James Sampson.
13th April 1768
Reference Numbert17680413-39

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293. (M) James Sampson was indicted for stealing six bank notes, to the amount of 925 l. which were due and unsatisfied for, the property of the Right Hon. Henry Seymour Conway , Esq ; in the dwelling-house of the said Right Hon. Henry Seymour Conway , March 2 .*

Henry Seymour Conway , Esq; When I was in Germany, that unfortunate man at the bar did attend me the greatest part of the two last campaigns; he had before attended the Duke of Richmond, where he was put, by his Grace's care and goodness, under the tuition of another person, to learn to be a draughtsman; and when his Grace left Germany, he put him under my care, he was then about sixteen or seventeen years old; he was generally in my house and family, I employed him as a draughtsman , to take sketches of the camps, more particularly those in which I was concerned, that was the connection I had with him; he has applied to me since on different occasions, and I have lately got him to be a draughtsman in the Tower; he was backwards and forwards in my house in common.

Court. Please to inform the court and jury of the particular circumstances of the fire and the robbery.

Gen. Conway. As near as I can recollect it was as follows: I had received notes of Mr. Larpent, to the amount of 1200 l. and upwards; there was one of 500 l. and seven notes of 100 l. each, and, I think, a 20 l. and a 10 l. note; I put them in a drawer in a till in my library; part I had disposed of, 300 l. and the 20 l. and the 10 l. notes; and of that money there remained the 500 l. note, and four single hundreds, and I believe there might be another note, but I cannot be very accurate as to the description of that; I had noted the money I took of that sum, so that I knew precisely the sum I had left; there was a 25 l. note I put there afterwards; I saw these notes the morning preceding the fire, or the morning before that, I am not quite certain.

Q. What time of the evening did you leave the library before the fire?

Gen. Conway. I believe about one the same morning, which was the 2d of March; I left a small fire in the fire-place; I took one candle with me, and put the other on a mahogany table at some distance from where the papers were; the servant, Richard Liver , who attended me that night, can gave an account of that, it was impossible for the flame to communicate to these papers; the next morning, between five and six, I was alarmed with an account of the house being on fire, I looked at my watch when I came down; we found smoke issuing through the door of the library, and I heard the crackling of flames; I did not open the door at that time, being cautious not to let air in, which might increase it; I called to the servants, to know if they had ordered engines to extinguish the fire; they said they had, but it was same time before the fire engines came; when they came, they were applied to the room, and when they had had some effect upon the fire, the door was opened; I called to the firemen, if they could, to bring out such a table in which I had put the notes; they brought the table out, it smoaked very much, and was partly on fire; upon examining it, I found the drawer where I left my money, and the drawer contiguous to it, were both standing a small matter open; I examined the table, and opened the drawer where the money was, and examined if the papers were safe; I found they were all safe in appearance, only something wet with the engines that had been playing in the room; I took the papers up with a good deal of case, and put them into my pocket, because there were people standing round at that time; I thought by that means I was secure of the notes I had left, but when I examined my pocket soon after, I found the notes were gone from among the papers; then first it was that I had any strong idea that I had been robbed; this is all that occurs to me about the fire and the robbery.

Court. Please to describe the manner of the fire taking effect on the different parts of the room.

