WILLIAM MOLYNEUX, Damage to Property > arson, 17th September 1794.

Reference Number: t17940917-87
Offence: Damage to Property > arson
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death
Navigation: < Previous text (trial account) | Next text (trial account) >

555. WILLIAM MOLYNEUX was indicted for that he, on the 4th of September , a certain house of one Esther Moon , feloniously, voluntarily, and maliciously did set fire to, against the form of the statute, and against the King's peace .

Indicted in a second COUNT, for that he, on the same day, and same place, a certain house, of the said Esther Moon, feloniously, voluntarily and maliciously did set fire to, and the said house feloniously, voluntarily and maliciously did burn and consume, against the King's peace.

(The indictment opened by Mr. Knapp, and the case by Mr. Fielding.)


Q. I believe you are a bricklayer? - Yes.

Q. You live next door to the prisoner at the bar? - Yes.

Q. Was you alarmed at this fire which happened on the 4th of September? - Yes, I was alarmed by the watchman, and then by Mrs. Moon's coachman, before I could get my clothes on.

Q. Did you go to Mrs. Moon's house? - Yes, I went to the forward side of the house, and there I saw a light of a fire; and then I went to the back of the house, and then I saw, as if it was from Mr. Molyneux's house; I then went to Mrs. Moon's house, and I knocked at the door, and there were several more together, I went and when I got up stairs to the upper room, the top gallery, three pair of stairs, which is built of wood work, above the brick work, there I observed a smoak.

Court. You had better produce the plan of the house if you have it there.

B. COOPER sworn.

Q. Produce the plan of the house.(Produces it) - This is the side of Mrs. Moon's house, that comes against Molyneux's roof, it is weather boarded and painted; in Molyneux's roof there is an aperture of thirty-eight inches in length, and eleven wide, so that any person might get out of Molyneux's house, and command about eighteen inches of Mrs. Moon's house, above where the weather boarding began; this part of Mrs. Moon's house, which come against Molineux's roof, and where the hole was made, has a gutter all covered with lead; when I went to these premises, I went into the man's chamber, Mrs. Moon's servant, which is here in the inside, that was that part of the house that was raised by weather boarding, and, as I understand, was wholly raised after the house was first built, they cannot build in that manner now; I soon discovered by going into the chamber, the mode by which the string was done; I then desired that a carpenter might be sent for with some tools, to take down some timber; the witness, Osborne, came to me, being Mrs. Moon's carpenter; he got into the gutter, and cleared it, for all the materials had been cleared out of Mrs. Moon's into this gutter; on looking at the lower board of the weather boarding, I clearly discovered the mode by which the fire had been communicated.

Q. Did it appear to you to be done on purpose or accidentally? - Certainly, on purpose; I had not been there five minutes, before I could determine that perfectly; the board is in court. (Produced.) It has been kept sealed up in this box ever since the time it was taken down by my directions.

Mr. Alby. Did you see these boards taken down? - They were taken down by my orders, and I here wrote on each of them, that I might know them again; these are the bottom boards that lay against the front of the house, weather boards; when I came to look at this boards; I observed that here it was cut away by a knife, and that this board, as well as the other, had been cut in that way; the fire had not got any higher than this, for it went in a sliding direction above this part, by which means the mode in which this was done, was not concealed; this is the bottom board, on which these boards lay, and here is the place where the fire actually commenced; this is the bottom part of the brace, the partition which is shewn by the model, as your worship will see, the slope of it here, and which I have no doubt at all, was burnt by a poker, or red hot iron, because without some additional heat, it

would not have burnt so rapidly, as to set the whole on fire.

The jury shewn the model.

Jury to Mr. Cooper. Did you observe any combustibles inside? - Yes, I did; this man's chest and a portmanteau flood close against where the firing was, the skin of the portmanteau was burnt off, and if it had not been for that, the poor coachman must have been burnt in his bed, for the heat of the plaister had actually burnt the skin of the portmanteau off, and had actually fired the board, so that it was with difficulty they prevented it breaking into the room violently. Here is the piece of a brace which stood in this manner, and which evidently shews to be burnt with a hot iron, or poker, or something of that sort, in order to continue the flame. (the portmanteau produced) There is the back of the portmanteau, if this had not lain very close to the plaistering, it must have been very fatal indeed.

Court. In what position was Molyneux's house? Was there any fire in that? - None at all. This opening of the roof of Molyneux's house was evidently done from inside, it looked as if the tiling had broke in by something falling on it. When I had got in, this man Osborne, had cut away these different matters, and searched the gutters for things that had been thrown in, I found amongst other things, these, here are some matches, some burnt and some unburnt; here is a piece of tarred oakum or rope that was laying there by it; the roof had all remained just in the same state at the time that I saw it; there was a variety of more, but it was unnecessary to bring a large quantity. In going at another time into the prisoner's house, while I was making the observation of the mode in which a person might get through to the roof, a person desired me to go into the front room, and there was in the front garret this handful of tared junk, in a hole of the plaister stopped, it is oakum very much tared; it was this, but when picked out very fine it made a very large bunch; this was placed between the plaister, and part hanging out between the rafter; if the fire had got to any considerable height here, it must have fell through the roof in Molyneux's house, where there was a quantity of shavings, perfectly clean, and which must have been lain there very recently, because every thing else in his house was very dusty.

Q. What business is Molyneux? - A mason.

Q. Were these shavings near the oakum? - No, it appeared as if they had dropped somewhere on the gutter, some lay in the passage loose by the hole, and some partly burnt; it appeared that those that were burnt had fell from this place.

