In mid August 1849 William Ash appeared at the Guildhall Police Court in the City of London. Ash was well known to the police and courts of London as a burglar of some renown. On this occasion he was accused of stealing no less than 250 pairs of boots with a value of £100 from a Mr Reid.
On the previous night George Reid (a lad of 14) approached the front door of his father’s shop in Finsbury at about 10.30 and found it bolted from the inside. This was not what he was expecting as he and another employee had been sent to fetch some things form the premises.
Whilst the stood wondering who had locked it the door flew open and Ash and another man bundled past them, knocking him down with a blow. Gathering his senses he and the other man (James Donohue) set off in pursuit of the two robbers. The burglars split up and one escaped but Ash was taken and handed over the the police.
Reid and Donohue returned to the shop with some police officers to see what the men had taken. They soon found three large sacks (which didn’t belong to the Reids) full of boots waiting to be removed. It seems obvious then that the pair of thieves had been disturbed by the approach of Reid and his colleague.
Ash played the innocent in court, saying he had simply been strolling past with his hands in his pockets when he was assaulted by the pair. Unfortunately for him a City policeman recognized him as an old offender and as someone who had recently been held on suspicion of robbing a jeweler’s shop nearby. The magistrate remanded him for further examination and called for more witness to testify.
[From The Morning Chronicle, Thursday, August 16, 1849]