…. Not the Elizabeth Bennet I know! Good Lord.
- Detail from ‘Arrest of a Woman at Night by Thomas Rowlandson (1800)
“Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 13th January 1796.
ELIZABETH BENNET was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 23d of October , three linen shirts, value 20s. a china plate, value 2s. and a brass skimmer, value 12d. the property of Nicholas Roberts .
NICHOLAS ROBERTS sworn.
I live in the Curtain-road : On the 20th of December last, I missed a pair of nankeen breeches, from off my drewers; the prisoner, I understand, came to assist my servant; upon missing this, it led me to a suspicion; and I examined my linen, and missed three shirts; the numbers of that class of shirts, if I may so say, ran from one to nine; I found all the intermediate numbers, except 1, 3, and 9, which were missing; search was made in the house, but to no purpose; they were not to be found; the servant had suspicion of this woman; she went out, and found her; some of the shirts were found at the pawnbrokers.
SARAH HARDY sworn.
I am servant to Mr. Roberts: the prisoner acted as charewoman in the house; I knew nothing of these things being gone, till my master missed the breeches; the next day my master missed some shirts; I went to the prisoner, and found her; she denied knowing any thing about it; I took her to the pawnbroker’s, and found one of the shirts; then she owned to it, and told us where she had sold the other two shirts.
JAMES BROOKS sworn.
I am servant to Mr. Francis, pawnbroker, Shoreditch, (produces a shirt); I took in this shirt of the prisoner, on the 23d of October.
John Stockman and Thomas Davies were called, but not appearing, their recognizances were ordered to be estreated.
Mr. Roberts. I am certain this is my shirt.
Prisoner’s defence. It was a case of necessity.(The Prosecutor and Jury recommended her to mercy, believing it to be her first offence).
Privately whipped and discharged.
Tried by the first Middlesex Jury, before Mr. COMMON SERGEANT.”
For the original trial record, see the Old Bailey Online.