Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 22 May 2018), December 1786, trial of JAMES WATTS FRANCIS HARDY (t17861213-2).

JAMES WATTS, FRANCIS HARDY, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 13th December 1786.

3. JAMES WATTS and FRANCIS HARDY were indicted for feloniously assaulting George Austen on the King's highway, on the 27th of October last, and putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person, and against his will, seven shillings in monies numbered, his property .

(The case opened by Mr. Knowlys.)

(The witnesses examined apart at the request of the prisoner's counsel Mr. Scott.)

MARY AUSTEN sworn.

I am wife of George Austen , the prosecutor; I live No. 8, Goldsmith-street, Gough-square; my husband was a baker, but I did not agree with him, and he is a milk-man, and green-grocer ; the prisoners came to me the 27th of October, about four, or a quarter past, and enquired for my husband; I said he was not at home, but asked them what they wanted; they said they wanted nothing at all, but only came out of pure friendship, or only out of pure love, I cannot say which.

Did you see them again that day? - Yes, I told my husband, when he came in, they went away, and my husband was coming down the gateway; one of the prisoners beckoned him, with that I was in a great fright; I did not like the looks of the men.

Did they return to your house after that? - Yes.

Court. What time of day might this be? - About twenty minutes, or half past four; they then came again, and I called my husband; he came out of the parlour, and said what do you want with me; says they, what do not you know us; he said no, and if they did not go about their business, he would send for somebody that should make them; the prisoner Watts said, he had borrowed a shilling of him; I was inside the shop; I did not see where the other stood; I had seen them peeping backwards and forwards before the other came in; my husband declared to me in their hearing, that he had never seen them in his life.

Are you quite sure these are the men? - I am positive sure they are the two men that came to our house on that occasion, that I am positive clear in.

Mr. Scott, Prisoners Counsel. What is your husband now by profession? - A milk-man, and green-grocer for seven years.

He was obliged to retire from his business a little while, I believe? - Yes, he was.

What was the cause of that? - A little misdemeanor between him and me.

Has not he been at Bethnall-green? - Yes, he was in the private mad-house a little while, and I wish I never had done it; he staid three weeks under the care of Mr. Bowman.

You recollect his going to the play on the 26th of October last? - Yes.

Court. How long is it since he came out of that private mad-house at Bethnall-green? - I will shew you Sir. (Produces a receipt, the 12th of September, 1785.) He was going on the 27th of October last to the play, to see the same he had seen the night before.

What company was he in that night at the play? - A Gentleman, a clerk to the Custom-house, whose name is Dell.

Is Mr. Dell here? - No; but if you will give me time I will have him sent for.

Did not your husband mention any other company? - No, Sir.

What time did he come home? - About eleven, on the 26th of October.

What particular observation did you make as to the persons of these people, you say, you seemed a good deal surprised at the time? - I was Sir, because my husband never drank.

Were they dressed as they are now? - Yes; with dirty shirts.

Was you present at the examination of your husband in Bow-street? - No, Sir; I was sent for.

Was you there when he gave his testimony? - I was only sent for by Sir Sampson to know whether he was in Bedlam, I said, no; he asked me no farther questions or else I should have told him; I put the receipt in my pocket on purpose.

Mr. Knowlys. You have never paid any thing to Bethnal-green since the 20th of September, 1785? - No, Sir.

Have you any reason to believe since that, that your husband has been disordered in his mind? - No, Sir; not in the least; he went out about eight to the play with Mr. Dell, and the next night he was to go, and see it all full; he came home about eleven.

Prisoner Hardy. At the time that you say Watts came to your house, what distance might I be at that time? - I cannot say; at no great distance; you was down the arch way.

Whereabouts did I stand when you first saw me? - Not quite two doors off my house.

Was it to the right or left of your house? - To the left.

When you was fetched to Bow-street, who fetched you? - Mr. Tallboy the constable.

What did he say? - Sir Sampson wanted to see me about Bedlam.

When Sir Sampson asked you whether your husband was or was not charged with insanity, did not you say he never was in any mad-house, or in Bedlam? - No; the word mad-house was never mentioned.

Did not you say it was his two brothers and not him? - I did say he had two brothers in Bedlam through drink; but they are well now.

Did you hear us ask your husband whether it was not perfect day-light at five o'clock on the 27th of September, and whether he did not know our persons? - I did not hear any such question asked; I was not there.

Do you recollect Mr. Bond saying to your husband, come forth as a man and deny what you have sworn against these two men? - I was not there.

Prisoner. She was in the room at the time.

GEORGE AUSTEN sworn.

Look at these two men at the bar, when did you first see these two men? - On the 27th of October.

Upon what business did you first see, them? - I had been out with my carrier and came home about twenty minutes after four, and found my wife in doors; says I, what is the matter? says she, we have had two ill looking men here; says I, do not be frightened; in about ten minutes Watts came in, says he, is Mr. Austen within? says I, what do you want with me; says he, Mr. Austen, you know you owe me a shilling; for what? says I; says he, you know you borrowed a shilling; says I, I never did, I should like to be informed better; says I, you seem to be a couple of blackguard fellows, and if you do not go along, I will send for a constable; the other man, Hardy, stood at the door; whether he heard I do not know; but he certainly must if he had a pair of ears on.

