Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 23 May 2019), December 1799, trial of THOMAS CUTLER JOHN BUTLER (t17991204-45).

THOMAS CUTLER, JOHN BUTLER, Theft > grand larceny, 4th December 1799.

45. THOMAS CUTLER and JOHN BUTLER , were indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 27th of October , eleven bars of iron of the weight of seven hundred pounds, value 30s. the property of John Thompson , and Thompson Bonnar .

Second Count. Laying them to be the property of Henry-William Hobbs , and John Addison .

Third Count. Laying them to be the property of certain persons, to the Jurors unknown.

HENRY- WILLIAM HOBBS sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am a lighterman , in partnership with John Addison : On the 27th of October, there were four lighters at Paul's wharf , loaded with bars of iron, all belonging to Mr. John Thompson , and Thompson Bonnar ; I am in trust for the merchants and am responsible in certain cases, but I am not responsible in this case; between nine and ten, on Sunday evening, I received information that some iron had been taken out of my lighters; I got the assistance of Mr. Gottey, and other officers of the Marine Police-office, and I went with them, and the man that gave me the information, Mr. Williams, proceed to Paul's wharf; Mr. Williams pointed me out the barge of Mr. Jackson, where the iron was; she was twice or three times her length from my barge; she was loaded with coals, iron, and other goods; I went on board the large first; I went aft with a pistol in my hand; I found the two prisoners at the bar and three more persons on board; North, who is admitted an evidence, was one; there was one man, that was acquitted, Plumridge, who knocked down two or three gentlemen that were with me; we asked them where the iron was, which they had stole out of my lighter; one man jumped over-board, his name is Tridnall; the men at the bar were very quiet; I stood over them with my pistol, and swore if they were not quiet I would brow their brains out; and they certainly were very quiet; we secured Plumridge with cords, we tied him to the boat's bottom, and North was along with these two men; I had guard over the three; then we began to rummage; we asked them where the iron was, and they would not inform us, we were obliged to seek for it; we found it concealed under the bed place where the bed laid.

Q. Is that a place where goods are usually deposited? - A. No, I never heard that they were; I never saw iron deposited in such a place.

Q. How long have you been a lighterman? - A. I served my time to the water.

Q. What did you find? - A.Eleven bars of iron; I did not weight them, but as far as I can guess they are between six and seven hundred weight; I sent for Mr. Jackson, to where they were, and asked him if he would give up the iron, and he said, no he was sorry for his men.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. You found North there? - A. Yes.

Q.Upon your going in you went in with your pistol? - A. Yes.

Q.These men were very quiet? - A. Yes.

JOHN GOTTEY sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I am in the employ of the Marine Police-office; I went with Mr. Hobbs, on board a lighter, where we found the two prisoners; as soon as we came to the barge, Hobbs and I went on board; we walked over the goods to the after part of her, to the place they call the cabin; I think there was a man of the name of Plumridge standing, or lying upon the floor, covered with bedclothes; they afterwards turned out to be the two prisoners, the man that was discharged, and North who turned King's evidence; I asked Plumridge, where the iron was that was stolen, and brought on board there; I took hold of him, and told him. I must secure him till I found the iron; Mr. Hobbs looked under the batches and said, there is some of the iron, I know it to be my property; Mr. Hobbs then sent for Mr. Jackson.

Q. Did you see what the cargo consisted of? - A. There were coals and salt; Mr. Hobbs asked Jackson, in my hearing, if he had any iron stowed under the cabin floor, down that skuttle, pointing to the place where we found the iron; Mr. Jackson said, there was none there to his knowledge, if there was any it was unknown to him, they did not make any part of his cargo; then we secured them, and they were taken to the Marine Police-office.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. These men were lying down? - A. Yes.

Q. They were, perhaps, as much undrest as workmen usually are? - A. I believe they were.

Q. JOHN NORTH sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I was servant to Mr. Edward Jackson , and the two prisoners were servants of Mr. Jackson: On Sunday morning, about one o'clock, Thomas Cutler, Thomas Tridnall , John Butler , and myself, and a little boy of the name of Hester, that was in the barge; we brought a barge out of White-friars dock, and brought her down to Mr. Anderson's, the next wharf to Paul's wharf, or the next but one; after securing the barge, I went and laid down upon the bed in the barge; I did not know at that time that Tridnall, Butler, and Cutler were going away with my master's punt; they went away and came back to the barge in about half an hour, and pulled me by the leg; they asked me to get up and lend a hand to get some iron out of the punt, which I refused; I laid down, and saw them, as they came past me, every time with the iron; they put it under the hatchway, close to where I lay; then they came and pulled me by the leg again, and said, would I go along with them, they had got a prize; I then got up, and Thomas Cutler , Tridnall, Butler and myself, got into the punt, and went to the lighters where the iron was, and Butler and Tridnall got into the lighter; Cutler and I staid in the punt, and they handed five bars into the punt; I suppose they might weigh, as near as I can guess, half a hundred each; and then we rowed back to our master's barge.

