The Trial of William Booth, of Perry Barr
OF PERRY BARR,
IN THE COUNTY OF STAFFORD,
At Stafford Summer Assizes,
BEFORE SIR SIMON LE BLANC,
One of the Judges of his Majesty's Court of King's Bench.
With the substance of the Trial of WILLIAN BEVAN, for Highway Robbery.
Printed by J. Drewry.
WILLIAM BOOTH was put to the Bar for Forging a Note, purporting to be a Promissory Note of the Bank of England, of the value of £1. against the Statute of 45th Geo. III.
Mr. Jervis, on the part of the prosecution, explained the facts as they were disclosed in the evidence.
The first witness, Dorothy Ingly, wife of Richard Ingly, deposed that her husband used to work at the prisoner's. She saw the officers of justice at the Boar's Head, Perry Barr, on the 16th of March last, and proceeded immediately to the house of the prisoner, and acquainted Elizabeth Chidlow, prisoner's servant, with the fact.
John Linwood, one of the constables of Birmingham, in consequence of some information he had received, went to the prisoner's house on the 16th of March, with 10 special constables and 7 dragoons—stopt at the Boar’s Head, Perry Barr, about a minute on their way thither—prisoner's house is also at Perry Barr, apparently an old farm-house, and 2 or 300 yards from any other dwelling: He described the manner in which the house was blockaded, there being three doors in the passage leading to the parlour, all very strong and fastened with solid square oak and iron bars, immensely strong, and the windows were lined with wrought iron and also barred, so that it was almost invulnerable to the attacks of any assailant.
The posse being unable to obtain admittance into the lower rooms by reason of the doors and windows being so strongly barricaded, and the windows of the chambers being also secured by iron bars, &c. so that they could not get in there; Chillingworth, one of the Birmingham constables, and the next witness examined) proceeded up a ladder in front of the house. On going up the ladder, he saw the prisoner in the chamber over the parlour—he came up to the window—witness asked him if he would let him in—prisoner said he would just now—witness then broke the glass, and the prisoner went to the centre of the room, and witness saw him take some papers from a rolling press that was fixed upon a bench in the middle of the room, the papers appeared to be of the size of bank-notes—witness called out "Booth, you're dropping 'em." Saw the prisoner put them into a fire place, in which there was some fire. Witness then ascended the ladder to the garret window, and with much difficult forced himself through it into the garret, and others of his party followed. After he had entered the garret, be jumped thro' a trap door into the room where Booth was when he went up the ladder, but Booth at the same time went thro' another trap door into the parlour below. Witness remained in the chamber, & found burnt paper in the fire place. Three other persons came to him, and he broke the wall over the fire-place, & took many burnt papers out of the chimney—further up they found one which was but little burnt. It was mark'd, and given to John Linwood. The note was produced in Court, and sworn to, On the Friday following the apprehension of the prisoner, witness was shewn, by Richard Ingley, a plate for making Bank of England notes, which had been buried and taken up, and was produced in Court, and identified.
John Linwood deposed that when he obtained admission into the parlour (which was after Chillingworth had entered the garret window)—he saw Booth and James Yates in the parlour—Elizabeth Chidlow stood at the foot of the ladder—Booth had a dirty flannel jacket on, and his hands appeared to be smeared with printing ink—he secured him while in the parlour with hand-cuſfs. Witness then went into the chamber, thro' the trap door cut thro' the ceiling—there were no other means of getting in but by ascending a ladder which stood ready for that purpose, and could be drawn up at pleasure. When the trap door was shut, it was secured by a strong iron cross bar. As he went up, Turner and another person came down from the garret, and they met him in the chamber. This witness, as well as others, proved that materials for making paper, impressing water marks, and for copper-plate printing, were found upon prisoner's premises, which materials were produced in Court, and were matters of curiosity to many, but the detail of which would fatigue our readers unnecessarily. Witness could not tell who let him into the parlour—probably the prisoner himself had opened the door.
Mr. D. Brownell, prison-keeper, at Bordesley, assisted in search of prisoner's house on the 16th and 17th. When Chillingworth had obtained possession of the house, by getting thro' the garret window, he saw (having broken the window of parlour) Booth open the door, he immediately went round to meet him. Several minutes after he saw Elizabeth Chidlow come down. Witness produced several pieces of burnt paper, given him by Chillingworth, and which appeared to be the remnants of bank notes.
Gideon Taylor deposed to the finding some paste-board in the lumber room, for the purpose of copper-plate printing.
Mr. Clay swore to the finding of a mould, by which paper, in imitation of bank paper, is made.
