Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 29 July 2014), December 1778, trial of SAMUEL BONNER (t17781209-44).

SAMUEL BONNER, Theft > extortion, 9th December 1778.

58. SAMUEL BONNER was indicted for that he wickedly, knowingly, and feloniously did send a certain letter, in writing, bearing date the 20th of November without any name there to subscribed, to Sarah Teshmaker , of the parish of Edmonton, widow, by the name and description of Lady Teshmaker, near Winchmore-hill, Edmonton, Middlesex , demanding of the said Sarah Teshmaker , money (to wit) one guinea and a half against the statute , &c. Nov. 21st .

2d Count the same as the 1st, with the addition of setting forth the letter as follows:

Nov. 20th, 1778.

Lady Tashmaker

Wee dwo a blige You that you shall dwo this kindness of Charity to theas three people which wee menshon to you that his the Wheader Wakefield James Weave and Old Bonner & make each of them a preasant of one Gine & half to a Sist them in thear Distress. One Sunday Morning being the 22th of Nor. and send for them all three to your House between a 11 & 12 & let one of you Sarvents give them thiss gift in a peas of paper & this leater neaver to be menshoned for the safty of your Self If you dwo not dwo a Corden to what this leater menshons you may expect that your Estate shall be Broght to ashes and Your Self to the Ground with a brase of marvels throu your C

It is not ondley you others shall be a blige to dwo the kindness of Chearity to the poor a pon Winchmore hill as well as you wee are men that is well wishes to the poor near neabers a short life and a meary one

This From your well wishers If you act a Corden to this Leater

3d and 4th Count the same as the 1st and 2d only charging the letter to be for threatening to burn the houses of the said Sarah Teshmaker instead of demanding money.

5th and 6th Counts the same as the 1st and 2d, only charging the letter to be for threatening to kill and murther the said Sarah Teshmaker instead of demanding money against the statute.

Mrs. SARAH TESHMAKER sworn.

You live, I understand, at Winchmore-hill? - I do.

Did you any time in November last receive any letter? - Yes.

Did it come by the post? - By the penny-post.

Is that the letter (showing it to the lady)? - This was the letter; I opened it myself.

(The letter was read, and it literally corresponded with the statement of it in the indictment.)

FRANCIS HARDCASTLE sworn.

I keep a publick-house, the Fox, at Winchmore-green . Mrs. Teshmaker has her letters and newspapers left at my house. She has the newspaper left there every day, unless the post-man happens to see any of the family and gives it to them upon the road.

Look at the superscription of that letter; do you remember that letter coming from the post-office? - Yes; I am sure this letter was left at my house, and I gave it to Mrs. Teshmaker's servant.

Jury . Has it the penny-post mark upon it? - It has. I delivered the letter to Joseph Warren ; I was not at home at the time it came.

JOSEPH WARREN sworn.

I am servant to Mrs. Teshmaker.

Do you go for her letters? - Yes.

Can you read? - Yes.

Look at the superscription of that letter.

Do you know that letter? - Yes.

Did you receive that letter from Mr. Hardcastle? - Yes.

Did you give it to your lady? - No; to Philip Sneel .

To Mrs. Teshmaker. Did Philip Sneel deliver it to you? - No; I was from home at the time. I found it upon my table when I came home .

WILLIAM HUDSON sworn.

I am a clerk at the Penny-post-office . I am apt to believe that this letter was put into our office .

Why do you think so? - I know it by our stamp.

Do you know who put it in? - It is impossible for me to say that, as there are so many people come to our office.

Where is your office? - In Throgmorton-street.

Was it put immediately into your office, or brought from another office? - I believe immediately at our office, because there is no receiver's name upon it.

SAMUEL DRAPER sworn.

I am a school-master, and clerk to Pearce Galliard , Esq.

Do you know the prisoner? - Yes; I have known him from a lad about twelve or thirteen years of age.

How old may he be now? - I take him to be about forty-one or forty-two.

Do you know his hand writing? - I will not take upon me to swear to it.

Have you had any conversation with him relative to this affair? - He has openly confessed the matter to me. I went to him in the house of correction, by order of Mr. Galliard, to postpone his being brought down for a second examination. I went on Monday the 30th of November; he was to be brought down on Tuesday the first of December, to Mr. Galliard's house at Edmonton .

Why was you to postpone his being brought down? - Because it did not suit Mr. Galliard nor Mrs. Teshmaker to come down that day. On Monday the 30th I went to Mr. Hall, to desire him to detain the prisoner till Wednesday. I saw the prisoner in the house of correction.

