Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 28 July 2014), December 1769, trial of John Carmichael (t17691206-37).

John Carmichael, Theft > burglary, 6th December 1769.

47. (M.) John Carmichael was indicted for that he, on the 25th of September , about the hour of one in the night, the dwelling of Robert Cromwell , did break, and steal twenty pounds weight of raw silk, value 15 l. and twenty pounds weight of dyed silk, value 15 l. 200 hundred yards of silk trimmings, value 5 l. and 200 yards of gimp, the property of the said Robert, in his dwelling house . *

Robert Cromwell . I am a master weaver . I live in Moorfields . On the 26th of September, near two in the morning, I was waked by a pistol going off in the alley (I live at the corner of White-cross-alley); I lie backwards up one pair of stairs; I got up to see what was the matter; they began beating at my door violently; there were a number of people; they broke in; I heard one man's voice very plain in the entry; he is not taken; his name is James Cox ; he is gone off; they broke the warehouse door, and got in there.

Q. In what manner was the outward door broke?

Cromwell. They had forced the door so that the lock had flew down the entry about eight yards, where I found it with the key in it.

Q. What time did you go to bed over night?

Cromwell. I went to bed about eleven o'clock. The door was then locked and bolted with two bolts. When they broke in I heard the door fly open, and I heard something fall in the entry at the time, which, I believe, was the lock. Then I heard them beating against the warehouse door, which fell down I believe.

Q. In what part of your house is your warehouse door?

Cromwell. That is about a yard, or a yard and a half within the street door, on the right hand.

Q. Had that been fastened over night?

Cromwell. I had fastened that, and had the key in my pocket; in a few minutes after they were gone I went down, and went into the warehouse, and found it cleared of every thing partly.

Q. Did they go into any other room?

Cromwell. I believe they did not. I did not find any body had been in the parlour; the door was open.

Q. What did you miss?

Cromwell. I missed a parcel of raw silk; I believe about fifteen pounds weight of different sorts.

Q. What is the value of that?

Cromwell. The value about twenty-five or twenty-six pounds. I missed some dyed silk, about ten or fifteen pounds weight, worth about twenty shillings a pound. I missed some silk triming; there might be about two or three hundred yards of it; the value about twopence or three pence a yard. I missed some black and scarlet gimp, about two or three hundred yards of that, the value about twopence or three-pence a yard.

Q. When had you seen these goods before?

Cromwell. I had seen them over night; as for the trimmings I had made them up for an order, and left them on the counter in the warehouse over night.

Q. What time did you quit the warehouse over night?

Cromwell. About ten o'clock; the dyed silk was in a glass case, which they broke down, and the raw silk was hanging on a peg.

Q. Did you see any of the men?

Cromwell. No, I did not. I was afraid they would have come up, but they did not. When I went down I found my street door broke all to pieces, and the warehouse door lying along in the entry; the bolts remained on the door but the staples were flown out.

Q. What number do you think there were of them?

Cromwell. I can't tell what number.

Thomas Haines . I was in company with the prisoner in September last, I cannot justly say the day of the month, at the King's-head, a public-house in King-street Spital-fields; we went from thence to Robert Cromwell 's house.

Q. What did you go there for?

Haines. We agreed at the public-house to go there, with intent to cut and destroy some of his goods; he is a weaver.

Q. Did any other persons go with you?

Haines. Yes, there might be about eight or nine of us; we all went upon that agreement. It was about twelve at night when we went there; some had cutlasses, some had pistols.

Q. What had the prisoner?

Haines. I can't be positive whether he had any thing in his hand or not; we broke open the door of the house, and broke the door of the warehouse, and went into the warehouse.

Q. Did all go into the warehouse?

Haines. I cannot be positive who went into the warehouse, because it was all dark; there might be three or four in; we all cut and destroyed some lace and trimmings; we took some raw silk away; I can't justly say what quantity; some to make trimmings of.

