Friday, August 12, 2011

The Trial of Roseannah Mitchell (nee Dowds), Part 1

Court records can provide a bounty of genealogical information, especially if one of your ancestors has a central role in the records. I have been fortunate enough to find such records at the National Archives of Scotland concerning my third great grandmother, Roseannah Mitchell (nee Dowds). Roseannah was born around 1835 in County Derry, Ireland and married James Mitchell on September 4, 1855.

The trial of Roseann (or Roseanna or sometimes Roseannah) Mitchell (nee Dowds), was held in Glasgow in December 1877. Roseannah had been held in custody prior to the trial on eleven counts of "Theft by Housebreaking." The Crown Attorney, William Watson, proceeded by way of indictment on the eleven counts, alleged to have occurred between August 24th, 1877 and November 15th, 1877. For the purposes of the trial, 34 witnesses were called and numerous alleged stolen goods, all of which were clothing items, were presented as evidence.

Roseannah consistently maintained and professed her innocence, including in two sworn statements, which form part of the 100 plus pages of the court file that I have received.

The list of witnesses was as follows (as it appears in the records):

1. Walter Cook Spens, Esquire, advocate, sheriff-substitute of Lanarkshire.
2. James Neil Hart, writer in Glasgow.
3. George Brander, now or lately clerk in the sheriff-clerk's office, Glasgow.
4. John Lindsay, now or lately clerk in the sheriff-clerk's office, Glasgow.
5. John Campbell, now or lately sheriff-officer's assistant, County Buildings, Glasgow.
6. Henry Banner Hill, now or lately sheriff-officer's assistant, County Buildings, Glasgow.
7. Anna Thomson or Cullen, wife of, and now or lately residing with, David Cullen, joiner, in or near Malvern Place, Comely Park Street, Glasgow.
8. David Cullen before designed.
9. John McCann, pawnbroker's assistant, now or lately residing in or near Abercromby Street, Glasgow.
10. Margaret Shearer or Smith, wife of, and now or lately residing with, William Smith, cotton-yarn dresser, in or near Bernard Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow.
11. Matilda Shearer or McDonald, wife of, and now or lately residing with, John McDonald, shoemaker, in or near Bernard Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow.
12. David Cree, junior, son of, and now or lately residing with, David Cree, engineer, in or near Bernard Street aforesaid.
13. Betsy McDougall or Dunn, wife of, and now or lately residing with, John Dunn, boilermaker, in or near Bernard Street aforesaid.
14. Barbara Smith, mill-worker, now or lately residing in or near Naburn Street, Hutchesontown, Glasgow.
15. Elizabeth Smith or Gray, wife of, and now or lately residing with, William Gray, powerloom-tenter, in or near Naburn Street aforesaid.
16. Mary Duncan or Jack, pawnbroker, now or lately residing in or near Duke Street, Glasgow.
17. Patrick Blession, now or lately residing in or near Meuse Lane, Duke Street, Glasgow.
18. Michael McElaney, pawnbroker's assistant, now or lately residing in or near Stirling Road, Glasgow.
19. Robert Smith, son of, and now or lately residing with, Thomas Smith, shoemaker, in or near Havannah Street, Glasgow.
20. Edward McKay, pawnbroker's assistant, now or lately residing in or near George Street, Glasgow.
21. Mary Ann Malley, shopwoman, now or lately residing in or near Victoria Street, Govan, near Glasgow.
22. Bridget Welsh or Malley, wife of, and now or lately residing with, Patrick Malley, in or near Victoria Street, Govan aforesaid.
23. Patrick Malley before designed.
24. Annie Hanlon or Breirton, wife of, and now or lately residing with, Charles Breirton, engineer, in or near Drygate Street, Glasgow.
25. Mary Hanlon, daughter of, and now or lately residing with, Patrick Hanlon, fruit and vegetable merchant, in or near North Albion Street, Glasgow.
26. Ann Brannan or Hanlon, wife of, and now or lately residing with Patrick Hanlon before designed.
27. William Booth, now or lately criminal officer in the Eastern District of the Glasgow Police.
28. Agnes Grant, now or lately female searcher in the Eastern District Police Office, Glasgow.
29. John Anderson, now or lately criminal officer in the Govan Burgh Police.
30. Margaret Brown or Prentice, widow, now or lately residing in or near Meuse Lane, Duke Street, Glasgow.
31. Donald Stewart, now or lately sheriff officer at the County Buildings, Glasgow.
32. Bernard McLaughlin, now or lately sheriff office at the County Buildings, Glasgow.
33. Archibald McKenzie, now or lately constable in the Partick Burgh Police force.
34. Dugald MacPherson, now or lately sheriff officer and bar officer at the County Buildings, Glasgow.

The items of evidence, seventeen items in all, the alleged stolen goods, ranged from napkins, to petticoats, to dresses, coats and trousers. Finally, the Crown Attorney entered into evidence Roseannah's prior convictions for theft, dated April 8, 1871, August 26, 1873, May 28, 1875, and January 7, 1876.

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