Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 17 October 2021), February 1756, trial of William Login John Johnson (t17560225-3).

William Login, John Johnson, Theft > grand larceny, 25th February 1756.

110, 111. (M.) William Login and John Johnson were indicted for stealing two gallons of distilled spirituous liquor, call'd rum, value 5 s. 6 d. the goods of persons unknown; 9 yards of canvas, value 3 s. 4 guns, value 16 s. 5 pistols, val. 10 s. the goods of John Campbell and Co. Feb. 16 . +

Thomas Johnson . I was master of the ship Ruby, lately arrived from Jamaica; the two prisoners at the bar were put into her as king's officers , and I believe they had the sole charge of her when she was put into the wet dock at Black-wall.

Q. When did she go into the dock?

Johnson. I don't know; I was discharg'd from the ship a little before she went into the dock: it is about two months ago.

Q. Was she delivered of her goods?

Johnson. She lay at Shadwell-dock when she was delivered of part, but there were above 40 puncheons of rum left on board when she went into the wet dock; and there was a chest of arms.

Q. Who were the owners of the ship?

Johnson. John Campbell and others, I don't know their names?

Q. In what part of the ship was the rum and chest of arms.

Johnson. The rum was down in the hold, and the chest of arms in the steerage

Q. Were the arms lock'd up?

Johnson. I believe they were.

Q. When did you see them on board last?

Johnson. I saw them when I was discharged, and gave the mate orders to lock up the chest, and he told me afterwards he did.

Q. What arms were there on board?

Johnson. There were 12 muskets, 4 musketoons and 6 pistols, all in the same chest.

Q. Had they any marks to them?

Johnson. No, none as I took notice of. I left them in the ship at Shadwell-dock.

Cross examination.

Q. Was you ever on board the ship after she was in the wet dock?

Johnson. I was on board her 10 days ago, to see by over-hawling the things what was missing.

Q. What did you find missing?

Johnson. There were 4 muskets, one musketoon, and 5 pistols missing.

Q. Were the prisoners on board then?

Johnson. They were.

Q. How long had you been absent from her?

Johnson. About 5 weeks as nigh as I can guess.

Q. Did you inform the prisoners at that time, of what you missed?

Johnson. No, I did not.

Q. How came they to be taken up?

Johnson. I can't tell.

Capt. Campbell. I am one of the owners of the ship Ruby; on Sunday was fortnight I receiv'd a letter from Mr. Perry, a master builder at Blackwall, giving me an account of these things being missing from the vessel. I sent word to John Sidney , to go on board to see in what condition the arms were i n, and to come to me at the Jamaica coffee house; he came and inform'd me there were arms missing. Then I ordered him to meet me on the Wednesday after at Blackwall, which he did; then captain Johnson and I went on board; when we got upon deck we could not get the compainon open, there stood Login on board, I ask'd him what he did there? he said he was the king's officer, and said he would open it, which he did; we went down into the steerage, there was an empty cask stood on the arm chest, I bid him take it off, which he did; I opened the chest and bid captain Johnson take the arms out, which he did; there were 8 muskets, 1 pistol, 3 blunderbusses and eleven cutlasses.

Q. What were missing?

Campbell. There were wanting 4 muskets, one blunderbuss and 5 pistols, according to the inventory. I taxed Login with taking them, and ask'd what was become of them? presently Johnson came from out of the ship's hold; then I said to them, what a fine character have I got to lay before the commissioners of the excise of you for taking care of the ship; they said they knew nothing of the matter.

Q. Were there any others left in care of the ship besides the prisoners?

Campbell. No, there was no body else, the ship is laid up for a year; and on their desiring to be in the steerage, I gave them leave. Then we went to a publick-house in Poplar, and was told there were some arms there. The landlord told me Login had brought some arms there, and one McBean had carry'd them away; I think he said three musquets and some pistols. We took up McBean, he owned the same, and we found by his directions 2 musquets, 4 pistols, and a piece of canvas, and before the justice McBean confessed the stealing of rum. (Four musquets and five pistols produced in court.) I can't swear these are the same that were missing, they are such as I bought for the ship's use about six years ago; they were the property of me and the rest of the owners.

