The Great Wooster Tree

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Jeremiah Challenger Wooster - Victim of Theft of Desks (1853)

Old Bailey Proceedings, 9th May 1853.

586. THOMAS ELDRIDGE, EDWARD PHILLIPS, WALTER LONDON , and THOMAS HURST , stealing 2 writing desks, and 1 box, value 31s.; the goods of Jeremiah Challenger Wooster, the master of Eldridge.

MR. COOPER conducted the Prosecution.

PATIENCE WOOSTER. I am the wife of Jeremiah Wooster, of Long-lane, West Smithfield, a cabinet manufacturer. Eldridge came into the employment some time in Feb., as a French polisher; he was with us about two months—I missed some desks, and a great number of things, which I have seen since.

CLARA TYLER . I was servant to Mr. Wooster. On 13th April, about 5 minutes to 2 o'clock, I saw Phillips and London come out of the front door of the shop; they each had desks in their hands; one went Barbican way, and the other Smithfield way—I then went up stairs to work, and saw Eldridge in the work room—that was all I saw

Cross-examined by MR. O'BRIEN. Q. Where were you? A. Coming out of the side door, which leads into the house—I had never seen them before; I next saw them in the dock at the police office next day—the forewoman generally serves in the shop; she is not here—there are six workpeople in Mr. Wooster's employ, and about six people in the shop—they go to dinner at 1 o'clock—they were at dinner at this time; they remain an hour at dinner—only the apprentices and the forewoman have their dinner on the premises—the apprentices have their dinner up stairs.

MR. COOPER. Q. Was anybody in the shop at this time? A. Not that I know of; the people who generally attend to the shop were up stairs; but I did not go into the shop at that time.

Prisoner London. Q. What day of the month was it? A. I cannot swear to the day, but it was on a Wednesday in April—I am quite sure of you.

JOHN FANCETT (City policeman, 212). On 14th April, about 9 o'clock, I went into a beer shop in St. John's-row, from information I had received, and found Phillips, London, and Hurst; I took them to the station—my brother officer searched them in my presence, and found 30s. on Phillips—I went to Phillips's lodging in Nelson-passage, Nelson-street, St. Luke's, and found this small box (produced), and a pawn ticket.

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q. You searched the lodging of the other prisoners, and found nothing? A. Yes

Cross-examined by MR. O'BRIEN. Q. How did you find Phillips's lodging? A I had heard that he lived there; he did not tell me, nor did anybody in his presence—I had never been there before—I saw a woman there, who said she was Phillips's mother.

GEORGE FREDERICK LEONARD MULLINEAUX (City policeman, 293). I took Phillips on 14th April, at a beer shop at the corner of Orchard-street, London and Hurst were with him—I told him I was a policeman; that whatever he said to me might be used in evidence against him; and that if he wished to say anything about the robbery, he could say what he thought proper—he said, "Well, I will tell you the truth; I have had two desks, and London has had two; I do not know how many Hurst had, and do not know what he did with them"—the other prisoners could hear what he said, and they told him to hold his tongue; and said that if it had not been for Eldridge, they should have known nothing at all about it; that he put them up to it—I searched Phillips, and found on him 30s. and 3/4

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q., You only found a door key on Hurst? A. That is all.

Cross-examined by MR. O'BRIEN. Q. There was another policeman with you? A. Two more; one of them (Moss) remained while I was searching—he is not here, he heard what occurred—he was at Guildhall, but was not examined—I made no memorandum of the conversation—I did not see Mr. Wooster's servant girl till after the first examination before the Magistrate—she was there at the second examination, which was about a week afterwards—I did not bring her to the police office, I believe Mr. Wooster brought her—she did come to the station on the night we apprehended the prisoners-two desks were not seen on the 14th by the servant gill; it was one of the work girls, Clara Tyler.

JOHN MOSS . I am a pawnbroker, of Goswell-street. I produce a desk pawned by Phillips, on 13th April; I am quite sure of him.

Cross-examined by MR. O'BRIEN. Q. Had you known Phillips before? A. No; I did not take in the pledge, but I was by when it was taken in by my uncle—I had never seen Phillips before, I am sure he is the person—I saw him again at Guildhall, in custody, about a fortnight ago—I noticed him when he came, because he could not put in the piece of wood which covers the secret drawers—this ticket (produced) contains the name be gave, and states that it was pledged for Thomas Hurst.

CHARLES TALBOT . I am shopman to Mr. Smith, a pawnbroker, of Pit ville-street, City-road. I produce a desk, pawned on 13th April by London.

PATIENCE WOOSTER re-examined. Those desks, and this little box are all my husband's; they are new, and have never been sold I am quite sure—I know nothing of London and Phillips, they had no right on the premises—I generally serve in the shop.

