GEORGE BARRINGTON.
9th December 1789
Reference Numbert17891209-18
VerdictNot Guilty

Related Material

ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error
Navigation< Previous text (trial account) | Next text (trial account) >

18. GEORGE BARRINGTON was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 19th of January, in the 29th year of his present Majesty's reign , at the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, a silk purse, value 2 d. and twenty-three guineas, value 24 l. 3 s. and one half-guinea, value 10 s. 6 d. the property of Havilard Le Mesurier , Esq . privily from his person .

Before the Jury, were sworn Mr. Barrington thus addressed the Court:

Without meaning, my Lord, the least reflection on the gentlemen that compose the Jury, I beg leave to challenge them; and I must own, that I am acting under the influence of a report, which is perhaps very untrue.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner's Counsel. You mean then, Mr. Barrington, to challenge the first gentleman, and the rest as they are called, I presume.

Mr. Barrington. Yes, Sir.

( William Lenden called.)

Mr. Barrington. I beg leave to challenge him; I beg leave to challenge the whole of the Jury; and I must again observe, that I am acting under the influence of a report which is perhaps very untrue.

Mr. Barrington then proceeded to challenge the whole of that Jury, upon which the second Middlesex Jury was put in the place of the first.

The case was then opened by Mr. Le Mesurier, as follows:

May it please your Lordship. Gentlemen of the Jury: The prisoner, George Barrington , stands indicted for taking from the person of the prosecutor his money privily and without his knowledge; I state this so precisely, because you will find the case involves two questions, for although from the statement of the case you will find what the prisoner has done, amounts to what is commonly called, picking of pockets, it may not be carried on in that manner which brings the prisoner under the most penal part of this indictment; you will therefore keep your attention to these two circumstances: you are first to determine whether he took the money of the prosecutor from his person; and next whether he did it privily and without his knowledge. Gentlemen, this indictment has been preferred so long as two years and a half ago, as you have already heard; and had it been tried soon after the indictment was preferred, I should have had to produce to you a witness that you would have thought very material; I state this, because I think it is incumbent on the prosecutor in every case to remove all doubt, and to produce every person to the Jury, that in his apprehension can assist in such removal. Gentlemen, the person I allude to is Mr. Adeane, who you will find would certainly have been that material witness; that gentleman has an estate in the West Indies, he has been called and has remained there for two years; therefore it would have been impossible to have had the trial put off on his account; it would have been improper, and the Court would not have suffered it: Gentlemen the circumstances

of the case are these: The prosecutor was at Drury-lane play-house , the day mentioned in the indictment, the 29th day of January; after the play was over he wished to pass through the lobby, and recollecting his property, he kept his hand on the outside of his pocket, for he had in his pocket a purse with twenty-three guineas and a half, and a valuable watch; in the course of going through the crowd, he felt that purse go, and he caught a hand actually at his pocket; he actually seized a person to whom that hand belonged, which proved to be the prisoner: immediately this Mr. Adeane sprang forward and seized the prisoner, exclaiming, Sir, you are right, I saw him do it; another person picked up the prosecutor's purse and gave it to him; we have never heard of that person: Gentlemen, with a great deal of difficulty (whether from the crowd or from any preconcerted scheme in protecting the prisoner I know not, however with great difficulty) he was secured and carried to Bow-street, and there delivered into the custody of a constable, and the prosecutor was desired to attend at Bow-street the next day; he did attend, but the prisoner was not there; he had escaped. Gentlemen, to prove this, I shall produce to you the prosecutor, he will tell you how the whole transaction passed more minutely than I can; he will tell you whether it was possible that any other hand could be in his pocket, but the hand that he took hold of; if any doubt should remain, you will have recourse to that which in doubtful cases has weight; he will tell you that the prisoner appeared very confused, intreated to be let go; discovered a great desire that his person might be concealed; you will attend likewise to the circumstance of his having escaped; it is not the mere flight of a man that is in custody; in this case the escape is of that kind which absolutely constitutes in the law another crime; therefore you will be less able to believe that an innocent man would commit that crime to cover this. Gentlemen, I should now leave the case in this situation, if any other person but the prisoner was now to be tried; but I believe you and I have reason to expect that you will probably have appeals to your passions; for I am told at the time when the prisoner last stood in that situation -

