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The Theft of Lady Southampton's Jewels. -1830

Derby Mercury - April and August 1830.

1 - April
It may be remembered, that about six weeks ago an account appeared in the papers of the robbery of jewels, to the amount of 5,000, belonging to Lady Southampton, under circumstances of a peculiar daring nature, the thief having entered the dwelling-house (Quorndon Hall, Leicestershire) while the family were at dinner, on Wednesday, the 3rd March, and taking a rope with him which he found in the lawn, proceeded up stairs to her ladyship's bed-room, and turning the key on the inside, proceeded to rifle her drawers and jewel cases, all of which were completely stripped.

The fellow then, with the property in his possession, lowered himself from the window of the room into the garden, and so managed to escape. The loss of the jewels were advertised, and a reward of 500 offered for their recovery. About a month ago suspicion fell upon a man formerly in the service of the Earl of Southampton, and he was taken into custody upon the charge of stealing the property in question, and having undergone several examinations before the resident magistrates, he was fully committed for trial to the county gaol. Since the time of the robbery no trace whatever could be found of the property, although every exertion had been made to recover it. A few days ago, however, accident brought it to light, it having been found concealed in a field within a short distance of Lord Southampton's house. The safety of the property is attributable to the confinement of the person who is charged with the robbery, who will, of course, take his trial for the offence, notwithstanding the recovery of the whole of the valuable booty in the manner described.

2 - August (the trial)

At Leicester Assizes Joseph Donigani was indicted for stealing in the dwelling-house of Lord Southampton, at Quorndon, in that county, a quantity of jewellery, of the value of 3,000., the property of his Lordship. The Court was crowded to excess; and several persons of distinction were on the Bench, including the Duke of Rutland, Lord and Lady Southampton, the Hon Captain Fitzroy, &c.

The prisoner is a man of decent appearance, and about 35 years of age. On the 2nd March last, Lord Southampton having invited some company to dinner, Lady Southampton's maid, who had been a very few days before hired into her service, looked over her jewels, which were kept in a drawer in her ladyship's dressing-room, and arranged them so that she might be able to select without difficulty those which Lady Southampton might choose to wear when dressing for dinner. The party, however, being principally a gentleman's party, her Ladyship did not wear any, and having finished dressing, went down to dinner between seven and eight o'clock.

The lady's-maid left the room shortly afterwards, having replaced a chair against the drawer in which the jewels were, but leaving it, as it usually was kept, unlocked. The housemaid then went up, and set the room to rights. At nine o'clock she went down to supper in the servants' hall, leaving the window of the dressing-room open. On her return, some where between a quarter and half and hour, she found that the door of the dressing -room was locked on the inside. She immediately went downstairs and gave the alarm. A ladder was procured, and a carpenter, named Ginger, entered the room by the window, and, unlocking the door, admitted the lady's-maid and other of the servants, who had come up to ascertain what was the matter. On examining the drawer, they found that the jewels had been stolen. Suspicion rested upon the prisoner, who was his Lordship's musician, but no one fact was adduced in evidence on the trial to warrant his conviction. He received a distinguished character for honesty from a number of respectable witnesses, including some officers of the 4th Dragoon Guards, in which corps he had served for upwards of twenty years, and been raised to the rank of band sergeant for his excellent conduct, as well as superior musical talent.

Under these circumstances, the Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty. The jewels were found buried in his Lordship's garden in the May following.

 Submitted on: 2009-09-06
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 535
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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