THOMAS TAPLIN.
28th June 1780
Reference Numbert17800628-18
VerdictGuilty
SentenceDeath

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308. THOMAS TAPLIN was indicted for that he in the king's highway, in and upon James Mahon , did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person two shillings and sixpence, in monies, numbered, the property of the said James Mahon , June the 7th .

Mr. JAMES MAHON sworn.

Where do you live? - At the corner of Great Russel-street .

In Russel-street? - I have a door in both streets.

Was any demand made on you for money on the 6th of June? - On the 7th of June. It was on the 6th they surrounded my house. On Wednesday the 7th at about six or seven o'clock in the evening, I was in my dining-room. I heard a violent knocking at the shop door, and saw at Mr. Eades's, which is the opposite corner to me, a crowd. I said, what is that knocking for? My boy said, Sir, they are coming for money. I went down and opened the shop door. I saw a little dirty ragged boy at the door, with a blue cockade in his hat: he said, God bless your honour, remember the poor mob. I said go along, you little impudent rascal, or I will kick your backside, or something of that sort; I spoke that angrily. He immediately turned away from me, and said, then I will go and fetch my captain. I immediately recollected the situation I was in the night before, and indeed was sorry I had not complied with the demand which was made upon me, not knowing what might be the consequence.

Just state shortly what that was? - My house was beset and threatened to be destroyed for four hours, and with great persuasion I got rid of them. I had three or four half crown pieces in my pocket, which indeed was all the mob left me the night before. I said to my boy, I will give them as little as I can, Billy, go and get me some silver for this half crown. The boy went out and brought me almost instantly two shillings and sixpence in change. I had a shilling in my hand. I stood on the threshold of my door with my hat on. The mob came from Mr. Eades's house to mine, and the prisoner was on horseback; his horse was led by the boy who came to demand money of me before, and another. The people who were spectators said, Sir, you must give them money.

How many might there be with him? - A vast crowd followed him; there might be a hundred.

Had they weapons? - Thick sticks and different things. This boy had in his hand a broomstick cut short. The boy said, Now I have brought my captain, Sir. The mob immediately upon that, said, God bless this gentleman, he is always generous. When the boy said, Now, I have brought my captain, I stood on the kirb stone. I had my hat in my hand. Understanding that their motive was for money, I said to the prisoner How much, Sir? Half a crown, Sir, says he. I had intended to give but a shilling, but upon that I put two shillings and sixpence into his hand. He looked at it some time, what he meant by looking at it I do not know. They then gave me three cheers, and went to the next house, and I immediately turned in.

What did he do with the money? - I believe he put it into his pocket. I was in too much terrour to take notice of that.

From the whole of his conduct did he appear to you to be the leader, or as they represented him their captain, in that armed mob? - Undoubtedly he did.

Would you have parted with your money if there had not been that force and multitude there? - Certainly I should not; I had refused it to the boy who had demanded it singly before.

Cross Examination.

No doubt but you was, like every body else, exceedingly terrified at this time with such an armed force at your door, and having been threatened by them you was a good deal frightened? - I cannot say that I was, I was so cool and collected as to send the boy out for half a crown.

You said your terrour was so great you did not see what he did with the money? - I turned about immediately, wishing to get rid of him.

You had never seen this man before? - Never, that I know in my life.

You did not see him the day before? - No.

You knew nothing of him before? - No.

The only time you saw him was whilst you was giving him the money? - I saw him crossing the way coming up to me with the boy leading his horse. He has since cut off his hair and put on a wig.

You said his horse was led, did you observe whether that was not against his will? - No, it was not; upon my giving him the halfcrown, after they had cheered me, these boys left him, and he said to two men, Do you go to that side and you to that.

What day of the week was this? - On Wednesday.

Did you see the prisoner after that? - Yes, at Whitehall.

Did you see him in Covent-Garden any where? - No, I did not see him after that, only when he turned towards Mr. Field's and Mr. Jones's.

What was he doing at Whitehall? - He was under examination before the magistrates. I knew him as soon as I went into the room.

ROBERT TIMEWELL sworn.

I live in Tavistock-street, Covent-garden.

What business are you? - A haberdasher.

Do you remember on Wednesday evening the 7th of June at any time seeing the prisoner? - On Wednesday evening, about nine o'clock, the prisoner came into our street at the head of a large mob. The riots of the preceding day had been so bad that it put me in the utmost fear.

