Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 22 September 2014), April 1742, trial of John Bolton , alias Bolter (t17420428-46).

John Bolton, Killing > murder, 28th April 1742.

51. John Bolton , alias Bolter , of St. James's, Clerkenwell , was indicted for that he, with four other Persons unknown, not having God before their Eyes, &c. on the 4th of April , on Isaac Crawley did make an Assault, and a certain Blunderbuss charged with Gunpowder and leaden Sings, against the said Crawley did discharge and shoot off, well knowing the same to be charged; giving him on the Inside of the right Arm, below the Elbow joint, one mortal Wound, of the Breadth of one Inch, and Depth of four Inches; of which, from the 4th to the 11th of April, he languished, and and then, in the Parish of St. Bartholomew the Less, died .

John Portman . The Prisoner I do believe to be the Person that shot and wounded Isaac Crawley on the 4th of April in the Morning, at the Bottom of Clerkenwell-Green . He was afterwards taken to St. Bartholmew's Hospital, and died there.

C. Now tell us all the Circumstances of the Case in the Manner they happened.

Portman. I am Constable, and was coming from the Watch-House to go my Rounds into Turnbull-street, and I told Crawley who was with me, that I would first step again to the Watch House: There came four Horses and passed me; the fifth was about ten or a dozen Yards behind the other, and I had not above two Steps to go, before I could have got quite 'cross the Way. The fifth Horse met me, and rode up against me, and I held up my Staff just so, which made him start, and the Man on his Back struck at me: Upon that I struck the Horse on the Head, thinking I had as much Authority in the Night as he; and then he fired a Pistol. A second Man then came up, and I hit the Horse a good Knock, which made him turn round with his Tail to me. The second Man (whom I apprehend to be one of the four that passed by me) fired a Pistol directly at me. I plaid about with my Constable's Staff, which is about 8 Feet long, hitting first one Horse, and then the other: They fired seven more at me, and I had no other Chance to save my Life, but by keeping the Horses in an unsettled Motion. An eighth Pistol was fired, and I never heard Crawley say any Thing till the Men were gone off, and then he said, Master, I am wounded! I am shot! There were five Horses in all, four passed me, and the other had not, and there were two Men that fir'd at me.

Q. Did the People belonging to the other four Horses go off?

Portman. I saw none but the two Men that came up to me afterwards; the rest of the Company were gone before. I apprehend that the last Pistol shot Crawley, for I did not hear him say any Thing 'till they were gone off, though he was within 7 or 8 Yards of me.

Q. How long had the Men been gone off, before Crawley said he was shot?

Portman. They had not got two Yards before he spoke: Master, (said he) I am a dead Man! I am shot in the Arm! and if he ever saw the Face again he could know him. - I hope I never can err, but what I say is Truth, therefore I do tell you, we got Crawley to the Watch-House, by the Assistance of a Man who rose in his Shirt, and a Watchman: One took hold of his Arm, and the other his Legs, and I carried the two Lanthorns. Then I went to call Mr. Woodburne, a Surgeon, who does the Parish Business: He would not get up, but however at last he sent his Man, and upon pulling off Crawley's Cloaths, he said there were five Ballets or Slugs in the Man's Arm; it was in this Part of the Arm, a little below the Elbow.