John Ingley had been in prisoner's employ since Christmas last. The prisoner occupied 200 acres of land. Since he came to prisoner, the windows of the parlour and 2 chambers had been strengthened. Witness was taken to work in the house about ten days before prisoner was apprehended. Before that time worked in the barn. Mrs. Booth, E. Chidlow, 3 Yates's (father and 2 sons) Scott, and Barrows, slept in the house. Recollects Dorothy Ingley coming to the house on the 16th—and that Elizabeth Chidlow went and rapped at the parlour door, in consequence of Dorothy Ingley speaking to her.—Booth came out, and said, "Good woman, what bother have you brought here!" Chidlow said the Tuners were coming Booth said it was a d—d lie—they durst not come there. Walked back into the parlour, and called witness after him—gave him a small trunk (which was produced)—told him the things that were in it were done, and he must go and plant it on the far side the ground—the trunk was locked—he dug a hole in a field and buried it, he had been directed by the prisoner to hide two copper-plates on the Tuesday before he was apprehended; he wrapt them in a cloth, and buried them in a ditch; same day he was employed again to plant a single plate, which he did in the same manner. Mrs. Booth also gave him plates when prisoner was not present, which he hid in the thatch of a wheat rick. Booth was then in bed; he had tumbled down a trap door that morning, and hurt himself.—Witness was taken up on the Friday after the prisoner. He immediately gave information, and discovered where the articles were concealed.
Joseph Chirm, head-borough of Birmingham, proved the finding of the trunk and plates. Swore to their being the same as those in Court. He marked the papers in the trunk, and those produced are the same. They were notes of different value, purporting to be of the Bank of England, and to a large amount. There were besides 13 blanks, with the Bank of England water mark.
Richard Ingley, servant to Booth several years, deposed to hiding a plate by his order, and to Mrs. Booth and Mrs. Chidlow working at the copper-plate press; Booth was present, and used the punch or stamp), upon the roles after they had passed the press. [This stamp puts on the No. of the note, and in that in question was No. 21099.] Cross examined by Mr. Clifford, acknowledged that he did not know the difference between writing and printing.
Several Constables next proved the discovery of various materials used in making paper, and copper-plate printing, which were produced and sworn to in Court.
William Bridges, paper-maker to the Bank of England, described the process of paper-making; the mould produced was a bad imitation of that used for the Bank, Proved that some of the paper produced was made in the prisoner's mould. The bill on which the prisoner was indicted, and that found in the chimney, were compared by witness, who said they were not struck from the same mould, and neither of them from the would produced.
William Brewer, paper mould maker to the Bank of England, proved that part of the bills found in the trunk were made from the mould which had been produced.
J. H. Harper, engraver to the Bank of England—the note for which the prisoner was indicted; was not the impression of a genuine plate—it was fraudulent in every respect; he was positive it came from the same plate as the singed note; the notes in the trunk were also from that plate. The way in which the date is put into these forged bills is by a small narrow plate, which is not the mode adopted by the Bank;—that method, however, he declined stating.—The date of the note for which the prisoner was indicted was July 31, 1811, (exactly one year on the day of his trial.)
Thomas Glover had been inspector of bank notes about twenty years. The note on which prisoner was indicted, & the singed note, and all the others that were shewn to him, were false and counterfeit in every respect.
The prisoner's counsel took several legal objections, which were over-ruled.
The learned judge occupied an hour and an half in summing up, and gave a luminous detail of the evidence. He explained to the Jury, that if the persons in Booth's employ worked by his orders; it was exactly the same thing as if his own hand had traced every line upon the bill.—The Jury with very little hesitation pronounced a verdict—Guilty—Death.
Counsel for the Prosecution, Messrs. Jervis, Puller, and Barnes,—Solicitors, Messrs. Winter and Kaye;—for Prisoner, Mr. Alley, (by a special retainer) and Messrs. Clifford, and Taunton,—Solicitor, Mr. Thos. Gem, of Birmingham.
Wm. Booth and Geo. Scott, were then indicted for making paper, and having it in their possession and using a mould having the words "Bank of England," visible in the substance of such paper, which was made a capital offence by the Statute of 29th Geo. III.
Much of the evidence on this trial was in substance the same as that adduced on Booth's trial.—Verdict, Booth Guilty—Scott Not Guilty.
Booth was convicted on several other indictments. Mrs. Booth was not put upon her trial, no true bill having been found against her.—Booth's accomplices were sentenced as follows; viz. Elizabeth Chidlow, to be transported for fourteen years; George Scott, and John Yates the elder, for seven years. John Yates the younger, James Yates, and John Burrows, were acquitted. John Ingley, and Richard Ingley, were admitted evidence for the Crown.