Gen. Conway. It was the opinion of every body almost that saw the room, that it was set on fire on purpose, and at two different places; to be sure the appearance of the room was very strongly so; but, for my own part, it seemed to me to be so atrocious an offence, that I could not conceive it had been set on fire on purpose; when I was convinced of the robbery, then I could not quite doubt of the other; the table stood on the left side of the fire place, as you look from the fire; there was a book-case on the contrary side, and at a considerable distance; the book-case and the table were the only things that were absolutely on fire; the book case was burnt down to the floor below, and the fire had heated the boards above immediately over the book case; the pictures were destroyed, and the book case with the books in it were damaged; the curtains were so singed as to fall almost to pieces; the cieling was so parched, that part of the plaster had fallen down, and disevered the laths: notwithstanding the natural appearance was, that it should be some of my own family that was concerned in this robbery, yet I had so much confidence in my servants, as I had had most of them a great while with me, who behaved who remarkable justice, I could not suspect them, therefore I turned my thoughts to consider who could have access to the house in such a manner as to be guilty of this thing; when I heard of the bank note, my thoughts was to trace it by means of that, and the first thing that struck me was the description of the person; I did not know the number of the note, but I thought a note of that magnitude might easily be traced, and I enquired into that; Mr. Larpent had received three notes they did allow at the Exchequer, and he traced out two of them, and the third must be that I had; I sent to the Bank to stop that note, and I heard, to my great surprize, that that note had been brought to the Bank the morning of the fire for payment; I thought of tracing the person that brought it; I enquired what sort of a person it was; the description I had answering in a good degree to the prisoner at the bar, it came into my mind, for that and some other things, that it must be he that was the person, (though I could hardly believe it;) Mr. Campe brought the note and shewed it me, he left it in my hands; it occurred to me, the description being something like the person of the prisoner, to compare some of his writing with the writing on the note; (the 500 l. bank-note produced;) though it appeared like a disguised hand, I thought I saw certain strokes in this of a peculiar kind, that, joined to a description of the person corroborated my suspicion; but it is not a similitude that I should chuse to swear to, but it was a great inducement to make me prosecute my enquiry.

Q. Do you now look upon it to be the prisoner's hand writing?

Gen. Conway. I will not swear to such a thing as that, I believe it to be his; I thought it proper to communicate my suspicion to the Duke of Richmond; accordingly we proposed the clerks of

the Bank should come in, under pretence of business, that they might see Mr. Sampson, to know if they knew his person; the two gentlemen at the Bank, Mr. Lambert said he should know the man that brought the note among a thousand, he had taken such particular notice of him; Mr. Campe, the other, said he thought he should know him if he saw him; the Duke of Richmond and myself were with Mr. Sampson, and the two gentlemen came into the room; I had desired them, if they were not sure of his person, they should not make a signal; (our intention was, if they were not sure of the person, Mr. Sampson should not know he was there for that purpose;) but when the gentlemen came into the room, and we gave them some opportunity, by continuing our discourse to the prisoner, they made the signal; (we had agreed they were to make a certain signal if they knew him to be the man;) then I charged the prisoner with it; at first he denied the fact, but not long he soon confessed it, and then gave a full account of the transaction from the beginning to the end.

Q. Can you recollect what he said upon that occasion?

Gen. Conway. He confessed he was in my house the night before the robbery was committed; that he had meditated this thing for some days before; he said, when he pretended to leave my house, instead of leaving it, he went up into a room that was vacant, where my house-keeper, who had left me some little time before, had lain; that he lay concealed there till two in the morning, and pulled off his shoes to avoid making a noise, he came down stairs; that he found the remains of a fire in the hall next to this library; that he lighted his candle, which he brought in his pocket for that purpose, and he owned he left it burning among the papers after he had taken the notes; I went out of the room a little while, so far he mentioned before me; he at first said he took them in another manner out of the table, but afterwards he confessed he had done it in the manner I have now mentioned; and that he said an hour, or an hour and a half, to see whether the fire took effect or not; that he went from thence, and went to bed for two hours; then he dressed himself, and came back to my house about eight in the morning, near about the time the fire was subdued; I remember I had seen him there, and I really thought of sending him to make enquiry concerning these notes; he came to me that same day, and asked me if I wanted him; I told him then I did not, the business I wanted him for I had employed another person to do; he described the other notes to be in a cupboard, I think, or some place in his own room, where they were found; Mr. Wilkinson was sent with a constable to his lodgings in Pimlico; he brought the notes back to the Duke of Richmond's, they were never in my possession since; there were eight 50 l. notes, making 400 l. and three single 100 l. and a 25 l. he mentioned having changed this note of 500 l. for a 100 l. note and eight 50 l. notes; he was taken into custody and committed.

Q. Was you present before Sir John Fielding at his examination?

Gen. Conway. I was; there he confessed the robbery only, not the setting fire to the place, he said the fire might be accidental; I asked him by what accident he supposed it could be; he said he might have left the candle on the table; I told him that could not well be, because the candlestick must have appeared; he said the candle might melt down, I said the candlestick could not; then he owned he brought it without a candlestick; I learned afterwards that he piled the papers round the candle.