Q. What Distance might these Wounds be from each other?

Portman. About an Inch Distance; there were three on a Row, and two length Ways; but in my Surprize, I can't give the Particulars of that; but if I may speak my Heart, I believe it could be by one Discharge only. Mr. Woodburne's Man telling me he could do nothing for him, I called a Chair, and carried him to the Hospital, where he died that Day Week, as they told me, much about the Time that he was shot. Now I come to the Prisoner: After I had given my Information before Justice Poulson, Mr. Foster came to the Justice's for the Tea, and I told him the same as I have said now; this was on the Monday Morning. When we had been there some Time, Mr. Foster said he was dry, and so after we had been to a Butcher's, and weigh'd the Tea, we went to the Hole in the Wa ll, I think it was, where we sat down in the back Room, and had a Tankard of Beer. When we had drank best Part of a 2d Pot, Mr. Foster said to one Mr. Quaife, who was in our Company, I am very uneasy about your Friend John! Why don't you fetch your Friend John? Mr. Quaife then went out, and I told Mr. Foster, these Men were cowardly Fellows, for five of them need not have trifled with me with Fire-Arms: However presently in comes Mr. Bolton, or Bolter, the Prisoner; - he had Boots on then, and he had not come within a Yard of me, before I said to Mr. Foster, I have made the Face! That is the Man! I sat between Mr. Foster and another Man; one bobb'd me on one Knee, and the other on the other: - The Truth will never err: - All the Council in England can't baffle me: - Here are two Lives lost. Then the Prisoner got behind me, and laid up against the Dresser, and I challenged him again: Gentlemen, (said I) I will assure you this is the very Man! That is the very Mark ! Mr. Foster bobb'd me on one Side, and the other Man on the other, a second Time; and on my repeating my Assurances a third Time, they bobb'd me again in the same Manner. Observing no Body take Notice of what I said, I told them I must go Home, for I was not safe in their Company: Mr. Foster said I was very safe, for Bolton was a Custom-House Officer: With that, my Spirits were quite flagg'd and daunted; and so I took up my Pipe, and would stay t'other Tankard. I jostled my Chair about, and fac'd the Prisoner: Heark ye, my Friend, (said I) what Countryman are you? Where dost live? The Prisoner spoke not a Word, good, bad, or indifferent; with that Mr. Foster said, you Blockhead, why don't you come into Company? Then the Prisoner sat down, and he made the sixth Man in the Company; and I told them again, I was sure he was the Man. Then the Argument ceased, and Mr. Poulson's Clerk came in: It seems he was to do something for Mr. Foster about a Cart Load of Tea that had been seized, and he desir'd it might be let alone till Morning, for he could not do it that Night

C. I thought it was Morning when you was at the Hole in the Wall?

Portman. No; it was between ten and eleven at Night; I never said it was Morning: However we staid till the Paper was done, and Mr. Scavendish (Mr. Poulson's Clerk) being going to his Father's, I was glad of the Opportunity, and said I would go with him. Before I got out of the House, I told him that I believed the Prisoner to be one of the Men that shot at me and Isaac Crawley . I went Home to Bed, but could not sleep, so I got up next Morning, and went to Mr. Poulson's; this was Tuesday Morning: I told him the same as I have said now; and Mr. Poulson wrote to Mr. Foster to bring the Man, and I waited all Day, but he did not come. The next Day, which was Wednesday, Mr. Foster was ordered by the Commissioners to bring Bolton to me; and they accordingly came on the Friday following, and four or five more with them. Mr. Foster desired I might look over these Men, for perhaps I might know some of them, and the right Man he said was just by, and he would send for him. I looked at them, and thought it not usual to be trifled with, and I looked on the Ground for some Time: Then I got up, and spoke to the Prisoner. Says Mr. Foster hastily, Which is the Man among all these? So I went up to Bolton, put my Hat between his Legs, and said, That is the Man. He was then committed upon my believing him to be the Man, as I do still.

Q. You say it was between Two and Three of the Clock: What Sort of a Morning was it?

Portman. It was Moon-light, and there were two Pistols discharged; one behind, and another before me; besides the Watchmen had their Lanthorns.

Q. Do you take the Prisoner to be the first or the second Man that attacked you?

Portman. That is the biggest Thing that has puzzled me; for the Horses turned about so, that I can't say as to that; but he had on a light Duffill Coat, and a Great Coat over it.

Q. Do you recollect the Man by his Habit, his Stature, or his Face?

Portman. By the Face, and nothing else: I never saw him with my Eyes before that Night. One of the Men had a hoarse, coarse Voice; and the other a smooth Voice.

Q. Did the Prisoner speak when he came into the Hole in the Wall?

Portman. No, not a Word: I have heard him speak since, but I can't recollect him by his Voice.

Q. Had the Person who attacked you a Hat on?

Portman. Yes, they had both Hats on; but to be sure I must be in a good deal of Confusion, for one of the Pistols took a Button-hole off here, and another shot through my Great Coat. The Terror of the Prisoner's Face being then upon me, occasioned me to speak when he came into the Company. I have one Thing more to say: - They brought one Luke Harding to speak in the Prisoner's Behalf, and his Voice is hoarse and coarse, and I was as positive to his Voice, as I am now to the Prisoner's Face.

Pris. Ask him, Whether when we were at Mr. Poulson's on Friday Night, he did not declare to Thomas Davage and Thomas Quaife , in the lower Room, if Mr. Foster had told him I was an Officer, he would not have carried the Thing so far, but as he had begun, he would go through with it?

