On the 20th March 1839, Ellis’s son 23 year old Lewin, was working for the Dublin Steam Packet company as a clerk near the Tower of London at 16 John Street, (now Crosswall street), Cruthchfriars, when they were advised of the transportation of two boxes of gold dust, crates “18 and 19,” weighing 102 lbs. 10oz. 11 dwts., transported from Brazil by Her Majesty’s Packet, Seagull, to Falmouth, where they were forwarded to London by the City of Limerick steam-packet.
( 102 lbs. 10oz. 11 dwts = 1,642oz., during the hearing it was stated that Soloman offered £30 an oz instead of the minimum £35. 1,642oz X £30 = £49,260. Now Lewin was earning £150 a year as an accountant at the time. So £150 into £49,260 = 328 years. Today the average wage for an accountant in London is about £22,000 a year. So £22,000 X 328 years = just over £9,000,000 today!)
Lewin had been working for the company for about 18 months and had recently asked for a rise to which it was suggested he go look somewhere else for better employment.
Ellis and Lewin met Moss, an old friend, some days before the robbery, asked him to write a letter with a space here and there which Lewin was to fill in with shipping details and forged signature. At about nine in the morning of the 25th when the post was delivered to the office Lewin slipped into the pile of mail his forged letter which he then opened. At 11 am Moss turned up in the cab produced some more forged letters to Lewin who then promptly sent him to the wharf to collect the two boxes, “18 and 19”. They were heavy and he needed help to get them into the cab. Having no idea what 46.5 kilos of gold dust looked like, the blue carpet bag which Ellis had supplied to put the boxes in could only just manage one of them. So when Moss arrived at his home he left one case of gold in the cab, (a cool £3, 500,00 worth today), while he took the other one into his home. Struggling to load the second box into the now empty carpet bag on the footpath, he eventually carried it inside and took the two of them up to his bedroom and waited for Ellis to arrive that evening.
In the afternoon of the robbery Lewin made an enquiry to the Bank of England if the Gold had arrived to which he was told that it hadn’t so off he went to the police to report the robbery. His description of Moss as short, 60 – 65 years old with long grey whiskers and grey hair was misleading, in fact he was about 50 – 55, tall with dark whiskers and dark hair. In the coming days, Lewin and Ellis meet up with the police officer and travelled with him by cab in search of the cab driver Moss had used, all the while trying to lead the officer away from the facts.
from the Spectator, 6th July, 1839. page 7
The trial of the prisoners Lewin Caspar, Ellis Caspar,
Emanuel Moses, and Alice Abrahams, in the Central Criminal Court, was brought to a close on Tuesday, the eighth day from its commencement. The evidence consists chiefly of a great variety of minute particulars bringing home the guilt to the prisoners. The chief witnesses were Solomons and Moss ; both of whom were implicated in the robbery, and to such an extent that doubts were raised as to whether they were not principals, though allowed to give evidence as ” approvers.” Davis, another of the accused persons, is not in custody. The Caspars were the parties who, with the assistance of Moss, contrived and effected the theft from the Dublin Steam-packet Company’s wharf; Emanuel Moses was the receiver ; and Alice Abrahams, his daughter, was an active agent in the sale of a considerable portion of the gold-dust to Solomons. The evidence was quite conclusive against the prisoners, if Moss and Solomons, the accomplices, were to be credited; and the counsel for the prisoners rested their chief defence on the bad character of both these men, who by their own account had been guilty of perjury. In a variety of small points, however, the statements of the ” approvers ” were confirmed. A technical objection, raised for the prisoners, was reserved for the decision of a fuller bench of Judges, by Mr. Justice Littledale. It was, whether the prisoners who had been indicted as accessories, were not principals, and again, whether the principal being known, but only described as ” an evil-disposed person” in the indictment, the prisoners could be tried as accessories, the principal not having been convicted. In reply to this objection, Mr. Clarkson for the prosecution contended, that unless Moss, the person referred to, was an “innocent agent,” the prisoners were rightly indicted as accessories ; and that it was not at all necessary that the person actually stealing the property should even be mentioned by name, to make out a case of substantive felony against the prisoners.
Numerous witnesses gave the accused parties excellent characters. The prosecution was conducted by Mr. Clarkson, Mr. Bodkin, and Mr. Doane. Mr. Sergeant Bompas and Mr. Chambers defended Moses ; Mr. Adolphus and Mr. Prendergast Alice Abrahams ; Mr. Charles Phillips and Mr. C. Jones the two Caspars. Mr. Justice Littledale, in summing up—which was a labour of eight hours—warned the Jury against placing much reliance on the evidence of Solomons and Moss. After about an hour’s consultation, the Jury returned the following verdict-
” We find. Lewin Caspar guilty as an accessory before the fact ; Ellis Caspar as an accessory before and after the fact; Emanuel Moses guilty, and Alice Abrahams guilty of receiving the property, knowing it to be stolen. We wish – to recommend Alice Abrahams to mercy, believing she had been acting under the influence, the advice, and the directions of her father.”
The sentence was deferred till the objection raised by the prisoners’ counsel can be disposed of.