Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 17 October 2019), July 1735, trial of Elizabeth Calloway (t17350702-42).

Elizabeth Calloway, Damage to Property > arson, 2nd July 1735.

52. Elizabeth Calloway , was indicted for maliciously setting on Fire her own Dwelling-House, with an Intent to burn the Houses of Simon Batty and Richard Monk , and thereby did set on fire and burn the Houses of the said Batty and Monk June 9 .

Claudius Meldicot . I have lodged near two Years in the Prisoner's House, she kept a Brandy Shop in Cecil Court, near St. Martin's Lane . For a Quarter of a Year past she has not lain at home four Nights in a Month; and sometimes she used to carry out some things in a Handkerchief About three Months ago as I was going up Stairs, she called me in and said, she had insured her Goods for two Hundred Pound though I do not believe they were worth Forty Pound - On Saturday before the Fire, she told me. she'd come next Day to my Lodge in the Mews, and give me a Treat of half a Crown. I got the Lodge ready, but she did not come. On Monday she said she'd certainly come at night. So about Ten at night she sent me word she was coming, and would have me get five or six Bottles of Sussex Beer for fear the People that sold it should be abed. In a quarter of an hour, my Wife and Mr. Clark and another Lodger came. I asked where my Landlady was. My Wife answered, she sent Mrs. Clark for two Candles, and as soon as the Candles came, she bid us go and she would follow presently. There is no body with her but Lucas - Lucas is a Foot Soldier. In about a Quarter of an Hour the Prisoner and Lucas came together; she call'd for Tobacco, and said she'd smoke her Pipe - I went to the Gate, and somebody said, Lord! how light it is here in the Mews. The Prisoner came out frighted. as I thought, and said, I wish it may not be in our Court. This was about a quarter of an Hour after she came.

Mary Batty . My House joyn'd to the Prisoner's. Near eleven at Night, the Prisoner was standing at her own Door; a Neighbour coming to talk with me, the Prisoner went in and shut her Door. But in two or three Minutes it was opened again, a lusty Man came out and went towards the Mews. I don't know who it was, for it was dark, and his Back was towards me. The Prisoner stood two or three Minutes at her Door, and then stept off the Threshold, put her Finger into the Key Hole, and pulled the Door too, and I heard the Lock catch - Her Door used to be shut between nine and ten, and her Company within, drinking, smoaking, and swearing, and running up and down Stairs till one or two in the Morning; but I believe no body was now left in the House, except a poor Woman and her Daughter that lived in the Cellar. I thought I smelt a Fire. I took a Candle to go and look at my Mother who was ill, but before I could do it, I heard the poor Woman in the Cellar cry out Fire, and presently I heard a great Crack, the Fire burst out, and the Prisoner's Room up two pair of Stairs was all in a Blaze. I ran into the Street and saw the Fire in the two pair of Stairs Room and in the Shop below, but none up one pair of Stairs, which I thought was very strange - I lost all that I had in the World - but I believe the Prisoner lost nothing.

William Nash . At about half an Hour past eleven o'Clock, being in St. Martin's Court, I smelt Fire. I and a Watchman ran round to Cecil Court, and found the Prisoner's back Room behind her Shop in a Flame. We broke the Shutters down, I got in and catched up two Casks in the Shop to save them, but they were empty. The Fire in the low Room had catched hold of the Stairs, but in the first Floor over this there was no Fire at all, and yet at the same time the Room up two pair of Stairs was all in a Blaze - I have no knowledge of the Prisoner.

John. I do not know that I ever saw the Prisoner before. But as I was drinking in St. Martin's Court, I heard an out-cry of Fire - I run to Cecil's Court, and found Nash tearing down the Shutters; I assisted him, and entered the House. All the back Room was in Flames, but I saw no Goods at all in it. I examined five or six Casks in the Shop, but found no Liquor in them, so I threw them into the Court. The People without desired me to open the Door, which I did, for it was a spring Lock, but then the Door and Shutter being open, gave such a vent to the Flames, that I was forced to get out.

