William Sykes' Trial at Old Bailey

The History of the Sykes Family in Australia
William Sykes (1768-1854)



Henry Jackson and William Sykes were indicted, the first for feloniously stealing on the 5th March, two wooden casks value twenty shillings, the property of William Marmaduke Sellon , and the latter for feloniously receiving the same, knowing them to be stolen.

Thomas Evans (Sworn). Examined by Mr Knapp: I am the inspector of casks for the Committee of Brewers.

In consequence of any information, did you go to Mr Sykes' house in Gray's Inn Lane? On the 12th March, Mr Sellon applied for a warrant to enquire of Mr Sykes Mr Sykes keeps the Sun, in Gray's Inn Lane I went there with some officers from Hatton Gardens We found Mr Sykes at home; we told him we were informed that he had some beer belonging to Mr Sellon on his premises; he said he had a barrel of beer that a man left there until he called for it; it was in the cellar, at the bottom of the stairs I found the barrel full of beer I asked him if there was anything else; he said 'No' I went further into the cellar with the warrant, and there we found a half hog's head, empty, of Mr Sellon's; we went aver the premises, and I found nothing more belonging to Mr Sellon; I left the Officer with Sykes till I got a dray to take the two casks away.

Are you sure the casks are Mr Sellon's? Yes, they have the mark of Mr Sellon.

Cross-examined by Mr Alley:

Does it not frequently occur that casks belonging to one brewer get mixed with another brewer's casks? No doubt.

With a publican who deals with four or five different brewers, it frequently occurs that mistakes happen, in a fair regular course of trade? It certainly does.

Meux's casks may get along with Mr Sellon's and vice versa? (Court) Does it happen, in the course of business, that these casks get exchanged suppose Mr Meux takes the cask and sends it out with beer? A man may get one cask by way of mistake.

Suppose Mr Meux takes Mr Sellon's cask and fills it again, does it happen they fill it again? It does so happen.

What were these casks, a small beer cask or what? They may be used for either strong or small.

James Herbert (Sworn). Examined by Mr Knapp.

You are a servant of Mr Sellon's? Yes.

Were you a servant in March last? Yes.

The prisoner was a drayman? Yes.

(Court) Which of them? Jackson.

Which of them is Jackson? (Mr. Alley) The gentleman with the red nose? Yes.

(Mr. Kmapp) Did you carry any beer to Mr Sykes? No, we didn't carry it; we rolled it down to the bottom of the stairs.

How came it from Mr Sellon's to Mr Sykes? From the dray.

What day was it? It was some time within a fortnight after I was there I had been there a few days, I have forgot the day of the month.

Do you know whether Mr Sykes was a customer of Mr Sellon's or not? I do not know any customers.

(Court) When you came to Sykes's house there was one left there - who did you see when you left it? I do not remember seeing anybody when I left it.

Did you see the man in the house or any of his family? No, there was a door that goes out of the street into a stable yard.

Did you know the house before? I cannot say I did I never was in that quarter before.

Did you or he roll it down? I helped him, he said, we will leave this here till another time or day, I cannot say which.

Was there anything in it? I cannot say whether it was full or not. There was something in it, but I cannot tell what was in it.

Cross examined by Mr Gurney.

Are you sure that was the house? Yes, now I am sure I was a stranger in that quarter.

How soon did you tell this? The inspector of casks spoke of it first, then I told of it.

How long after was it that you told of it? I cannot say that; I cannot say whether it was a week or a few days.

(Mr. Watson) The house was in Gray's Inn Lane? Yes.

You did not see anybody there? No.

(Mr. Knapp) Do you know now who keeps the house? He had a sustain jacket when I saw him.

Look around and tell me if that is the man. I believe that it is.

Hancock (Sworn): I am one of the police of ficers of Hatton Garden I went with the warrant to Sykes' house; I went with Mr Evans, and in Mr Sykes' cellar I found a cask of beer and an empty cask, said by Mr Evans to be the property of Mr Sellon; and after Mr Evans went to fetch the dray to take the beer away, Mr Sykes was left in my custody, during the time he went Mr Sykes was very well behaved; when Mr Evans returned to take the beer away, during the time they were loading the dray, Mr Sykes being then in my custody, withdrew into a back kitchen; at that time I did not know there was a door that leads into the yard from the back kitchen, I knew that there was a window that came into the yard; Mr Sykes went out of the door into the back kitchen and got over the water-butt and over the wall; I said nothing at the time, but rushed out of the door and turned to the left up a stable yard, and caught Mt Sykes by the jacket; Mr Sykes told me, when I laid hold of him, it was not his intention to escape, and desired that I would not hold him; I told him that I was obliged to secure him, in order that he might not escape; I told him that he was very much to blame, and he went into the kitchen again, nothing more passed, then I took him to the Police Office.

Cross-examined by Mr Alley:

Mr Sykes told you that he did not mean to escape - did not the magistrate take his word for his appearance? I believe he did.

He was admitted to bail, and he came here and surrendered himself? Yes.

(Mr. Knapp) Was not that at the request of Mr Meux's house that he was admitted to bail? I believe it was.

The casks produced, and identified to be the property of Mr Sellon by Mr Evans.

William Marmaduke Sellon (Sworn) Examined by Mr Knapp:

Mr Sellon, have you any partner? No.

Is Mr Sykes a customer of yours? He never was.

The other prisoner, Jackson, was a servant of yours? How long has he been so? About twelve months.

There are no orders of beer without your knowledge? Whatever directions are sent to my brewhouse cannot be sent to a customer till I have set my initials on the margin; they cannot send from my brewhouse till I have set my regular mark.

What beer is that? It is small beer? Publicans cannot have small beer in their cellars? They are liable to an information if they have.

Roads (Sworn) Examined by Mr Knapp:

Did you apprehend Jackson the same day? Did anything pass at the time? He said that the man that had turned against him ought to have something said against him, because he was to have part.

Are you sure that was the expression? He ought to have suffered with him, or instead of him; he ought to have suffered because he was to have part.

Jackson's defence: That beer, your Lordship, was my property I will prove it, which all draymen have, it is the bottom of the cask that all draymen have.

For the prisoner Jackson. Henry Chubb (Sworn): I am a cooper I live in Foster's building, Whitecross Street I work on my own account I have known Jackson above ten years He was a fellow servant of mine at Mr Bond's brewhouse I always found him an honest man, and I always understood that the drains belonged to the drayman.

(Court): Did you ever know instances of their taking beer home, the drains from different barrels, to the master's house, and then fill it into the master's barrels, and take it out and sell it? I will take it down in writing if you swear so. No, not sell it, but they take it home; I always understood it was their prerequisite.

(Court) You do not understand any such thing, you only come here to perjure yourself.

The prisoner Jackson called four other witnesses who gave him a good character The prisoner Sykes said nothing in his defence but called five witnesses who gave him a good character.

Jackson, Guilty, Aged 52 years. Transported for seven years.

Sykes, Guilty, Aged 32 years. Transported for fourteen years.

Note the reference, early on: 'Did you see the man in the house or any of his family?' This may indicate that William was married with a family whom he had to leave behind in England.

Notice also the man who stole the beer received half the sentence of the other man who received it!

The History of the Sykes Family in Australia
William Sykes (1768-1854)