John Cook, Royal Offences > tax offences, 15th July 1747.

Reference Number: t17470715-1
Offence: Royal Offences > tax offences
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

269. + John Cook was indicted, together with Robert Mapesden , otherwise Robert Maplesden , otherwise Robert Mapeston, otherwise Robert Mapleston; Thomas Fuller ; Daniel Bunce , otherwise Great Daniel; and Robert Bunce , otherwise Halfcoat Robin, not yet taken ; for unlawfully and feloniously assembling themselves together , on the Eleventh of February last, at the Parish of Folkstone , in the County of Kent; being then and there armed with, and carrying Firearms, and other offensive Weapons, in order to be aiding and assisting , in the clandestine running, landing, and carrying away uncustomed Goods, and Goods liable to pay Duties, which had not been paid or secured; against the Statute .

Attorney-General. My Lord, and you Gentlemen of the Jury, the Prisoner at the Bar, stands indicted for the Breach of a late Act of Parliament, made in the 19th of his present Majesty. And it was, Gentlemen , an Act of Parliament, the Legislature found necessary to be made, in order to prevent a Practice grown to that Height that cannot be borne in this Kingdom, and that is the Practice of smuggling, and a Practice attending smuggling; and that is an armed Force, by which this Kingdom is put into great Distress; by which they act in defiance of the Laws of the Country; that it became absolutely necessary, for the Legislature to consult some Method more effectually to suppress them; for these are Crimes of too high a Nature, to be admitted of in any Country where Laws are made. In the 19th of his present Majesty, it is enacted, That if any Persons shall go, to the Number of three, with Firearms or other offensive Weapons; shall from, and after the 24th Day of July 1746, be assembled in order to the assisting in carrying away uncustomed Goods, or Goods liable to pay any Duties; every Person so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of Felony, and shall suffer Death without Benefit of Clergy.

And, Gentlemen, for the more easy and speedy bringing the Offenders against this Act to Justice; it is enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Person or Persons, shall be charged with being guilty of any of the Offences aforesaid, before any one or more of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace, by Information of one or more credible Person or Persons , upon Oath by him or them subscribed; such Justice of the Peace, before whom such Information shall be made as aforesaid, shall forthwith certify under his Hand and Seal, and return such Information , to one

of the Principal Secretaries of State of His Majesty, who is thereby required to lay the same, as soon as conveniently may be, before His Majesty in his Privy-Council ; whereupon it shall, and may be, made lawful, for His Majesty to make his, or their, Order, in his or their Privy Council, thereby requiring, and commanding such Offender or Offenders , to surrender himself or themselves, within the Space of 40 Days, after the first Publication thereof in the London Gazittes , which Order, the Clerks of His Majesty's Privy Council, shall cause to be forthwith printed and published, in the two successive London Gazettes , and to be forthwith transmitted to the Sheriff of the County, where the Offence shall be committed , who shall within 14 Days after the receipt thereof, cause the same to be proclaimed, between the Hours of ten in the Morning, and two in the Afternoon, in the Market-Places , upon the respective Market-Days, of two Market-Towns in the same County, near to the Place where such Offence shall have been committed; and a true Copy of such Order, shall be affixed upon some publick Place, in such Market-Towns; and in case such Offender or Offenders, shall not surrender himself or themselves, pursuant to such Order of His Majesty, or escaping after such Surrender, shall from the Day appointed for his or their Surrender, as aforesaid, be adjudged, deemed, and taken to be convicted and attainted of Felony, and shall suffer Death, (as in Cases of a Person convicted and attainted, by Verdict and Judgment, of Felony) without Benefit of Clergy .

The Prisoner at the Bar, has (for a long Time ) been conversant with a Set of Smugglers, and has been one of the principal of them, whose Business was to go to the Water-side in Gangs, with Muskets, Pistols, Blunderbusses , and all other Sorts of Arms, to protect themselves in that illegal Practice.

The Prisoner was one of the Gang that went by the Name of the Hawkhurst Gang , where they have made themselves pretty famous, by the Terror they have spread in the Country: The Prisoner with about 40 others, met together in a Place called Folkstone , in the County of Kent , where they went with Horses, to receive Tea and Brandy, from a Ship that brought it up to that Place; there were 30 Half-Anchors of Brandy, and a large Quantity of Tea; the Prisoner helped to load several Horses, and one of the drove Horses, was loaded with 200 Weight that belonged to Cook himself; you will have the Particulars from the Witnesses .

These Facts I have now stated , comes within the Words of the Act of Parliament ; but in order to have an Opportunity of trying of him or them in a proper and speedy way, there was an Order made by the King and Council, pursuant to the Direction of the Act of Parliament, in order to have the Proclamation made (as hath been beforementioned) but it happen'd by the Mistake of the Sheriff , that he did not cause the Proclamation to be made at the precise Time that it should have been done; the Consequence of which is, that he cannot be try'd upon that Proclamation; but the principal Fact itself we shall lay before you, which is, That he was one of the Number of above forty , who joyn'd in the very Act of Smuggling.

If (Gentlemen) the Fact appear in the Manner I have stated, you will find him guilty.

Sol. General to Christopher Barret. Look at the Prisoner, Do you know him?

Barret . Yes, Sir.

Sol. General . Can you give an Account to the Court, of his being concern'd in the carrying of uncustomed Goods.

Barret. I saw him at Folkstone-Warren in Feb . last, with a Number of fifty or sixty of them with Fire-arms: he was arm'd with a Brace of Pistols and a Carbine.

