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THE BRISTOL RIOTS.

CHARGE OF TINDAL, C.J., TO THE GRAND JURY AT BRISTOL. OPENING OF THE SPECIAL COMMISSION AT BRISTOL ON JANUARY 2, 1832.

CHARGE TO THE GRAND JURY BY TINDAL, C.J. (Reported in 5 C. & P.

254.)
By Tindal, C.J. in his charge to the Grand Jury-
It is the duty of every person to suppress a riot by every means in his power.
In this respect there is no distinction between the soldier and the private individual.

Every sheriff, magistrate, constable, and peace officer has authority to command every other subject of the Crown to assist him in the undertaking, and every man is bound, when called upon, to obey the call.

Under 7 & 8 Geo. 4. c. 30. s. 8 (now 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97. s. 11), a person taking part in a riotous assembly at the time when the act of demolishing a house begins, comes within the description of the offence, and is liable to punishment although he did not actually assist in the demolition.

Under 7 & 8 Geo. 4. c. 30. 8. 2 (now 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97. s. 3), it is not necessary to show illwill against the person whose property is destroyed, but the act is malicious in law if it necessarily injures such person and is done wilfully.

If a person aiding the civil power in clearing the streets after proclamation made under the Riot Act kills a person by a pistol shot, and if he has discharged the pistol carelessly and negligently, he is guilty of manslaughter, but if he has discharged it in the fair and honest execution of his duty when the mob were resisting, the homicide is not criminal.

On the 29th, 30th, and 31st October, But it forms, perhaps, a still stronger 1831, a riot took place at Bristol as herein- reason for an early trial of these charges, after described.

that, where so large a number of persons On Monday the 2nd of January 1832 as that contained in the calendar have the Special Commission for the trial of been placed in confinement, the speediest prisoners concerned in the riots at Bris- means should be adopted to set at large tol was opened there by TINDAL, O.J., the innocent, whoever they may be, and BOSANQUET, J., and TAUNTON, J.

to restore them to the peaceful and honest TINDAL, C.J., charged the grand jury as exercise of their daily callings. follows (a):

Gentlemen, I am unable, from any in. Gentlemen, we are assembled on the formation which has been placed before present occasion, by virtue of the Special us, to assign the cause or to trace the Commission of His Majesty, for the pur- exact origin of those enormities which you pose of inquiring into, hearing, and deter- are now called upon to investigate. It mining, certain charges of no ordinary appears, however, that a few hours before stamp and character, founded upon acts of they were committed a riotous and tumul. tumultuous outrage, violence, and rapine, tuary assemblage of the people gathered which have recently taken place in this city. itself together with an object and for a pur

This proceeding His Majesty, out of pose which no honest man or well-wisher his paternal solicitude, has thought fit to to the laws of his country can sufficiently institute, rather than to leave the investi- reprobate-I mean the open and avowed gation and punishment of such charges to purpose of treating with insult and indig. the ordinary course and stated periods of nity, if not with personal violence, & the judicature within this city; for in the gentleman placed in a high judicial stacase of offences at once so alarming to the tion, bearing the authority of his Sovepublic tranquillity, and so dangerous to reign in the administration of the criminal the property and safety of individuals, it law within this city, and during part of is of the first importance to make it the very time engaged in the actual exerknown to all that" inquiry and punishcise of his judicial functions.(a) ment follow close upon the commission of Gentlemen, it is to be collected from crime, in order that the wicked and ill. the depositions which I have seen that the disposed may be deterred by the dread of outrages which will form the immediate the law from engaging in similar enor subject of your inquiry commenced at mities, whilst the peaceable and indus- about the time of dusk, on Saturday even. trions may look up to it with gratitude ing, the 29th October last, and continued, and affection for the safeguard whidh it with short intermission, until four o'clock extends over their persons and property. on the Monday morning, when, after the

Riot Act had been read, and the persons

assembled, notwithstanding the procla(a) From a printed copy of the charge in the papers of Solicitor of the Treasury, No. 1263. (a) Sir Charles Wetherell, Recorder of Bristol. 0 61636.

