23rd October 1843
Reference Numbert18431023-2897
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

Related Material

ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error
Navigation< Previous text (trial account) | Next text (trial account) >

2897. THOMAS ROWE was indicted for feloniously assaulting Thomas Wilier, on the 6th of Oct., and shooting off and discharging at him a certain pistol loaded with gunpowder and leaden bullets, and wounding him on the left side of his body, with intent to murder him.—2nd COUNT, stating his intent to be to maim and disable him.—3rd COUNT, To do him some grievous bodily harm.

MR. BALLANTINE conducted the Prosecution.

THOMAS WALLER . I am a wine-merchant, and live at No. 8, Cross-lane, St. Mary-at-hill, in the City; the prisoner entered my service, as cellerman, on the 1st of May, 1820. On the 2nd of Sept. last I gave him warning, and told him that that day week I should dispense with hit services—I think he said he was sorry for it—on the Saturday, when he came to receive his wages, I told him that his week was up, there was his money, and I wished him health—(the amount of his wages was a guinea)—he said he was sorry for it; he thought that I was peevish, and that I should hare thought no more about it, and then he began crying—I imagine he alluded to having been dismissed from my service—I had not found any fault with him, only that his faculties gave way—when I gave him notice I said, "Your faculties give way, you don't know what you are about"—on the 2nd of Oct. I received this letter signed by the prisoner, but written in another hand.

(Letter read)—"42, Watling-street, Commercial-road Bast, 2nd Oct, 1843." Addressed, "Thomas Waller, Esq., Cross-lane, St. Mary-at-hill. Sir, Having for the last three weeks made every effort to obtain employment without effect, in consequence of business being in so bad a state, and finding my means are fast exhausting, I am induced to solicit you to recollect me, should you have any extra work, or can in any way make roe useful, or can recommend me to any situation the duties of which I can fulfil; and shall feel happy in being employed either in town or country, or reside either in the house or out, as may be required; and shall feel additionally grateful to you for any such favour, and hope you will not think me too troublesome when I take the liberty of waiting on you. THOMAS ROWE."

MR. WALLER (continued.) I rather think the body of this letter is the prisoner's son's writing—I have had a letter which just resembles it. About nine o'clock on Friday morning, the 6th of Oct., I heard my bell ring—after the door having been answered, Rows came into my room—I said, "What do you want, Rowe?"—he said he bad been trying to get employment from morning till night, but he could not meet with any thing—he said he wished I could give him employment either in town or country—I told him I could not, that he knew nothing about farming—he had wanted to know if I could employ him at my farm—he told me he should be glad, if I heard of any thing—I told him if I heard of any thing I would let him know, but it was not very likely that I should—I said, "I dare say you have got enough to live upon; I understand that you say you have not got the property you had, because you have lent it to your son; therefore, if you are past work now, your son should do something for you"—I believe he said that his son had not had it, but that the greater part of what he had saved had been expended on his sister, who had been suffering from ill-health—I said, "You

have been living with me seven or eight years, and I have had very little to do for you, and, therefore, as old age is coming upon you, I have nothing to do with that, you might have provided something for yourself"—he said, "Then you don't intend to do anything for me?"—I said, "I have no employment for you"—he then came closer towards me, very close to me, and then presented a pistol and fired at me—there is a railing which rails my desk off—I was inside the railing, and he was outside—I could not see very well what he was about—I saw him fumbling about something—I think he took the pistol out of his pocket—it appeared as if he was pulling something out of paper, or something of that sort, in front of my desk, but I could not sea his hand—he presented the pistol at my left side—I did not think at the time that I was wounded, only the shock—I immediately rang my bell, and called my man, Thomas Lock, who came in—the prisoner stood looking at me after firing the pistol—he made no attempt to escape—when Lock came in, I said, "Rowe has fired at me, lay hold of him"—Lock said, "He has got a loaded pistol in his hand"—I then saw there was a pistol in his hand—I went out of the counting-house towards the kitchen, followed by Lock—the female servant ran down stairs frightened, and went out screaming—when she returned I sent Lock for a policeman—the prisoner got out into the warehouse, and was let out at the door—I then proceeded to put on my boots, and found a bullet in one of them, which I took out—at the time I was fired at, the boots were standing on a stool behind me—it appeared as if the bullet had dropped into the boot—it had not gone through the leather—I gave it to the policeman—in consequence of feeling faint, and what my servant said to me, I afterwards examined my person, and found I was bleeding—I sent for a surgeon, who examined me.

