Convicted of Crimping, or Kidnapping, young Men for the Service of the East India Company, 27th of April, 1757
TO the disgrace of a free country this man-stealing system had long been carried on, and generally with impunity, in London. Among the numerous descriptions of villains who prowled the streets and environs of the metropolis, watching an opportunity to plunder, were a number of ruffians with cockades in their hats, calling themselves recruiting officers, watching country and unguarded youths, whom they decoyed into public-houses, which they had in all quarters of the town; there they plied them with drink, and raised their hopes to enthusiasm, by the description of the vast riches of the East, until they got them sworn in, as it was called, after which nothing more was seldom heard of the wretched dupe. They were hurried on board a ship, confined in a filthy hold, on scanty provisions, and sent to some unfriendly clime, which generally soon put an end to their miseries.
John Young was one of these mock captains. He trepanned Henry Soppet, an honest sailor, while intoxicated, and confined him in a spunging or lock-up house, in Chancery Lane, with a design to send him to the East Indies. When sober, Jack, however, made such an uproar, that the captain was fain to let go his supposed prize. It did not rest here, for the tar instantly steered to the Lord Mayor and tendered his complaint, in consequence of which the man-stealer was apprehended, and brought to trial for the offence, at the sessions at Guildhall, on the 27th of April, 1757, and found guilty.
The crimp, or man-stealer, Young, pleaded guilty, and endeavoured to cozen the Court, by a mock puritanical whine of contrition, into mercy; but he soon found that he could not trick the City magistrates, who ordered him to be imprisoned in Newgate for twelve months, and at the expiration of that time to give security for his good behaviour for two years more, himself with one hundred pounds and two sureties in fifty pounds each.