Mr. Garrow. I feel myself under the necessity of interrupting the learned gentleman, if I only did it on the entire novelty of the case; for I submit that Mr. Le Mesurier cannot give in evidence that which he is stating to the Jury; I am objecting to that sentence which has been already uttered; Mr. Le Mesurier has already said that which is no secret; therefore I do not object to it on that ground, but I object to it, because it is incompetent to lay it before the Jury by evidence.

Court. It is better to go on in the cause.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, not to talk of former trials.

Mr. Le Mesurier. I was going to desire you, Gentlemen, to look on that man as a perfectly new man; as though you had never heard he had been indicted or convicted before -

Mr. Garrow. Or acquitted.

Mr. Le Mesurier. Gentlemen, I was going to remind you, that if either the prisoner, or any man for him, should tell you, you ought not to give the full force to the evidence, because you might be biassed by the knowledge you have of the prisoner, or by the impression you have of his character, you should dismiss that entirely from your memory; but, Gentlemen, I trust you are above all temptations of every kind; I trust if I should press you, which I do not mean to do, to give any attention to his bad character, or to increase any conviction which may have been wrought on your minds, so as to suppose that you are to be biassed by any thing but that evidence which will be offered to your consideration, that you would totally reject my attempts: Gentlemen, I will not endeavour after what has been said, to anticipate any thing further which will be alledged by the prisoner; and yet after so much mention has been made of his long imprisonment, I must say that that imprisonment has been continued by the

prisoner himself in a great measure, because he might have been brought before the Court of King's Bench many terms before the last; and therefore I only conclude with observing, that if any appeal should be made to your passions from that length of imprisonment, that you will consider how that happened, and you will give it no other weight than that to which it is entitled on the observations I have made.

HAVILARD LE MESURIER sworn.

Was you at the play-house in Drury-lane, on the 19th of January, 1787? - I was; I saw the prisoner there; it was at the end of the play: I left my party to meet my servants, whom I had appointed at a part of the house opposite myself: as I came into the Lobby, I observed I was excessively crowded; a circumstance had then struck me which had transpired on getting into the carriage to come there, and that was, I happened to take out my purse, and a Lady in the carriage observed there was a great deal of money in it; her maid was at the door; she pressed me very much to give my purse to her maid, telling me I was very wrong to carry so much money as well as a valuable watch, which I had, about my person, to the play, on such a night; I made light of it, saying, I never had been robbed: I state these circumstances, because they led me to be extremely on my guard, when I got into the lobby; not only for fear of losing my purse, and watch, but for fear of ridicule. When I got into the lobby, I put my watch chain very deep in my fob, and put my left hand down, in this manner, to guard my pocket; I went along, pressing through the crowd to get to my servants, I felt my purse move, and on feeling my purse move, I immediately got my hand up in this manner, with my right hand, and with my left I turned round to seize the person whose hand I had, and I seized the prisoner's hand close to my pocket, and with the other hand I turned round and I seized his person; I did not say any thing to the prisoner, my aim and wish was to recover my purse, which I thought was in his hand; I had not time to seize upon him, for a Gentleman, a Clergyman, whom I have since found to be Mr. Adean, stept up and said, sir, you are right, I saw him do it.

Was there any other person at the time it was done so near you, that you thought it could be done by any other person but him? There were people all round: on Mr. Adean's stepping up to me, on my having his hand up still, a Gentleman from the other side called out, sir, here is your purse; and delivered me my purse.

That was while you had hold of the prisoner's hand? - instantly after Mr. Adean had seized him.

Was there any interval between the time of your feeling a hand in your pocket and seizing the prisoner's hand, to leave any doubt in your mind that the prisoner was the person that took your purse?