He was within such a distance he must have heard? - I should have thought so; then they went immediately after I said they were a couple of blackguard fellows, and if they did not go I would send for a constable; and with my speaking a little sharp they went away.

I ask you on your oath, whether you had ever been in company with these men? - Never.

That you are clear and positive of? - That I am clear and positive of; I staid and drank two or three cups of tea; I was going with the intention of going to the play, and at the top of Butcher-row, I saw these two men peeping through an eating-house window.

Did you speak to them at that time? - No, they saw me pass them, and I turned my head and looked at them; and just at the end of the dark passage, going into St. Clement's church-yard , Watts came and laid hold of me, and said, d - n your eyes, now we have you; and they pinioned my arms; it was about twenty minutes after five, or half an hour; but I cannot swear to a few minutes; the other prisoner, Hardy, shoved by me, and gave me a violent blow in my stomach, which deprived me of my breath for some seconds from the blow; I also fell against the corner of the alms-house, and this left eye is violently bruised from the fall; they had made it quite blood shot; he that struck me the blow in the stomach, unbuttoned the flap of my right hand breeches pocket, and took out six shillings, and three sixpences, all the money I had in my pocket; as soon as I recovered my fright a little, I saw them go round the church; I staggered after them as fast as I could, but I could not halloo then, my breath I was quite deprived of: I saw them go over and cross Milford-lane; and I saw them go into a little passage, or a bit of a yard, before a door which leads into the house; I thought it improper to go in by myself.

Did you see them go into the house? - No, only into the yard before the house.

Are there two houses then in this yard? - No, no more than one.

Describe to us what sort of a yard this is? - It is about a yard and a half square; there is a vault there I saw afterwards; it is made for the convenience of keeping the house private; upon this I went back immediately to Lukin Walter , a butcher, in Butcher-row, and told him I had been robbed, and he and I got a constable, one Talboy, who lives in St. Clement's churchyard, and is a hair-dresser; we all three went to this house, one of us knocked at the door; I do not remember which; the mistress of the house came to the door; we asked her if she had any lodgers, she said, yes, we have a porter that works near the Temple; we were not satisfied with her information, and went and knocked at the one pair of stairs; nobody came; there was a little dog barked; she did not tell us what part of the house the porter lodged in; we went in search of him, and we found him at a public house near the Temple; when Mr. Talboy called out the porter; no, says I, that is not the man I am sure; and for that day we did not find the persons that robbed me; this was Friday evening.

When did you next see the persons that had robbed you? - On Sunday morning:

Court. When you heard the dog bark in the one pair of stairs, did you attempt to open the door? - No farther than there was a thing that turned round, and we tried to open it, and it did not open; and then we left it; I went up to Sir Sampson's that very night, with the constable and the butcher, and I gave the descriptions of them; on Sunday or Monday I heard they were taken; I went to the house where this woman had denied having any lodgers; I went up stairs, and there was Mr. Macmanus in the room; says he, now, Mr. Austen, be on your guard, if you know these men, say so; if you do not, say to the contrary.

In what room was this? - In the one pair of stairs; in the same house where we had been before; when I entered the room, Hardy was in the outer room; the other was dressing himself in the inner room; says I, this is one; and then the other came out, and I said, this is the other; then one said, we know you very well, Mr. Austen, you have been here several times; the landlady of the house knows you very well: they were both in the room when that was said; I do not know which it was that said it; says I, Mr. Macmanus, these fellows may be rogues, the woman below will not dare say she has not seen me here; let us go down and speak to her; and we all five went down together; when we went down in the passage, we all five stood in a rank together; now, says Macmanus, pray Madam, who do you know amongst us? I know, says she, Watts and Hardy to be my lodgers, and says she, I know Mr. Talboy, the constable, very well.

Was she asked at that time whether she knew you? - Says Macmanus, what nobody else, do not you know this gentleman? that was meaning me; no, says she, I never saw him in my life, to my knowledge; Hardy says, recollect yourself, Madam, did not you light this man up here one night, exceedingly drunk? no, says she, never in my life; from that we all went up to Bow-street, to the Brown Bear, into the back parlour; this was on the Sunday morning; and the prisoner Hardy wanted to go out, and Talboy took him out and left me in the room with Watts; Watts says to me, you would not go to take our lives away for seven shillings and sixpence; says I, it is out of my power to take your lives away; but the law shall have its course; he made answer, and said, we have enough to swear where we were at that time that you say; no doubt on it, says I, such company as you keep, I dare say, you have; says he, if please God, we ever get over this here, if you do not do we, we will do you; what they meant by the word, I cannot tell; then we went over to Sir Sampson; they made no charge against me; they believed me to be a very worthy honest man, they said, they had known me about a month.

Did you ever see the prisoners before? - To say about seeing people it is impossible.

Did you ever see them to know them? - Never.

Mr. Scott, Prisoners Counsel. Have you a perfect memory at this time, is your memory good? - I think it is.

Then will it furnish you to remember what day you went to the play with Vaughan your servant? - I never went with him.

You are sure of that? - I never went with him; I had a servant of that name; I suppose he must have left me about two years and a half; but I cannot say the exact time.

Do you mean to swear that you was not in company with Vaughan at Covent Garden playhouse a fortnight or three weeks before the robbery in the one shilling gallery? - I do not mean to swear that.

