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Newgate Calendar - ANNE LEAK


A Horse Thief, Eleven years old

            The following case, extracted from the reports of criminal cases in London (1811) is a most extraordinary instance of juvenile depravity. "Ann Leak, a girl of about eleven years of age, underwent a second examination before the magistrates at the public office, Worship-street, being charged on suspicion of having stolen a horse, saddle, and bridle, the property of some person unknown. She was taken into custody in the neighbourhood of Bethnal-green, where she was leading the horse. On her being questioned by a tradesman who the horse belonged to? she answered, that it was the property of her father; which the tradesman doubting, she was taken to the above office; where being questioned by the magistrates, she still continued in the same story, when she was searched by one of the officers, who found a brass collar with a padlock round her neck, with the name and place of abode of her father, who, it appears, is an honest industrious man, living in the neighbourhood of Grosvenor-square. The mother of the girl attended, who stated the reason of her having the collar round her neck, she having frequently absconded from home, and was for the purpose of her being brought back. No person appearing against the prisoner, nor any person claiming the property, she was discharged, upon her mother promising to take proper care of her, so that she should not commit any farther depredation."

            Another printed report of criminal charges before the Lord Mayor of London, a very short time after her discharge from Worship-street office, says, "Ann Leak, the little girl, about eleven years of age, who has been already taken up twice for horse-stealing, being caught in the act of riding away horses, the property of strangers, was brought up to the Mansion house, last Friday, upon a charge of driving cattle in the city on Thursday night. She appeared, as she has been already described, with a brass collar fastened round her neck with a padlock, with the following words and figures engraved upon it:—"Ann Leak, No. 92, Green-street, Grosvenor-square.—Flog me home." The Lord Mayor sent for her parents, and her mother and brother attended. They stated that they could not keep her from running away; that she had made her escape from a woman to whose care they had intrusted her, and that they wished much to get her into the Institution of the Philanthropic Society. They did not, in fact, know what to do with her, and related several instances of untoward and extraordinary behaviour, when at a boarding school. The Lord Mayor advised the mother to remove the collar from her neck, and take the best care of her their circumstances would admit. In the course of the examination the mother said the child had been examined by a doctor, who gave it as his opinion she was not deranged."


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