Mr. Garrow. That is a question to the jury; I object to that question; I take it Mr. Le Mesurier is desiring the witness to draw that conclusion; I do not object to his asking what the length of the interval was; I do not object to his asking whether it was one minute, or five or ten; but he adds to that, have you any doubt whether the hand that you found in your pocket was the hand that stole your purse? that is the whole question in this case.

Court. But there is another way of putting the question; that is, considering the situation of the prisoner, considering that there were other people about you, was there any person about you, that you had reason to suspect other than the prisoner?

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, undoubtedly your question is quite unexceptionable.

Mr. Le Mesurier. From the interval that passed, was it possible that there could be any other person than the prisoner? - There was no interval whatever; it was instantly on feeling my purse move, that I caught the hand; there was no interval whatever; I wish to state the circumstance, because it appears to me you are in an error, in supposing the prisoner's hand, or any hand was ever in my pocket, my breeches

was never unbuttoned; my purse; although it contained twenty-three guineas and a half, which is a weight, got through my pocket without being unbuttoned, and on examining my breeches afterwards, I found that my breeches was cut through, which convinces me that -

Mr. Garrow. Never mind the conclusion, state the fact? - My pocket was cut through, no hand was in my pocket; Mr. Adean and myself kept possession of the prisoner's person; after having recovered the purse, I had the care of it, and it being known there was money in it, I got hold of his person with my left hand; there was a great deal of trouble; we were shoved about: But I ought to state, that the prisoner on my seizing him, and on Mr. Adean's assisting me, he said, what do you mean? I am a gentleman; and I felt as if I thought he meant to follow me, but on Mr. Adean's coming to me, he said, consider sir, what you are doing, I am a gentleman; only consider the consequence of this, for God's sake consider; the prisoner was extremely pale and confused; I kept asking him, who are you? to which he gave me no answer, only saying he was a gentleman; we called out for a constable, and after some time a constable came; we asked the constable, who was the unfortunate Blandy, if he knew him; he looked at him very hard, and said, no, I do not know the prisoner; after a great deal of difficulty he was had to the Brown-Bear, where I delivered him to the custody of Blandy, I attended the next day at the office in Bow-street.

Was the prisoner there? - He was not there.

How came he not to be there? - I cannot tell.

What kind of purse was this? - A striped silk purse.

How much money was there in it? - Twenty-three guineas and a half.

Mr. Garrow. Mr. Le Mesurier, I wish you to describe a little more particularly the manner in which your breeches was cut? - It was merely the lining of the pocket, perhaps a couple of inches, through here, between this part of the lining and the lining of the pocket. (N. B. it was the upper part of the pocket.)

You having your hand off the pocket, turned round expecting to find your purse in the hand that you seized? - Yes, it was instantaneous.

Have you any conception in the world that it was in the hand at the time you seized it? - I really cannot tell.

No I fancy not: what distance was the person that gave you the purse? - He was close; he must have been perhaps the next to me.

At the time you seized the hand did you find any sharp instrument in it? - I did not open his hand.

I beg your pardon, I will not give you much trouble? - I wish a little indulgence.

You cannot want any indulgence; you say the prisoner was confused: I should rather suspect one should be confused on such a charge; you would have looked pale I believe? - I certainly should have been confused; I do not know whether I should have looked pale or red.

It would have had some effect on your spirits, and your spirits would have affected your veins and arteries, and that would have driven the blood either to your face or from it? - Certainly.

It would not have been an effect of pleasure, satisfaction, or gratification? - No certainly.

It confuses an innocent man more than a guilty one who is used to it, I should think; now another thing, Mr. Le Mesurier, I believe, very soon you was told this was Barrington, before you left the lobby? - Yes, but we were a very long time in the lobby; I was not persuaded of it till a long time after.

It is my duty to put questions, your's to answer them, not to argue; the inference from the questions is not for either of us, it is in better hands: before you left the lobby you had heard it was Barrington? - I am trying to recollect myself; I had heard it was Barrington, and I heard it was not Barrington; I had heard both ways.

