Breaking and entering at Purssell’s Cheapside 1864

MANSION HOUSE

William Claxton and William Gambier, 19 and 16 years of age, and described as photographic printers, were brought before the Lord Mayor charged with breaking and entering a dwelling-house. The prisoner Claxton was also accused of robbery.

Mansion House, London

George Whitney, a city police-constable in plain clothes, deposed that on Sunday morning about half-past 10 o’clock he was secreted under a counter in the shop of Mr. Purssell, confectioner in Cheapside. He saw the two prisoners enter by the street door and go upstairs. About a quarter of an hour afterwards they both came downstairs and placed a pair of steps against a glass door of Mr. Purssell’s shop, which is partitioned off from the passage of the house. The prisoner Claxton ascended the steps and forced the fanlight, so that it swung open. Witness had examined it when he went into the shop, and found it fastened with a small wooden wedge. Claxton struck a match and lighted a candle, which he gave to the prisoner Gambier to hold, and then going over the fanlight took the candle from Gambier, and entered the shop. He had neither boots, coat, nor hat on. He passed round behind the counter, and catching sight of witness he started back.

Cheapside

Witness ran round the counter after him, after which the prisoner threw away a bottle in which the candle was, and struck him. He then went over the door again and escaped with Gambier up stairs. Witness got assistance and followed them. He found on going upstairs that they had locked themselves into a room at the top of the house. He went for something to force the door, and on his return they were standing at the entrance to the room. He told them he should charge them with breaking into Mr. Purssell’s shop for an unlawful purpose. Claxton explained that they had heard a noise and, fancying thieves were in the shop, he got over the door to see. Witness took them to Bow-lane.Police station, and there found on Claxton a watch and chain and 10s. 8.1/2d. in money. The prisoners could go from the shop into the basement.

On Saturday last some money had been marked in the presence of witness and placed in a bag. On Sunday night he was present when Gambier and Claxton were together at the police-station, and when Gambier said to the inspector he wished to tell the truth. He said Claxton asked him to come and have his likeness taken about six weeks ago on a Sunday morning; that he went, and after his likeness had been taken Claxton told him he knew where to get some money; that they took the steps and a candle and went downstairs; that Claxton got over the fan- light, and returned with some money, of which he gave him between 20s. and 30s. ; that on Saturday last he told him to meet him on Sunday to get some more money; that he met him accordingly, when they went upstairs together and returning with the steps Claxton got into the shop, but that he (Gambier) had not heard any noise, nor had Claxton said anything to him about any noise before he went in.

Witness afterwards went with another constable and searched the prisoner’s lodgings in Orchard-street, St. Luke’s. There he found 235 stereoscopic slides, a book containing sketches, upwards of 300 copies of stereoscopic scenes and eight gauges. The prisoner Claxton, on being asked how he accounted for their possession, replied that they were all his own, and that he had printed them himself. Mr. Alfred Purssell, of 121, Cheapside, confectioner, said within the last six weeks he had been missing money from his cellar where the till was taken, and it had generally been between Saturday and Monday. His shop was on the ground floor, and the door in the lobby. He had lost about £50. in all. The upper part of the house was occupied by Mr. Fox, a photographer, who had a key of the outer door and Mr. Willis. On Saturday last witness communicated with the police, and placing marked money in the cellar gave them the keys of the premises. He had missed from £8. to £10. every week for the last six weeks. The fanlight was only fastened by a wedge and swings.

Mr. Edmund Fox, photographer, deposed that he occupied the first and fourth floors over Mr. Purssell’s shop, and had the street door-key. The prisoner Claxton, who had been in his service for six years, had the charge of that key and others. Gambier was also in his employment. Neither of them had any occasion to be there on a Sunday. Witness identified as his property the 235 stereoscopic slides, the 300 stereoscopic scenes, and the eight gauges referred to. The slides, he said, must have been taken from his premises in Little Britain about 12 months ago, where both prisoners were at work, as must also the gauges. The sketches, he believed, were not his. The value of the whole was about £13. The prisoners had no right to make the copies nor to take them off the premises.

On being cautioned as to anything they might say in respect to the charge the prisoner Gambier declared he had told the truth to the police-inspector, and Claxton declined saying anything. The Lord Mayor committed the prisoners to Newgate for trial.

Newgate prison

from The Times, Wednesday, December 21, 1864

And the result

WILLIAM CLAXTON, WILLIAM GAMBIER, Theft – theft from a specified place, 11th January 1865.

169. WILLIAM CLAXTON (18), and WILLIAM GAMBIER (15), PLEADED GUILTY to breaking into the shop of Alfred Pursell, with intent to steal.

GAMBIER was recommended to mercy by the Prosecutor, believing that he had been led away by the other prisoner; he promised to take him again into his employ.— Confined Two Days.

CLAXTON.— Confined Twelve Months. There was another indictment against the prisoners.

www.oldbaileyonline.org. Reference Number: t18650111-169

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