Friday, 20 November 2009

Trial of John Stewart.

John Stewart, born in Glasgow, “lived there with his Parents
till about 15 Years old, and then was put Apprentice to a
Collier, whom he served only two Years. When the Ship
being at London, and just  entered into the Transport
Service, he took it into his Head to leave her, thinking he
might do better in the Navy, as 'twas then in the Time
of the late War; so he entered himself on Board the
Maidstone Man  of War, a fifty Gun Ship. He says,
she had a roving Commission, and sailed where the
Commander thought proper, and that she had the
good Fortune to take as many or more Prizes, than any
single English Ship during the whole war; but had the
Misfortune at last to be cast  away upon the Island of
Almonteer, a desolate Island, opposite to Bourdeaux.
At which Time upwards of forty Hands were lost, besides
Spaniards, and French Prisoners, and the whole Ship's
Crew were in great Danger. Those that were saved, were
carried in Boats to the Main, and made Prisoners; but
Stewart made his Escape from Prison, and travelling
250 Miles on Foot, came to St. Maloes, where he was again

made Prisoner, and brought Home by a Cartel Ship to
England. He and  the rest of the Maidstone's Crew were
turned over, when they came Home, to the New Anson;
which after he had helped to rigg out, and she was
ready to go abroad, he gave her the Slip. Having some
Prize-money for  the Maidstone to receive, he thought it
was best to stay at Home, and  spend that first, before he
went to work for more. But now he laments his Folly,
and says, he thinks it had been better for him to have
continued in the Service.

He has left off going to Sea, these twelve Months
past, and has lived a very wicked Life, in drinking,
cursing, and swearing, &c. and was  concerned
in two Robberies, besides what he is convicted and
suffers for. He was in Company with two others,
when they robbed a Gentleman in Cullum Street,
and took from him a gold Watch, &c. and
the Gentleman thinking one of them was going to stab
him, catched hold of the Weapon,and received a Cut
by its being drawn through his Hand. Another Person
was robbed by the same three, near Broad Street, of
a silver Watch. These two Robberies were committed
by them about four or five Nights before the  Robbery
in St. Swithin's Lane, which was the 23d of June. The
Watches were immediately sold for what they could
get, and Stewart says, he had about 10 s. to his Share.

As to the Robbery for which he suffers he says, he had
been rambling, and got drunk, that he saw not the
Accomplices that Day: But about  11 o'Clock at Night,
reeling homeward towards Whitechappel, where
he lived, thro' Cannon Street he met them. One of
them had been his Shipmate, who asked him to drink
, but he says, he refused, because he had got enough.
While they were talking together, he says, the other two
ran from him of a sudden, and seized the Prosecutor,
and robbed him.
They were presently pursued, but run away towards
Lombard Street, and he, being in their Company,
thought proper to run towards Walbroke, but being
in Liquor, fell down, and was presently taken. He was
carried to the Poultry Counter that Night, and being
examined before an Alderman, he thought proper
to commit him to Newgate.

Stewart persisted for a long while to say, that he had
never been concerned in any other Robbery, but
what he was convicted of; but on the first of
August, he confessed the other two, saying, his
Conscience would not  suffer him to keep the Secret
any longer. He heartily begs Pardon of those
he has had a Hand in injuring, and hopes for
Mercy thro' Jesus Christ.”

My thanks to Janglaschu.

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