17th February 1796
Reference Numbert17960217-51
VerdictsGuilty; Guilty
SentencesTransportation; Transportation

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204. WILLIAM MOBBS and WILLIAM BATEMAN were indicted, the first for feloniously stealing, on the 20th of December , six hundred pounds weight of saltpetre, value 481. the property of our Sovereign Lord the King.

Second Count. Laying them to be the property of Edmund Hill , Esq .

(The case was opened by Mr. Const).


I am the manager of Mr. Edmund Hill's powder-mills; we have lost large quantities of saltpetre from the 14th of April to the 19th of December; when I made up my accounts, I always found short weight; in November ten hundred weight went of it; and, in December, thirteen hundred weight.

Q. Is it prepared in any particular way? - A. Yes, calcined, as it is in no other place but his Majesty's magazine; nobody in the whole kingdom, but those who make gunpowder for government, have it calcined in that way; it was all marked as this is (producing a cake with the weight marked on it); the prisoner Mobbs was servant to Mr. Hale, a gardener at Twickenham, (two or three years back, or more than that; I don't know any thing of the other prisoner.

Q. That is not one of the pieces that was stolen; have you seen any that was stolen? - A. I have, but it was melted down; I don't know it; there is some of it here.

JAMES MEDWIN (an accomplice,)sworn.

Examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. You come here prepared to speak the whole truth, I hope? - A. Yes; I know both the prisoners. The prisoner Mobbs worked with me in digging gravel on the Hanwarth-Road, the gravel-pit is within a quarter of a mile of the powder-mills, to the best of my knowledge. I was at work with him about fifteen weeks ago, and he asked me if I would assist him with the property belonging to Mr. Hill, which was saltpetre; I agreed to his terms; and he said, he would satisfy me for my trouble; we went from our work that night, or the night after, between five and six o'clock, to Mr. Hill's mill, he got in at a hole where there were some boards taken away, at the back side of the coal-house; he took out, to the best of my knowledge, about a hundred weight; I took it of him, and put it on one side till he thought it convenient to come out again; we put it into a basket, and a bag, and put it on our shoulders; we were there near an hour; we took it to his house, and he put it into a shed adjoining his garden; I applied to Mr. Birch, of Twickenham, for a horse and cart for Mobbs, he let me have it; and the next morning, between five and six o'clock, we took the same saltpetre to London in the cart; it was in cakes, but some were broke; we carried it according to the description of Mobbs, to his brother-in-law, William Bateman, the prisoner .

Q. Where does he live? - A. It is not in my power to tell you; it was carried to a shed in the alley where he lives; Bateman went with Mobbs and the saltpetre; I stopped at Bateman's house till they returned, they returned together. Bateman desired of Mobbs to come up stairs and he would settle with him.

Q. Were those the words? - A. They were, I am sure; they went up stairs, I did not go up with them; we returned home with the cart.

Q. Did you receive any part of the saltpetre, or any thing else, for what you did? - A. I received a guinea from Mobbs when I helped him bring it from the Mills.

Q. You took about a hundred weight? - A. Yes.

Q. How much did you carry to town? - A. About six or seven hundred pounds.

Q. What is Bateman? - A. By Mobbs's account, he is a cutler.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. For a guinea you would break into any house? - A. No; he desined me to assist him, and said he would pay me for it.

Q. You gave the Magistrate an account of all the bad tricks you have been guilty of? - A. I gave him an account of it.

Q. Did you ever live with Mr. Howard, a baker? - A. Yes.

Q. What did he turn you away for? - A. He did not turn me away; it was by the agreement of my friends.

Q.Whether your friends did not agree that Mr. Howard should not prosecute you? - A. I don't know; there were false witnesses brought against me; it is a hard thing for an innocent man.

Q. You have been a thief in this instance? - A. We are all guilty of faults.

Q. You knew very well you were to be prosecuted if you did not give evidence? - A. No, I did not.

Q. Were not you taken up? - A. Yes.

Q.Then was it not in your power to tell whether you would be prosecuted or not? - A. No.

Q. You knew you were guilty? - A. Yes, I knew I was guilty.


I am a grocer and cheesemonger, I know both the prisoners; Bateman did live in Long-alley, Moorfields; he followed the business of a grinder . In the month of December last, I saw a quantity of saltpetre that had been brought out of the country, in a shed belonging to William Gabriel, who keeps a chandler's-shop by Billingsgate.

Q. What had Bateman to do with it? - A. I don't know any thing he had to do with it, but put saltpetre in it. In the middle of December, he applied to me to dispose of a quantity of saltpetre for him; I took a sample of six ounces, it was at one Mr. Moore's, in Wentworth-street; Mr. Gabriel informed me it was there; I took it out of the bag it was in.

Q. Did not Bateman say where it was? - A. I cannot say that he did; I told him I would try to dispose of it for him. I saw Bateman a day or two after, and told him I had offered it for sale, and was to have an answer in a few days; I told him I had got a sample of saltpetre from Mr. Moore's, and carried it to Mr. Macrae's, in Whitechapel; I received no answer from him till I was apprehended; Bateman was in my shop at the time.

Q. Did you know that it was the saltpetre that you were apprehended for? - A. I did not till afterwards; Bateman said, he would bring Gabriel forward, whom, he said, it belonged to, and that he would own it.

Q. Has he done so? - A. No.

Q. Did you ever go out of town with Bateman? - A. No; about the beginning of November I was to have gone with him, in a chaise cart.

