A Private Soldier, executed before Newgate, 15th of May, 1799, for robbing the Mint
IN the reign of King Charles II. Colonel Blood forcibly stole the crown from the Tower of London, and had proceeded almost out of detection before the valuable gem was recovered.
James Turnbull, with equal desperate resolution, robbed the National Mint in the same fortress. At the Old Bailey, 25th of February, Turnbull was tried for robbing the Mint. It appeared in evidence that the prisoner (a private soldier in the 3rd Regiment of Guards), was employed, on the 20th of December previous, with orders for the military quartered at the Tower, to work the die in the coinage of guineas. At nine o'clock he pretended to go with the other men to his breakfast, but returned in a minute or two with a comrade named Dalton. The latter stood at the door while Turnbull went and clapped a pistol to the head of one Finch, an apprentice, who was left in care of the coining-room -- together with a Mr Chambers -- and demanded the key of the chest where the finished guineas were deposited. Mr Chambers came up to interfere, when the prisoner levelled the pistol at his forehead, and pushed him into a passage leading to another room, in which he locked both him and Finch. He then opened the chest and took out four bags, containing two thousand, three hundred and eighty guineas, and escaped with them before an alarm could be made. For a fortnight he eluded all search and pursuit, but was apprehended on the 5th of January, at Dover, endeavouring to hire a boat to carry him into France.
The foregoing circumstances being fully substantiated by evidence, he acknowledged himself to be guilty of the said robbery, when called on to make his defence, and the jury instantly found him guilty. His counsel urged a point of law in arrest of judgment, which the Court deemed not of the least force, and he accordingly received sentence of death. He instantly replied "I have now heard my sentence, and I thank God for it."
He was tried and convicted on the 25th of February, but was not executed until the 15th of May.