Pierce Collet -  Life in London....Two Swan Yard


Pierce and Mary lived in No 7  Two Swan Yard  off  Bishop-gate Street when he was apprehended for stolen property.

Constable Thomas Sapwell was onto Collett.  He had been staking him out by concealing himself in a stable since 4am opposite Collets' house.at Two Swan Yard and along came  William Chetley with a parcel of stolen fabric.  He was apprehended on Sunday morning; the 29th of June, about six o'clock in the morning.  Sapwell locked Chetley back in the stable and confronted Edward Baldwin with another parcel of stolen cloth. Once he had Edward and William  in custody he then searched Colletts house, where he found stolen fabric. He also found that  Elizabeth Day who lodged at 17 Old Bethlem Court  near Colletts house, that she also was harbouring stolen fabric.



theft: simple grand larceny, theft : receiving stolen goods, 9th July, 1800.


The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t18000709-94   Trial Summary:


 * Crime(s): theft: simple grand larceny, theft: receiving stolen goods,

 * Punishment Type: transportation, transportation,

  Verdict: Guilty,

 Original Text:


570. EDWARD BALDWIN, and PEARCE COLLETT, were indicted, the first, for feloniously stealing, on

 the 29th of June, twelve yards of mode, value 2l. Twelve yards of muslin, value 1l. Eighteen yards of

 lace, value 2l. And two pieces of handkerchiefs, each containing seven handkerchiefs, value 3l. The

 property of John Read, Robert Read, and James Read; and the other, for receiving the same knowing

 them to have been stolen. (The case was opened by Mr. Knapp.)


 THOMAS SAPWELL sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knapp. On the 29th of June, on the Sunday morning, I

 took the prisoners into custody, about six o'clock; I went to the prisoner Collett's house, No. 7, Two Swan

 Yard, Bishops gate-street, and on a copper, close by where the prisoner stood, I found this piece of

 cambric muslin; I asked him where he bought those things; and he said, d-n me, I would buy any thing;

I then took Collett to the Compter; I then returned, and searched the house; in his box I found a piece of black silk mode;

 I also found a piece of lace, while I was searching the house; I took the key out of  Collett's pocket with which I unlocked the box;

 I then went to a house, No. 17, Old Bethlem-court, where  there lived one Elizabeth Day;

I took her into custody, and took her to Collett's house; I searched her, and  found two pieces of silk handkerchief

in her right-hand pocket; I apprehended Baldwin at the prosecutor's  house.

 Q. Before he had told you any thing, did you make him any promises, or use any threats?

A.I told him I would do what I could, with his master, if he would confess what he knew.


Examined by Mr. Knpp. I  accused the prisoner, Baldwin, of having robbed us of a

piece of mode, a piece of cambric muslin, and  eighteen yards, or a piece, of lace; he denied it; I

mentioned the articles over again; he said they were at Sapwell's, the constable's house; he said, the

cambric muslin is not yours; I then said, what are the other things, you have robbed us of them; he said,

yes, and wished he had gone for a sailor before he took them; I asked him what could induce him to do

 it; he said, that Collett was continually after him, telling him to do it; he said it was his first offence, he

never robbed us before, nor since, and he had received no money for the things; I told him if it was so, I Would not

prosecute him. This silk mode is our property, it is worth forty shillings, it has not been sold by

us; also the eighteen yards of lace, which is worth about forty shillings, that was found in Collett's box; the other things I

believe to be our property, but will not  swear to them; the handkerchiefs I am certain of,  but the marks being picked out I will not swear

them; the cambric muslin, the mark being torn, I will  not swear to it.


 Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys.

  Q. The prisoner did not abscond from your service?

 A. No; I sent for him and he came to me without force.

Q. Do you mean to take upon yourself to say, that that black silk mode had never been sold? -

A. If it had, it would have been entered in the book; on the lace there are figures made.

Q. Are the figures always torn off the lace when it is sold? -

A. Not always.

Q. You don't know any thing of Collett? - A. No; I never saw him till I saw him before the Lord-Mayor.

(The confession of Baldwin was produced, and read).

The Prisoners left their defence to their Counsel, and called six witnesses, who gave them a good character.

Baldwin, GUILTY . (Aged 31.)

Transported for seven years .

Collett, GUILTY . (Aged 30.)

Transported for fourteen years .

Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. RECORDER.


However on the same day, another poor felon was tried for  stealing and trying to deliver it to 'Pearce Collet'.

Reference Number: t18000709-92

568. WILLIAM CHETLEY was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 29th of June , fourteen yards of cotton, value 30s. ten yards of hessing, value 10s. and five yards and half of calico, value 5s. 6d. the property of John Richardby , Richard Francis , John Cleugh , and Nicholas-Cobb Collison .(The case was opened by Mr. Knapp.)

