George Hopkins stealing drink 1815

My great-grandfather’s first father-in-law [he, G G’pa, married twice] was a George Hopkins. He appears to have been transported to Australia in about 1847. There seem to be a few George Hopkins who show up with criminal records, and probably aren’t all the same person. This may well be the right George – there’s about six years difference between his age here, and the 1841 census – but that census rounded up people’s ages by five years for some bizarre reason. But he’s an entertainingly bad boy. This one was prosecuted at the Old Bailey in 1815, and sent to Newgate prison [1 year, and a whipping]
JOHN BENNET, GEORGE HOPKINS. Theft: grand larceny.  15th February 1815

JOHN BENNET and GEORGE HOPKINS were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 15th of January, three pints of brandy, value 4 s.[£181.50] a pint of rum, value 3 s.[£136.10] a quart of geneva [gin], value 4 s.[£181.50] two quarts of wine, value 6 s. [£272.20] eight bottles, value 1 s. 4 d. [£60.79] the property of Christopher Smith, esq. Newman Smith , and William Petter Woodhouse , and a basket, value 1 s. [£45.37] the property of John Adnam. [ The total value was 19s.4d., or a modern-day equivalent of £877.40 ]

GEORGE WHEATLEY. I am night constable.

Q. On the evening of Sunday the 15th of Januuary, where were you?

A. I was in Union Street; I saw the prisoner John Bennet in Union Street, with this basket in his hand, and the contents, except this bottle. It was between the hours of seven and eight. I asked him what he had got there, he did not give me a satisfactory account; he asked me what it was to me. I asked him to go into some public-house with me to give me a satisfactory account; I got him to a public-house door, he put the basket down. The prisoner Hopkins then came up, and while we were talking, the prisoner Hopkins took up the basket, and run away; I had got hold of Bennet. Hopkins came by, and got hold of the basket; he ran about twenty-yards; I stopped him with the basket.

THOMAS CHILDS . I am constable of St. Saviours. I was at Union Hall when the prisoners were brought there, on Sunday, the 15th of January, I went to the watchhouse; I asked them where they lived; Bennet told me 223, Kent-street; they both lived together in one room; I found a pint bottle of brandy in a hamper; I found a letter in Hopkins’s box, in that letter was

“send me a bottle of brandy for the old man, for he has nothing to drink but small beer.”

WILLIAM PETTER WOODHOUSE . The names of the firm are Christopher Smith , Newman Smith, and William Petter Woodhouse ; we are wine and spirit merchants , Queen-street, in the City of London. The two prisoners were porters in our house; they were employed in the warehouse and the cellars. There are two pint bottles of brandy, one quart bottle of brandy, a quart of rum, and three of port wine; I can identify the bottle of brandy with the name on it, of which a pipe of wine was sent in our cart; this bottle is a sample of the pipe of wine; it appears to have been emptied and filled with brandy; I have every reason to believe it is all our property; we sent the pipe in the cart; the sample we keep ourselves as a check to the carrier, least there should be any change or alteration in the journey. The prisoners had full employment at our house from seven o’clock in the morning until eight at night.

Q. What is the value of each?

A. About five shillings the quart, about half a crown the pint. I know this bottle to be our property.

The prisoners called four witnesses, who gave them a good character.

BENNET, GUILTY , aged 24.

HOPKINS, GUILTY , aged 22.

Confined one Year , and whipped in Jail .

London Jury, before Mr. Common Serjeant.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 8.0, 18 July 2018), February 1815, trial of JOHN BENNET GEORGE HOPKINS (t18150215-43).

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