John Lock . I lived opposite to the Prisoner. At about a quarter past eleven, I was smoaking a Pipe of Tobacco at my own Door, and saw the Prisoner come out at her Door, and stand a little, and then pull the Door to, and go away. In about five Minutes I heard a cry of Fire, I ran out and saw the Sparks fly, and the upper Story next the Garret in a Flame. But at that time I saw no Fire below - I knocked at the Door, but hearing nothing, I ran into St. Martin's Lane to call Assistance.

Elizabeth Charley . I live in the Prisoner's Cellar, I came home about four in the Afternoon, and about seven she asked me for Rent, I said, I owe you nothing till Quarter Day. No Mother Feltham, says she (Feltham was my first Husband's Name) I come to ask you to go with us to Claudius's, and to bring your Daughter and Grandson with ye. We must not go all together, but one after another, for fear some Rogue should take notice and rob the House. I told her I was weary with my Day's Labour, and must go to bed, and besides it would be an unseasonable time for the Child to be out. Why, says she, wont the Child sleep till you come back? It shall cost you nothing, for I'll spend three Shillings, and if you wont go your self let your Daughter go. But still I said no, we must go to bed, she said she was sorry for that. So I went down, and about eight of the Clock I came up again to fasten my Cellar. Says she, are ye going to bed then? I answered, yes; and she said, poor old Woman! I shut my Door, and went to bed with my Daughter and fell asleep. I was waked with a great Noise of something falling down, but I was so used to hear a Noise in her House which made me that I did not so much mind, and was going to sleep again, but presently I heard another fall, and then a third with a violent Crack. This thoroughly waked me, and I waked my Daughter, and looking up where the Cieling was broke, we saw the Fire. She got up, but I was so frighted that for a while I could not find the way out of bed. I bid her open the Door; she said she could not unlock it; I bid her to break it open. As soon as I could get up, I went to help her, and at last we got out; but by that time every Room in the House was on fire, except the Garret.

Juryman. Did she ever offer to treat you before?

E. Charley. Yes; Once at Whitsuntide, when I paid her my Rent.

James Verro , Watchman in the Mews. The Prisoner came to the Lodge at about a quarter past eleven, and they had two Decanters of Sussex Beer. About half an Hour past eleven, I told them there was a Fire, she said I hope it's not in our House. She sent a Boy to see, but he did not return, and she went away her self at about twelve or a quarter after, and the seemed to have a pleasant Countenance.

Charles de Sallo . I lodged in Cecil Court, and stood talking with Mrs. Batty when the Prisoner pulled her own Door and went away. In a few Minutes afterwards I went to my own Room and was scarce got in, when I heard the Cry of Fire. I threw up my Sash and saw Fire up two pair of Stairs but none below.

John Swain . As I came out of one of the Houses that was on fire with a Clock on my Back, the Prisoner stood at the end of the Court next Castle-street. A Man went up to her, and she asked him if he had got That - I do not know what that was, nor did I hear the Man's Answer, but she seemed to look very pleasant, and they went away together.

Eleanor Pickhaver . I kept a Cook's Shop next to the Prisoner's. Five or six Weeks before the Fire, she sent a Woman for six Pennyworth of boild Beef, and in a little time the Woman came back with a few Scraps of it, and said it was all full of Sand. I asked some Gentlemen in the House (whose Meat had been cut off the same Buttock) if their Meat was sandy. They said, No. So I bid the Woman leave what she brought if she did not like it. She went back, and the Prisoner came in a hurry, and said, Hussy, keep my Money at your peril, I'll soon cure ye of selling Meat here.

This was confirmed by Henry Reading , Mrs. Pickhaver's Apprentice.

Prisoner. I never said any such thing; but I told her if that was her way she would not be a Cook there long.

Joseph Benfield . I saw Fire in the Shop and up two pair of Stairs, but none up one pair of Stairs. This I thought so strange, that I took particular notice of it, and look'd the more at it but could see no sign of Fire in that part of the House.