A 3

mation, had refused for more than an hour breach of the law, tends to counteract and to disperse themselves, the further pro- destroy this its primary use and object, gress of the riot was arrested, and tho yet do general risings and tumultuary tumult entirely suppressed, by the vigour meetings of the people, in a more especial and energy of the military, called in to and particular manner, produce this effect, the aid of the civil magistrate.

-not only removing all security, both from I purposely abstain from a minute descrip- the persons and proporty of men, but for tion of the terror occasioned to individuals, the time putting down the law itself, and and of the outrages which took place in daring to usurp its place. that interval against property, both public The law of England hath, accordingly, and private. Such description would bo in proportion to the danger which it atunnecessary to make you understand the taches to riotous and disorderly meetapplication of the law to the facts as they ings of the people, made ample provision will appear before you in evidence-the for preventing such offences, and for the chief object which I have now in viow; and prompt and effectual suppression of them it would have the unavoidable consequence whenover they arise. And I think it may of depriving you of that calm judgment not be unsuitable to the present occasion, which it is your duty to bring to the pre- if I proceed to call your attention, with sent investigation, where, on the one some degree of detail, to the various prohand, the safety and well-being of the visions of the law for carrying that purpose community, and, on the otber, the lives into effect. and liberty of the accused, depend so In the first place, by the Common Law, materially upon your decision.

every private person may lawfully endeaIt is no part of my duty on the pre- vour, of his own authority, and without sent occasion to consider whether the any warrant or sanction of the magistrate, acts of outrage and rapine which after- to suppress a riot by every means in his wards ensued were caused by the riotous power. He may disperse, or assist in disproceedings which occurred at an ear- persing, those who are assembled ; he sier part of the day; or whether wicked may stay those who are engaged in it and designing men, taking advantage of from executing their purpose; he may the state of excitement in which the stop and prevent others whom he shall see people already were, availed themselves coming ap from joining the rest; and of it to effect their own purposes of de- not only has he the authority, but it is his struction and plunder. It may, however, bounden duty, as a good subject of the be safely concluded that, if the excitement King, to perform this to the utmost of his which led to the defiance of the law at the ability. If the riot be general and danearlier part of the day had never existed, gerous, he may arm himself against the the weightier crimes,subsequently commit- evildoers, to keep the peace. Such was ted by the populace, would not have taken the opinion of all the judges of England, in place; and it is precisely for this reason the time of Queen Elizabeth, in a caso that the law of England hath at all times called " The Case of Armes,” (Popham's held in the greatest abhorrence riotous Rep. 121), although the judges add that and tumultuary assemblages of the poople. it would No man can foresee at the commence.

“ be more discreet for every one in such a case ment what course they will take, or what to attend and be assistant to the justices, consequences will ensue. Though cases sheriffs, or other ministers of the King, in the may occur in which the object of such doing of it," assemblies is at first defined and moderate, they rapidly enlarge their power of mis It would undoubtedly be more advisable chief ; and from the natural effect of the so to do; for the presence and authority excitement and ferment inseparable from of the magistrate would restrain the prothe collection of multitudes in one mags, ceeding to such extremities, until the danthe original design is quickly lost sight ger was sufficiently immediate, or until of, and men hurry on to the commission some felony was either committed, or could of crimes which, at their first meeting, not be prevented without recourse to arms ; they never contemplated. The beginning and at all events, the assistance given by of tumult is like the letting out of water; men who act in subordination and concert if not stopped at first, it becomes difficult with the civil magistrate, will be more effecto do so afterwards; it rises and increases, tual to attain the object proposed, than any antil it overwhelms the fairest and the efforts, however well intended, of separated most valuable works of man.

and disunited individuals. But if the Gentlemen, it has been well said, that the occasion demands immediate action, and ose of the law consists, first, in preserving no opportunity is given for procuring the men's persons from death and violence; advice or sanction of the magistrate, it is next, in securing to them the free enjoyment the duty of every subject to act for himself, of their property. And although every and upon his own responsibility, in sapsingle act of violence, and each individual pressing a riotous and tumultuous assem