Q. What are the owners names?

Campbell. Myself; William Isaac Kopps; John Perry; Joseph Bird ; and Edward White

Q. to Johnson. Do you know either of these arms here produced?

Johnson. The pistol's are the very same that were on board the ship Ruby, I believe the musquets to be the same, but I'll not swear to them.

John Sidney . On Friday the 9th of this instant February I received a letter from capt. Campbell, with another inclosed which he received from the master builder; he desired me to go to the ship to over-hawl the arms, to see what was missing. I went on the Tuesday morning and took capt. Johnson with me. We looked in the arm chest and found 8 musquets, 1 pistol, and 10 cutlasses. I went to the Jamaica coffee-house and told capt. Campbell what we found, he said then there were so many missing according to the inventory.

Q. Were the prisoners challenged with taking what were missing?

Sidney. They were, but they denied it, Then I found McBean in company with Johnson, he produced 4 pistols and some canvas; then he went with me before justice Berry and made his confession. I know nothing against the prisoners. I took charge of the ship at Shadwell-Dock, and carried her into the wet dock, at Blackwall.

Cross examination.

Q. When a ship is in dock is it not customary for other people to come on board her ?

Sidney. They have no right to go under the deck, they pass and repass over her, as she lays by the side of others.

Q. Were there none on board the ship while she was in the dock to take care of her?

Sidney. About three days after she was in the dock I discharged a man by order of the owners; then there were none left but the prisoner, no body had any right but themselves to be there, and I had the keys of the hatches.

Alexander McBean . William Login came to me at different times to the Sarah Galley at Porlar with 2 mosquets and 4 pistols; I then look'd after Mr. Turnhill's house for two or three days, while he was ill; Login desired me to carry the arms to London for him to my uncle's house in Ratcliff-Highway, and to sell them for him, and told me I should have some of the money. I told him I would not do it upon any account.

Q. Did he tell you where he had them?

McBean. He did after he brought them, that he had them from on board the ship he was on; he came to me on the 8th of this instant, and asked me if I had a gimblet, and bid me come on board after him. I went; he took an old key out of his pocket, and unlock'd the padlock, and gave me a dark lanthorn and a candle, and bid me go into the hold along with him, and said he'd give me some rum, for it would never be missed; he took the gimblet and bored, and draw'd off some rum from a puncheon. Then he went to a locker on the side of the ship, and brought a piece of canvas and cut it in two pieces, and gave it to his wife, and she carry'd it to Poplar; and he gave me about 3 yards of it, which is this piece here in court; the bit he had was as big again as mine.

Q. What quantity of rum did you take?

McBean. He gave me four flasks, and kept seven to himself, the flasks held about a quart each.

Q. Do you know whether Johnson had any rum?

McBean. I know he had three gallons at a publick-house at Poplar, but how he came by it I don't know.

Q. What became of that?

McBean. He told me he had sold it.

Q. Do you know whether Johnson had any of the canvas?

McBean. Login told me Johnson had some, but I did not see him take any thing.

Q. Where was Johnson when you was on board?

McBean. He was then at home.

Cross examination.

Q. Where do you live?

McBean. I live in Ratcliff-Highway, with my uncle.

Q. What is his business?

McBean. He is a grocer by trade.

Q. Are you of no business whatever?

McBean. No, nothing but of his business; I serve in the shop.

Q. How long have you been acquainted with the prisoners?

McBean. I never saw them before the ship came into the dock at Blackwall.

Q. How many times had you been on board that ship?

McBean. I can't tell.

Q. Was you 20 times?

McBean. I can't say, I believe not.

Q. Had you seen Login before he brought you the musquets?

McBean. Yes, I had two or three times; I had spoke to him several times.

Q. Where?

McBean, At a publick-house at Blackwall. When I went on board, Johnson and he were on board together.

Q. Did not you carry a bunch of keys on board?

McBean. I had keys in my pocket; but they belong'd to my uncle, they did not know that I had them about me.

Q. What time was it he brought you the musquets?

McBean. I can't say, but it was before he gave me the rum.

Q. Did not you know he was stealing the rum then?

McBean. I did know it.

Q. How came that qualm of conscience to go off?

McBean. He told me it would never he missed?

Q. How came this affair to come out, was not you apprehended with some things upon you?

McBean. No, I was not.

