the cobley family history
James Cobley,
convicted of theft - sentenced to death

James Cobley , otherwise Barrington, theft: burglary, 17 Jul 1754.

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t17540717-8

Trial Summary:

Crime(s): theft : burglary,
Punishment Type: death,
Verdict: Part Guilty: convicted of a lesser offence,

Original Text:

354. (L.) James Cobley , otherwise Barrington was indicted for that he on the 9th of June, about the hour of eleven at night on the same day, the dwelling-house of Henry Lintott , Esq; did break and enter, and stealing out thence 140 volumes in folio of the manuscript journals of the house of Lords and Rolls in Parliament, value 100 l. and 11 hundred pounds weight of paper, value 7 l. a stove grate, a warming pan, and a harpsichord.
It was laid over again for stealing these goods out of the dwelling house of Henry Lintott , Esq; ++

Henry Lintott . I have chambers in the inner Temple, the garrets whereof were broke open, and from thence were taken 142 volumes of the Rolls in Parliament, and Journals of the House of Lords in manuscript, and other things, some of which are not in the indictment.

Q. Whose property were they?
Lintott. They were mine.

Q. When did you miss them?
Lintott. I did not miss them till Thursday was sevennight, and was then told the man that did it was taken. (Those were warehouses that I seldom went into) I found they were sold to a cheesemonger in the Fleet-Market.

William Calvert . I am a cheesemonger in the Fleet-Market. The prisoner at the bar brought papers to me at divers times of several sorts, some printed and some written, which I bought of him for waste paper. I remember I look'd into some of the books that belong'd to the York river company; some of them were dated 1720. The first time I saw him was on the 10th of June; I bought some of him, and paid him for them; he told me his name was Barrington. I ask'd him if he dealt in those sort of things, and understood by his answer that he was a sort of a broker. I said I hop'd he came honestly by them, he said he liv'd in Cold Bath Fields with his father-in-law. That parcel came to 3 l. odd. I desired he wou'd give me a receipt. (Producing one ) This is it, I wrote it and he sign'd his name to it.
It was read to this purport.
June 10, 1754.

Received of William Calvert 3 l. 14 s. 3 d. for waste paper, in full of all demands,
J. Barrington.

