Rose vs Camp



It's well known that London maker, William Camp, worked for Rudall & Rose before stepping out on his own.  What hasn't been known until now is that he wasn't the only Camp employed by the old firm.  Nor was it known that the Camps and Rose had a significant falling out, one that lead to trials at the Old Bailey, London's most famous court, and presumably to a breakdown in relations altogether.  All this has recently come out, due to publication of the court records from the period.

But it's not just the Camps we find out about here.  John Mitchell Rose has always remained a mysterious figure, leaving very few documentary trails.  In this account we hear his verbatim comments recorded by the court.  We might benefit by listening for an Edinburgh accent!

There are accounts of three separate trials here, conducted sequentially before juries.  I've taken some liberties with the records, to make them easier to follow.  I've also made a number of comments [in square brackets] to draw your attention to matters I think interesting.  If you would prefer to read the original account and draw your own conclusions, you'll find a link at the bottom to the original court records.

The first trial

JOHN CAMP and GEORGE CAMP were indicted for stealing, on the 8th of June 1835, eight flute joints, value 24s, the goods of John Mitchell Rose and another, their masters.

[The “another” being of course George Rudall, of Rudall & Rose.]

MR. PAYNE conducted the Prosecution.


I have one partner, we are flute manufacturers, and live in the Piazza, Covent-garden.

[This seems to suggest that at least Rose and possibly Rudall actually resided at the factory where they made flutes.]

The prisoners were in our employ; John for thirteen years, and George is our apprentice—he has been nearly seven years with us...

[Long apprenticeships in those days!]

—there is a bed-room at our house, in which both the prisoners sleep occasionally, but George more frequently—in consequence of some information,...

[I.E., someone mentioned to Rose that his staff are selling flutes made at the factory for their own benefit.]

…I desired a search to be made, and eight flute joints were found in a box, in the bed-room, which George said was his box—these are the joints—they are all ours, with the exception of one, which I have my doubts about—there were four pieces of ivory found in the same bed-room, in a hat box; but I believe neither of them owned the box.

[Note the use of the expression “flute joints”, i.e. sections of flutes.  This suggests to us that Rudall & Rose workers did not make “flutes” as such; rather that they made joints of flutes.  These sections would then presumably have been collated into flutes at a later stage of production, and perhaps by Rose, or a more experienced workman, rather than the base worker.]

Cross-examined by Mr. DOANE:

Q. How often did George sleep there?

A. Six nights out of seven—John slept there on Tuesday nights—these joints are mounted with German silver, but that does not belong to us—our mountings are silver,...

[No cheap German Silver for this company!]

...but the joints I can swear to—they are made of cocoa-nut shell—we sell a great many flutes—other makers use cocoa wood….

[cocoa-nut shell … others use cocoa wood.  What can Rose possibly mean?]

—here is the letter "I" on them, which is the initial of the person who turned them…

[Now, where is this letter “I”, the initial of the person who turned them?  I’m unaware of anyone reporting initials on Rudall flutes!]

—it is usual for persons who work in our trade, to work over-hours, and to take their work to their rooms...

[One gets the idea that workers in the flute trade were not well paid, and needed to work long hours and perhaps even make free with the boss’s goods to augment their meagre income!]

—I had no quarrel with either of these men—I never heard that either of them were going to set up in business—one of them took a house, and referred the landlord to me—I understood it to be taken as his dwelling-house—his father was to live with him, and he was to let part of it.


Q. They took the work to their own rooms?
A. Yes; that applies to William Camp, but not to either of these prisoners—he is their brother, but he does not live in our house.

THOMAS SOPER (police-constable T 52.) I was present with Mr. Rose, on the 17th June, when the search was made, and these joints were found in a box, which George stated was his—he said, on going to the station-house, that they were not his master's property.

THOMAS WILLIAM INGRAM . I am in the prosecutor's employ. I believe these to be my master's property—here is one of my own turning.


Q. How can you swear to that?

A. It has my own mark on it—I put the same mark on all the joints I turn—I have turned some hundreds—this one is not my master's—this one is.

[So, Ingram has turned some hundreds of joints for Rudall & Rose, and presumably marked them all with an “I”.  We need to find these initials!  Unless perhaps they were temporary, and erased when the flutes were finally assembled?]

Witness for Defence, GEORGE TRENCH:

[Our usual bible for flutemakers past, the New Langwill Index, is silent on George Trench, perhaps for reasons we'll learn below.]

