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Trial for High Treason

held at Maidstone, Kent in 1798

In May 1798 several men were tried for high treason at Maidstone. At that time the United Irishmen were hoping to have the help of France in a planned rebellion which proved unsuccessful.
A long list of potential jurors, all from Kent, was published. Forty one of the witnesses listed were also from Kent, mainly from Whitstable, Canterbury, Deal and Margate. The testimony of some of these is included in the report of the trial.
Note: Some of the trial relating to evidence from Ireland and London has not been included here.

Quick links:
The Indictment
The Jurors
The Witnesses
The Trial
The Verdict


STATE TRIALS [12 April 1798 - Express & Evening Chronicle]
HIGH TREASON
SPECIAL COMMISSION AT MAIDSTONE

The State Prisoners, Messrs. O’CONNOR, QUIGLEY alias FAVEY, BINNS, ALLEN and LEARY, were yesterday morning, about eight o’clock, escorted by a party of the Maidstone volunteers from the gaol to the Court House, and placed at the bar of the Court. They were then informed by Mr. Justice BULLER, that a true bill of indictment for high treason had been found against them, a copy of which, with a list of the witnesses, would be delivered to them in due time. His Lordship also informed them, that the Court would be adjourned to the 30th instant, when they would be arraigned, and perhaps tried next day. They were then called upon by the Judge to name their Counsel and Solicitors. Mr. O’CONNOR said he hoped it would not be deemed informal if he asked his Lordship whether the time could possibly be enlarged in case he should think it necessary to procure any evidence in Ireland. Mr. Justice BULLER hinted to him the propriety of not pressing for a direct answer, as this was not the proper sesson? for making the application. Mr. O’CONNOR then observed, that it was not in his power at present to name his council. He hoped the necessity for his requiring further time for that purpose, would be attributed solely to his long and strict confinement. He named as his Solicitor, Mr. SIMMONS of Rochester, who is to act also for LEARY his servant.
ALLEN appointed Mr. FERGUSSON to be his Counsel, and Mr. George FOLKES of Bloomsbury-street, his Solicitor; and BINNS nominated Mr. GURNEY, his Counsel, and Mr. BONNEY of Percy-street, his Solicitor.
LEARY named Mr. William SCOTT, nephew to the Dean of Winchester, as his Counsel.
The Court was immediately afterwards adjourned by proclamation till Monday the 30th instant.
Mr. O’CONNOR appeared at the bar very handsomely dressed. He was in good spirits and seemed perfectly composed. His demeanour towards the Court was extremely polite and respectful. The other prisoners were no ways depressed, but, on the contrary, had an appearance of cheerfulness. The prisoners were not arraigned upon the indictment, consequently it was not read to them.
The High Sheriff of the county, John PLUMTREE, Esq. with that humanity which distinguishes him, wrote a letter to Mr. O’CONNOR, as soon as the Grand Jury had found the bill, in order to inform him of it. He assured him he might depend upon having every accommodation in his power to afford, consistent with his duty.
All the prisoners are included in one indictment: it is very long, and special.
The prisoners are confined separately; they have not the least communication with each other. They live, by choice, very abstemiously: during the whole of their confinement at Maidstone, one bottle of Madeira is all they have drank. Mr. SIMMONS is the only person allowed to see Mr. O’CONNOR. He had an order for that purpose from Mr. Justice BULLER on his Lordship’s arrival at Maidstone. The Solicitors only have access to the others.
The Judges left Maidstone immediately after the Court was adjourned.
We understand that the evidence which Mr. ERSKINE may give in favour of Mr. O’CONNOR, is thought, by the friends of the latter Gentleman, to be of so much consequence, that they intend to forego the manifest advantages which the accused might derive from the splendid talents and unrivalled eloquence of this eminent Advocate, in order to have the benefit of his testimony – testimony which, it should seem, consistently with the etiquette of the Bar, he could not give so advantageously for the Prisoner, were he employed as Counsel to defend him.


STATE TRIALS [19 April 1798 - Oracle & Public Advertiser]
Maidstone April 18 1798

Tuesday. Copies of the Indictment found against Mr. O’CONNOR, and the rest of the Prisoners confined in our Gaol for High Treason, were delivered to them, together with Lists of the Jury and Witnesses.
Upwards of 200 people are summoned on the Jury.
We have every reason to suppose, from the List of Witnesses, that the Trials will occupy a very considerable space of time. The number of Witnesses on the part of the Crown is no less than one hundred and one; and the Indictment is of a most extraordinary length. The following is an Abstract of

THE INDICTMENT

There are three Treasons laid in the Indictment, and seven overt acts. The same overt acts are charged to each species of Treason. The first Treason is, compassing the King’s death. The 2d, adhereing to, aiding and comforting the King’s enemies. The 3d, compassing, imagining, inventing, devising and intending to move and stir certain foreigners and strangers, that is to say, the persons exercising the powers of Government in France, and the men of France under the government of the said persons, with force to invade this Realm.
The 1st overt act is, conspiring to levy war.
The 2d overt act charges, “that they, the said James O’COIGLY, otherwise James QUIGLEY, otherwise called James John FIVEY, Arthur O’CONNOR, John BINNS, John ALLEN, and Jeremiah LEARY, as such false traitors as aforesaid, with force and arms, on the 27th day of February, in the 38th year of the Reign aforesaid, at Margate, in the county of Kent, maliciously and traitorously did procure and obtain, and in their custody and possession conceal and keep, a certain paper- writing, theretofore composed and prepared, to signify and represent, and cause to be signified and represented to the aforesaid Enemies of our Lord the King, that divers of the Subjects of our said Lord the King were ready to assist the said enemies of our said Lord the King, in case the said enemies of our said Lord the King should make, or cause to be made, an hostile invasion of this kingdom with ships and armed men, to prosecute and wage war against our said Lord the King within this kingdom, and containing incitements, encouragements, and persuasions to incite, encourage, persuade and procure the said enemies of our said Lord the King, to make, and cause to be made, such invasion as aforesaid, to prosecute and wage war against our said Lord the King within this kingdom, and also containing information and intelligence of and concerning the supposed dispositions of divers of the Subjects of our said Lord the King towards our said Lord the King and his Government, and of and concerning the Revenue of our said Lord the King, and the means used to raise and increase the same, and the supposed failure of such means, with intent that they, the said James O’Coigly, otherwise called James Quigley, otherwise called James John Fivey, Arthur O’Connor, John Binns, John Allen, and Jeremiah Leary, might unlawfully and traitorously carry and convey, and cause to be carried and conveyed, the said paper-writing, to parts beyond the Seas, to be delivered to certain persons of the said enemies of our said Lord the King, such persons being called in the said paper-writing the Executive Directory of France, and might thereby incite, encourage, persuade and procure the said enemies of our said Lord the King to make, and cause to be made, an hostile invasion of this Kingdom with ships and armed men, to prosecute and wage war against our said Lord the King within this Kingdom.
The 3d, 4th and 5th overt acts are stated to be different attempts to hire vessels;
The 6th, consulting on different modes of leaving the Kingdom.
The 7th, going to the King’s Head, in Margate, for the same purpose.