Q. Were the burnt shavings and clean together? - The clean ones were in this place, and some clean ones in the passage; but the whole part of the house of Molyneux upper part, was like a gentleman's house, not a particle of dirt all about; the plaister likewise, where this tar junk was set in was evidently cut away, very recently for it lay on the floor, so that it was evidently laid there within a short space of time, it was evidently newly broke; by the mode in which combustible matter had been placed, the fire had ran on each side of the brace, it had burnt both sides of it, and this is a quarter which had been burnt totally about this, and had communicated to a piece called an intenslice, which prevented the progress of the fire; it requires very little examination to see how it began, and what part; in one of these bars, and in another that matches, it proves the hole was cut, and the combustibles dropped in here, and an hot iron

applied to the brace, and the fire was communicated to it underneath by means of this hot iron, or a candle. These boards which came from the bottom is evidently cut with a sharp knife, so as to avoid being heard by making any noise.

Jury. Supposing any body for a moment might have dropped a candle in, would not that have fired the place? - It appears very evident from every thing that fire had been placed from the outer part, and not from the inner, for there is the mark of some kind of liquid put outside, as that board will shew you considerably.

Jury. Was not that possible to run out of the deal? - The deal was painted, and therefore not very probable; this is the piece of timber that has the appearance of being burnt with the hot iron; it is an outside piece, and the skirting board on the inside was very much burnt.

Mr. Fielding. You have described pretty accurately the situation of these parts of the premises; according to your observation of the whole in Molyneux's house, how many tiles did there appear to be removed in order for this aperture to be made? - As to the number of tiles I should suppose there were fifty; the aperture was thirty-eight inches, by eleven; but every lath was evidently broke from withinside, and the bottom laths were evidently bent considerably, by a person standing on them to get out.

Q. How were the tiles placed that were removed? - Merely as they had slipped down, they were in the gutter.

Q. You of course being called in some time after the fire, other people had seen the situation of the two houses before you come? - Certainly.

Court. With regard to the aperture, I think you say, that the ceiling of that part was broke through too? - Yes, so that a person might get out of the garret very easily; I could get out myself; I have got out of openings through buildings less than that, many times.

Mr. Alby. You certainly seem to have paid a very laudable care in the examination into this business, you say the place where you suppose the fire to have originated, was a place in which a poker might have gone in, because of the appearances of the wood, is it not possible that a knot of the wood might have fallen out, and that to appearance would it not have made a similar mark? - No, it would be quite a different appearance, and when I view the boards, and see the nature of the materials, there is scarcely a knot in them.

Q. It is impossible to judge from one part of a board whether there may not be knots in the other? - This board was so very near the place if you examine it, you will find it so.

Q. You observe that this trunk was inside of this aperture? - This chest and trunk.

Q. And you observe also that on the sloping boards there are marks of something having run out as from that place; might not the appearance be some liquid substance that run out from the inside? Supposing this combustible matter had been placed behind here, would not this liquid naturally have oozed out? - Not so much.

Q. I do not mean that this might have oozed out from the boards, but out of the combustible matter? - No, that, is a very different kind of matter; and if it had oozed out of that, it would have had a very different appearance; what is on the boards has the appearance of some kind of strong turpentine.

Q. You say that at the time you made the subsequent enquiry, you went to the prisoner's house and found these things? - I did.

Q. How long was it afterwards? - Six or seven days.

Q. In point of fact you found it there a number of days after the fire happened, consequently if he had put it there he might have removed it? - He was taken into custody before.

Q. That aperture in the prisoner's house was immediately under the place where the fire had been light; and such a one that he might have gone in and out for the purpose of cleansing the gutter? - Yes, for any occasion.

Q. These premises we have heard are insured? - I have only heard so.

Q. If this had been done by the prisoner in consequence of a resentemnt, which we have heard of by the learned gentleman that opened the prosecution, to Mrs. Moon, if that resentment had been in his mind, and he had purposed to have done it, would it not have been done with no more execution by first setting fire to his own house? - It would have been less likely, because it is four feet nine inches above his brick wall, where this timber begins.

Q. Then supposing. Mr. Cooper, the prisoner had purposed doing it, in order to secure to himself the amount of the insurance he had on his house, could he have done it with more effect, and with less probability of discovery, by setting fire to his own house? - I think it would as effectually have fired his own house as if he had done it in this way, for in a very short time it must have fell into his own house, because there were dry shavings, and it must have caught to whatever part of the timber was there, which was very light, and very dry; there is no boards under this place but only joists; and I am only astonished that the ceiling did not fall in, that it did not take fire and run all through the house.

Q. Was it not possible, and more than probable to suppose, in case he had a mind to consume the building, that he had best to set fire to some part or other of his own house? - If the fire had fell in there through the house, and come in with a body of slame, this tared oakum would have took fire immediately.

Q. Do you know whether he kept any servant? - I never see him till I see him before the magistrate; I knew neither party till I was sent for. I don't know that it is proper for to mention an opinion, but the fire after burning his house would have taken away all suspicion from him, and that, I should hope, was the sole motive.

Q. You will observe, and the principal ground where upon you have been led to form your opinion, that the fire began outside is, because that in some parts there appears a greater aperture outside than inside. Do not boards sometimes burn uneven according to the quality of the boards? - Certainly.


I am a watchman.

Q. You know the prisoner Molyneux's house? - Yes.

Q. And Mrs. Moon's house? - Yes.

Q. Do you remember on the 4th of September last, in Mile End New Town, of being alarmed by any thing, and at what time? - Yes, five minutes after four o'clock, I was going my round, calling the hour of four o'clock, and I discovered a fire.

Q. In what house was it? - I then thought it was Molyneux's house; I went to his door and rang the bell.

Q. How long did you continue knocking and ringing? - Not long; I went further to alarm the neighbourhood.

Q. Did you go to Mrs. Moon's? - Yes, and knocked there.

Q. When you knocked at Mrs. Moon's door, did you alarm any body there? - Yes, I alarmed Mrs. Moon herself, and she opened the window to me, and I told her there was a fire.

