#45 Edward Sturgess

Edward Hoyt (Abt. 1851-????), aka Edward Sturges/Sturgess, John Burke — Thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-six years old in 1886. Slim build. Claims to have been born in Havana, Cuba. Married. No trade. Height, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches. Weight, 137 pounds. Brown hair, blue eyes, light complexion. Full, light-colored whiskers and mustache. Two dots of India ink on left fore-arm.

RECORD. Sturgess is a very clever hotel worker, well known in most of the large cities in the United States. He was at one time a pickpocket, but now confines himself to hotel work. He was sentenced to three years and six months in State prison in New York City, on February 20, 1871, for larceny from the person, under the name of Edward Hoyt. He was was again sentenced in New York City on June 2, 1873, to three years in State prison, under the name of Edward Sturgess, for a hotel robbery. While confined in prison in 1873, Sturgess escaped in a swill barrel, but was recaptured the same day and taken back. Nothing has been heard of him lately, having gone West in October, 1877, when he escaped from an officer in New York City, who was arresting him for forfeiting his bail in an old case. His picture is an excellent one, taken in 1877.

Hoyt/Sturges/Burke hid his identity much too skillfully to be traced by family; and also changed his name with each crime, so very little of his criminal career outside of Byrnes’s reporting is known. In Byrnes’s 1895 edition, he refers to one further crime committed under the alias John Burke: he was arrested in Baltimore and in Washington D.C. with George Carson and Joseph McCloskey, for till tapping.

However, as a legacy, Hoyt/Sturgess/Burke left behind an anecdote about an attempted escape from Sing Sing that deserves retelling:

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