The Constipated Thief?


On 8 April 1844, Police Constable George Clark [sic] gave evidence at the Old Bailey in the trial of John White (aged 20) for stealing nine shillings and one groat (four pennies). On 5 April, White, had gone into the chemist’s shop of William Golding in Upper Albany Street, Regent’s Park and asked for a ‘black draught and a pill’ (a common purgative in the nineteenth century).1  The chemist’s errand boy, John Robinson, had given change of nine shillings and a groat for the half-sovereign that had been tendered before he noticed that the coin appeared to be counterfeit.  Shouting “Stop Thief”, Robinson chased after White who was seen by a passer-by to throw away a packet later found to contain the nine shillings and a groat. P.C. Clark then appeared on the scene and arrested White, who gave a false address and was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment.2

Notes. 1. Wikipedia - Black draught; Wikipedia - Blue Pill; 2. Old Bailey Proceedings Online April 1844 John White (t18440408-1287).

Move on to the next unpublished case