A "Question Lay" Thief, whose End was at Tyburn, on 22nd of December, 1703
MOLL HAWKINS was condemned on the 3rd of March, 1703, for privately stealing goods out of the shop of Mrs Hobday, in Paternoster Row. She having been reprieved for nine months, upon account of her being then alleged quick with child -- though she was not -- she was now called down to her former judgment.
When she came to the place of execution at Tyburn, on Wednesday, the 22nd of December, 1703, she said she was about twenty-six years of age, born in the parish of St Giles- in-the-Fields; that she served three years' apprenticeship to a button-maker in Maiden Lane, by Covent Garden, and followed that employment for some years after, but withal gave way at the same time to those ill practices which were now the cause of her death.
Before this Moll Hawkins projected shoplifting she went upon the "question lay," which is putting herself into a good handsome dress, like some exchange girl, and then, taking an empty bandbox in her hand, and passing for a milliner's or sempstress's apprentice, she goes early to a person of quality's house and, knocking at the door, asks the servant if the lady is stirring yet, for if she is, she has brought home, according to order, the suit of knots (or what else the devil puts into her head) which her ladyship had bespoke overnight.
While the servant goes upstairs to acquaint the lady with this message, the custom is in the meantime to rob the house, and go away without an answer. Thus she one day served the Lady Arabella Howard, living in Soho Square. When the maid went upstairs to acquaint her ladyship that a gentlewoman waited below with some gloves and fans, Moll Hawkins took the opportunity of carrying away above fifty pounds' worth of plate, which stood on a sideboard in the parlour to be cleaned against dinner-time.