16th September 1830
Reference Numbert18300916-103
VerdictNot Guilty

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Before Mr. Justice Bayley.

1568. THOMAS ASHE was indicted for that he, on the 27th of May , did knowingly, wilfully, and feloniously send a certain letter to His Royal Highness Ernest Augustus Duke of Cumberland , threatening to kill and murder the said Duke , which letter is as follows:-

Carlisle, May 27, 1830 .

SIR, - I am an unfortunate public writer by profession, and after wasting a rather lengthened career in the uses and abuses of the press, I find myself a solitary individual of the world, a vagabond in appearance, and a beggar, in fact.

While smarting under this mortifying condition last summer, I composed a work allied to the honour and interest of H. R. H., the Duke of Cumberland, and I refused from the booksellers one hundred guineas for the work. I confided the work to the hands of H. R. H., on the strict condition that he should return it to me, or explain to me the motives of its detention. H. R. H., has detained it in his possession ever since last summer, and has resolutely refused to give me any explanation whatever on the subject. I have wrote to every person attached to the honour and interest of H. R. H.; many remain silent, while others assert that they have been enjoined by H. R. H. by no means to enter into any explanation with me about the work in question. I begged of Mr. Conant, the Magistrate, to apply to H. R. H.; his interposition is interdicted. I caused Messrs. Mounsey and Grey, the Solicitors, to institute legal proceedings against H. R. H.; for the recovery of my work; they wrote to the private secretary of H. R. H.; he made no reply, and they refused to proceed further without I advanced the cost of proceeding by action of trover. I have not, Sir, wherewith to meet the exigencies of the day, much less to go to law with a Prince of the Blood Royal? What am I to do? Am I submissively to lose the subject and fruit of my labour, or am I to recover them, and to repel cruelty and contumely by such means as Fenton and Bellingham were driven to employ? I am doomed, and determined to recover them, or to perish in the attempt, and I now swear by the faith and honour of a man, and by that God who witnesses my distress, arising out of the Duke of Cumberland's conduct towards me, that if H. R. H. persists in detaining my property without explanation, that I will proceed up to London, and make the matter a personal question between us. This must make the question a question of Police, one that must fall within your jurisdiction, but as "prevention of crime" is said to be a marked feature of the New Police, I would implore you, Sir, to communicate with H. R. H., and to see that I recover my property from him without having recourse to measures that appal and horrify the mind. Bellingham wrote a letter of this nature to the late Sir Nathaniel Conant , the letter was regarded as an imbecile threat, and it cost Mr. Pereival his life. I want nothing of H. R. H. but my work; my property which he detains in his hands, and in proof that I wish to recover my work through legal agency, I invoke your interposition; If you refuse me that interposition, and regard this letter as an idle menace, you will act after the manner of Sir N. Conant, and invite the commission, in place of preventing crime.* I have the honour to be. Sir, your obedient Servant, THOMAS ASHE .

* The sentences in Italics had a line drawn under them.

Chief Director of the New Police.

2nd COUNT, Charging him with sending a certain letter without stating to whom.

3rd COUNT, for causing and procuring the said letter to be sent to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland.

MR. GURNEY conducted the prosecution.

CHARLES YARDLEY . I am a clerk in the office of Police, Whitehall-place, Middlesex. I recollect receiving a letter by post (looking at one) - I believe this to be it, I have no doubt about it, except that I did not mark it; I have it to Mr. Mayne, the commissioner - it was in an envelope when I received it; I broke the seal - it was addressed, "To the commissioner of Police" on the envelope; I gave it to Mr. Mayne, with the envelope - I read it first, and have no doubt it is the same.

COURT. Q. Did you deliver to Mr. Mayne more than one letter of that description? A. I did, but one other, that was to the same import as this.

MR. GURNEY. Q. Is this letter written in blue ink, the other? A. Yes.

COURT. Q. Where did you get that letter? A. I received it in the same manner by post; I speak with certainty to the second letter, but not to the first - I only delivered Mr. Mayne two of this description.

RICHARD MAYNE , ESQ. I am a commissioner of the new Police. I received this letter from Mr. Yardley, it was in an envelope; I threw the envelope away after a few days - I sent the letter under seal to Colonel Poten; this other letter, written in blue ink, and signed Thomas Ashe , came a considerable time afterwards.

COURT. Q. Did you make any mark on the letter before you sent it to Colonel Poten ? A. I did not; I had observed it sufficiently to know it is the same - I had frequent occasion to notice it; there is a mark here - I am not sure whether it was made by myself; I believe not, but I observed it shortly after.

COLONEL FREDERICK POTEN . I am aid-de-camp to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland - (looking at the letter) I received this letter from Mr. Mayne, at least from the commissioners of Police, sealed in a cover; it was accompanied by a note which I have not got - I do not know what has become of it; I believe it is destroyed - I did not keep it; I do not keep notes of that kind - I read the letter; I gave the letter and note to His Royal Highness, who read it in my presence.

