Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 18 January 2022), February 1787, trial of WILLIAM DROYRE MARGARET DROYRE (t17870221-29).

WILLIAM DROYRE, MARGARET DROYRE, Royal Offences > coining offences, 21st February 1787.

265. WILLIAM DROYRE and MARGARET DROYRE , his Wife , were indicted for that they, on the 5th of February last, one piece of base coin, resembling the current silver coin of this kingdom, called a sixpence, falsely and traiterously did colour, against the peace .

Another count, For colouring on the same day, one round blank, of base metal, of fit size to be coined in the form of a sixpence.

(The witnesses examined apart.)


I attend the office in Hyde-street, Bloomsbury; I went with Freeman and Treadway and Meecham; on Monday, the 5th of this month, information wasgiven of some coining; and I went to the house of Mr. Wrinkle, Hampshire-hog-yard, St. Giles's , between three and four in the afternoon; when I came to the door, where I was informed the people were at work in the one pair of stairs, I went up a few stairs on the second flight of stairs; thinking to look over the door, but I was rather too short; I could not see over the door; and Freeman looked over the door; and I came down these stairs again, and found a round hole over the keyhole; and I looked through that, and I observed William Droyre sitting on the side of a bedstead near the fire.

That is the husband, is it? - The husband, my Lord; I looked for the space of a couple of minutes, and I observed him rubbing something with his right thumb; I then drew back from the door, and told Treadway to look through the place, and while Treadway was looking through the hole, Freeman made a motion to me to break the door open; just as I was going to break the door open, the prisoner Margaret Droyre was on the right hand, sitting in a little low chair, opposite the man.

Did you see her when you looked through? - Yes, and as I was going to break the door, the woman came and opened it.

How did you see that? - Because I rushed in directly, and she was behind the door; I ran in directly and the man was sitting on the side of the bed; I threw him backwards on the bed; he attempted to run something into his pockets, or into his breeches; I cannot tell which; Treadway ran up to my assistance, and held his right arm, and Freeman came and took something out of his right hand; in the struggle there was a small cup, or a small gallipot, with some stuff in it, which stood in the chimney corner, next his left hand, which the prisoner knocked down; I then tied him, and took him away from the bedstead; there were three beds in the room, and I sat him down on one, which he said was his own, and the others, that is Freeman, Meecham, and Treadway, searched the room.

Prisoner William. Did you see any thing in my hands? - I did not observe any thing in his hands when I broke in; Freeman will inform you of that.


I went in company with Beamish, Treadway, and Meecham, to the house in Hampshire-hog-yard, St. Giles's; between the hours of three and four, to the house of Mr. Wrinkle, upon information; I went to the room door of the two prisoners; Beamish got upon the second flight of stairs, observing the crevice where the light came through on the top of the door; I observed him rather short, and pulled him by the coat, and got up myself; I looked over the door, and I observed the prisoner William; I could see with my eye at the top of the door; but I forced it a little, and had a better view; I saw him sitting on the side of a bed on the right side of the fire place; he was on my left side; I observed just one half of him, for I could not see his left hand; I saw his right hand move, as if he was at work with something in his hand; at that time Beamish was looking through a hole in the door on one knee; I made a motion to Beamish to assist me in forcing the door a little more open at the top, and with his assistance, I had a further view; I then observed the woman sitting on the other side facing the man, in a chair; I observed a basket by her side; in that interim one of the officers let his stick fall; I then made a motion to have the door bursted open, and just as we were going to burst the door, the door was opened withinside; then Beamish, myself, and Treadway another of the officers, rushed in; Beamish seized the man and threw him across the bed; I observed the man too strong for Beamish, and while I was stooping to pick up some of these articles, I am now going to shew you; I let go the things and seized the prisoner by his right hand, and took out of his right hand this bad sixpence; between his legs was a pitcher of water, which in the struggle he threw down; at that instant, my Lord, the woman wasmaking her escape; she had got out of the room, and was on the second stair going down stairs; I left the man and pursued her, and brought her back into the room; I observed her rubbing her hands within her apron, and in her apron, I found that. (Another bad sixpence.) Observing the man obstreperous -

Court. I suppose you mean violent? - Yes; I left the woman, and seized hold of him again, and in the struggle he knocked down that cup; that stood withinside the fire place, within about six inches of his knee; it stood atop of the hearth: seeing the cup broke I gathered it up together; there is a composition in it; when the water was thrown down that was in the pitcher, there was a quantity of salt in this paper, and the water fell on the salt, so that I could not gather up the salt; here is the paper; I could not pick it up; I tasted it; on the side of his left foot was this sand; it appears to be common sand, and this stone, and a cork; it is a whetstone, and a common bit of cork, and this sixpence not coloured, and this pair of pliers by his left side, and a file, and this strap, a piece of leather by his feet; we secured the man and tied his hands; and when he got up, I found this small piece of brass which are cuttings; by the side of the woman there was a basket; I asked her if that was her basket; she said, yes, it was her's, there was nothing there but a few pins and a few ballads; I searched it, and found these four sixpences, this bad sixpence, and this brimstone; then I secured her; and Beamish and me took them to the round-house; she desired I would take great care of the things in the basket, for that every thing in the basket was hers, and so I did.