THOMAS SAPWELL sworn. - I am one of the constables of the City of London: On Sunday morning; the 29th of June, about four o'clock in the morning, I placed myself in a stable, opposite to the house of a person of the name of Collett, in Two Swan Yard, Bishopsgate-street; I staid from four to six o'clock, and nothing happened; about ten minutes after six, I saw the prisoner at the bar, he brought a bundle, and put it at the step of Collett's door, and sat upon it; he knocked at the door, and said, d-n you, are you going to lay a-bed all day; I came out of the stable, and went up to him; I said, holloo, what have you got here; he said he had got a piece of sheeting, or a piece of  thessing, I do not know which; I told him he must go with me; I took him to the stable where I had before concealed myself, I double-locked the door, and locked myself and him in; I asked him how he came by the hessing, -

Mr. Knowlys. Q. Before he gave you an answer had you made him any promise, or used any threats? -

A. I had not; he said he got it over the water, and that he was going to sell it to the man of that house, Pearce Collett ; I then asked him how he got his living; he said he worked upon the quays; I then searched him, and found, underneath his waistcoat, a piece of printed cotton; I then secured him, and took him over to Collett's house. (Produces the Property).

JOHN CLEUGH sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knapp. I am a wholesale linen-draper, in Gracechurch. street, in partnership with John Richardby, Richard Francis, and Nicholas-Cobb Collison: The Prisoner was a porter of our's; we did not miss the property; the printed cotton I can swear to; after I had been at the Mansion-house, I looked, and missed it; I am certain that it is our property, and was in the warehouse, I have no doubt about it; the cotton is worth about thirty shillings; the prisoner lodged in our house, I saw his box searched the day after he was taken up; there were five yards and a half of calico taken out. which I have no doubt is our property.

Sapwell. I searched the box, and found the calico; I took the keys out of the prisoner's pocket.(Produces the calico).

Mr. Cleugh. - Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys.

Q. You missed no property before, nor since? - A. No.

Q. This piece of cotton, found under his waistcoat, is the only thing you can swear to? - A. Yes.

Q. How do you know this to be your's? - A. There is the number upon it, which is the private mark of our house.

Q. Did you find any deficiency in your stock? - A. No; I have a pattern of the same. (Producing it).

Q. Patterns are very numerous, which, as you deal wholesale, get abroad in the world? - A. Yes.

Q. Many other shops have the same pattern? - Yes.

Q. Other persons sell in the shop besides yourself? - A. There is only myself that is in the habit of selling in the warehouse; my partners have an equal right, but they do not practice it; they may now and then.

The prisoner did not say any thing in his defence, but called one witness, who gave him a good character. GUILTY . (Aged 22.)

Confined six months in Newgate , and fined 1s.


Trial at the Old Bailey

Newgate had the great advantage, from the authorities' point of view at least, of being next door to the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) .Elizabeth Fry was deeply shocked by the conditions that women were detained under, in the Female Quarter as the women's area was known, when she visited the prison in 1816. She found the place crowded with half naked women and their children. The women were typically waiting for transfer to the prison ships that would take them to the Colonies. Women were brought to Newgate from county prisons in the south of England to await transportation and kept there for weeks or months until a ship was available. Many of the ordinary women prisoners were drunk, due to the availability of cheap gin, and some were clearly deranged. They were kept in leg irons if they could not afford to pay the Keeper of Newgate for "easement." Prisoners under sentence of death were kept shackled and apart from other prisoners and in the case of murderers, fed on bread and water for the final 2-3 days of their miserable lives before meeting the hangman. Those convicted of the more minor ones, although sentenced to death, typically had their punishment reduced to transportation. The concept of imprisonment as a punishment only really came in after 1840.

Public executions were carried outside Newgate in the lane known as the Old Bailey from the 9th of December 1783 (following the ending of hangings at Tyburn). It is unclear where the gallows was erected before 1809 - contemporary reports talking of “outside Newgate” and “Old Bailey.” 


Those sentenced to death for felony and not “respited” (commuted to transportation) were also hanged in groups - men and women together. Multiple executions were the norm at this time and took place normally around 6 weeks after the Sessions finished and the Recorder of the Old Bailey had prepared and presented his report indicating which prisoners were recommended for reprieve and which were to be executed.murderers had to be hanged within two days of their sentence, unless this would have been a Sunday, which meant that they were typically hanged on a Monday .

Ordinary criminals could be hanged on any day of the week, Wednesdays being the most common one. Prisoners were led from the "Condemned hold" into the Press yard where their leg irons were removed and their wrists and arms tied