Charles Towers, John Webb, John Tims, Charles Towers, John Tims, Charles Towers, Breaking Peace > other, Breaking Peace > riot, Theft > burglary, 4th December 1724.

Reference Number: t17241204-69
Offences: Breaking Peace > other; Breaking Peace > riot; Theft > burglary
Verdicts: Not Guilty; Guilty; Not Guilty > no evidence; Not Guilty > no evidence
Punishments: Death

Charles Towers and John Webb were indicted, for that they, with twenty others, after the 1 st of June, in the Tenth Year of his Majesty's Reign, that is to say, on the 21 st of June last, being arm'd with Guns, Pistols, Swords, Staves, or other offensive Weapons, and having their Faces black'd, or being otherwise disguised, did feloniously appear in the Highway commonly called Wapping Wall, in the Parish of S. Paul's Shadwell , to the great Terror of his Majesty's Subjects, against the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity, and against the Form of the Statute in this Case made and provided. The Council for the King open'd, that the Prisoners were Inhabitants of the New Mint, and so Notorious in the Riots committed there, and in Places adjacent, that they were distinguished by the Titles of Captain Towers and General Webb. That a Book was kept and Place called the Seven Cities of Refuge, in which the Names of all the New Minters were enter'd, they paying half a Guinea at the time of subscribing, and obliging them selves to the utmost extent of their Power to rescue and set at Liberty any Person on the said List, whenever he was arrested or imprison'd. That accordingly the Prisoners and seven others did at the Time, after the Manner, and in the Place mention'd in the Indictment, appear; and by Force of Arms take a Person Arrested out of the House of John Errington . The Prisoners desired, that when any Witness was giving Evidence, the rest might be put out of Court; which the Court granted.

John Errington depos'd, that on Saturday the 20th of June last he arrested John West , at the Suit of Geo Manisold , on a Note of Hand for 50 s. and carried him to his own House, the Red Lion on Wapping-Wall, opposite to King James's Stairs. The next Morning, being Sunday, about 11 o'Clock, the Street-Door being left a-jar, a Man rush'd in with a great Stick in his Hand like a Quarter-Staff, his Face and Breast all black, as if besmear'd with a Mixture of Soot and Grease; his Hair shot off no Hat no Wig, no Shirt nor any thing on his back but a blue Pee Jacket flying open before D - ye, say he, you have put one of our Prisoners,and we'll have him away,for we are sworn to one another - Who's that? Charles? (says Errington; for he was so disguised, that he did not Know him till he spoke, tho' he had often seen him before.) Yet D - , (says Towers) and then Webb and several others follow him in, with Broomsticks in their Hands, but not disguised. Errington told 'em he had but one prisoner, and he belong'd to Tower-Hill. 'Tis no matter for that, (says Tower, and Pull'd out a paper) we have his Name bere and he's enter'd in our List. 'Tis really so Mr. Errington (says Webb in a milder Tone) and therefore we desire you'd restore him to us, and we'll go away Quietly. Errington knew 'twould not only be in vain, but dangerous, to deny 'em, and so deliver'd his Prisoner up. They went out in Triumph, with repeated Huzza's; but Towers turning back, and seeing Daniel Taylor , a Waterman, lifted up his Quarter Staff, and said, I must have one Knock or two at that setting Son of a Bitch. But Errington catching hold of his Arm, persuaded him to take another Opportunity for it, and so he went out again. Most of these Particulars were repeated in the Depositions of Mary Errington and Daniel Taylor. George Errington deposed, that he lives in Mill-Yard in Star-street, within a Stone's-throw of his Brother John Errington's House: and that on the Sunday Morning in which West was taken from his Brother; he saw Towers disguised as aforesaid, with Webb and 12 or 14 more, all arm'd with Clubs, pass by his Door towards his Brother's on Wapping-Wall. In about half an Hour after, as he was leaning over his Hatch, he saw them all returning in the same Manner as they went, bringing West along with them; and as they were passing this Evidence's Door, Capt. Towers (whom he knew by his Tongue) stept up towards him with his Quarter-Staff, and said, I must have one Knock at his Napper: But the other clapping the Door to, prevented him, and then the Mob went off.

Towers in his Defence said, that he was not disguised, and that his Face was only dirty, and not designedly made black: That having formerly unfortunately been bound for others, to the Amount of 400 l. he was forced to fly to the Old Mint; and when that broke up, and he could not be discharged by the Act, he took Shelter in the New Mint; and thought that he had better reside there, and live honestly, than go upon the Highway for Money to pay his Debts; and that he was never guilty of Rioting, any farther than defending himself when he was pursued by Bailiffs. That supposing he had been disguised at that time, yet as (he persuaded himself) there had been no sufficient Proof of his having committed any Violence, he thought the Masqueraders were as liable to be convicted by the same Act as himself. Webb in his Defence said, that he did not appear in any Disguise; and indeed there being no Evidence to prove it upon him, the Jury acquitted him, and found Towers guilty . Death .

John Tims was indicted, and Charles Towers a 2d time indicted, for that they, with John Bowler , John Tibbs , and John Fencott , (not yet taken) did on the 15th of August last unlawfully and riotously, the Dwelling House of Henry Brookshank , begin to destroy . But no Evidence appearing, they were acquitted .

John Tims was a 2d time, and Charles Towers a 3 d time, indicted; for that they, with John Bowler, John Tibbs, and John Fencott , (not yet taken) did break and enter the House of Henry Brookshank , and feloniously take from thence 12 lb. of Tobacco, value 18 s.5 Pints of Brandy, Pipes, and 14 s. in Money, the Goods and Money of Henry Brookshank, on the 15th of Aug. last, about 8 in the Evening . But no Evidence appearing, they were acquitted .


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