Images de page

the 33d of Henry VIII. for the trial of offences committed in foreign parts not subject to the crown of England, under a special commission to be issued by the crown for that purpose, there to abide the pleasure of the privycouncil,

There, accordingly, the Captain remained till Monday the 10th of July, when, after being examined by the privy-council, present the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Queensbury, Lord Rochford, Lord North, and Lord Charles Spencer, he was committed to Newgate; and, on the 5th of August, a special commission passed the great seal for his trial.

On the 13th of September, the Captain, being brought by Mr. Akerman, keeper of Newgate, before the court of sessions then sitting at the Old Bailey, presented a petition to be then tried, as his health, he urged, was greatly impaired by confinement, and he was conscious of his innocence, having been already honourably acquitted of the crime with which he was charged, at the Cape of Good Hope; but the judges could not comply with his request. How ever, being brought by habeas corpus, the 24th of the next month, before the court of King's Bench, he was admitted to bail; on binding himself in 800l. with four other gentlemen in 2001. each, to appear before the commission for his trial.

At these proceedings in the court of King's Bench, the following extraordinary mode of proceeding by the Dutch judicatures, appeared in the deposition of Mr. John Davies,

of St. Martin's-lane, who had been many years resident at the Cape of Good Hope. When any offence of a capital nature is committed there, application is made to the Fiscal, or supreme judge, who immediately dispatches officers in pursuit of the offender, armed with drawn sabres, and attended by a number of fine large dogs, of surprising sagacity, by whom the criminal is generally discovered. If the criminal happens to be a person of distinction, he is given to the care of some friend, who becomes responsible for his appearance, in the penalties of life, and fortune; if, on the contrary, he proves to be a person of low or middling repute, he is cast into a dungeon. Depositions are there made before the Fiscal, who solely determines thereon, and from whose sentence, except in cases of treason against the state, there is no appeal; nor has the wretched culprit the least opportunity of defending himself, but frequently suffers excruciating tortures, upon the partial evidence of relations and slaves, sometimes perhaps suborned for that purpose.

At length, on the 11th of December 1775, the Captain was brought to his trial at the Old Bailey, in consequence of the special commission issued for that purpose.

Andrew Cairncross, surgeon of the Vansittart Indiaman, deposed, that the prisoner and the deceased, having both had commissions in the East India Company's land service, were passengers on board the said ship; that they had several disagreements while on their voyage to the Cape; and that, a day or two after their arrival there, as


himself and several officers were drinking tea together, about six in the evening, the deceased received a message that Captain Matthews wanted to speak with him; that the deceased went down stairs; and that, in a few minutes after, word was brought that some persons were fighting in the street; that the witness ran down stairs, and met Captain Roach sheathing his sword, and, at about ten yards distance, found Captain Ferguson in the agonies of death.

John Moody, surgeon's mate, deposed, that he had frequently heard the prisoner declare," that he wished to shorten the race of the Fergusons;" that he had expressed an intention to challenge the deceased as soon as they should land; and, if he did not meet him, to run him through the body; but of this he acknowledged he had given no intimation to the deceased, nor to any once else till after the affair

was over.

Robert Young, Captain of the Vansittart, corroborated the evidence of Mr. Cairncross, as to the differences between the prisoner and the deceased; that, before their landing at the Cape, the prisoner had complained to him that the deceased would not speak to him; and added, that he should speak to him when he came on shore.

Captain Roach said in his defence, that he had several instruments to prove his having been tried at the Cape, and honourably acquitted, for the offence now charged against him; that what he did was in virtue of his commission, that made it necessary for him to support his honour; that he had been barbarously assaulted; had one

of his arms, dislocated, and had received a violent contusion on his skull; and that he stood acquitted betore God of any guilt, as his innocence would appear by his witnesses, His witnesses were James Goodwin and Gustavus M'Gusty, who swore that the deceased ́was the aggressor, and had violently assaulted the prisoner before he drew his sword. The jury brought in their verdict, Not Guilty.

The counsel for the prosecution were Mr. Serjeant Davy, Mr. Cox, Mr. Macdonald, and a young barrister. For the prisoner, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Davenport, and Mr. Howarth.

Some Account of the Proceedings against Stephen Sayre, Esq. on a Charge of High Treason.

ETWEEN the hours of nine

and ten on Monday morning the 25d of October, 1775, Mr. Staley, of Halfinoon-street, Piccadilly, and

Mr. King, of Queen-Annestreet, Westminster, both king's messengers, attended by a constable, repaired to the house of Stephon Sayre, Esq. in Oxford-street. As an excuse to obtain an interview with Mir. Sayre, they pretended that a forged draft for 2001. had been issued by the bank in which Mr. Sayre was a partner; and Mr. Sayre no sooner appeared, than the messengers acquainted him, that "they had an order signed by Lord Rochford, one of the secretaries of state, to take him into custody on a charge of high treason; and to search for, seize, and carry with them, such of his papers as they


might deem effectual for their purpose."

Mr. Sayre heard the charge, and permitted them to search his escrutores, boxes, and bureaus, without opposition, from whence they took a letter from Mrs. Macaulay, sister to the then lord-mayor elect, and another letter, addressed to the livery of London, under the signature of "Barnard's Ghost, &c." Mr. Sayre expressed his readiness to accompany the king's messengers unto Lord Rochford's house, having previously dispatched a servant to Mr. Reynolds, requiring his attendance with the utmost expedition. The messengers then conducted Mr. Sayre, to the presence of Lord Rochford, where Sir John Fielding was already scated. An information from Mr. Richardson, an adjutant of the guards, was now read. The charge in this information was to the following purport: That Stephen Sayre, Esq. had expressed to him, the said Richardson, an intention of seizng the king's person, as his Majesty went on Thursday to the parliament house; also an intention of taking possession of the Tower, and of overturning the present government."

