21st April 1819
Reference Numbert18190421-176
VerdictNot Guilty

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676. WILLIAM CHAMBERLAIN and RICHARD FACEY were indicted for stealing, on the 1st of February , two swans, value 20 s., and two cygnets, value 10 s., belonging to and the goods of our Lord the King , being pinioned and marked with a mark, which the swans of the King are marked with .

SECOND COUNT, the same, only stating them to belong to the Master, Wardens and Freemen of Commonalty of the mystery of Vintners of the City of London , and to be marked with their mark.

THIRD COUNT, the same, only stating them to belong to the Wardens and Commonalty of the mystery of Dyers of the City of London , and to be marked with their mark.

FOURTH COUNT, the same, only stating them to belong to certain persons unknown, and to be marked.

JOHN AMOS KEMP . I am a fisherman. I was with my son and my father on the River Thames, on the 1st of

February, about seven o'clock in the evening, near Teddington. My father was in the punt, and we were ashore near Crowlake ait. I have known Chamberlain eight years, and Facey four years. Two men, who I believe to be the prisoners (but am not certain), were in a wherry; they went into Crowlake ait , there was one swan on the ait under half a year old, I heard them crash on the water with a staff, as if they hit at something, and then heard a swan cry. Two or three minutes after I heard the same crash, and the swan cried again. I was right opposite to them. I left my father and son to listen to what they were at. I was five minutes there, and then heard them strike a third time, but did not hear the swan scream then - as they had a wherry they could go faster than us, and so we directed our course up the river to Hampton Court bridge. My father and I got out, and sent my son in the punt up to a summer-house below the lock, and left him there. About half an hour afterwards I returned to the punt, my son showed me cygnet lying about twenty yards from the waterside, in a little hole in a field adjoining the banks of the Thames, and about two miles from the ait - it was about half a year old, it was dead, but warm. I had seen that cygnet alive that day, in Crowlake ait - there was no other there for a fortnight before.

Cross-examined by MR. BROADRIC. Q. When did you fight with Facey - A. I had no fight with him; I hit him twice, and so I did Chamberlain. The moon shone very bright that night. I will not swear the prisoners were in the wherry. Crowlake ait is on the Middlesex side of the water.

SAMUEL KEMP . I was with my father and grandfather in the punt near Crowlake ait. I saw two persons in the wherry - we were about forty or fifty yards off. I cannot speak to the men. I heard a splash in the water, and then heard a swan scream once - I heard the splash twice. It was a moonlight night. My father went ashore. I then saw the persons row the boat opposite to Hampton Court lock.

Q. Was it the same boat you saw before - A. I cannot say; I only saw one that I know. I saw one of them get ashore opposite Hampton Court, on the Middlesex side - he had something with him like a swan - he went to the wherry again, and they went away. I went ashore, and found a cygnet, dead, in a hollow of the field. I knew both the prisoners before.

Q. From the opportunity you had of observing the wherry, what do you believe - A. I believe them to be the men. Chamberlain lived at Twickenham. I showed my father the cygnet.

Q. Were any of the swans bred at your uncle's - A. They were.

Cross-examined. Q. You could not tell whether you saw the same wherry the second time - A. I cannot.

WILLIAM BOULTON . I am apprentice to Mrs. Ann Brown . On the 1st of February I was near the river, on the tow path opposite Long Ditton, which is between Crowlake ait and Hampton Court bridge. I first saw the Kemps go up in their punt - I knew them before. I have known the prisoners about a year. In about half an hour I saw a wherry go up in the same course - there was one man in the wherry, and two others - the prisoners were towing it. Chamberlain spoke to me, he said,

"Halloo, Bill!" I said halloo! too - he was towing.

Q. Who was the other man that was assisting him - A. I did not notice, he held his head down, and did not speak. After they went down I went to the waterside to look into their boat, when I went to their boat they went faster. I saw something in the boat's stern, it struck me it might be a swan, it appeared like one. As I went to the boat they started out further in the river. A great many swans had been missing from the river.

Cross-examined. It might be a man's jacket you saw - A. It might, it was after eight o'clock.

