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September 13th

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Old Bailey Proceedings - Trial Accounts
London's Central Criminal Court

13th January 1758
William Booth, William Slingsby
Theft - extortion divider

96, 97.(L.) William Booth and William Slingsby, were indicted for a conspiracy, in unjustly agreeing to charge John Potter with the detestable crime called sodomy, in order to extort money from him. ++

John Potter. I have known the prisoner Booth almost two years; I never saw Slingsby 'till I was sent for to them to the Blossom-Inn.

Court. Give an account of what past.

Potter. A porter came to me and said he had a message for me, which was to go there. I went.

Q. Where do you live?

Potter. I am a peruke maker, and work'd for Mr. Taylor then in Milk-street. When I came there, there were the two prisoners at the bar, who got me into a private room. I was no sooner in the room but the prisoner Slingsby put his hand into my breeches pocket, and took out a pair of Bristol stone buttons. I told him they were not my own, and, with a great deal to do, I got them again. Booth asked me where my watch was? I told him I never had one. He said I had one when I lived with Mr. Gay. I said I never had one.

Then Slingsby took the candle from off the table to look at my shoe and knee-buckles. I took my handkerchief out of my pocket to blow my nose. Slingsby asked me for it, took it out of my hand, d---'d me, and said I should never have it again. I wanted to go home. He unbutton'd my breeches, and used me very unhandsomely. They asked me if I had got any money in my pocket. I said I had nothing but three halfpence. They said they wanted money, d---'d their souls, and said, if I did not give them some money they would swear I was a sodomite, and would have me hang'd.

Q. Which of them said this?

Potter. They both of them said so.

Cross Examination.

Q. Did not they tell you they sent for you to drink part of a pot of beer?

Potter. No, they did not.

Q. Where did you find them when you first went in?

Potter. They were in the tap room when I went in.

Q. Who shew'd you into the private room?

Potter. I don't know.

Q. Was you alone there?

Potter. There were only us three in that room.

Q. Had you any scuffle with either of them?

Potter. I had with Slingsby.

Q. Did he throw you over a chair?

Potter. He did not, but he used me very roughly.

Q. I ask you, upon your oath, whether you did not speak very indecently to them?

Potter. Upon my oath I did not open my mouth to them, 'till Slingsby put his hand into my pocket.

Q. Had you done nothing to him?

Potter. I had not touch'd them.

Q. Upon your oath, did not you want to kiss Slingsby?

Potter. Upon my oath I did not.

Q. Did not you commit some indecency?

Potter. I did not; I committed no indecency whatsoever.

Q. Did not you ask Slingsby pardon after this?

Potter. No, I never did.

Q. Did you mention any thing to him about asking pardon?

Potter. I offer'd to forgive him, if he would put an advertisement in the papers, asking my pardon.

Q. Was not Booth taken before justice St. Lawrance?

Potter. He was, but he was so fuddled he could give no account of what was said or done.

Q. Did not you declare, in the presence of the constable, that Booth was intirely innocent.

Potter. No, I never did.

Q. Did not you ask Booth to produce the other prisoner?

Potter. I did.

Q. Did not you inquire after one Ashby?

Potter. I did. I know no more of him, only he came along with Booth once, and offered to treat me.

Q. Did not you once attempt some indecency to that Ashby?

Potter. No; I never did to him, nor any body else.

Q. What were their expressions that they made use of to you?

Potter. Both the prisoners d---'d their souls, and said if I would not give them money they would have me hanged.

Q. Did they name any particular sum?

Potter. No, they did not.

Q. Whether either or both of them said, they would charge you with committing sodomy on any particular person?

Potter. No, they did not name any person.

Q. After the two prisoners had used you as you represent, did you complain to the people at the Blossom-Inn?

Potter. No, I did not.

Q. Who went out of the room first, they or you?

Potter. I did.

Q. Did you go out without paying any part of the reckoning?

Potter. I did.

Q. Where did you go when you got out of the inn?

Potter. I went directly home.

Q. How far is the room door you was in from the bar?

Potter. I never was in the house before; I don't know where the bar is.

Q. Were there servants waiting in the house?

Potter. There were.

Q. Was the room door lock'd?

Potter. No, it was not.

Q. How far is that room from the publick kitchen?

Potter. I believe it is the next room to it.

Q. Did you make any out-cry?

Potter. No, I did not; I was in a surprise.

Q. Did not you call for help?

Potter. No. I was advised by my friends afterwards what to do; I did not know the consequence of it, I had not been long out of the country.

Q. What was said at your coming away?

Potter. They wanted me to stay longer; I said I was going to the Borough to receive some money.

Q. Did not you speak to somebody in the inn about their usage?

Potter. No, I did not.

Council. Nor make no complaint?

Potter. No, none at all.

Q. Did not you go to the bar to inquire whether the reckoning was paid?

Potter. No, I did not.

Q. Did they let you go quietly?

Potter. They had used me very ill for some time, but they let me go when they found I had no money in my pockets.

Q. Which pocket was it that Slingsby had his hand in?

Potter. It was my right-hand breeches pocket.

Q. Before you went out of the room, whether the prisoners at the bar did not charge you with using them ill, and threaten to prosecute you?

Potter. No, they did not.

Q. Who is Mr. Gay?

Potter. He is a barber, in King-Street, Golden-Square; I work'd with him.

Q. How far was your home from this Blossom-Inn?

Potter. It was not above a hundred yards from it.

Q. How long after this was it that you made your complaint?

Potter. It was about a week after.

Q. How came you to make that complaint?

Potter. I was afraid I should, have such people after me, so I went to the justice of the peace.