Q. After you had knocked at Mrs. Moon's door and alarmed her, did you

go back to Molyneux's door? - Yes, some time afterwards; I went to the other people first.

Q. How long was it after? - Ten minutes after, or upwards.

Q. What did you do then? - I knocked at the door and rang the bell again.

Q. Did you see the prisoner at the bar then? - I saw him soon afterwards, he opened the door.

Q. Afterwards, when he opened the door, what did he say or do? - I told him there was a fire; he said, he knew it; I told him his house was on fire; he said, it was not.

Q. Was Molyneux dressed or naked? - He was dressed the same as he is now.

Q. What else did you see or do at that time? - I went to get the night engines out, and to get the waterman to turn the water on, and such like as that.

Q. Was Molyneux half dressed, or completely dressed? - Completely dressed.

Mr. Alby. You say you first left Molyneux's door, and then you went to Mrs. Moon's door, and afterwards you again returned to Molyneux's door in about ten minutes; then I take it for granted he had sufficient time to dress himself? - Certainly.

Q. And he told you it was not his own house on fire? - He did.

Q. What family has the prisoner at the bar? - A wife and two children.

Q. What age are those children? - Quite small children.

Court to Holt. How long did you stay by Molyneux? - Not long.

Q. When you talked to him and told him his house was on fire, and he said, he knew it, did he appear alarmed? - He spoke very composed to me.

Q. When you spoke to him did he come out of the house to you, or did he stay within? - He was within, I left other people following him into the house directly.

Q. Did he come out at the door? - I cannot say that he did, there were other people at the door besides me.

Q. Did he know in what part of the house the fire was? - I do not know that.


I live in a stable close by the prisoner, directly of shorte.

Q. you armed on this occasion? Tell us what past? - The first I heard of it was by the watchman's rattle, I laid just opposite, I got out of bed in my shirt and found Mrs. Moon's house all in flames, it appeared so, I went out and I knocked at Mrs. Moon's door, there was no entrance there, I went to Mr. Molyneux's door and knocked with a brick till I broke it in pieces, then after I knocked at Mr. Molyneux's, I saw the maid at Mrs. Moon's door in her shift, then I spoke to the maid, and I told her that I thought the house was on fire, she said it was not her house, it must be next door, I went next door again and there was no appearance of any body coming, I went over the way, I crossed and came back again.

Q. How long did that take up? - I do not think the whole course of time was ten minutes, when I came back I put my coat and waistcoat on and returned, I found the door not opened, then I went up in Mrs. Moon's house, up stairs, where there were three or four people in the room were the servant's bed was, one of the young men that was up there, took the bed from the bedstead and chucked it out of the window into the garden, I looked to see where the bed was a going, and I saw Mrs. Molyneux standing at the bottom of her yard in a bed-gown, which I thought from the appearance that somebody was a washing.

Q. Where are those gardens? - At the back of the house, there are gardens to both the houses.

Q. Did they appear to be dressed? - They were both completely dressed to all appearance, there was a child, the child had a red bed-gown on, and she was dressed in black.

Q. What age was the child? - About five or six years old, and Mr. Molyneux at the same instant was carrying something towards them, a kind of a bundle, but what it was I cannot say.

Q. How did Molyneux appear as to his dress? - He was dressed in a blue coat.

Q. Was he dressed completely? - Yes, as far as I could see of him, he had a coat on, I returned from the window and went towards where this mother appeared, which as soon as the bed stead was turned up, the people pulled away some trunks, and when the trunks were pulled away then the fire was seen through the plaistering; the trunk is in court.

Q. How close was this to the servant's bed? - There was only a chest that stood between; the chest stood at the feet of the bed. Then I bursted the plaistering and made a hole right through with my hands, and I got a blanket and dipped it in a pail of water, and put it through the hole; as soon as we could assist with water sufficient to pull the fire away, I made a hole in the top of Mrs. Moon's room, which was on fire, and got out into the gutter.

Q. You had not put the fire out enough to go out at the window? - I had it put out so far as to go out through the hole but the fire was most generally on the outside, and after I got outside, I got the fire out, by pulling down the boards and the assistance of the people bringing me the water, and when I got out I saw a hole in the roof of Molyneux's house about two feet long and one broad; I perceived that before I was out, in getting through, I stood on the roof of Mr. Molyneux's house, and I pulled off the weather board that was hurning, and by the assistance of water that came, I put the fire out; after it was put out I went through the hole back again, that I had got through before. I went down stairs, and got into Molyneux's yard; the door was open, and I was called in to aid and assist to take him into custody.

Q. Did you hear any thing between Mrs. Moon and Molyneux? Did you say any thing to Molyneux, or Molyneux to you? - Not any thing at all.

Q. Did you see Molyneux taken into custody? - Yes.

Q. How long was it after the fire had been put out? - Immediately afterwards.

Q. After you had entinguished the fire did you go to Molyneux's house? - Yes; I went into the parlour first.

Q. Tell us every thing you have seen and observed there. - There was a deal table stood against the wall, and there was part of a glass or a kind of frame of a picture hanging on the side of it, and five or six plates in the cupboard. I looked at the fire grate, and there was a piece of wood on the fire about half consumed; there were two tongs at the side of the grate, and two pokers under it. I went from that to the door of the back room, and all that I saw and could find was two hat boxes, one upon the other. No more furniture at all.

Q. In what room did you see the deal table? - In the parlour a kind of a deal table.

Q. Did you go up stairs? - I did not; I returned to the garden, and the constable told me to aid and assist.

Q. Did you go in his garden? - Not quite down to the bottom; there was linen and furniture down at the bottom of the garden; and I saw a cradle stand.

Q. How long was it before you got into his house from the time that you came first to Mrs. Moon? - I suppose it was the best part of an hour.