Cross-examined by MR. DOANE. Q. Does the partition extend the whole length of your counting-house? A. Yes—it is a very small counting-house—I was behind the partition—the prisoner stood outside the railing—he was directly in front of me—he was some little distance from the rails at first, but when he came up with the pistol he came up to the door-way—the pistol was inside the rails when he fired—the muzzle of the pistol was close to me—he seemed to take aim—I saw a second bullet, found by the policeman on the floor near where I was standing, at the bottom of the stool where my boots were standing—I was sitting reading the newspaper when the prisoner came in—when I received the wound I was standing up and facing the prisoner—he had been in my service twenty-three years last May—I knew nothing of him before he came to me—I know nothing about his age—he says he is seventy-seven or seventy-eight—I have no reason to doubt it—I never heard his age till he mentioned it at the Mansion-house—I rather think I have the character of a kind master—I am very quiet with my servants—I have observed that his faculties have given way latterly—he would get doing one thing instead of another—I think his memory has failed him—he seemed to get feeble—his deafness seemed to increase upon him—I think he was incompetent to manage that which it had formerly been his business to perform—three or four days before my giving-him warning he had purchased a large quantity of cord on my account—he made a mistake, I never told him to get any—I use a little cord, but he bought enough to last seventeen years—I did not intend to have ordered any—I thought it a very absurd thing to do—it was what we used to do twenty years ago, but I was wishing to retire from business—I thought he could not tell what he was about to do it—I told him he had done a foolish thing in buying all this cord which I had no use for—when I gave him warning, three days after, I did not allude to the cord—he

said nothing about it them—he might have said he was very sorry, and hoped I would look over it, but I do not know whether he was alluding to the cord or not—I never mentioned the cord to him when I gave him warning—when he went away he said he was sorry, he hoped I would look over it, and began to cry—nothing bad happened except about the cord, only I had seen occasionally that he did not know what he was about—he was blundering, mistaking one thing for another—I understood him, by looking over it, to allude to giving him warning.

THOMAS LOCK . I am porter in the prosecutor's service. On Friday, 6th Oct., I heard the door bell ring, and, on answering it, found the prisoner there—he said, "Well, Thomas, how do you do?"—I said, "How do you do, Rowe, I have not seen you for a length of time?"—he said he was very sadly—he asked whether Mr. Waller was within—I said, "Yes, do you wish to see him?"—he said, "Yes, I do"—he asked where he was—I said, "In the counting-house"—I went up to inform my master, admitted the prisoner, and left him with my master—in rather better than five minutes I heard the report of a pistol, and the counting-house bell ring—I went up into the counting-house—I found the prisoner on one side of the railing, and my master on the other, both standing—my master said, "Rowe has fired a pistol at me"—I got between them—the prisoner said, "Stand back, stand back, I intend it! I have lost my situation, I can get no employment, and a man like that, (meaning the prosecutor,) is not fit to live"—I saw a pistol in his hand, and said to Mr. Waller, "Get out of the counting-house, whatever you do, get out, he has got another pistol"—my master then made his way towards the kitchen—I followed him, leaving the prisoner in the counting-house—about twenty minutes, or half an hour after, I accompanied inspector Waller down the Mile-end-road—when we had got through the Mile-end turnpike-gate, we saw the prisoner talking to a female—I pointed him out to Waller, who took him into custody—he said, "Yes, it is all right, I am the person."

