Dr Mike Baldwin : Organologist : Historian : Researcher : Writer : Harp maker : Restorer
Sophia Sanders and William Barrett indicted for stealing

Sophia Sanders (alias Sophia Stamp Sutton Cook, alias Sophia Cook) and William Barrett (alias Godfrey) theft, indicted for stealing, on the 26th of July, 1 piano-forte, value 38l, 23rd October, 1828. The Proceeding of the Old Bailey, ref. T18281023-225

MR. ADOLPHUS conducted the prosecution.

GEORGE BATHMACHER, SEN. I live at No. 6, Charles-street, Soho-square, and am a piano-forte maker. The prisoner Barrett called on me two or three times in July last; he first said he wanted a harp for a lady: on the 25th he called again and said Mrs. Sutton had been out the evening before and tried a harp - that it made her fingers ache, and she wanted a piano-forte; he asked what it would be a month, I said 26s.; he said he would come the day following and give me an answer - it was to be a cottage piano-forte; he came the next day and said the lady was quite agreeable to the price, and she wished it to be sent that evening, as she had a little party, and wished it particularly; he left me this blue card, with a reference to Mrs. Paul, No. 4, Curzon-street, May-fair, where he said Mrs. Sutton had lived, but she had now taken a house in South-parade, Chelsea - being in ill health I sent my wife there - I do not know whether this was the first time he mentioned the name of Sutton; I sent the harp by my son on the evening of the 26th of July, and two or three days after Barrett called and said Mrs. Sutton was very well pleased with it - I have received no money for the hire - I have seen my piano-forte again for the first time this morning at a pawnbroker's in Houndsditch; I would not have parted with it unless I had received a reference.

Cross-examined by MR. PRENDERGAST. Q. He said he was sent by her? A. Yes, and said he would bring the money for the hire himself.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. What was the price of the best cottage piano-forte you had? A. I do not make expensive ones - there are rosewood ones at seventy guineas; some harps are one hundred and fifty guineas - this piano-forte was worth thirty-six guineas; I did not tell him the price, on my oath - he did not ask me.

Q. Was it not agreed between you, that if the lady chose to buy it, it was thirty-six guineas? A. Never - no such thing was named.

MARY RATHMACHER . About the 26th of July I went to No. 4, Curzon-street, May-fair - Mrs. Paul was out; I saw a person, who called herself her daughter - I asked her respecting Mrs. Sutton - she said she was a very respectable lady, and had lodged with her mother; I returned to my husband, and told him: on the 26th of August, when the month was expired, I sent my son to receive the hire, and at that same time Barrett came and asked when the month was up; I said it was up, and I had sent my son for the money - he turned out of the shop in great confusion.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. Did he not tell you Mrs. Sutton had left the house? A. He did not - nor did he say I should receive the hire in a few days.
MARY PAUL . I live in Curzon-street, May-fair. A Mrs. Sutton and her mother lodged with me, but I know nothing of the prisoner - I never saw her till I saw her at Bow-street; my daughter had heard me talk of Mrs. Sutton, but did not know her.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. When did Mrs. Sutton live with you? A. About nineteen years ago - it is ten or eleven years since I saw her - I had a letter from her three months ago, dated from Bath; her mother has been dead about fourteen years - I cannot read or write; I received a good many letters from Mrs. Sutton - I have burnt them; I believe if there had been twenty references I should have given them.

COURT. Q. Did you ever know Barrett? A. I believe I have seen him at my house two or three months ago - he called, and asked me to come and see Mrs. Sutton at Queen-elms, and I had a two penny-post letter before that to invite me to see her; I supposed it was the Mrs. Sutton whom I knew - a person had called to say she had returned from Bath.

MR. MILLER. Q. If you had gone to Queen-elms, and seen the prisoner, you would have known she was not the person? A. Yes.

SARAH PAUL . I am Mrs. Paul's daughter. Mrs. Rathmacher applied to me for Mrs. Sutton's character; I had not seen her, but heard my mother speak of her - I had never seen the prisoner.

ANN ARNOLD . I know a counting-house in Sherbourne lane - the name of Drummond and Burgh is on the door. I saw the prisoner Sutton there once, and she wrote a letter there - this is it; (looking at the card) - I believe this to be her hand-writing; it corresponds with the letter.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. Have you compared it with the letter? A. Yes - my opinion is formed from that comparison, and having seen her write the letter.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Looking at them separately, do you believe the card to be her writing? A. Yes - (card read) "Mrs. Sutton, 12, Queen-elms" - on the reverse side, "Mrs. Paul, Curzon-street, foom twelve o'clock to half-past three."

