Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
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The Bad Apprentices ~ 1764

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The Trial of Jones & Bourk, Apprentices
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Crimes of Deception & Forgery
The Old Bailey ~ London ~ 17th October, 1764
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John Jones and Alexander Bourk, were indicted for forging and counterfeiting an order for the delivery of goods, to this purport, "September 23, 1764. Sir, please "to deliver my work to the bearer, Lydia Bell ;" and publishing the same, with intent to defraud the Wardens and Company of Goldsmiths, September 24.

JOHN FRENCH - Mrs. Lydia Bell is a silver-smith; I work for her; I made two silver tankards and two silver cups, with covers, for her, and delivered them to John Harper, her apprentice, to carry them to Goldsmiths Hall to be marked; they never were returned: the prisoner Bourk was Mrs. Bell's apprentice; but had gone away for some time: it is usual for the person that carries it to go for it again, with a note.

Q - How is that note commonly worded?

JOHN FRENCH - "Please to deliver to the bearer my work", and commonly the species of work is mentioned. If work is mentioned, we look upon it the same as if it mentioned the proper species of work: the apprentice, John Harper, generally writes the note in Mrs. Bell's name.

COURT - Look at this order. (The order put into his hand).

JOHN FRENCH - I know her hand-writing well: this is not her hand-writing, nor like it. It is not Harper's hand-writing. It is not the hand-writing of any person that belongs to Mrs. Bell; she has no servant but me and the apprentice Harper.

Q - How long is it since Bourk lived with her?

JOHN FRENCH - He lived with her about two months before; I believe he went away about Bartholomew-tide.

Q - Is it usual in the trade for apprentices to write the note?


Q - Can Bourk write?
JOHN FRENCH - I don't think he can.


JOHN HARPER - I am apprentice to Mrs. Bell; I carried two silver cups, and two straight bodied tankards, and two covers, to be marked at Goldsmiths Hall, on Monday the 24th of September, and delivered them to Mr. Townraw.

Q - Have you ever seen your mistress write?

JOHN HARPER - I have, many a time.

COURT - Look at this order. (He takes it in his hand).

JOHN HARPER - This is not her hand-writing; this is dated September the 23rd.

COURT - Here is another paper; look at that. (He takes it in his hand).

JOHN HARPER - This is my paper, that I carried with the plate.

Q - When is that dated?

JOHN HARPER - This is dated September 24th.

Q - Who writes the order for plate to be delivered back again?

JOHN HARPER - I write them, by my mistress's order.

Q - Does Mr. French write any?

JOHN HARPER - He has wrote none since he has been with my mistress, as I know of.

Q - Is this order for the delivery of it your hand-writing?

JOHN HARPER - No, it is not; I went twice, in order to bring the plate back; the first time I went, they told me it would be two hours before it would be delivered; that was about four o'clock: I went again about six, then the work was gone.

Q - What do you mean by work?

JOHN HARPER - I mean the plate that I left at the hall.

Q - How do you phrase it?

JOHN HARPER - We write, Sir, please to deliver my work: and commonly mention so many tankards and mugs, spoons, or what they are.

Q - How is that wrote, which you carried in the morning?

JOHN HARPER - It says,
"Lydia Bell, Fleet-lane:
"two tankards, two cups, weight 83 ounces."

Cross Examination

Q - Who usually writes the notes, since Bourk ran away?

JOHN HARPER - I write them.

Q - How long have you lived with your mistress?

JOHN HARPER - I have lived with her upwards of five years.

Q - Who has used to fetch and carry the plate?


Q - Did you, that went to fetch the plate, write the note?

JOHN HARPER - I did, in her name, by her order.

Q - Did you ever go without a note?

JOHN HARPER - No: they would not deliver it without a note.

Q - Do you always mention the particular names of the plate?

JOHN HARPER - I do; but I don't always set down the weight.


THOMAS TOWNRAW - I am the senior weigher belonging to the goldsmiths company: I receive plate at the office; I am to take it into my care, and weigh it, and put it into the inward office; to be assayed and marked; after that, it comes to me again. I remember receiving two tankards and two cups of Mrs. Lydia Bell 's, on the 24th of September; (I can't tell who brought it to me), betwixt six and seven; Jones the prisoner came and asked for Mrs. Bell's work, if it was ready; I said yes, where is your note? he gave me this note in question; I read it; the note is as common as any other note we receive in the office; and I delivered the work to him.

Q - Is the word work a usual phrase made use of?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - It is, too common.

