William Bolton had been out drinking for all of Christmas Eve, to the extent that by 4am, he was still out and merry.
It was 1725, and Bolton was attempting to wander home, finally, at between four and five on Christmas morning, making his way unsteadily down Spring Gardens.
He was approached by Sarah Hutchins, another rather merry woman, who asked Bolton to “give me a pint, my dear”.
William had “no great fancy for going home so soon” and so went with Sarah to a night cellar at Charing Cross, and there they sat together on the steps. During the course of their company, Bolton lost everything that had been in his pockets – including silver buttons and buckles, and money.
The handkerchief that Bolton wore around his neck had also managed to disappear – but he later admitted that how it had gone, he didn’t know, “for I was very drowsy and I don’tknowhowish” – an unusual expression for “I was so drunk, I have no idea what happened.”
In fact, William was unaware of anything until he “found her hand in my pocket”, and somehow, managed to locate a constable.
Although Sarah’s defence was somewhat unreliable – she swore that Bolton kept following her, and that she only went to the cellar for a pint in order to get out of his way – Bolton was deemed to be even more unreliable, and Sarah was acquitted of picking Bolton’s pocket.
Source: the trial of Sarah Hutchins, 14 January 1726, Old Bailey Online.