14th September 1796
Reference Numbert17960914-22
VerdictNot Guilty

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479. WILLIAM CLARK was indicted for the wilful murder of Michael Connell , on the 16th of August .(The case was opened by Mr. Knowlys.)


Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I live in Angel-alley, Bishopsgate-street. I deal in fish: On the evening of the Duke of York's birth-day, the 16th of August, I was in Bishopsgate-street , when the Mail coach came by; there were a great number of people in the street, men, women, and children, on both sides of the way and in the road, looking at the illuminations that were lighting up; by New-street I was looking after a little boy belonging to me at

the same time; and when the man began to light up the lights, three or four children ran across the way clapping their hands, rejoicing like to see the lights; upon that I turned my head round to see if my little boy was among them; I then saw the Mail coach coming very fast; I immediately stamped my foot, and holloaed to the children immediately to get out of the way; they got away as well as they could; and as the little boy that was killed was making his escape over to the other side, the horse's feet came rearing up, and the right side foot knocked the child down, and the horse behind him-trampled over him as he lay upon his belly; the two wheels went over his back; the child was carried away; his name was Michael Connell .

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. At this time it was not dark? - A. No.

Q. You saw the Mail coach sometime before it came to this unlucky spot? - A. Yes.

Q. It was coming on very fast when you first perceived it? - A. Yes.

Q. This boy came first from the side opposite the lights? - A. Yes.

Q. And then he ran across back again? - A. Yes.

Q. The horses feet rearing struck this poor child? - A. Yes; the horses feet were rearing some time before they came up to the mob.

Q. Supposing it possible for any accident to have happened by the rearing of the horses feet, he could not possibly stop the horses before the wheels went over the child? - A. I don't think he could.

Q. Did you hear the horn blow before the coach came up? - A. I cannot say I did.


Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I live in the Willow-walk, Holywell-mount: I was in Bishopsgate-street at the time this child was killed; a great many people were in the street at the time seeing the illuminations; I sat at the corner of New-street with fruit in a barow, and I was going to cross over for a candle; the Mail coach was going by at the same time; I made a stop for it to pass me; I ran directly behind the coach as it passed me, and I saw the horses rear up, and I saw the child under the fore horses feet, and the child turned upon its side as if trying to get up, and the other horse trampled upon him; I don't know whether the wheel went over him or not; it was done in an instant, and the mob gathered, and I saw no more of it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. You wanted to cross the way to get a candle? - A. Yes.

Q. You saw the Mail-coach coming, stopped till it was passed, and went under the tail of the coach, so that you saw you could not get over first? - A. Yes.

Q. Which side of the way was this coach coming? - A. I believe in the middle of the road, I cannot say.

Q. Which side of the way was the illumination preparing? - A. Facing the church.

Q. Did you hear the clapping and huzzaing? - A. Yes; the boys were making a great noise, huzzaing.

Q. Did you happen to hear the horn of the Mail-coach? - A. I was not aware of it.

Court. Q. What age was the child? -

Mr. Fielding. Ten years of age, my Lord.


Examined by Mr. Knowlys. Q. I was standing to see the lamps lighting, and I saw the Mail-coach coming along at a very great rate indeed; just as it came to the spot, the man came out to light the lamps with a ladder, the boys set up a great holloaing in the road, the fore-horses reared up, and knocked the boy down, and the off hind horse trampled over him, the off fore-wheel and off hind-wheel went over his back and loins; I saw the boy taken up, and in a few minutes after brought in to the doctor's and the coach went on at a very great rate afterwards.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. The boys made a great holloaing? - A. Yes.

Q. Was it that that frightened the horses do you think? - A. I dare say it might.

Q. It would have been difficult to have made yourself heard, perhaps, at twenty yards distance? - A. Yes.


Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I live in Sun-street, Bishopsgate-street; I was on my return home from a little beyond Bishopsgate church, I perceived a Mail-coach coming very furiously along, gallopping; when I first saw it, it might be forty or fifty yards from the place where they were illuminating; I heard no horn blow, but at the rate that it was coming at, any one that stood in the way must have been killed, it was then in the middle of the road; I looked forward and perceived the road was quite clear, which I was very happy to see, the people being mostly on the sides of the road-way, and just as it got near the people, the horses were swept all at once upon the right hand side, I perceived it going among the people then; I then turned my head round, I could not bear to see it, I was sure something would happen; then I turned round again, and saw them gallopping still on, and in about a minute or two a child was brought to the other side of the way, that, it was said, was run over, I did not see it happen; when the coach drew up, I thought he was going to take up a passenger.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. There was a great holloaing? - A. Yes; but that was stopped

just as they came a-breast of them, and they were clearing for the coach.

