The Newgate Calendar - JOHN BELVILLE

JOHN BELVILLE

Convicted at the Old Bailey, 16th of February, 1791, for a Robbery from "the Dwelling-House of her Majesty, called Buckingham House"

THE indictment against this singularly daring thief charged him with feloniously stealing a pair of silver snuffers, one silver snuffer-stand and two silver vessels from the dwelling-house of her Majesty, called Buckingham House, the property of his Majesty.

The wretched man did not deny the theft, but pleaded excessive poverty. He said he was a gentleman by birth, and was brought over to England by a Russian gentleman, with whom he had lived, as his valet, four years. On his master's return to Russia he was recommended by him to an English family, and afterwards served other gentlemen of property; he, at length was engaged to serve Miss Burney, one of the maids-of-honour to the Queen, as her footman. He had not lived long in her service before he discovered that some secret enemy was working his ruin, and he was soon discharged, and could no longer obtain a character.

On the morning he committed the robbery he had wandered about St James's Park without a farthing in his pocket, extremely hungry, and without the prospect of any relief; and with a view to moving the compassion of Miss Burney he had called at Buckingham House, where he had found means to take the property, for which he expressed the deepest sorrow, and entreated the jury to be merciful.

This candid defence and humble petition had its weight with the jury, who found him guilty of "stealing to the value of thirty-nine shillings only," which did not affect his life.

 

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