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bly; and he may be assured that whatever choice or will of the subject, as some have is honestly done by him in the execution erroneously supposed, to attend or not to of that object will be supported and the call of the magistrate, as they think justified by the Common Law.(a)

proper ; but every man is bound, when And, whilst I am stating the obligation called upon, under pain of fine and imimposed by the law on every subject of the prisonment, to yield a ready and implicit realm, I wish to observe that the law obedience to the call of the magistrate, acknowledges no distinction in this respect and to do his utmost in assisting him to between the soldier and the private in- suppress any tumultuous assembly; for in dividual. The soldier is still a citizen, the succeeding reign another statute was lying under the same obligation, and in- passed, which enacts that the King's vested with the same authority, to preserve the

“ liege people, being sufficient to travel in the of the King, as any other sub-counties where such routs, assemblies, or riots peace ject.(b) If the one is bound to attend the be, shall be assistant to the justices, commiscall of the civil magistrate, so also is the sioners, sheriffs, and other officers upon reasonother; if the one may interfere for that able warning,” purpose, when the occasion demands it, to ride with them in aid to resist such without the requisition of the magistrate, riots, routs, and assemblies, on pain of so may the other too; if the one may employ arins for that purpose, when arms are

imprisonment and to make fine and rannecessary, the soldier may do the same. of which statute, Dalton, an early writer

som to the King (a) In the explanation Undoubtedly, the same exercise of discre- of considerable authority, declares tion which requires the private subject to act in subordination to and in aid of the and ought to have, the aid and attendance of

“ that the justices and sheriff may command, magistrate, rather than upon his own authority, before recourse is had to arms, labourers, tradesmen, servants, and apprentices,

all knights, gentlemen, yeomen, husbandmen, ought to operate in a still stronger degree and of all other persons being above the age of with a military force. But where the fifteen years, and able to travel.”(6) danger is pressing and immediate, where

In later times the course has been for a felony has actually been committed, or cannot otherwise be prevented, and from the magistrate, on occasions of actual the circumstances of the case no oppor- riot and confusion, to call in the aid of tunity is offered of obtaining a requisition such persons as he thought necessary, from the proper anthorities, the military

and to swear them as special constables. subjects of the King, like his civil sub- And in order to prevent any doubt, if jects, not only may, but are bound, to doubt could exist, as to his power to comdo their utmost, of their own authority, mand their assistance by way of precaution, to prevent the perpetration of outrage, the statute 1 Geo. 4. c. 37., and since that to put down riot and tumult, and to pre- Act of 1 & 2 Will

. 4. c. 41., the statute last

has been repealed by the still more recent serve the lives and property of the people.

Gentlemen, still further, by the Common referred to has invested the magistrate Law, not only is each private subject bound with that power in direct and express to exert himself to the utmost, but every only likely to take place, or might rea

terms, when tumult, riot, or felony was sheriff, constable, and other called upon to do all that in them lies for the sonably be apprehended.(c) Again, that suppression of riot, and each has authority this call of the magistrate is compulsory, to command all other subjects of the King and not left to the choice of the party to to assist them in that undertaking. By obey or not, appears from the express an early statute, which is still in force enactment in the latter Act, that, if he dis(the 13 Hen. 4. c. 7.), any two justices, obeys, unless legally exempted, he is liable together with the sheriff or under-sheriff to the penalties and punishments therein of the county, shall como with the power

specified.(d) of the county, if need be, to arrest any law for the suppression of riots is to be

But the most important provision of the rioters, and shall arrest them; and they have power to record that which they see

found in the statute 1 Geo. 1. st. 2. c. 5., by done in their presence against the law, which it is enacted, by which record the offenders shall be “ that if any persons to the number of twelve convicted, and may afterwards be brought or more, being unlawfully, riotously, and tumulto punishment. And here I most dis- tuously assembled together to the disturbance tinctly observe that it is not left to the of the public peace, &c, and being required or

(a) This passage is cited with approval by (a) 2 Hen. 5. st. 1. c. 8. Willes, J., in delivering the judgment of the (6) The reference appears to be to Dalton's Exchequer Chamber in Philips v. Eyre, L.R. 6 Country Justice, c. 82. Q.B., p. 15.

(c) s. 1. (b) See 1 St. Tr. N.S. 1176.

