Old Bailey Court

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Thursday May 17, 1750, between eight and nine o'clock John Bradnam was intending to go to bed, but first was gathering some money to pay his way the following day. He put nineteen guineas and one shilling into a purse, and then placed the purse into his pocket. Shortly afterwards he was called down. Bradnam returned to his room about half an hour later, and upon his return he found his pocket had been moved. After taking out his money and counting it, he realized he was missing two guineas. He then asked his maid, Elizabeth Rice, who had been in his room, she said she did not know. Bradnam said some body had to have been in my room for I am missing two guineas. Bradnam search his maid and found the two guineas upon her. She then confused to taking out of his pocket, saying, she planned on paying him back. Bradnam then called Ann Wade, and John Archer up as soon as he had found it. Ann Wade and John Archer confirmed her testimony. Elizabeth Rice, on May 30, 1750, was charged with theft: simple grand larceny and was sentenced to the punishment of transportation.

Between the years of 1714 and 1799 the rate of theft in London increased for many reasons. The method of research use to prove this hypothesis was Old Bailey online. Old Bailey is a court in the city of London in the county of Middlesex. The court is held eight times a year for the trial of prisoners; the crimes tried in this court are high and petty treason, petty larceny, murder, felony, burglary, etc. The goal of this paper is to prove that not only did theft increase, but also why it increased. My preliminary findings suggest that overall theft did increase, and that the main causes for this were: political, economical, and social problems.

Theft, the act of stealing, larceny, was a common law offence, but there were a large number of statutes which legislated specific punishments for particular types of theft. Of the 16,424 cases of theft between 1714 and 1799 sixty six percent were simple grand larcenies, the most common type. Simple grand larceny was defined as "the theft of goods of the value of 1 shilling (12 pence = 1 Shilling.
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