Portman. I never did in my Life.

Pris. Q. Did you give any particular Description that Night of the Persons supposed to commit this Fact, whereby there was an Advertisement put into the Papers?

Portman. You must first and foremost set me out in the Light that I am, for I can neither write or read: I did give a Description to Mr. Poulson.

Pris. Q. Do you know your own Mark if you see it?

Portman. Yes, it is a Figure of Two: - I can't say whether this is my Mark, because I seldom turn the Tail so high; but I did set my Mark to a Writing at Mr. Poulson's, but I don't know that Writing if I were to see it.

Pris. Q. Do you believe that to be your Mark or not?

Portman. I can't say whether it is or not, I seldom turn the Tail so high.

Pris. Q. Do you think that Paper was sign'd by you or not?

Portman. If I was to speak as I think, I did not; if I did, it must be my Trembling or Surprize.

Pris. Q. Was the Paper which you signed read over to you?

Portman. Yes; I believe that was the first that was made, and was thrown away, and I never sign'd any afterwards.

Pris. Q. Did the Paper which you signed contain a Description of the Person supposed to shoot Crawley?

Portman. Yes; the first that Mr. Poulson wrote did, and I signed it.

Pris. Q. Did not you give that Description on Monday Night?

Portman. Yes; and the Prisoner was taken up the Friday following. I have no more Witnesses but myself, for there were only Crawley and I there.

Prisoner. On Saturday Night I was with Thomas Quaife and Thomas Davage : We were ordered by Mr. Foster to go to the End of Long-Lane, for there were five Horses with Tea come in that Morning, and we were to see if they moved them. We went there first, and were suspicious of two Houses in Three-Fox-Court, upon which we got a Constable and rummaged those Houses, but we did not find the Goods. After we had parted with the Constable, we went to the Place to wait, and between nine and ten o'Clock a Boy came by with an half hundred Bag: We followed him, and in St. John's-street we asked him if he had got a Permit: He would not tell us, so we follow'd him as far as Chancery-Lane, and then he shewed us the Permit. We then went back to Long-Lane, and waited till eleven o'Clock: And in the Road, going Home, just before we came to Moorfields, there were some People up in a House, and we went in to drink. Davage went away before one o'Clock; Quaife and I staid and drank till near three o'Clock, and then we went Home together into Tower-Street.

Portman. The Thing was done between Two and Three.

Mr. Poulson. This Paper was read over to Portman, and he made his Mark. - This is my Hand-writing: - It is Portman's Information, taken the 5th of April.

It was read.

John Portman , Constable, of St. James's, Clerkenwell, maketh Oath, That on Sunday the 4th of April, 1742, about Two o'Clock in the Morning, in the Road near Clerkenwell-Green, he, this Deponent, saw five Men mounted on Horseback, with Loads on their Horses; one of which Horses ran against this Deponent, and had like to have thrown him down; upon which this Deponent held up his Constable's Staff to defend himself, and immediately the Man mounted on the said Horse discharged divers Pistols or Blunderbusses at this Deponent and his Watchman, Isaac Crawley , and wounded the said Crawley in his Arm, and lodged 5 Slugs therein: And this Deponent farther faith, That the Man that rode on the said Horse, and discharged several Blunderbusses or Pistols as aforesaid, was a lusty Man, about 40 Years of Age, of a swarthy Complection, pitted with the Small-Pox, and had on a Wig of a darkish Colour, a light-coloured Duffell Coat, and a Great Coat over it, and the Horse or Mare he rode on was of a large Size, a dark Bay with cropp'd Ears; the Saddle he rode on (which was dropt from the Horse) is a brown Leather Saddle, with four Staples and two Leather Straps, such as are usually used by Smugglers, with a Woollen Saddle-Cloth, chequ'd with blue and white, with one Girt and a Circingle: And this Deponent further faith, That one of the other four Men, who were in Company with this sad (said) Man, rode on a large black Horse, and was a lusty Man, in a light-coloured Great Coat, and he turned back and fired four Pistols, or Blunderbusses, at this Deponent and his Watchman: And this Deponent further faith, That one of the other three Horses was a spotted Horse, with a bald Face.

