Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 18 July 2019), February 1799, trial of THOMAS HEAD (t17990220-60).

THOMAS HEAD, Violent Theft > robbery, 20th February 1799.

192. THOMAS HEAD was indicted for an assault in the dwelling-house of George Brown , upon John Cavill , on the 12th of January , putting him in fear, and taking from his person, and against his will, a silk purse, value 6d. and three guineas and a half , the property of the said John Cavill .

JOHN CAVILL sworn. - I am a wheelwright , I live at Bethnal-green: On the 12th of January, about nine o'clock, I went to the house of George Brown, who keeps the sign of the Three Colts, at Bethnalgreen , with a serjeant, whose name I do not know, to have a pint of porter; the prisoner was there; and after that the prisoner and I had a game at cards; he was at play in the tap-room with some person there, and I said, I would have a game with them; I did not know him before; we played a game or two, and I won sixpence; then he proposed to try me whether he should lose a shilling, or he quits, that is, nothing at all, and he laid down a shilling; the game was decided, and he agreed that I had won the shilling, and I took it up; I said, I had won it, and he did not contradict it; then I got up from the seat to warm my hands before the fire, and, in the course of about a minute he came and colared me, and said, he had won it; upon that he collared me, and pushed me back from where I sat.

Q. Were you sitting then? - A. No, I was standing; when he had got me back, he put his hand into my waistcoat pocket, and took out my purse, containing three guineas and a half-guinea; he then handed it away to another person in the room.

Q. Who was that other person? - A. I do not know.

Q. A man or a woman? - A. A man; he ran out of doors directly as soon as he saw a bustle; then I challenged the prisoner, and told him he had robbed me; I then went up to Serjeant Smith's house, and told him I had been robbed.

Q. Did not you charge him with it? - A. Not then, because I was a stranger there; I went to his house, told him I had been robbed, and I askedhim to go back with me; we went back to the same house, and I pointed him out the man.

Q. Then he was still there when you went back? - A. Yes; and then the serjeant went out and procured a watchman, and he was secured.

Q. Of course your purse was not found upon him? - A. No; I saw him deliver it away with my own eyes.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. What are you, besides a wheelwright? - A. I belong to the Tower Hamlets; I am a recruit; I entered on the 2d or 3d of January.

Q. How many persons were in the room? - A. I cannot say.

Q. Were there ten? - A. I cannot say; there might be eight, nine, or ten.

Q. Will you swear there were not? - A. No.

Q. Do you know that you have indicted this man for a capital offence? - A. It is the laws of the land that does it, not me.

Q. I take it for granted you had received your money on that day? - A. A part of it; I received four guineas, a seven shilling piece, and a shilling, about ten or eleven o'clock; I went to the Three Colts about nine at night.

Q.How many public-houses had you been in before you got to the Three Colts? - A.Only one, the Artichoke, which was my lodgings; I staid there till it might be seven or eight o'clock at night, and, to the best of my knowledge, I was not in any company after twelve o'clock.

Q. How many persons were you in company with before twelve o'clock? - A. Two of my serjeants, and another person, I cannot tell his name.

Q. You had a drop of drink there, had not you? - A. Yes, and something to eat too; we had a drop of brandy and water.

Q. How many tumblers had you? - A. To the best of my knowledge only two.

Q.Upon your oath, did you not drink part of six tumblers of brandy and water at that house? - A. I am sure there was no such thing.

Q. How much did you pay there? - A. I paid six or seven shillings, I believe.

Q.What had you for dinner? - A. A pot of beer and half a pound of mutton chops, but nobody eat but me.

Q. And you had no more brandy and water among you than two tumblers? - A. No.

Q. And three of you spent six or seven shillings? - A. No, they went away directly, it was my lodgings, and I owed 2s. 6d. for beer and victuals that I had had a day or two before, and I paid my serjeant ten or eleven shillings that I owed him; my liquor came to fourteen or fifteen pence among three of us.

Q. Do you mean to swear that you had no more liquor that day at the Artichoke? - A. I had no more than a third share of the two tumblers of brandy and water and a pot of beer.