Do not you recollect going to the public house when you came from the playhouse? - No, I do not.

Do you recollect being at the playhouse at all? - I have been there several times; I have never been there to see a whole play this season; I believe once I may have gone in at half price.

Who was in company with you? - A Mr. Dell, a young gentleman that lodges and boards at my house; he never introduced me into any company; we went from our house together, and came back together; I never stopped at any public house; I am sure of that.

Was that the first time you ever saw this man at your own door? - I cannot say that; it might be the first time I ever saw them; for I might see you in the street; it was the first time I ever spoke to them; I recollect I never borrowed a shilling of no man in the world of that kind.

What do you mean by that? - By bearing such a character; I never borrowed a shilling at all not of these men.

Do you recollect borrowing a shilling the night you came from the play-house? - No, I do not; I positively mean to swear it.

When was the first time that you think you saw these two men? - The first time that I ever saw them to the best of my knowledge, was the 27th of October; it was that further man, his name is Watts.

What might he say to you? - When he came to me, he says Mr. Austen, you owe me a shilling; says I, what for; he accosted me in a very civil way; I said, I owe you a shilling! I should be glad to be informed a little about it; I cannot swear whether he might not say he would summon me to the Court of Conscience; when I got into St. Clement's churchyard, they were just lighting up candles; it was the 27th of October; it is a passage of considerable thoroughfare; sometimes there is fifty or sixty, and sometimes not one; it was done in less than a minute, all of it.

Do you recollect the account you gave of that robbery at Bow-street? - I do, and I believe it concurs with this.

What colour was the back of your coat then? - All white, tumbling against the wall; the wall is all white, and the intermixture of the bricks; I know very well that wall is brick and mortar, and the mortar coloured my coat; I am sure I never was at this man's lodgings.

Do you know one Mary James ? - No.

Prisoner Hardy. First I would be glad to ask you, if you do not know Charles Vaughan ? - I certainly know him very well.

What was he? - He was my milkboy.

What is he now? - How do I know?

Did you never in your life go in company with him and me to Mrs. Sorrell's in James-street, Govent-garden, and treat us with a glass of brandy? - Never.

Do you recollect yourself? - I recollect the truth.

Then I shall ask you a few more questions what time of night was it? - The candles was alight.

Was it a wet evening or a dry one? - It was very foggy.

Was it moon-light? - I do not know whether it was moon-light or star-light.

Do you know what time it is dark at that time of year? - No, I do not, the candles were brought in.

Do you recollect Mr. Justice Bond putting his hand on your coat, and saying, speak the truth like a man? - He said, if you are an honest man, if you have said wrong, now declare it; says I, I have spoke nothing but the truth.

Did not he tell you, you could not make him believe it, and you could not make the Court believe it; and did not he say again, he would have no objection to taking bail for these two men; and then did not you make use a of subterfuge? - When they heard you stood prosecuted here for extorting money from a banker's clerk, they committed you.

Hardy. My Lord, I defy malice itself to impeach my character, and I hope to make it clear to your Lordship and the Jury.

Mr. Scott. How long ago is it since you were discharged from the mad-house? - I believe it is eighteen months ago.

Prisoner Watts. I beg to remind him of one particular night, whether he was not up in our apartment at Mr. Hardy's lodgings; and it was a very wet night, and he came up with his umbrella, and began to spout?

Prisoner Hardy. Did not you say you could play tragedy and comedy? - I dare say I did; I never was at their lodgings before we went to search after them.

Prisoner Watts. Did you know a Miss Gale in your neighbourhood? - I do know her; and I believe there are a great many gentlemen in this Court know Miss Gale as well as me.

Do you remember the time that you swore that she took a hat from a man's head? - I never did any such thing.

Nor she never brought any action against you in the Court King's-bench for perjury? - If she did, all that I have said shall go for nothing; this man pretended to swear before Sir Sampson, that I defrauded Mr. West, my cow-keeper, out of a seventy pound bank-note; and would have sworn it.

Court. You say when you came home, your wife was alarmed at these two people having been there? - Yes.

Had you seen them before you got into the house? - I do not know whether they were not at the bottom of the street, and they waved their hands, but I did not know it was at me, so I took no notice of them.

JAMES TALBOY sworn.

