28th June 1780
Reference Numbert17800628-128
VerdictNot Guilty

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437. ABRAHAM DANSON was indicted, for that he, together with forty other persons and more, did unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously, assemble on the 6th of June , to the disturbance of the publick peace, and did begin to demolish and pull down the dwelling-house of the Right Honourable

William Earl of Mansfield against the form of the statute, &c.


I was in Bloomsbury-square on the morning of the 17th of June, with Mr. Danson, Mr. Keene, and Mr. Moore; a great mob were throwing furniture out of the window. I saw Mr. Danson assist forty or fifty more in pulling down the rails; as he was pulling them down he fell backwards. I knew him before. He brought out two bottles of wine, and gave them to Mr. Key, and bid him carry them home to his, the prisoner's, house.

"On her cross examination she said, that

"the prisoner went with her, and Mr.

"Keene; that she and her husband were

"taken up, and charged with having been

"concerned in the riot, but that no prosecution

"was carried on against them;

"that she was told, before she made any

"discovery as to the prisoner, that he had

"charged her with taking wine out of the

"house, and likewise had charged her

"husband, who had been taken up; that

"when they first set out she did not know

"they had any intention of going to Bloomsbury,

"but hearing there was a fire they

"went to see it as innocent spectators; that

"they drank some wine in Bloomsbury-square;

"that she did not see the prisoner

"in the house; she further said, that the

"prisoner called at their house; that from

"thence they went to the prisoner's house;

"that when the witness signified her intention

"of going with them, Danson said it

"was not a place for women to go to, but

"the witness said, if her husband went she

"would go."


I went out with Mr. Danson. Going across Holborn I lost my company. When I got to Bloomsbury-square I stood there ten or twenty minutes. Danson came up, and gave me two bottles of wine, and desired me to carry them to his house; this was a quarter of an hour after I had first parted with him. I left the two bottles at the Coach and Horses; two or three days after I took one to Danson, and the other I have myself at this time; when I went down to Danson's I gave the bottle to him; when I returned to the square I observed the prisoner there with Mr. and Mrs. Moore. I was not taken up upon this affair. I was last in the square, and set out from Danson's in Clare-market, and not from Moore's. I did not see the prisoner do any act while I was there.

Prisoner. I leave my defence to my counsel.

For the Prisoner.


I am a fireman to the Westminster-office; I have been a fireman twenty years. I have known Mr. Danson these twelve years. When Sir John Fielding 's house was on fire I went there; after that fire was out we went to Lord Mansfield's, when we came there I saw Mr. Abraham Danson ; he said namesake I am glad to see you, here is great confusion and distress, and I will assist you all that lies in my power. I said be so kind as to take the hose and assist all you can; he did take it, and did as I desired him to the fire-plug; he screwed them on, and carried them to Lord Mansfield's house, to go down into the area for the water to pour in. We were not permitted to play the engine. We put the engine into the carriage by the fireman's order, and drew it round the next street. This was, I believe, about half after four o'clock.

Did he appear there as a person active in doing mischief, or as one very desirous to prevent it? - He prevented it as far as I saw; when we had orders to put the engine into the carriage he assisted us to lift it in; after that he and I went into a publick-house, and had each a glass of Pepperment a piece; then he shook hands with me and departed.

Counsel for the crown. All was done before that time; the house was then on fire, was it not? - Yes it was, before we had the alarm. I have known him thirteen or fourteen years; he kept a publick-house in the Borough-market before he removed to this end of the town. I never heard any thing against his character.

How long did you see the prisoner before you parted with him? - He was with me an hour and an half.


I went with Mr. Danson to Bloomsbury-square; it was near two when I got there.

And with Moore? - No; I do not know any other person that I went with but Mr. Danson; we staid there a considerable time; at last an engine came. Mr. Danson said, there is a man come with an engine, who I know well; I wish it was in my power to assist him; this is the man that came with the engine (Longbottom.)

Had Danson before that done any act whatsoever to encourage the mob? - I saw none.

And you was with him? - I might be five or ten minutes now and then from him. I saw him go up to his acquaintance, and endeavour to assist him; the mob did not seem as if they would let the engine go to work. I drew back, and did not see Danson any more till after the engine was going to be put upon a carriage, then I saw him assisting Mr. Longbottom to put it on. We went from thence; we had not got far from the house before we met a man who looked like a porter with some wine; he had, I suppose, four bottles in each hand, and one tucked under each arm; he said, will you relieve me from my burthen, if not I must break a bottle; he had not got the word out of his mouth before he dropped one. I believe Mr. Danson did release him from the two bottles under his arm. The man said I will come back in a very few minutes and fetch them; this was between three and four o'clock.