Whiston Bristow. On the 29th of June I went into Mr. Calvert's shop (with whom I deal ) and to my great surprize on one of the shelves I saw one or two of these volumes, stripp'd in the manner they now appear ( There were a great many volumes brought into court, most of them with the covers pull'd off) I look'd in them, and, as most of them had gone thro' my hands some years ago (I have acted as agent for booksellers, and I knew the value of them, I ask'd Mr. Calvert how she came by them; she said she had several more, and shewed me two considerable piles of them. I believe 60 or 70 volumes. I desir'd her to send for her husband immediately, which she did. When he came, I told him he had got books of great value, he said he bought them of a young man who had brought them at different times. I told him the first step proper to be taken, would be to carry them to a place of safety, till we could find the owner. He told me it was a customary way among their trade when one lights of a parcel of waste paper, to assist each other, and that he had sold two parcels of them to two different cheesemongers. I advised him to go immediately to them, and endeavour to get them again, and to advance the price rather than not get them back. Then I took one of the volumes to Mr. Sandby in Fleet-street, an intimate friend of mine, and ask'd his advice, which was, that by advertising them we should soon hear of the owner, as there are but very few copies of them in the kingdom. Then I returned to Mr. Calvert, and with a good deal of joy he told me, he had got back both the parcels untouch'd. He told me he often saw the person he bought them of pass thro' the market, and he hoped he should soon come at him. On the Tuesday following he sent for me, and told me the man was taken, and was then before my Lord Mayor. I went there and saw him. (It was the prisoner at the bar) Mr. Calvert was there, and two of the books: he there gave an account he had bought several parcels of such of the prisoner, and the prisoner acknowledged he sold Mr. Calvert all he had in his possession of that sort, at different times. We none of us knew the number of volumes then belonging to the set. I ask'd him whether he had sold any of the set any where else, he said he had left two volumes with Mr. Richards, a bookseller in Holborn. He was ask'd in regard to his place of abode, he said he liv'd in Cold-Bath-Fields. He was ask'd if he had not a lodging in Salisbury-Court, at a stockingshop. (having been inform'd so by some porters) he owned he had. His Lordship granted us a search warrant, we went there with a constable, and ask'd the woman if one Barrington did not lodge there; she said there was a lodging taken there some little time before and I think she said the man had laid there four or five nights; I told her I was afraid she had entertained an indifferent person in her house, and said we had a warrant to search his lodgings; she gave us the key of his room, and said he was well recommended to her. In his room we found a harpsichord. We had found out Mr. Lintot, and he was there with us; he owned the harpsichord as his property. We found some loose prints and papers, which he said he had reason to think were his; some printed books and waste of books, and odd sheets. After this we divided, and I and the constable went to the house where he said he lodg'd in Cold-Bath-Fields, which was the Horshoe and Magpye. We asked the man of the house if one Barrington lodged with him, he said he had lodged with him, but he had found out that that was not his name, so he had discharg'd him his house; he said his right name was James Cobley , and that his father liv'd in that neighbourhood, and was an honest, industrious man. I ask'd him if he had any books, or parchments, or papers of any kind, that might be left by the prisoner, he said we were very welcome to go up into the room the prisoner had lodg'd in, and see what we could find. We went, but found nothing. He gave us a parcel of pamphlets which he said the prisoner had given him to read to divert himself with. (Produced in court. )

Q. to Mr. Lintott. Do you know any of these?
Mr. Lintott. I have look'd at them, some of them I can swear to.

Bristow. We then went to Mr. Richards's a bookseller in Holborn; I ask'd him if he had any volumes of the Lords Journals offer'd to him for sale, he brought out those two very books from his back shop. (Produced in court) He delivered them to me, and put his name upon them, and said he had them of a young man.

Q. Was you present at a second examination of the prisoner?
Bristow. I was; it was the next day; there I told my Lord Mayor what I have related here, and Mr. Lintott was very desirous to come at the bottom of this thing, as we thought the prisoner had some accomplice to put him on to it. He was asked concerning it, and he owned there were two other persons concerned with him in taking 140 volumes, and I think he said one of the men was named Welch, he described them both, and my Lord granted a warrant for apprehending them.

Q. to Mr. Lintott. Have you examined these books that are brought into court?
Mr. Lintott. I have.

Q. How many volumes did you lose in the whole?
Lintott. There were 140 of them, exclusive of those two that came from Mr. Richards's; they are my property, and were taken out of my chambers.

Q. Did you ever see them in your rooms?
Lintott. Yes, I have; and have the key in my pocket now.

Q. to Calvert. Have you examined all these books?
Calvert. I have.

Q. Upon your oath, who did you buy them of?
Calvert. Upon my oath I bought them of the prisoner at the bar, at several different times, to the number of 140 in all, and also bought some other papers.

Q. to Mr. Lintott. What is the value of them, don't value them as a curiosity, but tell us what you would have sold them for?
Lintott. The sett have been advertised some years ago for 500 l.

Q. Would you take an 100 l. for them now?
Lintott. No, my Lord, nor 200 l. neither.

Q. to Calvert. What did you give for them?
Calvert. I gave him at the rate of fourteen shillings a hundred weight, I paid him a great deal more than appears on that receipt at several times.

Q. What quantity of paper did you buy of the prisoner besides these books?
Calvert. Really I cannot tell, I sold 700 weight to one man.

William Potten . I bought waste paper of the prisoner at the bar three different times; in all there were 307 pounds weight. He said he asked no more, nor took no less than 14 s. a hundred. That I gave him; I gave him 42 s. in all.

