#183 William Scott

William Scott (1834/41-1893?), aka William Kirby, William Clark — Pickpocket, Shoplifter

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-six years old in 1886. Born in United States. Married. Marble-cutter. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 6 inches. Weight, 183 pounds. Black hair, brown eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a dark brown mustache. Short nose, with scar on it.

RECORD. “Scotty” is an old professional pickpocket and shoplifter. He is well known in New York and all the principal cities in the United States. His picture adorns several Rogues’ Galleries. He has served two terms in State prison in New York State, and three in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, N.Y. He pays considerable attention to funerals and fairs, and sometimes works with a very clever woman.

He was arrested in New York City for shoplifting, and sentenced to two years and six months in Sing Sing prison, on April 17, 1879, by Judge Cowling, in the Court of General Sessions, New York City. He was arrested again in New York City for picking pockets, pleaded guilty to grand larceny, and was sentenced to four years in State prison at Sing Sing, N.Y., on July 12, 1882. His sentence expired on July 12, 1885. Scott’s picture is an excellent one, taken in May, 1878.

“Scotty” remains a cipher. Two entries for him can be found in Sing Sing register for 1879 and 1882, but comparing these two finds a different birthplace (New York vs Scranton), different birth year (1834 vs. 1841), and different first name of wife (Ricka vs. Elizabeth). The 1882 entry notes that he was arrested around 1862 as William Kirby; a William Kirby was arrested for larceny in New York in October 1860.

Capture

There are many references to a pickpocket/shoplifter named William Scott or William Clark to be found between 1860 and 1893, but there’s no way to tell if those are referring to the same man. Byrnes’ 1895 edition only added that Scott died in May 1893; but no death record seems to match.

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