1750 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (2)
|Topic||Recruiting for the French army via the Robin Hood in Church Lane, St Giles|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-06-20. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-10-18.
[17 Oct. 1750:]
Thomas Reynolds, was indicted for inlisting and detaining John Carnes for the French king's service as a soldier, without leave or licence before obtained, &c.
John Carnes. I became acquainted with the prisoner about the first of June last, he lived at the Robin Hood and Little John in Broad St. Giles's, and kept what we call in the vulgar tongue, a bawdy house, a night house for all sorts of people whatsoever. The first time I went in tansiently as I passed by to have a pint of beer, I knew nothing of him at that time; I happened (to tell the truth, my lord) to meet with a sweetheart there, so I went there several times after that; sometimes I staid all night, as he furnished me with a bed and female bedfellow. There were ladies of all tastes, both for soldiers and sailors. One time I had but a shilling, and some halfpence about me. I told him I did not want to wrong him, telling him what I had about me; he said, don't mind that, you shall not want liquor; there came in a young gentleman, about 5 feet 11 inches high, dressed well, with velvet breeches, a large hat, with a feather in it, silk stockings turn'd up his knees; he was pleas'd to call me a clever young fellow; I did not think I was, till such time he told me so.
Q. Was this the first time of your going there?
Carnes. No, sir, this was after I had been there several times; about the 4th or 5th of June the prisoner ask'd me how I lik'd the guards; before I belong'd to the guards, I belong'd to the regiment lately commanded by General Ponsonby; said he, I remember when any of the guards get into trouble, they stand a chance to be whip'd by a cat o'ninetails; said I, so they do very often, but I never was whip'd with a cat o'ninetails yet; said he, I can put you into a better way of living; 4 s. 6 d. per week does not go a great way in London, without a man has a trade, or some other way of getting money, besides his pay; said he, you had better take a little of my advice, and go where I desire you to go, it will be to your profit. Said I, I'll go; where is it? said he, if you'll go into the French service, you cannot be liable to any punishment, without you be a thief, or a rogue; but for getting drunk, or a little small fault, he is never punish'd. I went to bed then; the next morning he ask'd me some more questions; said he, I'll tell you how it is, I can get you out of these guards; said I, if you put me into a better way I'll hear it; he shew'd me about 14 or 15 different coats, some marines; some soldiers, of marching regiments ; said he, go down to Dover, to the sign of the city of Calais, and I'll send a guide along with you; there you shall be kindly receiv'd by two persons, Russel, and Purcel, but the principal was this Purcel; Russel kept the house, and Purcel was one that was prosecuted last Assizes; said I, I cannot go out of London with my regimental cloaths on; said he, I'll give you a frock, and a hat; leave your's with me; which I did.
Q. Did you agree with him to go?
Carnes. I did, I was to have 25 crowns paid me at this sign of the city of Calais.
Q. Did you upon this set out?
Carnes. Yes, sir, I did, and a guide which he sent along with me.
Q. Who was this guide?
Carnes. It was a lady; I deliver'd my coat, waistcoat, and hat, to him, and we set out pretty early in the morning, the 13th of June; she had money plenty of the prisoner, to carry me down.
Q. How do you know that?
Carnes. She told me so.
Q. Did you see the prisoner give her any?
Carnes. She shewed me gold, and I saw him give her money for that purpose.
Q. Did he give you any?
Carnes. No, he did not; he gave me victuals and drink in plenty. She went down along with me as far as Sandwich in Kent. The prisoner gave me advice, when I went out of London, not to pass any of the great towns but in the night, for he said he had several times gone down there with the French ambassador's livery upon him, and passed back in the night time with persons to go to serve in lord Ogleby's regiment in the French service. When I got to Sandwich, then I began to think of the evil I had done; I left my female guide there, and went right on to Dover-Castle, where there were two companies of Scotch Fuzileers, and I went to a relation of mine, whose name is Hope, and told him what I had done.
Q. Did you not go into the town of Dover?
Carnes. No, I did not, the Castle is out of the town; I went also to a serjeant-major of the Scotch Fuziliers, and told him I belonged to the third regiment of foot-guards commanded by the earl of Dunmore. I desired him to write back to the regiment.
Q. Consider well; did you agree with the prisoner to go and enter into the French service?
Carnes. I did agree with him so to do.
Q. You say he gave you liquor? did he give you that to encourage you to undertake this?
Carnes. It was for no other intent. The woman bore all my expences, I was not one farthing out of pocket.
Q. How long were you in going to Sandwich?
Carnes. We lay three nights by the way; one place where we lay was about half way betwixt this and Rochester, 15 miles from London.
Q. What is the woman's name?
Carnes. I don't know that, she was one of his ladies that attended the house.
Q. Do you know whether she had the money, she bore your charges withal, of the prisoner?
Carnes. His intent of giving her the money was in case I had been taken up, then I might say I never received a farthing of money from him; this was to keep him free of the law. He told me on our setting out she had plenty, and I should not want either victuals or drink.
