Victorian London - Crime - Thieves - Shoplifting
At Westminster, Mary Shadgett, 59, a well-dressed woman, who after felony
convictions, was under police supervision until March last, was placed in the
dock on remand before Mr. Sheil, charged with robberies at the Army and Navy
Stores, Gorringe's, and other premises. Mr. Warburton, who prosecuted, said that
the prisoner had been trapped in a really clever way by two young women - Miss
Payne and Miss Lange - employed in the detective department of the stores. They
followed the prisoner on several occasions, and patiently waiting caught her
red-handed with stolen goods about her. It was proved that the prisoner was
systematically watched and followed on several occasions to publichouses,
pawn-brokers, and to Gorringe's Bazaar, where she was seen to commit a robbery.
The prisoner was arrested with a packet of 36 pawntickets in her possession, and
several of the tickets related to silver-mounted pocket-books, a fur-trimmed
mantle and other articles identified as stolen. Mr. Sheil complimented the young
ladies who followed the prisoner, and committed her for trial.
The Times, January 4, 1901
IN the latter part of the month of April 1828, about four o'clock
I in the afternoon, I was called from my duty at the Office to go with
a young man to his employer Mr Simpson, a Silkmercer and Haber
dasher of Regent Street near the Oxford Circus. I asked him on our
way what it was for, and he told me that a young "Carriage lady" had
been detected stealing ribands, and before entering the shop I saw an
elegant carriage with a pair of high spirited horses, attended by two
gorgeously dressed servants in livery, who were standing outside the
On my entering, I saw a young lady deeply veiled holding her
pocket handkerchief to her eyes, and who appeared in great distress
She was attended by two others, one elderly, the other about the age of
The proprietor pointed to the one that was crying, and said, I
charge this lady with theft. She has been observed stealing and putting
into her reticule some rolls of valuable ribands from a drawer that was
placed upon the counter, during the temporary absence of the shop
I searched her reticule and found inside three large rolls of ribands
Her mother and sister were not aware of the theft and expressed great
surprise and implored me not to take her, and made powerful appeals
to the proprietor; but he was inexorable. The accused was deeply
veiled and reluctantly came with me, the two livery servants looking at
us hard in the face wondering where I was going to take her. At this
moment the carriage door was opened by them for her mother and
sister, and they drove away at a rapid speed. I walked side by side, my
prisoner crying and sobbing most bitterly all the way to Marlboro
At the period I am referring to, the Magistrates held their sittings
daily from ix o'clock in the morning till three o'clock in the afternoon,
and again from seven to eight o'clock in the evening. This circumstance occurred about four o'clock in the afternoon, the Magistrates,
Clerks, and Officers were therefore all away, except myself, who was
what was termed the officer of the day, the office never being left, the
officers taking in turn to perform this duty, and being eight in number
the turn came every eighth day.
There was a bright fire in the clerks' office, and not wishing to add
more trouble to this young lady, I allowed her to sit in a chair before
it to make her under these unfortunate circumstances as comfortable as
I could. She, however, kept on crying, and I pitied her very much,
thinking what a serious business it was for a lady of her evidently high
position to be placed in so degraded a situation.
It was about six o'clock when I heard the sound of swift trotting
horses, and the noise of carriage wheels approaching fast, suddenly
ceasing in front of the Office door. The letting down of carriage steps
was followed up by a tremendous and violent knocking at the door. I
hastened to open it, when a stout fine handsome looking elderly
gentleman walked from the Carriage and enquired if a young lady was
here, who had been brought from Simpson's in Regent street about
four this afternoon. I answer'd him in the affirmative.
He said, "I am a Peer and a Magistrate, and not for twenty thousand
pounds must this case be made known ."
He enquired the name of the Magistrate sitting that evening and
where he lived and how he could get to see him, all which was spoken
in one breath.
I replied, "My Lord, the Magistrate's name is Conant and he lives
Then he said, "No time must be lost, for I must see him immediately,
and pray shew me the way."
I said, "Oh, yes, by all means, My Lord, if you follow me and if he
is at home, I will speak to his servant and deliver your Lordship's
He gave me his card and ultimately he was introduced. I left them
together and returned to the Clerk's Office to look after my charge,
and in about half an hour the Magistrate's servant brought his Lordship
to me with a message that I was to allow him to see the young lady.
I did so and retired out of hearing of their conversation.
When the hour of seven was near at hand Mr Fitzpatrick, the chief
clerk, came in, look'd about him, and quietly asked me what the
gentleman and lady wanted. I took him into the next room and while I
was telling him, Mr Conant came in, and called Mr Fitzpatrick to -
follow him into the private room. By this time our Chief, Mr Plank
let himself in with his key into the presence of the Magistrate and Chief
Clerk, and in a short time afterwards his Lordship was admitted, and
then the Prisoner. I was ordered to remain outside till wanted.
His Lordship soon came out in great haste, went away and turned to the right in the direction of Regent Street, returning again in about
ten minutes. After a pause of about five minutes I was asked by the
Chief Clerk if Mr Simpson was in attendance, who gave the prisoner
into custody. I replied he was not; I was then asked whether Mr Simpson understood me that after he had given the lady into custody
he was to be there at 7 o'clock.
I replied, "Most certainly he did, for I distinctly told him.
"Then, said the Chief Clerk, "go to the door and call out for
him two or three times."
I did so and had no reply.
He then said, "As no one appears, the prisoner must be discharged."
She was then led by Mr Fitzpatrick down the passage, followed by
his Lordship and Mr Plank into the hall of the Magistrate's house. The
door was immediately closed after them, and the four were observed -
walking down the private garden at the back of the Magistrate's house
into a long passage leading out to Marlboro' Mews, where there was a
carriage in readiness to receive the young lady and her friend the Peer,
which drove away at a rapid pace with them. The carriage was
followed to a mansion not a great way from Hanover Square, where,
in the hall, were her Mother and several ladies and gentlemen all evidently waiting in great anxiety to receive and cheer up the spirits
of this young lady, who had been guilty of such folly.
After the evening sitting was over I was informed by Mr Conant
that the matter I had had in hand that evening was to be considered -
as of a private nature, and the names in connection with it were not to
be divulged, as a general knowledge of the affair would distress the
Countess and be her daughter's ruin. I replied that as far as I was
concerned, it should never escape my lips, and from that time to the
present, it never has.
Henry Goddard, Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner, 1956