Old Bailey Proceedings:
Old Bailey Proceedings: Accounts of Criminal Trials

22nd February 1764

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Currently Held: Harvard University Library

LL ref: t17640222-44

176. (L.) John Franklin proceedingsdefend was indicted, for that he, together with divers others, to the number of 500 and more, on the 3d of December , did riotously assemble together, in order to disturb the public peace, when the Honourable Thomas Harley proceedingsvictim , and Richard Blunt < no role > , Esqrs . sheriffs of the city of London, were in the execution of their office, to cause a certain printed paper, called the North-Briton, No. 45. to be burnt, pursuant to an order of both Houses of Parliament; and did wickedly and riotously make an assault at and against the said Thomas Harley < no role > , and divers hard pieces of wood and dirt did cast and throw; by means whereof the glass of his chariot was broke, and he received a wound in his forehead; against his majesty's peace, his crown and dignity .

This being an offence committed against the sheriffs of London, whose province it is to order the summoning of the juries, a jury to try this was summoned by the coroner.

Their names are as follow:

Wm Kippax proceedingsjury , foreman,

Cornelius Denney proceedingsjury ,

Thomas Hudson proceedingsjury ,

James Green proceedingsjury ,

John Blaksley proceedingsjury ,

Joshua Hubbord proceedingsjury ,

Robert Withers proceedingsjury ,

Charles Norris proceedingsjury ,

John Storer proceedingsjury ,

Robert Adamson proceedingsjury ,

Benjamin Daniel proceedingsjury ,

Stephen Edwards proceedingsjury .

Mr. Thomas Partington < no role > , the under-sheriff, produced a copy of the Resolution of the House of Lords and Commons assembled.

Q. Is this a true copy?

Mr. Partington. It is. I examined it at the House of Lords, with the Clerk, by the Lords journal. It is read to this purport;

"Thursday, December 1, 1763.

Resolved, by the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled, that the printed paper, intitled, The North-Briton, No. 45. be burnt by the hands of the common hangman, on Saturday next, at the Royal Exchange; and that the sheriffs of London do attend, and see it burnt accordingly, &c."

The Hon Thomas Harley < no role > , Esq; I am one of the sheriffs of London. In pursuance of this, I attended with Mr. Richard Blunt < no role > to put this order in execution, at the Royal Exchange: when we came into the entrance of Cornhill , we found a great number of people assembled together; this was, as the order mentions, about one o'clock; there was a great noise, by hissing, and the like, which in a great degree prevented my getting up to the place where the fire was made for burning the paper before the Royal Exchange. Not being able to get up to the place, I got out of my chariot, and went to the place where the fire was made; during that time, there was a great deal of noise, and pelting a'vast deal of dirt: but notwithstanding that, I read this order of the house, and then gave the paper, Number 45. of the North-Briton, with my own hand, into the hand of the executioner, which he then attempted to light; but the wood being wetted by the dirt, that had been thrown, it did not catch fire so proper as it should; so there was a difficulty in lighting the paper to make it burn, which caused him to put it upon a link: I saw him put it upon the link, and when I thought it was sufficiently consumed, I returned to my chariot. When I was in, I ordered my servant to turn about and go home; but the people pressed to close upon the horses, they would not suffer them to turn. By the time I got into my chariot, the people had broke in upon the constables, who guarded the fire; they took up the billets that were to compose the fire, and threw them at the horses and coachman, and one of the billets came directly on the fore glass, and broke it to pieces.

Q. How near might your chariot be then to the fire?

Mr. Harley. About twenty yards. Perceiving this, I thought it the best way to get out of the chariot; there was a great deal of glass stuck in my face: I walked to the Mansion-house, and after I had been there a little time, the constables brought in the prisoner at the bar; he was there examined, and committed. I can say nothing as to him.

John Bates < no role > . On Saturday the 3d of December last, I was going along the Poultry, and saw the Sheriffs going towards the 'Change; I followed the chariots to see what was going to be done: when I came pretty near the 'Change, Mr. Sheriff Harley's chariot stopt; Mr. Cook, the city-marshal, went and spoke to him; the mob began prodigiously to throw mud, particularly the prisoner at the bar, and another young man that stood close by him, much about his size; I saw him as plain as I see him now.

Q. Did you know him before?

Bates. I never saw him before, to my knowledge; the mob gave way at the right hand side, and he was plain fronting me, about 5 or 6 yards distance.

Q. What do you mean by the mob giving way?

Bates. That was by the sheriff's chariot drawing up; the sheriff seeing he could not get so near the fire as he would. he got out of the chariot; the constables that were upon duty, were fighting with their staffs: I saw the sheriff go towards the fire, and another gentleman with him; he had been there about six minutes, or hardly so long: he came back with some mud on his head, he got immediately into his chariot; the horses were going to turn round: when the chariot was upon the lock, the front of it was pretty near fronting the prisoner at the bar; the prisoner was directly fronting me; the faggots were thrown about, and I saw the prisoner take one of the faggot-sticks, and throw it immediately at the chariot, with a hissing, and crying out, D - n him, kill him, or kill them: then he and the other young fellow began hallowing.

Q. Did you see what became of the stick?

Bates. No, I did not. I saw the sheriff come out of the chariot, with his face bloody; I heard the glass fly; Mr. Cook was by him; the glass was broke by that same billet, and there were several more sticks thrown at the time, I am positive the prisoner threw the first stick that I saw thrown; there was a deal of dirt thrown.

