Transportation for Cheese Theft, April 1827

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 probably isn’t the right George – he seems to be about eleven years too young. But he’s an entertainingly bad boy. This one was prosecuted at the Old Bailey twice in 1821, the second time when he was already in Newgate prison [3 months, and a whipping] and then this.
George Hopkins. Theft: Grand Larceny. 5th April 1827

GEORGE HOPKINS was indicted for stealing, on the 2nd of April , 50lbs. weight of cheese, value 3l. 10s.,[modern-day value £ 4,052] the goods of Charles Beach .

WILLIAM KLING . On the 2nd of April, at half-past nine o’clock at night, I was in my back premises in Oxford-street, and heard two whistles – I opened our back gates and looked out – I saw the prisoner and another man in conversation, and saw a bag by the prisoner’s side – this was about twenty yards from Mr. Beach’s house – I stood still – the other man then left the prisoner and met a man who was coming down the mews, which my gates open into – that man lifted the bag on the prisoner’s back – I followed them to No. 28, Parry’s-court; they gave three knocks at the door – the prisoner was taken there in about an hour and a half, and the bag and cheese found in his room.

Cross-examined by Mr. BARRY.

Q. You did not see the cheese brought from Beach’s house?

A. No.

CHARLES BEACH. I am an oilman, and deal in cheese , and live in North Audley-street . On the 2nd of April, about half-past nine o’clock, I left the shop for half an hour – the Parmasan cheese was in its usual place – Kling came to me – I then looked and missed the cheese – there are 50lbs. – it cost me 18d. a pound. 

Cross-examined.

Q. Where was it?

A. On a tonguetray at my door – mine is a corner house; it was not in a bag – I can swear to the cut of it, and it is eaten by rats in one place.

Prisoner’s Defence. I was coming from my father’s, who is coachman to Mr. Hanbury – a gentleman came and and asked me to carry the parcel, which I did – I did not know what was in it; the man asked if he could leave it at my room till Monday, as he was going into Surrey.

GUILTY . Aged 23.  Transported for Seven Years .

Reference Number:  T 18270405-213

Verdict:   Guilty

Sentence: Transportation

From: Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 18 July 2018), April 1827, trial of GEORGE HOPKINS (t18270405-213).

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