Q. How much raw silk?

Haines. There might be five or six pounds weight of it.

Q. How much trimmings?

Haines. A very small quantity of trimmings.

Q. What was done with it?

Haines. One James Cox had it.

Q. Did the prisoner help to break the door?

Haines. No, he did not; he was about twenty yards from the door; he was looking out to keep people from us.

Q. Name the names of them that were there?

Haines. There was James Cox , Roman Hughes , and Major Baker, and I. I assisted to break the door; I was not in the warehouse, I was at the door.

Q. Where did you go to afterwards?

Haines. We went up to Hoxton. The silk was left at Major Baker's house; he is a weaver. It was left with him for him to give to James Cox ; we never saw the silk afterwards.

Q. What had Cox the silk for?

Haines. I fancy he had it of us to sell. I believe he sold it, because we had some part of the money.

Q. How much had you?

Haines. We had about three crowns a man. I had that for one; but I did not see the prisoner receive any of the money; that was divided among us about three or four days after.

Q. Where?

Haines. It was not in a particular house; it was were we appointed to meet.

Q. Who paid you your three crowns?

Haines. James Cox did. There was a watch-house just by Cromwell's house. The prisoner was near that.

Q. How near to Cromwell's door is the watch-house?

Haines. It is about twenty or thirty yards from his door.

Q. Did you ever hear the prisoner say he had any share of the money?

Haines. No. I never saw him much after.

Q. Did any of them use their pistols?

Haines. Yes, there were two or three pistols fired off.

Q. At the time you were at the alehouse, tell the conversation.

Haines. Our conversation was about going to Robert Cromwell 's, and how to get into the house to cut the work in the warehouse, and destroy all we could.

Q. Were there any looms in that warehouse?

Haines. No, there were not.

Q. How came they to take away any thing?

Haines. They designed to take away all in the warehouse if they could.

Q. Did you all agree to that?

Haines. We all did.

Q. from the prisoner. How came that witness to see me thirty yards from the house, and he at the door, and it was a dark night?

Haines. Because I am sure none of the company was farther off; we all agreed to keep as nigh together as possible.

Q. How many were there of you that went from the house?

Haines. There were about eight or nine of us. I believe two or three of them went into the room. I and Roman Hughes stood at the door; the prisoner stood at a distance from the door.

Q. Do you remember where you parted with the prisoner after you went out of the alehouse?

Haines. One separated one way, and another another; when we came to the house the prisoner was some where about the watch-house.

Q. Did you all go away together?

Haines. We did.

Q. How soon did you meet with the prisoner after you went from the house?

Haines. I saw him in the value of ten minutes after.

Q. Whereabouts were you when you first saw him after?

Haines. We were got a little beyond the watch-house; then we joined the prisoner.

Q. How near was that to the place where you left him when you went into the house?

Haines. It may be about thirty or forty yards from the house, much about the place where we left him when we went up to the door, there was not a great deal of odds in it.

Q. Was it a light or dark night?

Haines. It was a very dark night, there was a lamp by the watch-house, and another over Cromwell's door.

Mary Whiffen . I lodge in Robert Cromwell 's house. On the 25th or 26th of September, I heard a noise in the field. I got out of bed and lifted the window up, and put my head out there was firing and blasting. I thought they were going to another weaver on the right hand. I was not terrified, because I never suspected their coming. I saw several of them; they had something very bright, like pistols, or guns, or something of that sort, or swords or cutlasses; I saw some of them by the light of the lamps.

Q. How many might you sea?

Mary Whiffen . I did not see a vast many of them.

Q. Were there half a dozen?

Mary Whiffen . I should have thought there were nine or ten of them. When they drawed nearer the house then I was rather afraid; by drawing nearer, and crying out, for I heard the prisoner's tongue, Blast you, fire! Fire blast you, fire! I particularly heard Carmichael, for I knew him. I cannot say I could know any voice in particular besides him. There was, Blast your eyes and limbs, stand still, or I'll shoot your brains out, by G - d.

