Offence: Damage to Property > arson
Verdict: Not Guilty
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Before Mr. Baron Hullock.
MESSRS. BRODRICK and PHILLIPS conducted the prosecution.
The following documents were put in and admitted by Mr. Alley, (the prisoner's counsel,) without the usual formal proof - viz. "A policy of Insurance, effected by the prisoner, with the Country Fire Office , dated Midsummer, 1823, insuring his furniture, &c. at 50 l., and stock in trade at 300 l.; this was cancelled, and another policy, dated 5th of July, 1824, insuring his dwelling-house, situate and being No 21, Mount-pleasant, for 250 l. - household goods, books, linen, apparel, plate, wine, &c. 50 l. - stock and utensils in trade 600 l. - also the lease of the house, granted by John Burge , to the prisoner, for thirty-two years.
Mr. Brodrick put in the statute (54th Geo. in. chap. 11.) empowering the Insurance Company to prosecute in the name of the Managing Director; also the enrolment of John Thomas Barber Beaumont as the Managing Director .
CHARLES ACKLAND . I am surveyor to the County Fire Office. On Tuesday, the 12th of October, the day after this fire, I visited the prisoner's premises, and saw him there; I asked him if he could in any way account for the fire; he said he could not account for it. I have since taken a regular survey of the premises; here is a correct plan of the shop - it is about two hundred and thirty-five superficial feet: the length from the front to end of the original wall of the house is twenty-one feet three inches; besides a small part taken in behind, which is five feet and a half - the breadth of the front is fourteen feet eight inches and a half, clearing the walls. The back at the further end is fifteen feet seven inches, that is the breadth of the whole building; there is a staircase.
Q. When he said he could not account for the fire, did he state any thing else? A. He said he had been having some candles in, and observed to the man who brought them, that there was an unpleasant smell, and the man said he thought it must be the gas, and that shortly after the tallow-chandler's man left, he was behind the counter, and the fire rushed out of the cellar stairs, and he jumped over the counter and hurt himself; and that he lost his senses. Rather more than a fortnight after, he called at the Fire-office, and delivered in his claim - I saw him - he said there that it broke out in the cellar - that there was a hogshead of kitchen-stuff at the foot of the stairs, a barrel of pitch, a barrel of lamp-black, and a carboy of turpentine on each of the barrels. I understood him on the hogshead also. He said he had a few articles up stairs- 10 lbs. of ginger, 6 lbs. of pepper, and some colours. I saw him again a third time, and he stated, that Mrs. Egward,
Q. Were these two papers handed in by the prisoner, at the office, as the particulars of his loss? A. They were (examining them). I have summed up the number of barrels, and different things enumerated in them - there are ninety-seven hogsheads, and barrels, of different descriptions, and one hundred and thirty gallons of pickles. I was present when Mr. Beaumont questioned him about the pickles, on the 29th of October - he said they were his own making - here are 469 1/2 gallons of oil, 17 1/2 gallons of ketchup, 27 cwt. of white lead, 9 cwt. of kitchen-stuff; the hogsheads and barrels are merely charged as such, and their contents charged afterwards. The amount of his claim for stock only, is 660 l. 5 s. 10 d., and 50 l. for furniture.
Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q. Where misfortunes of this kind happen, a man must make his claim from memory, if his books are gone? A. Yes; the house was burnt down to the ground floor. He describes some casks as barrels, some as hogsheads and firkins. When I examined the premises I found a room had been built over the yard - he said he had built it since he took the lease - a person recovers nothing for good-will or loss of trade.
SOPHIA WOOD . I have gone by the name of Bird for four or five years, having lived with a person of that name. I live at No. 4, Dorrington-street, Coldbath-square - the prisoner lives on Mount-pleasant , about one hundred yards from where I live - he keeps an oil shop , and sold every thing in that line - I have dealt there. On the night of the fire, at ten minutes past eight (as near as I can say), I was going to the Cheshire Cheese public-house, for a pint of beer - his house is nearly opposite - there is a lamp on his side of the way. I was between the parlour window and the door of the Cheshire Cheese, and was crossing over to Mrs. Pearson's, next door to the prisoner's, on the right hand side of his house (before I went in for the beer), to look at a bonnet which hung in the window (I had been there in the morning), and, as I crossed, I saw Clark standing at his door, looking up and down, as if for somebody. I was close to the Cheshire Cheese - Clark went in at his door as I crossed the street, and I saw a very great flare of light on the Gray's-inn-lane side of his parlour door, which was the further side from me - the light was in the shop - I stood and looked at it, right opposite the shop door, and instantly saw Mr. Clark put his hand over, and the side by Coldbath-square, was instantly alight - I saw something alight in his hand - it appeared to be a piece of coarse brown paper - he was at this time standing inside his parlour door, close to his shop - the parlour is at the end of the counter. I saw the fire instantly run into what I call his putty shop, which is near the parlour, beyond the shop. I immediately hallooed out very loud "Fire, fire! good G - d! Clark has set his house on fire!" The people instantly collected - I ran home to alarm the people in our house, but I saw Webster running, and went to tell him, but he got into Mrs. Egbert's house, before I could overtake him, and the door was shut. Egbert lives next door, on one side, and Pearson on the other.