And do you recollect it being stated by some persons in the lobby, that whether it was Barrington or not, or whether it was the first merchant in London, it was necessary to go before a magistrate? - When the constable said it was not Barrington, Mr. Adean said, I saw him take it, and I will lay down my life on the occasion.

You introduce that which is not evidence, instead of answering my question; did any body say so Sir? - It is very probable, but I really do not recollect.

I wish you would? - But I really do not recollect.

Perhaps my stating to you your answer may bring it to your mind; did not you say upon that, there is no use in my going to the office, for I am not certain of him, and know nothing that can affect him? - Oh Sir, I never said any thing like it.

At Bow-street, do you recollect saying, you seized a person's hand near your pocket, which hand appeared to be the defendant's, and that you therefore believed and suspected the defendant was the person that robbed you? - I believe I did.

I will repeat the words to you, that you seized a person's hand near to your pocket, which hand appeared to be the defendant's, and that you therefore believed and suspected that the defendant was the person that robbed you? - I believe those were the words at the examination in Bow-street.

I observe some of the gentlemen of the Jury are so good as to take down the words; therefore, with my Lord's permission, I will repeat them (repeats them.) How early was it after the transaction in the lobby, that the information was made? - It was the next morning about 12 o'clock.

When the thing was fresh in your recollection? - Yes.

You had taken advice, having the advantage of very good advice? - I had my brother with me.

You could not have better advice or better assistance; I venture to say you knew what was meant by that telling you that was Barrington? - Certainly.

Mr. Garrow. I will not trouble you with any more questions.

Mr. Le Mesurier. You stated something that Mr. Adean said, was it in the hearing of the prisoner? - It was.

Mr. Garrow. If I had asked a question that led to this answer, the prisoner must abide by the imprudence of his counsel; but it cannot possibly be a proper subject of reexamination.

Mr. Le Mesurier. I meant what Mr. Adean is stated to have said in the lobby.

Court. Is Mr. Adean here? - No.

Court. We cannot certainly make what he has said evidence.

Mr. Le Mesurier. It was said in the lobby.

Mr. Garrow. In the confusion of the lobby; my objection is, that the counsel for the prosecution has not come into it in chief; it has not come out fairly in my cross examination.

Court. But the evidence was given in chief.

Mr. Garrow. Therefore it is the less fit to repeat it now; I submit, my Lord, that the counsel for the prosecution cannot re-examine but to any subject that arises out of the cross-examination.

Mr. Le Mesurier. Do you recollect with respect to the words in Bow-street, - I cannot particularly recollect; I do not know that they were the particular words I made use of; I conceived in Bow-street that I was to come before a Court of Justice; I was not anxious.

Mr. Garrow. Do you mean to have it stated that anybody put words in your mouth when you are upon oath? - No, certainly not, what I declared in Bow-street was perfectly true.

Mr. Le Mesurier. You did not declare them so fully? - Not so fully.

Jury. When you seized the prisoner, was he on your right hand or the left? - He was behind me, the person that gave me the purse was on one side; I was standing in this manner, I had the prisoner's hand, and the first idea I had, was, it belonged to the person that was before me, but jerking it up, I found it belonged to the prisoner.

Court. You say the prisoner was behind you? - Yes.

Where was the hand? - The hand was close to my pocket, and he was behind me.

Jury. Did you keep fast hold of him by the hand till you laid hold of him with the other hand? - Yes.

Why had you any doubt in Bow-street? - I had no doubt, my idea was the hand belonged to the man that was before me, and I wanted to know to whom the hand belonged, and jerking it up, I found it belonged to the prisoner.

Yes, but you said in Bow-street, that it appeared to belong to the prisoner, and you suspected it was him that robbed you? - That word appeared I never meant, and if I made use of it in Bow-street, I never meant it.

Mr. Garrow. It is a matter of observation certainly, and very proper.

Jury. The person that delivered you that purse, had you any reason to suppose he was an accomplice of the prisoner's? - By no means.

Was he a gentleman? - He appeared so, I never saw him; my only doubt was to whom the hand belonged.

