We’ve all heard strange noises at night and wondered if an intruder is in the house. Mostly it is the wind, or mice, or our imagination, but, just occasionally, it might actually be a burglar.
One young lady in a City pub near the Mansion House was convinced that there was someone in the room upstairs. She was in the first floor kitchen and was sure that someone (or something) was moving in the floor above so she went to investigate.
She knew no one was supposed to in any of the upstairs guest bedrooms since none had been let so she proceeded with caution. As she entered one room there was nobody there but she heard a ‘slight rustling’. She said nothing but as she looked down she saw a man’s arm sticking out from under the bed.
The young woman now left the room, locking the door behind her and removing the key, and headed downstairs. Without saying anything to anyone she went out on the street and found a policeman. Having been appraised of the situation the officer took the key and went up to the room.
First the policeman knocked the door and announced himself. The intruder now came out and tried to leave. Finding the door locked he began knocking to be let out. The bobby opened the door and asked him his business. The man – who name was Samuel Sale – claimed that it was all a mistake, that he’d ended up in the room by accident and had got locked in. When he’d heard people in the house he had hidden under the bed for fear of being taken for a thief. He gave the policeman a false address and said he had gone upstairs instead of downstairs after being misdirected by a waiter in the house.
The policeman believed none of this and took him into custody. He was brought before Alderman GIbbs at Mansion House police court on the following day. There the magistrate listened to the prisoner’s version of events (it was all a mistake, he had no intention to intrude let alone steal anything) before asking him why he had given a false address.
‘The officer mistook me’, Sale replied. In other words the policeman had taken the address down incorrectly.
‘Then we are all in a mistake’, the alderman declared.
‘You mistook the bedchamber, the officer mistook another address for your address, and I mistake you for a thief who had an intention to rob this house’.
After the laughter that this caused had subsided he went on:
‘The young lady has acted with a great deal of presence of mind and prudence in completing the business without terrifying her mother, and you shall go to Bridewell for three calendar months with hard labour’.
With that the unfortunate man was led away to start his sentence.
[from Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, October 27, 1850]