10th September 1788
Reference Numbert17880910-62

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561. WILLIAM MASON was indicted for stealing, on the 14th of July last, one table clock, in a brass case, value 20 s. a brass key, value 1 d. one gold repeating watch, value 10 l. one silver watch, value 40 s. one other gold watch, value 5 l. one other gold watch, value 5 l. seven crown pieces, value 35 s. six half crown pieces, value 15 s. twenty eight shillings, twenty two six-pences, eleven silver four-pences, fifteen silver threepences, seven silver two-pences, thirty five silver pennies, a piece of foreign silver coin, value 4 s. and sixteen other pieces of foreign coin, value 20 s. the property of William Duke of Devonshire .

(The indictment opened by Mr. Garrow, and the case by Mr. Silvester.


Examined by Mr. Garrow. I believe, on the 16th of July, you made a search? - Yes, at Mr. Fox's, a silversmith in Marybone-street, Shug-lane, both backwards and forwards.

Who did you see there? - I went up to the two pair of stairs back room, and saw Mrs. Morant, and Miss Morant, who afterwards said she was married to the prisoner.

What did you find in that apartment? - Two large gold watches; I found a large bag of different coins in the two pair of stairs backwards, and in the silk bag was this inventory of the articles that it contained.

Did you see any thing else found by any other officer? - Yes, there was a table clock and some other watches, which M'Manus found; I saw the prisoner walk with Mr. M'Manus to the office in Bow-street.

Was any thing said to him at the office in Bow-street, either by way of threat, or promise, or inducement to make him confess? - Not any thing; he acknowledged before Mr. M'Manus, myself, and that gentleman (Mr. Lowten) who sits by Mr. Garrow, that this property was the property of his Grace the Duke of Devonshire; I did not hear him say how they came there; he said, he brought them himself from the Duke of Devonshire's; the prisoner acknowledged Miss Morant was his wife.

Mr. Fielding, Prisoner's Counsel. Who had this young man in custody before you saw him? - Mr. M'Manus.


I went to this house in Marybone-street; I saw Jealous find all the things he found; the first was a small table clock; it was found in a box locked up in a room, which Mrs. Mason said, was her bed-room; then I went to Devonshire-house, and saw the prisoner there.

Did either you, or any body else make him any promises? - No, Sir, I made him no promises.

Was he threatened at all? - No, Sir, not in my hearing; I was shewed into a room where he was; I searched him, and found some things upon him that are in the indictment; I said, Oh, Mr. Mason, whatever you have bid about this room I will certainly find it! he said, he had not hid any thing; now says I, do not give me the trouble to have all these things pulled about; I said, let me know where they are that we may not pull about the things, or do any mischief to the house; I said, as this room is another servant's room; when you are gone if these things are found, it will be fixed upon them, and it will be doing very wrong; well says he, here, behind here, I have chucked in two watches, but you cannot get at them; he strove himself, and he could not get at them; then we were obliged to get some of the Duke's servants to move some of the furniture to get out these two watches.

Court. In the whole of what you said to him, did you give him to understand that it would be better for him, or did you threaten him, or any thing of that sort? - No, my Lord.

Was there any thing like an insinuation of promise to him? - Not there that I know of.

Did he say whose property those watches were? - No, I do not think he was asked such a question in my hearing; from thence I went to Bow-street with him; in the way to Bow-street, I made him no promises; he said, there, they were the Duke's things; he said, they were all the Duke's things, and that they had got every thing; I saw some cloaths at the apartment in Marybone-street; and he said they were his; I was present when he mentioned the place where he was married; St. James's church; I heard no promises at all made him.

Mr. Fielding. Pray were there any part of the Duke's family with you during these conversations? - Yes, Sir, the Duke's people spoke to me.

Did they speak to him? - Yes.

Are you prepared to say on your oath to a certainty, that he said that these were the Duke's things? - He told me so himself.

Did not you hear the gentleman who saw him at the Duke's house, make use of a

conversation of that sort! - No, Sir, never to him; he told me, but I forget the names of the gentlemen he mentioned.