Cross-examined by MR. O'BRIEN. Q. Is there any mark on that small box? A. I can swear to it, because it was looked out by a gentleman named Harvey, in Duke-street; I forgot to send it, and it remained on the counter—I can swear to it by the escutcheon, the escutcheons of all the others on the premises were different—there are several workmen—every box made on the establishment generally passes through my hands—there is no mark on this desk to show that it was not sold; we sell a considerable number of this pattern and kind—the forewoman sells also, but no one else—my husband it not in the shop, the forewoman has been there eighteen years; she is not here.

MR. COOPER. Q. Are you quite certain they were not sold? A. Quite.



Confined Twelve Months.


587. THOMAS ELDRIDGE and THOMAS HURST were again indicted for stealing, on 13th April, 3 writing desks, value 2l.; the goods of Jeremiah Challenger Wooster, the master of Eldridge. 2nd COUNT, charging Hurst with feloniously receiving the same.

MR. COOPER conducted the Prosecution.

GEORGE FREDERICK KIBBLE . I am assistant to Mr. Priest, a pawn-broker, of Wilderness-row. On 13th April, Hurst pawned this writing desk (produced) at my master's shop—I am sure he is the man.

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q. Did you know him before? A. No; he was about five minutes in the shop; we sometimes take in 300 pledges in a day—I do not know who pledged immediately before or immediately after.

WILLIAM MILLER . I am assistant to Mr. Peachy, a pawnbroker, of No. 38, Goswell-street. In April last Hurst pawned a writing desk with me for 5s.

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q. How many pledges do you take in in the course of the day? A. About 400—desks are not often pledged.

JOSEPH RUSSELL . I know Hurst, I bought two tickets of him for 6d. each, in March or April; I am almost certain it was in April, I sold them to Whiteside.

JANE WHITESIDE . I am the wife of John Whiteside, a porter. I bought some pawn tickets of Russell, about a week after Good Friday, one for a young man, and one for myself; I burned the one I had, it was for a writing desk—I had the desk fetched out for the young man by Mrs. Russell.

FRANCES RUSSELL . My husband sold a ticket to the last witness, and I got a writing desk out of pawn at Mr. Smith's in Bath-street—it was some-thing like this one (pointing to one produced)—I gave it to a young man who came for it.

WILLIAM BENNETT . I am a porter. I bought a desk of John Whiteside—I believe this one is it (looking at one)—I took it home for my own use, but afterwards gave it up to the officer.

JAMES FREDERICK LEONARD MULLINEAUX (City policeman, 293). I produce this desk which I had from Bennett, and this other I got from Mrs. Whiteside.

PATIENCE WOOSTER . These desks are all my husband's property—they all stood together; three or four of them are gone—none of them have been sold—two were taken in the beginning of April, and four on 13th April.

SARAH CAMERON . I am forewoman to Mr. Wooster, I recollect packing these desks, and know them by the wood; they are Mr. Wooster's—I have never sold any of these—I know this one by the plate on it.

Cross-examined by MR. PAYNE. Q. When can you say you saw them last? A. They have been taken from so many different piles that we cannot say; we did not miss them until the two men were seen going out at the door.


HURST— GUILTY on 2nd Count. Aged 19.— Confined Twelve Months.

588. THOMAS ELDRIDGE, EDWARD PHILLIPS , and WALTER LONDON , were again indicted for stealing 4 writing desks, value 2l. 10s.; the goods of Jeremiah Challenger Wooster, the master of Eldridge.

MR. COOPER offered no evidence against


MARGARET COLLINS . I am house servant, in the employ of Mr. Wooster. On 8th March, Eldridge came to his work about a quarter to 8 o'clock in the morning, and asked me where my mistress was; I said, "In her bedroom"—he said, "I want to go for a walk round Smithfield"—he went away, and a few minutes afterwards I heard the counting house door go which leads into the warehouse—I looked over the banisters, and saw Eldridge coming out of the counting house, with something under his coat which appeared to be a writing desk; he walked out at the street door with it—he came back without it, and I said, "What have you been doing?"—he said, "Nothing particular"—I said nothing about it at the time, but afterwards mentioned the circumstance.

PATIENCE WOOSTER . Eldridge was in our service in March—I missed a great many desks—I never gave him leave to take a desk out; he had no right to do so—it was no part of his duty to take desks home which were sold, and we sent none home—it would be wrong for him to do it—he was a polisher—we always send them home by a young man in our employ.

ELDRIDGE— GUILTY .* Aged 18.— Confined Eighteen Months.

Owner/SourceOld Bailey Proceedings
Date9 May 1853
Linked toPatience Smith; Jeremiah Challenger Wooster

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