Q. Did you communicate this to any one? A. I told Mr. Bird of it, and I told Mr. Beaumont of it, before I was taken to Bow-street - that was a long time after the fire - I gave no information to the Fire-office till inquiry was made of me - I was summoned to Bow-street next day.
Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Are you a married woman? A. No; Bird is a married man. The prisoner's shop was open when this happened, and the door open - many people are generally passing there - the lamps were lighted, and there was a light on his counter. I believe I was standing between the two windows of the Cheshire Cheese, when I saw him at his door. I do not recollect saying that I was crossing the way.
Q. Putting Bird out of the question, how long was it after the transaction that you told this to any body? A. I told Mrs. Pearson of it, next morning, but did not tell her the particulars - I told several people next day - I told two or three in at Pearson's, and said it was wilfully done. I did not say I had seen it done - they did not ask me - and Mr. Bird told me not to name it. I did not tell Mr. Beaumont till he had called on me three or four times; he was going to take me before the arbitrators, and then I said I thought I had better tell him the truth, That Clark set the house on fire. I had told him several things before. Mr. Bird deals in guns and pistols - he keeps no stock, but when he has orders he sends to Birmingham - I believe he is agent for some house there - he has not had any thing up for the last six months - he has within twelve months - we have lived in Dorrington-street all the time I have lived with him - he has been discharged under the Insolvent Act, for accepting bills - he was in Whitecross-street - I know a Mrs. Armstrong, but do not know much of her. I never caused a letter to be written to her. I said at the office that I was the wife of John Bird - I do not know whether I swore it. I have been into Clark's shop - there were a good many things about.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. Have you ever gone by the name of Bird? A. Yes; ever since I have been in the neighbourhood; there are particular reasons why he cannot marry me. I did not know that he had a wife till I was informed of it by Mr. Roper, after I went to live with him - there was not a person passing when I stood at the Cheshire Cheese, public-house. I made no secret of its being wilfully done.
ANN PEARSON . I am the wife of John Pearson , a saddler; we live on Mount Pleasant, next door to the prisoner. I went to his shop for something a few days before the fire; but cannot say whether I saw him - he came to my house the evening after the fire, and shook hands with me. I asked him to sit down, and then said, "Mr. Clark, can you give any account how this happened?" he said, I was standing behind the counter, counting up halfpence; I
Cross-examined. Q. You and her often talk together? A. Yes.
MARY ANN PATTERSON . I live at No. 15, Mount Pleasant, exactly opposite to Clark; my husband is a cooper. I was at home on this night, and saw a light through the curtain - went to the window, and saw the back of Clark's shop all in a blaze. I directly saw Clark come out of his shop to the step of the door, with a light-coloured coat and a hat on - he directly turned himself round, went into the shop again, and leaned across the counter near the shop window. I could see his hat through the window, and directly two men came up, pulled away the mops or brooms, and threw them into the shop as if to put the fire out; and the other rolled a barrel into the kennel. I ran down stairs to inform the people, and on my return, a great many persons were collected. I had been to the shop within three weeks of that time for bees-wax, and one pennyworth of ketchup, but could not get them; Clark was not present.
Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q. The public-house is directly opposite? A. No; No; it is opposite Pearson's - mine is next to the public-house - it is in the narrowest part of the street; when he ran back to the shop, he appeared to be trying to save something.
JOHN LLOYD . I am a corn-dealer, and live at the corner of Liquorpond-street. On the night of the fire, I saw the prisoner in Mr. Burge's parlour - about half-past ten o'clock; he came into have a bed, and was very much agitated; they gave him some brandy and water; and after a few minutes, he was a little composed, but much the same in agitation. I asked him how the fire happened; he said, there was a carboy of turpentine burst in the cellar - that he was going down stairs with a candle in his hand, and a canister of gunpowder, and it blew up. I said, "I should consider that you would be blown to atoms, or that your hands would be very much disfigured;" he made no answer - a friend said, I had better ask no more questions, as he was not in a fit state to answer - he had a blow on his right hand, which was rather swollen - it did not appear black - there did not appear to be any marks of fire on his clothes.
Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. He was so agitated he hardly knew what he said? A. He was dreadfully agitated; I do not think he knew what he said.