Q. What furniture did you see in the garden. - I saw linen and a candle; I did not take particular notice.

Q. Then there may be chairs for what you know? - There might, but I did not perceive any.

Q. Did you make any observation when you was about extinguishing the fire in the weather boarding? - Three holes; two of them rather small, and of them a largish hole, that I could put my thumb in; it appeared to me to be made as if a poker or something hot had been run into all the three.

Q. What size were the other two holes? - Not quite so big.

Q. From the judgement that you formed on the spot, with all the circumstances about you, did it or did it not strike you, that the fire was by these means? - Yes; it appeared to be done with something of a poker or a piece of iron of the same size, burnt in.

Mr. Alby. You observed, that after you perceived this fire, you got up a brick bat, and knocked at both these houses, Mrs. Moon's and Mrs. Molyneux's? - I I knocked at Mrs. Moon's with the knocker.

Q. Some time after this Mrs. Moon's servant came to the door? - Yes.

Q. You then went into the house, and so out along to the garret, where the fire was particularly observed? - I returned over the way first, where I had lodging, to put my clothes on.

Q. When you came up to this garret, you pushed out a parcel of these boards that were on fire? - No, when I came up, there was a young man putting a bed out of window.

Q. In point of fact. You pushed something out of window; you pushed against these boards that were on fire, of consequence part of these boards must have fallen down into the gutter, and likewise all these things might have fallen down with the boards for any thing you know? I take it for granted, that pulling out these boards made a number of holes or apertures in these boards? - It was a part that I pushed out where I had seen these holes.

Q. You saw the man in his garden, saving some of his furniture? - Yes.

Q. You have said something about a piece of wood in the parlour grate? - Yes.

Q. Therefore there was no danger to be apprehended from that. You asked for a light I understand? - I was not the first person that entered Mrs. Moon's house.

Q. Did not you ask for a light there? - I did not.

Q. After you had rapped at these doors, and after you had gone back to your own house, and came back again, you then observed, that the prisoner was endeayouring to save his furniture; and that his wife and children were at the end of the garden, and also endeavouring to carry away furniture? - No, his wife and children were not.

Mr. Knowlys. Have you the least idea that your pushing against these boards could have occasioned these three holes? - Not in the least.


I was alarmed on this night by the watchman; I got up into Mrs. Moon's apartment; I looked about, and see no fire, but smoke; I got out at the front window, which was the garret, and went on the parapet to Mrs. Molyneux's gable, and got to the ridge of the gable end, and there I saw the fire. It had the appearance to be lighted on the outside in three places.

Court to Emery. What occasion had you to make a hole? - Because we could not get into the gutter without getting down six or eight feet.

Banks. I went out of this window to see where the fire was; I goes then from this place again into Mrs. Moon, and

told her, it was not Molyneux's house, it was her house, on fire, which I conceived was set on fire; the fire seemed to come from three places; and I then run down to my own house.

Court to Emery. You saw three holes. How far did they appear apart from each other? - About five or six inches apart.

Court to Banks. You say the fire appeared to be in three places. At what distance did they appear from each other? - I cannot tell the distance; it looked to be light in three places, and they soon consumed together. After I had been home I came back again, and they seemed to have damped the fire, and I went down again, and told my wife to stop taking the things away, for the fire was mastered. I was employed to point the tiling of her house three or four weeks before this happened; I saw that hole in Molyneux's house on the 14th of August last, because we were above there on her building.

Q. Was there any thing to cover that hole? - There were two bits of boards put together, and a bar laid across it.

Q. You saw these premises after the fire? - Yes; and then the door laid by the side of that hole, when I saw the flames not covering that hole, but by the side of it, I could see the hole plain, I said it was set on fire on the outside, but I cannot say who set it on fire. It was impossible for any body to get into this gutter without a ladder of thirty feet long, or else a person must have come out of Mrs. Moon's premises the way I did, and get down six or eight feet, or else through that hole in Molyneux's house.

Mr. Alby. You seem very positive that this fire must have been on the outside. You cannot be positive sure? - Yes, I am. I saw it burning outside, and not within, and nothing but smoke in the room.

Q. You seem also to have said, with not a little emphasis, that when you perceived the fire, you was at your own house? - I did.

Q. The prisoner's house is between you and Mrs. Moon's? - It is.

Q. Did not you, when you went to the prisoner's house, ask for a light? - No, I never went into his house at all.

Court. You say it must have been set on fire on the outside. Could they get there from your house? - No, they could not; there are no parapets, they are old houses.


I live at Mile-end Old Town.

Q. The prisoner lived next door to you? - Yes.

Q. That was your house that you inhabited? - Yes.

Q. How long might he live a neighbour of your's next door? - I suppose about four years.

Q. On Wednesday night, the 3d of September, did any thing remarkable strike you. - Yes.

Q. What time? - At ten o'clock in the evening.

Q. What was the circumstance that happened to take your attention? - I was going to bed, which is the general hour I go to bed, and my family likewise; before I get to bed, I always make it a constant rule to look out at my bedroom window, to see that all is safe; and when I was looking out, I see the prisoner Molyneux with a lighted candle in his hand passing to and fro, from a little wash-house that adjoins his dwelling to the further end of the shed, at the bottom of his garden, and some person with him, who appeared as a woman, I apprehended he meant to move off, and go away. The shed stands in a narrow place, about the width of this table; there was some person with him, by the hand it appeared to me to be a woman's; and I only see the hand, handing of

things to him; it struck me at that time he was moving off. I rather was curious in seeing what he meant to do; it obliged me to fit up till almost two or three o'clock; I missed him several times in the night, and I saw a light glimmering in some part of his windows, sometimes in the back part of his house.

Q. Did any thing more particular strike you? - I was apprehensive, my stable being broke open before.

Q. The charge now is whether that man set fire to your house; he is not charged with any one thing beside, therefore do not tell us of any suspicion. - I do not know any thing about that.