Cross-examined. Q. How long have you known him? A. Ten years last April—during that time I have been in Mr. Waller's service—I have observed latterly, that his mind has given way very much indeed, particularly within the last six months—he appeared foolish several times, in fact I have told him to—he did not know what he was about—I have heard him say, at times, that he had a giddiness or swimming in the head—a gentleman, named Goddard, has been in the habit of coming very frequently to my master's, and was well known to the prisoner—the last week the prisoner was at our house, Mr. Goddard came one morning, the prisoner went to the door and let him in—he then came into the warehouse to me, and asked me Mr. Goddard's name—I told him, and then he said, "You have no occasion to name to Mr. Waller that I have asked his name"—I think he knew him, but had merely forgotten his name—I remember his buying a large stock of cord, enough to last us all our life-time—I think it cost 1l. 5s. 6d.—my master was then about retiring from business—he had given no orders to buy any—I have heard him say when he got up very early in the morning, he has taken pistols to protect him, and that he has' had a dagger besides, but I never saw them—he said he merely got up to have a long walk before he came to business—my master was a kind good-hearted man to the prisoner and the rest of the servants—the prisoner was as inoffensive an old man as I ever wished to deal with—I have heard him talk about his sister, and say that she had cost him a great deal of money—on the day in question, when he came to ask for his master, he looked very bad in the face—when he went into the counting-house, I noticed a wildness in his countenance, more so than when I let him in at the door—there Was a strange look about him when I let him in—he was very white and pale—from

what I saw of him for the last six months, I thought he was nearly like a child, that he did not know what he was about.

JANE MITCHELL . I am cook, in the service of Mr. Waller. On Friday morning the 6th of Oct., I was up stairs, and heard the report of a pistol—I went down towards the kitchen, and saw my master hastening towards me—after that I found the prisoner inside the back gates of the warehouse—I said, "For God's sake leave the place, before you do any more mischief—he said "No, let them take me to prison, Tom is gone for a policeman is he nor—I said, "No, he is in the kitchen "—he then said, "You have been the cause of my leaving my place"—I said, "Good God, Rowe, I have had nothing to do with your leaving, pray go away before there is any more harm done"—he went out of the gate, and I shut him out—I afterwards examined my matter, and found a bruise on his left side, and the blood coming from the hind part of his left side.

Cross-examined. Q. There was no truth whatever in his notion, that you had been the cause of his leaving? A. Not that I am aware of—I certainly made no statement to his master to induce him to discharge him.

CHARLES WALLER (City police-inspector.) On Friday morning, the 6th of Oct., in consequence of information I received, I went down the Mile-end-road—Rowe was pointed out to me—he was standing there talking to a female—I went up to him, and said, "Well Rowe"—before I could say any thing else—he said, "It is all right, all right, I did it"—I searched him, and found two pistols, one in each breeches pocket, one loaded, and the other unloaded—I have drawn the charge of the one that was loaded—there were two leaden bullets in it, and some powder—I am not acquainted with the quantity of powder necessary to fire a pistol—I have not got the powder here—I immediately opened the pan and threw out what was in it, then unscrewed the pistol, and let out the powder that was in the body of it—the balls were put in the ordinary way into the pistol—there was a piece of paper between the bullet and powder—I found this dagger in his coat pocket, a powder-flask with some powder in it—a little gunpowder in a phial, and two bullets in his waistcoat pocket, the very same sort as the bullets in the pistol—on riding in the cab with him, I taid, "Mr. Waller may be dead before we get back"—he said, "A good job, for he is a man that is not fit to live, a hard, a very hard-hearted man, and such a man as that is not fit to live in the world"—I asked him what he intended to do with the pistol that was loaded—he said if the first one had missed fire he intended to have tried that—I then asked him what he intended to do with the dagger—he said, "That is a thing that cannot miss fire"—I then said it was a very bad job—he said, yes, he had done it, and he must suffer the laws of his country—I took him to the station, searched him, and found 10s. in silver on him—I received a coat, waistcoat, shirt, flannel waistcoat, and pair of drawers from Jane Mitchell, which I produce.

WILLIAM WREFORD (City police-constable, No. 504.) I produce a bullet which I received from the prosecutor.

GEORGE CROUCH (City police-constable, No. 534.) I produce a bullet which I found in the counting-house, on the floor near where Mr. Waller was standing.

