Charles Bonnycastle Willcox1

#3849, (1818 - )
MotherMary Willcox1 (s 1795 - )

Life Events

NoteCharles Bonnycastle Willcox, born in Portsea, Hampshire, in 1818 was an illegitimate baby and the custom of the time was for the given names to be those of the father, e.g. Charles Bonnycastle. It remains to be proved whether or not that was the case here. In his Cambridge bio, Charles' father was said to be Charles but on his marriage certificate it was said to be James. 
BaptismCharles Bonnycastle Willcox was baptized on 9 Oct 1818 in St Mary Portsea, Hampshire. Mother Mary Willcox, Queen St, no occupation given.1 
EducationHe was admitted on 11 Oct 1838 to Trinity College, Cambridge University, England, as a sizar (age 20). Son of Charles. Born at Portsea, Hants. Matric Michs 1838. [N.B. a sizar was a student of limited means who was charged lower fees, perhaps in exchange for menial labour]2 
Newspaper Published 28 Oct 1841 in the London Standard.

POLICE
BOOK-STEALING AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM.-- Yesterday, Charles Willcox, a young man of gentlemanly appearance and manners, who described himself as having been a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, was placed at the bar, before Mr Greenwood, for final examination, charged by Mr Antonio Panizzi, keeper of the printed books at the British Museum, with having stolen several books from the reading-room of that establishment.

Mr Bray, of the firm of Bray and Warren, solicitors, of Museum-street, attended on the part of the trustees of the British Museum, for the prosecution; and Mr Flower, solicitor, of Hatton-garden, for the prisoner.

Mr Panizzi stated that the prisoner was in the habit of attending the readingroom at the British Museum, and having reason to suspect that he purloined the books, witness set a person to watch his proceedings, and on Saturday afternoon last, when the readers were about leaving the room, witness was called by one of the attendants, who informed him that the prisoner was going away. Witness addressed him, and said he wished to speak with him, and requested him to accompany him into the library, saying that he (prisoner) had had three standard novels handed to him, and he had only returned two of them ; and he inquired where the other volume was. The prisoner replied that he did not know ; but perhaps it had been left upon the table, and he made a movement towards the door to leave, when witness stood before him, and said, "No, we must find the book first;" and he (witness) sent one of the attendants to look after it, and he returned and said he could not find it. The prisoner seemed astonished, and said, "I hope you do not suspect me." Witness said it was very awkward, that several other volumes had been missed since he had had them. He denied all knowledge of them. Witness detained him, and sent for Sir Henry Ellis, the principal librarian, and also for a policeman. The prisoner again asked if they suspected him. Witness replied, "Yes; it is of no use, you have got a book in your pocket now, and the policeman will find it there when he comes." The prisoner then expressed a wish to speak to Sir Henry Ellis and witness in private, which they declined, and he then put his hand into his pocket and produced the volume of "Lionel Lincoln" which had been missing,and he gave the prisoner into custody. He valued the book at 3s. 6d., and said it was the property of the trustees of the British Museum.

After some corroborative evidence had been given, the prisoner was fully committed for trial on this charge, and also upon a third charge preferred against him for having stolen a volume of the "Hunchback of Notre Dame," and a volume of the "Library of Romance," &c.

He was again charged by Mr Samuel Rees, proprietor of the Grand Cigar Divan and Reading Rooms, opposite Exeter Hall, Strand, with having stolen two books from the reading-room.

Mr Flower advised the prisoner to reserve his defence. He (the prisoner) however, denied the charges, but he was fully committed for trial.

Serjeant Lister stated that his lodgings were full of manuscripts, and he had nearly completed a work, "The Life and Works of Chatterton the Poet," and that his habits were regular and frugal. He was in the habit of studying from morning to night, and there was no accounting for his having committed such thefts.3
 
Newspaper Another version published 30 Oct 1841 in the The (London) Examiner.