Q. How far was that barge from your master's barge? - A.About fifty or sixty yards from her dern; we put it in where the other was; we got back about three o'clock, and then every man laid down till day-light.

Q. What time at night was it that you were disturbed? - A. About ten or eleven o'clock at night; the Marine Police-officers came with Mr. Hobbs; Tridnall jumped over-board.

Q. Did Mr. Hobbs see the iron that you had taken? - A. Yes; he lifted up the hatchway where the iron was, he claimed it, and we were all taken.

Q. Was that the same iron that you had taken from the barge? - A. The same.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. How often may you have been in a Court of Justice to tell a story of this sort before? - A. Never.

Q.This was the first time in your life that ever your moral conduct was questioned, nobody ever thought of accusing you of a thing of this sort before? - A. No, not that I know of.

Q. Is that as true as all the rest of your evidence; do you mean to say, you never were charged with any thing before? - A. I have been charged with several things that were not true.

Q. And was always as innocent as you are now; how long ago was it? - A. I cannot say; I never was had before a Magistrate but once.

Q. How often have you been charged with robbing one man and another? - A. I cannot say, how many times.

Q. Do you remember the wet linen at Henley-upon-Thames? - A. Yes.

Q. You remember the pig? - A. Yes.

Q. When you went and sold the man his own pig? - A. No.

Q. It was his next neighbour's? - A. Yes.

Q. You were a virtuous man that was seduced by getting into the company of these bad man? - A. No, all were together.

Q. You were so very sorry for what you had done, that you went to Mr. Hobbs and told him of it? - A. No, I did not.

Q. What did you do with yourself all day? - A. I was on board my master's barge.

Q. You were taken at night and carried to the Marine Police-office? - A. Yes.

Q. And sent to jail? - A. Yes.

Q. You come out of jail now, do not you? - A. Yes.

Q. You were brought up to be examined the next day? - A. Yes.

Q. When were you brought up to be examined the next time, Wednesday, or Thursday after, was not it? - A. Yes.

Q. When you were examined on the Monday, you did not say a word of this? - A. No.

Q. Then you were committed? - A. Yes.

Q. Then you began to think you should be hanged? - A. No, I did not.

Q. Transported then? - A. No, I did not.

Q. Upon your oath did not you expect to be hanged or transported? - A. No.

Q. You thought to get off with a whipping perhaps? - A. No, I could not think any thing of that.

Q. Upon your oath did not you expect to be hanged or transported? - A. Yes.

Q.And then you thought it better that somebody else should be hanged than you should? - A. I thought my life was as good as theirs.

Q. And then you swore the same sort of story that you have stated now? - A. Yes.

Q. Which of these two nights were you the watchman? - A. The same Saturday night.

Q. Tridnall jumped over board - what became of him, was he drowned? - A. No.

Q. The man that is born to be hanged is never drowned to be sure? - A. I do not know what is become of him. (One of the bars of iron produced).

Mr. Hobbs. This is the kind of iron that my barge was loaded with, there were no other barges at Paul's wharf loaded with iron of that description; I had four, all one person's property; we call it all Paul's wharf premises, there was other iron upon the wharf belonging to Mr. Bellin.

Mr. Gurney. Q. There is no specific mark of your's upon the iron? - A. No; it has the merchant's mark upon it.

Q. What was the quantity you had in these four barges? - A.Two hundred ton.

Q. Have you then ascertained by any means, that there is any deficiency? - A. The land-waiter weighs them; and he said there was a deficiency.

JOHN BELLIN sworn. - Examined by Mr. Knowlys. I have been a wharfinger and iron broker fourteen years.

Q. Is the iron now produced of the same species as that on board this gentleman's barge? - A. Exactly, it is a very particular sort; it is what is termed in this country Russia tire iron, to distinguish it from common bars; I had never seen another sample of this sort of iron in the port of London before; I have no doubt in the world that it is Mr. Hobbs's, besides this; there were nine lighters loaded with iron in Paul's wharf; there was not room to stow the ninth, and that was stowed in a dock a few yards off, but there were no other lighters that contained similar iron to this of Mr. Hobbs's, and there was none of that kind landed at that time; there is but one other iron broker besides myself, and I think it is impossible that any of that sort of iron could have come to London without my knowledge.

Cutler's defence. I had come from Buckinghamshire with a barge, and I laid down and went to sleep; I never saw any thing that is laid to my charge.

Butler's defence. I laid in the barge, North and Tridnall were up, I saw nothing that went forward.

For the Prisoner.

JOHN LANGLEY sworn. - I am a barge-master at Marlow; I know North, I would not believe him upon his oath.

Mr. Knowlys. Q. You never heard him sworn any where? - A. No.

Q. Then why would you not believe him upon his oath? - A. He is a wicked, blackguard, drunken fellow, he bears a very bad character; I never heard a worse in my life.

Cutler called six, and Butler four witnesses, who gave them a good character.


Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. RECORDER.