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1891: Trial after theft of rings in Sussex Road

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 03 March 1891


Isaac Ireland, china mender, and his wife Rose Hannah Ireland, on tramp, were brought up on remand charged with stealing eight gold keeper rings from the shop of Mr. Levi Grant, watchmaker, etc., Sussex road, Haywards Heath, on February 19th.

—Prosecutor said that on Thursday week he lost several rings from his shop. They were on a stand under a glass shade. He lost eight or ten, but could not be certain of the exact number. They were gold keepers of different quality—nine, fifteen, and eighteen carat gold. He saw them safe on Thursday morning, and missed them on the evening of the same day, at eight o’clock. They were on the counter case at the far end of the shop when he last saw them. He did not see anything of either of the prisoners in his shop. He was away from home in the evening for about two hours, from six till eight, but had been working near the shop during the remainder of the day. There were about 30 keeper rings in the case altogether, besides wedding rings. All were left with the exception of the eight or ten he missed. He could not tell within a ring or two how many he lost. He had seen five rings belonging to him at Croydon. They were worth £3. The five produced were those he lost; he could tell by the pattern, and the quality. One buckle ring was still missing. There were two of this description, one having been recovered. He could swear to the rings. They had tickets on them when on the stand. He had no doubt they were his property; they were quite new. His wife was in the room adjoining the shop.

Sussex Road 1900

—Charity Grant, wife of the prosecutor, said that on the Thursday in question she attended the shop in her husband’s absence. She was in the room adjoining, and could see and hear anyone who came in. She saw the male prisoner in the shop about eight o’clock. He asked witness for something, but she could not understand what he said, and she asked again, but could not understand him. She told him she could not help him, as she supposed that help was what he wanted. Prisoner said “You won’t help me.” Witness said she could not help him that night. The man went out and left the door open. The door was not open when he came in. He did not fasten it on leaving. The prisoner stood just inside, and did not come near the counter. Witness did not see the woman. Her husband was at home at that time, but was at the back of the premises. Her husband came in in about ten minutes to close the shop. No one else came in the shop in the interval. Witness left to go to her husband's assistance —he bad just brought some furniture home. She had never seen the woman before. Her husband would not be able to see anyone enter the door from where he was; he was at the side of the house.

- By the male prisoner: She was positive she never saw him on the Wednesday.

—John Henry Doran, landlord of the Triangle Inn, Haywards Heath, deposed that on the 18th of February, between 10 and 11 in the morning, the prisoners, with an umbrella man, came into his bar and called for a quart of beer. They stopped there for two hours, and had a further drink. The male prisoner asked witness if he would allow him to rivet a china vase, and witness said he might do so, on the table in the big room. After he had repaired the vase he brought it to witness, who said he had made a good job of it. The umbrella man then took it home. That was at 12 o’clock, and they all remained till eight o’clock in the evening. The two prisoners began quarrelling, and witness refused to serve them with any more drink. They then left his house. The female prisoner returned by herself at 8.15, and remained till nine o’clock that night, and he saw no more of her till the next morning between eight and nine. She left several articles at his house. She came for them the next morning, the 19th alt. This was a bundle of wet clothes, a small black bag, and a riveted saucer. She had half-a-pint of ale and then left. On the 19th the male prisoner came again by himself about 8.30 p.m. He had four pieces of bread and some raw sausage meat, which he asked witness to warm for him. Witness did so, and the prisoner ate it and left at nine, after which witness saw no more of him. The female prisoner came again in his absence, and stayed till one o’clock. His house was 150 yards from Mr. Grant’s (the prosecutor’s). He did not open the bag left in his charge.

—By the male prisoner: It was not four o’clock when he came to witness’s house on the Wednesday, nor was the umbrella man in the house. They came in altogether.

—By the female prisoner; She had half-a-pint of ale on Thursday morning, and after getting her bundles left, but he could not say when she returned, as he was away on the Thursday till evening.

—Edward Sharp, assistant to Mrs. Mary Ann Smith, pawnbroker, of 18 Church-street, Croydon, said that Friday, 20th February, the female prisoner offered in pledge a ring at his employer’s shop. Witness asked who it belonged to. Prisoner asked 3s. upon it, and gave her name as Mary Ann Ireland. She said she bought it, and witness advanced her that amount. On the following morning, Saturday, witness took another ring in pledge, of a woman who gave the name of Curley. She asked 4s. for it. Witness inquired who it belonged to, and she said she had been sent by a Mrs. Arnold, and he advanced the money. The female prisoner gave the name of Mary Ann; and between quarter and half-past one on the Saturday Mrs. Curley offered the third ring (produced) in pledge, and again asked 4s. Witness asked who it belonged to, and she said a Mrs. Ireland, whereupon witness asked her to fetch the latter. She came in about five minutes with Mrs. Curley. Witness asked Mrs. Ireland if the ring belonged to her. She said it did. He reminded her she had pledged one the day before. She admitted doing so. He told her she sent Mrs. Curley early that morning with one. Prisoner denied this first. Witness asked Mrs. Curley if this was true, and Mrs. Ireland then admitted it. About an hour earlier witness had received information of some rings being stolen. He sent for the police, and gave Mrs. Ireland in charge. There was also another ring offered between nine and ten that morning, by a woman who gave the name of Mary Melbourne. A second assistant received this-,

