20th October 1784
Reference Numbert17841020-69
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence; Not Guilty

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1001. GEORGE WOOD and WILLIAM GILES were indicted for feloniously assaulting on the 8th of October , in the King's highway, called the River of Thames, one Robert Currie , and putting him in fear and taking from his person and against his will, four trunks covered with leather, value 10 s. four dozen of shirts, value 10 l. six other shirts, value 12 s. three coats, value 20 s. eight dimity waistcoats, value 4 l. four pair of nankeen breeches, value 20 s. three pair of silk breeches, value 20 s. three pair of silk stockings, value 20 s. eighteen pair of cotton stockings, value 20 s. one pair of boots, value 5 s. six pair of thread stockings, value 6 s. eighteen pair of cotton trowsers, value 30 s. five sil k handkerchiefs, value 15 s. one linen stock, value 1 s. four stocks, value 2 s. six linen handkerchiefs, value 3 s. one pair of sheets, value 5 s. one table-cloth, value 8 s. one silk umbrella, value 5 s. one gold ring, value 10 s. one silver stock-buckle, value 5 s. one pair of stone knee-buckles set in silver, value 2 s. the property of the said William Bunkum .

Mr. Garrow, Council for the Prisoner, objected to the property being laid as belonging to the said William Bunkum , the name of William Bunkum not having been mentioned before in the Indictment.

Mr. Silvester, Councel for the Prosecution, replied, that the words the said were mere surplusage, and did not vitiate the Indictment.

Court. With respect to surplusage in this case, there strikes me, there is some little doubt which word we should strike out; there is an antecedent to which the word said may refer: if there was no antecedent, if the indictment had begun that he made an assault on the said Robert Currie , there I should be inclined to reject it as surplusage, but one person being named, the word said is referred to that.

Mr. Silvester. There was an Indictment against a man for feloniously setting his house on fire, and the crime itself was not felony; the Court of King's-Bench were of opinion that the word feloniously should be considered as surplusage, and it was struck out; now in this case, it immediately refers to the goods and chattles of William Bunkum .

Mr. Garrow. Let the accomplice go out of Court.

(Mr. Silvester opened the Case.)


I am steward to the ship Venus, Captain Bunkum , commander, she was laying at Limehouse the 8th of October, and about two that night our vessel was boarded by a number of people, they came to the cabin and opened the door, two men came into the cabin with a dark lanthorn, their noise and the light awakened me, I started up in my cot and one of them rushed to me with a pistol or blunderbuss, and told me not to move, if I did I was a dead man; they took two trunks containing wearing apparel, and a trunk containing things which was not locked, and a trunk with the papers of the voyage, (repeats several of the things inserted in the indictment) the whole amount of the things in those trunks was forty pounds, on a moderate computation. The prisoner Wood was one of the men; I made every observation I could of their stature and dress, but none on their faces, except the prisoner Wood's who came to the cabin door, and laid hold of the trunks, by which I had an opportunity of seeing him; the things are the property of Captain William Bunkum .

Mr. Garrow. How long had you been in bed before this happened? - About four hours.

In a sound sleep? - I was.

Any light in the cabin? - None at all.

You was a good deal surprized? - Yes.

Had you any arms on board? - No.

You must have been in a pretty considerable state of alarm not to have known a pistol from a blunderbuss, may be you would not have known it from a little cannon? - It was about eighteen inches long and a brass barrel.

Was the face of the person that came to the cabin door in a disguise? - He had a handkerchief tied about his head not over his eyes.

Had that person any light in his hand? - No.

How long was he in your view? - I suppose a minute, or a minute and an half, at one time, he received the things from the others, and came backwards and forwards.

When you saw Wood before the Magistrate do you recollect saying you could not swear to him, nor did not know him? - I never said so.

Was there or not, a handkerchief put over the head of Wood, before the Magistrate in order that you might see whether you knew him? - I am not positive whether it was over Wood, or Giles, but it was over one; but I had sworn to him before, the handkerchief made no difference to me; I said positively before the handcherchief was put on, that Wood was one of the men.

How long were they on board in the whole? - Fifteen minutes at most, we had four more hands besides me.


Mr. Silvester. Where do you live? - In Shadwell.

Look at these men, do you know any thing of them? - Wood came to me last Saturday was a week and asked me whether I would buy a pair of knee-buckles with several of the stones out, I told him I buy nothing to day, but if you will come again to night I will speak to you; he did not come, but a hand-bill being circulated, I went to get a search warrant and laid an information at Shadwell, and at Sir Sampson's; he left the buckles with me, and I saw him on the Tuesday night following at a public house playing at cards, and I delivered them to him.

Mr. Garrow. Who are you? I know you but these gentlemen do not. - I am an honest man, and get my living as a man ought to do, I sell razors and penknives; I exercise no other trade except pencil making.

Court. Upon your oath, did you give the buckles back to the prisoner on purpose that they might be found upon him when he was apprehended? - I did.

By whose advice did you do that? - I am hard of hearing your Honour.

By whose advice did you do that? - By my own advice.


In consequence of an information, Mr. Clark, Jealous, Carpmeal and me, went with Solomon to the Jolly Sailors, we followed him immediately, and this young man had one of the buckles in his hand looking at it, and the other lay near to Wood upon the table; here is a hand-bill of the robbery that the prisoner Gyles flung into the floor directly upon his being taken.

Mr. Garrow. Do you know that Jew fellow Solomon? - Yes, I knew him before this business.

(The buckles deposed to by Captain Bunkum , which he left on board that night.)


I have known Wood about eight months, we were at the Fox in Fox's-lane Shadwell, we waited for Gyles, we went to Pelican-stairs for a boat, we then went up to Alderman Parsons's-stairs to look at a sloop we were going on board her, we went to St. Catherine's and had something to drink, we staid till twelve and went to look at her again, and went down to Limehouse-hole and got a light from the watchman, and went on board the Venus between twelve and one.

Who was in company with you? - The prisoners Gyles and Wood, Henry Wood , and Joseph Cupola , I stood upon the hatchway with a cutlass, the other four went down, they pushed open the door and drew out the two trunks from under the cot and brought them on deck and put them into the boat; then Wood brought two red leather little trunks and put them into the boat; we went over to the Horse-ferry facing Limehouse and tied them up and carried them over to one Brown at Limehouse, who keeps an empty house on purpose to take in those things.

Mr. Garrow. How long have you been concerned in this sort of business? - About ten months.

Pretty good plunder? - Yes.

You was one of those that was fired at? - Yes, I was taken up for stealing some lead the Friday following.

How many of you were drowned coming from the sloop? - There were two, one is not found.

You were told that you would be hanged if you did not make a confession? - Yes.

Who told you so? - Several people.

Have you spoke to Solomon since you have been in confinement? - No.

You made this confession to save your own life? - I did.

Court to Jury. It is not necessary to trouble you with any objections to this indictment, the prisoner will have the benefit of them in another place if he is convicted: there is no evidence against Gyles.

Court to Currie. Which side of the river did the ship lay on? - On the north side.

Was the ship's boat on board? - No.

GEORGE WOOD , GUILTY Of stealing the Goods, but not by force, from the person of Currie .

Transported for seven years .


Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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