Hotel Robbery – Sharp Work

Isle of Wight Observer September 21 1861

On Friday night, the 13th inst., a gentleman was robbed at the Royal Eagle Hotel under the following circumstances:- On Friday afternoon a cadaverous looking youth named Welsh entered the hotel and had a chop and potatoes; after which, he enquired if they had any beds. On being informed in the affirmitive (sic), he said that as the weather was so wet for travelling he would have one; and from that time up to half-past nine loitered about the front-door and in an inn near, stating that he wished to obtain a situation as hotel waiter; also that he had been in the service of the Marquis of Waterford. At half-past nine the plundering rascal asked for a candle and went up stairs, apparently to go to bed. However, about half-past eleven he again appeared downstairs, and was very anxious to get to Portsmouth, as the “weather had cleared up”. Finding that no boat could be got, he resolved to depart by the first steamer in the morning, the one that leaves at 6.25. On the same night, Mr Langdon, the gentleman who was robbed, retired at half-past 10 locking his door on the inside, and, according to his own statement, was soon asleep. The next morning at five minutes past 6 Welsh was let out of the front-door by one of the servants, and simultaneously with this event the bell of the bedroom where the gentleman was sleeping rang. The “boots” immediately went to answer it, and was informed by Mr Langdon that someone had robbed him of his watch and money. Mr Newman, proprietor of the hotel, was immediately made acquainted of the fact, and despatched several of his servants down the pier in search of Welsh, that being the only person who had left the hotel that morning. He was apprehended just as the steamer was about to start, and the watch and part of the money found upon him; and on being taken to the station another sovereign was found concealed in the lining of his coat, which with the amount paid by him at the hotel, corresponded with the sum stolen, £2 10s. The robbery must have been effected in this manner: the thief, instead of going into his own room on going upstairs, must have entered that of the gentleman, who, as before stated, retired an hour later and locked his door on the inside. This assertion is confirmed by the fact that the woolly flock and dust which accumulates underneath bedsteads was dragged out upon the carpet, as if someone had crawled from underneath the bed. If the plunder was obtained thus, it accounted for the vagabond being so eager to get to Portsmouth the same night, although he could not then have taken the watch for the gentleman looked at it to see the time at half-past 5 on Saturday morning. At five minutes past 6 he went to look again and found it gone; and the thief, by Mr Newman’s and the servants’ promptitude, was apprehended 10 minutes after. He was taken to Newport the same day to be tried before the County Magistrates, and, on pleading guilty, was most righteously sentenced to six months imprisonment at Winchester.

The Warrior arrived at Spithead this morning (Friday) at 8.30, under steam. She has rather a clipper appearance, instead of being the ugly customer she is. We cannot see whereabout the half-a-million sterling is squandered upon her.

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