In what situation was the prisoner? - He was on horseback at two or three doors distance from me; it was about shop-shutting time; my young man was shutting my shop. I stood on the step at the door.

Had you opportunity enough to observe his person so as to be sure that is the man? - Yes; that is the man I then saw; he had on a pompadour coat, and wore his own shock hair.

Cross Examination.

You did not know him before? - I never saw him before.

You do not know how he came to be taken up? - Not of my own knowledge.

- GRIFFITHS sworn.

What are you? - An apothecary in Bedford-street, Covent-garden.

Do you remember on the evening of the 7th of June seeing the prisoner any where? - Yes. I was not at home then. Money was gathered.

You see I carefully avoid asking you any thing you do not know yourself; did you on the course of that night see him? - I did not.

I understand you are the person who apprehended him? - Yes.

How happened that? - The neighbours were much dismayed; when I came home on Thursday morning they told me what had taken place. I went to Westminster to see what could be done in the presents exigence of things. As I came from thence, on the Friday following, Mr. Davis, the mercer, told me the man who had been on horseback riding about the street collecting money was in the street then. I asked where? Mr. Wallace the woollen-draper said I will get an officer to take him. They showed him to me; I laid hold of him directly. Then the other people came round and several of the neighbours came up.

What was he doing in the street, was he on horseback or on foot? - On foot. A person was in a chaise who they said had come from the Borough with him, but that man went off. I put my hand under his arm, and told him there was some business to settle, which we must all talk about, and secured him.

Had he his own hair or a wig on at the Horse-guard when you apprehended him? - I do not recollect enough of his dress to say only that he had a green waistcoat on over his red one. He was shown to me and so I secured him.

Cross Examination.

You do not know what his business was there that day? - No.

Nor what he was about? - No,

There was no mob or riot then? - No, none that I saw.

MOSES LANCY sworn.

Where do you live? - In Tavistock-street. I saw the prisoner on Wednesday evening the 7th of June.

What was he doing then? - He came down our street in the evening with a vast number of people along with him. He was on a brown horse. They knocked at every door they came to very violently.

Did he appear to have any command over the rest of the people? - The money they collected at every door they gave to him. They stiled him their captain. It was the same night Sir John Fielding 's house was burnt. I went to see the disturbance; they came forward and knocked at my door. There were a great many small boys along with this man; but there were about a dozen stout men along with him. They collected money.

Were they armed? - Some of them had sticks.

Are you sure the prisoner is the man? - I am.

Did you observe whether he wore his own hair or a wig at that time? - His own hair I think.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

I know nothing at all about this; I know none of these gentlemen. I cannot say any thing in it, I do not know what was transacted.

For the Prisoner.

ROBERT ASKEW sworn.

I am a founder, and live in Blackmore-street.

How long have you known the prisoner? - About six months.

Do you know any thing particular of him? - The first particular thing I ever saw of him was about six months ago. I was at the Blue Posts; all of a sudden he came down stairs without stockings and shoes, and he stood in an upright, bold manner, and shivered and shook. I could not think the meaning of it. I said what do you mean, what is all this about? He stood there like a cypher. I went to him; he shook greatly; I said what is the matter with you? I could get no answer from him a great while; at last he sat him down, got water, washed him, and so on. Some time afterwards he said, O, my wife is murdered, my wife is dead.

He kept the tap at the Blue Posts, did he not? - Yes he did.

In what street? - Blackmore-street.

Did you look upon him by this conduct to be in his sense? - No, quite out of his senses. He was as much like a madman as any I know.

You have mentioned one instance, did you ever see any more? - Yes, several. This was the first instance I ever saw of him. Another time there was myself and five or six more people together. He was taken in this mad way; he jumped and tore and broke the settle of the coffee-room. I jumped over the place, and fell upon him and held him.

How long was this ago? - This might be a month after. I once indulged him to lie along with me.

Independent of his insanity, how was he as to his honesty? - A harmless, quiet sort of a man when he was a little sensible. I once obliged him to let him lie with me; he had not long been in bed before he gave such a spring up that he quite frightened me. He jumped several times; I was going to alarm the house, but at last I fell asleep, and was very happy in the morning to find myself

alive, and thought I would never lie with him again.

Cross Examination.

What business is he? - A coach-master.

How has he got his bread lately? - By his hackney-coach.

