15th January 1794
Reference Numbert17940115-60
VerdictNot Guilty

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128. JOHN COLETHERNE and HUMPHRY DUNNIVAN were indicted for a conspiracy .


On the 12th of November , I and another person were drinking at the Crow public house, Moor-lane, Fore-street , and we had three pots of beer, and called for the fourth, I was drinking with John Grissin and another, John Soar ; it was about a quarter past eleven o'clock at night, John Coletherne he took the pot of beer away in order to give it to another customer and did not bring it again, and he asked if two pints would do instead of the pot? we answered yes, he brought two pints, the one he put before me and the other he put before Griffin, and that he gave to me he was observed to put something into it; When he set it before me. I

took and drank it, as soon as I had drank it I observed it was not like what I had had before, as soon as I drank it I found myself very poorly immediately, I gave it to Joseph Griffin to taste, and he found fault with it first and spoke to the landlord, and the landlord he drank of it, and he said there was something a matter with it, he did not know what it was, and he said it might be changed for me; I desired it might be changed, for I thought there was something in it that ought not to be, and I found my mouth so rough that I could not bear my tongue to go against it, and Griffin the same; I called to Coletherne and asked him if he had put any thing in the beer? he said no, he had not.

Q. Had not you been told by this time that he had done it? how came you to ask him? - Because he was the person that drew the beer; he said, he should be very wicked to put any thing in my beer as I had never done any thing to offend him, and when he said them words he fell a crying; I requested Mr. Youl, the landlord, to go along with me to the doctor; the landlord said he would not, because he had tasted it and found no inconvenience, but at last he agreed to go along with me, but before I got to the Doctor, I was obliged to go to the kennell twice to get some mud to wet my tongue with, I was so very dry and so was the landlord, but he does not remember it.

Q. Was you worse after this? - Yes, for two or three hours, but the next day we got better, except the landlord.

Q. What fort of an illness had you the next day? Did you get well without the doctor? - I was very weak the next day with reaching.

Q. Was you sick at your stomach? - No.

Q. Was you sick the night before? - I was with what the doctor gave me to take.

Q. What did the doctor give you? - I don't know what it was, he ordered me to drink some oil.

Q. What time did you see the doctor that night? - About a quarter past eleven.

Q. Then you took some oil, did you? - Yes.

Q. Was any thing brought off your stomach? - Yes, by vomiting.

Q. Is the doctor here? - Not that I know of.

Q. How do you know what it was that he put in the pot? - It was analysed by a gentleman in the Poultry.

Q. Is he here? - Not that I know of.

Q. Then you don't know yourself at all what was in the pot? - No more than what the doctor says.


I am a cordwainer; I was at the Crow on the 12th of November last, about ten and eleven in the morning, this happened about eleven o'clock at night, I did not see any thing particularly happen, I drank of a pint of porter after Barnard Royal had drank of it.

Q. Was you all that day in the public house? - I was in and out till eleven o'clock; we called for a pot of beer and Coletherne brought in two pints, I drank out of the second, after I had drank, I found myself thirsty, my mouth was quite rough inside, we went to Doctor Dyson 's in Fore-street, he gave us some powder and oil to take.

Q. Did you feel any other inconvenience besides your mouth thirsty? - Nothing but my mouth rough and I felt thirsty. He told us to take the powder and to work it off with water gruel.

Q. Did that occasion you to vomit? - Yes, it did.

Q. Was you well the next day? - I felt myself very weak inwardly, that was all the inconvenience I found.

Q. Then you drank out of the same pot as Royal did? - Yes.

Q. Had you had any quarrel with Coletherne or Dunnivan? - None at all.

Q. Do you know that either of them had any resentment against you? - I don't know that they had.

JOHN BELL sworn.

I am a shoemaker; I was standing behind the boy John Coletherne, and I saw him shake something in the pint pot.