THOMAS WEBSTER . I live at No. 6, Mount Pleasant, in sight of the prisoner's house, and am constable of St. Andrew, Holborn. I heard a cry of Fire! and went to it, but did not see him there. I entered, and saw it was impossible to extinguish it. I then went to Egbert's, next door, to assist in taking care of the property. I saw Clark about a fortnight after, and believe the first words I said to him were, "Mr. Clark, I understand you mean to sweat me;" he said, he thought it hard that a neighbour should say any thing to his prejudice, as we had been on good terms before - he alluded to something I had said about him. I said, I respected him as a neighbour, and asked why he did not alarm his lodgers, and get them out - he said, that there was an explosion took place so suddenly from a barrel, or something, that it knocked him down, and he was taken away by two gentlemen, and did not exactly know what he was doing.
THOMAS EGBERT . I am a working jeweller, and live at No. 22, Mount Pleasant. I saw Clark on the ruins the morning after the fire, and said, "Mr. Clark, this is a bad business;" he said, it was. I said, "Where was you, and what was you about when you first found the fire;" he said, he was behind the counter counting his money. I asked, where he saw the fire - he said, on the opposite side of the shop, next the stairs; his counter is opposite the stairs. I said, "For God's sake, when you went out of your house, why did you not knock at my door and your other neighbours, and alarm your lodgers;" he gave no answer. I asked where he went to when he left his house; he said, over to the Cheshire Cheese, and was so frightened that they kept me there.
Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q. Had he not made his yard into a room? A. Yes.
ANN BROOKSBANK . I live next door to the prisoner, and dealt at his shop. I went there between the 17th and 20th of November, for pickled girkins, and onions - he produced a jar of cucumbers - they were mouldy, as if kept a long time. I said, they would not do - and asked if he had pickles of this year's, for I should be obliged to him to let me have some of this year's; he said, he had none - before I went out of town, which was on the 4th of June, he had been very unwell, and meant to move on account of ill health. I was in his shop about an hour, or three quarters, before the fire - the usual light was in the window; I suppose it was a lamp. I do not think there was any light on the counter. I went for mould candles and soap - nobody but him was serving in the shop. I was kept there five or six minutes, as two or three customers were there. I looked round, and was rather petrified to see the state of it - for before, it being a small shop, when I went in, I could hardly walk for the number of tubs and things that were about, but on this night there was a great vacuity. I had been in the habit of seeing a very great stock there; but there was so great a difference I thought I had mistaken the shop.
JURY. Q. Were you always on good terms with the prisoner? A. Always; I always dealt with him; for I felt for his being ill; being an industrious man, I have endeavoured to get him custom.
COURT. Q. Were there no casks on the floor on this night? A. I do not say that; but there was a great emptiness in the shop, and he turned his back to me for some minutes, and seemed in a kind of petrifaction - he never spoke a word.
RICHARD GLANVILLE . I and my wife lodged at Clark'S, and on this night, about half an hour before the alarm was given, as I went in at the private door, I perceived a great smell of turpentine, as I thought; an alarm was given about eight o'clock - it appeared to come from the street. I put my wife out on the leads, at the second
SARAH GLANVILLE . I am the wife of the last witness. I smelt something like turpentine, at two or three o'clock in the afternoon on this day - the smell continued. I escaped with some difficulty; the prisoner's wife had left the house a week or a fortnight before the fire; he kept a shop boy, whom I have not seen since. I was in Clark's bed-room two or three months before the fire - I did not observe any boxes of candles there.
Cross-examined. Q. Did you speak to him about the smell? A. No.
ANN DAVIS . I live in Dorrington-street. About half an hour before the fire happened, I was in Clark's shop, and noticed a very strong smell of turpentine, and asked him, if he was not afraid of fire - he said, he was. I then asked why he did not look, he said he was afraid. I said "Have you any gas?" he said No. I left the shop, and in half an hour heard an alarm of fire.
JAMES ABBOTT . I am an auctioneer, and was arbitrator about the losses at this fire; the prisoner stated, that he had about four gallons and a half of picalilly; a quantity of girkins, cucumbers, French beans, and walnuts; that the girkins, beans and cucumbers were all pickled this year, except about four jars of girkins.
Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. You were the arbitrator appointed by the office? A. Yes; we only had one meeting.
JAMES SMART . I am engineer to the County Fire-office. On the 11th of October, at twenty-minutes, or half-past nine o'clock, I arrived at this fire - the roof of the house had fallen in. I did not leave till the next evening, and gave charge of the ruins to Cohen - nothing of any bulk was moved while I was in charge.