Q. How near was he to the house then?

Mary Whiffen . I can't say how near; I heard his voice very plain.

Q. How near is the watchman's stand to the house?

Haines. It is about twenty yards from the house. The prisoner was at some distance from the house. It was towards the watch-house that I heard his voice. I have served the prisoner silk, out of Mr. Cromwell's warehouse, several times. I have known him about three years; he was a workman to Mr. Cromwell, and often came to his shop. Sometimes I have seen him come there two or three times a week: sometimes every day. I heard them strike with great violence against the outward door. They first struck at the parlour window, but there is a crossbar in the inside shutter, and they could not get in there. I heard every beat from first to last. The blows were like as if with a sledge-hammer. In about three blows they struck off the lock from the door, it flew to the stair foot; then it appeared to me they struck four or five blows before the bolts came off; then they fired into the passage as soon as the door was burst open; then I heard them chop at the warehouse door; it appeared as if they were chopping, and it looked afterwards as if they had chopped. I heard them huzza, and Carmichael cry, Blast you! fire, when in the house: The sash windows in the warehouse were all smash'd; that I suppose they did, at the time they were taking the goods out; the firing was without side after; there were some within, they fired at the gentlewoman's window that lodges in the next room to me. There are four rooms on a floor. There were bits contanings picked up in that room, that were fired in.

Q. How many pistols were fired while they were in the house?

Whiffen. That I cannot say.

Q. Were there three times?

Whiffen. I should think three times half a dozen. There was some glass out of which they took the dyed silk; that glass was broke.

Q. from the Prisoner. How came you to tell me you was sorry for me, after I had been at Sir John Fielding's, and was cleared?

Whiffen. I spoke less than I knew by a great deal. After the prisoner was acquitted before Sir John, he came by Mr. Cromwell's house. I went to the door; he nodded his head to me and I to him. He said, Ah, here I am, blast you! and pointed his finger. Said I, You are a cruel fellow, how could you say I tried to s cragg you? Said I, I really could have done it, but I kept away, you good for nothing scoundrel; the voice I heard that presented a pistol, and said sit still, or stand still/, or you are a dead man, by G - d. I knew that voice. He said before the justice, I am a poor distressed fellow. I said I am sorry for you, you have distressed yourself.

Q. Did he ever work for Mr. Cromwell after he was acquitted?

Whiffen. He came for work the next day, and I said, how can you come to ask for work? you see the man is ruined by a pack of rascals: he said, Do you mean me; madam? Then he turned about to the rest of the folks and said, G - d d - n them, What cruelty is here! How they have broke the door! I believe he did not work for Mr. Cromwell after this, for there was nothing to serve him with.

Prisoner. I did work for him after.

Henry Tarrant . I am a watchman, my stand was near Mr. Cromwell's house in Moorfields. I remember his house was broke open about three months or eleven weeks ago; they came between one and two in the night, near one; as near as I can guess there might be sixteen or eighteen of them. I had cried past one. A gentleman came to the watch-house for a light over the fields; I went to light him over the fields. There were two men ran over the fields' crying, Lord have mercy upon me! I said to the Gentleman, let us go back. They shut the watch-house door. I was out, and could not get in.

Q. How near is that watch house from Mr. Cromwell's door?

Tarrant. It is about forty yards. A man sat down by my right side, and pulled my hat over my eyes, and there he held me all the time. I did not see any of their faces, neither did I know either of their tongues. The gentleman that was going over the fields got into the watch-house, but I could not. This man that sat down by me was one of the sixteen or eighteen.

Q. How long did he continue holding your hat over your eyes?

Tarrant. About ten or twelve minutes; they fired away over my head.

