The trial and execution of William Booth
The trial and execution of
Who was Executed at Stafford, on Saturday Aug. 15, 1812.
For Counterfeiting Forged Bank of England Notes
William Booth, the unfortunate malefactor who has this day terminated his existence to the offended laws of his country, was born of respectable parents near Henly-in-Arden where his father is still living. He was about 33 years of age, and was brought up to no trade, and his parents indulged him in everything he wanted.
The crime for which he so justly forfeited his life, was for having in his possession without lawful excuse, a frame, mould, and instrument, for the making of paper, with the words "Bank of England" visible in the substance of the paper, and with having made or caused to be made, divers sheets of paper in the substance of which the said words "Bank of England" were visible, and with having the said paper in his possession without lawful excuse; and with forging divers Bank Notes for 10l. 5l. and 1l. each, and divers blank bank notes, for the like sums, and also for coining divers pieces of coin resembling silver Dollars and Bank Tokens; and for forging the stamp or die to denote the duty of four pence; and also for forging divers promissory notes of Messrs. Raikes and Co. East Riding Bank, Hull, for the payment of one guinea each.
In the Year 1808 he was taken up on suspicion of having murdered his brother, at End, in the parish of Wooten Wawen, but the evidence not appearing clear against him, he was accordingly acquitted.
It appeared in the trial that J. Linwood constable of Birm. in consequence of some information he had received went to the prisoner's house on 16 of March, with 10 special constables & 7 Dragoons—stopt at the Boars Head Perry , about a minute on their way thither—prisoner's residence is also at Perry Bar 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 3 doors in the passage leading to the parlour, all very strong and fastened with solid square oak and iron bars 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 & the windows of the chamber being also secured by iron bars &c so that they could not get in there Chillingsworth one of the Brirm. assistants to the constables, 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 middle of the room, and witness saw him take some papers from a rolling press that was fixed on a bench in the middle of the room, the papers appeared to be the size of bank notes—saw the prisoner put them on a fire. Witness then ascended the ladder to the garret window, and with much difficulty forced himself through it into the garret and others of his party followed. After he had entered the garret he jumped thro' a trap door onto the room where Booth was when he went up the ladder, but Booth at the same time went thro' anther trap door onto the parlour below. Witness remained in the chamber, and found burnt paper in the fire place. 3 other persons came to him, & he broke the wall over the fireplace, and took burnt papers out of the chimney—one was but very little burnt. The note was produced in Court and sworn to.
John Ingley had been in the prisoner's employ since Christmas last. The prisoner occupied 200 acres of land. Since he came to prisoner the windows of the parlour & a chamber 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. Recollects Dorothy Ingley coming in the house on the 16th and that Eliz. Chidlow went and rapped at the parlour door in consequence of Dorothy Ingley speaking to her—Booth came out, and said, "God woman, what bother have you brought here!" Chidlow said the runners were coming Booth said it was a d----d lie—they darst not come there. Walked back into the parlour & called witness after him—gave him a small trunk (which was produced)—told him the things that 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 ordered to hide a single plate which he hid in the same manner. Mrs. Booth who gave him Plates when Prisoner was abed, which he hid in the thatch of a wheat rick. Booth was then in bed he had tumbled down a trap door that morning & hurt himself—witness was taken up on the Friday after the prisoner. When he gave information, & discovered where the articles were .
Joseph Chirm, of Birm. proved the finding trunk and plates.—They were Notes of different value, and in a large amount. There were besides 13 blanks, with the Bank of England water mark.
Wm. Bridges & Wm. Brewer, Paper and Paper-mould makers to the Bank of England proved that part of the Bills found in the trunk were made from the mould which had been produced. The prisoner's Council took several legal objections, which were over-ruled. The jury with very little hesitation pronounced a Verdict of Guilty. The Judge then passed sentence on Booth in the following words:——
William Booth, you stand here to receive the judgement of the Court for two capital offences, of which a Jury have found you Guilty: it is not necessary for me to speak of the other indictments against you, under such circumstances with which you have been indicted, you can have little reason to expect that the mercy of the law will be extended to you: I can hold out no hope of that expectation, but I hope you will now do that which I grossly fear hitherto neglected—that is that you will, by humble and devout prayer and contrition to prepare yourself for that great and dreadful day, when before a judgement far more awful than any earthly Tribunal, you will be called upon to give an account of your actions in this world; the short interval that can be allowed to you between this time and that of putting into execution the sentence which the law directs me to pronounce upon you, I trust you will employ in that preparation: it now only remains with me to pass that sentence, which is—that you William Booth be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from there to the place of Execution, there to be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and the Lord have mercy on your soul!
The prisoner heard his sentence without dismay & at the conclusion bowed respectfully to the Court.
Between 11 and 12 o'clock the Prisoner was taken to the usual place of Execution, where after some time spent in prayer he was suddenly launched into eternity.