3rd June 1824
Reference Numbert18240603-152
VerdictGuilty; Guilty

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Before Mr. Recorder.

967. JAMES SNELLING and SAMUEL alias DOLBY HAINES , were indicted for stealing, on the 25th of January , two live swans, price 40 s., the goods of the Wardens and Commonalty of the mystery of Dyers of the city of London ; the said swans being severally pinioned and marked with a certain mark used by the said company; and one other live swan, price 20 s., the goods of our Lord the King , the same being pinioned and marked with a certain mark, which swans of and belonging to our said Lord the King are marked with .

SECOND COUNT, for stealing two live swans, price 40 s., marked and pinioned, the goods of the Wardens and Commonalty of the mystery of Dyers of the city of London, and one other live swan, marked and pinioned, price 20 s., the goods of our said Lord the King.

Mr. ADOLPHUS conducted the Prosecution.

THOMAS PAGE . I am swan-marker to the Vintners Company and live at Vintners Hall; I am well acquainted with the marks of the King's swans, the Dyers and the Vintners. The swan-markers of these Companies go every year, on the first Monday in August, to mark the swans. We have none on the River but tame swans; the colour of the beak of the wild swans is yellowish, and they have not black legs. These swans (examining soms) and this cygnet, have the Dyers mark. I went in March, with Harrison, the City officer, to Carstangs's, and saw five swans there; these two swans were there, and I found another swan, a (pen,) which has died since it was in my custody. The pen was the King's; here is the beak of it, which I have preserved; they were all delivered into my custody, and I have kept them ever since.

Cross-examined by Mr. PHILLIPS. Q. Where is the mark made - A. The mark is always across the beak; these scratches are a part of the King's mark.

Q. There are a great many swans in England - A. Yes, I suppose there are.

Q. What marks persons in the country may put upon their swans you don't know - A. No.

Q. You would not be surprised at other people marking them on the beak? - A. No.

Mr. ADOLPHUS. Q. These swans were pinioned, and could not fly - A. No; there are six marks across the beak; I could see these marks very plain when the bird was alive, or I should not have seized it. This cob has the mark of the Dyers' Company; it is cut out with a penknife, and there are marks across the beak beside. It is smooth when first cut, but gets rougher; we cut them again next year. I can say upon my oath that these are the Dyers Company's swans.

Mr. W. BENTLEY proved the charter of the Dyers' Company.

HERCULES UPJOHN. I am one of the swan-nesters to his Majesty, on the Thames, and to the Dyers' and Vintners' Companies. About Christmas last there were upon the Thames in the neighbourhood of Chertsey, belonging to the King, the Dyers, and Vintners Companies, forty or fifty swans. About a month after I missed some; I can't say how many. There is a place called Docket Point, about three quarters of a mile from Chertsey-bridge; there might be ten or twelve swans there, and in about a month or five weeks after Christmas they were nearly all gone. I remember

one swan with one eye, and a female belonging to him, and two young ones; they were all the Dyers Company. I saw them sometimes two or three times a day; I have rested the one-eyed swan for three years, and know it perfectly well; I should know it among a thousand: this is the swan (looking at it). There was another brood of swans at Docket Point, and another at Chertsey-bridge. This swan nested between Docket Point and Chertsey, in a place called Dumsey-meadow; it is in the County of Middlesex.

Q. There being another brood of swans at Chertsey-bridge, and another at Docket Point, what effect would that have upon these swans? - A. They will not let the other swans go past: they come to their bounds and there fight, and never pass that point at the brooding time.

Q. When did you lose sight of the one-eyed swan - A. About Christmas; it might be before or after, I cannot say. I did not see if sometimes for a week together; I do not recollect that I had seen him the week before Christmas; it might be a fortnight or three weeks, I cannot exactly say. I have been at Vintners' Hall since then; I have seen swans there, and the one-eyed swan was there; this is it - I saw it at Vintners Hall; it is the one I nested in Dumsey-meadow. I never heard of any one-eyed swan on the river but this.

Cross-examined. Q. You say that the broods fight very much; should you be surprised if one were to beat out another's eye in a fight - A. It might happen for anything I know. They moult every year, and get lighter by moulting. Some swans may wander a little way in a flood time; they might go a mile. There are a great many swans on the Thames, but no private gentleman has got them near our parts. I have gone to the nest of this pair very often in flood time, and put stuff to raise the nest, and they seemed pleased that the eggs were raised out of the water. They moult in the spring, but do not lose their mark by moulting.

