Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 20 October 2014), February 1790, trial of SARAH PEARSON (t17900224-75).

SARAH PEARSON, Miscellaneous > returning from transportation, 24th February 1790.

311. SARAH PEARSON was indicted for returning from transportation, and being found at large, on the 19th of February , without lawful cause, before the expiration of the term for which she was transported .

JOHN ARMSTRONG sworn.

I am an officer; I apprehended the prisoner the 19th of February, in Shoreditch parish, in a house; in the same house where I took her before; I was present when she was convicted; I gave evidence; I had an information of her.

(The Record of January 1784, read by Thomas Shelton , Esq. Clerk of the Arraigns, and examined by the Court.)

JOHN OWEN sworn.

I am servant to Mr. Akerman; in January 1784, the prisoner, with one Mary Harding , were tried for stealing a quantity of rings, and the prisoner was found guilty of receiving them.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

My Lord, in the ship, in which I went away, after the disturbances arose, I was the only woman that was left on board; I loosed the Captain and the Surgeon from their irons: the Captain disposed of me to Mrs. Ann Redwick , in Spanish town, Jamaica, next door to the Governor's; I served her six years, two years of which I was lame, occasioned by a bite I received in my leg, which was three times condemned to be out off, and I was not capable to serve my mistress: A young lady, Miss Gwyan, came to her house for a week, and she took me to Ireland; we entered on board the Snow, captain Wreckham, of Liverpool, but unfortunately for me, as soon as we came there, she died: I was then left friendless, without a farthing of money in the world; unknown to any body; the captain was kind enough, when we came to Liverpool, to say, he would pay my passage to London, which he did, in order that I might get a cure: I came to London, and sought for my cure, and I partly obtained it; and I have no friend in the world but God and you gentlemen, and I beg for mercy.

Court. Have you any witnesses, madam? - No, Gentlemen, I have not a friend alive now.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, as this poor woman has no Counsel; will you permit me, as Amicus Curiae, to ask Owen a question or two.

Court. By all means.

Mr. Garrow to Owen. You have heard the story this woman has told, about the disturbances that was on board the ship in which she sailed? - I, with Townshend, was sent down to Exeter, to prosecute agreat many, who took the captain at Torbay; they took the ship away from the ship's company; she was afterwards retaken again, by one of his Majesty's sloops of war, and proceeded on her voyage; this woman was delivered on board the same ship; a great many of these men were convicted, and afterwards pardoned, on condition of being transported again.

Did not it appear, on that occasion, that the captain had, in defiance of his orders, intended to carry these persons to some illegal destination, to the Bay of Honduras? - As I understood, that occasioned the rising of the transports.

I believe you know, as matter of fact, that none of those persons were executed at Exeter? - None of them.

The story she has told, you believe to be true? - I believe it was true.

So that she never was carried to the object of her destination? - No.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, I submit to your Lordship, on Aikles's case; he was tried for the same charge, and the only excuse he could offer, was this, that he was at large; that he was afflicted with a sore leg; miserably poor; without friends; without the means of procuring any assistance; and that really, involuntarily he was in this kingdom.

Court. The only question that can possibly exist with the Jury, is, whether or no, this woman is the woman that was tried and convicted, and that was in this kingdom without lawful cause?

Jury. My Lord, we think she was not at large without lawful cause.

NOT GUILTY .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. Justice GROSE.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, I humbly move your Lordship, that this poor creature may be discharged immediately.

Court. Yes, let her be discharged.