Mary Ann Curley, laundress,of 8 King-street, Croydon said that Saturday morning, February 21st, she saw the female prisoner in the kitchen of the house she was residing at. Prisoner asked if she would oblige her by pawning a ring. Thinking it was Ireland’s she took it and asked four shillings for it. This she received at Mrs. Smith's. Witness gave the name of Ireland, and not Arnold; it must have been a mistake in the writing. The ring was a keeper, but she did not notice it particularly. She asked Mrs. Ireland, whom she had known two or three years, if the ring was hers. Some time after, on the same day, prisoner asked witness to take another ring, saying she wanted money for her fare and to go and see her husband. This also was a gold ring. She took it to Mrs. Smith’s, and the young man asked whose it was. He sent her for the female prisoner, and they returned to the shop together. Mrs. Ireland admitted sending witness to the shop. Witness on both occasions gave Mrs. Ireland's address 8 Kingstreet. This was a common lodging-house.

—Edward Sharp, re-called, said he understood Mrs. Curley to have given the name of Arnold on the first occasion and the transaction was entered in that name, but he might have misunderstood her. Had she said Ireland should not have accepted it, as his suspicions would have been aroused. Witness gave the address as 8 King-street on both occasions.

—Mary Malbourne said she slept at the lodging-house in King-street, but lived with her daughter in Water works-yard, Surrey street, Croydon. On Saturday morning, about nine o’clock, the female prisoner brought her a ring, and asked her to pawn it for her. It was a gold ring, and she believed it was the same as that produced. She was asked to pledge it at Mrs. Smith's for 4s. She took the ring, and gave her own name, but said it was for a woman named Ireland. The ring was pledged in witness’s name. She gave Mrs. Ireland the 4s. She told witness she wanted the money to get to her husband at Lewes. She did not see Mr. Sharp, but another assistant. Witness had often seen Mr. Ireland in Croydon, but did not see him on the morning that she pawned the ring. Witness knew Mrs. Ireland had good rings of her own, or she would not have taken it.

— Walter Bundle, assistant to his father, James Bundle, pawnbroker, 126 High-street, Croydon, said that on Friday afternoon, 20th February, between four and five, the female prisoner came to his father's shop with a gold ring (now produced), and asked witness to lend 3s. 6d. on it. He asked if it was her property, and she said “Yes." Prisoner gave her address as Market street, and witness lent her the money on it.

—Detective- Sergt. Leonard Ward of the Metropolitan Police, stationed at Croydon, said that on Saturday, the 21st of last month, he received a communication from Superintendent Denman and called on the Croydon pawnbrokers. At 1.30 p.m. on the same date he saw the female prisoner and the witness Sharp at the police station. From what he said witness spoke to the prisoner. He asked her how she came possessed of the ring handed to him (produced). She said “It’s my own; what do you think. Do you fancy I haven’t got any jewellery? I have other rings and a brooch.” Prisoner produced two common rings and a brooch. Witness asked where her husband was, and prisoner said at No. 8 King-street. Prisoner was detained and witness made enquiries at the address. He told her afterwards that her husband was not there, and had not been there. She said “He’s at Lewes.” Witness then charged her with being in unlawful possession of one ring, after which she was searched with some difficulty by two women. The searchers afterwards handed witness four pawn tickets, 4s. I and a half d. in money, and two common rings. Witness handed the prisoner the two common rings. Witness said that the tickets referred to gold rings, and said that there had been several stolen at Haywards Heath. Prisoner replied “I did not steal them. I was at Haywards Heath on Thursday night with my husband, and I bought the rings of a man who sells oranges. I gave him 8s. for them. It was not much to give for them, but I buy as cheap as I can.” About 7.45 that evening witness met Superintendent Denman and the prosecutor and accompanied them to the pawnbrokers’ shops and saw the other four rings produced, which were identified by the prosecutor. Prisoner was taken before the Croydon borough magistrates on Monday morning, but no evidence was offered, and she was discharged, and re-arrested by Superintendent Denman. Market street was a continuation of King-street, Croydon. Prisoner gave witness her proper name—Rose Hannah Ireland.

—Superintendent Samuel Denman said that on the 23rd of February he went to Croydon and arrested the female prisoner. He told her she would be charged with stealing the ring produced, with seven others, from a watchmaker’s shop at Haywards Heath, the property of Mr. Grant. Prisoner said “Did you say I stole them?” Witness said she would be charged with stealing them. On the way to Haywards Heath police station she said “I bought the rings of a man who sold oranges, at the corner public-house.” On the evening of the same day witness went to Lewes and arrested the male prisoner. Witness produced the ring and told him he would be charged with his wife with being concerned in stealing that and seven others from Haywards Heath, Thursday. He replied “I have not seen my wife since last Wednesday night. We had few words and parted.”

—The Chairman (Mr. T. T. C. Lister, who took this position, during the hearing of this case), said as there was no evidence against Isaac Ireland he would be discharged, and on the female prisoner being asked if she had anything to say before she was committed for trial, she asked that she might be summarily dealt with. She had already been in gaol for a week. The prisoner pleaded guilty, and a letter having been read by the Clerk (taken down at Lewes gaol) exonerating her husband, prisoner was committed for two months' hard labour.

—An application made by Mr. Bundle that the pawnbrokers might be paid by prosecutor the amount they were out of pocket in advancing money on the rings was refused.


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