Sol. General. What did they do?

Barret. They carried off fifty or sixty, or seventy Hundred, I believe.

Q. Did you see any Ship?

Barret. There was a Ship, but she made her escape.

Q. Was the Tea taken from that Ship?

Barret. I saw it brought from the Boat.

Q. Did the the Prisoner help land it?

Barret. Yes.

Att. General . Did the Man carry some away?

Barret. Yes. He carried some away.

Q. Do you remember his driving a particular Horse?

Barret. Yes. And I saw him four or five times afterwards twenty Miles up the Country .

Q. What Quantity of Brandy did you see?

Barret. Thirty or forty Casks of Brandy and Wine?

Q. What Name did this Gang go by?

Barret. The Hawkhurst Gang. I have known it to assemble together for five or six Years.

Att. General. What was the end of their assembling together?

Barret. To run uncustomed Goods.

Q. Was you attack'd on the Road ? on the Account of your being an Evidence?

Barret. At Astbridge in Kent (as I was coming to London) one came up with a Pistol in his Hand; his Name was Thomas Pemper ; he came up to me as I was in Bed, with his Pistol cock'd in his Hand, and swore with a great Oath, That I should go along

with him. When I came down there was another Person, one John Marton , and he swore we should go with them to the Top of the Hill, because we had swore against the Gang, the Hawkburst Gang. They got us out into the Street, and I put the Pistol aside , and it went off, and graz'd my Lip a little.

Sol. General. to Rob Worthington . Do you know the Prisoner?

Worthington . Yes.

Q. Have you seen him landing of Goods at any time ?

Worthington. Yes. On the 11th of Feb. at Folkstone-Warren , and I saw him take Bags of Tea and load a Horse or two.

Q. How many in Company? How many of them arm'd ?

Worthington. I saw thirty or forty.

Q. With what Arms?

Worthington. With Carbines and Pistols.

Q. Was the Prisoner at the Bar arm'd?

Worthington. Yes, Sir, he had a Carbine , and a Brace of Pistols.

Q. Where did they take these Goods from?

Worthington. They took them from a small Boat which came from the Vessel, that is call'd a Cutter.

Q. Did you see any Wine, Brandy, or Tea?

Worthington. I saw about twenty Casks of Wine and Brandy, and about fifty or threescore hundred of Tea. I saw the Prisoner take two hundred upon one Horse.

Q. Have you have been attack'd as you came to Town ?

Worthington . I was awak'd out of my Sleep in another Room.

Q. Who came to you?

Worthington. Both these two Men that have been mention'd , John Marton and Thomas Pemper , but I never saw them before.

Q. What did they say to you?

Worthington. They ask'd me where Christopher Barret was? I ask'd them, what they wanted with him? They said, they wanted to see him.

Q. Was those Persons arm'd?

Worthington . One was arm'd with a Carbine and a Brace of Pistols ; and the other with a Brace of Pistols. They enquired for Christopher Barret . One stay'd along with me and another Man that was in the Room, and the other went up and took Barret out of his Bed. When I went down he fir'd his Pistol, and graz'd my Slipper. They did not know me, but they wanted Mr Barret to go up the Hill.

Q. How did he fire at you?

Worthington . As I stood behind him he shot from under his Coat.

Q. Can you give a Reason why he fired at you?

Worthington . The Reason was, because Mr. Barret had sworn against them .

Q. to Michael Pain . Will you give an Account, whether you saw the Prisoner, concern'd in running of Goods, and when?

Pain. It was on the 11th of Feb. last , when he got out of the Warren , he and a Man call'd Great Robin, loaded a Horse.

Q. Do you know who the Horse belonged to?

Pain. I believe it belonged to the Prisoner.

Q. What Number of People were there

Pain. A great many, twenty or thirty.

Q. Was the Prisoner arm'd?

Pain. Yes, with a Carbine and a Brace of Pistols. And I saw the Load slip off the Horse's Back , and they loaded it again. As we were coming up to Town one Thomas Pemper and John Marton , they came to enquire for Christopher Barret , and one of them clapp'd a Pistol to his Breast, and said, that he would blow his Brains out; and Marton's Pistol went off in his Hand.

Q. to the Prisoner. What have you to say in your Defence?

Prisoner. Please you, my Lord, I know nothing about it.

Jer. M aschall As I was aiding, and assisting in carrying the Prisoner to the Tower Goal , I heard Mr Bolton say, had it not been for the Prisoner some of the Officers would have lost their Lives.

While the above Witness was giving in his Evidence on the Behalf of the Prisoner Mr Bolton came into Court.

John Bolton , I was carried away in the Year 1744 by a Gang of Smugglers down to Hawkburst ; and we were carried down to the Place were the Prisoner at that Time lived, and he did prevent a great deal of Mischief that would have been done. I believe he was the chief Instrument of saving our Lives at that Time.

Att. General. How came it to pass, that he had so much Power to prevent these Mischiefs and Murders?

Bolton. He oftentimes prevented their Striking; he often laid hold of them. He discover'd their Plots in order to send us over Sea to be Galley-Slaves.

Att. General . Did not the Prisoner at that Time appear to be one of the Gang?

Bolton . Yes.

Att. General . This shews that the Prisoner had not arriv'd to that Pitch of Wickedness as some of his Companions; and this Declaration shews the Officers Gratitude .

Guilty . Death .


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