LIST OF THE JURY.

Edward Burrow of Bromley, Esq.
Thomas Newnham of the same, Esq.
William Wells of the same, Esq. & Shipbuilder
John Harrison of the same, Esq.
Thomas Raikes of the same, Esq. & Merchant
John Cator of Beckenham, Esq.
Henry Jackson of the same, Esq.
John Willis of the same, Gent.
Thomas Poole of the same, Gent.
Luke Pocock of Chelsfield, Esq. & Farmer
Philip Dehaney of Hayes, Esq. & Merchant
John Nesbitt of Keston, Esq. & Merchant
James Kirkpatrick of the same, Esq.
John Farnaby of West Wickham, Esq.
Charles Haskins of the same, Esq.
James Taggott of Chislehurst, Esq.
Richard Stone of the same, Esq. & Banker
Robert Jenner of the same, Esq. & Proctor
John Davison of the same, Esq.
Charles Stuart Minshaw of the same, Esq.
Stephen Brooker of Foot’s Cray, Farmer
Sir Richard Glode of Orpington, Knt.
Richard Carew of the same, Esq.
James Biggs of the same, Farmer
Henry Pawley of the same, Farmer
David Orme of Bexley, Esq.
Richard Lewin of the same, Esq.
William Cope of the same, Esq.
John Leader of the same, Esq.
William Watkins of the same, Gent.
Benjamin Harence of Foot’s Cray, Esq.
George Russel of the same, Esq.
Richard Wraight of the same, Esq.
James Bedell of North Cray, Farmer
Richard Chapman of St. Paul’s Cray, Farmer
Joseph Bearens of St. Mary’s Cray, Esq.
William Child of the same, Maltster
Thomas Wilmot of Shoreham, Gent. & Paper Maker
George Brooker of the same, Farmer
William Small of the same, Farmer
William Wilmot of Chevening, Gent. & Paper Maker
William Wedd of the same, Farmer
James Hodsoll of Sundrish, Gent.
James Martyr of Otford, Gent.
William Everest of the same, Farmer
Thomas Hogsflesh of the same, Farmer
William Walter of the same, Gent.
George Arnold Arnold of Halsted, Esq.
William Brookes of the same, Farmer
Henry Dyson of Sundrish, Gent.
Robert Brown of the same, Gent.
James Sale of the same, Farmer
Valentine Hackleton of Sevenoaks, Gent.
John Wranick of the same, Esq.
George Westbrook of the same, Gent.
William Maynard of Seal, Farmer
William Crouk of the same, Farmer
Thomas Ralph of Kemsing, Gent.
Robert Houre Gordon of Sevenoaks Weild, Esq.
James Harbroe of Leigh, Esq.
Richard Ray of Sevenoaks, Farmer
William Rapson of Riverhead, Esq. and Brewer
James Chapple of Sevenoaks, Distiller
George Lock of the same, Ironmonger
William Roots of Seal, Farmer
William Tyler of Cowden, Gent.
John Shaw of Eaton Bridge, Gent.
John Tyler of the same, ditto
James Alexander of ditto, Timber Merchant
John Wenham Lewis of Westerham, Esq.
Edward Worger of the same, Farmer
Edward Whittaker of the same, Farmer
Benjamin Fletcher of the same, Farmer
Richard Green of the same, Farmer
Henry Streatfield of Chiddington, Esq.
William Merchant, sen. of the same, Farmer
William Haynes of the same, Farmer
Henry Woodhams of Speldhurst, Farmer
Richard Allnutt of Penshurst, Farmer
Michael Saxby of the same, Farmer
Thomas Sutton of the same, Farmer
William Pearless of Cowden, farmer
Thomas Johnson of Wrotham, Farmer
Silas Newman of the same, Farmer
Isaac Tomlyn of the same, Esq.
John Taylor of the same, Farmer
Thomas Fry of the same, Farmer
Thomas Selby of Ightham, Esq.
William Evelyn of the same, Esq.
Thomas Knowles of the same, Farmer
John Taylor of Basted in Wrotham, Esq. & Papermaker
Barnet Blake of Shipbourne, Esq.
George Blatcher of the same, Farmer
Rich. Packman of Plaxtol in Wrotham, Gent.
Richard Hosmer of Mereworth, Farmer
James Adkinson of the same, Farmer
Thomas Seabrook of the same, Farmer
Thomas Henham of East Peckham, Farmer
William Fleet Larkin of the same, Gent. & Timber Merchant
Walter Barton of the same, Farmer
John Miller of Yalding, Gent.
James Gardner of the same, Gent.
John Simmons of the same, Farmer
Thomas Town of the same, Farmer
Thomas Fowl of the same, Farmer
William P. Perryn of Farleigh, Esq.
Giles Miller of the same, Gent.
Edward Charlton of the same, Farmer
Richard Groombridge of the same, ditto
William Gilbert of Yalding, ditto
Thomas Turner of Hunton, Esq.
William Martin of the same, Farmer
Thomas Skudder of the same, ditto
Thomas Miller of the same, ditto
John Bishop of the same, ditto
John Hooker of Brenchley, Esq.
William Cheeseman of Yalding, Farmer
John Sanders of Wateringbury, Farmer
Robert Foreman of the same, ditto
William Kettle of the same, Gent.
William Townsend of Wateringbury, Farmer
Thomas Kettle of Mereworth, Gent.
Thomas Wellfear of East Peckham, Farmer
Thomas Miller of Nettlested, ditto
John Norwood of East Peckham, ditto
William Simmons of Hadlow, ditto
George Robert Eldridge of Tunbridge, Gent.
John Wells of the same, Farmer
John Muggeridge of Hadlow, Gent.
Samuel Milles of the same, ditto
William Miller of the same, ditto
William Eldridge of the same, ditto
Martin York of Speldhurst, Esq.
John Fry of the same, Farmer
Thomas Jarrett of the same, Wine Merchant
Thomas Camfield of the same, Gent.
William Gower of Tunbridge, Farmer
Thomas Wingate of the same, ditto
Thomas Allnutt of Penshurst, Esq.
John Sanders of the same, Gent.
Charles Thomas West of Sundrish, Esq.
James Hartridge of Pembury, Farmer
George Landridge of the same, ditto
John Amherst of the same, ditto
Bold Marchant of Brenchley, Gent.
John Martin of the same, Farmer
Stephen Crundle of the same, ditto
Russell Hickmott of Capell, ditto
John Twort of Horsemonden, ditto
John Burr of the same, ditto
Thomas Mannering of the same, ditto
Jeffery Austen of Lamberhurst, ditto
Samuel Winder of the same, ditto
Thomas Milles, senior of Goudhurst, Gent.
John Collens of the same, Farmer
Daniel Underdown of Hawkehurst, ditto
John Amherst Walter of Marden, ditto
Thomas Gibbons of the same, ditto
Jeremiah Cornwell of the same, ditto
Henry Barton of the same, ditto
George Pawley of Linton, ditto
Robert Springet of Goadhurst, Gent.
Thomas Martin of the same, Gent.
James Colebrook of Benenden, Farmer
James Buckland of the same, Farmer
John D. Mercer of Hawkehurst, Esq.
Robert Bolden of Cranbrook, Farmer
Thomas Swatland of the same, Farmer
George Siggs of the same, Farmer
William Spong of Stapleworth, Farmer
Thomas Adams of Cranbrook, Esq.
Richard Smart of the same, Esq.
Charles Coleman of Benenden, Farmer
Thomas Wilmot of Bethersden, ditto
Edward Tomsett of the same, ditto
William Pattenson of the same, ditto
Richard Beale, senior of the same, ditto
George Monk of Appledore, Grazier
Thomas Russell of the same, ditto
James Boon of the same, ditto
Joseph Hodges of the same, ditto
William Strickland of the same, ditto
Boulden Barton of High Halden, Farmer
Thomas Adams of Bethersden, Grazier
Joseph Kingsnorth of Woodchurch, Farmer
Benjamin Kingsnorth of Kenardington, Grazier
Benjamin Downe of the same, ditto
Thomas Maylaur of the same, Farmer
Richard Bourne of Halden, Farmer
Joseph Chapman of Hawkehurst, Farmer
John Ellis of the same, ditto
Edward Ward of Sandhurst, Esq.
John Fowle of ditto, Farmer
Henry Redford of ditto, ditto
Thomas Coveney of Rolvenden, Farmer
Edward Field of Benenden, Farmer
Thomas Brignal of ditto, ditto
Thomas Perren of Sandhurst, ditto
Frederick Wilson of Hawkehurst, Esq.
John Reeves of ditto, Farmer
William Stace of ditto, ditto
Thomas Garret of St. Lawrence, in the Isle of Thanet, Farmer
Daniel Curling of ditto, ditto
Edward Pitt of Monkton in ditto, Esq.
Henry Jessard of the same, Farmer
Henry Wootton of Minster, Isle of Thanet, ditto
Henry Harmett of the same, Farmer
		JOHN PLUMTREE, Esq. Sheriff

