30th August 1786
Reference Numbert17860830-15
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation

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675. JOHN BROWN was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 31st day of July last, a black gelding, price 14 l. the property of John Sharman .


I live at Girton near Rygate, Surry ; on the 31st of July, I lost a horse from my field; I saw him in the afternoon, about four on the 30th, I missed him in the morning of the 31st; about four I saw a gap made in the hedge in the turnpike road, leading to the London road, to Sutton, and that way; then I followed the horse to London; I know nothing further.


I saw this horse about seven in the evening on the 30th; the next morning between five and six, my master ordered me to take horse and go after this horse; I saw the horse at Smithfield the Friday following; one Baldwin took me to see the horse; I cannot say the name of the place; it was my master's horse; I never saw the prisoner.

What sort of a horse was he? - I knew him; I do not justly know his marks; he had a white foot, and a little star on his forehead, and a long swish tail.


My servant brought the prisoner and the horse to my door; he took the man with the horse on Friday the 4th of August, his name is Samuel Arnold ; he took him in the parish of Mary-le-bon; on horseback; I am a linen-draper in Smithfield; I had been at Ryegate the Sunday before; the horse that Shepherd saw, was the same my man brought.


I took the prisoner myself in the parish of Mary-le-bon on the 4th of August; he had my coat on his back; I knew him to be the person that stole our property from Ryegate; I had lost my great coat on the 31st at the Swan; I saw the prisoner at Ryegate on the 30th; I do not know what he was doing; I had rather a suspicion of him on the Sunday; missing him on the Friday; I saw the prisoner at the back of Mary-le-bon work-house, with my great coat on; I stopped him; I was on horseback, and he was on horseback; I brought him and the horse to my master's house; I stopped him on account of my great coat; and I had seen hand-bills about the horse, which answered the description very nearly or quite.

What did he say for himself? - He said, he was the person that stole my great coat, and begged I would let him go; he said, the horse belonged to a timber merchant and wanted me to leave it behind; but I said, they should all go together; I know nothing more; I saw the prisoner at Ryegate; the prisoner said, he had lived with the clergyman of that parish; passing along in a field, he said, he saw some horses, he said, them do not look to be nice horses.

Mr. Peat, Prisoner's Counsel. You saw nothing of your great coat till you saw it behind Mary-le-bon work-house? - No, I missed my coat next morning; the prisoner went very readily; he said, the timber merchant was behind.


I was in Smithfield; I took up the prisoner.

Court to Baldwin. Did the prosecutor come up and see the horse afterwards? - I never saw him with the horse.

To Arnold. Did Sharman come on Saturday for the horse? - Yes.

Was the horse that Sharman took away, the same you stopped the prisoner on? - Yes.

Now Sharman, was that your horse? - Yes.


I hope the evidence will prove my innocence

if you please to call them; though upon the spot on Sunday, and was in company with the servant; I am innocent of the robbery; I never was farther than Ryegate church.

What account do you give of the horse being in your possession? - I bought it at the Swan door, at Westminster bridge, on the 1st of August; on a Tuesday.

(The prisoner's witnesses examined separate.)


Do you know any thing of the prisoner buying a horse at any time? - Yes; I am a labouring man; I have lived at Bays-water better than two years; I am known there; I will say nothing but the truth; the last day in July, I was at work at 'squire Moon's in Hyde park; I finished the job that very day; it was on a Monday; there was a young man came and told me that one Mr. Kipping, a waterman, was going to put me to trouble for a little money; he was a waterman by Westminster bridge; to prevent it, I went on Tuesday the 1st of August; I went to Mr. Kipping to get him to stay latter harvest; and as I was going I met the prisoner; I had knowledge of him about six weeks before; I think I met him in George-street; he was on one side of the way and I on the other; I called to him, and asked him to do me a favour; says I, I am going to the water side, I wish you would go with me to speak to the man that was going to put me to trouble; he said, he had no objection to do it; he went with me to the foot of the bridge; he staid there two or three minutes, looking for the waterman; the ther watermen said, he was gone off with his boat; they told me to wait; I waited, and the prisoner with me, on this near corner of the bridge, and a gentleman and a farmer came over together, leading a horse, not riding him; they made a stop just as they came to the end of the bridge; and the gentleman said to the farmer, is that the lowest you mean to take for the horse? and the farmer said, it was; and it was too little; and the man I call the farmer, had a farmer's dress on; the gentleman he went away; he did not buy it; he said, it did not suit him at that price; the prisoner said to the farmer, what is it between the gentleman and you, that you cannot deal? he said, there was a good deal; says the prisoner, what will you have for it? it is a thing that will suit me very well; I want it to go in a little cart; the farmer said, twelve pounds; the prisoner said, I will give you ten guineas; the farmer said, no; the farmer asked him to give eleven; and he said, no, he went away, and returned, and he said, there is a bridle and saddle is to go with it, and there is a great coat that is useless to me; you shall have them altogether for eleven guineas; the prisoner offered him ten pounds fifteen shillings; and the man said, then you must stand treat; the prisoner said, I am not for drinking this morning, but nevertheless if you like to stand treat, this man can drink, that was me; they agreed for the horse; they went to the Swan; I held the horse the while; I saw money pass between them; they came and asked me to drink; and asked me if I could write? I said I could write my name, not very well; then they asked me to write my name; I did so, and they left the pot of beer, what they did not drink to me; and they went their way; I wrote my name upon a piece of stamp paper, which the farmer had out of his pocket book, and a little brass ink-horn, which he produced and wrote with.