Q. When was it you was alarmed with any call of fire? - About five minutes after four.

Q. From whom did you first receive the alarm? - From the watchman knocking at my door very violently.

Q. What is your family? - Myself, one maid servant, and one man servant.

Q. Do you know what the family of the prisoner consists of? - He has a wife and two children, the oldest about four, and other about two, both girls.

Q. When you was alarmed by the cry of fire what did you? - When the watchman knocked at my door I instantly got out of bed, and I said, Holt, what is the matter, he said there is a fire next door; and as I was running to my next room, I called to my servants directly to go down and open the door.

Q. In what room did the fire make this apperance? - In the room where the boy slept, and the adjoining room, where my maid slept.

Q. Did you go into the room yourself? - No; all was done by other people that came in when the door was opened.

Q. Do you know any thing of the man, or his wife, any farther than living adjoining to them? - He went away two years and a half from the premises; in his absence the children were always still and quiet.

Q. Had you an opportunity of going into the house, to see how the furniture was? - I did not.

Q. Did you speak to Molyneux at all that morning? - After some neighbours had got into the yard, and they seemed not very hasty in taking him, I said, Oh! you wretch, you have done it, for I have watched you till three or four o'clock this morning.

Q. Did they either of them make any answer to you? - None at all.

Mr. Alby. You say you keep two servants; I take it for granted they are very attentive of course? - Yes.

Q. It seems so, because the very moment you called them they came down stairs; I take it for granted they could not be very fast asleep at the time you called them. You say you don't know any thing of these people before, only neighbours? - No, only neighbours.

Q. Then in point of fact you never had paid a debt for the prisoner at the bar? - Yes, I did.

Q. Then how can you pretend to say, that you never knew them before? - I have got no further to say, than that they only asked me that favour.

Court to the Counsel. She told you that she did not know any harm of them, and that they behaved peaceably before, and you are not satisfied with that.

Mr. Alby. Have you ever gone to the prisoner's house since he left it. - Yes.

Q. Do you ever remember having any conversation with the wife of the prisoner at that time? - I went to speak to her, and I gave three shillings and sixpence for the rellef of her and her children.

Q. Did not you say to this woman, that if you did not convict the prisoner for this indictment, that you would prefer some other against him, and endeavour to transport him? - No, not to my recollection.

Q. Did you ever say any thing like it? - I do not recollect.

Q. Will you take on yourself to swear, bat you did not say so? - I will not; here was nobody but her and me in the room together.

Court. You say you set up till two or three o'clock watching. How late did you perceive any light in the prisoner's house? - Not till after two, and I fancied I see a glimmering.

Q. Did you see a light about two? - Yes; it was in his own bed room window, it shaded against the rails, that is round my garden.

Q. About ten you observed the light in the wash-house and shed? - Yes.

Q. And until eleven it was in the washhouse or shed, passing from one to the other, you perceived after eleven? - No.

Q. Where was it you did perceive it come from? - It came from his house; I could not tell from where, it came from his house on the rails that are round my garden.

Q. How late did you see it? - I saw it several times in the night; it moved about, I suppose the last time I saw any light was about the hour of two.

Q. Did you own light move about? - No; I put my own light in the next room, my drawing room.

Q. Does the window of the drawing room look into the garden? - No; it looks into the road.

Q. Were your own people gone to bed? - Yes; I always see my servants a bed before I go to bed myself; I always see every candle put out.

Q. Are you positive that these lights that you saw playing about in your garden were from his house? - I think it was so; I did not open my window.

Court to Mrs. Moon. Whose house is this? - It is my own house; I do not pay rent for it.


I was a servant of Mrs. Moon, at the time this fire happened.

Q. What time did you go to bed the night this fire broke out? - Just after ten o'clock; I was alarmed about four o'clock on Thursday morning, the 4th of September, by a violent knocking at the door; and getting out of bed, I heard my mistress call out very violently indeed for me to make haste down; I had before been alarmed; as I was coming out of my door I met Henry Pettit coming out of his door; the two doors are both on one landing place, and he went down stairs, and I followed, and I said to him as he was going down stairs, Harry, your room is full of smoke. He went down stairs, and I went down after him; with that, my mistress gave me the keys, and told me to go down stairs, and open the street door; with that, when I got to my mistress's door, my mistress said, Mary, they don't hear at the next door; with that my mistress rattled the rattle out of window, and I went to mistress's room window, and looked out, and there I saw Mrs. Molyneux standing in the yard, and her little girl Nancy by the side of her; she was quite perfectly dressed, had on a black stuff gown, quite dressed, with a round eared cap, with a little bow knot. The child was likewise perfectly dressed; it had can a little red bed gown. I did not see the other child; the one is four, and the other is two; that was the biggest that I saw.

Q. When did you see the prisoner? - When I went down to the street door, Harry had just taken the chain down, and I saw Thomas Emery run into the parlour, and I went up to my mistress's room window, and there I saw Molyneux in the yard, quite dressed; he had on a blue coat, that was before his door was opened.

Q. How long after the alarm was it that you saw Molyneux? - I fancy about five minutes after I had been alarmed.

Q. Quite dressed, and before his own door was opened. - Yes.

Q. What else past; did any body in your house speak to any of them? - My mistress called out very violently from the window to them; she called out, Oh! you wretches, it is you that have done it; I have watched you from ten o'clock last night to three this morning.

Q. Did any body answer to it? - No; but Mr. Molyneux turned, and she turned her head, and they looked very much confused, one against another.

Q. What time in the morning was this? - It was long enough before the clock went five.

Q. Was it light? - It began to draw peep of light.

Q. Where was you? - In my mistress's bed room.

Q. How far were they from you? - About half a dozen yards, or somewhere thereabouts.

Q. You was above them; had Molyneux a hat on? - Yes, he had.

Q. Had she a bonnet on? - No, she had not.

Mr. Alby. At the time that you discovered these people you say it was near five o'clock? - No, it was not five o'clock.