I live at No. 24, Prince's-street, Drury-lane, and am a flute-maker. Four of these joints are mine—I have the middle joint to match...

[That actually makes sense.  The middle joint will be the Left Hand section, that has no rings.]

—I gave them to John Camp to tip with German silver last Friday week—he was in the habit of doing jobs for me—he put the mounting on these four pieces which are mounted.

[Hmmm, contradictory evidence eh?  Either they are Rose’s or Trench’s – how do we decide?  More importantly, how did the court decide?]

MR. PAYNE [for the Prosecution]:

Q. What part of the line are you in?

A. In the rough work—I have supplied the prosecutor with some in a rough state...

[Meaning he has supplied some to Rose.]

—I get joints finished to sell—I sell them myself sometimes—I do not keep a shop...

[So Trench is an example of someone who works “to the trade”, not interfacing directly with the public.  Many of the unnamed flutes we come across are probably the output of such makers.]

—I have sold some to Wainwright, a flute-maker, in John-street, Smithfield...

[Possibly Jordan Wainwright, who flourished in London between 1822 and 1853, before embarking for Sydney, Australia]

—I have employed George Camp to work for me—I knew he was in the prosecutor's employ, but he had a poor father and mother to support—I have employed him at various times, but never in his master's time—I did not know that he was not allowed to work for other people...

[Presumably a stipulation made by Rudall & Rose, perhaps to prevent their processes from benefiting other makers.]

—I swear to these, by a mark on the wood—I have not seen them since they had the German silver on them, but I know them by the German silver;—I gave them the German silver to do it with—I heard Mr. Rose say, that these pieces were all his but one—but I swear that four of them are mine—I do not know whose the others are—the materials might belong to the prosecutor.

[known “by a mark on the wood”.  Seems as vague as Rose’s "initials"!]

Q. Have you sold Mr. Wainwright flutes in a finished state?

A. I have sold them when they have been returned from the prosecutor—but what I call finished is, when they have got the keys on; which these have not—I have had many returned by the prosecutor, which have been as much turned as these are.

[Sounds like Mr Trench's turning or materials were not up to Rudall & Rose quality, but were good enough for Wainwright!]


Q. Are you in the habit of sending back these things with the turner's initials on them? 
A. Never; the initial is not put on unless the joint is good—the prisoners were not allowed to do work in the bed-room—I never knew that they did—the box was locked, and George Camp gave the key out of his pocket.

(The prisoners received a good character)

[Presumably this means that they brought good character references by other witnesses.]


GEORGE CAMP— GUILTY , Aged 21.— Confined Six Months.

[Wow, 6 months in the slammer for stealing 8 flute joints valued at 24 shillings!  Lucky he hadn’t helped himself to a loaf of bread as well - he might have wound up in New South Wales!  Seriously, this was a real threat.  A number of people in adjacent cases in the records were sentenced to transportation for 7 years or more for stealing several pounds value.]

[It’s not clear why John got off and George didn’t, except perhaps that George had the key to the box with the flute joints in it.]

[And if you thought it was all over bar doing the time, think again ....]

The Second Trial

Third Jury, before Mr. Sergeant Arabin.

WILLIAM CAMP was indicted for stealing, on the 17th of June 1835, 18 flute joints, value £2-14s.; 33 pieces of silver plates, value 16s.; 5 flute keys, value 15s.; 1 flute, value 10s.; and 2 flute plates, value 1s. 6d., the goods of John Mitchell Rose, and another, his masters.

MR. PAYNE conducted the Prosecution.


The prisoner was in our employ. I received some information, and searched the house, No. 14, Crescent, Euston-square—I found these flute-joints, keys, and silver there.

JOHN KIRKMAN (police-constable F 107.):

I went with Soper to the prisoner's lodgings, and produce the property, which was found in different rooms.

THOMAS SOPER (police-constable T 52.):

I went to the house—I found this flute and one joint in a box, in his bed-room.

Cross-examined by MR. PERRY.

Q. Did not the prisoner's wife give you the key?
A. No; we were obliged to break the door open.

[This perhaps implying that the Camp family had something to hide?]


These flute-joints and this flute are ours—these pieces of silver, I am certain, are ours—I can speak positively to four of these keys—I had not authorized the prisoner to take them away—work had been given to persons to do at home, but we had no work at that time.