After this information had been read, Mr. Sayre replied to the separate charges with great composure he stated how very slightly he was acquainted with Adjutant Richardson; he mentioned the only conversation which had ever passed between them, in which he acknowledged he had expressed himself very freely concerning the unhappy and destructive contest now depending in America, &c. &c. and that he concluded this conversation by saying, he feared there was not spi

rit enough in this country to bring about a total change of men and measures: but that as to any plan or intention about seizing the person of the King, or any expression which could be construed into such intention, he totally and utterly denied. He farther observed, that had there been any such plan under consideration, Mr. Richardson should, if in his senses, have concealed his resolution of divulging it, until some further steps were taken; that, by a little delay, Mr. Richardson, in case the design had been real, must have been furnished with a thousand corroborating circumstances. But, said Mr. Sayre, I perceive there is a dangerous disposition which gives high encouragement to informers, and marks some persons as unfavourable to liberty, whether their information proves wellgrounded or not: here he instanced the honours and rewards which had been heaped upon two American Governors, and many others, whose whole evidence (he said) stood flatly contradicted by known and acknowledged facts; and added, that if such a disposition continued to be exerted, no man of any character or importance in this country would be safe a moment. Mr. Sayre was proceeding to relate the whole of the conversation which happened; and was about to enter more largely into the futility of the charge, when it was announced to Lord Rochford, "that Mr. Reynolds demanded immediate admittance to his client." Mr. Reynolds was admitted. Having been introduced to Lord Rochford, and Sir John Fielding, the latter put the following question to Mr. Reynolds."



"Is it Mr. Sayre's desire that you should attend in his be"half?"

Mr. Reynolds replied in the affirmative. Sir John Fielding desired that it might be asked of Mr. Sayre "whether he had sent for Mr, Reynolds?" Mr. Sayre replied, "he had sent for him without men tioning the place where he was to attend."

It being now agreed, that Mr. Reynolds might attend the private examination of his friend, the first advice Mr. Reynolds gave to Mr. Sayre was this, "That he should


answer any interrogatories which Lord Rochford or Sir John Fielding might propound; and that he should not sign any pa per."

The information which contained the charge, was a second time read at the request of Mr. Sayre, who smiling at the recital, Mr. Reynolds said, "that the whole was too ridiculous to be seriously attended to." An altercation now ensuing between Mr. Reynolds and Adjutant Richardson, Lord Rochford and Sir John Fielding were requested by the latter to silence Mr. Reynolds; Mr. Reynolds saved them that trouble by observing, "that he should always pay a proper deférence to authority; but whatever he had there said of the informer, he would repeat in any other place whatever.

Mr. Reynolds then told Lord Rochford, that if, after consulting the great law officers of state (which his lordship would do of course), as the information did not amount to a direct charge against Mr. Sayre, his lordship should think himself warranted to receive VOL. XVIII. 1775.


bail, ample and sufficient bail should be given; but, if it was thought warrantable to commit, he scorned to ask a favour for his client."

Mr. Sayre was ordered into an adjacent apartment; and he was soon afterwards committed a close prisoner to the Tower.

The following is a true copy of the warrant of commitment:

William-Henry, Earl of Rochford, one of the Lords of his Majesty's Most Honourable Privy-council, and Principal Secretary of State:

These are, in his Majesty's name, to authorize and require you to receive into your custody the body of Stephen Sayre, Esq. herewith sent you, being charged upon oath before me, one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of state, with treasonable practices, and to keep him in close custody, until he shall be delivered by due course of law; and for so doing this shall he your warrant.

"Given at St. James's, on the 23d of October, 1775, in the fifteenth year of his Majesty's reign.


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In consequence of this letter, Mrs. Sayre was permitted to visit him.

The day following the LordMayor waited on the Lieutenant of the Tower, and intreated the favour to be admitted to see Mr. Sayre, but was told, that his request could not be complied with; for that the secretaries of state had given orders that no one should see him; nor was he to be allowed pen, ink, or paper: therefore all the satisfaction his Lordship could have, was to see Mr. Sayre at the window, when they bowed to each other. Several other gentlemen were also refused admittance.

Nor were any sealed letters permitted to be sent from or delivered to Mr. Sayre.

Mr. Serjeant Glynn, Mr. Dunning. Mr. Serjeant Adair, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Dayrell, Mr. Alleyne, and Mr. Arthur Lee, were retained as counsel for Mr. Sayre, in case he should be brought to trial.

On the 28th of the same month, by virtue of a habeas corpus granted by Lord Mansfield, Mr. Sayre was conveyed by the proper offi

cers, from the Tower to his Lord ship's house in Bloomsbury-square. Messrs. Adair, Dayrell, Lucas, and Alleyne, attended on the part of Mr. Sayre, and Mr. White, partner with the Solicitor of the Treasury, on the part of the crown, After the two first mentioned gentlemen had spoken for some little time on the subject of Mr. Sayre's being committed to close confine ment, by virtue of the warrant of commitment, which only conveyed a general charge, and Mr. White had declared that he had no instructions to oppose the bail, his Lordship called for the warrant of commitment, and immediately on perusing it pronounced, that he had not the least doubt of Mr. Sayre's being entitled to bail; as he observed, that that gentleman was only charged with treasonable practices, and that he, Lord Mansfield, should not have refused the bail, if Mr. Sayre had come without any counsel. Bail was accordingly directly offered and accepted; viz. Mr. Sayre himself in 5001. and John Reynolds and Coote Purdon, Esqrs. in 2501. each.

[blocks in formation]
« PrécédentContinuer »