CHARLES COHEN . I took charge of the ruins after Smart was gone, and remained till Friday morning. Clark came on Tuesday morning, and asked who put me there; I said my master; he came next morning with another man, and a watchman, and began to turn the ruins over. I asked who empowered him to do it; he said he was empowered by the office; he took away two grates, some lead, and feathers, which were partly burnt, and there was a cask of pitch which stood before the door, and a fender and copper. I went into the cellar - the ruins covered the cellar stair-case; the foot of the stairs were burnt. I saw four casks there unburnt, in the front cellar - I saw no remains of carboys; there were four chairs in the front shop unburnt. I saw nothing else.
Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q. The whole of the house fell in? A. Yes; part of the shop floor was unburnt; there were some coals in the cellar under the ruins.
RICHARD BURLE . I received charge of the ruins from Cohen. The shop floor was not entirely burnt through, only one spot about large enough for a man's leg to go through. I found some empty casks in the cellar, and there was some pumice stone in a cask, about I cwt. of soap in another, and some treacle in an eighteen gallon barrel; it was about half full - there was also a child's cradle, and some empty casks. I saw no carboys; there was not a chaldron of coals left, Clark said that when they came in there were two chaldron; there was some salt on the shop floor, and some casks with stuff in them, and four or five casks of white lead - they were a little burnt; there were not ten casks altogether; some would hold ten gallons - the largest were in the cellar - some things were moved before I went.
Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q. Part of them were burnt? A. Yes; the white lead was scattered about the ruins.
COURT. Q. How many casks had anything in them? A. About three; they were not burnt at all. There were no remains of casks in the cellar.
Some of these papers were here read - viz. "A bill from F. Forest, for twenty-two dozens of candles, delivered between the 19th of June, and the 16th of August, 1824. Two orders for powder and candles, and a bill from Messrs. Charles Price & Co, for goods from January to June, amounting to 59 l. 14 s. 7 d., and giving him credit for several hogsheads, carboys and casks returned - also another bill of 11 l. 2 s. 2 d., from May to July, for goods bought of Walton and Son.
Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q. It was agreed to refer this matter to arbitration? A. Yes; it was seventeen days after the fire before he presented any claim. We paid the demand for the building, as Mr. Burge, the landlord, was a joint claimant.
MR. ADOLPHUS to SOPHIA WOOD . Q. While the fire was burning was you at your window? A. Yes. Bird, and a person named Turner were there. I was in the habits of friendship with her then. - I have had no words with her since, but I went for some milk one morning, and she did not speak to me as usual.
Q. On that night did she not say to you, "Mrs. Bird, what a shocking thing fire is, I can scarcely believe any one can be so depraved as to set a house on fire, for when it begins no one knows where it will end?" A. She did not - the only observation she made to me was, "There is a looking glass going along in the street - if any one should throw a stone, what a smash it will make."
Q. Did you say to her, "God bless my soul, I don't know much of Mr. Clark, but he appears to me quite a different man; I should not think he would set his house on fire?" A. I did not. I never named such a thing to her, indeed; she sat in one window, and I in another; she did not come near me; there was nobody else in the room but Bird. I did not tell Turner that I heard Clark call out Fire! I have not heard that Turner has given out that I had this conversation with her. I never applied to the parish for relief.
The prisoner put in a written Defence, stating that he should be able to prove Wood's evidence incorrect; that his business was continually increasing, which compelled him to enlarge
JOHN ELLAM . I live with Mr. Dyton , a tallow-chandler, who supplies the prisoner with goods. On the night of the fire I was there between seven and eight o'clock - I took twelve dozen of candles there, and while I was in the shop it was in a kind of a smother: I asked Clark what was the cause of the smoke; he said he could not tell, and we both went together, and looked over the shop - it was very full of things. The smell appeared like turpentine and smoke - we could not discover where it came from. I examined three or four carboys. The place was very full of goods: there was hardly a place for me to put the candles down.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. Were these candles ordered? A. Yes, some days before. I was there after seven o'clock; there was a smoke in the shop then; I was there but a short time, being in a hurry. The shop was all in a smother, but I cannot say whether it increased or not.
Q. Did you not go for any assistance? A. I could not stop - I was not there more than two minutes. I did not tell Clark what the smell was; it appeared as if something was burning. I did not go into the back parlour, nor down stairs. I call it a middling sized shop.
MR. ALLEY. Q. Do you know anything of the prisoner, except from going there by your master's order? A. No.