I am a constable; I was applied to by Mr. Austen, the 27th of October, near upon six o'clock; I cannot say to ten minutes; Mr. Walker, a butcher, in Butcher-row, brought Mr. Austen to me; the man seemed to be very much in agitation, very distressed in his mind, and was exceedingly sick; he puked prodigiously; he had received a blow on one side of his eye; he said he had been robbed in St. Clement's church-yard; he described their persons, and some part of their dress; says he, I watched them into a house in Milford-lane; he said there was nobody passing just at that time; one of them seized me, and grasped me down behind, and the other gave me a violent blow in my body, which rendered me as unable of speech, as if I had been a corpse: I went where he directed me; I went down this lane; there are three houses all alike; and the others fall in six or seven feet, and have little yards before them; he shewed me the house which he thought was the right one; I saw a woman coming down this yard, where there was water in a tub, and I asked her if they had a couple of young men lodged in the house, she said yes; I went gently up stairs, and looked through the keyhole, but there was no light at all; the woman came up stairs presently; says she, I suppose there is nobody at home, so I went down stairs, and asked the woman of the house, if the young men that lodged up stairs were at home; says she, I have no young men, I have nobody but Hooper, who lodges up stairs, and a young fellow that has been with him lately, a gentleman's servant that was gone to place in the Temple; she said, she had nobody else but an old waterman or fireman; knowing this Hooper, we went down to him; and he said he lodged in the garret, and from something that he said, I made further enquiry what kind of people lodged in the house; I went again on the Saturday, and saw Macmanus, and I communicated the business to him; says he, I will call on you to-morrow morning; and he and I and Townsend went to the house; the woman of the house was then in bed; I said, are these young men that you chuse to deny to me at home now? yes, says she, but I beg your pardon, I recollect myself, I thought you was come to take down names for the militia; this was my excuse, says she; they belong to the play house, and very honest young men they are indeed; I went up stairs, and knocked at the door; one of them was just got up; he opened the door to me; I then opened my commission, and told them I was come to take them about a robbery; then I fetched Mr. Austen, and the minute he came up, he pointed to the two men; there, says he, are the two men that robbed me, one pinioned me; they then said, why Mr. Austen you know us very well; you do not mean to swear our lives away, and the landlady will prove it; when we came down stairs, the woman said, she knew the two prisoners to be her lodgers, but did not know the prosecutor: good God, Mrs. Mercer! says one of the prisoners, do not you remember his coming with his boots and umbrella under his arm; did not you light him up? When we came to the office, Hardy called me out several times, and wanted to send me of an errand, and wanted to shuffle to go to the necessary, and seemed a good deal upon the fidget, and I did much like it.

Mr. Scott. Was Austen perfectly sober the night you first saw him? - Yes, he stood close to me, and if he had any liquor, I must have known it.

Prisoner Hardy. What kind of latch did you find at my door? - I found no latch.

Did you hear a little dog bark? - I cannot say; I will not say.

Do you think there is no latch to my door? - No.

When you took us, did not you ask us, can you prove where you were at that time? - You said you could prove it.

Court. Did these men tell you, when you took them on the Sunday morning, where they had been on the Friday night? - I do not recollect that they did; their discourse was to Macmanus.

Prisoners. Did not we tell you where we were on Friday night as we were going up Bridges-street? - I do not upon my oath recollect.

How many beds were there in the room? - One bed; it is a little room separate from the main room; a little dark room with no window; there was but one bedstead.

Prisoner Hardy. Was I in bed or up when you came in? - You was in bed, and when I fetched Austen, you was up.

PATRICK MACMANUS sworn.

I went with Mr. Tallboy to these men's apartment; when we first got in, one was in the outer room, up, and the other was in the inner room, in bed; there was only one bed in the room as I saw; afterwards I desired Talboy to go to Mr. Austen, and Mr. Austen came with him; I then said to him, be very careful what you do; then he looked at him, that was in the outer room, and said this is one, and he looked into the other room, and said that was the other; he said he was perfectly sure; then they said, he had been at their room before; he denied it; as they referred to the landlandy, we went down and called out the landlady; we stood in the passage; she said she knew the two lodgers; and Mr. Talboy said, and do you know nobody else? no, says she, I cannot say I do; says Hardy, do not you know this tall man that came here one night with boots on and an umbrella? she said she did not; then we took them up to Bow-street, and there was a long examination.

Did they in the presence of Austen, charge him with any offence? - Yes, they did, and said he had been there, and brought a boy with him; they said he had been there several times; I searched them; one of them had no money at all, the other had fourteen or fifteen shillings; there was a crown piece, and the rest in silver; I shewed the money to Austen; he knew nothing of the money.

Prisoner Watts. Pray did not Sir Sampson Wright say he thought we were innocent men? - I do not think he said you were innocent men; but he said he did not like the business; Mr. Bond said, that would be no shame to Mr. Austen if he had done wrong; and Sir Sampson advised him to be careful very often.

Did not you say yourself, after the man had sworn to us, that you was of opinion we were innocent men? - No, I do not think I did; I said, I did not like to have any thing to do with the business, and if I had known of it, I would not have gone after you at all.

Mr. Scott. Did you search that house all over? - No, I did not.

Did you see a young woman at the time, that was maid-servant to the landlady of the house? - I believe there was a young woman, but whether she belonged to the house or not, I do not know.

Do you recollect immediately on these men being charged by Austen the prosecutor; their declaring where they were at the time of t he robbery? - I do not know that they did then, but they did in an hour afterwards, or something less.

Do you recollect the place that they mentioned? - They mentioned several places; I cannot say I can charge my memory with any of them, except that they mentioned drinking with a servant near Old-street-road; some brewer's servant, I think, but I am not sure.

Prisoner Hardy. Was any body suffered to come near us till the Monday morning? - I do not know.

Court. When they had mentioned where they had been, was the prosecutor Austen present? - I do not know indeed, I should rather think he might be there; if I was to say any thing, I would say to that, I do not know for certainty.

Court to Prisoner Watts. Do you mean to say any thing for yourself, or do you leave it to your counsel.

PRISONER WATT'S DEFENCE.