Q. That you mean to swear? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you know a person of the name of Clarke? - A. Yes.

Q. Was he there? - A. I do not know, he was not with me; I saw him afterwards, but not at the time we had the liquor; he was in the tap-room when I had my dinner.

Q.Will you swear he was not in the house at the time you were drinking the brandy and water? - A. I don't know where he was; he might be a mile off for any thing I know.

Q. Do you know a person of the name of Sowers? - A. No; there were several persons came backwards and forwards.

Q. Do you remember, at the Artichoke, that, after you had drank a pot of beer, you called out, that you would fight with any body? - A. No.

Q. I should tell you, but I see you are not to be frightened, that I have witnesses to prove all this - Where did you go to from the Artichoke? - A. I have no more to say at all.

Q. Where did you go to next? - A. To where I was robbed.

Q. Did you go no where else first? - A. To the best of my knowledge, no where.

Q. You must know? - A. I did not.

Q. Were you perfectly sober? - A. Yes; I never went into any public-house but them two.

Q. I take it for granted, you did not play at cards with any other person but the prisoner at the bar? - A. Yes, I did.

Q. Before you played with the prisoner? - A. Yes, one Smith, he is here.

Q. Before you sat down to play with Smith, did you drink any thing at the Three Colts? - A. We had a pot of beer among six or seven of us, all drank that were in the house; there was only one person in the whole place that I knew.

Q. What did you play at? - A. All fours, for a pot of beer.

Q. Did you play more than one game with Smith? - A. I believe not; if I did, it was for a pint; I know I played for a pot of beer; but whether it was one game or two games for it, I don't know; then I played with Mr. Head, the prisoner at the bar, for a pint of beer, nothing else.

Q. I dare say you never drank any gin in your life? - A. Yes, I have.

Q. You did not play for any gin? - A. No.

Q. Not with any body in that house? - A. No.

Q. You know what tosting up is, perhaps too? - A. Yes; Mr. Head and I tossed up for a quartern of gin.

Q. You are sure it was not a half pint of gin? - A. Yes.

Q.Who won the gin? - A. I believe I did.

Q. You drank none yourself? - A. I did just take a drop, and that was all, for it was kept pretty well away from me: if there had been a gallon, it would have been gone.

Q. You did not play with Head for any thing but a pint of beer? - A. Yes, for sixpence first, and the double acquits.

Q.You first played for the beer, then toffed up for the gin, and then played for the shilling? - A. Yes, I believe it was so.

Q. I dare say you did not go double acquits for the gin afterwards? - A. No.

Q. Was that shilling to be laid out in the purchase of gin? - A. No, it was for dry money to put in our pockets.

Q. Did you drink any gin after that, upon your oath? - A. I did not.

Q.Nor any more beer? - A. Yes; after I had apprehended him for robbing me, I took a pint of beer.

Q.Then, after you had been robbed, you took a pint to drown the recollection of being robbed? - A. I was dry, and took a pint of beer.

Q. Then you mean to swear positively, that you neither played for any more gin, or drank any more gin at that house on that day? - A. I believe I did not, to the best of my knowledge; I had no more, I think, I could take a safe oath of it.

Q. Will you take a safe oath of it? - A. To the best of my knowledge I did not.

Q. I dare say you mean to swear positively that he robbed you? - A. That I swear positively, because I saw him do it.

Q.After the robbery, you did not attempt to secure the prisoner? - A. No, because they seemed to be all one side; they seemed to be all of a gang; they were all strangers to me, except one.

Q. Did you apply to that one person to assist you in apprehending him? - A. No, I did not.

Q.Upon your oath, when the prisoner was had before the Magistrate, did not the constable of the night take his word for his appearance the next day? - A. No, he was out upon bail.

Q. Who bailed him? - A.Serjeant Grant, of the Tower Hamlets.

Q. And he made his appearance the next day? - A. He was brought there by the watchman.

Court. Q.What led you into this house? - A. I had a thing or two pawned, and I was going to get them out; and when I came to this house, I met a serjeant, and he asked me to go in and have a pint of beer; that was the only reason of my going in.