Q. Did he say he set it upright, or laid it down?

Gen. Conway. He first said he leaned it against the ink-stand; I told him that was too low, that was not above an inch and a half high, then I went out of the room.

Abraham Newland . On the 13th of February I delivered three bank notes, 500 l. each, dated the 11th of February 1768, and numbered,

K. 604. K. 605. K. 606.

payable to Mr. Abraham Newland , each 500 l.

(The 500 l. note in question shewed him.)

Newland. This is one of them, K. 606; I delivered them to Mr. Barnsley, to deliver them to Mr. Larpent.

Samuel Barnsley . The three 500 l. notes I received to Mr. Newland, I paid the same day to Mr. Larpent; this is one of them, K. 606, I particularly remember it.

Mr. Larpent. I received three 500 l. bank notes of Mr. Barnsley.

Q. Can you give an account what became of these three 500 l. notes?

Larpent. I paid one of them on the 15th of February to Mr. Brown and Co by the hands of Richard Evans ; I paid another on the 18th of February to General Conway ; the third note was

paid to Mr. Willis; when I paid the General that, there were seven single 100 l. notes paid at the same time, and I believe a 25 l. note.

Richard Evans . I received a note of Mr. Larpent, No K. 604, for 500 l. that day; it was payable to Mr. Abraham Newland .

Mr. Willis. I received a note the 27th of February of Mr. Larpent, of 500 l. I did not take notice of the mark; I paid it to Mr. Drummond the banker with other notes, about a quarter of an hour after.

Mr. Orton. I live with Mr. Drummond. On the 27th of February I received several notes of Mr. Willis, among which was a bank note of 500 l. it was dated the 11th of February.

Mr. Stone. I and Mr. Thompson are employed to sign bank notes.

Court. Look at this note of 100 l.

Stone (He takes it in his hand) This is signed by Mr. Thompson.

Court. Look at these.

Stone. (He takes three single notes for 100 l. each in his hand) These are all signed by me.

Q. Do you know Mr. Butts?

Stone. I do, he is appointed to sign bank notes.

Court. Look at this note of 25 l.

Stone. (He takes it in his hand) I believe this is signed by him.

Thomas Campe . I am in the Bank, I pay money for bank notes; the prisoner at the bar came there to me on the 2d of March; he brought this 500 l. bank note, K. 606, payable to Abraham Newland ; I cancelled this note, upon paying a 100 l. note, with an order for eight 50 l. notes; he desired to have two 50 l. notes, ten 20 l. notes, and ten 10 l. notes; when he presented this note to me, there was nothing wrote upon it; I bid him write his name and place of abode upon the front of it, and bring it me again; he took it, and in about a minute brought me with this upon it; I am not sure whether I saw him write it or no; he desired to have two small notes; on the Friday I went to Sir John Fielding , to acquaint him the 500 l. note was paid; after this I saw the prisoner at his Grace the Duke of Richmond's; I declared there, that I knew him to be the person that brought the note; when he was first charged with it he denied it, and afterwards he said he took the notes out of the drawer, and he left the candle upon the table; that he set it up by a writing-desk, or some such thing, and had put the papers round it, and when he saw they were on fire, he went out of the room; he said he brought the candle from home, on purpose to light it at the hall-fire; and by the help of a tree in the yard, he got over the wall, and walked about for an hour, and if the house had open on fire, he intended to alarm the family; he gave intelligence where the remaining notes were; he said they were in a back-room in the house where he lodged; Mr. Wilkinson and one of the constables went to search for them; he told them they would find almost all the notes; he told Sir John Fielding , he had expended about 180 l. of the money.

Benjamin Lambert . I am appointed at the Bank to deliver out bank notes; the prisoner brought a ticket for two of 50 l. ten of 10 l. and ten of 20 l.

Q. What clerk did he come from?

Lambert. From Mr. Campe; I told him if he had any other business to do he had better call again in an hour; he said if we could give him eight 50 l. notes, it would dispatch him sooner; accordingly I made him out eight in the name of Thomas Williams .

(They were read in court.)

No 264 265 261 260 259 268 262 257

Thomas Williams , 50 l. dated 2d of March, 1768.

Lambert. They are all entered Rainsford.