Did you see any body else in Danson's company? - No; not that I know of my own knowledge.

From the time he came into the square you came in with him, and staid till he went away, did you ever see him pulling at the rails of Lord Mansfield's house, with an intent to pull them down? - No, never; whenever I saw him he never attempted such a thing as that.

If he had been so active you must have seen it? - I think I must.

Cross Examination.

Did you take any of this load of wine from the poor man that was so encumbered? - I did not.

Then he did it as a serv ice to the man to take two bottles from him? - He asked him to do it.

Did he put them into his pocket? - I cannot say, I left him behind me there.

Were the iron palliadoes pulled down while you staid there? - I head a snapping and cracking, whilst I was there, like something of the kind.

Who and what are you? - My name is Thomas Larkin .

That is a very good travelling name; what business are you? - Clerk to a wharfinger at Smart and Dyce Key.

How long have you been clerk to a wharfinger? - Since last Christmas.

Because the last time I had the honour to see you, you was clerk to an attorney. You are the same man that came to be bail in the King's Bench for 3000 l. and was rejected? - I was.

Was not you clerk to an attorney then? - No.

Was not you clerk to Mr. Bowstead? - No.

You served notices and writs for him? - Yes.

How long? - Not since last November, then I left Mr. Bowstead.

The long vacation is a dead time, and you amused yourself with serving writs? - I never served writs, I carried notices of bail.

Mr. Bowstead has a great deal of business in the bail way. You used to carry notices for bail, and offer yourself for bail perhaps? - Offer myself for bail?

When the bail did not appear perhaps? - I beg no such reference may be made.

You did that for nothing, merely for amusement? - I intended to have served a clerkship to an attorney.

What, at your time of life? - Yes.

What, is a clerk to an attorney so much preferable to the wharfinger business? Why did you not prosecute it? - I found my abilities were not sufficient to carry it on.

Had you, before you was rejected as bail, determined not to be clerk to an attorney?

- The rejection made no kind of difference to me.

I only ask you the question about the time when you determined not to be clerk? - Before then.

Then you was not with Mr. Bowstead at that time? - Not at all.

And not clerk to him in any respect then?

In no respect whatever.

When did you offer to be bail? - In the last term.

And you are now clerk to a wharfinger, are you? - Yes.


I have known the prisoner a year and a half, he was a servant of mine, I never heard any but a good character of him.

JOHN DUKE sworn.

I have known Danson about seven years; he has as honest a character as any I ever heard in my life. I was at his house the Monday after Lord Mansfield's house was destroyed. Some officers came to enquire after him; he was not at home. When they first came he was informed of it by his wife. He said,

"Now I am come home I will stay and see what these people want with me."

Cross Examination.

Did these people leave their business? - No.

( John Levinge , who had known him six years; Kendall, two years; Hemmings, two years; Thomas Martin and John Stevens , between six and seven years, all gave the prisoner a good character.)


I am a cornchandler, I know nothing of this affair, only I heard Mrs. Moore say, an hour ago, that she should not have appeared against the prisoner, but that if he was not convicted she was afraid he would impeach her and Mr. Moore in something.

Cross Examination.

You were not subpoenaed here as a witness? - No.

Was any person present at this conversation? - Another person was by. I asked him what he was doing here.

Was this conversation in court? - It happened at the door here, before the prisoner came to the bar.

Are you acquainted with her? - I do not know; I have been at the house where she used to sell Sevinge; she has seen me there, that was all the acquaintance I had with her.

To Mrs. Moore. Have you heard what this person says? - Yes; it is very false.

Lucas. That is the man (Keene) who saw me speak to her.

Keene. I did not observe him speak to her, nor see him near her.

Counsel for the crown to Keene. Is Mr. Lucas an acquaintance of Mr. Danson's? - No.

Lucas. I have no acquaintance with him.

Counsel for the crown to Lucas. What brought you here? - I came along with Mr. Blick.

Counsel for the prisoner. And you are a stranger to Danson? - Yes.

Counsel for the prisoner to Keene. Mr. Lucas did speak to you, did he not? - He did, and might speak to the woman, but I did not observe him.


Tried by the Second London Jury before Mr. Justice ASHHURST.

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