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The Newgate Calendar - JAMES DALE


A Chimney-Sweep, who descended Chimneys to break into Houses, and was convicted on 9th September, 1811

   AT Union Hall, in the borough of Southwark, on the 9th of September, 1811, James Dale, a chimney-sweep, was charged on suspicion of committing divers felonies. It appeared that the houses of several of the inhabitants of the borough had recently been entered by some person contriving to get on the roof, and then descending the chimney. This depredator descended into the house of Mr Stewartson, a haberdasher, and found his way into the kitchen, which is on the first floor; here, as it would appear, though in the dark, the closet did not escape his notice, as a considerable quantity of bread and cheese had disappeared when the servant came down in the morning, A morocco thread-case, belonging to Mrs Stewartson, in which was a gown pattern cut out of thin paper -- by the feel of which the thief was probably deceived into an opinion that he had got a prize of bank-notes -- was also taken. From this house the villain went to Mr Freeman's, where he again descended. Here having discovered his error with respect to the thread-case, and also having found more valuable booty -- namely, four silver tablespoons and a silver vegetable fork -- he reascended the chimney with them, leaving the thread-case and also a clasp-knife behind him.

   The next house he visited was Mr Bishop's, a haberdasher, where he proceeded so far as to remove the chimneypot, preparatory to his descent, when it is supposed he was interrupted, as he retreated without effecting his object. On the same night he visited the World Turned Upside Down public-house, in the Kent Road, where, according to his usual practice, disdaining the common entrance, he descended the chimney; and, finding nothing better, contented himself with taking a bag containing about three pounds worth of light halfpence; and here, it is supposed, he terminated the labours of the night. On Goff, the officer, being applied to by Mr Freeman, his suspicion fell on the prisoner, Dale, who had been seen with a considerable quantity of bad halfpence in his possession; these suspicions were strengthened by the prisoner's initials, "J. D.," being marked on the knife left at Mr Freeman's, as well as by a hieroglyphical device upon it, expressive of his trade -- viz. a house with the chimney on fire, and the chimney-sweep running towards it. At Mr Stewartson's the depredator had left an impression of his naked foot on the floorcloth, which agreed correctly with the shape and size of Dale's foot.

   This sooty rogue was committed to prison.

   [Note: A ludicrous circumstance had lately occurred at Bromhill, near Whalton. Some villains attempted to rob the barn of Mr John Pratt, of that place; but, while they were breaking in, two chimney-sweeps who were lodged there, for the purpose of starting off early in the morning with their work at the farmer's, were roused by the noise, and on one of them calling out, "I am coming," the depredators scampered off in great terror. At Highgate, about the same time, two ladies were dreadfully alarmed by the appearance of a black figure in their bedroom. The younger of them immediately jumped out of bed, ran downstairs and alarmed the family; when, to their astonishment, on returning to the room, it was found to be a chimney-sweep, who had descended from the wrong chimney, to the no small confusion of the ladies, who found themselves in complete deshabille before this son of soot.]

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