Saturday, 18 June 2016

18th June 1816: Day 2 of the Ely Special Commission

The Bury & Norwich Post's coverage of the Ely Special Commission continued (from the 26th June edition of the newspaper):

TUESDAY, June 18.

This morning, at nine o'clock, the Court reassembled, where John Easey, Joseph Easey, Richard Jessop, T. South the younger, John Walker, Mark Benton, Robert Butcher, George Crow, Isaac Harley, Richard Nicholas, Wilson Wyebrow, and William Jefferson, were indicted for having on Wednesday the 22d day of May last, burglariously broken open and entered the dwelling-house of Rebecca Waddelow, of Littleport, in the Isle of Ely, shopkeeper, and feloniously stolen and carried away therefrom one hat and five shirts, the property of Harry Martin, of Littleport, aforesaid, farmer, and divers articles of grocery and drapery looks, together with 3l. and three promissory notes, the property the said R. Waddelow.

The Jury having been sworn, Mr. Gurney opened the proceedings on the part of the Crown.

Some farming servants of Mr. Martin, who on hearing of the attack had gone to Mrs. Waddelow's house, where their master resided, proved the forcible entry of the premises, and many acts of violence and plunder. The mob seemed particularly inverterate against Mr. Martin, whom Mr. Gurney stated to be a respectable farmer, but become obnoxious to the rioters for his conduct in transacting parish affairs. Hearing their approach, Mr. Martin escaped from the back of the house, which was fortunate, as they threatened his life.

After much evidence had been gone through, a conference took place among the Judges, and Mr. Justice Abbott told the Jury there was a mistake in the framing of this indictment, which would lead to the acquittal of all the prisoners, as far as their lives are concerned, in consequence of the description of the property given by the last witness; and though it was open to the counsel for the Crown to proceed to the minor felony, he understood from them that they would not press it, and therefore all prisoners must be acquitted—The Jury accordingly returned a verdict of—Not Guilty.

Aaron Chevill, Richard Jessop, Jos. Easey, Thomas South the younger, Mark Benton, Wm. Dann, and Francis Torrington, were then indicted for having, on the night of the 22d May last, burglariously broken upon open and entered the dwelling-house of Josiah Dewey, in the town of Littleport, and for having stolen and carried away therefrom 100 guineas in gold, and divers articles of furniture and wearing apparel; and with having assaulted and put in bodily fear the said Joseph Dewey, in his dwelling-house, taking from this person a 1l. bankers note.

Mr. Gurney, having described the case on the part of the Crown, called the following witnesses.

Joseph Dewey deposed, that he was a retired farmer, residing a Littleport; that he was 68 years of age, and that his wife was upwards of 70. He saw the mob on the 22d approach his house at eight o'clock in the evening. They were armed with bludgeons, but he saw no guns. Their conduct was extremely riotous and violent. Chevill was the first who demanded money; and, on the mob breaking in, he exclaimed, "go it." Joseph Easey and Richard Jessop assaulted and knocked down both him and his wife, uttering various imprecations against them. A bureau was broken open, and he afterwards missed from them two bags, containing 100 guineas. The drawers were thrown about the floor, and Dann was seen with a bundle of linen, which, however, he restored to Mrs. Dewey. He could not say that he himself saw either Dann or Torrington in the house. On his cross-examination he admitted, that in a conversation among his neighbours, subsequent to the transaction, he had expressed his belief that one Pattison took the money; but he had not seen him in the house, and formed his belief only upon the representations of others.

Martha Dewey, the grand-daughter of the last witness, stated that she was at his house on the night in question, and saw Torrington in the house.

Thomas Dewey saw  a mob proceeding from the house of Josiah Dewey about half-past eight o'clock, and heard one of them exclaim "we have got the money." It was not so dark as to prevent his distinguishing the faces of the individuals.