Q. And you can be so exact as to the how, she had no her cap, and the colour of the child's frock? - yes.

Q. And also as to the confusion of their countenances at the time? - Yes; it was light according to the time of the morning.


I am servant to Mrs. Moon.

Q. You had the misfortune to sleep in this garret? - Yes.

Q. What time of the night was it you waked or was alarmed? - About four o'clock in the morning; mistress called me; by her calling me I got out of bed, and I saw the room was in a very great smother.

Q. From whence did it come from? - I could not rightly perceive at that time.

Q. What did you do after this? - I ran down stairs to my mistress, and got the key of the street door, and opened my door; and I goes next door but one, to Mr. Banks, the bricklayer.

Q. When you went out did you observe any thing at Molyneux's door; - Yes; I observed Thomas Emery knocking and ringing very violently at Molyneux's door for three or four minutes.

Q. Did any body answer? - Not while I was there.

Q. After that what did you do? - I returned, and came into the garret after Mr. Banks. I got out at the garret window, and I saw the boards on fire outside.

Q. Did it proceed from the outside? - Yes, it did.

Q. Did you observe any part of the weather boards more than the other on fire? - I could not really perceive any one part, but I see it in a blaze.

Q. Did you observe the exact place? - Yes, on the board. It seemed to me to be set on fire right opposite the hole underneath, in the prisoner's house, in the top of the roof.

OSBORNE sworn.

I went to Mrs. Moon's house on the alarm of the fire; Mrs. Moon's door was open; Mr. Molyneux's was not; I went up stairs, and see Mrs. Moon on the stairs in very great distress. I went up to the back garret, and the room was full of smoke; the fire was then penetrating the roof; as soon as it was convenient I got through, and put the board that was on fire into the gutter; I put it there, and then I searched about, and I found a hole above the near board that lies on the top of the brick work; that hole was made by some instrument, by what I

cannot tell; it was on the top edge of the near board, and the bottom of the weather board, and I instantly broke the board, to see if there was any fire put in there, but there was not. It was out then.

Court. There had been a fire in that hole then? - Yes, there had. As soon as the fire was out I perceived a light coming up from Mr. Molyneux's house; it was Mr. Molyneux himself, and two or three more evidences, and I went through that hole into the prisoner's room.

Q. At that time was you able to get through, was it large enough for you? - Yes.

Q. Look at these boards first of all; are these the boards that you discovered? - That is one; that is the near board; this is part of the board that I broke, that is the other. This was whole before I broke it.

Q. Are they in the same state in which Mr. Cooper first examined them? - Yes, they are.

Q. Then you went through the hole into the prisoner's house? - I did.

Q. What observation did you make there? - I went into the garret, and did not see any thing at all there.

Q. What did you observe on the outside of the prisoner's house against the hole; was there any thing against the hole at that time? - There was a kind of old door, or shutter, laid just by.

Q. Did it lay over the hole, or just by? - No; not over the hole.

Q. Did you observe any thing in the garret? - I did not see any thing at all in the gariet, I did not search closely. In the front dining room there was a bed, in the back kitchen there were some wooden wares, in a couple of boxes in the wash house adjoining the shed there were plates and dishes, and saucers.

Q. Were any boxes near? - Yes, two or three boxes or chests; and when we came into the kitchen there was a chest locked, which Mr. Thirlwall insisted on having opened, and that was packed with every kind of linen. It seemed as if it was quite full; I did not take the things out; this was in the kitchen.

Q. Who was with you when you opened it? - I did not open it, the Reverend Mr. Thirlwall and others that were in the kitchen opened it, I only looked on; there were a part of the goods in the further end of the garden.

Q. What was there? - I cannot say what was there, for I did not go to them.

Q. Did you see whether there were any chairs? - There was tables and bedding, and several kinds of furniture; I observed them in the garden when I first put my head out of the hole that the fire had consumed. After that chest was opened, and we came out, the man was given charge of.

Q. Did you find any thing in the gutter of the house? - Not at that time.

Q. At what time did you find any thing in the gutter? - When Mr. Cooper ordered to get out at these boards, and then he ordered me to search the gutter, and then I found three matches and a little bit of oker, one of them the brimstone was burnt off, and the others were not.

Q. Where did you find them? - Directly under the hole where the fire was.

Reverend Mr. THIRLWALL sworn.

Q. You live in that neighbourhood, I presume? - I do.

Q. What time was you alarmed? - About twenty minutes past four, as near as I can recollect. I went to the spot; I immediately went up Mrs. Moon's stairs into the garret where the fire was supposed to have communicated. On inspection of the premises a very violent suspicion was immediately impressed on my mind that it was the effect of design beyond all question. I went down stairs,

went into Mr. Molyneux's house and saw a woman in the yard, and found it was Mrs. Molyneux; she was with her two children, and seemed to have some kind of bed clothes in the yard. I enquired where her husband was? she informed me he was in the house. In searching for him I was informed that he was up stairs shewing one or two persons the premises. As soon as I got to him I immediately gave him in charge to the constable.

Q. Did you say any thing to him, or he to you? - Nothing, only which is Mr. Molyneux? I am, says he, I gave him charge, and the constable took him immediately.

Q. Did you observe the condition of the house, whether there were articles of furniture about in different places? - I examined the house very minutely, and that confirmed my suspicion; out of nine rooms there were seven compleatly empty.

Q. What were the articles that you noticed in these rooms? - In the one pair of stairs there was one bed, in a very miserable condition; it seemed to have been a post bed, but there were no posts, and the bedding in a confused state, as if it was wrapped up with the intention of being taken out, and a broken chair or two.

Q. Did you observe any box that you directed to be opened? - Yes, it was in the back kitchen. I afterwards went into the back kitchen, there I saw a box; I directed it to be opened, and found it full of clean linen, and removed from the wall.

