George Cock, b. 1720

Thief with an Unusual Method

George Cock had an unusual, but not particularly successful, method of thieving.

Early Life and Apprenticeship

George Cock, the son of William and Mary Cock, was born on 12 June 1720 in St. Boltoph Aldgate.1

At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a barber and peruke maker. He did not enjoy his apprenticeship, eloping many times within the first year before finally quitting completely. For the seven years after his apprenticeship, he earned a living taking jobs such as errand boy and livery servant.

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In his confession to the Ordinary of Newgate, he stated that ten months before he was tried at the Old Bailey, being unemployed, he he began pilfering and thieving. He claimed that his method was to:

Before long he was caught. In February 1748 he was apprehended stealing Mary Pinnell's silver spoon in Stretham, and was committed to Bridewell for hard labour for three months before being released.

He was not out long before he was back in jail, but this time he was committed for trial at the Old Bailey. In two trials on May 26 George, described as a "gentleman's servant", was indicted for stealing a silver watch from James Jones and another silver watch from George Stead, both using his usual method, and both on May 19th.

Despite character witnesses including Thomas Shaw and Elizabeth Trueman, who testified that he was an honest fellow, he was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to death.

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On June 22nd at 9 am, he was taken from Newgate to his place of execution. He repented his sins before his death, claiming that he had lived with a woman out of wedlock for some months before marrying her. He also claimed to have a second wife, and had "used her ill" as she was blind. No record could be found of these marriages.

External Sources

  • Family Search.
  • General Advertiser. Friday, May 20, 1748, issue 4233; Friday, May 27, 1748, issue 4238.
  • Jacobite's Journal. Saturday, June 4, 1748, issue 27.
  • London Evening Post. Thursday, May 19, 1748, issue 3206; Thursday, May 26, 1748, Issue 3209; Saturday, May 28, 1748, issue 3210.
  • Penny London Post or The Morning Advertiser. Friday, June 17, 1748, issue 796.
  • Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer. Thursday, May 26, 1748, issue 358.
  • The Newgate Calendar.


1 Family Search.

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About this Biography

Created by

Victoria Philpott 

Further contributions by