LIST OF WITNESSES

John KING of Queen Street, Queen Square, Westminster, Mdx, Esq. one of his Majesty’s Under Secretaries of State.
William WICKHAM of Duke Street, Westminster, Mdx, Esq. one of his Majesty’s Under Secretaries of State.
Richard FORD of Sloane Street, Mdx, Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace, acting at the Public Office in Bow Street, Covent Garden in the said county.
Joseph WHITE of Essex Court, Middle Temple, London and of Lincoln’s Inn, Mdx, Esq. Solicitor for the Affairs of his Majesty’s Treasury.
Henry DEALTRY of Essex Street, in the Strand, Mdx, Clerk of the Rules on the Crown side of his Majesty’s Court of King’s Bench.
Hugh BELL of Charter House Square, Mdx, Merchant.
James WALLIS of Charter House Square aforesaid, servant to the said Hugh Bell.
James MORRIS of Glass House Yard, Aldersgate Street, Mdx, servant to the said Hugh Bell.
John REVETT of Drury Lane, Mdx, Labourer, and one of the Constables belonging to the Public Office in Bow Street, Covent Garden, in the said county.
Edward FUGION of Bow Street aforesaid, Shoemaker, and one of the Constables belonging to the Public Office in Bow Street aforesaid.
John SCHAW of Eaton Street, Pimlico, Mdx, one of His Majesty’s Messengers in ordinary.
Edward LAVENDER of King’s Row, Pimlico, Mdx, Attorney at Law and Chief Clerk of the Public Office in Bow Street, Covent Garden, in the said county.
Matthew SMITH of His Majesty’s Tower in London, Major of the said Tower.
David KINGHORN, Gent. Gaoler of his Majesty’s Tower of London, abiding there.
John HANCOCK of Chichester Rents, in the Liberty of the Rolls, Mdx, Gentleman and Clerk to the said Joseph White, Solicitor for the Affairs of His Majesty’s Treasury.
Robert FARQUHARSON of Brunswick Street, Blackfriars, London, Gardener and Letter Carrier.
Thomas Clio RICKMAN of Upper Marylebone Street, Mdx, Bookseller.
Thomas STUCKEY of Duke Street, Bloomsbury, Mdx, Taylor.
John RICHARDSON of Somer’s Street, Cold Bath Fields, Mdx, Staymaker and Watchman.
John JONES of Lincoln’s Inn, Mdx, Clerk to Mess. Sidebottom & Cook, of the same place, Attornies at Law.
John Anthony HODGSON of Aldermanbury, London, Gent. And Clerk to the said Joseph White, Solicitor for the Affairs of his Majesty’s Treasury.
John ROTHERY of Furnival’s Inn Cellar, Holborn, London, Victualler.
George HAYDON of Furnival’s Inn Cellar aforesaid, servant to the said John Rothery.
Rebecca HENDERSON of Furnival’s Inn Cellar aforesaid, servant to the said John Rothery.
Samuel SMITH of Temple Lane, Whitefriars, London, Printer.
Elizabeth SMITH of Temple Lane aforesaid, wife of said Smith.
Thomas EVANS of Plough Court, Fetter Lane, London, Colourer of Prints.
Juliet EVANS, wife of ditto.
Mary BASSETT of Leather Lane, Holborn, London, wife of Wm Bassett, Wiredrawer.
Sir Francis BURDETT of Foremark, Derbyshire and of Stratton Street, Piccadilly, Mdx, Baronet.
John FLOUD of the Inner Temple, Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace acting at the Police Office in Worship Street, Shoreditch, Mdx.
David ASSETER of Gravesend, Kent, Stone Mason.
Henry THOMSETT of Offham, Kent, Labourer.
William TWOPENY of Saint Margaret, Rochester, Kent, Gentleman and Attorney at Law.
Roger MAN of Rochester, Kent, Driver of the Rochester Coach.
John CLARIS of St. George’s Street, City of Canterbury, Bookseller
Kean MAHONEY of Burgate Street, City of Canterbury, Fruiterer
Nicholas CLOKE of Sun Street, City of Canterbury, Innkeeper
Mary LEMON of Sun Street aforesaid, Servant to said Nicholas Cloke.
William KITCHENGAM of Whitstable, Kent, Victualler
John FOREMAN of Whitstable aforesaid, Mariner
Edward APPLETON of Whitstable aforesaid, Mariner
Richard SMITH of Whitstable aforesaid, Mariner & Hoyman.
Jonas KING of Whitstable aforesaid, Officer of the Customs.
Stephen PERKINS of Whitstable aforesaid, Victualler.
Rachael PERKINS of Whitstable aforesaid, Wife of S. Perkins.