The Learned Judge, after having passed sentence of Transportation upon Elizabeth Chidlow, George Scott, and James Yates the Elder, the former for 14, and the two latter for 7 years each, addressed the Prisoner, Booth, to the following effect:
You stand to receive the Judgement of the Court, convicted upon two several indictments of a capital offence. It is not necessary to observe upon the other indictments. The circumstances which have been proved against you are fresh in the recollection of the Court, and are such as cannot leave the least doubt in the mind of any person who has beard your trial, of the guilt in which you have been involved, and of the magnitude of that guilt. It is much to be feared that others have been drawn into some of the offences they have committed by your solicitations—You were the Master and Superintendent of all the wicked machinations which have been going on in your house, which you thought you had rendered inaccessible to the Officers of the Law. In that house was found the Engine which has been produced in evidence, together with every material necessary to accomplish all those purposes of fraud in which you were engaged.—Your crime has been a crime that has involved the cheating of almost all the kingdom—a crime that bas been the means of defrauding and imposing upon every subject into whose hands these things might come.
Under such circumstances, there is little reason to expect that the Sentence of the Law can receive any mitigation in your case. I would therefore warn you to think of that dreadful account which you must give hereafter—to employ the short time which you can be permitted to continue upon earth, in endeavouring, by penitence and prayer, to obtain that mercy in another world, which cannot be extended to you in this.
It now only remains for me to pass upon you the Sentence of the Law; which is, and this Court doth adjudge, that you be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck until you be dead; and may the Lord have mercy upon your Soul.
The Prisoner heard his sentence without betraying any symptoms of fear, and at the conclusion bowed respectfully to the Court.
He will be executed on Saturday the 15th of August inst.
WILLIAM BEVAN was charged with assaulting on the highway at Kingswinford, Elizabeth the wife of William Brown, and William Brown the younger, and robbing Mrs. Brown, of two one-pound notes. It was a very doubtful case, and the Jury, after due deliberation, gave (as was their duty) the benefit of that doubt to the prisoner. The first witness examined was Elizabeth Brown, who deposed that on Sunday the 17th of May, about nine o'clock in the evening, as she was going home on horseback, with her son before her, she was stopped about a quarter of a mile from home, in a public bridle road, by a man who had been leaning against the bank; the man laid hold of the bridle, and said to her son, "Stir if you dare—give me your money immediately, or I'll blow both your brains out." He held something in his hand, which witness apprehended was a pistol. She exclaimed "Spare our lives, and you shall have our money;" and then delivered to him two 1l. notes, which he held up to examine if they were good, He was dressed in dark-coloured clothes, and wore a slouched hat over his face—he was a "particular made man," broad across the shoulders. On the following Wednesday the prisoner came to her door to ask charity, and as soon as she saw him she was so much struck with his appearance, that she felt ill, and could not speak to him; she was quite sure he was the man who had robbed her, tho' at the time he was begging he had a hand tied up;, and appeared to be lame, but he was not lame on Sunday. She sent her son to him, who ordered him away. At the time of the robbery she never saw the man's face, but recognized him by his make, voice, and hat.
Wm. Brown, jun. was next sworn, and corroborated the testimony of his mother; the prisoner said something to them which they could not understand; was positive in identifying prisoner, but could not swear whether it was a pistol that he held to his mother: it resembled one. When the prisoner had obtained the notes, witness said to him, "You've got what you want—for God's sake let us go." The man immediately loosed the bridle, and walked away. He was dressed in dark-coloured clothes, but did not know the exact colour. Saw him again on Wednesday morning—in dark blue clothes, slouched hat, &c. prisoner was at his father's door, asking charity; his mother sent him to the door to speak to the prisoner, telling him who she thought he was. Witness told the prisoner they had thing for him, on which he went away; was then convinced he was the man who had robbed his mother. A servant man and witness followed the prisoner—they overlook him begging at a neighbouring house; witness fetched the constable, who took the man into custody. At that time prisoner appeared to be lame, and had one hand tied up; but he was not lame when he committed the robbery; his band was untied by the constable; there was a scar upon the back of it, but he could use it; he afterwards walked uprightly, & as fast as the constable. On a question from the learned Judge, he said it was light enough to see the man at the time of the robbery, and that he (witness) was not much frightened.
The Constable was called, who proved nothing particular; when he examined the prisoner's pockets after taking him into custody, he found only 3d. in copper upon him.
The Prisoner, in his defence, said, that on the night of the robbery he slept at Bromsgrove, and that he was not the man who had committed the robbery. He had caused a letter to be sent to Bromsgrove, but he was a poor man, had no friends, and could not produce any witnesses; no answer had been returned to his letter.
The Learned Judge recapitulated the evidence with much perspicuity, and dwelt on the leading points, both for and against the prisoner. The Jury deliberated full 20 minutes; but one of the Jurymen was inattentive, and did not appear to take any part in the consideration'; when they appeared to have decided on their verdict, that circumstance was noticed by the Clerk of Arraigns. The Jury then deliberated for a few minutes longer, when they turned round, and the foreman said "they doubted whether he was guilty." They were told that they must give in a verdict of guilty or acquittal, when one of the jurymen said "they would not swear that he was guilty." The Judge explained to them that if they had any doubt of the prisoner's guilt, they must acquit him; but if they had no doubt, they must find him guilty. The Jury then reconsidered the subject—verdict, Not Guilty.