Sarah's Trial at Old Bailey

The History of the Sykes Family in Australia
Sarah Byrne

Case 37. Peter Catapodi , otherwise Peter Brown, and Sarah Best, otherwise Catapodi were indicted for feloniously stealing on the 7th of November, a cotton counterpane, value 5s. the property of John Finch , in a lodging-room let by contract by him to the said Sarah.

The case was opened by Mr Kennedy .

John Finch Sworn: I live at No. 8, St James's buildings, Rosomon's Street, Clerkenwell: The woman at the bar took the lodging of me, by the name of Brown; she applied to me for that purpose on the 3rd and 4th of October, the first time she came, there was a young woman with her and a infant that she had in her arms; I agreed with her for the lodgings, she represented herself to be a married woman; on the 5th of October, the two prisoners came together, and occupied the lodging, and continued till the 15th of November, when they were taken up by the officers of Bow Street, they were to find their own bed linen, I was to furnish the blankets and the quilt; he went by the name of Brown, I did not know he had any other name.

Q: Did he remain in the lodging with her all this time?
A. Yes, I never knew him to sleep out of the house, nor to be out of the house after ten o'clock; I did not miss anything till the officers of Bow St. gave me information, and then I missed a cotton counterpane off the bed, worth about eleven shillings or there abouts.

Cross-examined by Mr Kelly :

Q: It was the woman prisoner that you let the lodgings too?
A: Yes.

Q: I believe that you know that the man prisoner is not married to her?
A: I thought they were man and wife at that time; but from what I can find since they are not.

Q: The man prisoner did not come in till two days after the agreement with her?
A: She agreed on the 4th and came in on the 5th.

Q: Was it the quilt that was upon the bed at the time they hired the lodging, that was stolen?
A: No

Q: After that what became of the quilt upon the bed?
A: it had got dirty was put out to be washed and a clean one put on.

Q: How long was this after the lodging was let?
A: I cannot say positively.

Q: Which was the best quilt? Was the quilt lent last such as you generally let with your lodgings?
A: The first quilt was; and this I put on occasionally while the other is washed.

Q The quilt you lent them was too good to let with the lodgings?
A: No it was not, because the other was better than that; when the first gets dirty we put on the other.

Q: Are you a house keeper?
A: Yes.

Q: Have you seen the quilt since?
A: Not till I saw it at Bow Street.

Edward Fugion . Sworn: Examined by Mr Knowles. I am one of the officers of Bow Street; I have known the prisoner, about a year or two, by the name of Catapodi; in consequence of an information. I went to the Peacock in Maiden-Lane on Wednesday the 15th of November, to apprehend him I found the prisoner and a young man sitting in the back parlour; I went in, and said to the prisoner, what are you doing here, he said nothing; I told him I must search him, in searching him I found nothing; but upon a paper lying upon the table, there was a check upon the cashiers of the Bank, filling up, for five pounds, it was all filled up but signed, I brought him, and the young man, to the office: I went to search his lodgings, at the house of Finch, the last witness, I met the woman at the bar, Mrs Brown, by the way; I asked her where she lived; and she took me to the lodgings at Finch's house; under the bed I found a plate for drafts upon Down, Thornton and Free, I found it concealed behind some papers, I searched further, and found some more checks, not filled up, upon Down, Thornton and company: I observed there was no quilt upon the bed; I asked Mrs Brown what had become of it; she said that Mr Brown had taken it to be washed; I told her I must take her into custody, and she must go with me to Bow Street; I acquainted the prosecutor of the quilt being missing, and took her to Bow Street.

Cross-examined by Mr Alley :

Q: You have known the unfortunate young man a great while?
A: No great while.

Q: You know that he has a wife living?
A: I have heard it.

John Townsend Sworn. Examined by Mr Knowles .

I have known Catapodi twelve years. I have always known him by that name; I understood he was married, he used to speak of his wife when he was applying to the Solicitor of the Bank, when I had him in custody before.

Q: Is that his wife?
A: No. That is the wife of a poor man that has been executed, Colin Reculist.

Q: She is not the prisoner's wife?
A: No

John Stevenson Sworn:

I am servant to Mr Lowe, the pawnbroker, in Clerkenswell, (produces the counterpane); I received it from the woman prisoner at the bar, on the 7th November.

Finch: This is my counterpane.

Mr Alley

Q: Have you any mark upon it?
A: No; there is a mark of a bit of wax of my own trade, I am a shoemaker, a bit of wax that got upon it when it laid upon the bed where I worked, there is the mark of the wax upon it now.

Mr Knowles

Q How many years have you had it?
A: About four.

Catapodi -     Not Guilty

Best -           Guilty
Transported for seven years
Tried by the said Middlesex Jury before Mr Baron Parmoun

The History of the Sykes Family in Australia
Sarah Byrne