JOHN FRANCIS.
13th June 1842
Reference Numbert18420613-1758
VerdictGuilty > unknown
SentenceDeath

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1758. JOHN FRANCIS was indicted , for that he, feloniously and traitorously, did compass, imagine, devise, and intend to bring and put our Lady the Queen to death; and in order to fulfill, perfect, and bring to effect his most treasonable compassing, device and imagination, he, on the 13th of May, maliciously and traitorously did shoot off, and discharge a certain pistol loaded with gunpowder, and a certain bullet, which he in his right hand held, at and against the person of our said Lady the Queen, with intent thereby and therewith, maliciously and traitorously, to shoot, associate, kill, and put her to death; and thereby he then and there, traitorously and maliciously made a direct attempt against the life of our said Lady the Queen.—2nd OVERT ACT, stating the pistol to be loaded with gunpowder, and certain other destructive materials and substances unknown.—3rd OVERT ACT, for having discharged a certain loaded pistol.—4th OVERT ACT, for discharging a certain pistol.—4 other OVERT ACTS, the same as the former ones, only for discharging the pistol against the person of our Lady the Queen, whereby her life was endangered. The ATTORNEY and SOLICITOR GENERAL, with MESSRS. ADOLPHUS, WADDINOTON, and GUBNEY, conducted the Prosecution.

COLONEL CHARLES GEORGE JAMES ARBUTHNOT . I am one of the enquiries of Her Majesty, and was in attendance on Her Majesty when she went out on Monday, the 30th of May—in accompanying Her Majesty on her drives, I generally ride behind the hind wheel of her carriage, about five yards in the rear of Her Majesty; about five yards behind the carriage—there is another equerry besides myself, in attendance occasionally, but not always—not one of the Queen's equerries, but one of Prince Albert'—I ride behind, or on one side, just as it happens—I had received some information previous to leaving the Palace, on the 30th of May, which induced me to alter my place of riding that day, and I rode as close to the side of the Queen as I could make my horse go by the side of the carriage—Colonel Wylde, Prince Albert's equerry, was in attendance, and rode on the other side—he also rode by the side of the carriage—on returning from the drive, and coming down Constitution-hill, between sir and seven o'clock in the evening, about half-way down the hill, I observed the prisoner, on the carriage reaching him, take a pistol from his side, and fire it in the direction of the Queen; as quickly as I could, I pulled up my horse, and gave the prisoner in charge of a policeman who was standing by his side—the prisoner had, before he fired, caught my attention, as

other persons do, when I have been out with Her Majesty, who are anxious to see her—I observed the prisoner, but took no more notice of him than of any other individual—he was standing about three yards, not quite so much, perhaps, on the right of a pump on Constitution-hill, where the water-carts get their water.

Q. What do you mean by "the right?" A. Nearer the Palace, standing on the footpath—at the time be drew the pistol from his side, the utmost distance he could have been from the carriage, I should say, must have been about seven feet—I was just to the act of passing, as the pistol was fired—perhaps I had got past the smallest possible distance, when it fired—the carriage, had been going at the rate of about eleven miles an hour, but in passing Constitution-hill, being apprehensive an attempt would be made at her Majesty, I directed the positions to drive even faster than they were going previously, and then the pace must have been twelve or thirteen miles an hour, as fast as the horses could go—I was still riding by the side of the carriage, and I believe, Colonel Wylde was—I had received some intimation before I left the Palace, and the ladies usually in attendance on the Queen, were not with her on this occasion—her Majesty would not take any of them with her—there was no one in the carriage but her Majesty and Prince Albert—Her Majesty was on the right-hand side of the carriage, coming down Constitution-hill, her usual place—that was nearest to the prisoner—she was sitting on the back seat of the carriage—I was riding close to her—the pistol struck me to be pointed as near as possible on the line where her Majesty was—I heard the report plainly, and saw the smoke, and the flash, decidedly.

COURT. Q. You saw the flash—what do you mean by the flash? A.. The fire emitted from the pistol.

MR. SOLICITOR GENERAL . Q. Were there any persons near the prisoner at the time he fired? A. Not very near him—in short, I should say, some distance, with the exception of a policeman, who was, at the utmost, three feet from him, and who I ordered to take him into custody—my words to the policeman, were, "Secure him," pointing to the prisoner—he was taken into custody by the policeman, and Colonel Wylde came up and took charge, and a soldier of the Guards—I returned as quickly as I could, and got by the side of her Majesty—the carriage did not stop—I ordered the prisoner to be taken to the Palace, which was done at once—I saw him at the police station, in Gardener's-lane, and there he declined saying any thing to the policeman on duty.

