Bride Arrested for Shoplifting on Eve of Wedding, 1826

From the Dublin Evening Post, 26 August 1826:

A young lady, moving in a respectable situation in life, was on Thursday committed to Newgate, Dublin, on a charge of shop-lifting.  The circumstances of this case are rather curious, and possess in some respect a melancholy interest.  This lady was to have been married on the very day that consigned her to disgrace and imprisonment, to an ignominious trial and punishment – for of her guilt, I fear, there is little doubt.  She was detected on the previous day, having gone into a fashionable shop in Dame-Street, accompanied by another young lady, to purchase wedding favours.  The young men in the shop were led to watch her narrowly from having a few days before missed a crape shawl and ribbons after this lady had been in the shop.  On this occasion she was observed to secrete a piece of ribbon in her reticule, and a police-officer was sent for; he took her into custody, and brought her to the Head-Office, she gave her name and address, and on their being searched, the keys of her trunk; on searching which, the found the missing shawl and ribbon, and £50 in bank notes.

The young lady who was in company with the prisoner was excessively shocked at the discovery of heir friend’s delinquency; she was of course immediately discharged, the other was kept in custody in the office, during the night, and was yesterday brought up for further examination.  Little more transpired than we have already related, except that on the morning of her apprehension, she had gone into the shop of a reputable silversmith, where she purchased six teaspoons, but managed at the same time to secrete two or three trifling articles.

The gentleman to whom she was to have been married appeared yesterday at the police-office, where he endeavoured to console by his presence the object of his affections.  It is a melancholy consolation to know, that the lady is one of those who are occasionally found addicted to the vice of pilfering without the temptation of necessity.  Whatever may have let her to it, in the present instance, it is evident from the effect her novel situation has produced upon her, that shame and anguish rend her breast, and we understand that those who saw her on the previous evening, would scarcely have known her when she was brought before the Magistrates.”

Just one of a rash of ‘respectable’ shoplifters in 1820s Dublin, the most famous being Dr Treacy, who had ‘hitherto borne a respectable character in the Medical Profession and whose practice not only placed him above the rank of want but in a state of comparative affluence,’ who was detected in 1827 in the shop of a respectable trader, also in Dame Street, in the act of secreting a roll of linen in his hat.  A search of his house disclosed in a secret chest of drawers many items of lace and silk, and other articles of considerable value. He was transported for seven years.

It is not stated what ultimately happened to the bride shoplifter in this case. Hopefully she was not the well-situated lady of extremely fashionable appearance from Suffolk Street who appeared before the magistrates again in 1828 charged with stealing some gold brooches from the Royal Arcade around the corner, whose hells were the ruin of at least one devil. Temptation from this source, at least, was removed when the Arcade was destroyed by fire some years later!

Barristers’ daughters, too, occasionally experienced attacks of the lightfinger! More here.

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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