Newgate Calendar - THOMAS DUNN


Convicted, Pilloried, and Imprisoned, at Lancaster, September 2, 1794, for Perjury

            This perjured man appeared as a witness against Mr. Walker of Manchester, a gentleman in high estimation, and nine other innocent men who were put upon their trials on a charge of high treason.

            Mr. Sergeant Cockell, Counsel for the prosecution, entered very fully, and with great feeling, upon the nature of the charge, which contained no less than ten different perjuries imputed to Dunn, the Defendant. Taking advantage of some local circumstances and prejudices in the town of Manchester, this man had accused several innocent and respectable individuals of the greatest crime known to the law, viz. High Treason. Two witnesses, however, being required to every treasonable act, they were indicted only for a misdemeanour; but had the Jury who tried them believed the diabolical fabrication of this Prisoner, (then a witness,) the effects must have proved ruinous and destructive to these parties and their families. And if any second person could have been found equally detestable with him, Mr. Walker and nine of his other fellow subjects must have forfeited their lives and properties, and have suffered public execution, although totally free from any offence whatever.

            It pleased one of the magistrates of Manchester to accept this Dunn as a fit person to be evidence against these gentlemen, who upon his examinations, (not once only, but repeatedly taken before him,) were tried and acquitted as above. But previous to their trial, Mr. Paul, one of them, had been committed for treason, and lingered for more than two months in Lancaster Castle. During this interval also Dunn felt the sharpest compunction for the accusation he had made, and voluntarily sought occasion to see Mr. Walker, who admitted of this with all possible precaution, having persons of character present during the whole time of his stay, and never being alone in his company. Dunn, in their hearing, begged pardon for the injury he had done to Mr. Walker; said that he had been bribed to do what he had done, and that he had sworn falsely when before the Grand Jury.

            At Mr. Walker's trial, being questioned as to these confessions, he answered, that no such thing ever passed. The record of Mr. Walker's trial being read, Mr. Gurney, who took notes of it at the time, read from them what Dunn had sworn on his evidence for the Crown, and on his cross-examination. To prove the falsehood of the facts sworn to by Dunn, various witnesses were called; and first as to his reading and writing. The Rev. Mr. Griffith, the Magistrates before whom Dunn's informations were taken, and who upon them issued warrants against Mr. Walker, Mr. Paul, Mr. Jackson, and several others, for high treason, swore that he had seen Thomas Dunn write his name, and that he had no doubt of his being able to read and write. This was confirmed by his clerk, Mr. Painter, who had seen Dunn write his name, and had also seen letters which he believed to have been written by him. Two other witnesses deposed to the same effect.

            Mr. Ridgeway and Mr. Jones stated that they saw Dunn at Mr. Walker's, house, on the 18th of March; that he fell upon his knees, and begged Mr. Walker's pardon; said that he had injured his character, that he had accused him falsely, and that he had been bribed to what he had done; and that when Mr. Walker refused to be alone with him, he threatened him, and said, that it should be worse for him. Several other witnesses were called, who corroborated the above facts. Mr. Scarlet made an able and ingenious defence for the prisoner. Mr. Justice Rooke then summed up the evidence in a very full and perspicuous manner, and the Jury returned their verdict—GUILTY. He received the judgement of the Court, that he should be confined two years in Lancaster gaol, and stand once within that period in the pillory.


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