Q. The proposal for play came from you? - A. They were at play, and I said, I would give either of them a game for a pot of beer.

Q. Do you mean to say that you were sober? - A. I was as sober as any man can be that ever was born of a woman.

HENRY SMITH sworn. - I am a serjeant in the second regiment of Tower Hamlets: On the 3d of January, Cavill enlisted, he received four guineas, a seven-shilling-piece, and one shilling in silver. On the 12th I went with him to his lodgings, at the Artichoke, he paid me eleven shillings and two-pence which he owed me; we had two shillingsworth of brandy and water, or rum and water, I don't know which, he and another recruit, who has deserted from us since, paid a shilling a piece, that was all the liquor we had; and about a quarter before ten, he came to me at my own house, while I was at supper, and said he had been robbed; I went with him to the Three Colts, and he pointed out the prisoner; I called for a pint of beer, and went out to look for a watchman, I was not gone above five minutes; I got a watchman, and Cavill pointed out the prisoner to the watchman; we took him to the watch-house, and had him searched, but found nothing upon him.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. How far is the Three Colts from where you live? - A. Only the length of the field, it may be about two hundred yards.

Q. When you came back, you found the prisoner there? - A. Yes, smoaking his pipe.

WILLIAM SMITH sworn. - I am a soldier in the second regiment of Tower Hamlets: I came into the Three Colts about eight o'clock, I might have been there about three quarters of an hour when serjeant Wheeler and the prosecutor came in together; Cavill and he had a game at cards for one pint of beer; and then Cavill played with me two games for two pints of beer, and when he had done playing with me he played with the prisoner at the bar; they played about eight games for a pint of beer each game, and sixpence, and then there was a wrangle about a sixpence; the prisoner won the shilling, and it was to be left to all the company to decide it, and then Cavill put the shilling into his pocket; every one of the company said he had done wrong in putting it in his pocket, for he had lost the shilling; then Cavill and the prisoner went tossing for half pint of gin, and then he tossed for another half pint, and then he tossed with a soldier belonging to the East London Militia for another half pint; there were three or four half pints, I will not be sure which; Cavill had put the shilling in his pocket, the company said, the prisoner ought to have his shilling, for he had won it, and then they had words; they took hold of one another's collar, and began to shake one another; the prisoner gave Cavill a shove against the box, and he reeled against the box, there was nobody in the box but themselves; there was a little fifer belonging to the regiment in the next box with me.

Q. Did you hear Cavill say that the prisoner had robbed him? - A. I heard him say that he had lost his money, and the prisoner had taken it, and then he went and fetched serjeant Smith; serjeant Wheeler was gone, he was very much in liquor indeed; Cavill pointed out the prisoner at the bar as the man that had done it, and then he was taken into custody.

Q. Had the prosecutor his share of the gin? - A.There were four of them, and I believe he drank glass for glass with them, as far as I saw; I had one glass of it, and that was all.

Q. Had he his share of the beer? - A. Yes; there were eight or nine pints, and he had the pot to drink whenever he liked, as far as what I saw.

Q. Was he drunk or sober? - A. To say that he was sober I would not for the world; he was not so drunk but he knew what he was about; but he was not sober.

Jury. Q. Were you sober yourself? - A. Yes, as sober as I am this minute.

Cross-examined by Mr. Knapp. Q. When Cavill had fetched Smith, Cavill said, that is the man? - A. Yes.

Q. We have heard it stated here that he pointed to him but said nothing - are you sure he said, that is the man? - A. Yes.

Q. You are sure that he had a game with Wheeler before he played with you? - A. Yes.

Q. And he had his share of the beer and the gin? - A. Yes.

Q.There was a quarrel, and each laid hold of the other's collar? - A. Yes.

Q.Should you not have seen, if the prisoner had put his hand into the prosecutor's waistcoat-pocket, if it had been so? - A. I think I should have seen it.

Q. The prosecutor reeled? - A. Yes; and said he had lost his money.

Q. Did you see the prisoner hand the prosecutor's purse from his waistcoat-pocket to another person, and must you have seen it if he had? - A. I think I must.

