Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Receiving Stolen Property

Stays as found in the Proceeding of the Old Bailey were put to another use besides shaping and supporting the body, they were also a repository for stolen goods! Thieves and pickpockets used the secured intimacy of the stays to conceal a truly wide assortment of stolen property. The 18th century storekeeper did not operate under any constraints regarding the personal rights and liberties of the thief and had no compunction about stripping the woman down and doing a search for the missing property right in the shop.

“lifted her up, and felt something soft tucked under her stays behind ; I put my hand up under a petticoat or two, I cannot say which, and there found this piece of lawn; I wrote my name upon it; here it is.”

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, 16 June 2009), October 1751, trial Elizabeth Medows (t17511016-24)

“then in searching her by untying her petticoats at the bottom of her stays I found this bag, here produced, with gold in it; it amounted in the whole, silver and gold together, to 33 l. 18 s. 2 d 1/2.”

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, 16 June 2009), September 1754, trial Ann Leddiard, (t17540911-37)

“we took her into the back room, and took six yards of lace from under her stays, my property; I sent for a constable”

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, 16 June 2009), October 1759, trial Elizabeth Rosdell, (t17591024-2)

“I saw the prisoner standing in my kitchen by the door, with the things mentioned in the indictment, in her apron; I stopt her, and found four pewter plates under her stays” Ouch!

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, 16 June 2009), May 1771, trial Mary King, (t17710515-49)

“ upon taking off her stays and shaking her cloaths, there fell down a guinea, a half guinea, a half crown and a shilling, which with the 4 s. that were found before, made up the money that I missed”

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, 16 June 2009), January 1778, trial Ann Shepherd, (t17780115-50)

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