Q. Did you hear the noise of breaking?

Tarrant. No, I did not; after that they opened the watch-house door and let me in; then one of the men said, do you stand at the door? we do not want to hurt none of you. Who they were I do not know. One of them said, D - n your eyes, we do not want to hurt you! he bid me stand at the door, and keep it shut, that is the watch-house door; they fired through the watch-house window, there is the mark it made now. When they went away I lighted the gentleman over the fields; after that I went with my light to Mr. Cromwell's house, and found it as they say. I do not know that ever I saw the prisoner before I saw him at Justice Fielding's in my life.

John Hickey . I am a watchman in Moorfields. This watch-house is about five doors from Mr. Cromwell's house.

Q. How many yards do you think it is from his house?

Hickey. I believe it is about an hundred yards distance. I believe it is either eleven or twelve weeks ago this night I was in the watch-house. They would not admit us out; they kept firing upon us. There were our watchmen in the watch-house, and we dare not come out; there was only one man spoke; he blasted our eyes, and d - d, and bid us put our lights out; we put out our lights; there was nothing but blasting and swearing, and such like as that.

Q. Were the lamps lighted?

Hickey. They were all lighted.

Q. Was there a lamp near Mr. Cromwell's house?

Hickey. I believe there was not.

Q. Did you know any of the men?

Hickey. I can't say I knew any of them. I do not know that the prisoner was one of them.

Cromwell. I received information by Haines that the goods were carried to Baker's in Hoxton. I found some silk at Baker's, a damask silk, which I know to be mine; and is what I had in my own house over night. It is a dyed silk.

Q. How long after the robbery was it that you found it?

Cromwell. It was about six or eight days after.

Q. What is the bit you found worth?

Cromwell. It is worth eight or ten shillings. Cox, whose name has been mentioned, had been a journeyman of mine.

Prisoner's Defence.

I cannot say any thing in regard to this. I am intirely innocent; I was in bed at the time. I have worked for Mr. Cromwell some time, and have had silk of him and his partner. I never wronged him of any thing in my life. He told a watchman, if he could swear to any of us he would give him all the goods in his house. That man's name is Francis Barton , (who was called but did not appear.)

For the prisoner.

Mary Ward . I live in Half-moon-alley, Bishopsgate-street. I have known the prisoner fourteen years, but have had no great acquaintance with him till within three years. I have often heard Mr. Cromwell and Mrs. Whiffen say they thought him innocent of the affair, that 15, of the damage they had received that night. The prisoner lodged at Mr. Waterman's at the Green Dragon in Half-moon-alley.

Q. How came you to talk about the prisoner?

Mary Ward . My husband works for Mr. Cromwell; and I have gone for work for him, or money, and we have talked about the prisoner; it was at the time of his absence; he was gone into the country, and it has come in the way of discourse.

Q. Did you ever know of the prisoner's going in the country before that time?

Mary Ward . No, I never did; he was going in the country before, but Mr. Diggs arrested him, and put him in the Compter.

Q. How long after this robbery was it that he went into the country?

Mary Ward . It may be a week after, or a day, more or less.

Jos. Ward. I am husband to the other evidence. I have known the prisoner about three years. I have gone to and fro, the same as my wife to get work. I have heard the same from Mr. Cromwell and Mrs. Whiffen; that they thought the prisoner was an honest man as to their affair. When the prisoner was released by Sir John Fielding , I went to Mr. Cromwell's house for work; they fell into discourse with me, and asked me if I had seen Carmichael. I said, yes. Said they, he is cleared. I said, How is that? Said Cromwell, Sir John released him because there wanted another evidence; a slight evidence, he said, would have done. Said I, How slight an evidence? Said he, I am told a person may swear to a voice; I have one in the house that can, and he wished it had been done.

Q. Did he say who that person was?

J. Ward. No, he did not. I said to him I always thought that the man would get clear; I cannot think how you could have any thing against him. I suppose it is because he has been buying of clothes; yet he has been earning money.

Q. to Whiffen. Do you know this man and his wife?

Whiffen. I do.