GEORGE RATHMACHER, JUN. I took the piano-forte to No. 12, South-parade, Queen-elms, on the 26th of July, and to the best of my belief the woman at the bar is the person who received it; I believe she ran her fingers just over the keys - I afterwards called there for my money, and found Captain Pettingall there; I returned, and told my father - I have since seen the piano-forte at a pawnbroker's in Houndsditch, and am sure it is the same.

Cross-examined by MR. PRENDERGAST. Q. How do you know it? A. The fall projects over, and it was never finished - there was only one beading instead of two; our name is on it.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. On your oath, did the female you see here, run her fingers over the keys? A. Yes, and I did the same - she did not play a tune; I stated this at Bow-street - I did not state that she did not touch it; I know two reporters were examined there - I got to the house about four or five o'clock in the afternoon; to the best of my belief the prisoner is the person; I did not see her again till she was at Bow-street - I do not think I had any conversation with her.

Q. Now look at that woman behind you, have you ever expressed a doubt as to which of the two women you saw on that occasion? A. I take that to be the person (the prisoner;) when I was asked about it I could not exactly say which was the woman, because I could not see her face, and when the piano-forte was taken, she kept her back as much as she could towards us; I think the prisoner is the person by her beight - she appears to be the person; I cannot swear which is the woman.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Do you believe the prisoner is the woman? A. Yes - I saw her at Bow-street, and expressed the same belief there.

COURT. Q. When you took the instrument, did you ask for Mrs. Sutton? A. Yes; I went to deliver it to Mrs. Sutton.

THOMAS LOVETT . I am a porter. I carried the pianoforte to Mrs. Sutton Cook; I understood the name of Cook was on the paper - a female received it, but I did not see her face; I said I had brought a piano-fore from Mr. Rathmacher for Mrs. Sutton Cook, and asked where it was to be placed - she desired it might be brought into the parlour: a table was moved from a recess for it to be placed in - she touched the instrument; I also saw a little child there - the lady gave me something to drink.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. Look at that other woman with a child? A. I can swear to the child, but not the woman; I do not believe her to be the woman - I did not see her face.

CAPTAIN PETTINGALL . I am proprietor of the house at Queen-elms - I let the house to Barrett, that was the name he gave, and referred me to Messrs. Alois and Co., No. 9, Liverpool-street, Broad-street; I went there the following day, and saw a very respectable looking man - he either answered to the name of Alois, or I understood from the representation that he was the person; I said I was referred to him by a man named Barrett, who was about taking a house of me for Mrs. Sutton; he said, "Mrs. Sutton is coming to town, I have received a letter from her from Bath; she is coming to town for her health, and to consult her physician; she stated that a reference would be necessary, and begged me to give it;" I asked if he would guarantee the payment of the rent; he said, "No; I guarantee nobody's debts; but when the quarter or half-quarter is due, if Mrs. Sutton gives you an order on me for the money, I will pay you:" he said she was a very respectable lady, and I think said she was a West Indian; I let the house to Barrett - I told him the reference was perfectly satisfactory, and I would let him have it; I desired him to call on a certain day, which he did, and we finally agreed about it: a paper was signed by my son and Barrett - the signature of Mrs. Sutton was added some days after she was in the house - she came in that evening before I left it; I had lived there before - a woman, who I understood to be her housekeeper, came an hour and a half before - that is the woman who has been pointed out in Court.

COURT. Q. Is the prisoner the Mrs. Sutton who took the house? A. Yes, most certainly; I was at the house several times, and once sat an hour with her - she said to me, "Captain Pettingall, I believe my rent is due on the 1st of May, but I shall not receive my money till the 10th, will it make any difference to you?" I said, "Certainly not."

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Did you get your money on the 10th? A. I am sorry to say not; my house was empty on the 12th of August; I went on the 14th of August, and found Alois and Co. had decamped; I saw Mrs. Sutton sign the agreement, and believe the card to be her writing; my son signed it - as I intended to go abroad I left my son to act for me; the house was let for one hundred and forty guineas per annum.

