Imprisoned, and whipped through the Streets of the Borough of Southwark, for stealing Pewter Pint-Pots from Public-Houses, January, 1810
THERE was no petty thieving which had at this time so much increased as stealing the pewter pots wherein London publicans served their customers with porter. Even families had been detected in disgracefully withholding and denying their having publicans' pots in their possession when proof had been given that they had not returned them to the owner. To check the severe and increasing losses arising from pot-stealing, which seem nearly incredible, the publicans formed a respectable association in London, as Licensed Victuallers, and brought a Bill before Parliament for the better protection of their property. But the Commons -- conceiving, perhaps, the complaint not to be of sufficient magnitude for the interference of the legislative body -- threw out the Bill; so that their remedy remained only the law of indictments for petty larceny, and this being troublesome and expensive these meanest of thieves were but seldom prosecuted to conviction.
The publicans attributed the opposition made to their Bill to the pewterers -- what envy, even in these grades of society! -- and, by way of revenge, the former entered into a resolution to manufacture their own pots.
A meeting of the Licensed Victuallers was held at the Crown and Anchor, in the Strand, pursuant to advertisement, to take into consideration the measures for preventing the depredations committed on their property by the purloining of pewter pots, on the 16th of July, 1812,; Mr James Palmer in the chair.
The chairman commented at some length on the opposition given by certain pewterers to their petition, and spoke in terms of severe reprehension on the violent manner in which he conceived some of them had conducted themselves while the business was in its progress through the House of Commons. He had not the least doubt but the Bill would be carried in the ensuing sessions. And here he could not help speaking in terms of grateful respect of Sir Thomas Turton, Mr Whitbread, Mr Rose, Sir James Graham, Mr H. Thornton, Mr Sheridan, Mr W. Smith, Mr Wharton and the other Members who advocated their cause and voted for their Bill.
He next proposed a remedy for the evil, and to protect their property, which was highly approved. It was for the establishment of a company among themselves for the manufacture of their own pots, of pure metal, by which the stolen pots could not be remanufactured and resold to themselves again -- a proposition to which assent was carried unanimously. Several other resolutions were then moved and agreed to, after which the meeting adjourned.
John Lumley was indicted at the Westminster Sessions, 1810, for stealing a pewter pint-pot, the property of the landlord of the Cart and Horse public-house, Tooley Street; there was also another charge against him for a similar offence -- namely, having in his possession a pot belonging to the landlord of the Black Lion; and a third, for stealing two pewter pots, the property of the landlord of the Green Dragon, Bermondsey Street.
It appeared in evidence that as the prisoner passed along Ratcliff Highway, on Wednesday evening, he was observed to drop a pot from under his coat, which a person near him instantly picked up. Perceiving it to belong to a public-house, and a publican in the neighbourhood having recently lost several pots, the man followed the prisoner, secured him, and took him to the house in question. A constable was sent for, and they proceeded to search him, when no less than six pint-pots were found concealed upon his person, none of which, however, belonged to the landlord of the house where he then was, but to several public-houses in the Borough, amongst which were the Black Lion and the Cart and Horse public-houses, in Tooley Street, and the Green Dragon, in Bermondsey Street. Upon discovering from what neighbourhood the pots came, the constable took the prisoner to Union Hall, and the landlords of the above and other public-houses attended, and swore to the pots being their property.
The jury found him guilty.
The chairman observed that the offence of which the prisoner had been convicted had become one of such great magnitude as to call for the severest punishment. It would scarcely be credited, but it had been ascertained that the depredations of this sort committed on the property of publicans, in and around the metropolis, amounted to the enormous sum of one hundred thousand pounds per annum. The prisoner had been convicted on the clearest evidence, and the Court felt itself bound to inflict a punishment which might operate to put a stop, if possible, to this evil. The sentence of the Court then was that he should be confined to hard labour for three months in the house of correction, and once during that time to be publicly whipped from the end of Horsemonger Lane to the end of Lant Street, in the Borough; which was severely inflicted.