Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 09 December 2019), June 1824, trial of JAMES THOMAS BOYCE (t18240603-197).

JAMES THOMAS BOYCE, Breaking Peace > wounding, 3rd June 1824.

1012. JAMES THOMAS BOYCE was indicted for that he, on the 11th of April , at St. Bridget alias St. Bride , in and upon John Fishburn , a subject of our Lord the King, feloniously, wilfully, maliciously, and unlawfully did make an assault and with a certain sharp instrument; feloniously did strike, out, and stab the said John Fishburn , in and upon his head and right arm, with intent feloniously, &c. to kill and murder him against the statute .

SECOND COUNT, stating his intention to be to disable the said John Fishburn .

THIRD COUNT, stating his intention to be to do him some grievous bodily harm.

MR. LAW conducted the prosecution.

JOHN FISHBURN . I am a watchman of St. Bride's . On the morning of the 11th of April I was on duty; and as I went my rounds, my attention was directed to the shop of Mr. Richardson, a fishmonger, nearly at the top of Fleet-market, I found the door open, and, upon going in, I found two young men there. I went in, and asked what they did there - one ran away, and the other who was the prisoner, remained: as soon as I got inside, he shut the door, and struck me with his fist - I returned the blow, and was knocked down - I got up, and he took up a crow-bar which laid on the ground, and struck me with it; but before that, he said he would serve me out, and would do for me; he took this crow-bar (producing it,) and struck me with it on the head and arm - he struck me with it as I was against the wall; I happened to have a thick hat on, which stopped a good many of the blows, but I received one on the head about two inches long - my hat was off at that time. I received a blow on my arm by putting it up to defend my head; he used but one hand, and struck in this way (beating with it.) I received a wound on my arm, not quite an inch long - I was obliged to go to the hospital, and remained there a month and three days; my head was entirely all over blood.

Q. On recovering yourself, what did you do - A. I asked him for mercy - he told me to sit on the block, and if I moved, it would be worse for me. He ran away - I followed his out, and sprung my rattle, and kept him in sight till he turned the corner of Stonecutter-street. Four or five more watchmen came to my assistance, and in four or five minutes he was brought to me - I knew him again - I caught sight of him as soon as I turned the corner of Stonecutter-street - nobody but him was running before me - he was stopped just by Robin-hood-court, Shoe-lane, by a watchman of St. Andrew's. I examined the fishmonger's shop, and found the crow-bar there. I felt the effects of my wound in about an hour, and went to the hospital about six o'clock that morning. I was ordered to bed, and my head dressed - I felt great inconvenience from it.

Cross-examined by Mr. ANDREWS. Q. At what time did it happen - A. At a quarter or twenty minutes before five o'clock - he shut the door upon me - they were both in the shop when the door was shut - I was alarmed very much, but did not lose my recollection - there was no light there - it was daylight; the back door was open, and I had plenty of light; I saw him take the crow-bar off the floor.

Q. Do you mean to state that you were possessed of your senses sufficiently to know the manner in which he struck you - A. Yes; he struck me with one hand, and the sharp end of the crow-bar turned towards my head - the dresser of the hospital saw me about five minutes after I got there; I attended before the Alderman the second day after it happened.

COURT. Q. We understood you to say that you saw two men, one ran away and the other stopped in - A. Yes, my Lord - he went away directly after the door was shut; I and the prisoner were then left alone; I saw no marks of violence on the door; the lock had been sprung; the crow-bar did not appear to me to have been used to get in with.

CHARLES SILVESTER . I am watchman of St. Bride's; I was on duty on Sunday morning, the 11th of April; about five o'clock I heard Fishburn's rattle spring; my box faces the centre of the market near Harp-alley - I can see this shop by moving a yard or two - I saw Fishburn pursuing the prisoner, who ran straightup the market towards me; I pursued him into Shoe-lane, where he was stopped by a watchman - I lost sight of him as he turned the corner of Stonecutter-street, and on turning the corner myself, I saw the watchman trying to stop him; he was still running, but the watchman struck at him, and he got away; but he struck him again and was taken - nobody but him and the prosecutor were running in a direction from the shop; I have no doubt of his person; there is a linendrapers shop next door to the fishmongers.

JOHN CLARK . I am a watchman of St. Andrew's. I was upon duty in Shoe-lane at five o'clock, and heard a rattle spring - I saw the prisoner running, and two or three watchmen after him, calling Stop him! - he came directly towards me, out of Stonecutter-street, nearly outof breath. I called out

"Stop, or else down you go;" he used some bad language, and tried to brush by me - I struck him on the shoulder with my staff - he got about twenty yards further, when I gave him another blow and secured him, at the corner of Robin-hood-court - I did not lose sight of him from the time I first saw him - Fishburn's face was covered with blood - he said

"That is the man who tried to take my life."

SAMUEL BEAVAN . I was constable of the night at St. Bride's. On the 11th of April the prisoner was brought to the watch-house - I found 13 s. 2 1/2 d., and a piece of wax taper, in his pocket - a lantern was found on the premises, and given to me by a watchman.

WILLIAM BURCH . I am dresser to Dr. Abernethy, and attended the prosecutor at the hospital - he had a cut on the forehead, extending an inch and a half perhaps - it laid the bone bare - he had a cut on the right arm, and the back part of the fore arm, about an inch and a-half long - it was not a deep wound, merely through the skin - I have no doubt of the wounds being made by an instrument, such as the one produced - it is an incised wound, not a bruise - the sharp end of the crow-bar could have produced it, but not the other end.

Cross-examined. Q. Did he give any account of the matter to you - A. I asked how it happened - that was not in consequence of any doubt I entertained of the manner in which it had been done.

THOMAS GIFFORD - I am shopman to Mr. Richardson, fishmonger, Fleet-market. On Saturday the 10th of April, I locked up the shop, and left 13 s. and some odd halfpence in the drawer, and on Monday I found a large hole in the wall - the plaster was knocked off - the wall communicated with the linendraper's shop next door - I found a dark lantern, and a small crow-bar, in the shop, and gave them to my master - these are them (looking at them) - I looked into the drawer, and the money was gone - the shop-door had been locked, but not the drawer.

Cross-examined. Q. Does any body sleep in the shop - A. No; I left about ten o'clock at night, and did not hear of this till Monday.

COURT. Q. Was the hole made through the wall - A. Not quite, my Lord; there were one or two bricks out.

THOMAS WISBY. I was in Richardson's shop on Saturday night, the 10th of April, and locked it up between ten and eleven o'clock, and left the premises all safe.

The prisoner made no defence, but one witness deposed to his good character.

GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 22.