Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton


2 November 1728   Just as their Majesties were going into the Theatre in Drury-Lane, a couple of Divers were detect’d; they were both very well dress’d, but that did not prove their pasport [sic]; so that these Mimic Gentlemen were immediately convey’d to their proper mansion the Round House. (The Flying-Post)

Tuesday 17 October 1730   On Saturday Night —— Greenwood, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justice of Peace, had his Pocket pick'd of an Hankerchief, as he was going into the Play-House. The Fellow was taken in the Fact, and secured in the roundhouse, and next day was brought before the Justice, where he was very penitent, pleading that hunger had drove him to that extremity, being very lame, and having had no sustenance all day; he likewise produced a letter of recommendation from a Gentleman, to be admitted into the Hospital; upon which after a severe reprimand, the Justice discharged him. (Ipswich Journal)

24 February 1738   Yesterday 24 Prisoners were tried at the Old Baily, one whereof was capitally Convicted, viz. Thomas Gittings, for picking the Pocket of Mr. Hackwith of a Silver Watch, Value 4l. Nine were cast for Transportation, and 14 Acquitted. (Daily Gazetteer)

16 March 1738   Yesterday Edward Elsmoore was also committed to Newgate by (Col. De Veil), for picking the pocket of Mr. Stephen Sutton iat Drury-Lane Playhouse, where the pick pockets are grown so numerous, so bold, and so dangerous, that they rob with open violence. (Daily Gazetteer)

11 August 1748   Yesterday Justice Quarrel committed fourteen fellows to the House of Correction and Whitechapel-Goal, the greatest part of whom were dress’d as sailors, impeach’d by a lad, an accomplice, who says there is fifty in the gang, who has lately infested Stratford, Bow, and several other places. (General Advertiser)

Monday, 2 October 1752   On Saturday last about two o’clock, William Walker and Matthew Kelly, two notorious pickpockets, were detected in picking a gentleman’s pocket of a silk handkerchief in Flower-de-Luce Court. The gentleman on missing his handkerchief, cry’d Stop Thief, at the end of Fetter-lane, and they were pursued to Chancery-lane-end, where they were both taken. One of them is a man, and the other a lad about 15, who confess’d putting his hand in the gentleman’s pocket, but did not own taking the handkerchief. He owned that Kelly always put him on picking the pockets (for which purpose he had seduced him from his master’s service) and that he always gave them to Kelly immediately, on pain of being heartily drubbed. They made a discovery of a large gang to which they belonged, and each desired to be admitted Evidence against the other. They were carried into the King’s Head Tavern, and a Constable sent for, who refused after the third summons to attend, unless the gentleman who lost the handkerchief would come to him, which was accordingly complied with, and after relating the fact, (adding that the pickpocket had confess’d it, though not found upon him) the Constable, (who sat as Magistrate in his own shop, to enquire into the merits) refused to take charge of them, but one of the staffmen being sent for, they were conducted in a coach to Wood-street Compter till this day, when they will be examined before the sitting Aldermen. (General Advertiser)

3 October 1752   Yesterday ... Kelly and Walker, two pickpockets taken on Saturday in Fleet-street, were examined before the same gentleman [Alderman Fludyer at Guildhall] who committed the former to Bridewell, and the other to the London Workhouse. (General Advertiser The offending constable was reprimanded on 4 October.)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Pickpockets", 1 January 2006, enlarged 4 January 2006, updated 24 January 2012 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/pickpock.htm>

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