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Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1831, Sunday, May 1, 1831.


Love, Law, and Felony

Monday, Joseph Spencer was charged, before Mr. Rawlinson, with stealing a quantity of glass, china, plate, paintings, and other property, to the amount of about 100l. belonging to Mr. Conway, Solicitor, Farrington-street.

The prisoner, it appeared, had been employed by the prosecutor as a porter, and, in that capacity, intrusted by him with the care of the property in question, which was deposited in the prisoner's house, in Robin Hood-court, Fetter-lane. This was about three weeks ago; and, on Saturday night, the prisoner's wife came to the prosecutor, in great consternation, saying that her husband had deserted her, and carried away the greater part of the prosecutor's goods. An inquiry was consequently set on foot, and, with great difficulty, the property was traced to No.45?, Union-street, Middlesex Hospital. The prisoner was subsequently apprehended in Union-street, Hoxton.

Martha Simmonds, a girl about 17 years of age, stated that she never knew the prisoner before Tuesday night last, when she met him in the gallery of the Tottenham-street Theatre and he accommodated her with a seat behind him. Miss Simmonds, though fond of theatricals, was also fond of making herself "comfortable," and brought with her three oranges and some bread and cheese, as a very comfortable episode between the acts. Mr. Spencer, the prisoner, exerted all his gallantry, won the smiles of the young lady, peeled two of the oranges for her, ate one himself, tasted her little stock of Cheshire, "the best he ever ate in his life," and, at length, prevailed upon her to adjourn to a neighbouring public-house to share a pot of heavy wet with him. He asked her if she was single; she assured him she was; whereupon "he talked a parcel of nonsense" about how very, very happy he was sure he could be with her; but she told him she was only a poor "serving maid" that she lived hitherto with her brother, and was now about "putting herself on her own hands." He assured her he could be able to furnish a place very comfortably for her, which drew forth an assurance from the young lady that she was firm in her resolve never to forget what was due to her honour; but Mr. Spencer dissipated her fears at once by pledging himself that his intentions (and here he laid his hand upon his heart) was strictly honourable. The pot of porter and the play being over, he saw her home, called the next day, was introduced to her brother, came again on Thursday, and in the evening chaperoned her to the Tottenham again, and made a formal offer of his hand. He told her she need not feel surprised if he brought a cart to the door, one day or other, to the door, laden with furniture; that she might see him the next day, or, perhaps, not for a fortnight. At three o'clock Saturday, however, he made his appearance with a cart laden with Mr. Conway's property, which was conveyed up-stairs into her brother's room. He displayed his rich cut glass and china before her wondering eyes, assuring her that it cost him many a pound to bring such a rare service to England. He remained there all night, and on Sunday her brother, he, and herself, went to Hoxton to see another brother of her's; they remained here all Sunday night, and on Monday morning he was proposing to one of the brothers to accompany him on a tour he intended making in France, when in walked Serjeant Mason, of the police, dissipated all her visions of wedding dresses and bridesmaids, and apprehended the gallant gay Lothario.

"And thus ended your brother's trip to France, and your trip to the altar," observed Mr. Rawlinson.

"Yes!" rejoined the young lady, who seems very indignant at the deception the prisoner had practiced on her; "and I wish an end could be put to him also, for he richly deserves it."

The prisoner bore himself with a high port indeed, and assured Mr. Conway he would have cause to regret bringing him there. He was fully committed for trial.