About four in the afternoon, the prisoner Hardy and me called at Austen's house; we had met Austen the day before, and Hardy said, Austen you never call now, you have sold yourself for a shilling; says Hardy, I will call upon you; says Austen, do, I will make you welcome; on the Friday we were going to Old-street, and we called to see him; I saw Mrs. Austen; I said no business; we were going down the street, and in turning my head accidentally, I saw Austen coming with his milk-woman; I beckoned him to come to us; he had a thorough knowledge of us; he had been at our place three times before; I went up again, and said he is come in now, I believe, madam; I believe she said no, but I said yes, he is; his wife called him out; says he, what do you want; says I, the shilling you owe us; says he, what shilling? I owe you none; yes, says I, you do, and if you do not pay us, I will summons you for it; this was about fifteen minutes after four; Hardy was waiting the corner of Gough-square; we went immediately from there to Old street; I went to enquire for William Buchanan , who has lived in the brewhouse many years; a maid servant came to the door; he came to me, I asked him how he did, and told him that Hardy was at the outside of the gate; this might be about half after four, or wanting a quarter to five; then he was without his hat, and he came to me to the outer gate, and Hardy was there waiting; then we talked of having something to drink, and we went to a public house in Golden-lane, the sign of the goat; I did not know the house so well as Hardy; he called for a pot of beer; Buchanan was without his hat; Hardy asked Buchanan to lend him half a guinea; he said he was going to enquire after a woman of the name of White, who was dead in that neighbourhood; he said he would lend it him; he said, he must go home again for it; he went home for the money, and returned again with his hat on, and he brought a slice of bread and cheese in his pocket; when he returned, he brought a crown piece, and five shillings and sixpence; and we had another pint of beer put into the pot we had been drinking out of; then he went home, and Hardy and me went down Golden-lane; and at a very short distance, Hardy saw two women, which he knew very well, and he asked them to have something to drink; they sometimes sell roots, and sometimes fish; and we went into a wine vault, and gave them something to drink; he enquired of them concerning Mrs. White who was dead; how she was buried; and they directed him to go to another woman in the same neighbourhood, to a person they called Coney, who was a blind woman where Mrs. White died, where he learned the particulars respecting her burial; he also saw another woman in White-cross-street, whom he asked to drink, and he gave her a gill of sweet wine; then we went to a person by the name of Strong, there we had two pots of beer, and there was some spirits, and Hardy was very sick, and he went out in the yard; this was about eight; we then came from Golden-lane to Princes-street, Covent garden, to the house where we had lodged before, to Mrs. Price, where we staid till eleven, before we went to our lodgings; and we were taken on the Sunday morning; Mr. Macmanus and Talboy came up; I was startled; Mr. Macmanus said, I believe they are innocent men, I will not take them; you go Mr. Talboy, and fetch the prosecutor; and when he came, I was the more astonished, because the prosecutor had been three times at our house, particularly one time when it rained very hard; he came up with an umbrella, and spouted a great deal, talked many parts out of tragedy and comedy: Sir Sampson Wright examined me for an hour; I gave him a particular description where I had been, and what way of life I was in; then Sir Sampson called in Mr. Hardy; then Sir Sampson said, send for these people again on Monday; we went there, and they did attend before Sir Sampson; Sir Sampson was in doubt, he did not know what to do; he cautioned him several times, from the circumstance of his contradicting himself; and Justice Bond said, he could not admit the evidence of an alibi there; it must be before your Lordship; he said, whatever our opinion is of your innocence, we cannot do it, it must be before the Judge; and on our second examination, Justice Bond said to the prosecutor, come forward like a man, and retract what you have said, and say, that out of malice, you have sworn this against the two men; we there produced the evidence; and then Sir Sampson said, he must commit us. My Lord, we are innocent men, and here are persons in Court who will prove to you where we were at the time; and I am sorry to add, that the prosecutor has only done this through wilfulness, he could not say it was a mistake, because he knew us, and could not be mistaken; that I am very sorry to inform your Lordship is the case.

PRISONER HARDY'S DEFENCE.

The time and place will convince your Lordship and the Jury, it is the most populous place in the world, and it was not dark; it is not dark till near seven o'clock, as you may see by the almanack.

WILLIAM BUCHANAN sworn.

I am servant to Mr. Coker, the brewer; I have been in the family twelve years; I know the prisoner Watts; I knew him a boy.

Do you recollect his calling upon you on the 27th of October? - I do, perfectly well.

What time of the evening was it? - About half after four; he called at our house, and I spoke to him, and asked him to walk in; he said, he had a person waiting at the gate; I went to the gate with him, and we walked on talking to Golden-lane; I was without a hat; I said, I would not go any farther, and I asked him to drink; we went into a house and had a pot of beer, and during the time we sat there, he said, he had been out of employ sometime, and would be very much obliged to me to lend him half a guinea; I went home and brought a crown piece, and five shillings and sixpence; there was an old gentleman, my mistress's uncle; and the maid servant said, he had had his tea; I looked at the clock, and it wanted a quarter of six; I am perfectly sure of the time, because I took the candle and looked at the clock in the kitchen; they sent to me on the Monday morning following to speak to me at Bow-street.

Who was that other person who was at the gate? - It is the man that stands here; I am perfect of it; he went into the public house with us; the two men at the bar were the two men that drank with us.

Mr. Knowlys. You are intimate with Watts now I presume? - I never saw him since I saw him in Bow-street; I knew him from a boy; I was first acquainted with him at Ipswich in Suffolk; I was only acquainted with him by seeing him by chance; I have heard since he has been in trouble now, that he has been in difficulties before, but I do not know it to a certainty.

