BRISTOL SPECIAL COMMISSION.
THERE have been a number of trials before the Bristol Commission since our last Number, but mostly of trifling importance. That of Davis, accused as a leader of the rioters, took place on Wednesday, and occupied a considerable time. Witnesses were examined to prove that the prisoner was at the Mansionhouse at the commencement of the at- tack, where he was heard declaiming with great vehemence against the Bishops and the churches, • and wishing hell might swallow both. Afterwards at the Customhouse' on Sunday afternoon, he addressed one Gilbert, a witness, in very violent terms respecting the Magistrates and Bishops ; he said,—" This is the end of your damned Magistrates and Bishops ; we'll send them all to hell." He said this loud enough for everyone near to hear him. He went on to call them damned robbers, and said that he would have them in chains in Queen Square, if he had his will. There were, at the time, a great number of men, women, and children under the piazzas of the Customhouse. Gilbert did not un- derstand the expressions to apply to Magistrates as the origin of the mischief that had been done, as no mischief had been done at that time. A publican mentioned that Davis had called at his house about three o'clock on Sunday : he was then tipsy, and said he had been drinking wine at the Mansionhouse : he expressed a wish that "every bloody church in Bristol" were burned down. This witness admitted, that Davis was at all times when in liquor in the habit of expressing himself with great extravagance. He also stated, that the blame attributed to the Bishop and the Corporation was not limited to those who had been engaged in the riots ; he had heard many blame both, as the cause of the riots, who at the same time blamed the mob. A person named Wickham, living with Mr. Harris, in the High Street, heard Davis Say to some carmen that were round him, "Down with these churches, and mend the roads with them." A clerk of Messrs. Lucas saw Davis pass the Mansionhouse, while the mob were attacking it. Davis ex- claimed, "Hurrah ! go it, my boys !" This was between two and three o'clock. Davis spoke loud enough to be heard across the street. A Customhouse boatman mentioned that Davis was at the gaol while the mob- were breaking the -doors. He cheered the mob, and said, "Now, damn ye, ye would not let us have Re- Lam. This is what ought to be done • years ago." It did not appear that • Davis was- very, Hear • the gaol at • the tiers.; •the-witness
could not swear to a hundred yards ' • and on further examina- tion, it was found that about one hundred and forty yards must hare
been his nearest approach to the gates. Carver, a debtor in the New Gaol, swore that Davis was in the gaol for a few minutes near the door of the Debtor's room. Mr. Stretton, the Taskmaster, did not, however, see him either in the prison or near it. Other expressions.of Davis were sworn to,--such as " Damn their eyes, burn them, down with them "—his calling the fire of the gaol " a beautiful sight, only it did not burn fast enough "—his saying that he had partaken of the din- ner intended for Sir Charles Wetherell, and that it was a shame' while so many persons were starving, to waste so much—that he had foretald
all this thirty years ago--that he would not mind leading a mob of twenty thousand men at any time. Two witnesses, who swore to these particular expressions, had, it seems taken notes of them, and had con-
ferred with each other in respect of evidence they were to give re-
specting them. John Howes, the collector of the toll at Prince's Street Bridge, saw Davis, on the evening of Sunday, returning from the Gaol. Re stopped while the rest of the people continued passing to and fro, and exclaimed, " Where is your damned Corporation now, your damned Bishop, and your damned Dock Company ?" Davis appeared to be int liquor. Mr. James a carver and gilder, was addressed by Davis ire Marsh Street, while the Gaol was burning. Davis said, " Damn your eyes, James, this is glorious ; this is the sort of thing we want." MT. James replied, it was not what he wanted ; nor would Davis think it was what he wanted, if he went home to bed. To which Davis re- turned, " I don't care ; we'll have every church in England down soon."' He was then evidently drunk : had be been sober, Mr. James said Davis was the last man in England that would have talked so. Other witnesses spoke to his use of similar expressions in various places and at various times during the afternoon. William Perry said, Davis came to his house at eight o'clock ore Wednesday ; and said he was afraid he had got into an unpleasant situation, for he heard that officers were after him. He remained with Percy on Thursday and Friday. Mr. Crosbie, an attorney, de- scribed the finding of the prisoner at Sutton Montes, near Sherbome ;
he was concealed in an attic-room between two joists.
A number of persons were examined for the prisoner, all of whom gave him an excellent character, as a quiet, inoffensive, humane, and industrious man. Some of them spoke to expressions of regret being used by him at the violence of the mob. One witness stated, that he requested Davis to go to the Exchange, in order to form a corps of constables with which to repress the mob; and Davis readily agreed to it. Only ten or a dozen, however, assembled, and the plan was abandoned. Davis was not one of the persons who assembled there.. When he applied to Davis, the latter had the appearance of being iii liquor, but seemed to be recovering front its effects. The Jury deliberated for an hour, and then returned a verdict of guilty.
