Ex-Classics Home Page



Indicted for rioting, July, 1768

Hawkins and the rioters before the Mansion House

AT the sessions of the Old Bailey for July, 1768, William Hawkins and Joseph Wild were tried for assaulting and wounding two of the servants of the lord mayor of London, and for other unlawful acts against the peace of our sovereign lord the king.

On the part of the prosecution the first witness called was Mr. Way, a gentleman who was accidentally passing on the evening of this riot. He deposed that be saw a crowd of people carrying a gibbet, on which hung a boot and a petticoat, and making a stand at the Mansion House; be saw the lord mayor come out, and rush among the people who carried the gibbet, on which an affray began, and he presently heard the words 'Knock him down, knock him down!' At this instant he saw the prisoner, Hawkins, laying about him with a stick, which he afterwards found was stuck with nails, and he saw him strike one or two people, who proved to be his lordship's servants. They then seized Hawkins, and were dragging him into the Mansion House; but the mob rescued him, and he was making off, when the witness collared him, and, with the assistance of the wounded servants, secured him in the Mansion House.

Philip Pyle swore that, being in waiting upon the lord mayor the night of the riot (the 9th of May, the next day after the outlawry against Wilkes was reversed), he observed a great mob advancing with a gibbet, a boot and a petticoat hanging upon it; and being ordered by his lordship to seize it, he gave it a shake, which obliged the mob to quit it; that he was pulling it along, when a man, whom he believed to be the prisoner Hawkins, caught a flambeau out of his hand, and broke his head with it in several places. Dropping the gibbet, he recovered the flambeau, and made a stroke at the assailants (for there were now two or three striking at him), and was endeavouring to retreat for fear of falling, in which case, he said, he must undoubtedly have been murdered, when he received several blows on his head with a stick stuck full of nails, which happened to fly out of the prisoner's, Hawkins, hand, and his fellow-servant snatched it up. The prisoner then endeavoured to defend himself with his hands, but the witness dragged him, in his rage, near twenty yards through the mob; but when he bad got him within ten yards of the Mansion House the mob rescued him, and when he was making off Mr. Way collared him, and brought him back.

Thomas Woodward, another servant of the lord mayor, corroborated the evidence of the two former witnesses.

There being no positive proof against the prisoner Wild, he was acquitted; but Hawkins was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

Previous Next

Back to Introduction