#149 John Williams

John Williams (Abt. 1852-1887), aka John Williamson — Pickpocket, Shoplifter, Fence

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-five years old in 1886. Born in New York. Single. Jeweler. Slim build. Height, 5 feet 7 inches. Weight, about 140 pounds. Black hair, gray eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a light brown mustache.

RECORD. Johnny Williams is a very clever New York pickpocket and shoplifter. He is also well known in every Important city in the United States. He is an associate of Poodle Murphy (134), Tim Oats (136), Nibbs (137), Big Dick Morris (141), Pretty Jimmie (143), Boston (144), Jersey Jimmie (145), Joe Gorman (146), and all the clever people. He is credited with purchasing almost everything that the New York thieves steal. Since his return from State prison he has been traveling around the country with a gang of pickpockets, and although arrested several times, he manages to keep out of State prison. He is now keeping a jewelry store on Sixth Avenue, New York City.

He was arrested in New York City on April 1, 1876, in company of John Meyers, charged with stealing a roll of cloth from the store of Albert Schichts, No. 88 Greenwich Street, New York City. Meyers and Williams both pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to five years each in State prison, by Judge Gildersleeve, on June 5, 1876. There were three other cases against these people, at this time, which were not prosecuted. Williams’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1876.

The one specific conviction that Inspector Byrnes associates with John Williams was committed under the name John Williamson, although in the Sing Sing entry record, John offered his mother’s name, Ann Williams.

Given these bare facts, nothing more can be discovered about this man. Upon his death at an early age, he received a dismissive obituary:


Even his death provided little clue to his origins; no entries have been found for him in New York death records or burial records.

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