Q. Are you sure he told you this?
Carnes. He told me so a great many times, and when we went out of his house in the morning, after we had drank two hot pots together, he opened the door, and wished all good fortune, and said don't be afraid, this woman has money enough, and when you come there you shall have money enough; so we went on together, and passed as man and wife.
Q. Did you agree with him, or was you to agree with Purcel?
Carnes. I agreed with the prisoner.
Q.' How happen'd it you went first into the prisoner's house?
Carnes. As I might in any other house in London.
Q. Did not you know it was a bawdy house?
Carnes. No, not at first going in.
Q. Did he begin this conversation, at your first going there?
Carnes. No, not till I had been there three or four times.
Q. Was it for the sake of your nymph, or the prisoner's conversation, you went there?
Carnes. It was to lie with the several young women that were there, that made me go three or four times.
Q. At whose expence was you entertain'd there?
Carnes. The first time it was at my own expence; the second and third times, it was at part my own, and part some of the female sex, that were there; and after that by his expence.
Q. Did you never run on tick there?
Carnes. No, I never did in my life.
Q. Had you any letter of recommendation to Purcel?
Carnes. No, none at all; I had no writing, but the woman had.
Q. Had you been conversant with her before you set out?
Carnes. Yes, sir, I had 5 or 6 times before; but I was as free with other women at his house, as with her.
Q. Where is she now?
Carnes. I don't know.
Q. Had you ever your own regimentals again?
Carnes. Yes, sir, the serjeant of the company that I belong to, went to the prisoner's house, and brought this coat I have on; he had my ammunition waistcoat there, out of the bar.
Q. Have you a wife?
Carnes. Yes, sir, I have.
Q. Did not you pawn your hat?
Carnes. No, sir, I never did in my life.
Q. Did not your wife pawn it?
Carnes. That wife was one of the prisoner's own producing; I deliver'd it into the prisoner's hands.
Q. What did you do with your arms and accoutrements?
Carnes. I left them in my quarters; the prisoner said, suppose you should meet any soldiers on the road, you had better cut your hair off. He also desired me to bring my firelock, arms, and accoutrements to him, and he knew a safe way to send them over; said I, that is death without mercy, I'll never dispose of his Majesty's arms; he called me fool, saying, he knew which way to convey them safe over, and that he had conveyed pieces of the Tower arms over before then.
Serjeant John Templestone. I know the last witness, he is a soldier in the company I belong to. I inlisted him myself.
Q. Did you ever miss him from your regiment?
Templestone. He went away for some time. We began to enquire after him; we had intelligence by some people who had seen him at the prisoner's house; I went there and took two or three more people with me, and enquired if he knew John Carnes a soldier; (the prisoner seemed very much confused, he went and talked to his wife) yes, said he, I do know him; pray, said I, do you know any thing of his leaving any cloaths here? said he. I would have sent them to the people they belong to had I known where to send; so he went and brought me Carnes's coat and waistcoat, the hat he denies. Carnes said he left the hat there, and I believe I have an evidence here that knows it was left there; the prisoner said Carnes lodged some nights in his house, and told me he was gone out a hay-making with a woman.
– Riley. I have known John Carnes ever since the 5th of June last; I saw him at the Robin Hood and Little John in Broad St. Giles's; I found a regimental hat in the bed where I lay up one pair of stairs backwards, and delivered it to the prisoner's wife, it was a new one; I was going to crop it for myself. The prisoner was then asleep.
To his Character.
William Johnson. I never saw any thing by the prisoner but what was honest, I lodged in his house about two months before his confinement; I came home in the Eltham man of war between five and six months ago; when I came to London I happened to lodge in his house.
Q. Did he ever endeavour to intice you abroad?
Johnson. No, never.
Q. Did you ever hear him talk in this nature to any others?
Johnson. No, I never did.
Q. What sort of company is there in that house?
Johnson. There were people came in and out, who called for beer.
Q. Were not there women resorted there very frequently?
Johnson. There were, but whether they lay there I cannot tell.
Sarah Barker. I have known the prisoner between seven and eight months; I never was in his house but when his wife lay in; he bore as good a character as any man in the world for what I heard.
Q. Did you ever hear he encouraged people to go abroad?
Barker. No, Sir, I never heard he did.
Q. Do you live near him?
Barker. I live about a quarter of a mile off his house; I nursed his wife.
Q. Had he many people come to his house?
Barker. He had a neighbourly share of customers, but I was very seldom down stairs.
Q. Was you ever at Sandwich?
Barker. No, sir, I never was.
IRHB has silently regularized the use of spaces before punctuation marks in the quotation and corrected the HTML text at Proceedings of the Old Bailey from the PDF of the original printed edition.
- Not included in Sussex, Lucy, compil. 'References to Robin Hood up to 1600', in: Knight, Stephen. Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 262-88.
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- Robin Hood (St Giles).