Q. Did you observe the horses rearing? - A. They were upon the full gallop, and they plunged in gallopping; the coach drew my attention more than the lights.

Q. You were one of the officers of the Police Office? - A. Yes.

Q. You are retired from that sort of situation now? - A. Yes; I was headborough for seven years. I left it with credit.


Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I was guard to the Newmarket Mail-coach on the evening of the accident.

Q. Who was the driver of the coach that evening? - A. William Clark, the prisoner.

Q. Your place is behind the coach, not upon the box? - A. Yes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. You were the guard? - A. Yes.

Q. You had a horn, I take it for granted? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you blow the horn frequently as you came along Bishopsgate-street? - A. Yes.

Q. This horn of your's was as a warning that you were coming along? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember when you were coming near a spot where illuminations were preparing? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you recollect whether you there blew the horn? - A. Yes; all through the croud of people,

Q. Was there a noise, huzzaing and shouting, when you came near this place? - A. Yes; just as we went through it.

Q. Do you recollect at which side the coach was going, at this time? - A. Rather nearer to the church side of the road.

Q. Were you going at more than the usual pace that you go, down Bishopsgate-street? - A. Much the same that we commonly go.

Q. How long has that poor fellow driven the Mail-coach? - A. About seven months.

Q. What is his character? - A. A very good character.

Q. Is he a good natured fellow? - A. Yes.

Q. He would not do a mischief to his fellow creatures, I hope? - A. No.

Q. Was he sober at that time? - A. Very.

Q. When was it that you knew of the accident having happened? - A. I did not know of it till we got to the Bald-faced-stag upon Epping Forest.

Q. When it was made known to him did he express his sorrow? - A. He told me of it when we got there; a passenger, that had got up afterwards, told him that he had run over a boy.

Q. Did he accompany this declaration to you with a proper feeling? - A. He said he did not know whether he was hurt, he hoped not.

Mr. Knowlys. Q. Did you hear the cries of the people at all as you passed by? - A. No.


Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am a surgeon, in Spitalfields; I was passing by at the time of the accident, the child was dying at the time I heard it, and I immediately crossed over.

Q. Did you, upon looking at the body, from an opinion whether the running over was the cause of its death? - A. There can be no doubt of it.

Prisoner. I leave my defence to my Counsel.

For the Prisoner.


Examined by Mr. Fielding. I live in the house of Messrs. Hopkins and Garret, in Change-alley; I was passenger in the Newmarket Mail at the time, I sleep out of town, and frequently get a lift by it, I leave the office about the time that the Mail goes off; coming down Houndsditch I saw the Mail go past, I ran after the Mail.

Q. How far was the Mail before you when you first saw it? - A. It might be forty or fifty yards before me; I went after it, and overtook it at the time of the accident; I saw the wheel go over the deceased, I saw it was a boy, and as I was following the coach I jumped over the boy, and overtook the coach immediately after.

Q. How far did the coach get from that spot before you overtook it? - A. At the utmost twenty yards; I stopped the coach, and got upon the box with the coachman.

Q. I take it for granted you had no idea that death was near at hand? - A. No; I did not conceive that I could give any assistance, and I went on.

Q. What were his feeling when you told him? - A. From a man in his profession of life, I could not have thought he would have had such feeling.

Q. You were enabled even to overtake the coach? - A. Yes.

Q. As you were following the coach in Bishopsgate-street, and the coach was your object, you were more likely to take notice of that; did you hear the man blowing his horn? - A. I cannot say I paid any attention to that.


Examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. We all know you have a large concern, how long have you known the prisoner? - A. From his infancy.

Q. What is his behaviour for humanity, kindness, and good-nature? - A. A lad of a remarkable good disposition.

Q. As to his sobriety? - A. I never knew him in liquor in my life; he was brought up by my father, and has lived with me ever since; he has drove

this Mail from the first day I had it, which was the 19th of February; I think he has drove different Mails for me a great many years.

Q. You are under articles from the Post-office to go in a certain time? - A. I am compelled to go to New market in eight hours; 63 miles; they must go full ten miles an hour; government compels us to do that; there are five changes of horses in the night, and stopping for passengers to refresh; I am sure they must go full ten miles an hour.


Q. You and your father are proprietors of a great many of the Mail coaches? - A. Yes; I have known the prisoner some years.

Q. From the opportunity you have had of forming a just opinion of his heart, what character does he deserve? - A. I believe he is a very good young man.

Q. Is he a tender man? - A. Yes; I believe he is.

Q. To his horses under him, his cattle, what is his behaviour? - A. Extremely good.

Mr. Fielding. I have a number of witnesses from the Post-office, but I will not trouble the Court with any more.

The Jury having retired about two hours, brought in a verdict


Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. Baron THOMPSON.

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