What was wrote upon that paper? - I did not look on it to see what it was.

(The paper read).

"August the 5th, 1786. Received of

" John Brown , ten pounds fifteen shillings,

"for the horse, bridle, saddle, and

"great coat, per me, John Smith; witness,

" Andrew Colley ."

Should you know it again? - Yes, I should.

Is that your hand writing? - (Shews him a paper.) - This is my writting; this is the paper I wrote my name to; under there, where they told me to do it. (The

receipt handed up to the Court.) Then they went off both together; and I staid there till twelve o'clock; I know nothing more that is material.

Court. You wrote your name upon this paper at their desire? - Yes.

Did you read the paper first? - I did not; they desired me to sign my name, and I did.

Court. Write your name on that sheet of paper; take your time.

(Writes his name upon a sheet of paper, which was handed up to the Court.)

Was any body present with you and Brown when this happened? - There was a great many people; and there was the waiter a little crumped back man; they call him my Lord; he stopped up stairs a very little bit, when he brought the beer up stairs; their tap-room is down below, and there is some seats up at the door where people sit down; I do not know whether he saw the bargain or not; there were a great many people, but I did not know one from the other; the farmer and this prisoner went off both together the same way; and I staid at the bridge till near twelve o'clock, waiting for Kipping.

How came Brown to leave you? - He went away with the horse.

How came the farmer to sell his great coat with the horse? - He said, he was going to walk into the country.

What sort of a horse was it? - It was a smallish long tailed black horse.

A goodish saddle and a very good bridle? - I did not notice it particularly.

What sort of a great coat might it be? - It was a lighter coloured than mine; I did not see it open; it was tied up.

Did not Brown open it to see his bargain before he paid for it? - He did not open it before me; he bought it all together without looking at it.

What might the bridle and saddle be worth, think you? - I am not a judge; I did not see the great coat opened.

Should you know the bridle and saddle again? - I think I should know the coat; I do not know whether I should the bridle and saddle.

Court. Shew the coat to this man? - (The coat produced.) - This is much the colour; but I am not sure; it was a lighter than mine; I believe this to be the great coat, and it was inside outwards.

Court to Arnold. That is the coat you found on the prisoner? - Yes.

It is a very good great coat? - Yes.

Where is the bridle and saddle? - Here is the saddle.

Court. Colley, look at the saddle? - I think, I am pretty sure it is the same; I remember the marks on here; yes, here are a cypher and letters.

How came it that the farmer refused ten guineas for the horse alone, and took ten pounds fifteen shillings, for the horse, bridle, saddle, and great coat? - He did not offer the horse alone; he offered the horse, bridle, and saddle.

You did not say so at first; what may that saddle be worth? - I am not a judge.

Court to Arnold. What is the saddle worth? - I suppose half a guinea; I do know the value.

Baldwin. The saddle, stirrups and all, I should suppose to be worth a guinea; the stirrups are plated; the great coat is worth half a guinea at least: the saddle cost two guineas and an half, without the stirrups; I have had it a year and an half; and I gave twenty-five shillings to the best of my recollection for the stirrups.

Mr. Peatt. What would you give for the saddle and stirrups now? - I would give a guinea and an half for it now.

Court to Colley. Did you find Kipping that day? - No, I did not; I went two or three different times for him, but I did not see him; I sent my little boy to him, and he left word with the other watermen that he should not do me any damage; he said, I owed him thirteen shillings.


I am a shoe-maker and boot-maker at Lambeth-marsh, next door to the Queen's-head;

the prisoner lodged with me near three months.