JOHN HUNTER . I am a surgeon, in Mincing-lane, City. On Friday morning, the 6th of Oct., I examined Mr. Waller, and found a small would on the left side of his back which was bleeding—it was about four inches from the spine, directly over one of the ribs, and about three-eighths of an inch in length—I examined his clothes to ascertain how the wound behind had been effected, and found in his coat, flannel waistcoat, and shirt, a hole

corresponding in position and size with the wound in the back—in addition to that he had received an injury on the left side of his body—it was a bruise and swelling, without any wound—I was very anxious to know, for his safety, what number of bullets there were, and whether there was or not a bullet in his body at the time—I took great pains to examine the clothes, and as I made out, the injury in front was inflicted by a bullet that had gone first of all twice through the under part of his left sleeve, then through the breast of his cost—it had torn his waistcoat, but not gone through the lining, nor through the shirt, or flannel waistcoat—it might then have dropped on the floor—it must have been a violent blow—I should think woollen stuff would stop the progress of the bullet, if the pistol was fired off near the body—the breast of his coat was loose, and was a very thick cloth—I suppose the first bullet wounded his back, and the second was the one that struck him in front—I have heard the evidence—I imagine the wound behind to be caused by his standing sideways, as he must have been from the position of his counting-house—if the pistol was fired probably at the distance of a yard, the one bullet must have struck his back, and he involuntarily must have raised his arm, or something of that kind, and the second have passed twice through his sleeve, and through this hole in the breast of the coat—the position of the wound behind was such as would have been occasioned from the position in which the man stood at the time he was firing—I have no experience in gunshot wounds—I have attended him—he has been in no danger.

(Witnesses for the Defence.)

WILLIAM HUNT . I am a wine-cooper, and live at No. 42, Mark-lane. I have known the prisoner between eleven and twelve years—I have been in the habit of seeing him nearly daily—I took a house in Green-street, Mile-end, he had lodged there a number of years, and I took him with it as a fixture—he lived there till I left it—on several occasions I considered him eccentric in his conduct—I have seen him with a pair of pistols and a dagger, years ago—I believe these to be the pistols and dagger, produced—I have known him leave my house at eleven at night to go to hear the nightingale sing, travel all night, and come home at three or four in the morning—he used to leave my house to go to work a little before nine—when he has gone out at eleven and come home at four or five, Mrs. Hunt and myself have often asked him what made him go out at such a ridiculous time, and he has said, "Merely to hear the nightingale sing"—he has done that frequently—he has many times said that he has been as far as ten or fifteen miles—he never went out, to my knowledge, without the pistols—I should say they were loaded—I have not seen him, come home—I have not been up at the time—I cannot say I have heard him come in—I have very frequently been at home when he has come home in the day-time—in one or two instances, of a night, he has had these things in his hand, and gone to bed with them, put them under his pillow, and alarmed Mrs. Hunt and myself very much—I have known him go to bed in the summer-time at five in the afternoon—he would sometimes lay an hour, then get up again, and go to bed again—I have heard him leave the house early in the morning—he has disturbed me very much—he has been in the habit of going round the garden at two or three in the morning with these loaded pistols—he has always told me he has been to hear the nightingale, when he has been rambling about in the night—at times I considered him anything but a sane man—he was very forgetful, and once within these six weeks he has been talking, and left off in the middle of conversation, and began something fresh, quite contrary to what the subject was, quite in an unaccountable manner—when he came and told me that Mr. Waller had discharged him, he seemed to be in great agitation—I said, "You have lived a

number of years with Mr. Waller, he never means to discharge you, you have committed some little wrong, and if that is all (about the cord he had bought) he would never discharge you if you were to go and petition him to let you go back"—he told me about the cord, and cried at the time—he fancied he was discharged on that account—he said he would not believe he was discharged—he bad left his situation a week then—he said he believed it was only a week's drill, (as he called it,) to learn him to be better behaved another time—I never knew him to be otherwise than kind, peaceable, and humane, the last man, in my thoughts, to be placed in the position he is in now—he always spoke of his master in terms of respect and gratitude—he said he was keeping him when there was really nothing to do—I never herad him speak of Mr. Waller but in the highest terms—his faculties have failed more latterly.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. What family have you? A. A wife and four children, from the ages of ten to sixteen—the prisoner lodged at my house, but did not board with my family—he was on intimate terms with them—he stood godfather to two of my children—at that time I considered him perfectly in his senses, I at times allowed for old age—I do not know that be ever took my children out—he was not to say frequently in their company—there were no other lodgers in the house—he was a person, as far aa my experience went, of very quiet, peaceable habits—I have many times observed him change the conversation, when in the middle of a sentence, earlier than the last six weeks, but not so much as latterly—I have heard him state his age, and I think he is seventy-seven—I have known men as old as him—I found a great difference between his manners and habits and those of other men of his age—I have a man of the same age at my residence in Tothill-street.