COURT. Q. How long was that after the affair happened? A. About an' hour—not quite so much—three-quarters—Her Majesty sat with her free to the horses.

Cross-examined by. MR. CLARKSON. Q. Have you been many years in the army? Q. Ever since 1817—it was an open carriage—not a pony-carriage, but a large landau, which Her Majesty usually drives in the afternoon—it cannot shut up—the horse I was riding was about 15 hands 2 inches high, but not the one I was oh at the time, I had changed—the horse I was on at the time, was about 14 hands 3 inches.

HENRY ALLEN . I am a private in the 2nd battalion of Scotch Fusilier Guards. I was in the Park on Monday, the 30th of May, from about a quarter before six till about a quarter past six o'clock—I saw the prisoner there, leaning on the pump, about the centre of Constitution-hill—I was there merely for a walk—I saw her Majesty's carriage passing. Q. What distance was you from the carriage when any thing happened?

A. Between twelve and sixteen paces behind the carriage—just as Her Majesty's carriage got past the pump, I saw him take two or three paces from the pump towards the wall nearest Buckingham Palace gardens—I saw him hold his arm out, and directly after saw the flash of the pistol, and heard the report—the pistol was directed towards her Majesty's carriage—I saw the fire, and heard the report—I have been in the army about eighteen months, or rather better—I have had experience in firing ball as well as blank cartridges.

Q. From what you could judge, was the pistol which was discharged loaded with ball or not? A. I should say it was. Q. From what circumstance should you form that judgment? A. A piece fired off with a ball is somewhat sharper than with blank cartridge—I should say the prisoner was about three paces from the carriage when he fired—that is what is commonly called yards—I was on the same side of the way as the prisoner was—her Majesty sat on the same side as he stood on—when he fired I saw the policeman turn to the side, and catch hold of him, and seeing there was no other policeman handy, I ran up and have assistance directly,

Cross-examined. Q. Where were you recruited? A. At Abingdon, Berkshire, some time in February, last year—I cannot say how long I continued to drill—it is generally three or four months—I was a tailor before I joined the army.

COURT to COLONEL ARBUTHNOT. Q. Will you be so good as to tell us whether you could form a judgment, from the report of the pistol, whether it was loaded with a ball? A. Why, my Lord, the report was sharp and loud, but I did not hear the whiz of a ball, in consequence of the noise of the carriage and eight horses—my opinion is the pistol was loaded with some matter, from the sharpness and loudness of the report—I cannot form a stronger opinion as to its being loaded than I have already given-it is a mere matter of opinion.

Q. Supposing there what nothing in the pistol but gunpowder, would that make such a report as you beard? A. Decidedly, my Lord, the report would not be so sharp or loud—the report of a pistol with blank cartridge is a mere evaporation of the powder—the report was of a pistol well rammed down and charged—I cannot swear it was loaded with more than gunpowder and Wadding rammed on it; but, as I have already stated, it was well rammed down, from the report, that is my deliberate opinion.

Q. We want to know whether the pistol fired from the place where the prisoner was, although only loaded with wadding and powder well rammed down, as it fired at such a distance from the Queen that it might produce bodily harm to the Queen, or wound her? A. My opinion is it most have produced injury to the Queen, even though only rammed down with gunpowder and wadding at the top of it.

LIEUTENANT PATRICK FITZGERALD. I have served in the Spanish and Portuguese armies. I was on Constitution-hill on Monday evening, the 30th of May—I was waiting to see the Queen return to the palace—shortly before her carriage came up I was standing close to the pump, on the footpath, on the side of the road close to the brick wall of the Palace garden, the same side as the prisoner—before the carriage came up I saw the prisoner, and observed him particularly—he was walking about—I was four or five yards from him, on his right, when the Queen's carriage came up, nearer the Palace—as soon as the Royal carriage came up in a line where the prisoner standing, I saw him, in this attitude, discharge a pistol—I saw it in

his hand before it was discharged, at the very instant—it was in his right band, the band that was nearest to me, he discharged it—he pointed at the open part of the carriage, in which her Majesty was sitting, and his Royal Highness Prince Albert—I saw the flash, and heard the report—when he had fired he dropped his hand down by his side immediately—I immediately cried out, "Seize the murderer," and rushed at him—he was seized immediately by the policeman Trounce, at the left, and I seized him on the right—when I first saw him, the pistol was in his hand, in the position I have described.