Q. How soon after did you see the prisoner?

Lambert. I saw him at his Grace the Duke of Richmond's on the 8th of March; I was sent for to see if I knew him again; I knew him the minute I came into the room.

Court. Recollect what the prisoner said there.

Lambert. The General challenged him as the person that had robbed him; he denied it at first, but immediately after he confessed every thing, that he took the notes out of a drawer of a table in the library, and that he came to the Bank first with a 100 l. note for cash, and then he came about noon with this 500 l. note; and that he had 100 l. in cash, and the rest in notes, and he had disposed of some of the money, pretty near 200 l. I believe he said he brought a candle from home, and lighted it at the hall fire; and after he had taken the notes, he put the candle on the table, and piled the papers about it, and waited about an hour about the house; then he went home and lay down, and about eight o'clock he came back-again.

Q. Do you recollect about what time he said he left the candle burning?

Lambert. About two in the morning; he said he went up the back stairs into a room, and concealed himself till two in the morning; then he brought the candle, and lighted it at the hall fire.

Thomas Jeyes . I am a clerk at the Bank, appointed to change bank notes; the prisoner came on the 2d of March, about ten o'clock, with a bank note of 100 l. to me, which I paid him; he wrote the name John Santon , Pimlico, upon it; he had all in cash, (he takes a note in his hand) this is the note.

Mr. Wilkinson. I was present at the Duke of Richmond's, when the clerks recognized the prisoner; I was at Parliament-street coffee-house; Mr. Marsden, Sir John Fielding 's clerk, was to let us know when the person was discovered; he came and told us that the men were called in, upon which I went over to the Duke of Richmond's; when I came into the room, General Conway came up to me, and acquainted me the prisoner was the person; the cashiers of the Bank had been in the room some time before.

Q. Did you hear the prisoner say any thing of the robbery?

Wilkinson. He confessed he had concealed himself in that room; that he staid there till two in the morning; that he then came down stairs, and took a candle that he had in his pocket, and lighted it at the hall fire; (this was not his own regular account, but the answers to questions the Duke put to him;) he said he found the drawers open, and took the notes out, and put them into his pocket; General Conway asked him about the candle; he answered he had leaned it against the ink-stand, and after that he acknowledged he had put the papers about the candle; he also confessed he went to the Bank, and changed the 500 l. note, and that he either wrote the description of the place where the notes were to be found, or Sir John Fielding 's clerk did from his mouth.

Q. Did you go to the place where you was directed?

Wilkinson. I did, and his Grace the Duke of Richmond went with me to the prisoner's father's; there, in a front room up two pair of stairs, in a cupboard on the right-hand, there was a loose bit of paper stuck up against the wall by some paste or gum; Sir John's man felt something soft, so he tore the paper down, and there he found three single 100 l. notes, eight of 50 l. and a 25 l.

His Grace the Duke of Richmond confirmed the account given by General Conway of what passed at his Grace's house, with this addition; that when the prisoner was before Sir John Fielding , after Sir John's clerk had taken down his confession in writing, he was asked if he would sign it; he answered he would; then Sir John said, I think it fair to tell you, that if you do, it is the same thing as signing the warrant for your execution, nothing on earth can save you; then the prisoner said he would not sign it: and that he was particularly urged several times to say whether he had any accomplices in it, and he constantly denied that he had any, and said he would not charge an innocent man.

Richard Liver . I am servant to General Conway , I attended him the night before the fire; I sat by the hall fire, after I had undressed the General, till my lady's maid came, and told me my lady was in bed; I sat down some time, till I heard my master come out of his own room, then I went into that room; the first thing I did was to take care of the candle; I took it where were no papers, or any thing near it; the other candle my master took in his hand when he went to bed; there was no smell of fire, or symptoms of any; I came out of the room with the candle in my hand, and blowed it out in the hall, and afterwards put it upon a basket in the hall, and went to bed; this was about one o'clock.

Sarah Matthews . I am housekeeper to the General; the prisoner was at the General's about seven o'clock, I believe he went away between nine and ten; if he returned again, that is what I know not of; I did not know of his being at our house later than between nine and ten, I thought he was gone home.

The prisoner said nothing in his defence.

Guilty . Death .

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