PHILIP ROWSELL . I am a swan-nester to the King, the Vintners and Dyers Companies, and know their marks. I have been in the habit of nesting them for sixty years; I am seventy-one years of age. I should know by the mark to whom they belong (looking at one); this is the King's bird; I can see no other mark upon it. I am a nester, and not a marker. I live at Chertsey Bridge; I know Dumsey-meadow, but do not nest the swans there.

Cross-examined. Q. How long have you been acquainted with swans - A. Sixty years. I have seen them marked, fed them, and nested them. I have had great experience, and I think this swan is the King's; this beak of the dead swan I think is the same as the other.

GEORGE HICKS . I am one of the swan-markers of the Dyers' Company; I live in Moss-alley, Bankside. This swan with one eye I marked myself; it is the mark of the Dyers' Company. This cygnet was marked by me in August last. Mr. Page has sometimes assisted me in marking them, but I marked this myself. I believe I know but of one instance of Mr. Page marking a bird. The beak of the female swan has the King's mark.

Cross-examined. Q. Has not Mr. Rowsell great knowledge of all the swans about the neighbourhood - A. Yes; but he is only a nester not a marker; there are many old nesters who do not know the marks.

JOHN ROAKE. I lived at Christmas last, at Back-lane, Chertsey, near the sign of the Bell, public house. I know the prisoner Snelling; he came to me on a Sunday morning, about six or eight days after Christmas, and asked me if I would take a walk with him to look at a few swans, which we could get very easily; we did so, and he said there were three swans we could get very easily; they were in some bye water in the neighbourhood of the Thames. I know Dumsey-meadow; I was there about a month after Christmas; James Snelling was with me then, on a Sunday morning; we went to take a walk over Chertsey-bridge to Dumsey-meadow; it was between eleven and twelve o'clock in the forenoon; there was no one with me but James Snelling . We saw three live swans; he said we could easily get them at night. I told him that Sunday night was a bad night for any thing of that kind; he said,

"What does it matter to us as to the night;" there were two white swans and one brown one; I do not know the difference between a cygnet and an old one except by the colour. We then went over Chertsey-bridge and round Chertsey-meadow, and then home. About six o'clock Snelling came to my house again; it was then dark; he asked me to go out and get some swans - I went with him. There was nobody with him at my house, but Haynes joined us soon after; he had two sack. We went together to Dumsey-meadow, pelted the swans ashore, and caught them; we drove them on the meadow shore, and put two in one sack, and one in the other - I believe that they were the same as I had seen in the morning; we carried them and laid them under the hedge in Dumsey-meadow. Snelling said his father's cart was going to Leadenhall-market that night, and he would get him to let him go up with it, and take them; he said

"We will keep these swans alive, for they will fetch double the money of dead ones;" we then went to Chertsey-bridge. When they were sold we three were to share the money. I saw Haynes two days after that, and again some time after. I never learned from him what became of the swans, but that he took them to Leadenhall-market to the salesman. He gave me 3 s., which he said was all he could give. I was taken up on the 3d of April, I believe. I and Snelling had been acquainted from the time we were in Dumsey-meadow till we were taken. I was taken before him, and was accused of taking the swans; I then laid the blame upon Snelling.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you expect to save yourself by accusing him - A. No, I did not, upon my oath, expect to save myself, nor do I now expect it.

Q. What then is your motive; is it pure love of justice - A. Yes; I have come from the House of Correction now. I objected to Sunday night, because I thought it was a very bad night to do it on, because it is the Lord's day.

Q. You would not mind it on a week day then - A. I was very cautious about doing it.

Q. Were you ever accused of robbing any person before, or of any crime before this - A. I do not recollect being accused of robbing any one, or trying to rob any one before. I was taken once before a Magistrate for asking a man for my wages; that is the only time.

Q. How do you get your living - A. By gardening; I was not then in regular employment; I work at different

places, where I can get a job; I had been as much as three months out of employment, and have had relief from the parish; that was my chief support. I made up my living by working now and then for my brother.