Moses Irons . I am a porter, and ply in the Fleet Market The prisoner once came to me at the corner of the market, and asked me to carry some waste paper for him. I went with him and took it up, (I believe it was some books; they were in a bag) and carried them, by his direction, to Mr Potten's a cheesemonger in the Fleet Market. I also brought several parcels in a bag to Mr Calvert's; what quantity in all I know not. Some of them I believe were books, and some paper.

Q. Where did you bring them from?
Moses Irons . It was from up stairs in a chamber in the Temple.

Q. Whereabouts in the Temple?
Moses Irons . It was the first stair-case on the right hand going down the Temple Gate. I had them from the top of the house, and brought them at several times.

Q. Did you ever fetch any away in the night?
Moses Irons . No, my lord, it was sometimes day light when I went, sometimes, may be, betwixt 8 and 9 o'clock, that is the latest.

Q. Was you ever in the room where the books were?
Moses Irons . No, never; the prisoner at the bar always put the parcels on my back on the top of the stairs.

Q. Did any body else deliver any parcels to you there?
Moses Irons . No, I can't say I ever saw any body else. One night a gentleman called to me as I was going down, and the prisoner made answer, Sir, it is I.

Q. to Mr. Lintott. Is your staircase situate as the evidence describes?
Mr. Lintott. The staircase is the first on the right hand going down.

John Larnell . I am a porter; the prisoner has employed me to carry loads for him, I can't justly say how many. I brought several, I believe they were all books; some I brought openly; some were bound, and some unbound, like these produced here.

Q. Where did you take them from?
John Larnell . I took them from a stair-head belonging to a gentleman in the temple; it is at the going down on the right hand from the gate; the prisoner delivered them on my back on the resting place at the stair-head.

Q. Where did you carry them to ?
John Larnell . to Mr. Calvert's in the Fleet Market. The first time I carried any it was to Newgate-street.

Q. Did you carry any in the night?
John Larnell . No, I did not. I carried some betwixt 12 and 1 at Noon.

Q. to Calvert.
Do you remember these two porters bringing the books to you?
Mr. Calvert. I do very well; this last evidence shewed me Mr. Lintott's chambers.

Q. to Potten. Which of these porters brought parcels to you?
Mr. Potten. Irons brought all to me which I had; mine was all waste paper, I had no bound books.

Q. to Calvert. Do you recollect how much you paid the prisoner in the whole?
Mr. Calvert produced a book.

l. s. d.
The first article was 1 14 9
The second 1 19 6
The next 1 3 6
1 9 6
2 6 4
0 18 0
1 4 0
1 2 6
1 13 0
1 18 0
0 17 6
0 15 2

These sums sometimes my wife, and sometimes I myself set down, which were paid to the prisoner for books and paper.

Prisoner's defence.
On a Monday about the middle of May, I had been in the Strand about a little business; coming back again, I happened to go in at the gentleman and Porter in Fleet-street, for a pint of beer, there I happened to sit down in a little box where were two men; they seemed to be very well dressed. I staid there from 6 o'clock to about 7. They were talking how paper sold a pound; I was so unfortunate as to fall into discourse with them; they told me they had a great deal of paper to sell, and if I would sell it for them, or tell them where they might sell it, they would give me half the money. I said I would meet them in the morning. I did, and they took me up into the chamber where these books were. They said they belonged to the chambers; so accordingly I took the papers.

Acquitted of the burglary, found guilty of stealing in the dwelling-house.


Punishment summary from Old Bailey Proceedings;
Thomas Rawlinson , Session VI, Wednesday 17th July 1754, Parts I-II, 225-264
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: s17540717-285

The Trials being ended the Court proceeded to give Judgment as follows.
Received sentence of death 6.
James Cobley , otherwise Barrington, Elizabeth Jones , Mary Smith , Robert Finch and Joseph Mills

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