Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 18 February 2018), October 1765, trial of James Slack Robert Slack (t17651016-20).

James Slack, Robert Slack, Theft > animal theft, Damage to Property > other, 16th October 1765.

534, 535. (M.) James Slack and Robert Slack were indicted for stealing one grey gelding, value 5 l. the property of John Lawrence , September 14 . ||

John Lawrence . I live in Old Gravel-lane, Ratcliff-highway , and am a gardener . On the 14th of September, about ten at night, I missed my horse out of the field; my man turned him in at eight: I sent one man one way, and another man another way, and I went myself, but could not find him till Monday the 16th. I ordered my man to go to the field to see after the horse, and I went to the New-road; I found him loose in the road, about a quarter of a mile from my house, with the print of a saddle upon his back, and a breast-collar; he seemed very much fatigued, as if he had been run very hard; he had six or seven wounds, as if he had been stuck. I drove him home, and went into Whitechapel, and examined of all the people that let chaise, whether they had let out a chaise without a horse? Mr. Poulston told me he had heard it whispered among his servants, and that he would enquire of them. Accordingly he brought his servant, Joseph Crispin , who gave me an account of the prisoners; I took him to my stable; there were five horses; I bid him go in and fetch the horse out; he put his hand upon the horse, and said, this is it, I will swear to it. I found the prisoners in a hayloft; I went up with a cooper's adze in my hand, and said, here they be, as if there were many people with me, thougth there was but one; they lay as if they were asleep. I held up the adze, and Robert cried out, for God's sake, forgive me, I never was guilty of the like before: he said he had but one guinea in his pocket, but he would give me that and another, and the horse that was in the stable. I asked him why he went into the hay-loft? he said, he heared I had a warrant against him, and he went there to hide himself: we got them into the Black-Horse, where they confess'd it, and offered to give me any money to make it up; I said, I would not compound felony; they said, they had been at Woolwich: I said, how could you cut the horse so? you have cut him with some instrument; he said he did it with a whip. When they were carried before the magistrate at Hicks's hall, they said the horse got into a field among the briars, and so wounded himself. Afterward they said, they had bought the horse some time before, and that it had run on Bow-common.

Q. Did Crispin before the justice swear that be saw them driving the grey horse in a chaise?

Lawrence. He did, and they said it was their own horse: I knew Robert before: he is a milkman: they told me they drove him in a cart to Woolwich.

Thomas Yearsley . I am servant to Mr. Lawrence. I turn'd out the grey gelding, whose name was Sharper, into the field on Saturday night, the 14th of September; it is the first field going up the Turnpike-road to Stepney. My master called me up on Sunday morning, to fetch up the horses; I took four of them home, and told my master that Sharper was not there. My master called me up again on Monday morning, to see if he was brought back again; I went all over the field, but could not find him. I saw him when he was in the stable: he had stabs in the flank in five or six places, and under the belly.

Joseph Crispin . I know the prisoners; they are both milkmen , and I am a wheelwright, in the neighbourhood. I saw the prisoners on the 14th of September, about eight o'clock, and between nine and ten in the evening; then I saw them with a horse, which is Mr. Lawrence's; I had seen the horse go by frequently, so that I knew him: I put him into their father's cart, in my master's yard; they borrowed a hammer of me to drive a nail, but did not say where they were going; the cart came home between 10 o'clock on Sunday night, and 5 on Monday morning, but what hour I cannot tell: the justice asked them whose horse it was? they said they had got a horse from Bow-common, and went to Woolwich, and that he was hurt by the briars and thorns: my master's house is about half a mile from Mr. Lawrence's.

Danial Reason. I saw the prisoners a little before they were taken up; Mr. Lawrence and I went into Mill-yard: when we went into the stable, there was a horse that shook his head; says I, this horse has got a palsey: Mr. Lawrence said that horse belonged to a man he had a warrant against; there was a cooper's adze in the stable, he took it up, and said. he would look in the haylost; he said, here they are, come down, you villains: I said they are not there; he said they were. I went up, and they were rising out of the hay; the prosecutor went for an officer to take them up; I went home, and saw no more of it: they said they were guilty of a great fault, and that they would never do so any more.

Q. When they owned they were guilty of a great fault, what had Mr. Lawrence said to them?

Reason. He charged them with taking his horse out of the field. and using him ill: they said they did not stick the horse, though they did not deny but that they made use of him.

Q. from Prisoner. Whether you heard any thing offered about making it up?

Reason. I said, are you willing to make the man satisfaction for the horse, if he will put up with the affront? that I said, because we were afraid of ourselves, and I wanted to decoy them down; I did not hear the prosecutor offer to make it up, he went immediately for an officer.

George Tilbury . I am a constable, and took up the prisoners; we went into a back room at the Black Horse, and they begged of Mr. Lawrence to forgive them: it was Robert that spoke, the other did not speak at all hardly. When Mr. Lawrence charged them with wounding the horse, they said it was done with a whip: they said they left the horse in the road: before the justice they said it was not Mr. Lawrence's horse, but somebody's else.

Both Acquitted .

(M.) They were a second time indicted, for wounding the said grey gelding . ||

Richard Haines , servant to a farrier, was the only evidence examined on this, who deposed, he examined the wound; that it was on the near flank, cut by a nail, or some instrument, and not by a whip.

Both Acquitted .

See James tried for the murder of Millicent Lacey , No. 487. in September Sessions.