JOHN SMITH.
10th September 1788
Reference Numbert17880910-54
VerdictGuilty > manslaughter
SentenceMiscellaneous > fine; Imprisonment > newgate

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552. JOHN SMITH was indicted, for that he not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the 12th day of August last, in and upon John Purrell , in the peace of God and our lord the king, then being, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought did make an assault, and that he, then driving a certain coach, value 10 l. drawn with four horses, in a certain public street, did feloniously, wilfully, and maliciously force, and drive the two near horses, and the near fore-wheel, and the near hind-wheel against the head, face, and breast of him, the said John Purrell , thereby giving him one mortal bruise and contusion, in and upon the breast of him the said John Purrell , and also two mortal bruises and fractures, in and upon the head, face, and jaw-bones of him, the said John Purrell , of which he instantly died, and so the jurors, upon their oaths, say that he, the said John Smith , him, the said John Purrell did kill and murder .

He was again indicted on the coroner's inquisition, with killing and slaying the said John Purrell .

ROBERT SMITH sworn.

I was at the right of the coachman in Red-cross-street, the 12th of August, about ten minutes after seven in the evening.

Was it full day-light? - It was I believe.

What part of the street? - Just by the school, about a hundred yards off; the first thing I saw, was a child fall down by his right foot slipping; he fell down, and rolled once or twice over to escape danger.

What danger was there? - He was rather in doubt and fear of being run over by the carriage that was coming up the street.

Was there a carriage coming along? - Yes, the Birmingham and Coventry coach.

When did you first see the coach? - Just after I turned out of Jewin-street, the coach was coming by, going up Redcross-street; it was rather passed before I got out of Jewin-street; I saw the child about a minute after the coach drove past; it was crossing the street.

About how far before the horses did the child fall? - I really believe it was about four or five yards; it was near the middle of the street; then he rolled rather to the other side, and rolled over as if to avoid the horses; I was about the same distance behind the coach of the right side; as soon as ever I saw the child slip his foot, I halloo'd out as loud as ever I could, and the child halloo'd likewise; I halloo'd, stop; for God's sake! the child will be run over, for God's sake take care of child! and he halloo'd and cried very loud indeed.

Was your crying out before the horses were on the child? - It came very quick, the moment the child fell, almost, the horses were immediately upon him.

Did you halloo loud enough for the coachman to hear you? - I cannot say that.

However you heard the child halloo? - Yes.

Then the coach was between you and the child at that time? - I was on the right of the coach, therefore I saw the wheels.

The coach was nearer to the child than you? - I am very sensible of it.

Was there time from the moment you halloo'd out to the coachman, if he had heard you, to stop his horses? - I am not any way a judge of that; I do not know whether there was or not, because I am not used to horses; I shall leave that to the other people who are better judges.

What rate was the coachman driving at? - He was going a very smart trott.

What width was the street? - There was room for three or four carriages, at least three.

Was there any thing to prevent the coachman from turning his horses on one side, if he had seen the child? - I saw nothing in the way.

Did you observe which way the coachman was looking at the time the accident happened? - I did not; nor did I see the coachman's face at all.

Did you observe when you called out whether the coachman looked round or not? - I cannot say I did.

What happened upon this? - I saw the child fall down; then the moment the wheels had left it, I took it up.

Did any part of the carriage go over it? - The near wheel went over the child's breast.

Did the horses go over it? - I believe they were so careful they did step over it; I do not think they touched the child at all; the fore near wheel went over the breast, and the hind wheel went over his head; the moment I took the child up, I ran on the pavement; I hardly knew where to run; I carried him to the surgeon's as fast as possible.

At that distance did you hear any body else call to the coachman besides yourself and the child? - I believe somebody did, but I cannot say; I heard the child cry out very loud, but I cannot say really, that I heard any body else; I believe there was though.

Was the person that cried out on the same side of the way as you? - I cannot say, there were many people in the street who cried out, but I cannot say where the sound came from; the child died in about seven or eight minutes.

How soon did the coachman stop? - He stopped about half a minute, and then drove on again, and I saw no more of him; I had then got the child in my arms.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner's Counsel. Was this child alone at the time? - The child was crossing the way.

Were there other children there? - No others in the middle of the road as I saw.

Were there any other coaches going out at the time? - I cannot say.

Did you observe the horses? - I cannot say.

Are you judge enough to know whether they were high spirited or not? - They were brown or bay.

I do not ask you as to their colour; do you know whether they were blood horses, high-spirited horses? - I think they were extraordinary good horses indeed.