The trial of Captain Lewis, for shooting the boy Morris' came on last Saturday. The particulars of the case were given at length hi reporting the inquest from which those proved at the trial did not materially differ. Captain Lewis read his defence. He stated, that he was struck on the head before he drew the pistol, and collared by one of the rioters, to whom he had announced himself as a special constable. 'While they were struggling, Captain Lewis received ft severe blow above the elbow of the arm which held the pistol : it im- mediately went off, and the boy fell. From the direction of the wound, as described by the medical gentlemen, it seemed doubtful whether the ball did not first of all strike the ground. It was not pretended that Captain Lewis pointed the pistol, or even that he saw the boy. The Jury, without leaving the box, or even waiting for the full summing tip of the evidence, pronounced a verdict of acquittal ; and the Judge, in
dismissing Captain Lewis, said that he left the bar without a stain.
On Thursday, the prisoners who had been convicted were called up for sentence ; and Davis, Clarke, Vines, Gregory-, and Kayes, were placed at the bar. The scene seems to have been a terrible one. We take the description of it from the Times— "Christopher Davis wrung his hands bitterly as he approached the front of the bar; wept, and groaned aloud; and at length, overcome by his feelings, and evidently suf- fering under the effect of the most violent mental agony, sunk down exhausted into a. chair, which had been placed alongside the bar. William Clarke was also in tears; last he slid not exhibit as much faint-heartedness and physical weakness as, judging from his conduct during his trial, might have been expected from him. Thomas Gre- gory and Richard Vines, two strong, athletic men, wept bitterly, and vehemeutly pro- tested their innocence. Joseph Kayes, the livery servant, was the last prisoner brought up. Ile was in such a weak and exhausted 'state, that two turnkeys were obliged to support him to the bar. When the Judges put on their black caps, he seemed to wake from the state of stupefaction in which he had up to that moment been sunk; lie threw himself convulsively on the floor of the dock, and screamed in the most hideous man- ner. The officers attempted in vain to raise him, and again place him at the bar. Ho foamed at the mouth, stamped the floor, and repeatedly cried out, 'I am innocent! I ami innocent! Oh, my wife and children! I am an Innocent maul'"
Kay-es was at length removed in a state of frightful convulsion. The Chief Justice then passed sentence of death on the four pri- soners. His Lordship said-
- You have carried fire to public buildings, and to private dwellings, and have eir-. posed the property of all to pillage, and the lives of many to destruction. Hamm society cannot be held together if crimes like these are not put down by the strong hand. of the law. Unless others are deterred rrcm the commission of similar enormities, by' the just severity of your punishment, all that makes life valuable to man,—the free en- joyment of the fruits of his honest industry, and protection from personal violence,— must be altogether given up. The innocent and weak will become a prey to the: wicked, and the strong; and brutal force will take the place of order and of law. What motive could lead you to the commission of these crimes, it is impossible, from the evi- dence brought before us, to judge with any reasonable certainty. It was not the pres- sure of want or misery; it was no grievance, imaginary or real, under which you la- boured. I fear no other purpose can he assigned that will apply to the greater number of those who shared in these wicked transactions, than that of giving up this city to the. flames, that it might become the object of universal pillage." His Lordship then alluded to the specific offences of each of the prisoners, and finished by the solemn order— "That you, and every of you, be taken hence to the place from whence you came; and from thence to a place of execution, where you be severally hanged by the neck until you are dead; and may the Lord, in his infinite goodness, have mercy on yew guilty souls." At the pauses in the Judge's address, the strong cries of Keyes front the outer room, where he was confined, could be distinctly heard, break- ing the awful silence that reigned throughout the court.
The condemned prisoners being removed, sentence of death was recorded in the cases of Patrick Kearney, Daniel Higgs, James Cour- teney, John Meaty, Thomas Evans Benda11, James Symms, John Towel], Matthew Warty, Cornelius Hickey, Jame § Snooks, William Reynolds, George Andrews, Patrick Barney, Benjamin Broad, Stephen Gaisford, Michael Sullivan, Timothy Collins, Henry Green, and Charles Williams. The Chiefjustice stated, that in these cases the Court would intercede for the prisoners, that their lives might be spared : the sentence would probably be commuted into one of perpetual banishment. Kearney, the only convict who ventured to speak on the occasion, waved his hand, exclaiming, " Never mind ! my life is saved, and Ireland is free !"
The Grand Jury will not be discharged until the Commission is closed. The remaining criminals are left to be tried by the other Judges associ- ated with Sir Nicholas Tindal on the Commission ; Sir Nicholas re- turned to town yesterday, for the purpose of presiding in his own court to-day.
In the afternoon, after some trials of no interest, the miserable man Keyes was again placed at the bar, before Mr. Justice Bosanquet. He again solemnly protested that he had been wrongfully accused—that he was at home both on Saturday and Sunday when described as engaged in the riots. Sentence of death was then pronounced on him, and he was removed from the court, exclaiming that lie was as innocent as a child.
The reporters remark, that there were many well-dressed and re- spectable females present in the morning; and that during the terrible scene which drew tears even from the Judges, accustomed as they are to such exhibitions, these " Bristol ladies " showed not the slightest signs of sympathy. In the afternoon, they had retired, on the remonstrance of the Sheriff.