DAVID KNELL . I am apprentice to Mr. Clark , oilman, St. John-street: I believe the prisoner is related to him - he deals with him partly, to a considerable amount. I was in the prisoner's house about a quarter to 8 o'clock on the night of the fire, and smelt a very strong smell of turpentine, and asked him what it was - he said he thought there might be a carboy of turpentine burst, for he had had one come in by mistake. I saw three or four carboys in the shop; it was very full of goods. I had to walk sideways to pass; nobody could suppose the shop to be in an empty state on that night. I told him he had better not go down stairs with a light, for fear of igniting it. I staid there about five minutes - there was no search made to find out where the smell came from. I said I thought it proceeded from below, but he had better not go down. He dealt in turpentine, oil, soap, candles, and other things. There was a box of candles just by the door; there was lamp black and pitch there. I went away, returned in ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and the flames were bursting out of the shop. I saw Clark at the Cheshire Cheese in about an hour, in a strong fit - my master was with me.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. You live with the prisoner's uncle? A. Yes. I first went to the shop about a quarter to eight o'clock, and saw candles there - he said he had had them in that evening. I observed no smother, when I said there was a smell, he said he should not go down to see about it till the morning; I advised him not, as I thought turpentine had escaped, and it would set it on fire; he did not say anybody had been into the cellar. I returned to the shop because a woman told me the house was on fire. I went that evening to tell him we had some herrings in fresh; he dealt in them. My master desired me to go.
MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Is it usual to let customers know when herrings come in fresh? A. Yes; he could not go into the cellar to examine without a candle, which I thought dangerous.
COURT. Q. Were you ever in the cellar? A. Once; it was in the day time; twelve months ago. I think it was light enough to see without a candle.
MARY ANN PAULIN . I went to the prisoner's shop for a candle on the night of the fire - I was there five or ten minutes - after I had been there some time there was a great smell of turpentine; the prisoner served me with the candle. I saw the flames while I was in the shop; they broke out at the back of the shop, from the stairs, while he was serving me. He did nothing to cause it that I saw.
Q. Had he any lighted paper, or anything in his hand? A. No. I took up my candle, and ran out of the shop. I saw a gentleman run into the shop.
Q. Before you went away from the place did you see anything happen to the prisoner? A. Something burst out through the boards of the shop, and I believe it threw him down. I told my father of it as soon as I got home.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. About what time did you go into his shop? A. Between seven and eight o'clock; I do not think that it was eight, but I am not sure; I had come straight from home - my father had sent me there. I live at No, 15, Great Warner-street; I was not five minutes walking there. I staid in his shop about ten minutes; there was a gentleman in the shop, talking to Mr. Clark, and a person being served with soap. I did not remark the smell to him, but a gentleman said there was a smell, and Clark said he had sent the boy for a lantern, and he would go and see. I was in the shop when the boy went for the lantern.
Q. What did Clark say when the flames burst out? A. I did not hear him say anything; he was behind the counter, and I stood by it. I saw the flames come up the stairs. I did not see him jump over the counter. I did not see him tying any halfpence up. I do not know the name of the gentleman who was in the shop; he was talking to Clark when the flames burst out. I did not observe a smother over the shop. I do not know the gentleman; he was speaking to Clark about paint, I believe. I did not smell any thing till about five minutes - I said nothing about it, I am sure. The gentleman said there was a smell of turpentine, and Clark said Yes, he had sent the
Q. Did you not say a minute ago, that you was in the shop at the time the boy was sent for the lantern - now, how could that be, if the gentleman was in there before you, and yet Clark told him he had sent for the lantern - must not the gentleman have heard him send for it? A. Yes, he did. The boy came up stairs from the cellar, and looked frightened - Clark asked what he had been doing - he said nothing; he told the boy he was afraid he had been doing mischief, and he must go and get a lantern for him to see what it was, because he looked frightened. The gentleman observed this, and while the boy was gone he observed about the smell.
MR. ALLEY. Q. You have been asked if he was tying up halfpence, what he was doing before you went in you cannot say? A. No. I went out the moment I saw the fire. I have no acquaintance with the prisoner.
EDWARD TURNER . I was in the prisoner's service - I came to town, having a bad eye - I am a relation of his - I was in the shop, but at the time the fire broke out I was gone for a lantern. Mr. Clark sent me for it for him to go down stairs, to see if there was any thing the matter. I went to Mr. Underwood's, and two or three other places, to borrow one, and just as I got one at the shoemaker's, over the way, next door to the public-house, I heard Mr. Clark halloo out Fire! - I put the lantern down, and ran to see what was the matter - I saw Mr. Clark run over the way with his desk, into Underwood's - he came back again to the shop, and I did not see him afterwards. I went up to the corner, by Mrs. Ings to get out of the way, and, as soon as the fire was over, I saw Clark at Underwood's. He was very bad - I saw the last witness in the shop when I went out. I do not remember any one else being there.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. You are the prisoner's brother-in-law? A. Yes; it is a smallish shop - it was as full of goods as it could hold - it was difficult to pass backwards and forward.
Q. Then if there had been a grown up person in the shop, would you not have seen them? A. I took no notice - I run out for the lantern - I do not remember that any body was talking to master.