Mr. Justice Burrough observed, that there was no sufficient evidence to prove that Torrington had been guilty of any offence. The charge of burglary laid in the indictment could not be substantiated, because it did not appear to have been dark when the breaking in was affected; but by the course of law the prisoners might be convicted of the capital felony in stealing from a dwelling-house. The evidence not be sufficient against Torrington and Dam, the Jury would probably deem them entitled to an acquittal; but he must leave to their consideration whether any doubt must be entertained as to the other prisoners’ guilt.

The Jury, in five minutes, gave a verdict of Guilty against Chevill, Easey, Jessop, South, and Benton; and acquitted Dann and Torrington, who are detained to take their trial upon other indictments.

Thomas South, Wm. Dann, and R. Crabbe, were indicted for forcibly entering and felonious stealing from the house of Robert Speechly, yeoman, of Littleport, sundry articles of wearing apparel, plate, linen, china, &c.

Mr. Gurney having stated the case on the part of the Crown, called Robert Speechly, who deposed, that on the night of the 22d May last a mob came to his door, and knocked violently. It was about half past 10 o'clock. His wife went to the door, and desired the servant girl to open it, when the house was instantly filled with people. He could not say that he saw any prisoners in the house except Crabbe, who carried a bludgeon his hand. For some time he did nothing with it; but afterwards struck a glass door with it, and broke two panes. Crabbe then rushed up stairs into witness’s chamber; and somebody, but he did not know who, followed him. There were drawers in the room, and they remained there about a quarter of an hour. He was not at all intimidated at the entrance of the mob, but did not know recollect that he asked Crabbe to protect him.

Sarah Butcher, servant of the last witness, was in the house when the mob rushed in. Among others she saw the three prisoners at the bar. The prisoner South carried a cleaver, with which he chopped open the bureau. He waved it also over the head of her mistress, and said, that if they did not receive money, they would do as they had down at Dewey’s, and not leave her a chair to sit on. Her mistress gave them four three-shilling pieces, which they divided among them, and said they must have more, and she must give them some bills. She then gave two 1l. notes to them. The mob carried away a great deal of linen, china, and some silver spoons. The mob was extremely riotous, and broke the windows of the house.

Several witnesses gave Crabbe a good character for honesty & industry previous to these disturbances.

Edward Christian, Esq. Chief Justice of the Isle of Ely, recapitulated the evidence, and observed that if the larceny was accompanied with the infliction of any terror, if the value of what was stolen amounted to more than a shilling, the capital part of the charge was sustained against the prisoners; and if it should appear that no person had been put in fear, then, if the value of the goods feloniously taken amounted to 40s. the prisoners were still within the meaning of the last-mentioned statue.

The Jury found all the prisoners Guilty.

Jos. Warner, Joseph Stibbard, Isaac Harley, James Newell, & William Gotobed, the latter not in custody, were indicted for forcibly entering the house of the Rev. John Vachell, putting him in bodily fear, and taking from his person, two 1l. notes, his property.

Mr. Gurney described this case to be equal, if it did not exceed, in violence and atrocity, the circumstances are those that had already engaged the consideration of the jury. This gentleman, with his wife and daughter, were obliged, in order to save their lives, to escape from their own home at midnight, and leave their house a scene of pillage and destruction.

The Rev. J. Vachell deposed, that he first observed the mob assembling about 9 o'clock at night, and went out with a view of persuading them to disperse. They complained of the lowness of wages, and his endeavours to repress the tumult were ineffectual. About 11 o'clock he heard a great noise, and rapping at his door. He directed his servant to unlock it, and he asked them what they wanted. The prisoner Harley said they wanted money, and they must have it. He gave them two 1l. notes, with which they were not satisfied, some saying, "two pounds will be of no use to us, we must have ten." Witness desired if the two pounds were of no use to them, that they should return them to him, which, however, they refused to do. He told them that he had not got 10l. when the pressure became so violent upon him, that he was obliged to give way, the mob entered his house. Newell was the man who received the notes from him.

The Jury found Harley and Newell Guilty, but acquitted Warner and Stibbard.

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