Cross-examined. Q. How was the other hand? A. It seemed to be down, resting on the iron pump—the pistol was in his right hand—I was not examined before the Privy Council.

COLONEL WYLDE . I am equerry to his Royal Highness Prince Albert, I accompanied the Queen on Monday, the 30th of May—her Majesty went out in an open carriage, that will not shot up, and sat on the right-hand side—in the route from the Palace towards Constitution-hill there is a wall on the left-hand side—it is the wall of the Palace garden—there is a space between the wall and the carriage road—I should think the space is six or eight yards from the wall to the carriage road, including the foot-path—there are several trees there—there is the carriage road, and on the other side a foot-path, and the iron railing inclosing the Green Park—I saw the prisoner after he fired—he fired on the Queen's side, on the right-hand side—she was returning to the palace at the time—it was on the right-hand side of the carriage—her Majesty was in the same situation in the carriage in returning home as when she went out—she had not changed her position—anybody who had seen her go out might expect her in coming back to be on the wall side—she always sits on that side of the carriage—I was riding as nearly as possible abreast of the Royal carriage, on the near side—a communication had been made to me, which induced me to keep very near the carriage during that time—the first thing that attracted my attention was a sharp report of a pistol—I pulled up short on that report, turned round to my right, and saw the prisoner—the carriage had then passed a few yards, going at the rapid pace it was—I saw the prisoner, with his hand down, and something in it—a policeman almost immediately seized him, and a guardsman on the other side—I rode up to him, and desired them to bring him to the porter's lodge at the Palace, that I might examine him, or see him examined—I saw the pistol—(Inspector Rusell here produced a pistol)—. this is it—it was taken from him in my presence, by the policeman—I am able to recognize it again—I have not a doubt of its being the pistol.

Q. I do not know whether yon are acquainted with this sort of fire-arm, how far it would carry? A. Oh yes, it depends much on the elevation, but it would carry fifty or sixty paces—it might be made to carry more—it depends on the elevation.

Q. Is it as dangerous when discharged as a larger one might be at the distance it was fired? A. Certainly, at a short distance—so good an aim could not be taken with it as with a larger one, hot at a short distance it is as destructive as a larger one—I cannot state exactly how far the prisoner was from the Queen at the time it was fired, as I was on the opposite side of the carriage—a pace is thirty inches.

Q. At the distance of about seven feet would the wadding even of the pistol, if well runned down, be competent to do any personal mischief? A. Certainly, any exposed part of the person, if it was wounded, and it

would be very likely to set fire to the dress; but it would decidedly wound the skin, or any part only covered with thin muslin it might wound—it was a very sharp loud report for such a pistol.

Q. Could you form any judgment whether it had anything in it? A.. No further than from the sharpness of the report—it must have had something to compress the powder strongly to induce it to make such a report, either very strong wadding, or a bullet—something to compress the powder very considerably.

Q. Supposing it had not a bullet, but an irregular piece of lead or metal, was the pistol competent to do mischief in that way? A. Most certainly, or if a stone, either round or of an irregular shape, had been in it—from what I heard of the report, in my judgment, the powder certainly must have been well runned down with something—I saw the prisoner searched—an empty pocket-book, and some powder screwed up very tight in paper, and some trifling things were found on him—nothing else of any moment—I think there was a penny or twopence found on him—he did not appear much excited, very firm, I thought; I observed some agitation about his lip and nose—I asked his name, where he lived, and what he was, but he remained silent—he gave no answer whatever—I took him through the palace to the equerries' door in Pimlico, and, accompanied by inspector Russell, saw him put into a cab with the guardsman and policeman, and conveyed to Gardener's-lane station-house—I accompanied him on horse back, and in the cell I star him stripped and better searched than he was before, and there I left him—the policeman put some questions to him there—he merely stated that he had a father and mother alive, also brothers and sisters, and that he lived about two miles off—he would not tell where, nor say anything else.

Cross-examined. Q. When the pistol had been taken from the prisoner, do you happen to know whether it had been unscrewed? A. I do not know—it would not unscrew at the time I took it from him, for I twisted it in my hand, and could not unscrew it.

COURT. Q. Did you try to unscrew it? A. I just gave it one turn with my hand—they are not generally unscrewed with the hand—it should have a key to it.

MR. CLARKSON. Q. These small ones will sometimes unscrew with the hand? A. Not immediately after being fired, because it dilates—it was warm when I took it—I just tried to unscrew it. MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL. Q. Is a pistol of this description capable of being loaded from the muzzle? A. Certainly, it may be as effectually loaded that way as any other.