Elizabeth Atkins . I went for a Dram at the Prisoner's House about a Fortnight before the Fire, and she desired me to fetch her four Brushes, which I did, and she said they were to air her Room.

Prisoner. She did fetch me four Faggots sure enough.

E. Atkins. They were not Faggots, they were Brushes, such as they have to kindle Fires with.

Defence.

Prisoner. I had several times appointed to go some Night to the Lodge, at the Mews; I believe the first time is near a Year ago. On the Saturday before the Fire, Claudius Meldicot said to me, You have often promised to come but you never was so good as your word. Upon that I appointed to come the next Night, but I happened to forget it. And on Monday he complained to me of my not coming, when he had got the Lodge ready on purpose. I desired him to excuse me for that once and I would certainly come at night, which I accordingly did. And I shall prove that the Invitation was his and not mine - Call Thomas Lucas.

Meldicot. This Lucas is the Soldier that was left with her in the House.

Thomas Lucas . I lodged with the Prisoner three quarters of a Year, she kept very regular Hours, and I never saw any Disorder in her House, for she would never serve any body that was drunk. She made a Proposal, and promised to go to the Lodge on the eighth of June, but did not go. And that Night (for she was always careful of Fire) she asked me if I had let the Woman in the Garret have a Candle up to bed, because that Woman was subject to get drunk - Next Day I paid the Prisoner three Shillings, and Claudius Meldicot asked her if she would come, and she said she would spend that three Shillings.

Prisoner. Did he ask me or I him?

Lucas. He said, Will you come?

Court. On your Oath, Did he invite her or she him?

Lucas. She had spoke of such a thing, but did not properly invite her self - But I was not present when she came out of her own House, for I went two or three Minutes before her to make Water; and there was then not a bit of Fire, nor any Heat in the Chimney, nor I saw nothing of that nature in her Room.

Prisoner. I had had no Fire in the House for four or five Weeks.

Margaret Lucas . Meldicot said to her, You promised to come last Night, and I am very angry - but do - come to Night and I'll get something. She refused at first, but she said afterwards, Well, since you will have me go, I'll take all my Lodgers with me.

Prisoner. Was there any Fire in the House?

M. Lucas. I saw no Fire, and I had none in my Room for five or six Weeks - I lodged up two pair of Stairs. She was mighty careful, and often came out of Bed to bid me take care of my Candle - I went to the Lodge a quarter of an Hour before her. As to the empty Casks, those on the upper Shelves were always empty, and only kept for a Shew.

Susan Clark . I lodged a Year in the House, and never had a bit of Fire. Meldicot said, if she'd come he'd get something good to eat - She said she would, and sent Lucas to bid him get some Sussex Ale - And she bid us go first for fear if we went all together some body should get into the House.

Prisoner. The Cook,s Shop joyning to mine, the Wainscot of my Closet was often so very hot that I was afraid it would some time or other be set on Fire, and for that reason I insured my House in the Exchange Insurance.

Luke Clark . She told me five Months before that she would insure, because of the Cook's Shop.

Henry Stevens . In February or March last, she came to me several times to go with her to the Insurance Office. The last time she came I asked her why she was in such haste; she said, she was often alarmed by the Heat of her Closet next to the Cook's Shop. So I went with her and she Insured one Hundred and fifty Pound on her Shop Goods. Indeed she said that sometimes she had not the value of twenty Shillings in her Shop, tho' sometimes she had more.

Mary Bushel . I often lay with the Prisoner. and she has often called me to feel how hot her Closer was. The last time which was at Christmas, it was so hot that I could not bear my Head in it. Her own Room was then very well furnished, and so were the Rooms for Lodgers, considering what sort of People they were. And then she said she would insure her Goods, but did not know which way to go about it.

Mary Reeves , Ann Hornby , Nathaniel Collins , Hugh Berry , Mary Marshall and Martha Billy deposed that they had seen nothing by the Prisoner but what was honest, nor had heard any ill Character of her before, and did not think she would set Fire to a House.

The Jury acquitted her