Q. Which hand did he hold the pot with? - With his right hand.

Q. Then it was his left hand that he shook over the pot, was it? - It was. After they had began to be very poorly I told them of it.

Q. What did it occur to your mind that he might be doing at that time? - I thought he might be putting ginger in, or something, when I saw him.

Q. Did you see any thing pass from his hand to the pot? - No, I did not.

Q. After the persons were sick, you say you told them of it, what time might that be? - About half past eleven.

Q. What did Coletherne say to it? - He cried and said he did not put anything at all in.

Q. You speak only to Coletherne? - I never spoke to the other boy, I know nothing at all about him.

Q. Who are the boys, do they belong to the house? - They are the servants of the house, one was gone away Dunnivan had been gone from that house about ten days, and Coletherne was succeding him.

Q. Had you ever seen Dunnivan in the service of the house before? - No.

JOHN YOUL sworn.

I am a publican, I am the landlord of the house. On the 12th of November, these two young men came into the house that I keep, about a little after eleven, they wanted a pot of beer, Royal and Griffin, we had not a quart pot, in the house, so we brought it in two pints, the boy brought it, the least of the two boys, John Coletherne ; I just went out of the tap room and came in again, and Barnard Royal said there is something a matter with this beer, because it is not the same as we have had before; he gave it to Griffin to taste, and Griffin said it was not the same, and Griffin handed it to me, and I drank a little of it; I went out and I came into the tap room again in a few minutes, and Barnard says, I am sure there is poison in this beer; I believe the little boy was in the tap room, I am not sure, so, says I, I cannot think of any such thing, says he, I am sure there is, for God's sake let us go to a doctor; I really made a smile of it, but I went with him at last, I was not ill so soon as him, and Griffin and Barnard went with me, by the time I got to the doctor's I believe I was so bad as either of them

Q. How did you find yourself? - A drought and my tongue as rough as a rasp almost and a sickness. We called the doctor up, and the doctor gave us an emetic, and something to drink, and we returned home, we were very ill for about five or six hours, under this operation of vomiting.

Q. Do you know what was in the porter at all? - It was analysed, by Mr. Siver in the Poultry.

Q. Is he here? - No.

Q. How came that gentleman not to be here? - I don't know.

Q. Was he before the grand jury? - No, he was not.

Q. That was not the gentleman that gave you the vomit? - No.


I get my living by writing letters and petitions; about a fortnight before this matter happened, Dunnivan was brought

by Mr. Humphries to Guildhall, charged by Mr. Youl for blasphemous words; as his master released him, he said he would poison him in the course of a month, the way he came to say that, Mr. Youl forgave him the offence, on his promising not to do the like again, and Mr. Youl paid eighteen pence towards his fees; he was in his service at the time; as soon as Mr. Youl's back was turned, he put his hand into his pocket, and pulled out several shillings, and said, see how I have done the old b-gg-r, I will poison him in the course of a month.

M. Knowlys. It is not very material what you have said, but for the sake of your good wishes I will have a word or two with you; the boy said this publickly? - He did.

Q. And the marshalmen were attending before the alderman? - This was at the Cattle public house, in the hearing of several people, for the room was full.

Q. Pray how do you get your living? - By writing of petitions.

Q. For the prisoners in Newgate? - I don't write petitions for Newgate prisoners, but for the Marshalsea court.

Q. Then you live in the Marshalsea chiefly? - Not chiefly.

Q. What other honest way do you get your living by? - Writing is an honest way.

Q. Then you have no other way of getting your living than this, going about to the prisons? - No, I don't go about to the prisons.

Q. Where are you to be found? - At the Fountain wine vaults, in the Old Bailey.

Q. Do you live up in the garret? - I have two rooms there.

Q. What do you pay a week? - I don't pay by the week.

Q. What do you pay a year? - Eight guinea.

Q. If this is the only way you have of getting your living, how many hundred people must you write petitions for? - I never counted them.

Q. How much do you charge for a petition? - Half a crown.

Both, not GUILTY .

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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