Q. How large might it be? - Considerable large, as much as two men with difficulty could carry; the linen all clean, and packed in that box that stood in the kitchen.

Q. Did you make any other observations of what there might be there, or in the shed? - I went into the shed that communicates with the back kitchen, and found there some china; there was a trunk which I directed to be opened, and found it contained his papers; he is a professional man as an engineer; paper and other things of considerable value; and in that shed there was a door through which it could have been conveyed if there had been any apprehension of the fire spreading: all these things could have been conveyed through that door without any difficulty into the garden.

Q. Out of the garden could they have been conveyed? - O, yes! Indeed his wife begged that the greatest care might be taken of these papers, because they belonged to her husband, and they were of great value.

Q. During this time you did not hold any conversation with him? - Not at all. I desired immediately another constable to go with him, because I felt it my duty to have the woman apprehended also, and desired that no communication might pass between the man and his wife till they were brought to a Court of Justice.

Q. The woman was taken to the watch house? - She was in charge of a constable, and in the course of the day taken before a magistrate.

Mr. Alby. When you saw the house on fire; undoubtedly you was angry and irritated, supposing a man capable of doing such a transaction? - The fire was extinguished before I arrived.

Q. Still resentment continued? - No. I never knew the man, I thought it my duty to act wherever a suspicion would have harboured in my mind, I would have taken you up if I had any ground for suspicion, but I had no agitation of mind than what arose entirely in the mind of any man.

Court. You see these things ready to be removed and packed; was there any thing in the appearance of these things which led you to think they might not all

he put in that condition in the course of a few hours? Might not the linen be packed in that trunk, and the china be so placed in the course of half an hour, if they knew there was a fire in the house, and they wanted to remove them? - From the time that the fire was said to happen, and from the time that I was in the house, there might be time, but it appears to me there were people in the house a quarter of an hour before me.

Q. Might not these things he packed up in the course of half an hour? - I think they might.


I live in that neighbourhood. I went to the prisoner's house on the occasion of this fire; the fire was extinguished when I got to the prisoner's house, I got up stairs before Mr. Thirlwall came to the house, when I first went into the house, the prisoner at the bar was in the yard just at the back door, our night constable was standing by. I asked the night constable if they had been up stairs.

Q. What time did you get there? - I suppose it was about twenty minutes, or half past four, and the prisoner came into the kitchen and struck a light.

Q. The prisoner then had the night constable by him? - He had, he was not in custody, the constable's name is William Good ; the prisoner was in the garden, and he went into the kitchen and got the tinder box, and began to strike a light; they had none when I went in, and with his striking a light, I said Mr. Molyneux I wish you would make haste; the answer was, I will make as much haste as I can.

Q. Was it not day break? - It was light.

Q. What did you want a light for? - To go up stairs; he got a light, and I desired the prisoner to walk up first, and he did; and the night constable I desired to follow him; I then followed the night constable; I looked into each room as I went up stairs, the first, second, and third floor; as I turned to look into the room on the third floor, somebody says, here is the room where the fire has been, I turned myself short round and see a hole cut in the roof of the house between two rafters, the lath and plaistering cut away just opposite where the fire was on the third story over the landing place, I then went to the place and put myself out of the hole, and see where the fire had been, I immediately turned round, and I said to the prisoner, Mr. Molyneux, what was this hole for?

Court. You observed this hole in the rafters? - Between two rafters, the lath and plaistering cut away, and the tiles off, I then asked the prisoner what that hole was for? he told me to go out to repair the top of the house, or words to that effect. I told him Mr. Molyneux this has a very bad appearance, and much about that time Mr. Thirlwall came up stairs.

Q. Did Molyneux make you answer to that observation? - No answer at all.

Mr. Alby. I believe the prisoner got this light when you desired it? - He did not hurry about it, he did get it.


I am a surgeon and apothecary, I went to the prisoner's house this day. On Thursday morning, a little after four o'clock, my bell rang very violently, I got out to my window, and they told me there was a fire in Mr. Moon's, or the next door to it. When I went to Molyneux's, the door was just opened, and the night constable and several more going in; they had requested Molyneux to strike a light which he hesitated very much about.

Q. You desired him? - No, he was desired, not by me.

Q. Was you present when he was desired to strike a light? - I was. When he got the light struck he went up stairs.

Q. Did he take the light with him? - He took the light.

Q. Did you accompany him up stairs? - I, and the night constable, and him altogether went up stairs. We looked on the first floor, went into the room on the first floor; there was nothing particular there; we then went up to the second floor, there was nothing particular there; he then made a stand, and hesitated about going up further, saying, how there was nothing more to be seen than what we see there.

Q. Was this after the fire was out? - It was.

Q. You know the fire to be out at the time? - They told me the fire was just extinguished.

Q. Did you persist in going up stairs not with standing this? - We did.

Q. Did the prisoner say any thing else when you did persist in this? - I don't recollect he did.

Q. Did the prisoner go up stairs? - He went up stairs; we went up to the upper story immediately, on the landing place we discovered a hole big enough for a person to get out; some one person asked him for what purpose that hole was made; he answered it was for repairing the house. He was then asked how long it had been there? - he first said two months, then on being asked by somebody else, he said three or four months, we see then evidently through that hole where the fire had been applied.

Q. Describe particularly the appearance of the hole. - The hole was made in the roof, between two joists, against, it there was a gutter, and at the other side of the gutter was Mrs. Moon's house weather board, at the bottom of which there appeared to be some holes made for some reason or other, apparently by some hot iron, or something of that kind.

Q. Did you observe the prisoner and his wife and children at that time? did they appear to be dreft? - They were.


Q. We have heard of Molyneux as an engineer? - Yes, he is by trade a mason, but I understand that he has acted these three last years as an engineer at Swansea.

- EBBARD sworn.

I am one of the firemen.