Q. Did you ever declare that the man was innocent?

Whiffen. I do not know that ever I did, if I did I spoke against my conscience; I did go to Mrs. Ward's with intent to have taken the prisoner up once, but they said he was gone.

Q. Are you now sure upon your oath, that what you have said of hearing the prisoner's voice is a truth?

Whiffen. Yes: If I was before my Maker now, I do say it is a truth.

Q. to Cromwell. Did you ever think since your house was broke, that the prisoner was innocent?

Cromwell. I always thought he was guilty.

Q. When did you first hear Mrs. Whiffen declare she knew his voice?

Cromwell. I never heard her declare that within these three weeks; I believe she had rather he should be cleared.

Q. What induced you to think he was guilty?

Cromwell. Because he was always among these people in this club; I was in search of him and had a warrant against him, and he went off the next morning. I never spoke a word to Ward as he has mentioned. I told him Mr. Fielding had cleared him.

Q. Did you not tell him you had one in your house that heard his voice if that would be sufficient?

Cromwell. Upon my oath I never said any such thing to him.

Q. When was the prisoner carried before Sir John Fielding ?

Cromwell. He was brought from Coventry about the 5th or 6th of October. He was discharged by Sir John Fielding , about a month ago. I believe he might be about a month in custody when he was discharged. I did not know any thing what Mrs. Whiffen could say.

Q. How came she to speak of it?

Cromwell. The prisoner came and bred a riot about the door.

Prisoner. I was examined six times before Sir John Fielding .

Q. to Whiffen. When was the first you declared to any body that you knew his voice?

Whiffen. That was about three weeks or a month ago.

Q. How came it as you did know his voice, that you did not speak of it before?

Whiffen. Because he abused me, and told me I had a mind to scragg him; then I said you are a cruel man, If I had a mind to have done it I could have done it; he had not injured my property, and I did not mention it before.

Q. What was he committed for?

Whiffen. He was committed for assaulting and abusing me.

Q. When did you tell the justice of the peace that he was one of the persons in this riot?

Whiffen. That was just after he had assaulted me. I told the justice of it at the time he assaulted me, so that he was committed for the assault and this at the same time.

Q. Which did you complain of first?

Whiffen. I went and took out the warrant for the assault; I declared before his face, that I knew his voice, and saw him with a pistol and cutlass in his hand; I saw them all. I think I distinguished his face. I said before the justice I saw him hold a pistol, or small gun to a watchman. I got a fight of his face before the lamp was broke; they put their faces up as if going to strike at the lamp; I think I saw the prisoner in particular.

Q. How came you not to say so now?

Whiffen. I thought I was not obliged to answer particularly to that.

Q. Did you make the complaint for an assault before you laid the information?

Whiffen. I did.

Q. Was the complaint for an assault, and information made the same day, and at the same time?

Whiffen. I had the warrant served; and before the justice I said you are a cruel fellow to use me so; and after that I said I knew his face.

Justice Wilmot. This woman and Mr. Cromwell came on a Saturday evening. I was told a man had threatened their lives; the woman was afraid to go home; upon that I issued out a warrant: this was the Saturday before the information. I think on the Monday they brought the prisoner to the Rotation. Upon her examination she said, he threatened to beat her brains out. I asked him if he had any bail to answer that. She said to him I never thought to appear against you, but if I had appeared at Sir John Fielding 's you then would have been hanged, but she never intended it; upon that he was sent away, and she made this information against him before me.

Q. Do you remember what she said as to her knowledge of the man?

Justice Wilmot. She said she knew it was the man that she saw at a distance; and that he held a watchman's hat, as she believed, with one hand over his eyes, and had a pistol. As he had been discharged before Sir John Fielding I was very particular. She said she had known him a great while, and she knew his voice. She said, to him, you know I saw you hold the hat over the watchman's face.

Q. What answer did he make?

Justice Wilmot. I can't tell what answer he made.

Guilty . Death .