[Case 226, Old Bailey, London: Walter Preston]

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[Case 226, Old Bailey, London: Walter Preston]


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The whole proceedings on the Kings commission of peace… Justice Hall, in the Old Bailey London 1811, p. 144–146, case 226.

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226. WALTER PRESTON was indicted for feloniously assaulting John Kennedy in the king’s highway on the 18th February, putting him in fear, and taking from his person and against his will, a seal, value 1s. 6d., a watch key, value 6d. and part of a steel watch chain, value 6d. his property.
JOHN KENNEDY. Q. What age are you. – A. Fifteen.
Q. Were you in Tottenham Court Road, on the 11th of this month. – A. Yes, about nine o’clock at night I was going along the street, the prisoner and eight or ten men came up to me all in a body, they met me, Walter Preston, the prisoner, knocked my hat off.
Q. Are you sure the prisoner is that man. – A. Yes. I went to pick up my hat. I put it on my head, he gave it a thump to knock it over my eyes, it did not, them he knocked me down, he took hold of my shoulders, and gave me a knock down with both his hands, I fell on the pavement among the eight or ten men; I had my hand upon my fob, he made a snatch at my watch six times.
Q. Then you put your hand upon your watch did you? A. Yes, he pulled the watch chain six times and broke the watch chain, when they broke the chain, then they all went away.
Q. Did he take any thing away. – A. Yes, he took a metal key and seal, and part of the chain,
Q. He did not get away your watch. – A. No, they then walked away
Q. The prisoner did not run away. – A. No.
Q. Did you say any thing. – A. No, I got up and followed them, and called out watch, they walked on the other side of the road, I kept my eye upon them, they crossed over and came to the corner of Goudge Street then I called out watch again, I told the prisoner that he tried to rob me of my watch, he struck me on the face then, and ran away, I ran after him, and the watchman and more people ran after him.
Q. Did you catch him. – A. No, I lost sight of him, I did not see him until I saw him at the watch-house later that same evening about half past nine.
Q. What became of the men that were with him. – A. I did not see them any more, they ran away at the same time that he did.
Q. Had you ever seen this man before. – A. No.
Q. Did you take sufficient notice of him so as to know him again. – A. Yes; he held his head over me at the time he was trying to pull my watch, I am sure the prisoner is the man, he was dressed in a drab coat, and a shawl handkerchief round his neck, a black handkerchief, and a pair of patent cord breeches.
Q. Has he any part of the dress now. – A. Yes, the drab coat is the same.
Q. What is the value of the chain, seal and key. – A. The seal and key cost me two shillings.
Mr. Burry. What are you. – A. I am an apprentice to a taylor, [sic] I was going on an errand for my master.
Q. What sort of night was it. – A. A darkish night.
Q. The shops were all shut. – A. It was facing of Tottenham Court Chapel.
Q. That is darker still; you say there were ten men walking together. – A. There were eight or ten, they all came up together, the rest held me down while he pulled my watch chain.
Q. We did not hear that before; you saw this young man at the watchhouse , and there you saw the colour of his clothes. – A. I saw his dress by the light of the lamps before.
Q. Was your watch fastened to your pockets. – A. No, I had my hand in my pocket holding the watch in my hand, the watch chain was hanging out.
Q. Did you cry out. – A. I was going to cry out, one of them put his hand over my mouth.
Q. That we did not hear before, why did not you tell that to his Lordship; you say he stopped you, knocked you down, and while you were down, your were held down by the others, at which time he pulled at your chain. – A. Yes.
Q. You say they turned in Goudge Street. – A. They walked straight on, I called watch, directly I came up to him they crossed over to the other side of the road, and came to the corner of Goudge Street, they returned again..
Q. Therefore they returned to meet you, and then you charged them with a robbery. – A. Yes, and he hit me a slap on the face, there were eight or ten with him then.
Q. When they went into Goudge Street, and he gave you a slap of the face, did they all run away together. – A. Yes the prisoner did not separate from the rest until he got to the corner of Windmill Street, the watchman hollowed out which is the man, some said this way, and some said the other, they tried to baulk the watchman, I had lost sigh of him then, I did not see him afterwards, until I saw him at the watchhouse door.
Q. Is there any body here that saw you in possession of that watch. – A. My father is here, he knew I had a watch.
Q. Did your father see you that evening. – A. No.
Q. Had you been stopping at the corner of that chapel talking to two boys or two girls. – A. No.
Court. Where did you come from. – A. From Mr. Pringle’s in Wardour Street; I was going to Carmarthen Street; I was facing of Tottenham Court Chapel when they met me.
Mr. Barry. Is the watchhouse keeper here. – A. Yes.
Q. Have you heard any body talking about a 40l. reward. – A. No, I do not know there is a reward
Q. You do not know if in case this man is convicted that you shall get a share of a 40l. reward. – A. No, I never heard any body say so neither in the watchhouse or elsewhere, this is the first time I have heard any thing of it.
Q. How long were you laying down on the ground while you say the person was pulling at your watch. – A. About two minutes on the ground, I was upon my back.
Q. Were there any people passing at the time. – A. I did not know that there was any one.
Q. Did you tell the same story at the watchhouse as you have here. – A. When the watchhouse people asked who gave charge, I said I give charge of him for robbing me of part of a steel chain, a seal, and a key.
MURPHY. I am a watchman, I heard the cry of watch, it was from five to ten minutes past nine, I did not know who it was, I saw the boy in the watchhouse, it was better than a quarter after nine before I carried him to the watchhouse, when they all cried out stop thief, I followed him, some of them said this is the man, and some said not, I took to the watchhouse in consequence of the cry of stop thief, there was a great crowd about the watchhouse, Kennedy said the prisoner at the bar was the person that robbed him, the constable searched him, he found none of the thins that were taken from the boy; the prisoner had the same coloured coat on then as he had now.
HENRY CROKER. Q. Did you pursue the prisoner this night. – A. I did, I heard the cry of watch, and the rattle spring, I went to the watchman’s assistance, and went into watchhouse with him, I then enquired who it was that was robbed, they told me it was a lad, there was a great crowd about the watchhouse door, and the boy came in immediately, when the boy said he had been robbed, I said, is this the man that robbed you, he said yes, he said he was sure he was the man I searched him, and found nothing upon him.
JOHN BAKER. I am the watchhouse keeper, on Monday night last, the prisoner was brought to me in charge by this lad, I interrogated the lad to know whether he was positive, he declared that he was the only many that robbed him, while the others held him down.
KENNEDY, SEN. I am the father of the boy.
Q. Had your son a watch on the 18th of February. – A. Yes, this is the watch.
Q. Did you see it on the 18th of February. – A. Yes, in the morning there was a chain to it, seal and key, the chain I had near twenty years, this is the watch, the chain was broken.
Prisoner’s Defence. I was standing at the corner of Goudge Street, when Kennedy cam up to me he said, I shall give charge of you to the fist watchman we come nigh; I said for why, he came to me and I pushed him away, I walked down Goudge Street and down Charlotte Street, a gentleman’s coachman came up and said I was the person that was accused of robbing the boy, I told him I was not the person, but a watchman came up and took hold of me, when the boy came in the watchhouse he said if the man has a white coat on he is the man.
GUILTY, DEATH, aged 24.
First Middlesex jury, before Mr. Baron Wood.

The whole proceedings on the Kings commission of peace… Justice Hall, in the Old Bailey London 1811, p. 144–146, case 226.