Q. Did you go to this spot and make examination? - Yes. In the fore garret Mr. Molyneux's house, I found a hole between the rafters of about nine inches in length and three inches in width, in that hole was some oakum.

Q. Was that while the fire was burning? - No, about half past ten o'clock the same morning.

Q. Whereabouts in the garret was it you found the oakum? - Almost opposite the hole.

Q. Tell me what the articles were that you found? - It seemed to me to be a piece of new picked oakum and tarred.

Q. What quantity might there be? - The value of half an ounce, or an ounce, I cannot say how much.

Q. Did you see any thing else? - Nothing else.

Q. Did you see any thing else in the gutter, or any thing? - No.

Q. Be so good as to describe particularly where this; hole was in which you found the oakum? - It was in the front garret, the cieling runs up in this manner, and in the opposite part to where the fire was, in the cieling, there I found this oakum in this opposite side to where the fire had happened in Mrs. Moon's house.

Q. Was it immediately opposite? - No, as I went up stairs, I went into the hole, and this was in the garret.


Q. Do you know where the prisoner lived? - Yes.

Q. In August last did you see any goods that were removing from his house? - About the 28th or 29th of August I see goods taken away from the back part of his premises, they were removed by a hand cart, a cart with two wheels, made to draw by hand.

Q. Can you speak of the articles that were taken away? - There were bed quilts, that is all that I know.

Q. Can you speak to any other things? - No, only bed quilts, and some bed posts I see.

Q. Did you see Molyneux at that time? - I did not. I see things removing from his premises.


Q. You was servant to Mr. Biggs? - Yes.

Q. Will you tell us what you know about this prisoner? - On the 1st of September I saw a broker's cart standing at the back door of Mr. Molyneux's house.

Q. Did you see any thing in it? - Yes; I see a copper, it would hold two pails of water.

Q. Had you ever observed any thing before this time? - Yes; I saw something before, the last week of August.

Q. Did you see the same cart? - It was the same kind of cart.

Q. Did you observe what was taken at that time? - No, I did not.

Q. You are sure there was a copper the first of September? - Yes, I am.


Q. You are the appraiser to the Royal Exchange Assurance? - I am.

Q. Did you see the goods at the prisoner's house? - Yes; the same evening that the fire happened in the morning.

Q. Tell us what was the value of them? - The utmost was seven pounds; I think I should not like to have given quite so much for them. What I see in the house, and what I see in the shed adjoining the house.

Q. Do you include in that the linen? - I did not take any account of the linen but what was on the bed.

Mr. Alby. You don't usually appraise goods with the same value as an individual would put on them? - I set a value on them as I would give for them.


Q. I believe you are one of the Royal Exchange Assurance? - I belong to the office there. I have the insurance here. William Molyneux, of Mile End, eighty pounds on his dwelling house, and twenty pounds on his household furniture.

Q. Do you know the man? - To the best of my recollection the prisoner at the bar is the person that gave me the order.


Q. I believe you took the examination of the prisoner before the magistrate? - I did not take it; I was present; it was read to him.

Q. Did you see it signed by the prisoner? - I did.

Q. Did you see it signed by the magistrate? - I did.

Q. (An examination shewn him.)-Look at that part which purports to be William Molyneux 's examination. Did you see the prisoner sign that? - I did.

Q. Did you see the magistrate make his signature to it? - I did.

Q. It was taken by the magistrate in Whitechapel office? - It was.

Q. Was it read to him before he signed it? - And an alteration made in it by the prisoner there.(The examination read.)

Public Office, London.

Middlesex to wit. The examination of William Molyneux charged with feloniously and maliciously, &c. setting fire

to the house of Mrs. Moon, &c. says that he is by trade a mason, keeps a house in Mile End road, has lived there about four years, has worked three years in Swansea; no alarm of fire has lately been in his house; cannot account for the fire this morning. He went to bed last night between ten and eleven, has a wife and two children; that his children went to bed between eight and nine, his wife went to hed before ten; he knew nothing of the fire till he was knocked up; he got up immediately, helped his wife to her clothes, then took his children up; no part of his house was on fire; carried some of his goods into the garden; at this time it was very dark; says, that before he helped his wife to her clothes he opened the sash, and asked the people without what was the matter? who told him there was a fire; that he went down and opened the front door, and then went down and got his clothes, called out fire, but used no means to extinguish it.(Signed) William Molyneux .


I am a watchman; I took the prisoner to the watch house.

Q. Did any conversation pass between you and the prisoner while he was going to the watch-house? - Not between me, it was between his wife and him. After the constable was given charge he charged me to aid and assist. I went into the yard with him; he said he wanted something to say to his wife; when he got to her he told her that he was going to the watch house, and as soon as the people were gone out of the place to shut the door up and come with him to the watch-house; he then went, as if he was going out to the road, and he then went back again and asked her for some money; she gave him a shilling, and then he went out; as he was turning again she said this is all through you; he immediately turned back, and says this is not a time to have any words.

Jury to Emery. I wish to know whether that stick that you saw in the grate, in the parlour, was on fire? - It was not to my appearance; it appeared to have been on fire, and about half consumed; but it was not on fire then.

Q. Was it warm? - I did not feel.


I live in Cumberland-street, Mary-le bone; I am a mason; I have known the prisoner upwards of twenty years; I never knew any thing of him but an upright man.

Q. He was not such a kind of man as you would think would be guilty of such an offence as this? - No; I never could have thought it.


I live in Crown-street, Finsbury-square; I am a cabinet-maker; I have known him five years; I never knew any thing of him but an upright sober character.

Prisoner. I leave it to my Counsel; I am totally innocent of what I am charged with. My friends are all out of town; I was employed by the Trinity House to go to Swansea, and get the act passed; I am one of the witnesses on the act, and Squire Morgan the other.

GUILTY . Death . (Aged 48.)

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

View as XML