Crimes of Alexander Faux
At about the age of twelve
Alexander Faux began working as a pastry cook and confectioner.
He was probably apprenticed to his father. The work included the
making of cakes and meat pies. Confectionery during this period
consisted of delicacies made of fruits preserved with sugar, but
could also include the preparing of dried fruits, candy, ice cream
and cordials. Costermongers who were poor itinerant sellers of
fruit lived mainly in Smithfield and were constantly harassed
by the police.
On Tuesday night 30th December 1828 Alexander and his brother
Theodore and another boy came to the bakery of Margaret Black
at 23 Cow Cross St West Smithfield to have some potatoes baked
in the bread oven. It was about 7pm and mid winter. While the
boys were waiting near the fire for the potatoes to bake a Mr
Robert Downes, a silversmith of Red Lion Street Clerkenwell came
in and dropped a bundle of clothes to be washed. When the potatoes
were ready the boys made off with the bundle of clothes and a
fur cap belonging to the baker Edward Hill. Alexander and Theodore
took the clothes home and divided them between themselves. It
consisted of the following;
Two shirts value 9 /-
One waistcoat value 3/-
Two pairs of stockings value 2/-
Three handkerchiefs value 3/-
Three collars value 2/-
One nightcap value 1/-
Total value of clothing
Also included was the fur
cap of Edward Hill valued at 2 shillings.
About 10pm the other boy
returned to the bakery to get the potatoes re-heated. Soon afterwards
Downes, the silversmith returned and missed his bundle of clothes
which he had left on the counter. Hill also noticed his cap was
The next morning Mary Mc
Mellon who lived at the bakery recalled that the boys had been
on the premises and reported them to Richard Miller of No 2 Cow
Cross St, the local constable. Miller and James Terry went to
the house where the boys lived and found them still in bed. Most
of the clothing was found in Alexander's box and the rest was
in Theodore's. The boys claimed that the clothing belonged to
them and Theodore said he cold take them to the person who had
made them. He also said that he had purchased the cap in Tottenham
Alexander aged 13 and Theodore
aged 14 were found guilty at the Old Bailey on 15th January 1829
and were sentenced to one month's gaol and a whipping.
It is most likely that Alexander
and Theodore lived away from home. Was there a home after the
death of their father? They probably resided in or near Cow Cross
Street Smithfield one of the poorest parts of London. Cow Cross
Street was so named because the cattle destined for market at
Smithfield were driven down this street. The boys were known to
Miller the constable but not to Robert Downes who lived two streets
away. Their residential proximity to the bakery can also be measured
in terms of the time it takes a baked potato to go cold in London
on a mid winters night.
After their release from
prison on or about 15th February Alexander and Theodore stayed
out of trouble, or at least Theodore did. On 6th March 1830 Alexander
was walking past the shop of Frederick Hilder, a butcher. It was
about 11.30pm and Hilder was putting the meat away. Alexander
dropped a handkerchief over a piece of meat weighing 4lb, and
valued at 1/8d and took it. He was apprehended by the butcher
and taken into custody by a magistrate. Alexander obviously needed
the meat to make meat pies. He was tried at the Old Bailey on
the 15th April and Richard Miller came forward identifying him
as the same person who had stolen clothing fifteen months before.
Alexander was transported for life.
He found himself back in
Newgate prison. The prison was a building about fifty years old.
The mens' quadrangle was divided into three. Alexander was in
the middle one for poor felons who could not afford the 3/6d per
week to rent a bed. He slept on the stone floor which can only
have been bitterly cold. He was then taken in a guarded cart eastwards
to Chatham 25 miles downstream on the Thames. He was then removed
to the convict hulk Euryalus, named after the sister of Medusa
the Gorgon. He lived on the rat infested hulk for about four months
and worked on shore by day.
On 27th August 1830 he embarked
with 29 others on the convict transport the York (shown top left).
This ship had been built at Southwick in 1819, was classed E1
and weighed 429 tons. She was fitted out at Deptford Dockyard
as a transport in 1830. The master of the ship was Daniel Leary,
the Surgeon Campbell France and there were 200 convicts on board.
According to another source
Alexander embarked on the York on 3rd September 1830 together
with William Wallis, Henry Wright Smith, Henry Tyler and Philip
Riley with whom he had been delivered from London Gaol.
Alexander's indent describes
Standing number of convict
Indent number 92
aged 18 can read but not write
Protestant single native of London
Pastrycook and confectioner two years
Offence stealing meat
Convicted Middlesex Gaol Delivery 15th April 1830
Former conviction 1 month
Description Height 5'0 ½" ruddy complexion
Light brown hair, brown eyes, scar on outer corner of right
and over left eye, scar under left jaw.
Source - Ian James Thomas