Did you make him any promises? - No. The moment he was let out of the gaol gate into the open yard, he came to me and this gentleman, Mr. Day, and immediately confessed it.

Had you the letter with you at that time? - I believe I had it in my pocket.

Did you show him the letter? - No.

What were the words you made use of? - He hung round us and begged we would recommend him to Mrs. Teshmaker; that he had been informed she was a very good lady. He hung round Mr. Day, and said that he had wrote the letter.

What letter? - The letter to Mrs. Teshmaker.

What letter? - The letter threatening her life.

What words did he make use of? - I do not recollect the words particularly.

You must recollect as near as you can. - He said that he never meant to put his threats in execution.

What were the words as near as you can recollect that he made use of? - I cannot be particular .

He hung round you both, and begged for mercy? - No; he did not hang round me, he went and hung round Mr. Day, and said that he did send a letter to Mrs. Teshmaker, or to that effect.

Did you show him the letter? - Not then.

Did you at any other time? - Yes; he saw the letter before Mr. Galliard.

Did he first accost you, or you him? - I never spoke to him till he ran to us and begged for mercy, that we would intercede for him. He said that it was the first matter that he had been concerned in, and had not done it but poverty and the devil put him upon so doing . I believe I did so far say to him, that poverty need not have occasioned him to do it, because he had a workhouse to come to whenever he thought proper.

Was that all that passed? - With me.

I am surprised you did not show him the letter, as you had it in your pocket? - I did not go with that intent, I only went to desire Mr. Hall to detain him till the Wednesday following.

MATTHEW DAY sworn.

On Monday, the 30th of November, Mr. Draper called at my house. I went with him to the house of correction at Clerkenwell.

Did you see the prisoner there? - Yes.

I believe he was committed thither for writing a letter to Mrs. Teshmaker? - I understood so.

Did you begin to speak first to him, or he to you? - He was speaking with Mr. Draper. I was in an obscure part of the yard; he turned his head and saw me; he flew to me, and took me in his arms, hugged me round, and said, pray, Sir, God bless you, Sir, be my friend, and get me out of this dismal place, you was always my friend. I said, what do you do here, Bonner? He said, O God knows! God bless you, Sir, get me out of it; you will if you are my friend get me out of it. I said, what are you here for? What have you done that you are here? Why, Sir, says he, and whispered softly to me; I am here for writing a letter to Mrs. Teshmaker; I then said to Mr. Draper do not let us stand in the yard, but let us go into the house. We went into the house. I said to him, Bonner, how could you be such a confounded fool and a rogue to attempt to do such a thing as you have done? O, said he, Sir, it was the Devil, the Devil, the Devil, and this leg, putting his hand and lifting up his leg, that induced me to do it; he had a sore leg; I said, did you absolutely write this letter?

Court. Did all this pass before Mr. Draper? - He was talking with one of the clerks that stood at the desks. I said, did you absolutely write this letter. He said, I did, and it is the first fact I ever was guilty of in my life.

Court. Did you speak of this letter as a threatening letter, or in any particular terms? - I asked him about this letter.

Court. You asked him about this letter, he was under commitment at this time, was he not, for writing this letter? - Yes; he was in prison, in custody for it.

Jury. Are you one of the parish officers? - No; I am not.

Jury. Do you know his hand writing, if you look at the letter? - No.

There were no promises of any kind made him, were there? - No; not one. The people at the work-house got him to write something, and there is a similitude between the two hands.

Court. Similitude of hands has never been allowed to be given in evidence in criminal cases since Algernon Sidney 's time.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

I have nothing at all to say; what that gentleman says is the truth.

Court. Have you anybody for your character?

Prisoner. Only God and the gentleman.

Mr. Day. He worked for me five years, or near upon it, as a day labouring man. I did look upon him for four out of the five years to be a good honest sort of a man.

Court. He is in his senses, is he not? - I never knew any otherwise; he is rather hard of hearing.

Jury. What does he do? - He is in the country way; he is a day labouring man. I have a great many houses; he was out of employment. I took him out of the country where he used to do business. I said, if you will go to London I will employ you; I will give you ten shillings a week, hail, rain, blow, or snow, long days, or short ones; I will employ you constantly. He agreed to come to London, and worked for me four or five years.

Jury. Is he a native of Edmonton? - He is.

GUILTY Death on the first Count.

Tried by the Second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILLES.

(He was humbly recommended by the Prosecutrix and the Jury to his majesty's mercy .)