MR. DOANE. Q. You have not observed any eccentricities in that man? A. No—I should say his mind was as good as when he was ten years old—my children are boys—they go to a boarding-school, and are not often at home—it is ten or eleven years since the prisoner stood godfather to my last child—it was christened after him.

RICHARD BROWN . I am a carpenter, and live in Green-street, near the London Hospital. I have known the prisoner about twenty years—I have been there twenty-two, and he came to reside next to me two years after—I have known him to be in the habit of carrying pistols and a dagger about with him many years ago—I have seen him with them, and remonstrated with him, on one occasion particularly, the first time I saw them, he wished me to go out to spend the day with him at Edmonton, with some friends, I did not find out he had them till he came home, about nine o'clock in the evening, in the summer, it was hardly dark, I saw him take them out of his breeches pocket, and put them on the chimney-piece—he then put his hand up his sleeve, and pulled out the dirk—I remonstrated with him on the danger that might happen to him in getting over the stiles, or anything of that sort—he said he had them with him all day—I felt astonished—he said he usually carried them for his protection—I have known him go up in the evening, and open his back window, which was his bed room, when I might have been in the back garden conversing with some of my neighbours, put his head out, and put questions to us—I have heard him go out at unusual hours in the night—he has been generally out very early in the morning—it was his practice, and I have seen him come home when I had been getting up to attend to my business—I have met him long before he has had occasion to be up—he has been out at four or five o'clock in the morning, home again at six, and took his breakfast, before going to business—he

has very often put his head out of window with hit cap on, and said, "I will give you a song," and has sung some silly old ditty or another—he has caused a deal of merriment among his neighbours, and those in the gardens behind—occasionally he would sing a verse, make some noise on his musical stick, and then sing another verse—I always understood that he lived with Mr. Waller—I have heard him speak of Mr. Waller in very respectful terms, and I always understood that he had got a very good situation, and was comfortable—on one occasion I asked him if he was busy at his hoouse—he said they were yery comfortable, but they did not do much businees; that Mr. Waller had a very large stock of wine, which it was his intention to get rid of gradually, and retire from business—on one occasion I stated, "You would then be out of a situation"—"Why, "he said, "as long as he is in business, I am certain to remain there, and I dare say, if any thing happens, and he retires, he will do something for me"—that seemed to be bis impression, from the answers he gave me—he has not resided next to me for the last seven years, and I have not seen so much of him as I formerly did—he occasionally called on me, but not for the last few months—I considered he was getting more feeble—he was always such an eccentric character, therefore I did not think much of it—occasionally, when I have seen him, I thought he did not seem to carry his age well—he seemed to be breaking—since I have known him he has been a different man—he began to get more foolish—indeed, I used to say of him, "That silly old gentleman, I met him again to-day"—I thought there was a silliness which I did not observe when I first knew him.

MARY ANN BROWN . I am the daughter of the last witness. I remember when the prisoner was living next door, nearly eight years ago, I and my sister were in mourning, and were in the garden at the back of the house——the prisoner looked out of his bed-room window, and fired a pistol in the direction of the opposite houses—we were standing near our own back door, just the length of the garden from where he fired—the gardens join at the bottom—I believe the shot took effect on one of the trees—it shot one of the branches off—that was not in the garden in which I and my sister were, it was opposite to where he was—we were very much startled—he said twice before, "I will have a shot at those two crows," and he laughed very much—there were no crows there, only I and my sister.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. You bad known him some time previous to this? A. Yes—he used to joke and laugh with us very much—I was within a few months of twenty years of age at the time—he fired in an entirely different direction from me—he used very frequently to play his musical stick to us—he used to amuse us as we sat there with our needlework—he was on very good terms with us, and was in the habit of amusing us—at the time he fired the pistol I did not see that the branch waa knocked off.

