistcoat for sale. By his describing this to him, he told him they were stolen property, and belonged to Thomas Howell, and that he should tell him of it; to which the prisoner did not say he should not, but said he had found them. He accordingly told him.

Isabella Rowe being sworn deposed that she lives a few yards distant from Howell's hut, who told her to have an eye to the house which she and her husband promised. Just before dark, they looked at the house, and it was not then broken. Between eight and nine their dog barked, but her husband, who got up, did not see anyone. She did not see the prisoner near the house that day.

Henry Cable (watchman) being sworn deposed that this morning he was ordered by his principal to take up the prisoner and search him, and [235] then on taking him and searching his house, he could not find any thing belonging to Howell. On asking him where were the articles he offered for sale to Cartwright, he denied having offered any, but after taking him to Cartwright, he went to Bloodsworth's house, and there desired a man of the name of Jacobs, to give him his bag, which he did, and in it was the property already produced.

The prisoner in his defence vows that on Friday last going up with Jacobs into the woods to get wood, he found the property laying at the foot of a hollow tree. He took them for some animal, and brought them away.

            John Jacobs being sworn deposed that last Friday morning being sent with the prisoner by Bloodsworth to get some wood, as they went along, the prisoner kicked something with his foot, which on picking up was a bag, with the property already produced, and were taken by the prisoner to Bloodsworth's house, and told him at the same time that he supposed they were stolen, and would be of no use to him.

            Not guilty.

David Collins

Judge Advocate.

[236] New South Wales

Criminal Court

19th July 1791

No. 1


[1] We would like to thank Trish Moon and Leonie Simon for the¿ transcription of this document.


Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University