Charles Butler.
14th January 1757
Reference Numbert17570114-30

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87. (L.) Charles Butler was indicted for feloniously attempting the escape of George Jeffreys and Thomas Hardy , prisoners in Newgate for a felony committed by them at Peterborough, by conveying to them pistols, saws, and other instruments, in the said prison , Jan. 5 . ++

Mr. Akerman. I am keeper of his majesty's gaol of Newgate.

Q. Do you know Mr. Fielding's hand writing?

Mr. Akerman. I do, I receive commitments from him almost every day; he is so unfortunate as to be blind, but he always makes such a scribble as the name on this commitment.

It is read to this purport:

'' Middlesex, to wit To the keeper of his '' majesty's gaol of Newgate, or his deputy. Receive '' into your custody the bodies of George '' Jeffreys and Thomas Hardy , brought before '' me, &c. charg'd upon oath by Rd Trice, Esq; '' for having enter'd the dwelling house of the '' said Richard, and stealing from thence 140 l. '' in money, and a diamond ring, and them safely '' keep in your custody, till they be discharged by '' due course of law, &c. sign'd John Fielding .''

The Warrant of detainer read to this purport:

'' To the keeper of his majesty's gaol of Newgate, '' or his deputy. Middlesex, to wit. Detain '' in your custody the bodies of George Jeffreys '' and Tho. Hardy, for feloniously and burglariously '' breaking and entering the dwelling '' house of Rd Trice , Esq; of Peterborough, and '' them safely keep in your custody, &c.''

Mr. Akerman. I can only lead the court into the method how this escape came to be found out. On Thursday was 7 night in the morning early I took Jeffreys and Hardy out of the gaol, in order to carry them to the gaol at Peterborough. Upon my servants searching them, as we always do before we take them out upon these expeditions, they found their irons to be saw'd about half off, and they brought them to me. After I had well secur'd them, I went on with them, and gave strict orders to Freeborn my servant, to search after the instruments with which they had been sawing their irons, being certain they had some instruments some where: there came a letter to me the same day I got to Peterborough, which inform'd me he had found two brace of pistols, but I need not take up the time of the court, for he must repeat the farther account himself.

Wm Freeborn . I am one of the turnkeys of Newgate. Mr. Akerman gave me strict orders, when he went with the two prisoners to Peterborough, to search their irons. I did so, and found a bazel upon each leg cut almost in two. I took and shewed them to my master who ordered me to go up and search for the saws with which they were saw'd. I went up into the ward where the prisoners had lain; there was Baythorn, a person

under sentence of death. I said to him, Baythorn, I suppose I shall find your irons cut as the others have been. I look'd and found his had been touched. I said, I shall make an example of you if you don't tell where the instruments are that cut them; he went to the barrack and jump'd upon a box, and there were the pistols; he was going to take them out; I said I could take them out myself. Then I saw him open his box, and I saw two brace of pistols; the brace of horse pistols were loaded, the pocket ones were not.

Q. What were they loaded with?

Freeborn. They had twenty-one balls in them both. I ask'd him how he came by them, at first he said he knew nothing of them. I found three watch spring saws in frames, and some powder in a paper. I know no farther how they came there than what Baythorn told me. I know the prisoner at the bar used frequently to come to Jeffreys and Hardy.

Prisoner. I came three or four times.

Q. Was he acquainted with Baythorn?

Freeborn. I believe he was, because Baythorn had been in that room with them since he was respited. We had a suspicion of but two people whom we took, which were the prisoner and Hardy the evidence. Baythorn told us that the evidence brought the pistols.

Thomas Hardy . On Wednesday the 9th of Jan. I had some business on board the Hunter Tender, where I saw one Martin, who desired me to go to Jeffreys and Hardy then in Newgate, and deliver them a message, to this effect. '' That he being '' press'd on board the Tender could not do that '' favour for them, but that I could do it as '' well.'' I went to them in Newgate, and in the lodge there they sat, and Baythorn along with them, drinking red wine together. I pull'd off my hat, and expressed my sorrow at seeing them in that place. I deliver'd my message.

Q. Did you know them before?

Hardy. I knew Jeffreys and Hardy before. I belong to lieutenant Watson, and I pressed Jeffreys. I did not know Hardy till I saw him at the Privateer's rendezvous. I desired to know what business I could do for them. Jeffreys put me off from time to time, and after that he desired me to go up stairs and drink a glass of wine; in the mean time came in Butler the prisoner and another man; then we all went up stairs together. When we came there Jeffreys ask'd me whether I would aid him to make his escape out of Newgate. I replied, I thought it impossible for him to make his escape, and desired him to submit to mercy and make his peace. He pointed to a window in the room where we were sitting, which I think they call the tap, and said, Jack Shepherd made his escape out there, and why should not I make mine as well as he.

Q. to Freeborn. What room is that he speaks of?

Freeborn. It is a room above stairs in the inside the gaol.

Hardy. I still seem'd indifferent, and he call'd to Hardy. Said he, take your namesake up stairs and make a christian of him. When we came up stairs into a place called the master's side, Hardy sat himself down on the barrack, and said to me has Jeffreys told you the affair. I said he has been speaking of it; but I don't think there is any probability of it; have you seen my jacket said he, I said, no; said he, I'll give it you if you will have it, I have as many as will serve my life time; he went to the side of a deal box and pull'd out a key and open'd it, and took out a handful of swan shot; he let one drop to the ground, and to excuse it, he said, have you had any sport; you should not bring such things here, you are likely to be stop'd for it; at the same time he open'd his box, and put his hand upon one of the pistols. I saw two there, he handled them both.