(d) 6. 8. See 2 & 8 Will. 4. c. 108.

commanded by any one or more justice or jus- | assemblage which was effecting the detices of the peace, or by the sheriff, &c., by pro-struction of the building. If he formed clamation to be made in the King's name, in part of such riotous assembly at the time the form herein-after directed, to disperse them- the act of demolition commenced, or if he selves, and peaceably to depart to their habita- wilfully joined such riotous assembly, so tions, or to their lawful business, shall, to the number of twelve or more (notwithstanding of demolition was going on, and before it

as to co-operate with them whilst the act such proclamation made), unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together was completed, in either case he comes by the space of one hour after such command within the description of the offence, and or request made by proclamation, then such con

within the penalties imposed by the Act, tinuing together to the number of twelve or although he may not have been a person more, after such command or request made by who actually assisted with his own hand proclamation, shall be adjudged felony, and the in the demolition of the building. offenders shall suffer death as felons."

But the more numerous class of cases Such are the different provisions of the seems to be that which is founded upon law of England for the putting down of the 2nd section of the same statute, by tumultuary meetings; and it is not too

which it is enacted,much to affirm that, if the means pro- “ that if any person shall unlawfully and malivided by the law are promptly and judi. ciously set fire to, &c., any house (or other cially enforced by the magistrate, and building mentioned above), whether the same honestly seconded by the co-operation of or any of them respectively shall then shall be in his fellow subjccts, very few and rare

the possession of the offender, or in that of any would be the instances in which tumultuous other person, with intent thereby to injure or

defraud assemblages of the people would be able be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof,

any person, every such offender shall to hold defiance to the laws.

shall suffer death as a felon.”(a) Gentlemen, before I proceed to the consi. deration of the cases in the calendar, let me

In this offence you will perceive it is impress on the attention of all those who, no constituent part of the descriptions from idleness, cariosity, or mere thought in the statute, that the party charged lessness, suffer themselves to form part should form one of a tumultuous or riotous of a riotous and disorderly meeting, that assemblage for the disturbance of the they subject themselves, unconsciously, to public peace; it is an offence that may be the danger of punishment for crimes committed by a single individual. You which they never contemplated; for will, therefore, in these cases, inquire, where many are collected together in the first, whether the party set fire to the prosecution of an illegal object, it is often building himself. Iu such case, no doubt impossible to discriminate between the of his guilt can exist; and if the proof active and unoffending part of the mob. falls short of this, you will then consider It requires evidence on the part of the whether he was jointly engaged in the accused, which they may not be able to prosecution of the same object with those produce, in order to defend themselves who committed the offence. If, by his against the charge of participation in the word or gesture, he incited others to guilt of others. The only safe course for commit the felony, or if he was so near the peaceable and well-disposed, on all the spot at the time that he, by his preoccasions of popular tumult, is this; to lend sence, wilfully aided and assisted them in their ready aid to assist the magistrate in the perpetration of the crime, in either suppressing it, or, at all events, forth with of these cases the felony is complete, to separate themselves from the others. without any actual manual share in its

One class of cases likely to come be- commission. And where the statate directs fore you, will be founded upon the statute that, to complete the offence, it must have 7 & 8 Geo. 4. c. 30. 8. 8, by which it is been done with intent to injure or defraud enacted,

any person, there is no occasion that any “ that if any persons riotously and tumultuously

malice or ill-will should subsist against assembled together, to the disturbance of the

the
person whose

property is so destroyed. public peace, shall unlawfully, and with force, It is a malicious act, in contemplation of demolish, pull down, or destroy, or begin to law, when a man wilfully does that which demolish, pull down, or destroy, &c., any house, is illegal, and which, in its necessary stable, coach-house, out-house, warehouse, office, consequence, must injure his neighbour. shop, mill, &c., every such offender shall be And it is unnecessary to observe that the guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof, setting fire to another's house, whether shall suffer death as a felon."(a)

the owner be a stranger to the prisoner, In cases of this description, you will con. or a person against whom he had a former sider whether the individual charged was grudge, must be equally injurious to him. one of the persons constituting a riotous Nor will it be necessary to prove that the (a) See 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97. 8. 11.