Jury. Q. Did you see any person go away at that particular time when he was reeling? - A. No; I saw no person go out.

Mr. Knapp. Q. You are positive there were more than two games played by the prosecutor? - A. Yes; more than four.

Q. That you say upon your oath? - A. Yes; I think eight.

Q. Upon your oath, are you sure that the prosecutor had a share of all the liquor that was drank? - A. Yes; I think he had, to the best of my knowledge.

JOHN HOWSE sworn. - I am inspector of the watch at Bethnal-green: I went with serjeant Smith to the Three Colts; when we went in, the prosecutor was there, and he pointed out the prisoner at the bar; I told him he must go with me to the watch-house, and he did; and serjeant Smith, and the prosecutor went, and the officer of the night took the charge; the prosecutor said, he found his arms confined when the money was taken from his pocket; he booked the charge for robbing him of three guineas and a half, three duplicates, and a green purse; a serjeant and another man passed their words for the prisoner's appearance on Monday morning; I met the prisoner on Monday morning at the Three Colts, he went with me before Justice Brodie very quietly and peaceably, and never made any resistance.

The prisoner left his defence to his Counsel.

For the prisoner.

JOHN CLARK sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knapp. I am a soldier in the second regiment of Tower Hamlets, I lodge at the Artichoke public-house: On Saturday the 12th of January, the prosecutor came in, and serjeant Smith, and a grenadier and another went into a room where the prosecutor was, and I saw five or six shillingsworths of brandy and water go into the room where they were, I did not see them drink it; the prosecutor afterwards came into the tap-room, and called for a pot of beer, and drank the whole of it, and immediately caught hold of my collar, called me a b - r, and told me he was able to fight any man in the tap-room; after that, I went out and left him.

SAMUEL ARROWSMITH sworn. - I am a weaver, in Wilmot-street, Bethnal-green: On the 12th of January, about seven o'clock in the evening, I happened to go into the Three Colts, the prisoner was there; and some time after that, the prosecutor came in with one serjeant Wheeler, he came in and they were playing at cards; the prosecutor said, he had as much right to play as anybody; upon that, he played with serjeant Wheeler a game or two at cards; after that, he played with one Smith, a young man, a soldier, two games or three; after that, he played five or six games with the prisoner, and then they got up from cards and tossed up for half-a-pint of gin; they had played for a pint of beer each game, I believe, and drank it between their two selves; they tossed up for three half pints of gin, and each drank their share of it; then they sat down to play at cards for another half pint of gin, which did not come in, because there was a scuffle about the shilling, the prisoner won the game, and the prosecutor took up the shilling, and went to the fire-side; the prisoner said, giveme my shilling, for I have won it; the prosecutor said, I have won it; a dispute arose, and the prisoner put up his hands and took him by the collar; the prosecutor put his hands up just the same to him; they held one another for the space of a minute or two, and then the prosecutor dropped his hands, and said, I am robbed; the prisoner immediately dropped his, and said, of what?

Q. Are you sure that the prosecutor said, he was robbed, before the prisoner had got his hands from his collar? - A. I am positive of it. When the prisoner said, of what, he said, of my purse, and three guineas and a half; then the prisoner sat down, and never stirred till the patrol and serjean took him.

Q. Suppose the prisoner had taken a purse out of the waistcoat pocket of the prosecutor, were you near enough to have seen it? - A. Yes; there was nobody at all between us, and I am positive that not a soul went out of the house.

Q. If a man had gone out of the house at that time, and if the prisoner had put his hand in his waistcoat pocket, you must have seen it? - A. Yes, I stood as close to the door as I am to this pillar.

Q.Did you observe whether the prosecutor was drunk or sober? - A. He was drunk, I am positive, for when he went to the fire-place, he put his hands up to the mantle shelf to hold himself steady.

Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, I don't know that I need trouble you with any observations upon this Case, it rests upon that one man's evidence entirely, and you hear how materially he is contradicted. NOT GUILTY .

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