Q. Had you never hinted on shore to them, that, as the militia was raising in London, you wish'd you had a gun for your uncle's service ?

McBean. No, my uncle had a gun.

Q. Did Login tell you what he wanted a gimblet for?

McBean. No, he did not, till such time as we went down into the hold.

Q. Was any body in the publick house at the time he brought the guns in?

McBean. He brought them in backwards in the evening, there might be some people in the foreroom.

Q. Did he say they were his own, or that he had stole them?

McBean. He told me they were his own.

Q. What is your uncle's name?

McBean. His name is McBean.

Q. How far does he live from the wet dock.

McBean. It is about two miles.

Q. Where had you seen Login before this time?

McBean. I had seen him at two publick houses.

Q. How came you to be so greatly acquainted?

McBean. Because Login is a countryman of mine.

Q. What country?

McBean. Scotland.

Q. Have you been on board vessels in this wet dock before?

McBean. I have on board Indiamen a great many times.

Q. How many times might you have been in this wet dock before you saw Login?

McBean. It is impossible for me to tell that; I believe more than ten times.

Council. Twenty times?

McBean. I can't tell.

Q. Have you been ten times a year?

McBean. No, sometimes I have not been above once a year.

Q. Did you not lodge at the Old Hob next the dock?

McBean. No. only my aunt and I had some words, and I went and staid there a week once.

Q. Who did Johnson say he sold the 3 gallons of rum to?

McBean. He said, to a man that kept the Sarah Galley .

Matthew Turnhill . I keep the Sarah Galley in Poplar; The two prisoners have both brought rum to my house; there was more rum in my house, but who brought it in I know not; there were also 4 pistols and some muskets. I know not who brought them, but the last evidence carried them away.

Q. Did the prisoners use your house?

Turnhill. They did; I once put McBean in my house while I went to London, and what was transacted in my absence I cannot tell.

Q. Did you see the rum measur'd?

Turnhill. I did not; I have seen two flasks in the prisoners pockets.

Q. What did you pay them for the rum?

Turnhill. I paid them 5 s. 6 d. or 6 s.

Q. To whom did you pay it?

Turnhill. I paid it to McBean, it was he that let me have it.

Q. Did you ever buy any of the prisoners?

Turnhill. No, I never did, I have seen them bring rum to my house and put it down on the table.

Q. Did McBean deal in rum?

Turnhill. They came all three together, and I made some of the rum into punch and they drank it; McBean measured it.

Q. How much per gallon did you give him for it?

Turnhill. I did not make a bargain; McBean told me it would be of service to me; I am but a new publican.

Q. How much might the flasks hold?

Turnhill. I believe each held a gill over a quart; they told me I should pay after the rate of 8 s. per Gallon.

Q. When was this?

Turnhill. This was three weeks ago, I believe; they always behaved well when they came to my house.

Cross examination.

Q. Can you tell what quantity they brought?

Turnhill. No, I cannot.

Q. Is there not an allowance on board a ship for a Customhouse officer?

Turnhill. I can't tell indeed.

Johnson's defence.

I brought rum to that man's house at different times, it was what I saved out of my allowance, and did not belong to the ship.

Login's defence.

This man, McBean, being a duffer, he used to go on board these ships; he is always lurking about that place.

Q. to Capt. Campbell. Is there any particular allowance to the Custom-house officers for rum?

Campbell. There is none at all, without we please to give it them.

To Johnson's Character.

Henry Smith . I have known Johnson between 7 and 8 years, he is a very industrious man; I do not believe he would be guilty of this thing.

- Child. I have known Johnson these 7 or 8 years, he always behaved well, and is an industrious honest man.

Nicholas Comar . I have known him several years, he is a good officer, a sober honest man.

Robert Jennings . I live next door to Johnson, he is a very honest man.

For Login.

James Caster . I have known Login about a year, he is a very honest man, as far as ever I knew, he has done business in my family, and has been trusted in my house.

Eliz. Walding. Login lodged at my house, I have known him between 8 and 9 months, he is a very honest man and behaved very well.

Mrs. Carter. I have known him about 12 months, I never heard his character stained in my life.

Margaret Smith . I have known him between 3 and 4 years, he has a very good character, and is reckoned a very industrious, sober young man.

Login Guilty , Johnson Acquitted .

[Transportation. See summary.]