Then it is only by chance that they met with you? - Not lately.

It was perfectly an accidental visit? - It was.

I suppose he did not know where you lived? - Yes, he did, for about a month before, I met him in the street and told him.

What are you now? - A servant to Mr. Croker of Old-street.

Do you recollect the day of the week that you was drinking at this ale-house? - Friday; it is the Goat, the corner of Cherry-tree-alley.

Who keeps this house? - I do not know; I never was in the house before nor since.

Have you ever been paid this half guinea which he borrowed of you? - No.

Did not you ask him for it at Bow-street? - No Sir; I could not think of asking a man in trouble for half a guinea.

You had no acquaintance with Hardy before? - Never.

Court. Having no acquaintance with Hardy before, you are sure it was not Hardy, but Watts you lent the half-guinea to? - It was Watts I gave it to.

Hardy did not ask you for it? - I do not recollect that he did.

Would you have lent it to Hardy, a perfect stranger, if he had asked you for it; - I do not think I should.

Mr. Scott. Are you sure of the man that you lent the half-guinea to? - Yes.

ANN MILLWOOD sworn.

Do you know the prisoners at the bar? - I live in Brick-lane, Old-street; I know both the prisoners; I have known them a long time; a good many years.

How came you to know them both? - I know them by sight; by acquaintance; by speaking to them.

Do you remember seeing them on the 27th of October? - I met them; I met Mr. Hardy and that young man; we went and drank a dram together, and we bid good night; as near as I can guess it might be about six in the evening; I am sure of the time; and his wife came to me on the Sunday night following, and informed me her husband was in trouble, and desired me to come and speak for him, which I did.

Mr. Knowlys. Then Hardy is a married man? - Yes, I knew him before he was married.

Does his wife and he live together on very good terms? - Yes.

A very affectionate couple? - Yes.

What is your name? - Ann Milwood .

Are you married or single? - Single.

Was you never married? - Yes, to be sure Sir.

How long has your husband been dead? - Eleven years.

Where does Hardy and his wife live? - I have heard the name of the lane; I cannot remember it; here is his landlady here.

Do you think if Hardy had been separate from his wife, you would have heard of it, as you was intimate with her? - To be sure, Sir.

Court. You say you have known both the prisoners a good while? - Yes, these eighteen years.

What did they deal in? - Hardy kept a garden at Hoxton, and dealt in greens.

What did the other man work at? - The same, Sir.

MARY JAMES sworn.

Where do you live? - At No. 1, Milford-lane, at Mrs. Mercer's.

Did Hardy and Watts lodge there? - Yes.

How long have you known them lodge there? - They came the 22d of August.

In what capacity do you live in that house? - Servant to Mrs. Mercer.

Did you ever see a Mr. Austen there? - Yes.

Should you know him again if you was to see him? - Yes.

Look round the Court, and see if you can see such a man? - (Looks round.) - This is the gentleman.

(Points to him.)

Are you sure? - Yes.

You are positive as to his person? - Yes.

How many times do you think you have seen him? - I cannot say but once; I might have seen him oftener; I was cleaning my knives in the passage; and I made way to let him come by; I do not know his business; he went up stairs and never said a word to any body; I did not ask him his business; he might have been to the house before.

Are you positive upon the oath you have taken, that you have seen that Mr. Austen, and known him? - Yes.

And at the time that Hardy and Watts were lodgers? - Yes.

That you swear? - Yes.

How long have you lived servant in that house? - I went to live there the 10th of August.

Mr. Knowlys. How long have you lived with her since the 10th of August? - I live with her now.

Where did you live before? - At No. 20, Cranbourn-street; I came from that place the very day I came from Mrs. Mercer.

Do you remember every body that used to call at Mrs. Mercer's? - It was not my business particularly, but being in the passage cleaning my knives, I took notice of him because he was coming to the house.

Do you take notice of every person that comes? - Our business lays by the sight; by taking notice of people.

You did not observe when this person went into the house? - No, Sir.

Did you miss at any time either of the prisoners? - No, Sir.

Never miss them? - No, not before they were taken up; they were taken up on the 29th of October; that was on a Sunday.

How long were they in custody? - I cannot rightly tell the time; they have been in custody ever since.

Did you know either of them before they came to lodge with your mistress? - No, Sir, not to my knowledge; they came the 22d day of August.

Had you never missed Hardy since that time? - Not before he was taken up for this affair.

Do not you know of his having been taken up for something else? - No, Sir.

Do not you know that he is indicted at this time? - Yes, Sir, I do now for this affair.

Was he always at home after this time? - Yes.

Are you sure he never was in custody before he was taken up for this? - Not since he was at our house.

Was not he in custody the beginning of September, or was he always at home? - To the best of my knowledge he was always at home.

Did you ever miss him from home? - Not before the 29th of October to the best of my knowledge.

If he had been absent four or five days must not you have missed him? - Yes, Sir.

You say you must have missed him if he had been in custody four or five days? - Yes, Sir.

Mr. Scott. Did you clean his room? - No.

Do you sit up every night for these men? - No, Sir, but if they had been from home I must have missed them.

What sort of a woman is Hardy's wife? - She is a thin body.

Did she sleep in the same room with him? - There are two rooms.