Q. Do you know this place well, where the swans were taken from, Dumsey-meadow - A. I have known it sixteen or eighteen years. I never told this to any one till I came to Bow-street.

Q. And yet it is for the mere love of justice that you tell it now - A. I had not an opportunity of telling it before; I was nearly the whole of the time ill in bed; it was my illness that caused me to apply to the parish; I had applied before I was ill; they refused to relieve me at first, but did afterwards.

JOHN LINSEY . I am a labouring porter at Leadenhall-market. Mr. Stevens is a salesman there. I remember about a month after Christmas bringing three swans from a cart about five o'clock in the morning; I was then in Lime-street. Snelling was in the cart; he said to me, go and get an empty basket or flat to put these live things in. I did not see what things they were. I went to a shop, and they said they had not an empty basket or flat, and I came and told him so, and he then sent me to Upjohn's, and I saw something with a bottom out; he went himself, and got that, and lodged it on Mr. Stevens's stall, and we brought the swans out one at a time; there were three live ones; we took them to Mr. Stevens's stall, and left them there.

Cross-examined. Q. Was Snelling drunk or sober - A. I never took notice; I run from one cart to another to get a job; I had not drank any thing myself.

WILLIAM HEARN . I am servant to Mr. William Stevens , a salesman in Leadenhall-market. In January last I remember a person coming, but I do not recollect the porter; he asked me if we had a hamper we could lend him, or a coop. I said we had not. I saw three live swans in a coop some time after; Mr. Stevens had no other swans but them. I did not go up to them, as I was busy; I saw Bantock there.

Cross-examined. Q. Are you sure that they were swans - A. Yes.

THOMAS BANTOCK . In January last I purchased three swans of Mr. Stevens for Mr. Carstang. I sent them from the stall to Mr. Carstang by Throsby. I had bought none in that season before. Two were moulted off clean, and the other was a cygnet. I did not examine their heads.

WILLIAM STEVENS . I am a salesman of Leadenhall-market. I remember in January last having three swans; I do not speak as to one being a cygnet. A memorandum was made at the time in my book by my son; it was on the 26th of January. I cannot say who brought them; I believe they were sold for 3 l., but they are not paid for. It appears I got 8 s. commission for selling them; I am certain I had no other swans on the 26th of January.

THOMAS THROSBY . I am a porter, and am generally employed by Mr. Bantock. I went to Mr. Stevens's for swans in January; Mr. Bantock employed me. I took them to Mr. Carstang, and left them with Mrs. Carstang. I took them in the shop first, and then put them down in the yard. I did not examine them, and cannot tell whether one was a one-eyed swan or not.

MR. BANTOCK re-examined. I gave 3 l. for them. I bought them for Mr. Carstang: I think that was the full value of them.

SARAH CARSTANG. I am the wife of Phillip Carstang ; I live in Hampstead Road. I remember Throwsby bringing three swans in January; Mr. Page and Mr Harrison came soon after, and the swans they saw were the same that had been brought by Throwsby. I did not examine them. I do not know whether one had but one eye or not.

PHILLIP CARSTANGS . I am a bird fancier. I saw these swans on the morning after they came; I did not examine them particularly. I saw the cob had but one eye. There was a cob, a pen, and a cygnet. They were taken away by Mr. Page and Mr. Harrison.

MR. PAGE re-examined. After I had seen Roake and Haynes, it was a considerable time before I could see Snelling. I went first to Chertsey, and then to other places, but did not find him. I went to Andover; he was apprehended near there, but I did not see him taken. When I saw Haynes, I made him no promise or threat. He said he would tell all about it, for some one had been splitting; I said he might use his own pleasure; he then said that he had gone out with James Snelling and Roake to steal swans several times.

GEORGE AVIS . I am an officer of Bow-street. I went in search of Snelling, and found him at Abbot's End, two miles beyond Andover, in April, after the others were in custody. I told him the charge, and showed him my warrant; he said his mind was at rest now he was taken, and said,

"You have got 30 l. for me."

ALEXANDER ROBERTS . I am the King's swan-marker. This is the mark of one of the King's swans. I saw the swan before it died, and the mark was then more plain. This is one of the Dyers' marks. The mark could not have been done by accident; the King's mark is twenty strokes across the beak.

HAYNES - GUILTY . Aged 21.


Transported for Seven Years .

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