Newgate Calendar - JOHN LEONARD WHITE


Executed before Newgate, for Cutting and Maiming, 15th February 1806

            This was a notorious offender, and one of the gang who enticed George Webb from the paths of virtue. He was connected with villains that had long infested the neighbourhood of Blackheath, who had been tried at the summer assizes in Maidstone 1805, with Webb and Russel, but acquitted for want of sufficient evidence. According to his own account, he was the son of a man of property who had left him 5000l. but such was his iniquitous disposition, that he did not long outlive his above mentioned companions, although he then publicly boasted, that the police-officers (whom he well knew) should never capitally convict him, as he would take care that no instrument of house-breaking, or fire-arms, should ever be found in his possession.

            It is said, that he and some others, determined to rob a gentleman's house, had got to the back-garden wall, when a conversation took place who should get over the wall first, as there were several servants about the house; when one of the thieves said, "If they come I have poppers" (pistols). Then said White, "You may go and rob yourselves, for I will have nothing to do with it," and he left them. They succeeded, and robbed; and White, it is said, having found out the amount taken, insisted on a share of the produce; for he used to say, he always thought it bad enough to rob without using people ill; yet he forfeited his life on that account; for on his return to London, where he still pursued his former thieving habits (which he had followed for many years), he in company with John Richardson, endeavouring, upon one of those occasions, to escape, cut and maimed a watchman who was about to apprehend him, for which John L. White and John Richardson were brought to trial, at the commencement of the Old Bailey sessions, December 4th, 1808, before the lord mayor, Mr. Justice Grose, Mr. Baron Graham, the Recorder, &c.

            Eliza Russel, a servant, at No. 36, Lamb's Conduit street, said, that she heard the prisoners in the area, between the 23d and 24th of September, endeavouring to make a burglarious entry into her master's house. She therefore called in the assistance of three watchmen to apprehend them. William Randall, a watchman, and the prosecutor, went with the other watchmen into the area of the house where the prisoners were standing, with the intention to take them into custody; on which White struck him a blow on the head with an iron crow, which laid his skull open; the other also aided in the assault; but they were finally overpowered and secured.

            The facts of the case were clearly proved, and the prisoners were found guilty. On Friday, December 6th, the prisoners were put to the bar, and Mr. Alley, on their behalf, moved an arrest of judgment. He grounded this motion on two points, first, that the indictment ought to have averred, that the prosecutor intended to apprehend them: secondly, that Richardson, not being present when the blow was given, the evidence ought not to have implicated him. Mr. Justice Grose and Mr. Baron Graham both concurred in opinion, in thinking, that it was entirely a matter for the jury, and that they, by their verdict, had found the facts in the affirmative. Motion refused. John Richardson was, however, respited; but John Leonard White was executed, pursuant to his sentence, at the Old Bailey. He appeared truly penitent.


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