CHARLES THOMAS.
10th September 1783
Reference Numbert17830910-4
VerdictGuilty
SentenceDeath

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599. CHARLES THOMAS was indicted for that he, at the delivery of his Majesty's goal of Newgate, held at Justice-hall, in the Old Bailey, on Wednesday the 26th of February last, was convicted of stealing one wooden tub, value 1 d. and twelve pounds weight of butter, value 5 s. the goods of Charles Thomas , and thereupon was ordered to be transported as soon as conveniently might be, to some of his Majesty's colonies and plantations in America, for the term of seven years, and afterwards, to wit, on the 1st day of September instant, was found at large within this realm of Great Britain, without any lawful cause, before the expiration of the said term of seven years, for which he had been so transported ; against the form of the statute. (See No. 3, Part 5, 209.)

(The Record produced and read by Edward Reynolds , Esq; clerk of the arraigns, whilst the Judge looked over the indictment to see if it corresponded.)

JOHN TOWNSEND sworn.

What are you? - A servant to Mr. Akerman.

Was you present in February sessions last, when the prisoner at the bar was tried? - I was.

Do you remember what the trial was for? - For stealing a quantity of butter, I put him to take his trial myself, the Court and Jury found him guilty; I was present when the sentence was passed, which was, that he should be transported to America for the term of seven years.

What became of him? - He was taken from his Court back to Newgate, and an order came down to my master, to take all the convicts down to Black Fryers, the prisoner was one, I went with him and the others, it was the 16th of August last.

Where did you deliver him? - On board the Swift, at Blackwall.

What is the captain's name? - I do not know, the mate is here.

Did you deliver him to the captain the same day? - Yes.

Do you know the reason of the prisoner's being here? - I know no further.

JONATHAN REDGRAVE sworn.

I am a constable belonging to St. James's, Clerkenwell; on the 1st of September, we received an information, that the prisoner at the bar, with two others that are to be tried on the London side, were at a house in Onslow-street ; I, and Seasons and Isaacs went to this house, and we were met by a couple of women who endeavoured to prevent our going up, however we got past them, and when we entered the room the prisoner at the bar stopd towards the bedstead with a poker in his hand, the others were armed, one with a large iron fire shovel, and the other with a large knife, I told the prisoner, knowing him perfectly (tho' I knew them all three) that it would be impossible to escape, but they might do us some mischief; the prisoner with the others, made a reply, that they would sooner die than be taken; the prisoner at the bar then struck Seasons on the head with a poker, which cut his head very much, he did not cut me; Seasons immediately closed on him, and they fell down on the bed together; Mr. Isaacs and I were engaged with the other two men and two or three women, who fought as well as they could, and as much as the men; we had three cutlasses, and very happy it was for us that we had; the other two wounded me here on the head and cut me in the breast; Isaacs speaks of the knife, but I cannot speak to it, because at the same time, one of the women struck me on the back of the head and stunned me; when I came to myself, I found the blood running down; they said, they were only sorry they had not cutlasses, for if they had, we never should have gone away without murder.

Prisoner. Will the witness take upon him to swear, that I cut Mr. Seasons? - Seasons and the prisoner were engaged particularly together; he struck the first blow, and nobody but him could strike Seasons.

Court. You are sure this man stood by the bed with a poker, and struck Seasons with that poker? - Certainly, my Lord.

THOMAS ISAACS sworn.

Was you present with Redgrave when this prisoner was taken? - I was at the house in Onslow-street, Safron-hill; when we entered the room, I observed the prisoner with two others; the prisoner at the bar immediately seized a poker, and with very bad words, said, that sooner than be taken they would lose their lives.

Did you observe whether the others had any thing in their hands? - I did.

What had they? - One had a long shovel, and the other this clasp knife open, in his left hand; as soon as ever the affray began, I saw the prisoner strike Mr. Seasons over the head with a poker; we had each a cutlass.

Were you wounded yourself? - No, I was not wounded, I was beat and bruised over the head and shoulders by the women; then we overpowered the prisoners and handcuffed them, and took them before a magistrate; I heard Redgrave call to the prisoner, whose name is Godby, though he goes by the name of Charles Thomas , saying, Godby, you had better surrender yourselves and go quietly, or else worse will come of it, and they swore bitterly they would not, but sooner die than be taken.

Do you recollect now, in particular, whether the prisoner said any thing? - All together spoke, one and all.

Prisoner. My Lord, I beg for mercy.

Court to Jury. Gentlemen, the indictment charges the prisoner with returning from transportation and being at large, it is therefore incumbent upon him, to shew to the Court and Jury, that he had some lawful, or reasonable cause for that purpose; now had this man been in a tempest at sea, and been obliged to come on shore, that would, I conceive, have been a reasonable and lawful excuse, in which case, he would have surrendered himself to a peace officer as soon as possible, but so far from any such colour, this man stood in opposition to the officers of Justice, armed himself, acted with violence, and said, he would rather die than be taken, so that that excludes any possible idea of a lawful cause of being at large.

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice GOULD.


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