Jury. You say when you seized hold of his hand your purse was in your pocket? - Pardon me; as my purse moved, I took hold of his hand.

Was your purse in your fob or in your breeches pocket? - In my breeches pocket, just the lining of the breeches was cut.

Mr. Le Mesurier. Do you believe Mr. Adean is out of the kingdom? - Yes.

Prisoner. Whether the prosecutor had any intimate acquaintance with Mr. Adean? - I never knew him or saw him before that day; I never knew him.

Have you ever heard before or since any circumstance discreditable? - Nothing that I know of; I know nothing of Mr. Adean, except that circumstance.

You never heard it mentioned that he was insane and flighty, and that he was not of the best principles? - The only thing I heard was, that he was a gentleman that lived about town.

Lived about town, by what means?

Prisoner. My Lord, as the prosecutor has thought proper to bring forward the mention of Mr. Adean's name, for the manifest purpose of inflaming the minds of the Jury, or at least for strengthening the evidence; I think it but fair that he should also state to the Jury what he has heard concerning this witness he has wished to bring.

Mr. Garrow. Have you ever heard that Mr. Adean was a man of bad character or subject to insanity? - Never. Calling at his lodgings about this business, I have found him not up at twelve in the morning; that is all I know of him, I never heard any thing against his character.

When you said a gentleman that lived about town, you meant a dissipated man of the town? - No, sir, that is not my idea; all I meant, is that he lay in bed late of a morning.

Counsel for the Prosecution. My Lord, I have done, I think it unnecessary to call Townsend, he would only prove facts, not immediately in evidence.

Court. Prisoner, do you wish to say any thing in your defence?

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

May it please your Lordship, and you Gentlemen of the Jury; the benignity and candour which mark the judicial proceedings of this country, of which I have recently met a distinguished proof, induce me to hope, with the utmost humility, that the indulgent attention of the Court will not be withheld on the present occasion; but that it will be extended, not through the merit of any thing I may urge; but from the generous and impartial impulse of your own minds, towards every one who is so unhappy as to stand here, the subject of accusation; and if ever there was a case which called for the calm, I will not say the compassionate, consideration of your Lordship, and the Gentlemen of the Jury, it is perhaps the present, as well from the heavy affliction I have sustained for many months before I could obtain a trial; as from the newspaper calumny

that has been levelled against me, even under the pressure of a long imprisonment, and to the very hour of my trial.

It is but too true that I had the misfortune to be at the play about the time mentioned in the indictment; I had sometimes an opportunity to obtain an order for the play, through the medium of a respectable though no very intimate friend, and it is unnecessary for me to say, that the part of the house is not thought material in general when an order is given; I was going through the box passage on my way home, when some one said, it is certainly Barrington, and almost at the same instant I was addressed by a person who requested me to tell my name; I asked his reason for the enquiry; he turned from me, and said Mr. Le Mesurier, is this the person? the prosecutor said he had lost his purse, and that I was near him, but no more; the passage was extremely crowded, and this conversation excited the general attention: some of the bystanders requested I would give my name; I told them I should decline giving my name there; the matter being of an unpleasant nature, but that, if there was any charge against me, I had no objection to going before a magistrate; some gentlemen close to the prosecutor observed, that such a step would be quite unnecessary, if I would call on any gentleman present; while others said that my name was Barrington: the prosecutor in the mean time was no way active on the occasion, or like a man that was at all convinced in his own mind, and an altercation merely about my name continued, I may venture to say pretty near half an hour; when the approach of the constable was announced, the crowd was so great it was with great difficulty they could come near; and then being asked concerning me, he said he could not recollect me, or words to that effect: some gentlemen continued to suggest the propriety of my calling on some person that knew me, which they said would entirely do away all imputation; while others said, Mr. Le Mesurier, you should go before Sir Samson Wright ; Mr. Le Mesurier then absolutely replied, what is the use of my going there? I am not sure; I can say nothing to affect him: this, Gentlemen of the Jury, was really the language of Mr. Le Mesurier then, however it may have been forgot; however it may have been changed since to answer the present purpose: some little altercation further continued about my name, when some one said, here is Towsend of Bow-street, he perhaps knows something of the prisoner, let us hear what he says; when he mentioned my name, some Gentleman said, I told you how it was; when several other gentlemen observed that my name was then quite immaterial from the declaration that Mr. Le Mesurier had made; that if Mr. Le Mesurier had been convinced of the fact in his own mind, I ought to have been taken before a Magistrate, whoever I was, or whatever my name was; but that as he had declared, he was by no means certain, it was neither fair nor reasonable that a man should be criminated because his name was Barrington. This, Gentlemen of the Jury, was the opinion of many gentlemen; some of whom I am satisfied Mr. Le Mesurier well knows to be such, and the majority of the company concurred in that opinion: the altercation still continued about my name; and it may appear strange, perhaps incredible, that I, who about half an hour before was accused with a breach of the peace, and as an offender, should be then actually employed as moderator in endeavouring to appease the generous impulse that prevailed in my favor, by requesting that the matter might have a legal hearing: such, however, Gentlemen was the fact. I was conveyed to the publick house, the Brown Bear in Bow-street; and however the unhappy circumstance of my withdrawing from thence may have hitherto operated to my disadvantage; I trust that when the circumstances of the case are duly and candidly considered it will lose that effect; I found myself there under a charge that I clearly perceived looked up to something for its support, beyond facts and circumstances; I had just