Did she say this after she had seen you take out the things? - Yes; and the man likewise desired I would take care of them, for they were all his; I took him before the Magistrate, and he told the Magistrate the things were all his, before Mr. Clarke.


I went with Freeman, Beamish and Treadway, to this house in Hampshire-hog-yard; in searching between the bed and sacking, which the prisoner owned be his, I found this piece of brass.

There were three beds in the room, were not there? - Yes, he owned this to be his before he went to the watch-house in my hearing; I found a pair of scissars, a file, which appears to be brassy, a rubber very brassy indeed, and in a bag four square bits of brass cut out; there were five, but I believe one was left at the Justice's; they were not coloured, and some sand in a paper, and a hammer; there were pieces of leather, and things laid up together in a corner, and a piece of rag wet with some stuff upon it; I do not know what it is.

Prisoner. It is a room in which other people lodge.

Is that so? - Yes; but before the Justice he said he found the brass, and the tools in the fields; he said they were his property.


I have been employed for these fourteen or fifteen years in his Majesty's mint, for these prosecutions; I have attended this Court near upon twenty years.

Look at all these things, and explain to the Court and Jury the process that has been carried on by people having these things in their custody? - If this composition is discovered in Court, every man will be his own coiner for sixpence; this is a sheet of brass, from which apparently such blanks as these have been cut.

Is that a piece of brass of a size fit to cut blanks to resemble a sixpence? - Not a doubt of it.

These square pieces are cut from that larger one? - Not a doubt of it.

Having made them square, what do they do next? - Cut them round with a pair of scissars, and after having cut them round, they generally use a file in order to take the roughness of the scissars from it;the file which is produced, had been made use of apparently from the brass upon it; these are squares they afterwards cut round; these round ones have been so cut; then they are filed round the edge; after this, to take off the grease, they rub them either with scowering paper, or with such a rubber as this, which is a piece of leather nailed on wood; this rubber has been used by somebody; the next thing is the colouring, there is one there which has been coloured, but has not been finished; this was the one that was found in the man's hand.

How does that appear, has it been kept separate? - Yes.

Look at these four? - These four have been finished.

When they are in that state is it compleat? - It is compleat for putting off; they were a great deal better when I saw them before, but they lose their whiteness by keeping, and the reason why they lose their whiteness, is on account of the want of silver being mixed with the brass.

Is there any thing produced to you now which will produce the colour of silver upon brass? - Yes.

Is every thing there that has been produced to you, sufficient to transact such business, sufficient to colour blanks to resemble sixpences, or shillings? - Yes.

Court. Do you mean to say then, that among these things found in the prisoner's lodgings, there all were materials, and tools necessary for making counterfeit sixpences and shillings, so as to give it a probable chance of passing for true money? - Not a doubt of it.


I am one of the moniers of the mint.

Look at these four sixpences? - They are all pieces of base metal; they were none of them made at the mint.

(The whole shewn to the Jury.)


The place that I did lodge in, there is neither a bolt, nor yet a latch to the door; the last that goes out, takes a bit of a padlock, and locks the door, and takes the key down, and hangs it in the kitchen; several people lodge in the same room; there are three beds all occupied, and there was one woman drunk in bed when they came there, that was a ballad singing woman; my wife and I went out to sell some cabbage nets, and white rags, and we were come in about five or six minutes before these men came, and I was putting some coals on the fire; the woman was cleaning some cap pins and hat pins that were made in brass with some sand, and took a basket off the table, and put down there, and she observed that there was somebody at the door; then says I, open the door; I set where I was; there is a window goes up from the stairs; we are obliged to put something against it; my wife opened the door, and that Beamish he forced in, and caught me by the hands; I had nothing in my hand, and dragged me in the middle of the floor, and this Freeman picked up these things, and says he, here is one that is not coloured; says he, you old b - r, this will do for you; and this other fellow here, he was pinning me by the arms, and Beamish took my breeches, and dragged them off; I said I had nothing in my pocket but eighteen-pence that I had taken for the rags, that the Justice desired him to return me, and he took out a nutmeg-grater, and in it there was a locket button, which I found in the country; it might be of the value of sixpence; he took it out, and put it into his waistcoat pocket, and returned it.

Have you any witnesses? - That woman, I asked her before the Justice if ever she knew that I made any such in my life; God knows who left them there, I know nothing of them; as for the woman's moving the basket when that drunken woman's bed was down, there was only a passage to the fire place.


I said the basket was mine; this gentleman stripped me, and loosed my petticoats, and shook all my clothes, and that gentlemannever came near me; I never set sight of him till I saw him at the Justice's; I am as clear as the child unborn.



Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron THOMPSON .