Bryan Smith, Theft > extortion, 7th April 1725.

Reference Number: t17250407-42
Offence: Theft > extortion
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

Bryan Smith , of Covent-Garden , was indicted, for that he, being an Evil-disposed Person, greedy of Gain, and not regarding the Laws of this Kingdom, did, after the first of June, 1723. that is to say, on the 28th of January last, knowingly, wilfully, and feloniously send a written Letter, dated Jan. 27. 1724-5, and signed by the fictitious Name of John Brown, to Antonio Lopez Suasso Esq ; commonly called Baron Suasso, demanding the Sum of 27 l. and on Refusal thereof, threatning to burn the House, or take away the life of the said Antonio Lopez Suosso Esq;

Thomas Brady thus deposed: Before I was apprehended, my Lodging was at Philip Godfrey 's in King's-Court in Russel-street, Convent-Garden. My first Acquaintance with the Prisoner was by the Means of Bartholomew Brady , who being since Michaelmas last convicted in this Court of stealing a Silver Spoon from Thomas Jackson at the White-Lion Tavern the Corner of Cornhill, he was carried back to Newgate, and there lay in Expectation of being transported. Hereupon Bryan Smith writes a Letter to the Prosecutor Jackson, which he afterwards read over to me, for I can neither write nor read. I can't call to mind the Particulars; but I remember there was a great deal of Mischief threatned to Jackson, if he did not use Means to prevent the Transportation of Batt. Brady. Whether or no Jackson made any Application to the Court in Behalf of Batt. is more than I can tell: But it happening that Jonathan Forward left him behind, there was no persuading Smith but that his Letter was the Occasion of it. He grew very much elevated, and valued himself mightily upon his Ingenuity and Management; so that soon after he was resolved to try if he could not procure a sum of Money by the same Means. He consulted with me about a proper Person, and or last we pitched upon Baron Suosso-Accordingly, on the 27th of January, he sends for me to the Sum Alehouse in King's-Court, where, when I came, he agreed to write a Letter to the said Baron, demanding 27 l. to be paid to me; called for Pen, Ink and Paper, and began to write; but when he had wrote three or four Words, he did not like the Ink, for it was very yellow. Whereupon I steps home to my Landlord, and brought some that was blacker, with which he finish'd the Letter. He read it over to me, and I remember that in it he desired the Baron to pay 27 l. to one of my Lodgers. or else he swore he'd be the Death of him, or burn his Country Seat, and concluded with some such Words as these; I never shamm'd it with any body, and my Name is John Brown; and he directed it as he told me, To my Lord Baron Suass in the Old-Jury. He sealed it up, and gave it me to carry to the Penny Post Office. I accordingly carry'd it to Mr. Tenant's, a Distiller's Shop, the Corner of Bridges-Street, in Russel-street. Since which, he enquired of me several time if I had received no Answer; and I told him that I had heard nothing. But not long after, a Man came about Noon to enquire for me at the Alehouse, while I was there. I being a little in Debt, was afraid that it was a Balliff, and so slipt out and went home. The Man came again at Night, met with me, and told me that he came from John Brown; and that he should be glad to meet me next day about Three in the Afternoon at the Kings's-Arms Tavern in Covent-Garden, for he had some Money to pay me on the Account of John Brown. I went thither, was apprehended, and committed to Newgate. While I was there, the Prisoner came to me and bid me fear nothing; for, says he, There's no Langer; and if you can but 1keep your own Counsel, you'll come off well enough. The Letter was produced in Court; and this Evidence deposed, that he verily believed it to be the same Part of the first Line, being wrote with a yellow luk, very different from the rest. Benj Hawkins , the Penny Post Man, being shew'd the Letter, thus deposed: by the Date of this Letter, and Tenant C being wrote upon it, (which I know to be my own Hand) I am positive that on Wednesday the 27th of January I took this Letter from Mr. Tenant C, and carried it to the proper Office at Charing-Cross; for I write Tenant C upon all the Letters that I take from thence.

David Curiel Abasse thus deposed: I live at Baron Suasso's, and received the Letter, now produced in Court, by a Penny-Postman, on the 28th of January, about Ten in the Morning: The Baron was then out of Town; but coming home at Night, I then gave it him; and I read it myself the next Morning.

Antonio Lopez Suasso thus deposed: On the 28th of January, at Night, I received this Letter from Mr. Abasse. When I began to read it, I took it for no other than a Petition for Charity; but coming higher the End, I was surpriz'd to find such imprecations and Threatening as I there met with. I advertised a Reward to any out that would discover the Person that sent it; but that being unsuccessful, I employ'd a proper Person to feign a Compliance with the Proposals in the Letter; by which Means the Prisoner was detected. The Letter to Jackson was produced, and appeared, by the Hand-Writing, Irish Blunders, Imprecations, and Spelling, to be the genuine Work of the same Author that wrote the other to Baron suasso: Which last was openly read in Court, and is literally as follows:

Janry the 27th 1724/5.

Me Lord

THis is to let your Lordship Know that I am A poor unfortuneate Gentellman that I is Indept Indepted to my Tealer the sum of Seven And Twenty pound and should not Give your Lordship this Truble onely that present nesesary Compeells me to do it I am soe hared Pursud for this mony that I dare not Show my Face in the day thime and baveing of Your Lordships Goodness noeing that you are a parson that dus not vallue suoh a small matters that to Releve a person in Great Distress which Dept shall be Return'd Honourably In a little Time to Your Lordship this person that I Owe this Money to is one Thomas Brady Liveing in Kings-Court in Russel Street be Drury lane pleahouse and if Your Lordship pleases to pay this mony to my Creditor thomas Brady I shall Be for Ever oblidge to your for I have no other Dependence other wise Your Lordship may Depend upon it if this money be not paid to this Mr. Brad liveing at Mr. Godfrees In the Court aforesaid God Dam my Blood if I donte be Revengd upon your Carkicees and speedily and if this money be not paid be Monday next God Etternally Dam my Blood if I doubt murther you some time or on other Either in town or in Contrey or if I cont' not meet with your or gett any oportunity by God that made me Ill Burn your Contry Seat You need not ln Sist upon any other Teerms but wthat is In this letter I desire you may not Let mr. Brady Know of this writting or Devowlge it to any Person what Sum Ever this it all from me that never Shamd with any Body Yet my Name is John Brown.

Your Lordships most obedt Servant in Distress.

The Prisoner in his Defence deny'd the Fact, and said, that he neither knew Baron Suasso's City-House nor his Country-House; and that the Evidence Brady was a Fellow of a very scandalous Character, and had been sent to the House of Correction for begging with a false Brief. He farther desired, that Brady might be ask'd who it was that wrote the Taylor's Bill for him in the Name of John Brown? In Answer to which, Lawrence Plunket thus deposed: That Day that Brady was taken up, he came to me in a great Hurry, and begg'd of me to write a Bill for him. I went up into his Work-Shop, and wrote as he and his Men dictated. John Brown's Bell, For two Suits of Duroy, one Suit of Cloth, and several other Articles, that came to about 27l. The Jury round him guilty . Death .

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