seen a striking proof what prejudice may be attached to a name, and it was impossible for me to say how far it might not extend. Under apprehension at once natural and alarming, an opportunity occurred to enable me to withdraw, and I embraced it - unfortunately embraced it! I broke no gaol nor watch-house on the occasion; no judicial prosecution or commitment had taken place; and I trust that it may fairly be construed rather as a retreat from prejudice, than as a flight from accusation: In leaving that place, Gentlemen, I neither used violence or pecuniary influence, whatever has been suggested to the contrary; and here it is impossible for me to forbear most solemnly declaring, in the presence of the Court and the World, that the unhappy man who was convicted for suffering me to escape, was neither wilfully or wittingly consenting thereto: if I was of a disposition to rejoice at the calamity of a fellow creature; I perhaps had some reason for it there; for this poor man, instead of doing me any kindness, was perhaps one of the greatest enemies I had in the world: so far, Gentlemen of the Jury, as bringing up my name constantly in the minds of the public every night at the play house; and if I was two hundred miles from London, if I was at any part of the universe, it was immaterial to him; this was still done, it was his constant rule. It is true that the unhappy man was convicted on evidence; for Townsend swore that he must know of my retreat. Gentlemen of the Jury, this poor man was a tradesman, and a shopkeeper; this took up his attention in the day, and in the evening he attended his duty as constable; and he was besides that, an old infirm man, and perhaps in the best of his days he never possessed that keenness of sight which they do who are runners by profession; and I trust Gentlemen, that some little attention will be paid to what I say on this occasion; I have now no longer any interest from it, and he, poor man, can bear no part of it; he is freed now from the strife of life, and not entangled with the perplexities of justice; but it is a tribute due to the memory of an unfortunate man, and I think myself bound to pay it, whatever my own case may be. And, Gentlemen of the Jury, it is with very great concern indeed, that I find myself under the necessity to say any thing, which perhaps may appear invidious or impertinent; I wish not to say any thing that may look like a reflection on the conduct of the prosecutor; and if his memory had not been of the strange nature that I know it to be; I certainly would not say any thing on the occasion, but it is a memory of the most convenient nature; for it can forget circumstances which happened, because they were in my favour; and can fancy others which never did happen, and it can remember only those which may injure and tend to convict me: I therefore, Gentlemen, am compelled to say some thing about the conduct of the prosecutor; the veneration I feel for the wisdom and beneficence of the Court, whose judgment restored me to to the dearest privilege of the subject, the trial by jury, will not permit me to say any thing concerning the law itself, and but little concerning the prosecution; yet thus much I hope I may be allowed to say without incurring the displeasure of the Court; that outlawry is the greatest possible advantage that can be taken by the law of this country, that it sets aside the invaluable privilege of the subject, the trial by Jury, and condemns a man to death unheard; that it was an advantage which the prosecutor