Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 01 December 2021), September 1814, trial of JAMES CLOWES (t18140914-48).

JAMES CLOWES, Breaking Peace > wounding, 14th September 1814.

746. JAMES CLOWES was indicted for that he, on the 10th of July , upon Philip Mighill , a subject of our Lord the King, feloniously did make an assault, and with a sharp instrument, to wit, a knife, unlawfully did cut and stab him in and upon his cheek, with intent to kill and murder him .

SECOND COUNT, for like offence, with intent to disable him.

THIRD COUNT, to do him some grievous bodily harm.

PHILIP MIGHILL . I received this cut in my cheek about eleven o'clock in the morning, on the morning, on the 10th of July. I was in my bedroom at that time. I was not very well at that time. I lodged in Mr. Bristow's house, near St. Bride's church .

Q. Did the prisoner use to sleep in the same room with you - A. He used to sleep in the room, but I did not see him sleep there. I had slept there two years.

Q. Had the prisoner slept there the night before this matter happened - A. No.

Q. How early did you first see him in the room - A. About ten o'clock in the morning.

Q. Did he speak to you - A. No, he appeared quite deranged. I thought him a madman. At that time he was down upon his knees, with his hands lifted up; he said, Jesus, come down from Heaven, and take the evil spirit from me. I did not at all apprehend any mischief was intended for me. He continued in this way nearly an hour. I believe all this was real madness. He then came to the foot of the bed; I persuaded him to lay down, in mild language; I said, my good fellow, you had better lay down, and take a nap; he gave me no answer; he spit in my face; he never treated me in that way before; he always behaved remarkably civil. I did not resent his spitting in my face, because I thought he was mad. I only told him to lay down; he said, come out, you imp of Hell, come out; he immediately cut me with a pen knife on the cheek. I could not see he had a knife in his hand, he did it so quick. There was nobody in the room but our two selves; to avoid being cut the second time I got under the bed; he continued walking about the room. It was about twenty minutes before any assistance came. He did not follow me under the bed to cut me again; he continued falling on his knees and clinching his hands, and making use of the same expressions. The landlord came into the room; the prisoner then ran out of the room. The cut in my face did not do me much injury. I thought he was a madman then, and I think so now.

RICHARD BRISTOW . I am the landlord of the house. The prisoner came into my house about eighteen months ago, and the prosecutor lodged there; he was then in his sound mind, a civil quiet man. About a week before this affair happened he returned from a voyage; he told me he had some money to receive at Greenwich; he asked me to lend him a few shillings until he returned from Greenwich.

Q. Did he know Mighill lodged there - A. I believe he did; he did not appear to be insane at that time. He did not return so soon from Greenwich as I expected by a day or two. On the 9th, the night before this affray happened, he came in between eleven and twelve; he was in a great perspiration, with no handkerchief on; he rather looked wild, and seemed in a very agitated state. I said, Clowes, what is the matter with you; he wished to tell me a long story; I was busy at the bar, I could not attend to him. I begged him to sit down in the tap-room until I was more at leisure; at the same time I told him I had no bed, I would allow him to sit up in the taproom. He remained there all night. I found him very restless; I thought it was the effect of drinking. At the time I went to bed he was very calm, and much disposed for sleep. I had every reason to suppose he was a quiet civil man. When the maid got up in the morning, she found him very restless, kneeling in the tap-room.

Q. Did you see him do any of these eccentricities - A. When I went up at eleven o'clock in the day, I saw him in such eccentricities; he was going down on his knees in this extraordinary way; I spoke to him very sharp. Mighill came from under the bed, called out, Mr. Bristow, he has cut me with a sharp knife; that cause me to act cautious with him; Ithought then he was actually in a deranged state. I coaxed him; I got him down stairs; he stopped below a little with the knife in his hand. Being a strong powerful man, I was afraid to interfere with him; he went out in the street, and the officer secured him. He has been with Sir Sidney Smith , I understand, and he told me he had received a wound in his head. When he drinks his head is nearly cracked.

Q. When he was on shore before did you observe whether he and Mighill were friends - A. So much so that they would both drink out of one pot, and have it filled up again.

JOHN LOCKLEY HARPER. I am a constable. On Saturday the 10th of July, I was sent for to the White Bear, Bride-lane; I went out, and saw the prisoner going towards Blackfriars-bridge; he had the knife in his hand when I took him in custody; he was sometimes praying and sometimes swearing. I believe him to be mad at that time. I secured him, and took him to the Compter. I took the knife from him. I was obliged to get a person to assist me; he was very violent.

MR. WALDRON. I am a surgeon; I attend Giltspur-street compter. I saw the prisoner while he was in the compter; he was certainly deranged at the first part of his being in the Compter. I examined his head; there is evidently a fracture of the bone; that, joined with liquor, might produce derangement. He was under an irritable fever, under an impression of religious terror. After a day a two, he became perfectly tranquil. He behaved very well from his recovery during his continuance in Giltspur-street Compter.


On account of derangement at the time the act was done .

London jury, before Mr. Common Serjeant.