John DYASON of Whitstable aforesaid, Servant of Stephen Perkins.
Mary SANDERS of Whitstable aforesaid, Wife of John Sanders, Farmer & Brewer.
John SANDERS, jun. of Whitstable aforesaid, Miller.
Henry PARKER of Whitstable aforesaid, Mariner.
Nathaniel BRAGG of Whitstable aforesaid, ditto.
Thomas HOCKLESS of Whitstable aforesaid, ditto.
Thomas NORRIS of Herne Bay in the parish of Herne, Kent, Victualler.
Robert CAMPBELL of Deal, Kent, Pilot.
Martha CAMPBELL of Deal aforesaid, Wife of Robert Campbell.
William RALPH of Deal aforesaid, Cornchandler.
Robert LOCKYER of Deal aforesaid, Labourer.
James ELLIOTT of Deal aforesaid, Innkeeper.
William JONES of Deal aforesaid, Servant to said James Elliott.
Launcelot HAYMAN of Deal aforesaid, Upholsterer.
Thomas BARHAM of Deal aforesaid, Gent.
Jeremiah MOWLE of Deal aforesaid, Pilot.
Mary WHITE of Deal aforesaid, Widow, Victualler.
William YEATES of Deal aforesaid, Mariner.
Ann CRICKETT of the High Street, Margate, Kent, Single Woman, Victualler.
Jane DEXTER of the High Street, Margate aforesaid, Servant to said Ann Crickett.
Wm. KERBY of Margate aforesaid, Stable Keeper.
Vincent WHATLER of Margate aforesaid, Fisherman.
Daniel VALDER of Margate aforesaid, Officer of the Customs.
Oliver CARLTON of Frederick-street, Dublin, Ireland, Esq. Chief Constable of Dublin.
Henry MARYON of Bride Street, Dublin aforesaid, one of His Majesty’s Messengers in Ireland.
John JACKSON of the city of Dublin aforesaid, Cloth Merchant.
Charles MC FILLAN of Ballimuligan near Maghemfelt, Derry, Ireland.
Rowley Gorges HILL of Londonderry, Ireland, Collector of the Customs & Excise there.
Abraham ABBOT of the city of Cork, Ireland, Attorney at Law.
Wm. LANE of the city of Cork aforesaid, Attorney at Law.
____ WOODS of Dundaik, Down, Ireland, Officer of Excise.
Denis FITZPATRICK of Dundalk aforesaid, Keeper of the Gaol there.
John GRANT of Weston Lane, Manchester, Lancashire, Shoemaker.
Robert GRAY of Blacklees Street, Ancoats Lane, Manchester, Manufacturer & Dealer.
Isaac PERRENS of Lath Street, Manchester, Engineer & Victualler.
Mary PERRENS of the same place, wife of the said Isaac Perrens.
Wm. CHEETHAM of Henry Street, Ancoats Lane, Manchester, Cotton Manufacturer & Shopkeeper.
Moses FRY of Church Street, Manchester aforesaid, Taylor.
Thomas TOWELL of Back Lane, Angel Meadow, Manchester, Manufacturer.
Nathaniel MILNE of King Street, Manchester, Attorney at Law.
Thomas Butterworth BAYLEY of the Hope, near Manchester, Esq. one of the Justices of the Peace for the said county of Lancaster.
Robert ANDERSON of Manchester aforesaid, Taylor.
David DAVIES of St. James’s Street, within the Liberty of Westminster, Mdx, Hatter.
Oswald STRONG of St. James’s Street aforesaid, Hatter, Foreman to Messrs. Mouys & Davies, Hatters.
John NEWCOMB of Pall Mall within the Liberty of Westminster, Boot & Shoemaker.
John WHITE of St. Alban’s Street, Mdx, Breeches-maker.
Benjamin HALL of Down Street, Piccadilly, Mdx, Sadler.
Frederick DUTTON, late of the Town of Newry, Down, Ireland, Publican, but now a Quarter-master of the Corps of Drivers attached to the Royal Irish Artillery quartered at Athlone, Ireland.
Thomas WATSON of Maidstone, Kent, Keeper of his Majesty’s Gaol for the said county at Maidstone aforesaid.
John WIXON of Maidstone aforesaid, servant to the said Thomas Watson, and a Turnkey in the said Gaol.
George BURR of Maidstone aforesaid, Attorney at Law and Town Clerk of Maidstone.
Henry William BROOKE of Jermyn Street, Mdx, Esquire.
Alexander PARKINSON of Union-street, Manchester aforesaid, Pattern Drawer and Headal Knitter.
James REEVES, Clerk of the Public Office in Bow Street, Covent Garden, Mdx.
John STAFFORD of Bell’s Buildings, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, London, Clerk to Jerome William KNAPP of Brick Court, Middle Temple, London, Esq.
John Gale JONES of Charles Street, Covent Garden, Mdx, Surgeon, abiding in the house of Mr. ROMER in the same street.