WILLIAM COOK . I am a surgeon, and live in Trinity-square, in the liberty of Tower Without. I have directed my attention, to some extent, to the effect of various emotions on the mind, when in a diseased state—I have written a little work on the subject—I have known the prisoner for about twenty-seven years—I have seen but very little of him for twenty years, except meeting him in the street—twenty-seven years ago I lived more in his neighbourhood—we dealt with him when he was in business with his wife—I then knew a good deal of him, and he was a very respectable, quiet man—since that I have only met him, perhaps once a month, in the street—I saw him at his son's about three months ago, and have seen him since he was taken up.

Q. Should you, in your judgment, from the experience you have had, and having heard all the evidence here, consider that the announcement made to

him by his master that he could do nothing more for him, would be calculated to produce such an effect on his mind and intellect as that he should be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong at the moment of his frenzy? A. I believe it would act so decidedly, because I have no doubt he is the subject of organic disease—I form that opinion from what I have seen in the progress of this man for the last ten years—he is a totally altered man, and has been progressively altering for the last ten years—I have seen enough of him, independent of this case, to form that judgment—the change has been particularly manifest in his bodily health—I have no doubt disease was going on in the vessels of the heart and brain—the imbecility, and foolish acts and blunders spoken of by his master, would be the ordinary result of organic disease in the brain, or some of the organs—the decay of some of the organs very commonly happens at his time of life, and that which I have heard to-day is the ordinary evidence of that change—it would be the ordinary result of the change that takes place in the blood-vessels at advanced age, when there is disease, and of which I believe him to be the subject—a swimming in the head, and dizziness about the eyes, would be a marked symptom of such disease, and is exactly what I should expect to find as one of the results of such a process going on—since he has been taken up he has complained to me of a swimming in the head—I never attended him professionally, at least not for many years; but he did complain to me when I visited him, and so simply, and so in harmony with his situation, that I have no doubt of its truth, that he was a subject of giddiness—taking all the circumstances of this case into consideration, his fancying that he was dismissed for buying an absurd quantity of cord, and that the female servant was the cause of his dismissal, I believe that when he fired the pistol at his master he was totally out of selfcontrol.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. I presume you have found out that a person, when he passes the age of seventy, is not usually in such entire possession of his faculties as at an earlier period of his life? A. Very commonly—I have known a multitude of instances where men have retained their faculties in perfection after seventy—perhaps the frequency is the other way—badness of memory is one of the usual symptoms of old age—it is not uncommon for a person to begin talking on one subject, and then alter it without any apparent cause—it is one of the symptoms of the disease of old age.

Q. And that, I presume, without there being any organic disease in the system? A. But that is an organic disease—old age produces organic disease, of which these are the signs.

COURT. Q. Old age alters a man's organs, does it not? A. Undoubtedly—if they remained unaltered, a man would remain sound in body and mind.

MR. BALLANTINE. Q. How often have you seen the prisoner in the last seven or eight years? A. Perhaps once a month—I never saw him with a view of examining as to the state of his mind, only since he was taken up—I believe he knew the effect of firing a loaded pistol, as a young chid would do; but I believe he did not know on what account—I think he knew that it would take away life—I do not think he had reasoned himself into a belief, that he was justified in doing so—I think that the vessels of his brain are diseased, and consequently the brain itself—I consider he was in a state of excessive excitement at the time he did this act, and there was an animal impulse—I have heard the evidence—I do not think it was stated that he stood quite calmly—I think it was the contrary—I think there was an exceedingly hurried action of the heart, and that there would be blood driven to those vessels which were previously diseased; and as the head is the organ of

thought and action, it would be impaired—I have heard of the conversation that took place—I do not think that that exhibited any increased action or excitement—I think he went there calmly, but that the excitement grew up, in consequence of the conversation with his master—swimming in the head is not an unusual symptom with old age, but he has organic disease, besides the effect of old age—I believe there is ossification, disease of the arteries of the brain and heart—I should think that has been coming on for the last ten or fifteen years—those are not generally diseases of persons in perfectly sound mind—they are not necessarily incidental to persons in advanced age—sometimes they come on in early life, but seldom in early life.

NOT GUILTY , being insane.

Before Mr. Justice Wightman.

View as XML