Did you happen to observe whether one in particular had got into a canter at the time? - One had I believe; no man can keep blood horses from that.

Perhaps, if they cannot keep them from cantering, it is not easy to stop them in four or five yards? - I suppose not.

They were going at a considerable rate? - A very smart trott.

You called very loudly from behind? - As loud as I could.

This was an out-going coach? - Yes.

You did not observe whether the prisoner looked back, did you? - No, I did not.

The accident happened on the near side? - Yes.

Of course then, the coachman was on the off side? - Yes.

There was a guard on the box, was not there? - Yes.

As soon as might be, the coach pulled up? - I believe he stopped for half a minute.

Had you an opportunity of knowing what number of persons were in the coach? - I had not.

The remainder of this Trial will appear in the next Part, which will be published in a few days.

Old Bailey Proceedings front matter.
10th September 1788
Reference Numbert17880910-54

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ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error

THE WHOLE PROCEEDINGS ON THE KING's Commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the CITY of LONDON; AND ALSO The Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex, HELD AT JUSTICE HALL in the OLD BAILEY, On Wednesday the 10th of SEPTEMBER, 1788, and the following Days;

Being the SEVENTH SESSION in the Mayoralty of The Right Honourable John Burnell , LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON.

TAKEN IN SHORT-HAND BY E. HODGSON, PROFESSOR OF SHORT-HAND; And Published by Authority.

NUMBER VII. PART IV.

LONDON:

Printed for E. HODGSON (the Proprietor) And Sold by J. WALMSLAY, No. 35, Chancery Lane, and S. BLADON, No. 13, Pater-noster Row.

MDCCLXXXVIII.

THE WHOLE PROCEEDINGS UPON THE

KING's Commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the CITY of LONDON, &c.

Continuation of the Trial of John Smith .

What age was the child? - I thought he was about nine or more, but he was not turned of seven.

BASIL POOLE sworn.

I was in Redcross-street at the time of the accident; as I was coming from Redcross-street, where I live, I stood on a stone the corner of Three-herring-court, in Redcross-street; looking forwards, I saw the child playing with one or two more, and a coach and four horses coming along; I believe the child was about four or five yards from the horses, and went to cross the way, and made a slip and tumbled down; and I saw the horses of the coach go over the child.

Did you hear any body call out? - I heard many people, but I cannot say who they were.

Did you hear any body cry out before the coach went over the child or not? - I cannot be sure of that.

How near was you to the coach when this happened? - I look upon it to be about a hundred yards.

What pace was the coachman driving at? - I believe he was coming very fast; I cannot say what pace; I am not a judge of that.

Did you observe which way he was looking? - I did not.

How soon did the coachman pull up his horses? - He pulled his horses in; he did not make a full stop as I perceived, nor stop at all as I could see.

How soon did he pull his horses in? - Immediately as he thought the accident happened? then he went up Barbican gradually.

Did he go as fast as he had gone before? - No, sir, he did not, he went very slowly.

Mr. Garrow. What are you? - I am a watch-engraver.

Not a judge of horses or paces? - Very far from it.

When you first saw the coach, it was coming up at a great rate? - Pretty fast.

You was never nearer to it than a hundred yards? - No, sir, as near as I can guess.

As far as you know, he never stopped at all? - No, not as far as I know.

Do not you know from other people that he did? - I cannot say I do.

Do you know a canter from a trot? - Yes, I do.

Was one of the horses in a canter? - If I were to speak the truth, I cannot say.

Court. Whose Coach was this? - I am not sure; I believe it was the Birmingham and Coventry coach.

Edward Saunders called, but did not appear.

JOHN HOGG sworn.

I am book-keeper at the Swan with two necks; I only know that the prisoner drove the Birmingham and Coventry coach that evening.

Court to Robert Smith . Was that the coach? - Yes.

Mr. Garrow to Hogg. How long have you been book-keeper at the Swan with two necks? - Near twenty years.

How long have you known the prisoner? - Near eight years.

How long has he drove for Mr. Wilson? - Upwards of seven years.

Mr. Wilson we all know is a large contractor in the coach business? - He is.

What character has the prisoner borne since he has been employed by Mr Wilson? - That of a very tender man, and very fond of children.

Was you acquainted with the horses? - No.

THOMAS SMITH sworn.

I have known the coachman seven years; I always knew him to be an honest sober man.

What do you appear to prove? - I knew that he was very sober that night when he went out.

Were his horses in good command? - He had a horses that was very restive that night when he went out.

Mr. Garrow. Were the stables in Grub-street? - Yes.

Then he must pass the stables? - Yes.