SPECIAL COMMISSION AT MAIDSTONE [MAY 21, 1798 - Evening Mail]
HIGH TREASON

The King against Arthur O’CONNOR, Esq. James O’COIGLEY, James John FIVEY, John BINNS, John ALLEN and Jeremiah LEARY.
Mr. Justice BULLER, Mr. Justice HEATH, Mr. Justice LAWRENCE, and Mr. Sergeant SHEPHERD, took their seats on the Bench by 7 o’clock. The Court was immensely crowded. Previous to the names of the Jurors being called over Mr. PLUMER addressed the Court. He observed it was far from his intention to interrupt the proceedings of the day by any unnecessary observation, but he felt it his duty, in order to preserve the purity of the administration of public justice; not to lose a moment in stating the contents of an affidavit which had been just sworn. It respected a charge of the foulest nature: a charge of one of the most daring attempts to violate the public justice of the country – of one of the grossest contempts of the Court that ever was practised. He was impelled to submit it to their Lordships, in order to prevent prejudice against the objects of the present prosecution which it had been the means of creating. The Court would be surprised, when they heard that the person against whom he had to complain bore the sacred character of a Clergyman.
Mr. PLUMER then read the following letter:
“Dear Sir, I dined yesterday with three of our Jurymen of the Blackburn Hundred, who have been summoned to Maidstone to the trial of O’Connor and Co. and it is not a little singular that not one yeoman of this district should have been summoned to an Assize for this County, nor, to any of the Quarter Sessions, except the Midsummer, for more than 50 years. These three men are wealthy yeomen, and partizans of the High Court Party. Now this is as it ought to be; and, as they are good farmers, and much in my interest, to be sure I exerted all my eloquence to convince them how absolutely necessary it was at the present moment, for the security of the Realm, that the acquital of Hardy and Co. laid the foundation of the present conspiracy, the Manchester, London Corresponding Society, etc. etc. I urged then, by all possible means in my power, to hang them through mercy, a memorial to others, that had others have suffered?, the deep-laid conspiracy which is coming to light would have been crushed in its infancy. These, with many other arguments, I pressed, with a view that they should go into Court avowedly determined in their verdict, no matter what the evidence. An innocent man committed to gaol never offers a bribe to a turnkey to let him escape. O’Connor did this to my knowledge; and although the Judge is sufficiently stern, and seldom aquits where hanging is necessary, the only fear I have is, that when the Jury is impannelled, the Blues may gain the ascendancy. In short, I pressed the matter so much upon their senses, that if any one of the three is chosen, I think something may be done. These three men have gained their good fortunes by farming, and I think they are now thoroughly sensible that they will lose every shilling in aquitting these felons. I have seen, Sir, that detested shew, that atrocious land of despotism, from Shakespeare’s cliff, Calais steeples, and truly I shuddered, not at the precipice, but by contemplating the vicinity to me of a miscreant crew of hellions, vomiting their impotent vengeance, and already satiating their bloody appetites upon my country. Ah, my good Sir, we are safe; it is next to a moral impossibility that in Sussex or Kent they could land in force; the batteries, forts, etc. are so numerous, that hardly a gun-boat could escape being blown to atoms; but Ireland, alas! Alas! It is lost, Sir, I fear it is gone. Their Government are now spending hundreds of thousands, in fortifying what can never be attacked; they are fortifying the Castle with cut-works, ...
It is a pity, indeed it is, when money is so much wanted, to see it so wantonly wasted, and all done to throw down the Cliff upon the Beach. Remember me to Mrs. L. and your family; assure her we expect a Republican visitation. This country is split into party; but I never enter into the habitation of a yeoman but I see the sword of the owner suspended – Glorious light! But the Militia – O, Lord! – At Horsham, Shoreham, Ashford, Battel, Lewes, Brighton, Ringmer, etc. etc. I very seldom meet with a sober man; ‘tis nothing but a dreadful sight of drunkeness. Fine soldiers in action! – their pay, their pay so extravagant! I have now as fine a sight of the Chalk Hills opposite us as ever was seen: the sun is setting upon that vile land, and presents an object not a little disagreeable. Yours, truly, A. YOUNG.”
This letter, said Mr. PLUMER, was under the hand-writing of the Rev. Arthur YOUNG, and was addressed to Gamaliah LLOYD, Esq. a gentleman of Bury St. Edmund’s. Notice had been given to Mr. YOUNG of this application, and he had acknowledged the letter to be his writing, but he refused to state who the three yeomen of Blackburn were. He was persuaded it could not be the wish of the Court or the prosecutors, that the prisoners at the bar should be brought to trial under the prejudice which had been raised in the minds of those who were to try them; and he therefore trusted the Court would co-operate in endeavouring to prevent the Jurors who had been so prejudiced from constituting part of the Jury.
Mr. Justice BULLER said, it was an offence that ought not to go unpunished; but he feared the power of the Court to punish would cease with the commission.
Mr. YOUNG was called, but did not make an appearance.
Mr. DALLAS urged the necessity of some measure being adopted to obviate the effect of the prejudice raised against the prisoners.
Mr. Attorney General said, he did not take any degree of credit to himself for the observations he meant to make; but he was perfectly persuaded he should be believed by all present, when he stated in the name of God and his Country, that he had heard, with great affliction, the circumstance just mentioned, and if, upon enquiry, he should have reason to be satisfied the charge was true, he should think he deserved to be immediately dismissed from his office, if he hesitated one moment in using his power to the utmost in order to bring that man to justice who had dared to prejudice the minds of persons exercising the office of Jurors. The Attorney General then not only pledged himself to bring Mr. YOUNG to justice, if he was guilty, but he desired the names of all the Jurors summoned from the Hundred of Blackburn should be struck out of the pannel.