POLICE
BOOK-STEALING AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM.-- Charles Willcox, a young man of gentlemanly manners, who described himself as having been a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, was placed before Mr Greenwood, charged by Mr Antonio Panizzi, keeper of the printed books at the British Museum, with having stolen several books from the reading-room. Mr Panizzi stated that the prisoner was in the habit of attending the readingroom at the British Museum, with a regular admission ticket, and having reason to suspect that he purloined the books, witness set a person to watch. On Saturday afternoon witness addressed him, requesting him to accompany him into the library. The prisoner had three standard novels handed to him, and only returned two of them. He inquired where the other volume was? The prisoner replied that he did not know, but perhaps it had been left upon the table, and he made a movement towards the door to leave, but witness stood before him, and siad, "No, we must find the book first." Witness then sent one of the attendants to look after it, but he could not find it. The prisoner seemed astonished, and said, "I hope you do not suspect me." Witness said, "It was very awkward, but several other volumes had been missed since he had had them." He denied all knowledge of them. Witness detained him, and sent for Sir Henry Ellis, the principal librarian, and also for a policeman. The prisoner again denied all knowledge of the books. On the arrival of Sir Henry Ellis, witness informed him that the prisoner had had three volumes of the Standard Novels, and only returned two. The prisoner again asked "If they suspected him?" Witness replied, "Yes; it is of no use, you have got a book in your pocket now, and the policeman will find it there when he comes." The prisoner then expressed a wish to speak to Sir Henry Ellis and witness in private, which they declined, and he then put his hand into his pocket and produced the volume of Lionel Lincoln which had been missing. -- In reply to quesitons the witness said, that when a person wishes for a particular book he had to fill up a ticket with the name of the book inserted therein, and he is bound to deliver it back to the attendant, and no person may take a book away from the institution. -- Prisoner: I placed the book in my pocket with the intention of taking it away with me, but with no intention of ultimately detaining it. I would have replaced it in a few dyas. -- He was fully committed for trial on this charge. -- The prisoner was again charged with stealing a volume of Carlisle's Miscellany, &c. A third charge was preferred against him at having stolen a volume of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a volume of the Library of Romance, &c. -- Mr Hewitt, bookseller, 141 Holborn, stated that he knew the prisoner, and purchased the two volumes produced from him about three months ago. -- The prisoner said that he took Carlisle's Miscellany home to read, it being an expensive work, beyond his means, and he exchanged them, the first for the fourth, and the fourth for the third. He sold many books to Mr Hewitt, and he had sold him the Hunchback, in red cloth boards, but he most positively denied selling the volume of the Hunchback now produced. -- He was fully committed. -- He was again placed at the bar, charged by Mr Samuel Rees, proprietor of the Grand Cigar Divan and Reading-rooms, opposite Exeter Hall, Strand, with having stolen two books from the reading-room. -- The prisoner denied the charge, but was committed for trial, and eventually conveyed in the police-van to Newgate. -- The prisoner, in reply to a question from Mr Greenwood, said that he was about to take out his degrees at Trinity College, Cambridge. -- Sergeant Lister stated that his lodgings were full of manuscripts, and he had nearly completed a work, The Life and Works of Chatterton, the Poet; that his habits were regular and frugal; that he was in the habit of studying from morning till night, and there was no accounting for his having committed such thefts.4
 
Item. The Register of all Persons charged with Indictable Offences for the County of Middlesex recorded 24 cases heard in the Central Criminal Court on 29 Nov 1841. The entry for Charles Willcox, age 23, of Superior instruction [education] indicated that he was found guilty of Larceny and sentenced to 1 Year imprisonment. Of the other cases, one was sentenced to death, 1 to 10 years transportation, 3 to 7 years transportation, another for 1 year in prison, 3 for 6 months, 4 for 3 months, 1 for 2 months, 1 for 1 month, 1 for 14 days, 1 for 7 days, 3 not guilty, 3 no bill.5 
Newspaper Published 1 Dec 1841 in the London Standard.

