Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 01 December 2021), September 1781, trial of CHARLES ATKINS (t17810912-78).

CHARLES ATKINS, Violent Theft > robbery, 12th September 1781.

567. CHARLES ATKINS was indicted for that he, in the dwelling-house of Samuel Newport , in and upon William Lawrence feloniously did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person a silk handkerchief, value 4 s. a pair of silver shoe-buckles, value 10 s. a man's hat, value 2 s. and four pods of carnation seeds, value 6 d. the property of the said William , September the 3d .

WILLIAM LAWRENCE sworn.

I keep the tap belonging to Mr. Scott's brick-field, the sign of the Cock and Greyhound, in Hoxton. On the 3d of September, I was sent with some money to one Baldwin, a prisoner in New-prison . I staid there some time. Some of the prisoners asked me for beer. Coming away, the prisoner, Atkins, came up to me, and pressed me to give him one pot of beer. I said, I did not mind one pot; he should have it. I ordered the beer at the tap. They delayed bringing it ten or fifteen minutes: during which time Atkins and I continued together, were talking together; and Atkins took hold of my handkerchief, and was playing with it. As I got up to go away, he laid hold of the silk handkerchief he had been playing with, which was about my neck, and dragged me across the yard, into a shed, where the prisoners eat and drink. The second person who laid hold of me was Trenter, who was shot afterwards. He laid hold of me immediately after Atkins. The other pushed me behind, and dragged me into the shed. When they got me to the shed, they pulled my hat over my eyes, so as entirely to prevent my seeing, and took my handkerchief off my neck. I kept one hand in my breeches-pocket. They cut my breeches across my thigh, and cut through: they cut my hand in my pocket, and cut my thigh an inch and an half long. They took out of my shoes a pair of silver buckles. One took out of my pocket four pods of carnation seeds, and then said, Let him go; we have pretty well sifted him. I put up one of my hands, to move my hat off my eyes, and they scratched the skin off the back of that hand. Then they let me go, and flung my hat over the gates after me. This was at the time of the riots in the prison. When they let me go, I saw a great many, but not so as to discern any of them in particular.

RICHARD BALDWIN sworn.

I saw the prisoner go in among the rest that carried Lawrence to the shed, but I did not see who first laid hold of him.

PRISONER's DEFENCE.

I am not one of the persons who committed the fact, but was at the tap all the time upon other business.

For the Prisoner.

(N. B. The witnesses for the prisoner were examined apart.)

THOMAS STEEL sworn.

I was committed for a rescue. The prosecutor and prisoner were together, by the hole of the tap-room. When the prosecutor was taken to the shed, I and Atkins staid at the hole; and Atkins was there when the prosecutor came out of the shed. I saw him at the hole when the prosecutor was dragged away. He was left there. He was in company with the prosecutor before he was dragged away. When they dragged Mr. Lawrence away, he was left at the hole; he was not in the shed at all.

JOSEPH LAY sworn.

I remember seeing the prosecutor at the prison. I saw him dragged from the hole where they serve the beer. Atkins was with some of the prisoners at the hole: I do not think he was near Lawrence. Lawrence was with one set of people, Atkins with another: I do not think Atkins was near Lawrence: quite different sets, and not in company at all, and not together at all. I was with Atkins close to the hole, but Lawrence was about five yards off. When he was dragged away, Atkins and the people with him staid still in their places; and I was never off the bench. The prisoner never moved from that place; he was there when Lawrence was dragged away. I had no conversation with Lawrence before he was dragged away. I am sure Atkins had not left his station when Lawrence came from the shed, and did not carry the beer to the shed at all.

WILLIAM RANSMORE sworn.

I am committed for an assault. I saw the prosecutor dragged to the shed. He was standing very near the hole, within a yard or two, about half a minute before that. Atkins came to me with half-a-crown to change, for some beer. When Lawrence was dragged away, Atkins still continued to wait for his change, and waited three or four minutes. When he got the change, he went into the shed. It was just the time Lawrence came from it into the yard.

To Lawrence. Did you know the prisoner before that day? - No: what makes me so sensible of him, was, I talked with him for, I believe, fifteen minutes. I afterwards picked out the two men. As soon as Atkins came up to the place, I said, That is the man; then the two came out with the cutlass, and rushed at the turnkey.

Prisoner. The prosecutor was himself a runner at Justice Welch's.

GUILTY . ( Death .)

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. RECORDER.