Q. What part of the house had you been to before you went for the lantern? A. I had just come in from Mr. Crossley 's, of Goodge-street - master asked if I smelt turpentine - I said Yes; and went across to the cellar stairs - I cannot remember that I went down.
Q. Then you had not been into the cellar for half an hour before, had you? A. No; I cannot remember seeing a gentleman with master, but am sure I saw the little girl - she came for a candle - I did not see her come in. I went about forty miles into the country next day - I have been there ever since. I came to town last Sunday.
Q. When had you been in the cellar before? A. I cannot remember whether I had been in it all day.
MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. What part of the country have you been to? A. Hampshire; with my friends - I had no where else to go. My master has been down there since. I passed behind the girl when I came in, and when I came from the stairs master spoke to me - it would appear to her that I had come from the cellar. I felt alarmed about the turpentine, as I thought there was something the matter.
COURT. Q. What did you bring from Crossley's? A. I went there with some oil which had been ordered.
WILLIAM HOSKINS . I am a coachmaker - I did not know the prisoner before the fire. I saw him afterward. Having heard that he was taken up I went to him, to tell him what I had seen. I work in Gray's-inn-lane, and was coming from work about eight o'clock in the evening, and going home by the prisoner's house, and as soon as I came opposite his shop door, my eye was attracted by a flame of light, proceeding from the right hand corner of the shop. I immediately ran into the shop, and cried out Fire, fire! The prisoner then proceeded from the back part of the shop, and met me at the door - he clasped his hands together and cried out, "Oh, my God! Fire, fire! Water, water! or words nearly to that effect. I said secure your papers, if you have any. He then sprang across the shop to the counter, and wrenched the writing desk from the counter and ran into the street. I do not know where he went.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. When you came up, the shop was on fire? A. Yes, the prisoner came from the back part of the shop - whether any one else was there I cannot say - I did not observe any body. I did not observe the size of the shop, but it was completely full of goods, hanging on the ceiling, and round the shop - if there had been a man and woman between me and the prisoner, I must have seen them.
JOSEPH UNDERWOOD . I keep the Cheshire Cheese public house, nearly opposite the prisoner's house; my attention was first drawn to the fire by Clark coming into my house with a desk, exclaiming "For God's sake, help, Mr. Underwood, my house is on fire!" I went over to his house, and saw fire in the back part of his shop, near a place where he makes his putty, near the cellar stairs - the shelves of the shop were not on fire. The shop was very well stocked, and so it was generally - I think the stock increased towards the time of the fire. I know that he built over his yard, six or eight months ago, and I should think that it cost him a good deal, for there was a deal of lead work. I do not think that a person could see from my door what was being done in his shop. I suppose my house is a yard and a half lower than the prisoner's shop, and the goods being piled up in his shop would hinder a person from seeing - there are goods in his window. The prisoner returned to his shop - the fire was increasing - he complained very much, when I met him, of having hurt his hands, and I caught hold of him, and prevented his going into the back shop - he was just at the door of the front shop - after he brought over the desk I saw him go back to the shop, and when he came out he complained of having hurt his hands, and I prevented his going in again. I took him back into my house - he complained of his side; and his hands were very bad and bleeding at the time, and he was in a very deranged state of mind - his principal cry was for his lodgers and the boy - he remained in this state three-quarters of an hour, or an hour, insensible - he was distracted, and appeared like a deranged man - he swooned away, and was quite insensible for a long time.
MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. You saw him next morning? A. Yes; I asked him how his hands were - he said, much better.
Q. Are you sure a person could see into his back parlour six feet from the shop? A. Not through the window - the gentlemen asked if they could see through the door. I know Mrs. Wood. I did not see her that night.
THOMAS HALL . I am an engraver. I was at Underwood's on this night - the prisoner came running in with a desk under his arm. I went out, and saw him in a stooping position, as if he was picking up a desk - he called out, "For God's sake, help! my house will be burned!" I went over, and took up a mop to poke away what I thought was gunpowder in the window. I was in the shop for a minute and a half - the back of it was on fire, nothing else - there were goods on the shelves. I returned about half way between the public-house, and Underwood came over with the prisoner leaning on his arm; I assisted in taking him into the public-house - we sat him down in a very helpless state - he continued so for three quarters of an hour - a person at the public-house door could not see what was doing in Clark's shop - there is a great declivity - there were several other persons in the public-house. I applied vinegar to his temples, and when he recovered, he wished to know if his lodgers were safe, and inquired about his boy - the shop was very full of goods indeed, and the window was full.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Suppose a person stood at the public-house door, and a person came out, and stood at the prisoner's door, could he not be seen? A. Not to be known, I should think. I do not think that a person crossing could see through the door to the back parlour; they might, if the door was open, and they within five yards of it. When I came back to the public-house, I found him sitting down quite insensible, and the maid-servant and a man standing by him. I was a quarter of an hour with him bathing his temples - he did not recover while I was there - he seemed anxious about his boy, and complained of his hand being burnt, and it seemed to me to be scorched, as if powder had gone off in it - he said, some had gone off in his hand, which he went to clear away from the fire - the palm of his hand looked scorched. I persuaded him to put oil to it.