(a) See 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97. s. 3.

house which forms the subject of the in- I made, requiring the rioters to disperse dictment in any particular case was that themselves, and after they had continued which was actually set on fire by the together for more than an hour from the prisoner. It will be sufficient to consti- time of making proclamation. It appears, tute the offence, if he is shown to have also, by the testimony of the witnesses, feloniously set on fire another house, that the pistol was not aimed at the boy, from which the flames communicated to who was unfortunately struck by the ball. the rest. No man can shelter himself The nature, however, of the offence comfrom punishment, on the ground that the mitted by Lewis will not depend so much mischief which he committed was wider upon that fact, as upon the circumstances in its consequences than he originally under which the pistol was originally disintended.

charged. If the firing of the pistol by Gentlemen, another class of offenders Lewis was a rash act, uncalled for by the will be that of persons who stand charged occasion, or if it was discharged negliwith acts of plunder and theft. And gently and carelessly, the offence would these may come before you, either ag. amount to manslaughter. But if it was gravated by the circumstance of violence discharged in the fair and honest execution or threats to the person of the owner, of his duty, in endeavouring to disperse or with the circumstance of breaking the mob, by reason of their resisting; the into his dwelling-house, or stealing the act of the firing of the pistol was then an property thereout when the house was act justified by the occasion, under the already broken open; in both which Riot Act before referred to, and the kill. cases the offence is considered of a more ing of the boy would then amount to aggravated nature, and the measure of accidental death only, and not to the punishment is consequently more severe. offence of manslaughter."(a) [The learned Or the facts may assume the shape of Judge referred to the prisoners in custody a simple larceny of the goods of another. at the time of the riot who had not been In all which cases, as in the case of tried by the Recorder.] To return, howarson before adverted to, all who are ever, to the principal object of this special present, aiding, assenting, and co-ope- Commission, I cannot in conclusion do rating in the fact, are, in point of law, better than exhort you all to bring to the principal offenders.

examination of these various charges and The only other observation I would state of mind, on the one hand, unpreju. suggest upon the last-mentioned offence | diced, impartial, and dispassionute, on the is this, that, where property which has other, firm and straightforward in the disbeen stolen is found in the possession of charge of your duty. So that whilst you any person recently after the theft com. watch the evidence with scrupulous care mitted, unless circumstances appear to and anxious fidelity, and then only deterrebut such presumption, he may be pre- mine that the accusation shall proceed, sumed guilty of the theft, until he can where the evidence of guilt preponderate; explain or prove his innocent possession yet, when such preponderancy takes place, of the property. Upon the subject of a you will show the temper of your justice very numerous class of cases relating to to be at once too pure and too firm to be the receiving of stolen property with the turned aside by any false notions of lenity guilty knowledge that it has been stolen, from the discharge of your duty in send. I hold it to be unnecessary to offer you ing the prisoner to take his trial before any observation whatever.

that jury who is to decide ultimately upon There is, however, one case which his innocence or guilt. stands in a different situation from the rest, and to which it may be proper that

(a) There is a printed report of the “ Trials of I should call your particular attention. I the persons concerned in the late Riots, before mean the case of James Crossley Lewis, (a) Chief Justice Tindal, Justices Bosanquet and who is at present at large upon his recog- and ended Saturday, January 14, 1832.

” Bris.

Taunton, which commenced Monday, January 2, nizance, but who stands charged, upon tol, 1832. There is also a report in papers of an inquest before the coroner, with the Solicitor to the Treasury, No. 1263 and Annual offence of manslaughter, in shooting a Register, 1832, 215. It appears that of the 113 boy of the name of Morris. It appears prisoners, 4 were executed, sentences of death from the depositions before the coroner, were recorded against 26, 1 was sentenced to 14 that Lewis was acting in aid of the civil years' transportation, o to 7 years' transportation, authorities, in assisting to clear the streets, 11 to 2 years', 17 to 12 months' imprisonment, after proclamation had been regularly 7 to 6 months' imprisonment, 3 to 4 months',

3 to 3 months' imprisonment, 2 to 1 month ;

no bills were found against 11, and 22 were (a) He was acquitted. See below, p. 278n. acquitted.

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