One of his horses was restive? - Yes.

They were high-mettled blood horses? - Yes, especially one horse.

What character did he bear? - A very good kind of man; I never heard that he did any harm in his life.

Do you think he would do such an act on purpose? - No.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

As soon as I heard them call out, I did my best endeavour to stop the horses as soon as I could.

JOHN RABONE sworn.

I am guard to the coach.

How long have you lived with Mr. Wilson? - Two years.

This man drove the coach all the time? - No, he was away about four months; he has drove it latelty; I was with him at the time of the accident; I went with him from the Swan; he was sober; his horses were very restive; I was upon the roof; the first particular thing that happened, was in Red-cross-street; he gave them a cut, upon which they went off rather sharp, and then he pulled up.

What did you observe when you came into Red-cross-street; did you see any thing of the child before this accident happened? - I did not.

Had you as good an opportunity of seeing it as him? - I had.

You was on the near side? - I was.

Then you had quite as good an opportunity of seeing? - Yes.

Did you hear any body call? - No.

You were told of the accident? - Yes.

Did he endeavour to pull up the horses? He did.

Have you been used to the horses? - Yes, these ten years.

Do you think he could have pulled up so as to have avoided the child which was

so near him? - If he had seen the child, he could not have pulled up time enough to have saved him.

Is he a careful attentive driver? - He is as careful a man as any that goes out.

Did you ever see him attempt to do any mischief to any body? - No, he is a good natured man, a man of good character, and he has a wife and three small children of his own.

Court. The coachman could not have pulled up in time owing to his going so fast? - He was not going above the rate of six miles an hour.

Was not one of the horses on the canter? - I cannot say whether they were or not; they had been, but I cannot say whether they were then.

If he had seen the child, could not he have turned out of his course? - He did not see the child.

What was there to hinder him from seeing it? - The child run smack against the horses.

Did you see that? - Yes, I saw the child do it.

How came you to swear a little time ago, that you did not see the child at all; you do your friend no service at all by that; I shall not ask you any more questions.

PETER DOWDING sworn.

I am a coachman to Mr. Price the apothecary; I have drove him these seven years.

Did you happen to be there at the time of the accident? - I was going up Golden-lane, and as I was coming back again from there, between that and the Tuns in Redcross-street, this coach was coming along, and some person called out to the coachman; in consequence of that he turned his head the contrary way.

What do you mean by that, that he drove to the left or the right? - He turned to his near side, to see what he was called for; I thought that somebody wanted him for something, instead of that somebody said, do you know that the boy is under the wheel? and the coachman immediately catch'd up his horses, and the two leaders reared up; immediately to prevent the accident, the man stopped afterwards, but not above half a minute.

Did he pull up as soon as he had notice of the accident? - Yes; he had two brown bays, cropt before, and they were blood horses.

- WILSON sworn.

I am the proprietor of the coach; the prisoner has drove for me about seven years, he bore a good character, and I never knew any complaints of him for the whole seven years.

Were those mettlesome horses that he had? - One was a very troublesome unruly horse when I bought him first, but he has got better now.

JOHN WILLAN sworn.

I keep the Bull and Mouth; the prisoner drove for me about three years, he behaved well while he was in my employ, and was very punctual in his business; I do not recollect that he ever had any accident while he lived with me; he is a good-natured humane man, and I would take him into my employ at any time.

- GARDENER sworn.

I am a grocer; the prisoner has drove past my house for some years; he is a sober careful man, and always drove past my house with the greatest propriety.

GUILTY, MANSLAUGHTER .

Fined 6 s. 8 d. and imprisoned six months in Newgate .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

Old Bailey Proceedings front matter.
10th September 1788
Reference Numbert17880910-54

Related Material

ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error

THE WHOLE PROCEEDINGS ON THE KING's Commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the CITY of LONDON; AND ALSO The Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex, HELD AT JUSTICE HALL in the OLD BAILEY, On Wednesday the 10th of SEPTEMBER, 1788, and the following Days;

Being the SEVENTH SESSION in the Mayoralty of The Right Honourable John Burnell , LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON.

TAKEN IN SHORT-HAND BY E. HODGSON, PROFESSOR OF SHORT-HAND; And Published by Authority.

NUMBER VII. PART IV.

LONDON:

Printed for E. HODGSON (the Proprietor) And Sold by J. WALMSLAY, No. 35, Chancery Lane, and S. BLADON, No. 13, Pater-noster Row.

MDCCLXXXVIII.

THE WHOLE PROCEEDINGS UPON THE

KING's Commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the CITY of LONDON, &c.


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