The CLERK of the ARRAIGNS proceeded to call the Jurors.
The usual number of peremptory challenges were made by the prisoners; peremptory challenges were also made to the number of 25 by the Crown. There were also several challenges for cause on behalf of the prisoners. Among the latter, Thomas RAIKES, Esq. of Bromley, was challenged on the oath of Mr. FOLKES, who stated that, on a former occasion, when the prisoners were in Court, Mr. RAIKES enquired of the deponent their names; and upon being informed, he looked sternly and savagely at them, clenched his fist, and exclaimed, damned rascals. His eligibility was tried by two Jurors, who determined he should be rejected.
Several Jurors were fined £20 each for non attendance.
When the Crown had challenged twelve Jurors, Mr. SCOTT, one of the Counsel for the prisoners, contended against the right of the Crown to challenge any more without cause. He maintained it was a practice in violation of the statute of 33d Edward I.
The Court over-ruled his objection.
The list of the Jurymen was then called over, and the following Gentlemen sworn:--
Charles HASKINS, Esq. West Wickham, Foreman
William SMALL, Farmer, Shoreham
William CRONK, Farmer, Seal
Richard RAY, Farmer, Sevenoaks
James CHAPPLE, Distiller, Sevenoaks
Michael SAXBY, Farmer, Penshurst
Silas NEWMAN, Farmer, Wrotham
Isaac TOMLIN, Esq. Wrotham
Thomas HENHAM, Farmer, East Peckham
Walter BARTON, Farmer, East Peckham
John MILLER, Gentleman, Yalding
John SIMMONS, Farmer, Yalding.

The Indictment having been briefly stated, Mr. Attorney General rose. He observed, that in discharge of the duties of the office he held, he had been most imperiously called on to lay before a Grand Jury of the County the charge contained in the indictment, which the Jury were now solemnly sworn to try; ....
On the 27th of February last, three of the prisoners at the bar, namely QUIGLEY, ALLEN and LEARY, came from Whitstable to the King’s-head at Margate – Quigley, under the name and character of Captain JONES; ALLEN, in the character of his servant, though he really was not so, and LEARY, the servant of O’CONNOR, who waited on his master. They had not been at the King’s-head a quarter of an hour, when Mr. O’CONNOR, who went by the name of Colonel MORRIS, and BINNS, who assumed the name of Mr. WILLIAMS, arrived. They remained at the King’s-head that evening and part of the next morning. The next morning while they were meditating the removal of their baggage, for a purpose of which there could be no doubt, they were arrested by RIVETT and FUGION, two Police Officers. QUIGLEY was sitting at breakfast in a room, in which was a great coat, containing in the pocket a paper which would be stated to the Jury. He should have mentioned, that on the preceding evening, when QUIGLEY, ALLEN and LEARY, came to the King’s-head, they brought a very large quantity of baggage, deal and mahogany boxes, and leathercases, which, notwithstanding their value, so apprehensive were the prisoners of the danger of owning them, that they denied all knowledge of them or their contents. He would now state the paper found in the pocket book in QUIGLEY’s great coat, fully persuaded, when he had gone the length of proving, in the manner required by law, that any man or number of men, had such a paper in their possession for the purpose of carrying to those to whom it was addressed, it would be impossible for the Jury to say such a circumstance did not amount to the offence of high treason. The paper was in these words:-
The Secret Committee of England, to the Executive Directory of France.
......
He then proceeded to state the circumstances under which the prisoners had gone from London, in order to show their connexion with each other.
......
On the 21st [Feb] BINNS left London for the purpose of hiring a vessel to go to France, to carry the above paper and such other intelligence as might be necessary. He went to Gravesend, took a coach to Rochester, and proceeded to Canterbury, where he applied to two persons of the names of GLARIS? And MAHONEY, and pretending to have some concern in the smuggling line, expressed a wish to have a recommendation to some person at Whitstable, in order to procure a vessel to go across. They mentioned the name of several persons who let out vessels. BINNS then went on to Whitstable, and applied to the persons whom he should call to prove the fact, for a vessel to go to Flushing. It was represented to him that he could not have a boat to go there, on account of its being an enemy’s port, and an embargo being laid on all vessels. He then proposed that the vessel should go to Havre, Calais, Dunkirk or some other port; but on its being still represented how extremely hazardous such a service was, BINNS observed there was no hazard at all, and that he had the means of insuring the safe return of the vessel; and he even intimated the probability of the person belonging to the vessel obtaining a cargo to come back with. They however repeated the danger of the voyage, and the necessity of being amply paid. The result was, it was proposed that 300 guineas should be deposited by BINNS in the Canterbury Bank, as a security for the return of the vessel, and that 100 guineas should be given for the trip, in case the vessel should come back. This happened on Friday the 23rd February. BINNS did not agree to these terms; he thought them too extravagant, and therefore he returned to Canterbury next morning, and from thence went to Deal on the Saturday, to try if he could get a vessel on better terms. He there made the same sort of proposition to the Witnesses, who would be called, as he had done at Whitstable. He agreed to give 60 guineas for a boat to go Flushing, Havre, etc. On Saturday evening he returned to Canterbury with the intention of proceeding to London before the other prisoners at the Bar should have set out, but he did not arrive in London before they had departed on board the Whitstable Hoy.
......