Central Criminal Court This Day
(Before the Common Serjeant)
Robbery of Books at the British Museum
Charles Wilcox, aged 23, a young man of most respectable appearance, was placed at the bar, charged with stealing a book from the British Museum, the property of Sir Henry Ellis.
Mr Bodkin conducted the prosecution.
The substance of the evidence given by officers of the institution was, that the prisoner, who was suspected on former occasions to have taken books from the library, was on the 23d of October last searched, as he was about to leave the Museum, and the book in question found upon him.
Mr Chambers was retained to conduct the prisoner's defence ; but that gentleman not having arrived, the duty (at the suggestion of the Court) was undertaken by Mr Payne.
The learned counsel, in his address to the jury, said the young man at the bar had no intention of stealing the book. He was in the habit of frequenting the library of the British Museum, and had, on various occasions, taken books home with him for the purpose of reading, which he always returned on his next visit ; he denied having any intention to steal the book.
Two witnesses were called, who stated that the prisoner was most respectably connected ; that he had received a college education ; and they had never until the present time heard any charge against his moral character.
The jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
Mr Baron Alderson having taken his seat on the bench, the prisoner was tried on a
SECOND INDICTMENT
The prisoner was then indicted for stealing two books, entitled "The Hunchback" and "The Baronet," from the library of the British Museum, the property of Sir Henry Ellis. He pleaded Not Guilty.
Mr Bodkin said, this case differed from the last, as he should be able to prove that the prisoner had not pledged but actually sold the books to a tradesman in Holborn. There could be no doubt of the prisoner taking the books with a felonious intent, as the usual marks were destroyed, and the title-pages torn out.
Witnesses were then called, who stated that the prisoner was in the habit of frequenting the library : that on the 23d of May last it appeared, from certain tickets which are given to visitors to receive books, that the prisoner was supplied with the works named in the indictment, and that afterwards they were missed from the library. The books were the property of Sir Henry Ellis.
Mr Chambers wished to ask how the witnesses knew that the property belonged to Sir Henry Ellis.
One of the witnesses said the property was vested in the custody of Sir Henry Ellis by act of parliament.
Mr Chambers -- How do you know that?
Mr Baron Alderson -- Oh, every person is supposed to know the contents of an act of parliament.
Mr Yewens, a bookseller in Holborn, stated that he bought the books now produced of the prisoner, for which he gave him 3s 6d.
Cross-examined -- It was four or five months since he purchased the books ; was quite positive he bought them of the prisoner. Would swear to his identity.
Mr Chambers addressed the jury at some length for the defence. The learned counsel submitted there was not sufficient proof that the books ever belonged to the Museum, but if they did, it was evident that the business of the library must be conducted in a loose and careless manner. There were two questions for their consideration. First, did the books belong to the Museum? If they were satisfied that they did, then did the prisoner take them with a felonious intention. He trusted the jury would not return a verdict which would blast the prospects of the young man for the remainder of his life.
Mr Baron Alderson -- I suppose you will rest on the same evidence of character in this case as in the last.
Mr Chambers -- Yes, my lord.
Mr Baron Alderson then summed up. His lordship said, the jury would have to determine whether the prisoner was the person who stole the books from the library ; and there was no evidence on that point except that of the last witness, who stated that he purchased them of the prisoner ; if that witness was not mistaken it was a strong proof of guilt.
The jury, after a short consultation in the box, returned a verdict of Guilty.
Mr Baron Alderson requested the witnesses to character to be re-called, and they stated in answer to his lordship that the prisoner had received a college education, and since he had been in London principally supported himself by his literary productions. The landlady where he lodged in Barton-street, Westminster, said he appeared to labour under pecuniary distress about the time he was apprehended.
The prisoner declined making any observations to the Court.
Mr Baron Alderson said it now became his painful duty to pass sentence on a young man respectably connected, who had had the advantage of a college education, and who, instead of committing a crime himself, ought to have taught others not to offend. The majesty of the law, however, must at all times be vindicated, and therefore, in whatever situation in life individuals might be, if they offended, punishment must follow. He would not enlarge on the crime in this case, but he must again say that it was most painful to see a young man like the prisoner at the bar pronounced guilty of such an offence. The learned judge then sentenced the prisoner to be imprisoned for the space of one year.6
 
PublicationHe edited The Poetrical Works of Thomas Chatterton: With Notices of His Life, History of the Rowley Controversy, a Selection of His Letters, and Notes Critical and Explanatory, which was published in Cambridge in 1842.7  
MarriageHe married Marion Goldsmith on 26 Aug 1843 in St Pancras, Middlesex.
Information from the registration: Charles Bonnycastle Willcox, full age, bachelor, Gentleman, residence Grove Street, Camden Town, father James Willcox, dead.
Marion Goldsmith, full age, spinster, residence Grove Street, Camden Town, father John Goldsmith, dead.
They were married by banns and the witnesses were the same for many of the marriages, so probably didn't know them.8,9 
Passenger ListCharles Wilcox and Marion Wilcox were listed on a manifest dated 22 Jul 1850 for the ship Guy Mannering, arriving in New York from Liverpool.
Charles was 31 and an Editor. Marion was 26. They were both born in England and their intended residence was the United States, nothing more specific.10 
Research Note Unfortunately, the 1850 U.S. census was taken in June and they arrived in the United States in July. Nothing further has yet been found. 
Last Edited5 May 2014

Citations

  1. Microfilm of the Marriage Register of St. Mary's Church (Portsea, Hampshire), 1783-1798 (Family History Library, 0919739), baptism.
  2. J.A., comp Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses (n.p.: Cambridge University Press, 1921), viewed on Ancestry.com.
  3. London Standard, 28 October 1841, Page 4. Image accessed online at Find My Past.
  4. Examiner (London), 30 October 1841, Page 11. Image accessed online at Find My Past.
  5. Criminal Registers, Home Office, England. HO26 & 27. Images from The National Archives viewed on Ancestry.com.
  6. London Standard, 1 December 1841, Page 3. Image accessed online at Find My Past.
  7. Charles Bonnycastle Willcox ed. The Poetical Works of Thomas Chatterton: With Notices of His Life, History of the Rowley Controversy, a Selection of His Letters, and Notes Critical and Explanatory, W.P. Grant (1842), digitized copy viewed on Google Books, June 2009.
  8. Microfilm of the Parish Register of St Pancras, 1660-1916 (Family History Library, 74 films), Willcox/Goldsmith marriage, 1843.
  9. Marriages of the parish of St Pancras, Middlesex. registers from London Metropolitan Archives. Image viewed at Ancestry.com, Charles Bonnycastle Willcox & Marion Goldsmith, 1843, #113.
  10. New York Passenger Arrivals, images (www.ancestry.com).