COURT. Q. Did you observe the muzzle at all? A. Yes, I observed it had been recently fired—it was smutty with powder, and the barrel warm.

WILLIAM TROUNCE (police-constable A. 53.) On the afternoon of the 30th of May I was on duty on Constitution-hill—I was there for about an hour and ten minutes before the Queen returned to the palace—I observed the prisoner there about half an hour before the Queen returned—he was just in the middle part of Constitution-hill—I was ten or twelve yards from him, and saw him go behind a tree to hide himself, as I was looking at him. Q. From something you observed, had your attention been attracted to him so as to be looking at him particularly? A. Yes, I was looking down the hill, saw him standing back, and saw him go behind a tree—he was locking at me at the time, at least he appeared so—he was about a yard

from me when the Queen came—as the Queen was passing, I heard the report of a pistol—my eye was not actually on the prisoner at that time—I then looked around—he was standing a little in the rear of me—he was leaning over a plug which they draw the water from, with his left hand, and standing just in this way with a pistol in his hand—I seized him—he was holding the pistol towards the carriage—I did not see him till I heard the report, and when I turned round, it was a little towards the carriage—I took the pistol from him—inspector Russell searched him.

LAYINIA BLANCHAED . I live in Union-place, Lambeth. I was in the park on Constitution-hill, on the day in question—I was there at half-past five o'clock—I was waiting there to see the Queen come back from her ride—I saw the prisoner soon after I got there, soon after half-past five—he was walking up and down with a young man, behind the trees—I observed the prisoner so as to know him again when I saw him, I recognized him—the trees are on the same side of the road as the pump, on the left hand going up—I saw him three or four times up to about a quarter of an hour before the Queen passed, I then lost sight of him—during the time I saw him he was with the other young man—they were walking together in entrust conversation—I afterwards saw the prisoner in custody of a policeman and soldier, and recognized him as one of the two I had seen walking up and down—I remarked them first, because I thought it odd they should be there—I noticed them because there was a resemblance in his companion to my brother.

WILLIAM RICHARDS . I am a journeyman shoemaker, and live in Newcastle-street, Strand. I work for a person named Squire, and have done so about a twelve month—I was on Constitution-hill on Monday, the 30th of May—I entered the park about six o'clock in the evening, or it might be more—I saw a great many people standing there—the pistol was fired about half-past six I should say—I fell in with other people—in the first place, then I thought I would walk to and fro to wait to see the Queen—I was on the Queen's garden wall side—as I was going up the hill I saw the prisoner leaning with both his arms on the pump—this was before he was in custody—I heard a conversation between some people, but I cannot swear I heard the prisoner himself say anything.

JAMES RUSSELL . I am an inspector of police, and was on duty on Constitution-hill on Monday, the 30th of May, and met Trounce, the policeman, with the prisoner in custody—he conveyed him to the Palace—he gave me a pistol, which I have produced here—I felt the barrel of it—it was warm—I observed the muzzle—it appeared as if it had been recently discharged—there was a sort of a blue colour of powder—I searched him, and found on him the cover of a memorandum-book, 1d. in copper, a portion of gunpowder in his breeches pocket, two keys, and a pair of gloves—I produce the gunpowder—if loaded at the muzzle there is sufficient for about one charge of the pistol—if unscrewed and loaded, there would be about four charges—it requires more powder when loaded from the muzzle.

Cross-examined. Q. How much in quantity should you say there was altogether, a quarter of announce? A. I should say not—I cannot tell the weight—I have loaded many pistols like this—I was never in the army.

MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL. Q. Whether it is an ounce, one-fourth, or one-eighth, is there, in your opinion, sufficient to load this pistol more than once? A. it was unscrewed; and once if loaded from the muzzle. GEORGE PEARSON. I am an engraver on wood, and live in Castle-street,

Holborn. On Sunday, the 29th of May, I was in St. James's Park at the time Her Majesty's carriage was returning from chapel—Her Majesty and Prince Albert were, I believe, in it—I saw the prisoner there—I saw him present a pistol at the Royal carnage—he did nothing more than Present it—he neither drew the trigger nor attempted to fire, or any thing—the carriage was four or five yards from him at the time he presented it—this was almost in the middle of the Mall—he presented it as the carriage passed on—this was coming through the Mall of St. James's-park—I do not know whether it was the side on which Her Majesty or Prince Albert sat—he was on the side of the carriage next the Mall, on the left side of the carriage—when the carriage passed on he returned the pistol to his bosom, and said, "They may take me if they like, I don't care, I was a fool I did not shoot"—he then went away—I saw him afterwards among several others in prison where he was—I had not the least doubt of his person.