Q. Why, he was insensible? A. I considered that he had recovered, but found he had not; he told me of the powder blowing up in his hand three quarters of an hour after. I had not observed any thing the matter with it before.
Q. Did you stay in the house three quarters of an hour? A. No; I went out, and did not see any thing applied to his hand. I was in and out, once or twice for three hours.
JOSEPH SMITH . I am a brass-founder, and was at work at No. 4, Dorrington-street. I heard a noise, went out, and saw fire on the right hand side of the shop at the cellar-stairs - there was no fire on the shelves, or any where else. I saw Underwood taking the prisoner into his house; he appeared as if he could not walk by himself - the shop was very full of goods.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. You were at work where Mrs. Bird lives? A. Yes; I have been there eight or nine years - she happened to be at the door as I came out - she said, "For God's sake, Clark's house is all on fire!" and went up stairs.
JURY. Q. Had she any beer in her hand? A. No; she had what appeared to be a box or bundle; it was about a quarter past eight o'clock.
WILLIAM HOLDSWORTH . I am a brass-founder, and work with Smith. I went out, hearing a noise in the street - Mrs. Bird was standing at the door - she said, "For God's sake, Mr. Clark's shop is on fire." I ran over, and saw fire in the shop - it had not burnt the shop; but was ascending form the parlour door towards the shop; it appeared to be getting over very fast towards the ceiling - the fire was all on the right hand side by the parlour door, and appeared to be coming from the cellar. I did not see the prisoner; I do not know him. I saw a man jump out of the second floor window. I got out a few brushes and things, and took them over to Underwood's.
COURT. Q. Was the shop well supplied with goods? A. The shelves appeared to be loaded with things, and there were tubs of size and colours on the floor - it appeared very full of all kinds of goods.
SAMUEL MARTIN . I was at the public-house, heard a cry of fire, went over, and the fire was then breaking out in the parlour. I took down some brushes, took them over to Underwood's; and on returning, the fire had extended to the roof. I was afraid to go in; there were plenty of goods there; the fire was only on the right hand of the shop at first - none of the shelves were burnt.
THOMAS FARNS . I am a waiter. I was at my lodgings, No. 4, Mount Pleasant; heard an alarm, went to the spot, and the first thing I saw, was the prisoner rushing into the shop - he attempted to cross the counter, but something exploded, and knocked him down. I saw that myself - he recovered himself, came into the street, and staggered into the road. I caught hold of him, and asked if any body was in the house - he could not answer at first; but at last said, the lodgers were. I got a ladder, put it to the window, and a man got out. I assisted him down; the body of the fire appeared to be confined to one corner of the shop, on the right hand.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Did you not see the shop in flames? A. Yes; that part of it - he was attempting to cross the counter when the explosion took place - it did not make a particular noise. I was on the curb stone, five or six feet from the shop - it burst like a train of gunpowder, and the flames increased - he fell on the counter, but recovered almost immediately, and rushed out - he appeared almost insensible - he was crying - somebody else came up, and I left him - he must have gone very near the flames to go round the counter.
JOSEPH JAMES FORD . I have known the prisoner about two years - there was a treaty about disposing of his shop three weeks or a month before the fire; he wanted 400 l. for the lease and good will; I offered 300 l., which he would not take. I delayed, thinking he would take less, but I would have advanced to 350 l., but no further - this was without the stock or fixtures; his shop was very heavily stocked.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Where do you live? A. In Rawstone-street. I had been in the oil business. I was to take his stock and fixtures at a fair valuation, and pay money down. I am a working goldsmith, and was going to leave that business. The money was left me by a relation; I can show you the stock receipts for it. The legacy was 237 l. 3 per cents., and 250 l. 4 per cents., and I had another legacy in the 4 per cents. I could borrow what else would be wanted. I dealt with him, and had asked if he knew of a business to suit me.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. Did you take an inventory of it? A. No. I looked round, as I had a customer to take the business. I asked what his stock would come to - he said about 600 l., and I thought it worth that.
Q. Was that including the good-will? A. Yes.
MR. ALLEY. Q. Do you mean to say that the goodwill was to be included? A. He said nothing about goodwill; he said that was the value of the fixtures and stock. I have called on him often for orders, but he has looked round, and said his stock was so full he could not order - he said his health was bad, and he must leave the business.