Cross-examined by MR. DOANE:

Q. You gave him work?

A. Yes, as he lived some distance—my partner never interferes in the business—I can swear he never gave out a flute-joint in his life...

[Nice confirmation of something we had suspected but did not know - Rudall did not concern himself with the making side of the business, but left that in Rose's capable hands.  We can probably safely assume he carried out the "front-of-house" aspects of their business, selling flutes and giving lessons.]

—these are such articles as the prisoner would receive to complete our instruments...

[Again confirmation that "cottage industry" - working from home - was not uncommon in the business.  That made sense in a time of slow transport.  It makes more sense in today's connected but energy-starved world, a lesson we have yet to relearn!]

—this flute, which is made, is defective—it is made for a person who has one finger less than other persons—the prisoner has one finger less, and it struck me the moment I saw it, that it was done for himself—I never knew that he had it in his possession—we should not have such a flute made, unless it were ordered

[So, Camp had a missing finger.  And aspirations to become a maker in his own right.  So it would be handy to be able to play, and that requires a flute playable with one less finger.]

—there is no mark on these pieces of silver—I had given the prisoner such articles, but he always professed to return them—persons in our trade might keep specimens of keys.

----JENKINSON. I am in the employ of Mrs. Cook, of Vauxhall—she makes silver keys for the prosecutor—I made these four keys.

[Ah, so we find out who makes keys for Rudall & Rose!  The NLI makes no mention of Mrs Cook.]

GEORGE PAYNE . I live in Little Newport-street, and am a flute-maker. 

[Richard and George Payne of 13 Little Newport St were listed as flute manufacturers from 1835 to 1841.]

I know the prisoner bore a very excellent character—about five year ago, I heard him say to Mr. Rose, "Please, sir, may I have these joints to make me a flute?"—and he said he might take them—I was in the prosecutor's employ then.

JOHN MITCHELL ROSE . I have no recollection of giving him this flute, but I might do it.


The Third Trial

GEORGE CAMP and JOHN CAMP were again indicted for stealing, on the 17th of June 1835, 9 flute-joints, value 27s., and 4 pieces of ivory, value 1s., the goods of John Mitchell Rose and another, their masters.

MR. PAYNE conducted the Prosecution,

JOHN MITCHELL ROSE . The two prisoners were in our employ—we found this property in the house of William Camp, where the prisoners sometimes slept.

HENRY WHITAKER . I am in the prosecutor's [Rose's] employ—my father lives in the house, No. 14, Crescent, Euston-square—the prisoners slept in the room at the top of the house, where this property was found—I saw the prisoner, John, cut off four pieces of ivory at Mr. Rose's factory, and he took them up into George's bed-room, at Mr. Rose's.

[Henry Whitaker later becomes another independent London maker, trading as Whitaker from Rudall & Rose.  Given the testimony above, perhaps he also provided the other information that Rose was acting on in the previous cases.]

Cross-examined by MR. DOANE:

Q. Did not these men occasionally sleep at Mr. Rose's? 
A. Yes; William Camp keeps the house where we live; he might put these things into any room.

JOHN MITCHELL ROSE . I found these flute joints, which I have no doubt belong to me, in the top room at that house,

John Camp's Defence:

I bought the wood of Mr. Payne, and tuned them up at my leisure time—the joints are mine.


[A seeming sudden end for this trial.  Perhaps the court felt it was unable to proceed without more evidence?]


So, what's the score?  Rose lodged a total of 5 indictments - two each against John and George, and one against William.  But there was only one conviction, that against young George on the first count.

We can imagine that relations between Rose and the Camps were not enhanced by the confrontation in the court.  But, whatever, within 2 years, William Camp had achieved his aim of becoming an independent maker. Perhaps with a bold sense of irony, he styled his new venture as: Camp from Rudall & Rose.  A bit cheeky, eh, given the cases reported above?  In 1840, he took over the premises previously used by William Card.  He remained listed as a maker to 1879, a span of 42 years in total.  His flutes are highly regarded today.


My special thanks to UK flute player, John MacLeod, for bringing this account to our attention.  And of course to the Old Bailey On Line people for scanning in and publishing all those old records.  What a fabulous resource for historians of all kinds, and who knows what else they might contain of interest to us?  You can sift through the original court records and the un-annotated text at:

Click on the links there to see the original printed version.

Back to McGee-flutes Index page...

  Created:  26 November 2010