JAMES ROBERT STREET . I am shopman to Mr. Ravener, a pawnbroker, No. 19, Tothill-street, Westminster. I know the prisoner by sight—he came to my master's shop on Friday, the 27th of May, and asked if I had a pistol for sale—I showed him two—the one produced is one of them—he offered 3s. for it, which I agreed to take—I had asked more—he paid me for it with three fourpenny-pieces, a sixpence, and the remainder in copper—the other was on the same principle as this, a flint lock, but the barrel was rather larger—it was a screw barrel—I do not think there was any flint in this pistol when I sold it to him.

RICHARD RITCHES . I live at No. 18, Lower Eaton-street, Pimlico. I have a brother, an oilman, in Upper Charles-street, Parliament-street—he sells gunpowder and flints—I know the prisoner—he is the young man who came to purchase a flint on the Friday before Her Majesty's life was attempted, the 27th—it was between about three and five o'clock, to the best of my memory—I was in the shop, and my brother was there part of the time—I sold him a flint, which came to a 1d.—I mentioned to him when he brought the pistol that flints were very rarely or ever sold, I would look and see if we had any—I went and looked, and found one amongst a quantity of gun-flints, which we had had many years by us—he gave me the pistol—I took it, and said it had no leather, which is generally on them to tighten the flint—I do not recollect that he made any answer—I fitted the flint—I had a piece of leather in my band, as I was tying some bottles—I tore or cut a piece off, and fastened it in with it for him—here is the same leather in it now to the best of my belief—I observed to him that the pistol was a very old one, that it bad no trigger to it—he then pulled back the lock and showed me that the trigger came out—it comes out on puliing the cock back—I thought it was a broken pistol—he showed me that on putting it on full cock the trigger came out—I do not remember any thing more passing—he asked how much it was, paid me for it, thanked me, and went away—he gave me two halfpenny-pieces—I saw him it Newgate on the Saturday following the day Her Majesty's life was attempted, and recognized him almost directly among several who were in the yard—I have not a doubt about his person.

THOMAS GOULD . I live in York-street, Westminster, and deal in gunpowder, among other things. On Friday evening, the 27th of May, about eight o'clock, somebody came to my shop to buy a halfpennyworth of gunpowder, which is about half an ounce—I sold it to him—it was coarse-gunpowder—I should not know the person again—the prisoner very much resembles the person.

ANNRIGS. My husband keeps a shop, in Brewer-street, Goldensquare; he sells gunpowder and shot among other things. I remember, on a Monday in May last, a young man coming to our shop early in the afternoon, about one or two, or from that to three o'clock—it was the prisoner, I am quite certain—he asked for an ounce of gunpowder, which I furnished him with—he paid me 2d. without asking the price.

CECILIA FORSTER . I live at No. 106, Great Titchfield-street, and let lodgings. The prisoner came to lodge at my house on the 14th of January last—he had half a bed with another young man, and paid 3s. a week—he is a carpenter by trade, I believe—he left my lodgings on the 27th of May, which was Friday—he had been out of work for some time before he left—he had not paid his rent up to the time of leaving.

GEORGE GOWER , (examined by MR. CLARKSON.) I am one of her Majesty's grooms. I was present when this attack was made on her, and distinctly saw what passed. I was examined before the Privy Council—I was riding behind Colonel Arbuthnot, who was riding immediately close to the Queen's carriage, covering the Queen's person—I think I was riding six or seven yards from the hind wheel—I saw the prisoner discharge the pistol—he discharged it between Colonel Arbuthnot and myself—I should think the pistol was pointed to the centre of the hind wheel of the carriage as near as possible.

MR. ATTORNEY-GENERAL. Q. Yon were six or seven yards behind, on horseback? A. Yes—the horse I rode was about fifteen hands two inches high.

GUILTY . Aged 20.—[After the Jury had returned their verdict, the LORD CHIEF JUSTICE said to them as follows:—Gentlemen, do you find him guilty of the first overt act, charging that he fired a pistol loaded with gunpowder and a bullet? JURY. No, my Lord.

Q. Do you find him guilty on the second overt act, that it was loaded with powder, and some other destructive materials and substances? JURY. We do, my Lord.

Q. Then you think the pistol was loaded with more than the mere running down and wadding, but that there was some other destructive substance? JURY. Yes, my Lord.

His Lordship then proceeded to pass the sentence of DEATH, usual in cases of High treason.]

Before Mr. Recorder.


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