Benjamin Watts, Royal Offences > tax offences, 22nd February 1749.

Reference Number: t17490222-20
Offence: Royal Offences > tax offences
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death
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179. Benjamin Watts , alias Rotten , late of Saterly, in Suffolk , was indicted as being a notorious smuggler, for not surrendering himself according to order of Council .

As the prisoner denied certain facts, contained in a suggestion founded on a late act of Parliament, made in the 19th year of his present Majesty, intituled , An act for the farther punishment of persons concerned in landing and carrying away uncustomed goods , &c. in order to bring in a number of persons, that had been guilty of great and violent offences , to surrender themselves to justice; and if they did not , before a day fixed by the King's order in Council, they were then declared to be felons convicted, and to suffer death as other felons.

The King's Attorney-General suggested, that the prisoner since the day the act of Parliament was to take place, to wit, on the 22d of June, 1748. was charged before John Oxenford , Esq; Justice of the Peace for the Liberty of the Tower ; by information of Samuel Colliton upon oath before this Justice, and subscribed by the hand of Samuel Colliton ; that the prisoner , with others that he named, to the number of three and more , were assembled together at Benacre, in Suffolk, October the 8th, 1746. in order to be aiding and assisting in landing uncustomed goods; it was farther suggested, that on the 22d of June, Justice Oxenford certified this information under his hand and seal, to his Grace the Duke of Bedford , one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State; and that his Grace on the 22d of June, laid this before his Majesty's Privy Council, (his Majesty being then beyond the seas) and that the Privy Council made an order for the prisoner at the bar to surrender himself to the Lords Justices of the King's Bench, or, &c. within 40 days after its publication; it is further suggested, that after making this order of Council, and on the 23d of June there were two copies taken, and one of them sent to the printer of the Gazette, which was printed in it the 25th and 28th of June; and the other to the High-Sheriff of the county of Suffolk; and that he, the High-Sheriff, caused it to be published between the hours of ten and two, within fourteen days after the date of it in two market towns, to wit, Southam and Beckles; and a copy of it to be put up in each of those towns, in some publick place; and as he, the prisoner, did not surrender himself according to this order of Council, therefore it is suggested that he was attainted and convicted of felony, and the King's Attorney-General did press that execution might be made.

These suggestions being fully proved by proper witnesses in every step; and as the prisoner alledged there was another Benjamin Watts , it might be another person intended and not himself; Samuel Colliton swore to the identity of his person, that he, the prisoner, was the Benjamin Watts intended in that order: the jury found the issues for the King .

[Death. See summary.]

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