Q - What do you mean by too common?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - Because the tradesmen will not be agreeable to the office at all times.
Q - What did you deliver to Jones?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - I delivered two tankards and two cups; he made use of Mrs. Bell's name, he said, for her work

Q - Would you have delivered the plate to any body except they had brought a note from Mrs. Bell?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - No, I would not. The note read.
"September 23, 1764. Sir,
please to deliver my work to the bearer;
Lydia Bell.
Fleet-lane, London."

Cross Examination

Q - What do you mean by being agreeable to to the Office?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - There is a rule, but I never knew it properly; they should mention every piece; and the weight, I look upon it, for safety.

Q - Had you ever seen Jones before?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - No, not to my knowledge; the trades-people change their servants so often, that I deliver the goods upon their delivering the tickets; but I had a view of his face twice, while he was there.

Q - You see a great number of people in a day at your office, do you not?


Q - Had Mrs. Bell any other plate there, besides this?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - She had some small work, such as tea-spoons; that belongs to another officer in another branch.

Q - What did you understand this paper to be?

THOMAS TOWNRAW - I understood it to be an order from Mrs. Bell, to deliver this plate.


WILLIAM BELL - I am the junior weigher, in the same office with Mr. Townraw. I belong to the small work: I know Jones, by his coming to the office to ask for Mrs. Bell's small work, on the 24th of September last; I then had three dozen of tea-spoons of Mrs. Bell's in my care.

Q - Did you deliver them to him?

WILLIAM BELL - I said Mrs. Bell had not sent any money with the work when she sent it in the morning, neither should I deliver it to him, for it was not ready: he said, Mrs. Bell sent the money by the boy that brought it in the morning; it was not he that brought it. Then he applied to Mr. Townraw for the large work: I saw him give Mr. Townraw a note, and I saw Mr. Townraw deliver the plate to him: I am certain he is the person.

Q - Do you know the prisoner Bourk?

WILLIAM BELL - I knew him when he was with Mrs. Bell, he brought the work sometimes.


JOHN BOWLES - I know the two prisoners; (pointing to them.) I had not been acquainted with them above a week, before this happened; Bourk was an apprentice to Mrs. Bell; he said he used to fetch and carry plate belonging to her to this office: he got a note, and asked me to go with him, on the Monday the plate had been carried to Goldsmiths Hall; he told me he and Jones had been to watch it in; and there was large work and small work went in that day; I told him I would go along with him; Bourk told Jones how to write the note.

Q - Where was it wrote?

JOHN BOWLES - It was wrote in a cart in Chick-lane, that belongs to Mr. Dickson the Brewer.

Q - Can you write?

JOHN BOWLES - No; I can neither write nor read: Bourk sent a girl to get a pen and ink; it was agreed upon to go about three o'clock, to get the plate; we all three went to Goldsmiths hall at that time.

Q - Who went in?

JOHN BOWLES - Jones did; and Bourk and I waited just by: he was in about ten minutes, and came again, and told us, the work was not finished, and the small work was not paid for.

Q - Did you see the note wrote?

JOHN BOWLES - Bowles. I did; we all three of us were in the cart; the work not being ready, we all went back to where the note was wrote; we were to go again at six: when we went again, Jones went in with the note, and we staid in a court just by; he seemed to stay a little longer than ordinary, and we went back again to the place where the note was wrote, and Jones soon came to us with the work in a green bag; the bag that the work was delivered in; there were two quart tankards, with lids to them, and two pint cups; Jones gave them to Bourk, and Bourk held them while Jones went to fetch Welch: Welch came (he knew nothing of the writing the note): he took one of the tankards with the lid.

Q - Where does Welch live?

JOHN BOWLES - He lives in Black-Boy-Alley; he is about the size of Jones; about 17 or 18 years of age.

Q - Did you hear the note read?

JOHN BOWLES - No, I did not; I heard Bourk say it was to be wrote in Mrs. Bell's name.

Cross Examination

Q - Was you with Bourk, when he first mentioned it to Jones?

JOHN BOWLES - Bowles. No, I was not.

Jones's Defence

John Jones - I was on a dung-hill in Chick-lane; there was I, Bourk, and Bowles all together: first of all, Bourk asked me if I had any money? I said I had none at all; and did not know which way to get any: he said he knew which way to get some, and was sure of getting it; he said his mistress used to send plate to Goldsmiths Hall every day: Bowles and he got a note, and delivered to me, and I went to the hall, and asked for Mrs. Bell's work: I was told it was not ready; it would be ready about six o'clock: I went again about six; I asked the Gentleman for Mrs. Bell's work: it was delivered to me in a green bag; I went and delivered it to them; I did not know what was in the bag. I am an apprentice to a watch-maker.

Bourk's Defence

Alexander Bourk - I know nothing about it; Jones brought me first into it.