Q. Was Butler present?

Hardy, No, he was then below drinking with Jeffreys; he said, how do you like my jacket. I was very much shock'd then, for I imagined a man that could father the dropping of the shot upon me, could very well shoot me through the head. He said, will you come for my jacket in the morning. I replied, yes, I'll come betwixt nine and ten, but I had no intention to go. I understood it was to assist him in his escape. This was to get me to the box to see the pistols. I wanted to go down stairs, to inform somebody in the gaol of what I had seen. I went down and saw Baythorn; seeing nothing upon him, I thought he was not one of the prisoners. I said, are you one of the gaol. He said, are you in the scheme. Then I walk'd towards Jeffreys, and said, I'll be sure to deliver this message for you; he said, bring me an answer between nine and ten; he took hold of the cuff of my coat, and said I should not go yet.

Q. Where was Butler then?

Hardy. He was then with Jeffreys. I said to Jeffreys, I had particular business, an d if I did not go then, I could not come in the morning. He

said, sit down. We sat there about half an hour, during which time Jeffreys, Hardy, Baythorn, the prisoner, and Jeffreys's wife seem'd to be in discourse together. When they thought it was time to go, they all got up from their seats. We walked to the door, and Jeffreys's wife had me by the arm. We went out. The prisoner went either before or behind me, I don't know which. I observed one before, and the other behind me. I thought they had some suspicion of my having an intent to discover the affair.

Q. How many of you came out then?

Hardy. The prisoner, Jeffreys's wife, another man and I. When we were out of the gaol, Butler said to me, '' will you be sure to come, and '' bring a brace along with you.'' Whether he said pistols or not, I can't say. Said I, suppose I should be stop'd in conveying them in? Said he, '' You may easily hide them under your great '' coat, for I carried the pops in.'' I think he made use of those words.

Q. What did you apprehend by the word pops ?

Hardy. I apprehend that he meant the pistols which I had seen there.

Mr. Akerman. It is a common word for pistols, amongst those sort of people.

Hardy. He seeing me indifferent, told me it was a deep laid scheme, and would certainly do. He pointed towards Holbourn, and said, he'd there have a coach to convey them to the waterside, or among the sailors, where it would be impossible to find them out. They seemed to stand under Newgate till they saw me part of my way to the Fleet-Market.

Q. What time did you go away?

Hardy. I apprehend we might go away about six o'clock. The lamps were all lighted up.

Q. Did you go to them after this?

Hardy. No, I never did. I was taken up the next day on suspicion with a warrant. I gave the same account before Mr. Fielding as I do here now, and sign'd my information before him.

Prisoner. I saw that evidence in the room with Jeffreys and Hardy, both above and below; but I never spoke to him concerning a coach, or concerning the prisoner.

Q. Do you know any thing about the saws?

Hardy. No, I do not.

Ann Jeffreys is call'd.

Mr. Akerman. This is Jeffreys's wife that is gone to Peterborough. He has another there.

Q. to Hardy. Is this the same woman you saw in Newgate at the time you speak of?

Hardy. It is.

Ann Jeffreys . I know Hardy and Jeffreys both sold some cloaths, and gave the money to this Butler to go and buy pistols, and I saw him deliver the pistols to them.

Q. Can you tell what money he gave them?

A. Jeffreys. No, I cannot tell rightly; because Butler sold Jeffreys's buckles for him.

Q. Do you know of any instruments being brought to Newgate?

A. Jeffreys. Butler brought in a watch spring, delivered it to Jeffreys, and Jeffreys shew'd it to Hardy.

Q. Look at these saws here produced.

A. Jeffreys. I saw but one of them there. He brought a watch spring in, in order to have saws made of it, as he said.

Q. Did you see any pistols?

A. Jeffreys. The prisoner brought in but one pair of pistols first.

Q. Look at these four pistols. (A brace of horse pistols, and a brace for the pocket.)

A. Jeffreys. He brought in the two little ones first.

Q. Who did he give them to?

A. Jeffreys. To Jeffreys.

Q. Do you know for what purpose?

A. Jeffreys. To make their escape. This they said all to one another.

Q. Who brought in the large pistols?

A. Jeffreys. Butler brought them in also. I saw them there.

Prisoner's Defence.

About last Michaelmas I came from Ireland. When I came to Liverpool there were Jeffreys and his wife, the woman that gave evidence last. We came to London in company together, and then we parted company. In a short time after that I saw him. He told me he had a place on board the Blakeney privateer, which was a lieutenancy. In a short time after that I saw his spouse. We spake together. After that I saw the papers, which mentioned two men being in Newgate, for robbery and felony. A friend of mine told me they were the same men that came with me from Ireland. Upon enquiring I found they were the same men. Mistress Jeffreys having heard where I was enquired for me, and told me Mr. Jeffreys would be glad to see me, so I came to Newgate to see him. I had been there three or four times, and from what I saw I believe they have conspired against me. From the time I came to London I

work'd for one Mr. Rowland, a velvet weaver. Here is one of his men to give me a character.

To his Character.

John Caister . I have known the prisoner about two months I believe, I can't justly say as to the time.

Q. What has been his general character ?

Caister. He has borne a very good character since he work'd for my master, who is a velvet weaver.

Q. Where does your master live?

Caister. His name is Rowland. He lives in Elder Street, Spital-fields. He was very well recommended to us, for an honest sober man.

Patrick Doyle . I have known him ever since he was a child.

Q. What countryman is he?

Doyle. He is an Irishman. He served his time to me.

Q. How long have you been in England ?

Doyle. Near three years.

Q. Have you known him here in England ?

Doyle. I have, ever since he came here.

Q. What is his general character?

Doyle. An excellent one. I never heard the value of a pennyworth of dishonesty by him in my life, upon the virtue of my oath.

Guilty .

[Transportation. See summary.]

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