Did not you hear some one of the domestics say to this man, that he had better make an acknowledgment where the goods were? - Not one of the family to my knowledge.

How came he questioned at all about the marriage? - I asked him if he was married, and he told me that he was married at St. James's church; these watches were found behind a thing that looked to me like a book case, or something of that sort; they were not taken out of the Duke's house.

What were the cloaths? - Mens cloaths, such as he wears; he said, they were his property.

And the property you found in the Duke's house, in one of the rooms there, he acknowledged to be the Duke's? - Yes.

Mr. Garrow. And in that place he told you he had himself put them? - Yes.

And that you would not be able to get at them without assistance? - Yes.

Court. Did he tell you how the watches came there? - He said, he put them there.

Did he tell you from whence he got them? - No, he said, he put them there when he found he was to be stript in that room; he said, he would not have them about him; he put them in that place for fear of their being found upon him.

Did he use those words? - To the best of my knowledge he did.

Mr. Fielding. How came you in God's name to put so extraordinary a question to him, as to draw forth this answer, when he had made a discovery of the goods? - Because when I went to search him, I found he had a bank note concealed in his fob.

Why you had searched him; you knew all the property he had about him; what should have led you to put that question? - When I found those watches, I thought there were more.


Mr. Garrow. You are clerk to the magistrates at Bow-street? - Yes.

Was you present when these watches and that clock were produced before the magistrate? - There were a number of articles, and I believe those are the same; when the prisoner was examined before the magistrate, he made a confession, which is now in court in writing.

Court. Were there any inducements to confess? - I heard none, neither promises nor threats.

Mr. Silvester. Did you write the confession yourself? - I did, from the prisoner's own mouth.

Mr. Fielding. While you was present, Sir, there was no sort of promise or menace made use of? - I heard none.

Did you here it spoken of that there had been any? - I did not.

Mr. Garrow. Did you learn it from his own account? - I did not.

The confession read, signed by Mr. Addington, and witnessed by Mr. Chetham, who is now in court.

Mr. Garrow. We do not offer this as the prisoner's confession, because he has not signed it; but we offer it, that Mr. Frodsham may read it and give an account of it.

"Middlesex to wit. The examination

"of William Mason, taken before me

"this 19th day of July, 1788, who voluntarily

"confesses, that, at different times

"he has feloniously stolen and carried away

"a great variety of articles, the property

"of his Grace the Duke of Devonshire;

"that, among the said articles, he

"has taken away a great number of gold

"medals; that part of the said medals,

"which is 29, he sold to Thomas Harpur ;

"another part he sold to Thomas

"Whitford, for between 33 and 34 l. the

"17th of May last; that a third part of

"said medals was ten, he sold to John

"Farquhar, on the 16th of May last, for

" eleven guineas; one hundred medals, a

"gold snuff-box, five or six rings, and several

"pieces of gold, he sold to Joseph

"Clarke and Mr. Peter Plankes , for 83 l.

"and now confesses, that the different articles

"found at the lodgings of Elizabeth

"Mason his wife, now present, were likewise

"taken away by him, and were the

"property of his Grace."

Court to Prisoner. You have heard what has been said against you; what have you to say in your defence?

Prisoner. I do not make any defence; I leave it to my counsel.

For the Prisoner.


Mr. Fielding. I understand, in consequence of something that happened at Devonshire-house, that you interrogated that young man at the bar? - I did.

In the course of your conversation with him, did you hold out to him any promise, that if he made a discovery of any part of the effects he might escape, or it would be better for him? - I cannot tell you the day, it was previous to his being taken up, that the Duke called upon me, and told me his cabinet was broke open; there was an advertisement, and some of these things were produced by Parker; he described the young man; Parker came there, and said he believed he was the young man; I went with the Duke's steward, and he denied knowing any thing at all of the matter; I said, William, perhaps you are not aware of the consequence of this, perhaps you are not aware that this is a capital offence; now, says I, if you are found guilty, I do not know that the Duke himself can save you; and therefore the only chance you can have for escaping, is the making a free and frank discovery; at the same time, I said, I am not authorized to say so from the Duke, but I only give it you as my advice, that the only chance there is, in case you should be found guilty, is to make a free and frank discovery.

