Theft from William Purssell – August 1849.

Old bailey
Courtroom No 1, Old Bailey

Case number: 1520. ALEXANDER DAVIDSON stealing 1 firkin, and 125lbs. weight of butter, value 5l. 10s.; the goods of William Purssell, his master.

MR. PAYNE conducted the Prosecution. 

WILLIAM PURSSELL . I am a biscuit-baker, of Cornhill; the prisoner was in my employ on 23d May—he had the charge of all the goods that came in—I have been shown a firkin of butter by the policeman; it was mine, and had my mark on it; I had not sold it—the prisoner had no authority to part with it—it was to be used in my business—his salary was 1l. 5s. per week—he left about one o’clock on 23d May, and I received this note from him—(read—”Mr. Purssell,—I have been taken so ill, and so suddenly, that I expect I shall have to go to the hospital; should I recover, you will hear from me. A. D.”—I did not see him again for about two months, when he was in custody.

Copy of a print of Purssell’s kitchen in Cornhill in 1840


SAMUEL HARBOTTLE (City-policeman, 584). On 23d May, between eleven and twelve o’clock, I was in King William-street, and saw Morley with a firkin of butter—I spoke to him, and he pointed out a woman behind him—she got away while I was taking the firkin off his shoulder—I took it to the prosecutor—the prisoner was afterwards taken in York; I do not know when—I went to his house in Swan-court, in the Borough—I made inquiries at the hospitals, but could not find him.

HENRY MORLEY . I was stopped by the policeman in King William-street, with the firkin of butter—I got it from the prisoner at Mr. Purcell’s, in Cornhill—I was to follow a woman with it, who was outside the door, and take it where she pointed out—she went away, and I never saw her afterwards.

Prisoner’s Defence. I never saw this man; I was ill.

Newgate-prison-exercise-yard. Gustave Dore 1872

GUILTY . Aged 30.— Confined Nine Months.

(There was another indictment against the prisoner.)

It’s not clear where he was imprisoned, but Newgate prison was next door to the Bailey until 1902.

All courtesy

Reference Number: t18490820-1520. 

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