For Jones - Good Characters

Benjamin Odel - I have known Jones between five and six years; I always looked upon him to be a morally strict good lad.

Ann Jones - I have known him between five and six years, he was a very sober lad, and always behaved well in his master's house.

George Padmore - I have known him some time; I never knew him guilty of misbehaviour in my life.

John Anderkin - I have known him about 12 months; he is a very sober honest lad.

William Carter - I have known him between five and six years; he has been often at my house, and always behaved well, in a very sober manner; I never knew him guilty of pilfering, or any ill.

William Pateman - Jones is now an apprentice to me, and has been almost six years; I never had any reason to mistrust his honesty; I left him in my house with another apprentice while I went to Dover.

Q - Was you in London the 24th of September?

William Pateman - I was.

Q - Where was he then?

William Pateman - He was away from me then; he had eloped from me.

Q - How can you come to give a person the character of a sober lad that has eloped from his service?

William Pateman - I did intend to have mentioned that to your Lordship.

Q - How long had he eloped?

William Pateman - Pateman. He went away from me in August.


John Jones ~ Guilty ~ Sentenced to Death
Alexander Bourk ~ Acquitted
Bourk was detained to be tried with others, for a conspiracy in obtaining this plate.
Jones moved by counsel in arrest of Judgment, and his sentence was respited till next Sessions.

Character Backgrounds and Order of Procedure

by Trevor Downes

The Cast:

Although Grimwade makes no mention of the silversmith Lydia Bell she was actually registered at Goldsmiths Hall; her marks are probably in the missing Largeworker's books (1759-1773). She is mentioned in Walter Sherburne Prideaux's "Memorials of The Goldsmiths' Company, Being Gleanings from their Records Between the Years 1335 ad 1815" Vol. 2 and also in the Goldsmiths' Company Court of Assistant's records 19 December 1765.

Grimwade records that William Bell the Junior Weigher was probably the same William Bell (Grimwade 3018) whose workshops were at Silver Street. I would think this unlikely, this seems to be a reasonably good time for silversmiths, with very few going bankrupt as recorded in The London Gazette during that period.
I suspect the position of Junior Weigher would involve a twelve hour working day, six days a week, a common practice in the 18th Century. I find it hard to believe as Grimwade suggests, that he may have carried on his business simultaneously. He is also noted as a goldsmith in the Parliamentary Report in 1773.

The fact that John French delivered his work to John Harper to be assayed suggests that he was working as a journeyman at the time, rather than being a "Little Master" he may of course be another of the missing entries in the lost registers and perhaps Lydia Bell wanted the work to have her mark. It is very likely that he is the same John French recorded as Grimwade 3635; he had certainly entered a mark by the time of the Parliamentary Report in 1773.

Thomas Townraw, the Senior Weigher at Goldsmiths Hall is almost certainly the same Thomas Townraw as Grimwade's 2941-2 as he does not appear on the Parliamentary List of 1773 and Senior Weigher is a much more likely occupation for a retired silversmith.

It is interesting to note the inefficiency of the receipt system at Goldsmiths Hall, using scraps of paper, and Senior Weigher Thomas Townraw's classic line "There is a rule, but I never knew it properly". Had there been a more secure way of exchanging the work, there probably would not have been a court case and the life of a naive young man may not have been lost.

Gleanings from the transcript on the Order of Procedure for Hallmarking:
  1. Note is written by apprentice, dictated by master. (Note should mention: Name and address of master, description of work, weight of work, date).
  2. Apprentice delivers note and unfinished items to Goldsmiths Hall for assay.
  3. At Goldsmiths Hall, note and items are given to a Weigher. There are two Weighers, one for largework, one for smallwork. The Weigher receives the items, weighs them (he presumably compares his weight with the note) at this point we can safely assume that the duty fees are paid (in this case the work was later released without requiring payment of duty).
  4. The Weigher delivers the work to the Inward Office to be assayed and marked. On completion it is returned to the Weigher's office to await collection.
  5. Items are collected the same day, handed over to the bearer of a return request note from the silversmith (duty would be paid at this point, were it not paid on delivery).

The Whole Proceedings On the King's Commission of the Peace Oyer and Terminer,
and Gaol Delivery for the City of London,
and also the Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex.
Held at Justice-Hall, in the Old Bailey, On Wednesday the 17th, Thursday the 18th, and Friday the 19th of October
In the Fourth Year of His Majesty's Reign. Being the Eighth Session in the Mayoralty of The Right Honourable William Bridgen, Esq; Lord-Mayor of the City of London.

Number VIII. Part I. for the Year 1764.
Sold by W. Nicoll, in St. Paul's Church-yard.

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