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The Newgate Calendar - RICHARD OWEN


Convicted of Cross-Dropping, and sentenced to Transportation, at the Old Bailey, January Sessions, 1808

   THE prisoner, who had only recently returned from transportation, was walking in the Green Park, when he fell into conversation with an elderly lady. As they walked together he pretended to pick up something that lay in her way. He exclaimed, "What have we here?" and, opening a small packet, said, "We have found a prize, madam." The parcel contained a gold cross, apparently set with diamonds, and there was inscribed on the outside "a diamond cross." The prisoner appeared exceedingly rejoiced at their good fortune; and, while he was conversing upon its supposed worth, he accidentally observed a friend, and, after the usual salutations, informed him that he and the lady had picked up a diamond cross of some value, and were at a loss how to divide their good fortune. The friend looked at it, and undertook to inquire its value of a jeweller if the parties would step into some coffee-house, or genteel public-house, for a moment. The old lady was persuaded; and, having no suspicion of the cheat, agreed to go into a public-house. The friend went about his errand, and soon returned, saying that the jeweller had offered only forty pounds for the cross, but that he was confident it was worth one hundred pounds.

   The prisoner then asked the lady if she had any property about her, and proposed to leave the diamond cross with her, provided she could give him anything like an equivalent for his share. She said she had five pounds and a gold watch worth twenty pounds. This the prisoner proposed she should give to him, with her address, that he might deal honourably with her, in case the cross should not, in the opinion of her friends, be worth more than fifty pounds; and on the other hand, if it sold for one hundred pounds, that he might be enabled to claim his share. The foolish woman, who was the widow of a military officer, parted with her watch and five-pound note, and on consulting a jeweller found that the cross was made of mock diamonds, and was not worth more than a guinea. She also found, too late, that she had been robbed, and immediately gave information at the office; and from the description she gave of the prisoner -- that of his being a tall, stout, old man, with a wig, and his general appearance like that of a farmer -- the officers told her that if she would go with them to Leicester Fields they thought they could show her the individual. She did go, and the prisoner was apprehended in consequence of her pointing him out. Some altercation took place whether or not the offence constituted a felony. This objection was overruled, and the jury found the prisoner guilty.

   The old lady was, however, fortunate enough to get back her watch, but sacrificed the five-pound note to the shrine of credulity. The rogue was once more shipped off to Botany Bay.

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