Was his wife with him the morning he was taken up? - No, Sir.

How many beds are there? - Two; one in one room, and one in the other.

Then they do not sleep in the same room? - No, Sir.

You are sure there were two beds? - Yes.

ALLEN BOWMAN sworn.

When was Mr. Austen discharged from your house? - The 20th of September 1785.

In what state of mind was he? - Sir, he seemed to be very much disordered at his first coming, but he had got rather better of that, but he was not well when he came away from me; I acquainted his wife with it when he went away; he came one evening in a coach to our door, and demanded a man and maid to go with him to fetch his wife; he was told we should not; he got a man and maid at the next door.

Court. Only tell us what you know, was you there? - No.

Prosecutor to Bowman, (who was very deaf.) You must not go by hear-say.

Mr. Knowlys. Does he appear to be the same man that he was then? - No, he does not.

Prisoner Hardy. My Lord, I was in hopes of getting a deputation in the Custom-house, and the landlady does not know any thing of that, nor the maid certainly; I was detained in the City from the Monday till the Wednesday.

SAMUEL HACK sworn.

I live in Lombard-street; I keep a pork shop; I have known Hardy about three years, and Watts about the same time.

What are they by profession? - Gardener s; I have employed them as such.

What characters have they formerly borne? - I never knew any thing but just and honest; I have employed them in my garden at Hoxton; and when I slept in the City I left the key of my premises at Hoxton with them; they were always just and honest.

Mr. Knowlys. Have you employed them within these twelve months? - I have not.

Do you know if Watts has ever been tried? - I never heard any thing of the kind.

Did you know of Hardy being in custody? - I never heard any thing of the kind; so far from it, that if I wanted any persons of their descriptions I would have them now; I have seen them frequently within these three years, and in the City; I saw them at Temple-bar about two months ago.

Have you any garden yourself? - Not now, I left it last Christmas for the last twelve months I have seen them frequently.

SARAH MERCER sworn.

I live No. 1, Milford-lane; I have known the two prisoners since the 23d of August; they were very regular; they used to go out in the evening; they left their candle with me, and lighted it and went up stairs; they came home sometimes at eleven, and sometimes later; I did not know that they followed any business; I had a good character of them.

Mr. Silvester. They both lodged in your house? - Yes.

They followed no business? - Not that I know of.

How did they live? - I do not know; I always enquire their character, so far that they were sober honest people; and that they would pay me; I was told that they were very honest men.

What business did they tell you they followed? - They were gardeners by trade; Mrs. Hardy came backwards and forwards every week of her life; she did not constantly live there; Hardy told me she was attending a person that was sick at Hoxton; I let every body in and out.

And they came in and out constantly every night? - Always; they never slept out of the house a night; they first came to the house on the 23d of August.

When were they taken up for this offence? - That I cannot justly say the day.

I will tell you, the 29th of October? - They never were taken up before at my house.

Were they taken up in September? - Not in my house; they slept in my house regularly every night, from August till October.

Do not you know that the man was in custody in September? - No.

Then that could not have happened without your knowing it as you let him in every night? - Mr. James and his wife were in, if Hardy was not; they took the candle of me, and always left the candle in the morning, till the morning they were taken; they went out about eleven; they went out sometimes sooner and sometimes later.

What hour did they in general go out? - Sometimes by ten o'clock; sometimes they did not go out till after dinner.

Now these two honest men used to go out about ten, then at what time did you use to shut up your doors to go to bed? - About eleven, or half after eleven.

Did not it strike you as very odd that gardeners should lay in bed till ten o'clock in the morning? - I knew they were out of business.

What business were they in? - Why kept a shop in Drury-lane.

Of what kind? - Green grocers and other business too, that is what Mrs. Hardy told me; that was not since I knew them.

How came you to deny them to Talboy? - I never did deny them to Talboy.

Will you swear that? - Yes, I can safely swear it; my mangle was making a noise, I told Talboy I had a Mr. Hooper in the garret, and a young man that had not slept in the house some time; he was in the country; he is with me now.

How came you to forget these two friends of yours in the one pair of stairs? - I did not think of them; he did not ask me, he only asked me for the others; says I, he has never asked me of the one pair of stairs; but if he had I could not tell their Christian names.

How many beds were in this room? - When they came they had two beds and one bedstead; they had but one bedstead; I saw the things come, they came in a cart.

When did you first learn their Christian names? - He was always called James in the house; I could not have told his Christian name when Talboy came; I have learned since Mr. Hardy always called him Jem.

Then you knew his Christian name? - I say I did not know Hardy's Christian name.

Hardy's wife had no apartments at your house? - She never did lay there that I know on; the wife was with a lady in the country.

Court. There was but one bedstead then? - No, one bedstead and two beds; I never was in the room once, since he has been in the house; I never was in Hardy's room at all, when he was in it, only once with his wife.

Did not you know how the rooms in your house were furnished? - They had their own furniture; I saw the bedstead conveyed out of the yard into the cart; and there was was only one bedstead and two beds; I do not know how they laid in the beds.

Then one might be in one room and one in the other? - They might move them one into each room, because one is a dark room and one a light one.

When you was in Mr. Hardy's room how was it then, was there a bed in that room? - No, not in the fore room.

Have not you been in the fore room more than once? - Never but once, only since Mr. Hardy has been confined; I never was in the back room at all; the way into the back room is through the fore room.

