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Bell's Weekly Messenger


(No.1828, Sunday, April 10, 1831)


At the Salisbury Assizes on Tuesday John Alexander, who had been brought up by habeas corpus from Newgate, was tried for sending a "Swing" letter to a Mrs. Ann Chandler, residing at Pewsey, Wilts, threatening to level her house with the ground unless she sent him 10l. We gave the particulars of this case in our Bow street report at the time. It will be recollected that the writer of the letter requested that the money should be addressed to X Y. Z., Nag's Head, James street, Covent garden, and that the prisoner, on going there to ask for it, was taken into custody. The charge having been satisfactorily proved, the jury found the prisoner guilty, and he was sentenced to transportation for life.—It appears that the prosecutrix has received several letters, since the committal of the prisoner, containing threats of violence if she appeared against X. Y. Z. She also received a letter from the prisoner when in Newgate, saying that the person who had written the letter was on a voyage to America, and that he himself should not take any more trouble about it.—Joseph Wilkins was also indicted for sending the following threatening letter, on the 19th of February, to Joseph Poulton, a farmer, residing at Castle Eaton, in Wiltshire. The letter was as follows:—

"Better wages for the labouring class, or a d—d good fire." The evidence in this case was rather circumstantial, but being of too slight and unsatisfactory a nature to bring the offence home to the prisoner, the jury acquitted him.— Henry Wilkins was convicted of setting fire to a cottage at South Park the property of W. Peachey, Esq. Previously to this two outhouses, with 160 quarters of oats, were destroyed, and the prisoner was seen to take a red-hot hinge from the barn door, and enter the cottage, fire from which shortly after blazed out from the windows. Though the evidence was circumstantial, it completely established the guilt of the prisoner; and the learned judge (Park) having put on his black cap, proceeded to comment upon the enormity of the offence of which the prisoner had been proved guilty, and concluded an impressive and eloquent address by passing the awful sentence of Death upon him, cautioning him not to entertain any hope of mercy on this side the grave, for it certainly would not be extended to him.