Mr. Silvester. Did he give you an account of the watches at his lodgings? - None at all.

Mr. Fielding. How long had this young man been in his Grace's service? - I really cannot tell.

Do you know from the Duke or Duchess, how long he had lived in the house? - I understood about a twelvemonth; he was in the situation of a confectioner; he gave me an account of the medals that were found at Devonshire-house, but neither the clock, nor the medals, nor the watches, were produced.

Court. How long was this before these things were found? - Two or three days.

THOMAS COOPER Esq ; sworn.

I live at St. Alban's; I know the young man at the bar, and his parents; they are in a reputable situation; I have known him from his infancy; I have always lived in the same neighbourhood; I know nothing of the Duke's taking him into his house; I believe he has lived there about two or three years; I always considered him, before he was bound to his father, and before his apprenticeship, to be a very diligent, respectable, honest, sober young man.

Mr. Silvester. What is his father? - A watch-maker at St. Alban's.

- KENT sworn.

I live at St. Alban's; I have known this young man and his family from his infancy; he had a general good character. (The witness appeared much affected.) - Mr. Fielding. It is a distressing scene, I do not wonder at your feelings. - He conducted himself in such manner, that I do not believe any one person in the town can say any thing against his character; he was guilty of as little vice as any young man in town.


I live at St. Alban's; I have known his family before he was born, and him between

17 and 18 years; his father lived about 60 yards from my house.

What character does the young man deserve from your report? - The most unblemished character I ever knew of a young man; I knew him up to the time he left St. Alban's; I can safely say I never knew any thing improper in his conduct; he was an honest, industrious, obliging young man, and his behaviour was a pattern to young men of his age; he continued so till he came to town, since that I have known little of him.

- HAWKINS sworn.

I live at St. Alban's; I have known this young man from his infancy to the time he came to town to the Duke of Devonshire's.

What was his character at St. Alban's? - I lived very near to him; I never heard the least thing said against him in my life; he was always an honest good lad till this; he is about twenty or twenty-one years of age; his father and mother live at St. Alban's now.

- GOULD sworn.

I live at St. Alban's; I have known him from a child a very good character; I never knew any thing amiss of him.

Does he deserve from you, that you should affirmatively speak that he bore a good character? - He does.

- NICHOLLS sworn.

I live at St. Alban's; I have known this young man from his infancy to the time that he came to the Duke.

What character can you give him? - An exceeding good one, such a one, that at that time he was perfectly unblemished; I never heard any thing against him, till this action.


I live at St. Alban's; I have known him from his infancy.

Speak of him, Sir, as you think he deserves? - His brother is an apprentice to me at this time; he has frequently been at my house backwards and forwards; I do not know a young man of a better character; I never saw him disguised in liquor, or use any bad words in his life; in short, he bore, as we understood, a most unblemished character.

Mr. CROWTHER sworn.

I am a whip-maker in Swallow-street; I have known him ever since he was an infant; I knew him as he grew up in life; I never knew any disrespectful thing of him in my life.

Was his character unblemished? - Unblemished indeed.

Mrs. SPARROW (a Quaker.)

I have known him for six years; he has a most unblemished character, to my knowledge.

Mr. Fielding. I suppose it will be in vain to ask you to be sworn, Madam? - I will affirm to any thing; I think him of an unblemished character, as far as I know.


I live at St. Alban's; I have known him since his birth; he always bore a very good character, a very sober, steady lad, always attending church.

Mr. Fielding. I will not trouble your Lordship with any more witnesses.


Mr. Fielding. My Lord, As I know it to be your lordship's desire rather to open than shut the gates of mercy, I take the liberty of informing you, on the part of this unfortunate young man, that, although somebody advised him to resist, and stand the chance of his trial; yet, I assure you, that it was the young man's intention

to have shewn every mark of contrition.

Transported for seven years .

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

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