Q. How came you to go to justice St. Lawrance?

Potter. Because I went to that end of the town to take the prisoners up. Booth was had before him, and Slingsby before justice Fielding.

Joseph Barlow. The two prisoners at the bar came to Blossom-Inn, where I live, and asked me to go for John Potter.

Q. Which asked you to go?

Barlow. I believe only one asked me to go; they were both together, I do not know which it was.

Q. Did they tell you where he lived?

Barlow. They directed me to a harber's shop, Mr. Taylor's, at the corner of the passage, about forty yards from Blossoms-Inn; they said Potter was the foreman there.

Q. to Potter. Does your master live there?

Potter. He does.

Q. to Barlow. How were the prisoners dressed?

Barlow. They were in their regimentals, the same as now. They said to me, if Mr. Potter ask'd who they were that wanted him, I was not to tell, but to say they were two gentlemen that were come out of the country, and had a message for him. I went, and he came along with me to them, who were then drinking a pot of beer in the tap-room by themselves; that is all I know of the matter.

Cross Examination.

Q. Who asked for the private room?

Barlow. That I can't say.

Q. How long did either of them stay?

Barlow. I can't tell.

Henry Gay. I heard William Booth say he did not know whether John Potter was a man or a woman.

Q. When was this?

Gay. This was the night that they went before the justice, when the constable was wrangling with them.

Q. Where does Potter live?

Gay. He lives with me now.

Q. How long have you known him?

Gay. I have known him two years this month; he once before work'd for me four months.

Q. What has been his behaviour?

Gay. He has been a very regular sober man, and kept good hours.

Cross Examination.

Q. Who else heard this declaration?

Gay. There were several people that heard it.

Q. How came this conversation?

Gay. Because Potter had got a warrant for Booth, and the constable wanted to make it up; they were persuading all parties to agree.

Q. Did you hear Potter say Booth had not aspersed his character?

Gay. I did not take notice of any such thing.

For the Prisoners.

William Proctor. I am a constable, and had a warrant put into my hands by Potter against Booth. I took him up. (The warrant produced in court.) We were together two hours and a half, thinking to make it up.

Q. Who were with you?

Proctor. There were Potter and two or three masters that he had lived with, and some talk came up about one Ashby. Potter said to Booth, if he would bring Slingsby on the morrow at night, and they would ask his pardon, he would forgive them both.

Q. Did you hear Potter, at the time of this conversation with Booth, declare that Booth had not aspersed his character?

Proctor. He said he had nothing to alledge against Booth, only that of bringing the rest of the soldiers into his company, and that he had done something that was not manly or decent in a man to behave so.

Q. What soldier did he mean besides Slingsby?

Proctor. There was one Ashby that Potter mentioned.

Q. to Potter. Was Ashby with you and the prisoners at the Blossom-Inn?

Potter. No, There were only the two prisoners.

Q. to Barlow. Was there any body along with the two prisoners when they sent you for Potter?

Barlow. No, there was nobody with them.

Q. to Proctor. Where was this conversation?

Proctor. This was at the Castle in Silver-street, just by Mr. Gay's.

Samuel Hore. I am a serjeant in col. Boscawen's company, in the first regiment of foot guards, to which the prisoners belong. I have known Booth these seven years, and Slingsby near ten. He has got three discharges he had from other regiments, that he has served in, where they recommended him to other services, if any body would take him. They are both very honest industrious men, and have always behaved well. I have been their serjeant three years, I never heard that either of them ever disobliged their officers, but always behaved well.

Thomas Wootlon. I am a serjeant in the same company. I have known Booth seven years, and Slingsby betwixt nine and ten; they both bear universal good characters, and have been well respected in the regiment. I always took them to be honest men.

Joseph Hunt. I am a corporal; when Booth came to the pay-table to receive his pay, he made application to the captain on this occasion, and the captain ordered me to go into the city, to inquire what it was that Potter had got a warrant for Booth for. I sent for Potter, his master was in the house at the time; the master said, he would go and send his man to us, for they could not both leave the shop together, so Potter came. I said to him, how came you to fetch a warrant for Both; he said he did not know for what. He said he was inform'd by one Francis Ashby in our company, that Booth had fetch'd a warrant for him.

Q. How long have you known the prisoners?

Hunt. I have known Booth ever since he has been in our company, which is seven years and upwards. and Slingsby very near nine. Soon after we were talking together, Booth and Slingsby came in. I said to Potter, do you know any thing of Slingsby; he said he never saw him till he came along with Booth to him Said Booth, how came you to fetch a warrant for me. Said he, I was inform'd you had got one for me. Said Booth, I have got no warrant for you, I wonder you should fetch one for me, and you the aggressor. Potter said he would make it up, if his master would let him; with that his master was sent for, and he desired me to meet them at the Castle near Golden-Square, between seven and eight at night. I went, and neither of the men came. I left Booth with the constable there, and heard no more of it then.

Q. What are the characters of the prisoners?

Hunt. They always bore very good characters, I never heard their names brought in question since they have been in the regiment.

Q. to Prosecutor. You hear what the corporal says, that you would have made it up. if your master would agree to it?

Prosecutor. I was advised afterwards by my friend to go forward with it.

Q. to Prosecutor. Did you say you would make it up if they would both ask pardon?

Prosecutor. I did.

Q. Did you tell Hunt you had not taken a warrant for Booth, but on account you heard he had taken one for you.

Prosecutor. I did not tell him any such thing.

Q. to Hore. Was you with Hunt at the time he speaks of?

Hore. I was, it was in Honey-Lane Market.

Q. Is what Hunt says true?

Hore. It is in every particular.

Both Acquitted.

[Verdict: Not Guilty]



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