Sunday, 18 March 2012

18th March 1812: The trials of John Osborne & William Wells at Nottingham Lent Assizes

The Nottingham Review continued it's coverage of the Nottingham Lent Assizes taking place on Wednesday 18th March in the 20th March 1812 edition of the paper:
On Wednesday morning, John Osborne, Framework-knitter, aged 29, of Heanor, in the County of Derby, was [obscured] at the bar on a double indictment for burglary and [frame-breaking].

Sarah Wild being sworn, stated, that she resides [obscured] Eastwood, in this County, in a house occupied by herself and her mother; remembered having seen the prisoner at the [obscured] her mother's house with about twenty others, in the [obscured] February, and heard him say “damn them, (meaning Hussars who were guarding a waggon load of frames (from Nottingham,) they durst not fire—we are all Ned Lud’s [obscured], said witness, you have not your hammer [obscured] yes, we carry them out of sight, and shall come [obscured] night; have you got a coal pick to lend me, to which she replied yes! She went to bed before ten at night [obscured] awaked out of her sleep by some forms scratching at the window; heard nothing said; asked who was there; when [obscured] prisoner asked if a colt worked there, to which she answered [obscured] Let me in, or I will break the door open; to which she replied; stop till I dress me, and I will; but instead of [obscured] she alarmed her brother, who lived in the next house [obscured] -ping against the partition wall with the tongs. She [obscured] stated, that the prisoner then ran round the house [obscured] the window in, against which stood the frame; that he [obscured] his shoulder against the window-stool; and struck the frames three violent blows with a piece of iron, which broke the sinkers and needles all to pieces. Witness while this was going on, flung down the tongs, and placed one foot on the frame-side and the other on the bed, to see who he was, which she was enabled to do by the light of a great fire, and recollecting his features in the day time, and from having heard him sing in company the preceding Christmas. Being asked what was meant by a colt, she said she was one, for she had not worked seven years at the trade. On her cross-examination, she admitted she had been accused of stealing lace; that she did not know whether it was five miles or one mile from Eastwood to Heanor; that she knew no more of the prisoner than that of having heard him sing in company at Christmas; and having seen his face (one side of which was besmeared with something of a dark colour,) in an oblique direction as he was breaking the frame; and that she had no expectation of gaining £10 by his conviction. She further stated, that she did not know what part of the room the bed was in; how long the window was, nor what time of the night it was when she saw the prisoner.

Hannah Wild, mother of the last witness, being sworn, she remembered a waggon load of frames passing through Eastwood, guarded by soldiers; knew not the person with whom her daughter conversed on the day mentioned in the indictment; heard the noise of the door, and the scratching of thorns at the window; called her daughter, and heard a voice ask if any colts were there; had a curtain by the side of the bed; the mischief was done in a moment, at three strokes; yet upon recollection cannot form any opinion of the length of time the man occupied in breaking the frame.

Eleanor Ingram remembered the waggon load of frames going through Eastwood; saw the prisoner in company with many others, conversing with Sarah Wild.

Josiah Mee saw the frames go; saw the prisoner of the Sun Inn, in Eastwood; had known him from a child, and gave him an excellent character.

Vincent Wild, brother of the first witness, remembered the noises his mother's door on the 5th of February at night; heard the report of a gun or of a pistol; heard the knocking at the wall; heard the window smash; heard three strokes, and went out at twenty minutes before eleven o'clock, but all was over.

William Howitt, of Taghill, deposed that he knew Hannah Wild; that he saw the frame in question at her house on the 6th of February; that the frame was not broken, but was only damaged a little in the sinkers and needles, as if the man had drawn his fingers across them; and conceived that five or six shillings would repair all the damage. He had known the prisoner 20 years, and he and his parents bore good characters. This witness dropt some curious observations respecting the formation and altering a stocking frame, which caused the Counsel for the Crown to call in the evidence of Mr. Alexander Hadden, Hosier, to give a more correct account of that machine.

Roger Osborne remembered being out with the prisoner on the the 5th of February, and parted with in a little before eight, in the evening, on his way home.

John Walters lives at Loscoe, and remembered going after the waggon load of frames, on the 5th of February, through Eastwood; and on returning home, caught the prisoner on the road between that village and Heanor, and parted with him about a quarter of a mile from his (the prisoner’s) home, about nine o'clock.

Joel Godkin remembered going with the prisoner after the so often mentioned frames, on the 5th of February, as far as the water slash near Nuttall, and returned with him home.

Robert Lomas knew the prisoner well; lives the next door to him; went into his house on the 5th of February, at nine o'clock at night; stood with him till a quarter before eleven, during which time the prisoner sat with his shoes and stockings off, which were very dirty.

Henry Savage deposed to his seeing the prisoner in his house at nine at night, on the 5th of February.

Sarah Savage, wife of the last witness, went into the prisoner’s house at eleven the same night, to boil a sop of gruel, and saw him and without his shoes and stockings.

After this long investigation, the Jury were divided in opinion; but after being locked up three hours, they returned a verdict of Not Guilty.

The next prisoner put to the bar was William Wells, alias Black Tom, who pleaded guilty to the charge of robbing Mr. Robert Crompton, of Epperston, on the highway leading from that village to Mansfield, on the evening of the last October cheese fair, held at the latter place; but the Judge wished him to have the advantage of a trial, and he pleaded not guilty. Mr. Crompton stated that he was met by four men, about a quarter of a mile on the Epperston road, leading from Mansfield, during the course of the evening, who stopped him, dragged him from his horse, rifled his pocket-book of two one pound notes, presented a pistol to his breast, cut the bridle reins of his horse, and turned the animal loose; and when they thought they had taken his all, they let him go. Mr. Crompton thought the prisoner was one of the robbers, but was not quite sure of it.

Mr. Heath, Blidworth, deposed that he was attempted to be stopped on the same road and the same evening, by four men; but through exertion of courage and prudence, escaped with his property.

William Draper, a native of Sheepshead, and an accomplice, corroborated the testimony of Mr. Crompton; and likewise stated that Pierce Cook, and a person of the name of Thompson, were their accomplices, who are now in Derby jail, waiting their trials the present Assize; from which place Wells was removed by writ of Habeas Corpus, and to which place Draper is removed to appear against the other two. The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty; sentence of death was passed upon him, but he was afterwards reprieved.

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