The Attorney General proceeded to call his witnesses.
John RIVETT was the first witness sworn. He apprehended all the prisoners at Margate, on the 28th of February. There were four of the light horse with him. In the parlour in the King’s Head, where the prisoners were, he found LEARY and ALLEN, and BINNS at the bottom of the stairs. He then went up and found QUIGLEY; he secured him. In his left hand pocket he found a dagger. At this time O’CONNOR came into the room and, said RIVETT, I asked his name. He asked me what I was? I told him: I searched him and found a purse containing a name written with a pencil. I found in the great coat pocket, a pocket book, and a paper in it. I took them down to the parlour, where the luggage was; I asked the prisoners who the pocket book belonged to. They refused to own it, and would give no account of it. I went up stairs and found a small trunk, asked O’CONNOR if he would own it? He said no. I found that great coat (pointing to it), I asked the prisoners if they knew whose it was? They said no. In the pocket book there were some other papers, which I marked. (Here the papers were produced, and the witnesses swore to them).
Cross-examined by Mr. PLOMER ....
Edward FUGION sworn. I assisted in taking the prisoners. ...
Mr. TWOPENNY sworn. .... (He gave nearly the same evidence with the last two witnesses.) ...
Ann CRICKETT sworn. I keep the King’s Head at Margate; baggage came in a cart; three Gentlemen were along with it: two persons came afterwards. I can swear that the prisoners were those persons. Mr. QUIGLEY, who first came in to my house, gave me a parcel. When the other two Gentlemen came, they made an inquiry after him. I carried the message to him by the name of Captain JONES, and he said he would wait on them. The three Gentlemen spent the evening together, and slept in my house that night, and there were no other strangers in the house at the time. There was no other great coat in the house, the property of any of my family, nor of any body I knew.
Jane DEXTER, servant to the former witness, examined by the Attorney General. She saw the prisoner QUIGLEY come to the house in Margate, in company of three Gentlemen, who slept there. She saw QUIGLEY in the dining room, when she went to prepare breakfast, and heard him say, he wanted to take a lodging at Margate. She knew nothing of any great coat.
William KERBY, Stable keeper at Margate. An application was made to me on the 27th. I saw LEARY and ALLEN at the King’s Head. They wanted to take a cart to carry some luggage to Deal. I told them I would take them the following morning – LEARY said they would be ready to go away at twelve o’clock next day; but they were in the mean time arrested.
.....
Kean MAHONEY, who keeps a shop at Canterbury, remembered seeing BINNS on the 23rd of February, at Canterbury. He told the witness that there were some friends of his on the other side very much distressed; that he wanted to establish something in the smuggling line, and wished to know any persons at Whitstable who used to let boats. ...
Mr. PARKINS, a Publican at Whitstable sworn. QUIGLEY and O’CONNOR slept in my house. I learned that one was Colonel MORRIS, and the other Captain JONES, from the discourse between the servants in the tap-room; Mr. QUIGLEY remained the whole of Monday. He asked me if I could accommodate him with a boat to Margate. I enquired of Edward WARD, who asked a guinea and a half for the boat. He asked me if there was any danger of his baggage being searched, as it was a disagreeable business to have one’s goods tossed about in such a manner; and asked if he was going to Dover, and if he had any correspondence across the water; he said, he had some at Amsterdam.
John DYSON, nephew to Mr. PARKINS, said, he slept in the next room to where O’CONNOR and QUIGLEY slept. In the morning he heard a passing and repassing, and heard money counted. He heard a pen going as if they were writing; and heard some one say it was wrong, but could not tell what.
Mr KING, the Under Secretary of State sworn. He was present when a small mahogany trunk was broke open at the Duke of Portland’s Office. It contained guineas, Louis d’ors, etc. amounting to £1000. ...
.........
Jonas KING, tide-waiter at Whitstable, saw all the prisoners; some at Whitstable and some at Margate. In February last he saw the goods, part of which he did not examine. QUIGLEY said, Colonel MORRIS had the key, and was going to the East Indies.
Thomas HOCKLESS, a part owner of the Whitstable hoy, saw QUIGLEY before. He went to receive the freight from him. He paid the witness one guinea in the name of Colonel MORRIS, for parcels and passengers.
Henry THOMSETT, of Offham, in the County of Kent, labourer, was at the Bear and Key, at Whitstable, on the 26th of February. He was in the tap-room where the servants were. One man in his hearing demanded a guinea and a half for the carriage of the goods; the witness said he would take them for a guinea, and agreed to it. Colonel MORRIS was not there at the time. But he (the witness) settled with Capt. JONES to go to Margate. Captain JONES walked along with him, and told the witness, if he met Colonel MORRIS he should soon return to London, as Colonel MORRIS was going to the West Indies. Captain JONES asked the witness his business, and he told him what he was, and that the people of Whitstable were all in a bustle about these people, and did not know what to think of them. Captain JONES said, in conversation with him, that he had been at sea, and been commander of the Morgan Ratler in the last war. When they got to the door at Margate he took out a coat, and gave it to his servant ALLEN; it was something like the coat in Court, but he could not say it was it. The witness seeing O’CONNOR after this, said to ALLEN the servant, ‘Is that Colonel MORRIS?’ The other replied ‘By Jesus I don’t know;’ and afterwards said, ‘By Jesus it is’. Capt. JONES gave him the guinea for the carriage of the goods.
.......
David ASSETIN, a stone-mason at Gravesend, recollected having seen the prisoner BINNS. On Sunday the 25th of February, BINNS came to his house at Gravesend, and mentioned the name of GALLAWAY, whom the witness had known in London as a member of the Corresponding Society. He only mentioned GALLOWAY’s name; and the witness recommended him to a horse, to take him, (as he said) to Canterbury or Whitstable. The witness did not know the real name of the prisoner.
Nicholas CLOAK, keeps the Sun Inn, at Canterbury, remembers BINNS coming to his house on Sunday the 25th. One MAHON, who was with him, asked what he would do? BINNS wished to go to Whitstable, and MAHON advised him to stay and take the morning. The witness never saw him after that till he was in custody in Canterbury.
Mary LEMON was servant to the last witness. She said a person had slept at her master’s house on the above mentioned night, but she could not identify his person. She called him at six the next morning. He went out, and she saw no more of him till between 12 and 1 o’clock. She said O’CONNOR and BINNS were the persons who slept at her master’s house.
Mr. BALDER, an Officer of the Customs at Margate, sworn. He was on watch at Margate on the night of the 27th, and in the morning assisted in seizing the prisoners and the baggage.
Oliver CARLTON, Esq. High Constable of Dublin, sworn. ....
......
The Evidence for the Crown closed this evening, and the Court adjourned till next morning.

