Monday, 20 June 2016

20th June: Day 4 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):

THURSDAY, June 20.

William Beamiss the younger, and Joseph Lavender, stood indicted for having, on Wednesday the 22d May last, feloniously stolen and carried away from the dwelling-house of the Rev. J. Vachell, at Littleport, in the Isle of Ely, several silver spoons, of the value of 40s. his property; and Christopher Butcher having received the same, knowing them to be stolen.

Elizabeth Carter was called; she was the servant of Mr. Waddelow, of Littleport, who sent her about 11 on the night of the 22d May to Mr. Vachell’s, to preserve what she could and carry it to him. When she got to the house, she found the people rioting; many were in the store-room. She saw Beamiss and Lavender there. Beamiss took five table spoons, which she supposed to be silver, off the shelf. Lavender was putting two gravy spoons into his pocket; and had a basket in his hand.

The Rev. Mr. Vaschell said he had no spoons in his house which were not silver. He had two silver gravy spoons, but could not tell the value of them.

Christopher Crabb said his master had four silver gravy spoons, a pair of them were lost that night.

Mr. Justice Burrough having summed up the evidence, the Jury returned the following verdict: Beamiss, Not Guilty; Lavender, guilty of stealing only, by which the capital offence was done away; Butcher, Not Guilty.

John Gaultrip was arrainged for having feloniously stolen and carried away from the house of the Rev. John Vaschell, two large silver spoons, his property.—The jury acquitted the prisoner, he having proved an alibi.

William Bemiss, the younger, was next indicted for highway robbery on Hugh Robert Evans, Esq. of Ely, on the 22d May last, at Littleport, and for having taken 14s. in silver from him.

Mr. Evans said he was coming through Littleport with Mr. Martin about 10 o'clock; when the mob came up to both doors of the chaise, opened them, and demanded a 1l. note. There were 20 persons on the sides, and just behind the chaise: some of them had sticks. He gave them about 14s.; one half to the persons on one side and the other half of those on the other side, being that was all he had. He parted with the money under an apprehension of violence.

Mr. Hunt called three witnesses to the character of the prisoner: they all stated they had known him from a child, and that he had been always peaceable, [illegible] and industrious; and he was by trade a shoemaker.—The prisoner, being called upon for his defence, said he opened the chaise door, but did not take any money.

Mr. Justice Abbott addressed the jury. On the evidence of Mr. Evans, it had been clearly proved that a robbery was committed by some person; the only question was, whether Beamiss was one of them come. The prisoner himself had acknowledged that he opened the door, but did not take the money. This however, was perfectly immaterial, as he was one of those who stopped the chaise.—The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty.

John Dennis, Richard Jessop, William Atkin, Aaron Layton, Sarah Hobbs, John Pricke, John Cooper, John Freeman, John Jefferson, were indicted for [rioting] on Thursday the 23d May last, put W. Cooper, in Ely, shopkeeper, in bodily fear, and feloniously stolen from him several books and canisters, and 10l. in notes.

Mr. Gurney addressed the Jury.—He said every one of the prisoners took an active part, but Dennis was the ringleader. He struck at the window [obscure] with a gun which he had in his hand, and received part of the money for the Littleport rioters; Atkins and Layton took the other part for the Ely men. When the [object] was effected, Dennis held up his gun as a signal, which the mob obeyed. The Learned Counsel mentioned that because Dennis had stated yesterday that he was forced to join the mob: but it must appear that he was afterwards very active. This was the only case in which a woman was indicted: but it was not the only case in which women have been guilty of great violence, and they must not understand, that they could engage in things of this kind without being responsible for the consequences. She was the wife of a soldier, and had been very active in persuading the mob to go to Mr. Cooper's, saying, he was a bigger rogue than Rickwood; and she assisted in breaking the windows of the house.

Wm. Cooper examined—Kept a shop at Ely and dealt in flour and grocery; hearing that a mob was coming to his house, he withdrew from fear of violence, leaving a Mr. Watts in it to do as well as a he could with them. He was absent about ten minutes and could not see what was passing. On the return, he saw a large assemblage of people before his house; they were near 500—.He went in by the back room; they were then very [illegible] but all the windows were broken. When they saw him, some called out, "five pounds, five pounds!" he had [illegible] 1l. notes, which he gave to the Rev. Mr. Metcalfe, who was outside of the house against the window. Mr Watts had sent him a message, that they would have ten pounds or pull the house down. He gave the money to Mr. Metcalfe to hand to the mob, for fear of his house being pulled down. He had no other fear at that time; they did not seem to have any design against his person. When Mr. Metcalfe had given the money, Layton and Atkin said, the Littleport people had got that, and the Ely people had a right to have as much. He then got 5l. more [in] notes, and handed them to Mr. Metcalfe, to give to the Ely people. The men then gave three huzzas, and went away.

The Rev. Mr. Metcalfe and the Rev. Mr. Law, (magistrates who exerted themselves to appease the mob) with Messrs. Spooner, Hutlock, Apsey, and several other witnesses, corroborated Mr. Cooper's evidence.

Mr. Justice Abbott charged the Jury at great length upon the evidence, as it applied to each of the prisoners, and the Jury, after retiring about a quarter of an hour, brought in a verdict of Guilty, against the prisoners, with the exception of Freeman whom they acquitted.

Dennis, Jefferson, Atkin and Layton, with James Camel and John Walker, were then tried upon another indictment, charging them with a robbery and stealing 10l. from the person of Geo. Stevens, Miller, [illegible]

The Jury pronounced a verdict of Guilty against four of the prisoners, viz. Dennis, Layton, Atkin and Cammel.—Jefferson and Walker, Not Guilty.

Aaron Chevill and William Beamiss were also capitally convicted of stealing from the person of Henry Tansley, by putting him in fear, two 1l. notes.

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