The March 2 of

JOHN PORTMAN

Mr. Foster. I have known the Prisoner Ten Years: He has been an Officer in our Commission about six Years, and is an established Weigher upon the Keys . He has behaved exceeding well, and discharged his Trust faithfully. About the 3d of April I received Information, that five Horses of run Tea had been unloaded at One in the Morning, at the End of Long-Lane, next Smithfield; but the Person that saw them unload, did not know into what House the Goods were put. About 6 in the Evening I sent for the Prisoner and Thomas Quaife , who is likewise an Officer of the Customs, and directed them to go into Long-Lane, and to search a House or two; but if they did not find the Goods there, I ordered them to wait, as privately as they could, 'till Ten or Eleven o'Clock; for my Information was, that before the Watch came about, the Goods would be moved. As to what Portman has been pleased to say, - I was before Mr. Poulson when this Examination was taken, and I saw him sign it. Mr. Poulson directed me to come for the Tea, and there were twenty-five Pounds delivered to me, and I was willing to hear what Account Portman gave of these Smugglers, believing we might find something of Service to the Revenue. Accordingly when he had given this Information, we went to the Hole in the Wall, that we might talk more freely. I took Quaife and Davage with me. Bolton happened not to be at this House so soon as I expected, so I sent Quaife for him, that he might hear what the Constable said. Quaife brought him in, and he sat down in a Chair near a quarter of an Hour The Prosecutor (Portman) did say something that he had made the Face, upon which I bid Bolton come round that Portman might have a fair Light Accordingly he came towards the Dresser, where he staid all the Time that the Constable was there. On the Friday following, by the Conmissioner's Directions I went with the Prisoner before Mr. Poulson, and I thought it would be Justice to take one or two Men with me, who went with Bolton upon the Information, and who would know it he was absent from them; but Portman did not pitch upon any of them but the Prisoner. As to Bolton, I have sent him upon different Occasions, where his Life has been in great Danger, and he always behav'd as a faithful Servant ought to do. I heard Portman give the Description of the Man that did this Fact, and it does not answer the Prisoner, neither in the Features, Age, nor having the Small Pox. I never saw Bolton wear a black Wig, but when he is about his common Business, he has such a Wig as Countrymen usually wear. Portman has likewise said, that Mr. Poulson wrote to me on the Tuesday to bring the Prisoner: the Reason why I did not, was because I had sent him with a Summons to a Man in the Country, to shew Cause why his Cart should not be forfeited, for having in it about eleven hundred Weight of Tea. And at the Hole in the Wall, I don't know but I might touch him with my Knee, and I desir'd him not to talk in that Manner in a public Ale-House, for the Man was a Custom-House Officer.

Thomas Quaife . I remember this Night very well: I was going down Tower-street between 5 and 6 in the Evening; I believe it was the 3 of April, Mr. Foster was standing at the Dolphin Tavern Door, and call'd to Bolton and me, and gave us Directions to go into Long-Lane by Smith-field. He ordered us to go and search some Houses in Three-Fox-Court, and if we did not find the Tea, we were to stay in Smithfield 'till eleven o'Clock or thereabouts. We took Davage with us, and applied to one Timothy Powel a Constable, in Charterhouse-Lane, and by Vertue of a Writ of Assistance, and my Deputation, we took him with us, and search'd two Houses in Three Fox-Court, and when we had done it was dark, pretty near 8 o'Clock. We all agreed after this to go and drink, and we accordingly went to a Public House in Charter-house-lane, and had some Beer, and I believe it was near 9 o'Clock before we parted with the Constable. Then Bolton, Davage and myself went into Smithfield, and about ten, or hardly so much, there came a Boy, his Name is John Colcart , and who is a Servant to a Grocer. He had on his Head a Sack with an Oil Skin Bag in it, which I took to be Tea. I ask'd him, if he had any Permit; he said, if I wanted to know, I should go with him into Long-Acre. I was not willing to give the Boy any Suspicion, so I said to Bolton, John, you know that is our Way home, we will go with him: He led us into Chancery lane, and when we came near the Golden Iyon, he said he would not make us go any farther, and so he shewed us the Permit. We then returned to Smithfield, as fast as we could; it might then be better than a Quarter after ten. We had given Davage Directions to wait there till we came back, and there we found him. We staid there till near half an Hour after eleven to no Purpose, and then we agreed to return home: Davage liv'd in Spittle Fields, and so we agreed to go over Moorfields. When we came into Chiswel-street, we agreed to drink at the first House that should be open. Davage and the Prisoner ask'd me where I would go? I told them, if Luke Harding was up, I would go there, for I wanted a Pair of Gloves. Accordingly we went in, and call'd for a Pot of Beer, and staid there all three in Company 'till better than half an Hour after 12 o'Clock. A Person then came in, who said she had been 'frighted by Thieves in the Fields, and we were detain'd in Talk 'till very near three o'Clock; - Davage left us before one. About two o'Clock a poor Woman came in, who carried a Basket in the Market, and I began to talk with her. Bolton pretended to her, that he was my Servant, and I made her believe that I was in Love with her. Bolton and I staid there till near three o'Clock, and going over Moorfields, the Watch went three, and we made all the Haste we could Home, thinking our Wives would be 'frighted. We went together to the End of Beer-Lane, in Tower street, near the Custom-house, and Bolton parted from me there. He lives in Crown-court, Seething-lane, and I had but just got up Stairs, when he came back and knock'd at my Door, and ask'd for his Wife. I told him she had been gone ever since Evening, and then he went home again: this was about half an Hour after three o'Clock.