When you was in the fore room there was no bed in it? - No, no bed.

Did you know Austen? - I knew him by serving me with milk and garden stuff, when I lived in the Bolt and Ton passage, that is about a year and a half ago; when I heard who he was, I recollected his face again; but when he came down stairs following Mr. Hardy, I could no more have known him than a person I never saw; I did not then recollect that I had ever seen him before.

Had you lately seen him before in your house? - No, I had not, my servant had; I once saw him go out of doors; I think he was the same man, but I cannot be sure; I saw his side face, and I said, to my girl, there is that tall gentleman that goes up to Mr. Hardy; she has a deal more opportunity of seeing people that come to my lodgers than I have.

Court. I suppose it would have been impossible for Hardy's wife to have slept with him night after night without your knowing it? - Yes, I think it would.

WILLIAM WATSON sworn.

I live at Islington; I am a gardener and nursery man; I knew the prisoners; they have laid out many pounds with me; I cannot say how many years; about five or six; I recollect them in business; then they had a garden at Hoxton, and they used to buy myrtles and oranges, and all sorts of plants of me; I knew them no where but in Hoxton; and they used to keep a stall by the side of the Mansion-house, and had very good plants there; they had very honest characters for what I knew.

Mr. Knowlys. You knew nothing of them, but by their dealing with you? - No, I knew nothing of them in private life.

Have they dealt with you within this last year, as gardeners? - No, they have not.

- PERRY sworn.

I keep an eating house and chandlers-shop, in Princes-street, Drury-lane; I have known both the prisoners six or nine months; they were gardeners; they bore a very good character; they lodged with me in my own house; Hardy was under an assault, as he told me; I was one of the bail for him; they kept a shop in Drury-lane, before they came to my house, a seed shop, and sold fruit, and things; I never was in the shop, nor saw it.

Mr. Silvester. How long have you lived there? - Since Michaelmas; I did live before that at No. 31, Stanhope-street.

Why do you say it was an assault? I will read it to you. (Reads)

"And to plead to the

"indictment, then and there to be preferred

"against him, for assaulting Mark Harrison ,

"and falsely charging him with an

"attempt to commit the crime of sodomy." - I thought it had been for an assault.

Do you mean to say that this man appeared and took his trial at Guildhall? - Yes Sir, and there was no bill found against him.

JOHN BASSINGTON sworn.

I am a gardener and nursery-man, at Hoxton; I have known the prisoners eight or nine years; they had a piece of ground at the sign of the Nag's-head; I never knew any thing bad of them; they always paid me very honorably.

Mr. Knowlys. You only know them by dealing with you? - No, I do not know them in private life; I have not seen them this twelvemonth.

- RENTOU sworn.

I live at Hoxton; I am a gardener; I have known the prisoners six years; they have not had their garden at Hoxton for this twelve-month; I never heard of any thing dishonest by them.

CATHERINE JOYCE sworn.

I live in Brick-lane; I know the prisoner Hardy; I have known him this fourteen years; I have known Watts these two years; they have both very good characters for what I know.

Mr. Knowlys. Where have they lived all this time, in London? - No Sir, in the country, and his wife; I knew him in Hoxton, and in Drury-lane; and I never heard any thing bad of them before in my life.

Mr. Silvester to Perry. Do you know how long he was in custody on that charge that you bailed him for? - As nigh as I can guess about two nights.

Do you know for a certainty? - I believe it was two nights.

Court to Jury. (After summing up the evidence.) Gentlemen, the fact of the robbery rests on the positive testimony of the prosecutor; and there is no other positive proof of that fact. One extraordinary circumstance is, that at that time of the evening when Butcher-row is so full, they should commit the robbery; another extraordinary circumstance is, that they should go directly to their own lodgings. It rests with you to consider which side you will believe, for it is certainly impossible to reconcile the evidence; it is so contradictory; and there must be perjury on the one side or on the other. It is for you, considering all the circumstances I have stated to you, to say on which side in your opinion the truth lies; whether the story which is told by Austen, confirmed in the circumstances in which it is capable of being confirmed, as you have heard it, liable to the objection from the nature of the robbery itself, in a frequented street at that time of night; or whether the story of their witnesses is true; that they were at another part of the town till eight that night, before which time, if at all, this robbery must have been committed. You will weigh the matter well, for you will consider that a great deal depends on your determining this matter right; for it would be a very shocking thing that two innocent men should be convicted on that evidence, which was not true, and which was known to be not true by the prosecutor at the time. On the other hand, it is a very great aggravation of their offence, to attempt now to blind the eyes of a Jury by false witnesses. You have the whole of the evidence before you; you will consider all the circumstances, and pronounce whether the prisoners are guilty or not.

JAMES WATTS , FRANCIS HARDY ,

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILSON.

N. B. When sentence of death was pronounced on the capital convicts, the prisoner Hardy addressed the Court as follows: My Lord, we are innocent men, and our prosecutor knows it, though he has sworn our lives away; he knows he was our acquaintance before: there never was so deliberate a piece of villainy brought before a Court of Justice; we have prepared a letter to send to the prosecutor, and we are endeavouring to make our peace with God; but we are really innocent men if we seal it with our bloods.

Court. Having now been convicted, it rests wholly with your Sovereign; the Court has no power.