Q. Did you see the stick go to the glass?

Bates. No, but the glass clattered directly.

Q. Why do you say this stick broke the glass, when you say there were other sticks thrown at the same time?

Bates. Several other sticks were thrown at the coachman and horses; several hit the coachman.

Q. Did you see the prisoner taken?

Bates. No, I did not. The prisoner owned before my Lord Mayor, and Mr. Sheriff Blunt, that he threw mud.

Q. What are you?

Bates. I am a ticket-porter, and live in Snow's-fields. I am a house-keeper.

Q. Whether you attended by meer accident, or whether you went designedly?

Bates. I was there accidentally; I had no notice of the thing, any more than of my dying day. I did not know what was to be done at the 'Change.

Hugh Davidson < no role > . I am constable for the ward of Queenhithe. That day I attended on the sheriffs, by the beadle's order, at the burning the North-Briton; the sheriff's chariot was just come; there was a croud of people; I got near the chariot-door, before Mr. Alderman Harley got out of the chariot: the faggots were rather billets, and were wet, they would not light; the crowd forced the constables out of their order; the prisoner and two more were coming forwardest; they took up mud several times before the billets were lighted, and threw it. I advised them to be cool: just as sheriff Harley came out of his chariot, the mob hissed prodigiously. I saw the prisoner take up dirt, and when they began to throw the faggots, I received a blow on my forehead, which knocked me down, and gave me a cut there, which appeared some days after.

John Spendilow < no role > . I was there a constable. I was ordered by the beadle of Farringdon without, to attend, and was there half an hour before the faggots were brought; as soon as they were brought, I observed mud and dirt thrown pretty thick; in a short time after, I saw the sheriff's chariot coming up; upon which, the pelting increased, and his horses could not get up: there was such a hissing, and shouting, and pelting, the horses started. I saw the chariot door open, and I went and attended the sheriff to the place, with others that stood by, while he read the paper; I could hear him speak the words, and saw him give the paper into the hangman's hands; and when it was burnt, I helped him into the chariot, under his left arm; after that, I saw the chariot-glass broke, and saw him get out again, his face was bloody; the first stick that I observed, hit the footman behind, the next stick broke the glass; upon which, the sheriff got out, and turned up by the piazzas; then Mr. Owen said, that is the man that broke the glass, pointing to the prisoner; I took him, and carried him to the Mansion-house, and heard him own to Mr. Alderman Blunt he threw mud. When they called to know, if any body knew any thing of the prisoner? there was Mr. Bates (whom I had never seen before); he said the same there, as he has here; I know of no variation at all.

James Owen < no role > . I am a bricklayer, and live in Gravel-lane, Hounsditch. I was a constable, ordered there by the beadle, to attend the burning the North-Briton; there was such a mob, I could not stand where the faggots were to be lighted; I got away, and stood till Mr. Harley came in his chariot; the mob was so great, he was forced to get out, and walk to the fire. I was one that attended him till he got up to the fire; then the mob was outrageous; they shoved the constable on my left hand into the fire, and threw the fire down; I took him up out of the fire, and went away again, and was got about forty or fifty yards distant, and there stood and saw Mr. Sheriff Harley come down the street, with his face all bloody; and when the chariot was turned, I saw the glass was broke; and when it was about the breast of me, I saw the prisoner with a stick in his hand; he threw it directly at the chariot, and hit the back of it; Mr. Harley was then gone down towards the Mansion-house: I turned on the right hand, and said to the last witness, I saw that man throw a stick at the chariot, and pointed to the prisoner; said he, follow me, and we will take him: the prisoner still followed the chariot; we let him go by us, and kept behind him; we told two or three more constables what he had done, and they followed us; he seeing himself beset, went to go up Lombard-street; I catched him by the elbow, and said, friend, you must go along with us: then the constables got round him, and carried him into the Mansion-house.

Prisoner's Defence.

I was coming through the mob, and was taken as one of the rioters; but as to what Bates and the rest have said, it is entirely false; I am ready to ask the court pardon. I had not been in town above a fortnight; I came from Norfolk; I was apprentice to a grocer and haberdasher, and came here to seek employment. I came a passenger from Yarmouth; Mr. Wescote can prove it.

For the prisoner.

John Wescote < no role > . I live in Cannon-street. The first knowledge I had of the prisoner, was about 19 years ago, when he was an infant; I never saw him here before the day fortnight before the burning of the North-Briton: he first addressed himself to me when he came to town, as he told me; his parents live at Stetford in Norfolk; his mother is a relation of mine, and at that time was in very good reputation.

Q. What are you?

Wescote. I am a merchant. He addressed himself to me, for employment of any kind I had for him.

Q. Are you certain he was fresh come to town?

Wescote. I firmly believe he was. I procured him employment to be steward to a West-India-man; he left the captain and me about half an hour before the burning of the North-Briton, with intent to embark on the Monday morning; it was not more than an hour, before he was going to buy some necessaries, in order to embark; the ship went down the river the Monday morning following: I have had an opportunity of hearing of him since. I never did hear any thing much amiss of him. I verily believe he had no kind of intention at that time he left me; if he had any, it must be an extreme confused one; I always looked upon it as a matter of mere inconsiderateness: he told me, the mob would have broke his head, if he had not joined them.

Guilty . Im. P.

[Fine. See summary.]

[Provide sureties for good behaviour. See summary.]

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