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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:32 am 
Spider Lady
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Location: Staffordshire
Preston Guardian

Saturday 14 January 1832

The King Against Ellen Berry
The defendant in this cause stood indicted for obtaining at Colne money under false pretences.
Mary Burton, a very old woman, stated that she was a widow, residing at Colne, and made her livelihood by selling cakes and muffins. She had by great starving and "clammin" saved up 27s. 6d., which she had in a cotton purse. On Saturday the 12th November she went out to a neighbour's house, and on her return she put her hand in her pocket, and found that her purse and money were gone. The money consisted of two half-crowns, some sixpences, and the rest in shillings. On cross-examination, witness admitted that she had received parish relief for years, and that she went to Burnley to see the conjurer about the money, but did not get the benefit of his advice, as she had not enough of brass to pay him.
Martha Baldwin said, that on the friday the 15th November, one of her children brought her eleven shillings and three sixpences, which she had found. The prisoner on that day called upon her, and asked her if she had found any money, for that she had lost from 23s. to 25s. from her pocket, in which she showed a hole. Witness believing her, gave her the money. On cross-examination, witness said she went to the place where it was found. Her girl told her to repeated questions, that she did not find it in a purse. It was lying upon the ground, and she saw it a good distance off. The defendant sells pots, and buys rags, and she believed her to be an honest industrious woman. Another girl, who was with the above when the money was found, took to the man in whose house she lived, two half-crown pieces, four shillings and three sixpences. The defendant came and asked him for it, stating that she had lost it, and it was given to her. She said she had been receiving and paying money on that day, and was not positive to the exact amount, but had lost it from a hole in her pocket.
A female witness, a relation of the prosecutrix, said she saw the children at a distance, when the money was found. She afterwards found the purse, with two sixpences in it, but did not give them up, or mention them at the time.
The son of the prosecutrix said that his mother complained to him of having lost her money, but he did not look for it, as he thought that would be of no use Reuben Hartley being called upon to attest the examinations, said he was clerk to Mr. Bolton, attorney. -Dr. Brown, in cross-examination, produced a letter in his writing, desiring the prisoner to pay back the money, and his charge, 10s. 6d., otherwise a prosecution would be instituted against her. Witness admitted Mr. Bolton would make about two guineas by the prosecution. The examinations merely showed that the prisoner had said she had lost the money, as before stated. Dr. Brown made an eloquent appeal, in defence, contending that it was improbable that the prosecutrix, a pauper, was possessed of so much money, or that it would be in the street from Saturday till Tuesday. It was also distinctly stated that it was not found in a purse, but lying loose; and the inference he deduced was, that the parties, the relatives of the old woman, had got up the story of the purse in order to obtain what they had heard was found.
The jury found the defendant guilty. When placed in the dock she protested her innocence, declaring that the money was her own. she was sentenced to hard labour in this House of Correction for 3 months. On hearing the sentence, the prisoner, who was in tears, declared that the whole proceedings against her from first to last, were a vile imposition. She had never been allowed to be heard by Mr. Bolton, who had in the first instance compelled her to pay £2. 10s., she knew not for what. The prisoner's counsel and the Chairman interrogated Mr. Reuben Hartley, as to the truth of this statement about the money. He admitted she had paid him the amount stated for recognizances, and attendance of witness. The Court expressed astonishment, and decided that she had no right to pay more than 2s. 6d. for the recognizance, and 6d. for the ticket. Mr. Hartley said he had erred from ignorance. He had paid the money to witnesses, and in other ways, thinking the prisoner liable. He was required to refund the money, £2. 7s., to the prisoner, which he did before she left the dock.


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