An 1808 trial at the Old Bailey
How can you tell if something is stolen? These days many things of value have serial numbers and, if a record has been kept, stolen items can be identified by those serial numbers. Back in 1849 when the Arments came to trial such a system was not in common use. So why didn't they get off scot-free when the first of the two trials held in the fourth session of 1848-49 found them not guilty of the theft of damask from Druce and Co.?
The second trial, heard directly after the first, added counts of receiving stolen goods for both Thomas Arments. There was enough testimony to tie young Thomas and his father to the damask that he had been selling when arrested by Constable Cobley but was it the property that had been stolen from Druce and Co.? In addition to calling William Fray of Druce and Co., the prosecution also called upon Henry Holdsworth an agent of the manufacturer in Halifax (over 200 miles from London). Holdsworth testified that Messrs. Holdsworths' manufactory had produced the buff and crimson damask in question and they sold all they had to Druce and Co.
The verdict at the end of the trial was that Thomas Arment, aged 67, and Thomas Arment, Jun, aged 28, were guilty of receiving. They were sentenced to transportation for 10 years, the same sentence as that given to Henry Samuel Chester who had pleaded guilty to theft.
As I wrote earlier, Henry Samuel Chester was not transported because he died in Millbank prison on June 14, 1849 due to peritonitis. Would this have happened to him if he hadn't gone to prison? There are a number of natural causes of peritonitis but it can also be the result of a wound or injury to the abdomen.* Had Chester been injured while he was incarcerated?
Information I received from other Arment researchers showed that young Thomas made it to Australia. But he appears to have been the only one who was transported. Where had the older Thomas gone? That question took a while and another set of records to answer.
Story to be continued next week
Findmypast newspapers: http://www.findmypast.com (subscription site)
Peritonitis: https://www.healthline.com/health/peritonitis *
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913 https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/
By Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin - Ackermann, Rudolph; Pyne, William Henry; Combe, William (1904)  "Old Bailey" in The Microcosm of London: or, London in Miniature, Volume 2, London: Methuen and Company Retrieved on 9 January 2009., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=566832