GEORGE ROACH, ROBERT ELLIOT AND JONAS PARKER
Who were convicted, the first two of stealing, and the other of receiving Part of a Lead Coffin from Aldermanbury Church, in 1778
AT the sessions held at the Old Bailey in April, 1778, these men were indicted, the first two for stealing a lead coffin, of three hundred pounds' weight, value five pounds, the property of William Thornton Aston, Esq., and Parker for receiving fifty pounds' weight of the lead, value five shillings, knowing the same to have been stolen. The second count in the indictment laid the lead to be the property of the parishioners of Aldermanbury, and stolen by Roach and Elliot; and the third count charged Jonas Parker with receiving it, being the property of the parishioners of Aldermanbury, well knowing it to have been stolen.
William Thornton Aston, Esq., deposed that, on the 1st of January preceding, his brother was interred in a leaden coffin, in the church of Aldermanbury; that the coffin was stolen out of the church, and was missed on the 7th of March.
James Gould, who had been admitted an evidence, deposed that Roach, Elliot and himself were journeymen carpenters, working under Mr Augurs in the repair of the church. He said that on Friday, the 6th of March, he and Roach went into the vault and unscrewed all the screws of Mr Thornton's coffin except two, after which they returned to their work; and that afterwards they and Elliot agreed to work again on the coffin.
On the Saturday morning they went to the church, and about five o'clock a watchman followed them in and desired a board to be planed, which was done by Gould. The accomplices then loosened the other screws and turned the coffins bottom upwards, taking off the outside coffin, and leaving only the shell. They then cut the leaden coffin in pieces, and, replacing the other coffin on the shelf?, screwed it down again. These transactions lasted them till nearly eight in the morning, when they took the pieces of the coffin and, having concealed them under the children's gallery, conferred about selling what they had stolen, when Elliot mentioned Parker, in Grub Street, as a likely purchaser.
The lead being in two pieces, Gould put one of them in a bag and took it away, and the other was put in a basket and carried by one of the accomplices. When they got to London Wall, Elliot beckoned Gould, and they went to a shop, where they offered the lead for sale to a person, who refused to be the purchaser. They then went to Parker's, who weighed the lead without asking them any questions, said it was forty-two pounds, and paid them three shillings and sixpence for it, being at the rate of a penny a pound. When they were going away with the empty bag Mr Augurs's apprentice came in and seized Gould, and desired Parker, who was a constable, to assist in conveying him and Elliot to Mr Augurs. Parker said: "You had better go to your master and try to make the matter up." They went, and were all charged with the felony. Parker said: "Give them a trevalle for it."
Gould, being asked what was meant by that term, said he did not know exactly, but supposed it was a hint to attempt making their escape; on which they made a run for it (to use his own words), and Parker likewise ran away; but they were stopped and taken into custody before they got any considerable distance.
All the prisoners called persons who gave them good characters; but the jury, having fully considered the nature of the evidence, gave a verdict that they were guilty: in consequence of which, at the close of the sessions, Roach and Elliot were sentenced to labour three years on the Thames, and Parker to be imprisoned for a like term of time.