COURT. Q. Do you think there might be 600 l. worth of stock and fixtures? A. I should think so. I had a person in view, but did not enter into the particulars, meaning to come down with my friend, who has now taken an oil-shop at Battle-bridge, but the fire happened; I have known him fourteen years, but really do not know his name, except that it is John - he used to live at Selby's over the water.
WILLIAM WARD . I am a builder, and live in Gray's Inn-lane. In 1823, the prisoner employed me to enclose his yard, and convert part into a small room, and take part into the shop, and other work; my bill was 28 l. 7 s. 2 d.; it would take about 300 l. to put the house in the state it was in.
JOHN BURGE . I am landlord of the house; the prisoner expended a good deal on it, and enlarged it. I was frequently at his shop - his business increased a good deal. I called on him on the morning of the fire for change of a 1 l. Romford note, and I think he fetched his box down to get it - he has often fetched it down to give me change - he was in a bad state of health. I advised him to leave the business.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. Did you see him after the fire? A. Yes; I do not know how he was dressed. I saw some clothes on the premises after the fire, and there was a great coat lined with silk; he was present when they were found, and asked me if he should take them; a person belonging to the office said he had better take them, and allow the the office a salvage.
GEORGE CLARK . I am an oil and soap dealer; the prisoner is a distant relation of mine, and dealt with me. I was at his shop every Friday pressing him for orders, and used to look round his shop, to see what he had got; his stock in the shop amounted to between 3 and 400 l. at least. From April to June, I supplied him with 16 l. worth of goods, and from July, to the 24th of October - my account was 68 l.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. When did you see him last? A. On the Friday before the fire, and pressed him for orders; he said he was scarcely in want of any thing - his stock was then worth that amount.
Q. That is supposing the drawers and casks were full? A. Yes; there was a hogshead of linseed-oil untouched in the shop then, and he gave me an order for a cask of seal-oil worth 5 l. I do not calculate upon any stock in the cellar.
WILLIAM SCOTT DIGHTON . I am a wholesale tallow-chandler, and live in Cow-cross; the prisoner dealt with me for candles ever since he has had this shop - his business increased considerably towards the time of the fire. In April, May, and June, I supplied him with ninety-six dozen and 6 lbs., and from July to the 4th of September, with fifty-three dozen, and from that time till the fire, with one hundred and two dozen - candles burn better for being kept in store. October is a good time to lay a winter stock in.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. What quantity used you to send him at once? A. One, two, three, or four boxes - a box contains twelve or thirteen dozen. I sent one on the day of the fire containing thirteen dozen.
WILLIAM CLARK . I am an oilman, and live in St. John-street; the prisoner dealt with me for many articles; my account from December, to the 14th September, is 126 l. 19 s.; he has not done quite so much with me lately, as before, for he complained that I charged too high; he lived in my service eight years. I know that he used pickle himself.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Are you related? Q. I am his first cousin; the amount of goods supplied from the 5th July, to the 4th of September, is 28 l.
Q. The first item is a balance of 99 l.? A. I was rather anxious to serve him, and his things were placed to the next half-year's account; the whole were supplied from December.
JAMES NICHOLS . I am clerk to Messrs. Price and Co. who deal in turpentine, pitch, tar, &c. The prisoner dealt with them. I have a copy of his account, from June to October; the amount is between 30 l. and 40 l. - the six months prior amount to about 60 l.; there is more demand for our goods in the spring.
MR. PHILLIPS. Q. Was it his practice to sell his stock before he ordered more? A. I suppose so - he did not deal with us entirely; as prices vary, they frequently lay in a larger stock.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. His wife is your sister? A. Yes; I saw the wax put into the van to go to him.
THOMAS BENNETT . I am in the service of Messrs. Yallop and Co., colourmen; the prisoner dealt with them; he received goods in July, August, and September - the amount was 58 l. odd; it is an increase to what he had before; from January to July his account was 57 l.
MARY QUAINT TURNER . I am the wife of H. Turner. We live in Red Lion-court, and sell milk. On the evening of the fire I was in Mrs. Bird's room - she and her husband were there - I said to her "What a shocking thing fire is; I can scarcely believe persons can be so depraved as to set a house on fire, for when once it commences no one knows where it will end." She answered "God bless my soul, I don't know much of Mr. Clark, but he appears quite a different man: I do not think he would set his house on fire." She said nothing about a looking glass. I mentioned this to Mr. Swan; Mrs. Bird and I had an altercation since the fire.
MR. BRODRICK. Q. Where were you when you made this long speech? A. Sitting in her window - there are three windows in her room - she sat in one and her husband in another - we were looking at the fire, and talked about it at different times. Mr. Bird heard the conversation.
NOT GUILTY .