Did he himself drive? - He has men.

Does he himself drive? - I believe not, he keeps a man.

Then you do not know much of him? - I have known him six months or more.

But did you either live near enough to him or know enough of him to know how he was employed from day to day? - He lives by his coach.

If he has two one man could not drive two? - I never saw him drive it.

Is that the only employment he has, that of being a coach-master? - Nothing else that I know of.

And he supports himself entirely by that? - As far as I know.

Was he a lodger or housekeeper at that time? - A lodger.

Have you been acquainted with him for a week or a fortnight before this 7th of June? - I have been acquainted with him six months.

But did your intimacy continue with him up to the time he was apprehended? - Yes. Another time he was down in the taproom where he kept this place, and all of a sudden he began his anticks; and began to fight the air in all manner of attitudes; I went and laid hold of him, and asked him what was the matter? he shook and trembled. I set him down in a chair, and he went on so a considerable time.

But the man continued in the business and continued till this time keeping a couple of coaches, employing a servant, and in short, living by his business? - He did so.

Did you see him on the 6th of June, that was the Tuesday? - I do not know, I used to see him almost every day.

Did he at that time wear a wig or his own hair? - He used to wear a wig, but for a few days latterly he has worn his own hair.

How long has he wore his own hair before the 7th of June? - The 7th of June, what time was that?

Why the 7th of June was about three weeks ago; how long time before this day three weeks had he left off his wig? - Some time before that I saw him in at the Dog and Duck gardens with his hair, a long time before this matter happened.

A month or two? - I am not positive as to that.

Then you are not in the habit of daily seeing this man? - I saw him almost every day.

Then you can tell how long he has left off his wig, and when he began again to wear it? - I made no minutes of it; I cannot be particular.

WILLIAM HARWOOD sworn.

I am a tiresmith near St. Giles's church. I have known the prisoner four or five years. I look upon him to be out of his senses.

Did you know him the beginning of June last? - Yes.

Do you think he was then perfectly in his senses? - I have seen him out of his senses at the latter end of May and the beginning of June.

How is he as to honesty? - He has behaved very honestly to me. I have had dealings with him for some time.

Cross Examination.

Where did the prisoner live lately? - At the stones' end over in the Borough.

You live in St. Giles's, you could not have many opportunities of seeing him? - I went over to see him.

What is he? - A hackney-coach-man.

How long has he been in that business? - Ever since I knew him.

In all the dealings you had with him he always behaved like an honest man? - Yes.

And a sensible man? - Yes. Though as to sensible, be was mad at times.

The last time you saw him was about a month ago? - I saw him the last time about a week ago.

You did not see him on the 7th of June? - No.

TIMOTHY TOMLINS sworn.

I am a coach-master, I live at the Eight Bells, St. Giles's. I have known the prisoner between five and six years.

What has been his conduct as to his senses?

- When he gets liquor he is void of his senses.

Have you often known him in that situation void of his senses? - Yes. He was a tenant of mine near five years.

Cross Examination.

I believe you have very truely accounted for his disorder. Liquor taken to excess will drive most men out of their senses; how long was he tenant to you? - Four years three quarters.

He paid you his rent regularly? - Yes.

Counsel for the Prisoner. Do you mean to say that he is in his senses when he is sober? - I have seen him otherwise; I have heard he is sometimes wrong.

Counsel for the Crown. Would you let your house to a man who was mad? - No.

Counsel for the Prisoner. If he paid you your rent I suppose you would not care whether he was sane or insane.

Court. Did he himself settle his rent with you? - He did.

WILLIAM STEVENSON sworn.

I am a peruke-maker. I have known him about five years.

Have you had any occasion to see his conduct? - Several times.

What do you look upon him to be? - At times to be mad. I saw him about two years ago at the Eight Bells. I went in. Mrs. Dunstall said he was mad. I found him staring strangely. I took him to carry him up stairs, and he wanted to throw himself over the bannister. His wife and I got him to bed.

At what time of the day? - Eleven in the forenoon. At another time I went into a public-house, ordered a pint of beer, and he took hold of it and said I should not have it. I said I had paid for it and thought I ought to drink it. He said if I do not take some you will not give me any. I could not think but that was madness.

To the Prosecutor. Was the mob in sight at the time the boy came to you? - They were at the other end of the street, they were in sight.

GUILTY ( Death .)

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice NARES.


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