Friday, 27 March 2015

27th March 1815: George Coldham writes to the Home Secretary about James Towle's trial

Private and confidential.

My Lord

I have now the honor to address your Lordship on the subject of the Trial of James Towle for Burglary and Framebreaking at the last Assizes at Nottingham.―I had the pleasure of communicating to your Lordship by desire of the Committee to which I am Solicitor his original Commitment, and these Gentlemen deem it important, that the result of the investigation of the circumstances of this Case (however contrary to the expectation which they conceive they might have reasonably formed on the subject) should be officially reported to your Lordship.—The Case had assumed a consequence which originally did not belong to it, with those who were engaged in the local conspiracy from an impression having been given to the popular mind here that it was a Case dependent upon the testimony of a solitary Witness speaking under circumstances calculated to inspire doubt as to the guilt of the Prisoner because it rested solely upon the recollection of one Witness of the Prisoners Voice, whilst we trust every impartial person, it must appear to be a case of strong, various corroborating and convincing circumstantial evidence.

Now that the Prisoner is acquitted it may be permitted us to remark, that with these sentiments, the fear for the criminal or themselves in the part of his accomplices must have been very strong when it could prompt them to attempt in this Land of Liberty and Justice to present the appearance of this Solitary Evidence in Court, by entering his House once again by violence for the purpose of murdering him.—Yet this was actually attempted as your Lordship knows on the 14th October by a party of armed men and would have succeeded had not previous to Information enabled a Guard to be placed in the House and affected the deliverance of Thomas Garton.—Pistols were fired in the house and the intention was avowed in the face of those stationed to defend it, and the leader of this horrid band of Conspirators was killed in the very act of denouncing and endeavouring to carry into effect his murderous purpose.

The Individual killed in the execution of this daring attempt by murder to deliver James Towle from the effect of Thomas Garton's testimony, is the son of the same man (Samuel Bamford) who upon his Trial is brought to effect the same purpose by shewing that James Towle was not at the house at the time sworn to by the Prosecution.—your Lordship is aware that this is a Prosecution altho’ nominally belonging to Thomas Garton conducted by me under the direction of the Secret Committee at Nottingham and that previous to the Trial I was directed to retain Mr. Sergt. Vaughan, Mr. Reader and Mr. John Balguy as Counsel hearin.—Under these circumstances I hope your Lordship can repose implicit confidence in the skill and Judgement of these Gentleman

I can assure your Lordship is that I have to the best of my power since the Case has been submitted to their Judgement about their directions and that previous thereto neither trouble or expence has been regarded either by the Committee or myself in procuring the best testimony in our power of those circumstances which the Counsel at the Consultation were of opinion ought to suffice to substantiate the Prisoners Guilt.—

I enclose for your Lordship a statement of what occurred at the Trial as accurately as I have been enabled to report it from my own recollection the minutes of persons taking Notes and particularly the Notes of all the Counsel employed in the Prosecution, of the observations of the Judge after the evidence had been gone thro’.—

With respect to myself I have been extremely hurt at the result of the Trial and have found it difficult to form an opinion of the reason which acted upon the learned Judge as an inducement to sum up as he did altho’ it is impossible to doubt that his charge to the Jury was the occasion of the Prisoner’s acquittal.—

The Court was crowded with the Partizans of Towle and the moment the Verdict was given there was a shout of Triumph in the Hall. The Jury hesitated for nearly three quarters of an hour and had evidently much controversy with themselves during this time, the Judge was extremely agitated and looked as pale and anxious as the prisoner―When the Verdict was found there was no word of greeting of joy or of honour for the Jury, when the judge went out of Court the joyful Mob surrounded his carriage gave him a cheering shout on his getting into it followed him to his Lodgings and gave him as I understood, a loud and cheering Huzza are on his entering the house.—

I am, My Lord,
your Lordships obliged & obdt. Servant—

27th March 1815

[To: Lord Sidmouth]

Thi letter can be found at HO 42/143.

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