Pris. Q. Do you remember any Conversation that you ever had with Portman relating to this Prosecution?

Quaife. I was at Mr. Poulson's when Bolton was examin'd: Portman, Davage and I, were in Mr. Poulson's Room, where he examines the Witnesses. I ask'd Portman how he ever could make this poor Man Satisfaction? Why, (said he) what you mean by that? You are endeavouring (answer'd I) to swear his Life away when he is an innocent Man: His Answer to that was, if Mr. Foster had told him Bolton was an Officer, and had not jok'd with him at the Hole in the Wall, he would not have carried it on so far; but since he had begun, he was resolv'd to go through with it, let the End be what it would. Hearing him say this, I inform'd Mr. Poulson of it directly.

Mr. Poulson. This Man told me of it, and Portman denied that he ever said so, both to me and Mr. Paul.

Thomas Davage . Bolton and Quaife came to my House to desire me to go with them to Mr. Poulson's, and I accordingly did Mr. Portman took his Hat off, and threw it to Bolton's Feet, and said, that is the Man! When the Thing came so hard, it shock'd me, and Mr. Quaife very much, and we went into the Office: Portman follow'd us, and I ask'd him how he could be guilty of such a villainous Thing as to charge Bolton? I don't know, (said he, and walk'd about) It is Mr. Foster's Fault. for if he had been so good to have told me that the Man was an Officer, and had given me civil Language, I had not carried the Thing so far, but as it is, I must go through with it. Quaife and I upon hearing this, went directly and told it to Mr. Poulson, and Mr. Paul, and Mr. Poulson sent for Portman in, and asked him the Question, and he denied that he ever said any such Thing. When Bolton was order'd from New-Prison to Newgate, I went to Hicks's-Hall, where I happen'd to see Portman. He seemed to be shy of speaking to me, but I shook Hands with him, and ask'd him what he design'd to do. He complain'd of his Attendance on Mr. Foster and the Commissioners, and he said, he pitted the poor Fellow in Prison, for now instead of one Indictment, he might now have four or five against him.

Luke Harding . I have known the Prisoner a great many Years. On the 3d of April, between 11 and 12 o'Clock, he and Quaife, and Davage, came to my House in Chiswell-street, and call'd for Beer. They said with me from between 11 and 12 'till I open'd the Door to let the Watchman in at 3 o'Clock to let him have something to drink. They did not all go away together, for Davage went out about One; he saw they were for drinking, and therefore he would go, but Quaife and Bolton did not go 'till near three o'Clock.

Mary Harding . I have known the Prisoner these 8 Years. On Saturday Night, the 3d of April, between 11 and 12, nearer 12 I believe it was, he came into my House with Mr. Quaife: There was a third Person whom I take to be Davage, but I did not know him so well as the others. He (Davage) went away at one, but Bolton and Quaife staid 'till 3, and then went away together. I know it was 3 o'Clock, because the Watchman came about, and he is pretty particular.

Ann Burgess . On Saturday Night the 3d of April, between 11 and 12, the Prisoner came into my Mistress (Harding's) House, and when the Watchman came three o'Clock, he went away.

The Jury acquitted the Prisoner, and the Court granted him a Copy of his Indictment.