MR. ALLEY. Q. How far was it from Crowlake ait - A. About half a mile; they were going against the stream; the towing path is about a mile from Hampton Court bridge. I was close to Chamberlain. They passed me.

JOHN KEMP . I am a fisherman. I had the care of the swans, and bred them - there was a brood of four young ones and two old ones at the ait; the young ones would be about six months old in February; they cannot fly till they are a year old, and never leave the old ones till then. When they went into the water they remained at Crowlake ait I saw all six of them a fortnight after Christmas. I missed three young and two old ones, one was left by itself, it was hurt when it was young; I saw that safe about the latter end of January, which was ten days before the prisoners were taken up. All the swans had been taken away before they were apprehended. I missed eight or ten.

Q. They swam about - A. Yes, but they do not go far from home.

THOMAS PAGE . I am stageman and swan marker to the Vintners' Company. The swans belong to the King, the Dyers and Vintners Companies - nobody else have a right to keep swans on the River. I occasionally go and look at them, and saw them all safe about Christmas - there were thirty-two on the river; I missed the whole about the 12th of February, from Twickenham to Hampton Court bridge every swan in that neighbourhood was taken off the river. On the 26th of February I went with the officer to Chamberlain's lodgings at Twickenham, we found him and his wife there; he was asked what he had done with the skins of the swans he had killed - he said he had no swan skins. We searched the room, and in the cupboard I saw a swan's quill - Bishop pulled it out. He was asked where he got it? he said he did not know, he had never seen it before, it must have been in his lodgings before he took them. In another cupboard in the same room we found the skin of a cygnet, about six months old. He was asked where he got that, his wife and himself both answered at the same time, that they found it. They were asked where, and both answered at the same time,

"in Holborn." I asked at what time it was found, one answered in the day, and the other at night. I said, why, what do you mean by that? the prisoner said,

"Why, it was neither day nor night, it was twilight." He was taken into custody, and brought to town. A few days before I was at his lodgings, I was going up the river, and found the carcases of four swans, skinned, and lying on the edge of the river at Richmond - two young and two old; a sack was lying by them. I cut the beaks off, and know by the marks on them, that two belong to the King and two to the Dyers Company.

COURT. Q. When you go to mark them, you and the King's officer go together - A. Yes, the King's officer and the Dyers' officer go with me; if there is a brood of five, the cock claims three, and the hen two; if it is even, we share alike. I should think, by the size of the bird that was killed on Crowlake ait, that this skin corresponds with it. I mean the bird that was found at Hampton Court. They never stray after they have paired. Four swans would be worth 11 l. They were marked and pinioned.

JURY. Q. Was the skin fresher when you found it than it is now - A. It was.

THOMAS BROMLEY . I was in the House of Correction when Chamberlain was confined there, in the same room with him. I was detained to be a witness at Kingston. which I did, and am now at large. While I was there I asked Chamberlain what he was detained for? he said it was knocking down a swan or swans, and asked if I thought they would let a man swear to him, by seeing him over the water. He said he was taken through a fisherman, who he had previously had some words with - he did not mention his name. He said his master had been to him, and told him that the fisherman had been to him, and told about knocking down the swans; and his master told him not to be afraid, for if he got into any trouble he would assist him in getting out of it. He said he saw a man on the water, who spoke to him, on the night of the robbery as I suppose; and that the officers afterwards came to his house, and took him; that they found a swan skin and a quill in his house; that they took him to a public-house, and gave him some beef steaks and beer, but he could neither eat nor drink. I asked if the fisherman was there? he said, I believe that he was. I asked if any one else was there? he said he thought he saw a man who he had sold a skin to, but he was not certain, as he could not look him in the face, but he thought it was him by his watch-chain. I asked if he was afraid of any other skins being found? he said No, for they were sold at such a place as they could not have a thought of looking for them. I asked him if any other persons were concerned with him at the time he was seen on the water? he said his master and his mate were with him. I asked him if his mate was taken, whether he would not say any thing against him? he said he was not afraid of that, for he knew he would sooner suffer death first.

THOMAS PAGE re-examined. The swans were all marked. I cannot swear this identical cygnet was marked - the whole brood were marked at Christmas. When I saw them the cygnets were marked

"Dyers Company."


Fourth Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

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