Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 23 July 2014), December 1769, trial of Nathaniel Norris (t17691206-23).

Nathaniel Norris, Breaking Peace > riot, 6th December 1769.

28. (M.) Nathaniel Norris was indicted for that he, together with divers other persons, to the number of one hundred or more, on the 6th of December , did riotously and tumultuously assemble together to the disturbance of the public peace, and did unlawfully begin to down the dwelling-house of Lewis Chauvet , Esq ; +

Capt. Thomas Taylor . On the 6th of December, the day the two convicts were executed, after the execution I was going about business I had to do in Spitalfields: after I had done my business I came to the officer of the guards. The high constable was telling him, that the mob were demolishing Mr. Chauvet's house, and begged of him to advance with his troops; they said they had sent for a magistrate and one was coming. I said, I will go and see what situation the house is in, and I will send you word of it. When I came into the yard, which was about five minutes after one o'clock, there were a number of people before the house; I suppose to the number of four or five thousand; they were in the street as thick as they could stand together. Mr. Chauvet and all his people had forsaken the house.

Q. Where is his house?

Captain Taylor. It is in Crispin-street . I was told by a gentleman the people were got into the house. I said, Why don't you fire upon them, and drive them out? He said, Mr. Chauvet did not chuse to fire at them. I said, give me something, I will. They brought me a brace of pistols. There is a door on the right-hand side; I knocked against it, nobody answered. I said, if they did not open it, I would fire upon them that were in the house. I pressed my foot against the door, whether my foot or they opened it, I cannot tell; it flew open as far as it could, for by the people throwing down a harpsichord, the door could not fly back quite wide; but it was so far open that I could advance in. The people seeing me with pistols in my hands, ran out; some tumbled head over heels out at the window. I could have shot, but, upon looking on my pistols, the powder was gone, and the balls came out into my hand; then I turned and asked for powder and ball.

Q. How many people were in the room when you went in?

Captain Taylor. I believe there were six or eight. I got powder and ball and advanced to the windows, and asked the people if they were not ashamed of their behaviour, and told them the consequence of it. I thought once I had got them into a good humour. There were at that time seven or eight fellows, one of which was the prisoner, who came over towards me, and asked me if I was Chauvet, and said, D - n you, if I thought you was, I'd hang you up directly. I was charging a pistol at the time. I advanced and said, I thank you for the hint, for if you advance one inch farther, I'll blow your brains out. I then shewed them my other pistol; they began to throw stones at me. I could have shot the prisoner several times, but I did not chuse it, for fear of killing women or children. They were hallooing out, Pull the house down - Hang him. I said, what signifies pulling the house down, you had better go home. They said, the Sheriffs hanged the men up like dogs, they would not let them have time to say their prayers. Said I, if you stay till the soldiers come, you will not have time to say Lord have mercy upon me. If they are at you in a direct line, they may kill twenty with a shot. Thus I talked to them five or six minutes. There was a fellow in blue extremely active. He took good aim at my head. The stone hit me on my shoulder. I ran up and should have shot him, I believe, but he squatted down and ran up among the people. I called him cowardly scoundrel. I called for a broad sword. They had none. They brought me a small sword. I said, that fellow shall be dead or alive in five minutes. I came upon the back of the prisoner: he was standing over-right Mr. Chauvet's house. I catched hold of him, and said, I'll have you dead or alive, and if any go to rescue him, I'll shoot them; and pointed my sword to him. I took him away. The fellow said, I should be glad to ask you a question; I said you may propose them before the magistrate. The first thing he said was, he knew all the cutters. I said, You will hang yourself. He said, his wife worked for Mr. Chauvet. I said, There he stands, if you have any thing to say against him, upon my honour, I will be as much your friend as his, if you make it appear he has wronged you. Did you ever hear your wife say he ever stopped any money, or lowered the wages? No sir, said he, he was a good man. Said I, How could you be so bad a man to Mr. Chauvet?

Q. Describe what was done to the house?

Captain Taylor. The window shutters on the left hand side, and the wainscot on the inside, all from top to bottom, and the door that was locked and barred, were broke.

Q. Did you see them breaking them?

Captain Taylor. No: they all ran out head over heels; and there stood till I had loaded my pistols; they had broke all the sash frames in the lower part of the house before I came. The shutters were hanging down. They were in but one room to my knowledge.

Q. Was the wainscot pulled down?

Captain Taylor. No: it was not, it was split in two or three places; they had tried to break into the back parlour. I saw the man in blue throw a brickbat in, which hit the wainscot.

Q. Were any bricks of the house pulled out?

Captain Taylor. I do not know that there were. The stone steps going up to the landing place, were broke.

Court. Are there any evidence that can go farther?

Council. We cannot prove there was any part of the house pulled down.

Acquitted .

He was detained to be tried for a misdemeanour.