SECOND DAY’S PROCEEDINGS

The Defence
The Court, pursuant to adjournment, met at a little after eight o’clock this morning; and the usual forms being gone through, Mr PLOMER, the leading Counsel for Mr. O’CONNOR and Mr. QUIGLEY, entered upon their defence, and addressed the Court in a speech which he took up four hours and a half to deliver.
Mr. GURNEY was heard in favour of BINNS; Mr. FERGUSSON on the part of ALLEN; and Mr. SCOTT for LEARY.

Evidence For The Prisoners
Jeremiah HASSET, Keeper of the Round Tower in the Castle of Dublin sworn. ....
Mr. STUART sworn. ... Witness had been a Magistrate in Ireland. ....
The Earl of MOIRA sworn. ....
Cornelius KETTLE sworn. He knew Henry THOMPSET; he had heard him say he conveyed the prisoners from Whitstable to Margate, that they paid him handsomely. As he was coming back he met a man who was in pursuit of the prisoners. He said it would be a good job, and he would not take £100 for it.
Cross examined. – He is a clock and watch maker. This conversation with THOMPSET happened about a week after the business happened, at a public house. He said there was a reward affixed for taking them. THOMPSET said he had been to London, and there was rare living there; good wine was a good thing in a man’s belly. The witness was applied to on Saturday last by Mr. BONNEY, to come and give evidence. He did not recollect his mentioning the conversation to anybody since. No body else heard the conversation, as they did not speak loud. THOMPSET said he was allowed something, that he had been before PITT, DUNDAS and WHITE, told them he was a smuggler, and that they settled on him six guineas a month till the trials were over. Three witnesses told me – ‘My poor man they will purse you.’
Mrs. Sarah JOB, sister to THOMPSET, remembered to see THOMPSET at her house the day the prisoners were arraigned. The witness had sent for him to speak to him about his children; and then she asked him what he meant to do with the prisoners? Says he ‘Hang them to be sure.’ ‘I hope not,’ said the witness. – He then said, ‘If they had 100 lives I would take them all.’
Cross-examined by Mr. GARROW. – She said she had sent for THOMPSET to ask about the prisoners, because her brother’s children hearing they were to be hanged, were afraid they would see their ghosts. She knew a Mr. BECK, of Canterbury, and Mrs. BECK; but did not know whether she was related to any of the prisoners. – [The witness was not subpoened till last Sunday.]
Mary MORGAN, servant to Mrs. JOB. – She heard some words passing between her mistress and THOMPSET on the 9th of March. Her mistress asked what he had to say concerning the prisoners; he said he would hang them: after this the witness left the room.
The Hon. T. ERSKINE sworn. ....
The Hon. Charles James FOX ....
The Earl of Suffolk sworn. .....
Mr. SHERIDAN was next called and sworn. .....
His Grace the Duke of Norfolk was then called and sworn. ....
Mr. M. A. TAYLOR. .....
Mr. GRATTAN, of Ireland, sworn. ....
Lord John RUSSELL. ....
Lord THANET sworn. .....
Lord OXFORD sworn. ....
Mr. WHITBREAD sworn. ....
Several other witnesses were then examined in support of the defence.
Mr. DALLAS proceeded to sum up the evidence on the part of the prisoner, and the Attorney General to reply.
Mr. Justice BULLER then summed up the evidence, in a very able manner.

The Jury, after a consultation of 40 minutes, returned the following verdict:
James O’COIGLEY, Guilty.
Arthur O’CONNOR, Not Guilty.
John BINNS, Not Guilty.
John ALLEN, Not Guilty.
Jeremiah LEARY, Not Guilty.

Silence then being proclaimed in Court, Mr. Justice BULLER observed, that there was no circumstance favourable to the prisoner on which he should conceive the prisoner could expect mercy. He then entered into a serious discourse on the enormity of the prisoner’s crime, and the nature of our Government, the blessings we enjoyed, and the miseries that should follow if the French should conquer this country, and then he passed the usual sentence for high treason on Mr. O’COIGLEY.

Note: QUIGLEY was executed at Penenden Heath, Maidstone on Thursday 7 June.


See also
trial & Execution of Father Quigley
O'Connor
O'Coigly
Return to Kent Genealogy

Treason Trial, Maidstone, 1798
Created by Maureen Rawson