Saturday, 21 March 2015

21st March 1815: George Coldham informs the Home Office of the result of James Towle's trial

Private & confidential

Nottingham 21st March 1815

Dear Sir,

I am still engaged in the hurry of the Business of the Assizes altho’ the Judge leaves Town this Morning & altho’ I have not time to enter into so full a Detail as I intend to submit to Lord Sidmouth of the Event of the Trial of James Towle I could not think right to let a Post escape without a short Notification to you for less & your Information of the unfortunate result.

The Counsel engaged for the Crown by the Direction of the Secret Committee were Mr Serjt Vaughan Mr Reader & Mr John Balguy & they Declare to me that that it has scarcely fallen within their Practice to see a more completely falsified Case of Circumstantial Evidence. You know the Evidence of Thomas Garton who spoke to the Voice of the Prisoner both previous to entering the House & to be after he had entered it calling for Lights when the House was forced & the Framebreakers on Sunday Night the 4th of September We proved that on Saturday Night the third he enquired of one of Garton's Men if he did not live with Garton & if there had not been abated & Declared over & over again that his Frames should be broken. We proved that upon the Sunday Night of the Frames being broken tho he Jas Towle borrowed an Iron Bar for the purpose & in the [Teeth] of a Statement from the Lender that he would be hanged & requesting to Desire saying "he would Damned if he did not reinforce." All this was met by an Attempt to raise up an Alibi without in any respect accomplishing it & that too by the evidence of Samuel Bamford the father of the Man who was killed in the act of attempting to murder Thomas Garton

In the face of this Evidence the Judge went at length in support of the Prisoner as some of the Counsel who know him but really imagine from the [Singular] of Fear there being a great Crowd in the Hall. Be that as it may he contrived to shift the responsibility of the Case upon the Jury in the most formidable manner & took advantage of every point that could have a Tendency to shake the Testimony for the Prosecution in such a manner that altho’ at the Core of the Prisoners Defence there was no one of the audience who Doubted the result there was no one at the End of the Judge’s Summing up who did not fear & almost expect his Acquittal. Upon the whole I have [nothing] to blame in myself & as to the Witnesses particularly Thos Garton it has scarcely even occurred to me to see a Man give his Testimony in a manner so honourable to himself or so calculated to inspire the most unbounded Confidence in his Accuracy. I will write more fully in a Post or two to Lord Sidmouth.

I am Dear Sir
Yours very truly
George Coldham

[To John Beckett]

This letter can be found at HO 42/143.

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