Q. Did you know what you were to go for? - A. No.

Q. How much faltpetre did Bateman tell you he had to dispose of? - A. Between four and five hundred weight.

Q. Was it in cakes, like that, (shewing him one)? - A. That at Mr. Moore's was in pieces. When I was taken into custody, and Gabriel was not brought forward, in the evening, I was permitted to go and endeavour to apprehend Bateman; Mr. Moore and I apprehended him just by his own house; I said, you are the man I was looking for; you must go with me; he said, very well; let me go peaceably; when we had got a few yards, he offered to run away; I ran after him, and caught him again; I kept him at my house till the officer came in the morning about eight o'clock.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. You were apprehended and bound over to appear here, to answer to this charge? - A. Yes.

Q. You understood from Bateman, that this saltpetre belonged to Gabriel? - A. Yes.

Q. You took the sample from Gabriel's direction? - A. I took it by both their directions.

Q.Then how dared you to state to the Jury, that it was only from Gabriel's direction? - A. I stated what I knew concerning it, as near the truth as I could; I don't know any thing that I have said wrong. Bateman told me, Gabriel would inform me where I should get it.

Q. Bateman said he would bring Gabriel forward? - A. Yes.

Q. You were apprehended? - A. Yes.

Q.Bateman was not apprehended? - A. No.

Q. He was by at the time you were apprehended? - A. Yes; but he went home when I was apprehended.

Q. You know by giving evidence you save yourself from being prosecuted? - A. Yes; I look upon it in that light; I wrote a letter to the Magistrate, and stated every thing that I knew about the business.

Q. Did not you know that by giving that account, you would be admitted an evidence? - A. I had some expectations of it at the time, but was not satisfied I should.

Q. And the letter was wrote to the Magistrate with the hopes of being admitted an evidence? - A. Yes.

Court. Q. Do you know where this shed is? - A. In Essex-passage; Bateman lives full half a mile off.

Q. Did you ever see Bateman in that shed? - A. Yes; the first time I saw him, Mobbs and he were leaving saltpetre there; he was there every week almost.

Q. Had you seen Bateman there in the course of December? - A. Yes; Gabriel dealt in gun-stocks, and sometimes he was there about them.

Q.(To Medwin). When the cart came to town did you put the saltpetre in the shed opposite his house? - A. No; Mobbs told me, it was carried about half a mile off from there.

Q. Did he tell you it was half a mile? - A. No; by going the second time I thought it was that; he told me, the second time, that he had lodged the saltpetre in that shed the first time.

Q. Do you know who that shed belongs to? - A. No; I did not see any body there but Bateman and Mobbs.


I live at Twickenham: Medwin came to me to hire my cart for Mobbs; Mobbs used it, and paid me for it; he came for it between five and six in the morning; he is a labouring man.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. This might have been in October? - A. I don't know; it might have been as much as three months, or more, since the first time.

Q. Is it more than two months since the last time? - A. I cannot say; it was about a week before Mobbs was taken up, as far as I remember.


I am a druggist, in Norton Falgate: I don't know either of the prisoners; I never saw them before I saw them at Bow-street.

JOHN FISH sworn.

I am agent to Mr. Hill; the prisoner, Mobbs, lived servant with him.

Q.Have you seen Mobbs since he has been taken up for this offence? - A. Yes; I shewed him this letter, and he acknowledged it to be his hand-writing; and said, he would disclose what he knew of the matter; and the jailor gave him a sheet of paper to write it out; but when he was before the Justice, he said, circumstances had happened since, that he had altered his mind.(The letter read, purporting to be his confession).


I live in Wentworth-street, I am a fallow-chandler and oilman; I know Bateman by sight; in December last, Gabriel came and asked me to lend him a copper for melting saltpetre; Bateman and Gabriel were both there; they were there three or four times while the saltpetre was melting.

Q. Did you apprehend Bateman, or assist? - A. I did, along with a man of the name of Dickins; Dickins was himself apprehended at first, and was let go.

Q. Did you see the saltpetre before it was put in the copper? - A. No, I did not.

Q.There was some saltpetre found at your house? - A. Yes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. You have no dealing in saltpetre yourself? - A. None at all.

Q. How long have you been acquainted with Gabriel? - A. Three or four years; he keeps a chandler's and cheesemonger's shop, in Love-lane; and I serve him with candles.

Q. You told me he was a chandler and cheesemonger; did not you think it strange that there should be some hundred weight of saltpetre, at a chandler's shop? - A. He merely came and asked me to lend him the copper; I did not ask him any questions where he got it.

Q. Do you know Dickins? - A. Yes; he is a cheesemonger in the same street.

Q. Did you ever lend this copper before for melting saltpetre? - A. No.

Q. And yet you asked no questions about it? - A. No; I knew the man.

Q. The officers found the property in your house? - A. Not all; they took a tub full away; I was out when Dickin was taken. Mr. Fish afterwards came into a house were I was, and asked, if Bateman was there, and if Mr. Moore was there; I said, yes; he said, come along with me, and explain what you know of this; I went with him to Bow-street, and told him how it came to my house.

Q. Had Fish communicated a suspicion, that the saltpetre was stolen? - A. I cannot swear whether he did or not.


I am an officer: I found this barrel of saltpetre(producing it,) in Mr. Moore's shed; some of it was in the boiler, and some sprinkled about the shed.

Q. You did not find any in a state like that?(shewing him the cake). - A. No, I went to Gabriel's shed and found a quantity of powder there.(The prisoners both left their defence to their counsel).(For the prisoners).


I am a baker at Twickenham; Metiwin was once my apprentice; he was in my service two years.

Q. From your observation of his character, would you believe him, on his oath? - A. I cannot any way in the world. I have known Mobbs four or five years; I never heard of any misdemeanour of him in my life.(Mobbs called five other witnesses, who gave him a good character.)(Bateman called nine witnesses who gave him a good character.)

Mobbs, GUILTY . (Aged 25.)

Transported for seven years .

Bateman, GUILTY . (Aged 30.)

Transported for fourteen years .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice LAWRENCE.

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