derived from real ignorance on my part: that the prosecutor, if he had been the most vindictive and the most cruel man that ever lived in this country, could not have attempted to do more against the blackest traitor, or the most foul murderer that ever appeared in the shape of human nature. Gentlemen of the Jury, I am very far from attempting to extenuate the offence I am charged with; I am conscious of its enormity; I never will commit it; but I hope I may be allowed to say, that there is an immutable distinction in crimes; that policy and humanity demand the preservation of that distinction; if I had been themost violent, if I had been the most inhuman man that ever lived; it was impossible that Mr. Le Mesurier could have proceded to greater extremity than he has done, with respect to me. Among the vices incident to human nature, and the crimes which have so lavishly been imputed to me by newspaper report, there are two which I trust neither the accusing spirit, nor the recording angel need blush or weep at on my account; I mean cruelty, and calumny, which is perhaps the worst of cruelty; for I have ever been more happy to remove than to cast aspersion, and I have never been so tenacious of my life, as to fear risquing it to save a fellow creature from ruin: this is a consolation of which the united efforts of all the paragraphists that now live, or may live hereafter, cannot deprive me; this is a consolation which has supported me through life, and which I trust will attend me to that bourn from whence no traveller returns. Gentlemen of the Jury, if Mr. Le Mesurier had wished to have impressed you with an idea of his candor, he might effectually have done it, by waving that advantage which ignorance on my part gave; and had he, instead of calling an unfortunate fellow creature before the judgment seat, to demand sentence of death against him, and to urge it with all the rigour that a furious mind could dictate; had he omitted this in a moment when the most liberal and humane sentiments seemed to prevail in every part of the world; had he done this, you might have had some opinion of his candor; it would not have tarnished the lustre of his beneficence, or diminished the same of his moderation and modesty. The language of Mr. Le Mesurier, the counsel, I will not much mention; I am convinced it speaks for itself, and will operate more in my favour in any liberal mind, than any thing I can say against it: and perhaps he has been led to such vehemence, by being at once the brother and counsel of the prosecutor: and I wish, I wish, Gentlemen of the Jury, that Mr. Le Mesurier may not have been advised to such extremity from a quarter where of all others it ought not to have proceeded: public justice is a good and necessary thing, but there is something due to individual justice; and a persecuting spirit should never be suffered to overpower the sacred rights of truth and humanity. And permit me humbly to observe, that the question is not now, what the private opinion of individuals concerning George Barrington may be; but whether there is or is not that full, clear and unequivocal evidence, which the wisdom of ages has established as the criterion for Jurors to decide by, and which ought never to be departed from, in any man's case whatever. To strain a point to acquit, may proceed from Godlike motives; and perhaps men of the most vindictive tempers must respect in others the benevolent impulse: but to strain a point to condemn, is repugnant to justice, to conscience, and to humanity.

Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, this is an indictment against the prisoner George Barrington , for stealing a silk purse and twenty-three guineas and one half guinea in money, the property of Havilard Le Mesurier , Esq; privily from his person. Mr. Le Mesurier is called, and he tells you, &c. [Here the learned Judge summed up the Evidence, and then added] Gentlemen, this is all the evidence in the case, you have heard what the prisoner has said in his own justification; you are to give what weight you think proper to that; but at the same time, as one part of the defence goes to affect the prosecutor, I cannot help making some observation on that part of it; the rest I shall leave to your consideration: he imputes cruelty to the prosecutor, in having prosecuted him to outlawry; and he imputes cruelty to the law in suffering a person to be proceeded against by that mode, as it is taking it out of the hands of the Jury: Gentlemen, it is an antient law which has prevailed in this country; and to be sure a prisoner has no right to complain of cruelty, who withdraws himself from the reach of justice; nothing is imputable to Mr. Le Mesurier on that score; for when once the outlawry

was compleat, it was not in the power of the prosecutor to give it up, the law had then attached upon it; suppose the outlawry was good in point of form, certainly there cannot be any improper conduct or cruelty attributed to Mr. Le Mesurier in the steps he has taken; so far I think fit and necessary for me to say in exculpation of the prosecutor; for though a prisoner is permitted to say any thing in his own defence, yet it is not altogether so proper to cast reflections on that prosecutor, and more particularly when those reflections are unfounded; now with respect to Mr. Adean's not being called here to confirm this prosecutor's evidence, he is abroad; therefore the question must rest on the evidence of Mr. Le Mesurier, it must rest on the facts he has disclosed to you: now, Gentlemen, to be sure, there are some facts arising from Mr. Le Mesurier's evidence, which seem to apply pretty close to the case of the prisoner; there is one fact particularly, which came out upon the cross-examination, which may be material for your consideration; that is, that Mr. Le Mesurier told you, at the time he felt his purse move, the prisoner was standing behind him, but his hand was close to his pocket; now to be sure, in the natural position one would expect for a man who stood behind another person, it is not very probable that his hand could be so far advanced before Mr. Le Mesurier, as to be at his breeches pocket; therefore that observation in point of probability, seems to apply very hard against the prisoner; he tells you further, that the moment he felt his purse moving in his pocket, that he instantly took his hand from that part which was over his purse, and caught hold of the wrist of somebody that was near his breeches pocket; that somebody, whoever it was, to be sure in point of probability, does appear the most likely person to whom we could attribute it; he kept hold of the hand and turned round, and with his other hand he seized on the person to whom the hand belonged, which proved to be the prisoner at the bar: these, Gentlemen, to be sure, are strong circumstances; it has been imputed to Mr. Le Mesurier, that he had at the time he went to Bow-street office, said, when he was told he must go the office, it is to no purpose for me to go to the office, I know nothing about it; but he positively denies that he held any such language; he says, as near as he can guess, what he said was this, that he seized a person's hand near his pocket, which appeared to be the prisoner, and therefore he believed him to be the person. Therefore, Gentlemen, it is for you, on the whole of this evidence, to consider whether the prisoner is, or is not, guilty of the crime that is now imputed to him: As to any general knowledge you may have of the prisoner, or of his character; that you are to lay totally out of the case on the present occasion; for every cause must be tried by its own circumstances; therefore you are to consider now only of the particular evidence, and how it must apply. Now, if you believe the account given by the prosecutor, that at the time the purse moved in his pocket, he immediately took hold of the prisoner's hand close by his breeches pocket; and more particularly, if you believe that the prisoner was standing behind him at the time with his hand near his pocket, I am sorry to say it does amount to very strong circumstantial proof, in regard to the prisoner's being guilty of the fact: there has been no evidence called to contradict the account that he has given. Gentlemen, crimes of this kind are generally done in such a manner, as to make it more difficult to detect than most other crimes; it is on account of the frequency of the crimes, and the crime being done secretly, that the difficulty of detection arises; and in order to discourage the practice, the law has thought fit to take away the benefit of clergy from any person accused of such a crime; therefore a reasonable certainty is every thing you can have in cases of this kind; therefore it is your duty to consider on the whole evidence; if you are satisfied that the prisoner is not guilty of the crime, then certainly you ought to acquit him; but if from all the circumstances laid together, you think they do so strongly apply to the prisoner,that he is guilty; in that case you will find him so. Gentlemen, there is one thing that I ought to inform you of; indeed it was given up by the counsel, which is the capital part of the charge; for it was laid to be stolen privily from his person. Now there have been determinations, that whenever the person is sensible of the thing at the time, that that takes off the capital part; therefore the capital part you will acquit him of; but it is still open to the larceny, and the capital part is given up by the counsel on the opening.

The Jury consulted a very short time, and gave a verdict,

NOT GUILTY , and did not fly for it.

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


View as XML