Prisoner. Q. I wish to ask Colonel Poten when he delivered the note and enclosure purporting to be mine, what observation did His Royal Highness, make to him, Colonel Poten ? A. I do not recollect what observation His Royal Highness made on it.

Prisoner. Q. I wish to ask whether Colonel Poten does not recollect some gesture or passion which indicated His Royal Highness' mind? A. I do not exactly.

MR. GURNEY. Q. Did His Royal Highness direct you to do any thing with the letter? A. Yes, he directed me to send it to Lord Wynford - I am doubtful whether I sent it or took it myself; if I sent it, it was under seal.

THOMAS QUICK . I am an officer of the Police. On the 17th of July I was stationed at Kensington, and at seven o'clock that morning I saw the prisoner come out of a house, No. 17, King-street, Kensington-square; I followed him to Kew-green, and there saw him accost a

man who had the appearance of a servant, dressed in morning, with a white apron on; this was about two hundred yards from the Duke of Cumberland's gate, the servant went in a direction for the Duke's gate; I did not see him enter, as a carriage drove up and hid him from view - I saw the prisoner looking very earnestly into that carriage - I afterwards saw the servant come back, and speak to him; the prisoner walked backwards and forwards in front of the Duke's house for an hour and a half, and then walked away.

Prisoner. Q. Who instructed you to follow my steps? A. My superintendent (Mr. Williams) directed me closely to observe you, and follow you wherever you went; he did not tell me for what purpose.

Q. Where you informed my object was assassination? A. Not directly; I had no directions whatever in that respect - I had no instructions to hinder you from committing mischief.

Q. Would you have prevented me from murdering the person I addressed that day, or any other person? A. Most certainly I would - it did not appear to me that you and the person you spoke to were strangers to each other by any means; I did not see him smile at you; but from the affability of manners, I thought the prisoner and him were acquainted; there was a report of a marriage taking place that morning; I observed a few people going in a direction for the chapel, but not many; there was no public assemblage - I did not know that the Rev. Mr. Jelf, the tutor to Prince George, was going to be married that morning to a lady in waiting.

COURT. Q. You did not know that any body belonging to His Royal Highness' household was to be married that day? A. No.

Prisoner. Q. Were there not several carriages rolling by the residence of the illustrious personage in question? A. I observed two, one stopped at His Royal Highness' gate; two or three people got out and entered His Royal Highness' residence; two of them were ladies; I cannot swear whether there was a third person or not; I do not know whether you were reading the motto on the carriage, nor whether the motto was"Felix in Felix" - I cannot tell whether you were armed; I saw no arms - he kept his right hand in his coat pocket; the pocket was in the pleat - I could not judge whether any arms were there, as it was a large surtout coat; I saw nobody but the servant hold any conversation with you - I had no instructions to prevent you assassinating any person, but on my own responsibility I would have done it.

JOHN MAY . I am a superintendent of the New Police. On the evening of the 17th of July I went to No. 17, King-street, Kensington, and there found the prisoner; I took this letter with me - (the one written in blue ink) - I only had that letter at that time; I showed it to the prisoner, and asked if he knew the hand-writing - he hesitated a little, and answered Yes; I then asked if he had been to Kew that day - he said he had; I asked if his name was Thomas Ashe - he said Yes; I asked if he was from the north, near Carlisle - he said he was; I then took him into custody: on the 19th, at twelve o'clock in the afternoon, this other letter was shown to him at Bow-street, by Sir Richard Birnie , while he was under examination; what he said was taken in writing.

Prisoner. Q. Was Saturday, the 17th, the first day you called at my lodging? A. No; I believe I first called on Thursday, the 15th, or on Friday, it mght have been Wednesday - I will not be positive whether it was Wednesday or Thursday; I spoke to the landlady of the house- I was in private clothes.

Q. Was the object of your visit to debauch her mind, or set her as a spy on my actions? A. No; I did not tell her I was an officer, or desire her to conceal from you that I had called; I know I could have apprehended you before I did; I took you exactly at a quarter before ten o'clock in the evening - I believe you were either in bed or getting in; the door was locked or bolted - you had come home about ten minutes before I arrived; I had no opportunity of taking you earlier on that night: you stated you had taken physic, but did not appear unwell; you said you were the writer of that letter: there were no arms in your room; there was nothing suspicious in your appearance or demeanor.

JOHN EDWARD CONANT, ESQ. I am a Police Magistrate. I know the prisoner; I have correspondence with a person of the name of Thomas Ashe , but have never seen him so as to know he was the person with whom I corresponded.

There being no proof of the letter charged in the indictment(which was not the one in blue ink) being the prisoner's handwriting, the prosecution was here abandoned.


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