Cross-examined by MR. PRENDERGAST. Q. Did Barrett sign it as a witness? A. I suppose so; I did not ask him to sign it.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. Was the house let furnished or not? A. Furnished respectably all over; they did not take it all away - I left a piano-forte there; Barrett said, "Mrs. Sutton will be quite delighted with this, for she is very musical;" my daughter replied, "I don't know that I shall leave it, but I will leave it for two or three months to accommodate the lady;" it is now in my possession - I had it away.

Q. Are you aware that she is the daughter of a west India planter, who left her 40,000l.? A. I knew nothing about it.

THOMAS WOLSTENHOLME . I am shopman to Mr. Barker, a pawnbroker, of Houndsditch. On the 1st of August Barrett applied to know if I would take in a cottage piano-forte; I knew him before always by the name of Godfrey; and on Saturday morning, between eight and nine o'clock he brought it; I advanced 15l. on it - Rathmacher's name is on it - he has seen it and claimed it; Barrett said it was for a friend of his, and would be removed in a month - but we have it now.

ELIZABETH DOWNEY . I was servant to Mr. Parkinson, of Greek-street, Soho. I was at Brighton from November to February last - a cousin of mine used to wash for Mrs. Sutton in November; I knew them both there; I came to town in February, Sutton then lived at Chelsea; I remember Barrett being there; I heard Mrs. Sutton say the piano-forte was in pawn for eighteen guineas, but when she could raise the money it should be sent home; this was at my cousin's house in the Borough, the latter end of August; she said she did not pawn it, and did not know where it was, but if she could get eighteen guineas she would take it out and send it home - that she was involved in debt, and she thought she should be taken; I was with her at the Falcon public-house in the Borough, where she was taken.

Cross-examined by MR. MILLER. Q. She said if she could get eighteen guineas she would take it out, and send it home? A. Yes; I was in Greek-street on the 26th of July - Sutton was there several times on Saturdays, and lived there solely for a time I understand.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. When did you see her at Brompton? A. I was there in June, and part of July - I left about the 17th; I was there with her at Mr. Parkinson's about a fortnight - she was at Parkinson's every Saturday - whether she was at Nine-elms, I do not know.

JURY. Q. Was it before she was in trouble, that she said she had the piano in pawn? A. Before.

FRANCIS FAGAN . I am an officer of Bow-street. I had instructions to apprehend Sutton; I saw her on the 3d of September, and told her she was taken for stealing a piano-forte, the property of Mr. Rathmacher; she made no observations then, but before the Magistrate, she said the piano-forte would be forthcoming, and it might be at Mr. Rathmacher's by that time.

The prisoner SUTTON put in a written defence, protesting her innocence, and stating that circumstances had compelled her to leave the house in South-parade for five weeks, during which time the instrument was sent - that she was not at the house when it was brought, and on her return to the house, on the 3d of August, it was not there; that she was entitled to considerable property by the will of her father, some of which was now in the Accountant-General's hands.

BARRETT, in a long address, stated, that he was an agent for letting and hiring houses, and as such had taken the house for Mrs. Sutton; that he was afterwards arrested upon a forged bill, and Sutton, finding him without a home, had given him an asylum in her house; that he had hired the piano for two months, and intended to redeem and return it, but both himself and Sutton were taken into custody before that time had expired - that it was pawned to prevent its being seized for rent or taxes.

CAPTAIN PETTINGAL. There is not a word of truth in there being any fear that rent or taxes could be seized for.

MARY GRAINGER . I am a washerwoman. I was at Mrs. Sutton's when the instrument came there - I went after some money she owed me - Mrs. Sutton was not there; the woman who has been pointed out, and a tall thin woman were there, but Mrs. Sutton was not there.

MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. What is your husband? A. A cork-cutter; I never heard the prisoner called any name but Sutton - I have known her twelve months, and I saw Barrett at Walworth about twelve months ago; I never saw him at the house at Chelsea - the child the woman has, is the prisoner's - I did not hear the instrument played.

MR. MILLER. Q. Did you go up stairs into the parlour and kitchen? A. Yes; if she had been there, I must have seen her; this woman gave me a note to take to Greek-street to Mrs. Sutton - she owed me 6s.

COURT. Q. What is that woman? A. The housekeeper - she was up stairs scouring; I went up to speak to her - I was there from three o'clock till about eight.

SAUNDERS - GUILTY . Aged 38.

BARRETT - GUILTY . Aged 33.

Transported for Seven Years .