Newgate Calendar - JAMES WATTS


A Quaker, convicted of Robbing his Employer, at the Manchester Quarter Session for 1787

            It is not often that we find Quakers' names on the criminal dockets. Their frugal habits, added to much cunning, and considerable industry, commonly secure them from the necessity of committing depredations on the public, through distress. We have, however, already introduced Quaker Watts to the reader, not, indeed, as the ROBBER, but as the man ROBBED; and now we must reverse his character, and bring him criminally to view.

            It will be remembered, in our report of the case of Abraham Durnford and William Newton, that a banker's clerk was decoyed into an empty house, No 21, Water lane, Fleet-street, under the pretence of being paid the amount of a bill of exchange, due to the Quaker bankers, Smith, Wright, and Gray, robbed of his pocket-book, and narrowly escaped being murdered, for which Durnford and Newton were hanged, as we have already laid before the public. That very banker's clerk was the identical Watts there described, who, upon the trial of the robbers, would not, according to the tenets of this singular set of puritans, swear—and on a trial affecting life, nothing but oaths will convict.

            Quakers assume that which no other description of men arrogate to themselves, viz. the privilege of exemption from taking an oath according to the law of the land. A Churchman is bound to swear upon, and kiss the holy book, whereon he tenders his oath, with his head uncovered. A Quaker will tell you, "I will not doff my beaver, neither will I bend my body," and thus stiffly do they affirm (for they call their affirmation swearing) before their God, with their hats on, and their body upright. In regard to James Watts, we shall show, that though he would not swear, yet he would steal. It appears, that he left the employ of the London bankers, and went to Manchester, where he also got employment. At the quarter sessions of the peace, held in that town, in the year 1787, the said James Watts, and another villain of the name of Andrews, were convicted of robbing their employers, and sentenced to two years imprisonment in the castle of Lancaster.


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