Did he at any time send to you for a pocket book? - He did; here is the letter he sent to me; the prisoner sent for me on the 5th of August; he was in the Poultry-compter; I went to him; he lodged with me at the time; he desired me to go and take the key of his room door, and the key of his box; and to take a green pocket book out of it; and that there was a paper there that his life depended on; accordingly I did so, and carried him the pocket book; and he said, it is very happy I gave him the pocket book; and I came away; before I came away, he took out the paper; I did not read it, nor see him read it; it was about the length and breadth of a receipt; he did not shew me the paper; I should not know it again if I was to see it; that is all I know of the matter.

Court. Who was present when he sent you for this book? - There were two or three prisoners that were in the same room; he was in a little room; I suppose, I did not stay above ten minutes with him either time; as to swearing to the book or the receipt I cannot; I have only known the prisoner three weeks when this happened; he was always in at ten o'clock; I know nothing of his character.

Court. The prisoner lodged with you till he was taken up? - He was taken on the 4th; that was on the Friday; he wrote to me on the 5th; that I believe was on the Saturday; I put down the day of the month because he desired me to take particular notice.

When did he desire you to put down the day of the month? - The very day that I came to him; he desired me to take notice of the day of the month that I brought his pocket book; he never was out of his lodgings before nor after past ten at night.

Do you happen to recollect where he was on the Sunday before that? - No, my Lord, not in the course of the day; he was always at home at night; and came home on the Sunday night; I suppose it might he past nine, as high as I can guess; I cannot particularly say to a quarter of an hour; but he was in before ten.

What house have you? - A house with three rooms at six pounds a year; he rents the one pair of stairs.

What is he? - He told me when he came to lodge with me, he was a gentleman's servant, and I having been a gentleman's servant myself; I lived with the Marquis of Rockingham about ten years ago; and at Wimbledon I lived with him seven years; I was footman to my Lady; I went down to Wentworth with him, and to Little Harriden; that was the very time when they left that house on Parson's-green, before they went to Mr. Rush's house at Wimbledon.

Court to Arnold. How far is Ryegate from Westminster-bridge? - I suppose twenty or twenty-one miles.

What time on Sunday was it you saw the prisoner at Ryegate? - At a quarter past ten at night; for I supped with him.

You walked out with him there, and spent the evening with him? - Yes; he left me; and I supposed he was going to the parson's; I had just nearly done supper when he came in; and he eat his supper, as I was eating mine.

Did you know him before? - Only by seeing him that day.

Who was with you that day at Ryegate? - Only the people of the house, and the person that supped with me; he was a passenger; I did not know him; I was at the Swan at Ryegate.

When did you miss your great coat? - On Monday morning the 31st, at five o'clock; I saw no more of the prisoner; he was gone.

Court to Bruce. Do you still say that he was at home a little after nine on Sunday evening? - I did not say that; I said, on the 5th I had a letter from him.

I ask you where he was on Sunday? - I never said when he came home on the Sunday night.

Was that true or not? - No, my Lord, if I said so, I said wrong.

How came you to say wrong upon your

oath; I asked you where he was expressly on one Sunday, you told me that you did not know what became of him in the day, but that he always came home in good time of a night; you said, he came home on the Sunday evening at a quarter past nine; I asked you ever and over again, if you was sure of that; you said you was? - If I said that my Lord, I said wrong; but what I meant was, that on the 5th I had a letter from him.

Then you will not say now, what hour he came home on the Sunday night after you have heard that witness; was he ever out before the night before? - Before the night before the 5th, he never I did out of my house; he came home about half past nine.

Will you swear that the Sunday before that he came home before ten? - Not the Sunday before I will not; the 4th was the only night that he laid out.

Then where was he on the night of the 30th? - That I cannot tell.

If he never was out you can tell he was at home? - He was at home on the night of the 30th; the 30th! oh, I beg your Lordship's pardon; I cannot tell where he was; I believe he was in the Poultry-compter on the 30th.

I mean the 30th of July? - He was at home that night.

Was he at home before ten that night? - He was; I do not remember any night of his laying out; but I do not recollect the days of the month; he was not out any night but the night before he sent me the letter.

You stick to that? - Yes.

The prisoner called four witnesses who all gave him a good character.

What sort of a horse was yours? - Between a light and dark horse, about fourteen hands high, about five years old; I set him at fourteen pounds.

The Jury retired for some time and returned with a verdict,

GUILTY, Death .

He was humbly recommended to mercy by the Jury .

Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, I always receive the recommendation of such a respectable Jury with great attention and with great respect, and generally I receive it with satisfaction; but the present case is attended with peculiar circumstances; for the verdict you have found after some consideration, has confirmed the opinion which I clearly entertained before; that the whole of his defence was a wicked scheme by a corrupt perjury; therefore if I carry your recommendation to the King, I wish it may be deliberate, and that you will let me know what reason I shall give his Majesty for it.

Jury. The reason why we recommended the man to mercy, we were not quite sure with respect to the receipt.

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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