Margate Crime and Margate Punishment
Appendix III Taylor Petition
To the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses, in Parliament assembled.
The HUMBLE PETITION of MARIA TAYLOR, wife of JAMES TAYLOR, late of Margate, Bricklayer, but now a convict in New South Wales,
That the said James Taylor, with Eighteen others, were tried before the Honourable Baron Wood, at the Spring Assizes for the County of Kent, held at Maidstone, in the Year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-two, under the Statute Fifty-second George the Third, upon a Charge of having, on the Second Day of September, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-one, feloniously assembled together with Fire Arms, and other offensive Weapons, at or near Marsh Bay, in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist, in the said County, for the purpose of removing Smuggled Goods.
That upon the Trial of the said Indictment, Thomas Cooke, James Justice, Samuel Kerby Meredith, and Thomas Mears, were examined, on the part of the Crown, not one of whom (except Cooke) charged the said James Taylor with being in the Affray which was the subject of this Indictment
That Cooke, upon his Cross Examination, admitted that there was much confusion and noise, that he himself was in a state of considerable alarm, and that the morning was dark and hazy at the time at which it appeared to him that they saw and heard Taylor in the Affray.
That it is evident, that if Taylor was in the Affray, his presence there must have been known to Justice and to Meredith, in as much as they were Accomplices in the Offence with which Taylor was charged.
That on the part of Taylor, Three Witnesses, namely, James Harman, Charles Winch, and James Saunders, were separately examined; all of whom proved most clearly and distinctly, that Taylor was engaged with them, from Twelve till Three o'clock in the Morning, in another transaction, near the Bathing House at Margate, a distance of nearly Two Miles from the Place at which the Affray happened for which Taylor stood indicted.
That your Petitioner admits, with pain, that the Transaction in which the said Taylor was so engaged, was one of an illicit nature; amounting, however, only to a Misdemeanour, and totally unconnected with the Affair which took place at Marsh Bay, as is fully proved by the Affidavits of the said Robert Harman, John Saunders, Charles Winch, and one John Jones.
That Taylor being naturally anxious, not only on his own account, but for the protection of the persons concerned with him in the illicit Transaction at Margate, was induced, on his first Examination, to suppress that Fact, and, consequently, to give an unfaithful Account of what he was doing during the time of the Affray at Marsh Bay.
That the minds of the Jury being unduly impressed with this Circumstance, found Taylor, together with the other Eighteen Persons who were indicted with him, guilty of the capital Felony with which they were charged.
That the learned Judge, who presided at the Trial, being convinced that Cooke was mistaken as to the identity of Taylor, and being, therefore, dissatisfied with the Verdict of the Jury, recommended Taylor to His Majesty for a Free Pardon.
That, notwithstanding this Recommendation, Taylor has been transported for Life, contrary to what your Petitioner most humbly submits has been uniformly the benign course pursued, in similar Cases, by His Majesty's illustrious Family, since their Accession to the Throne of these realms.
That in addition to the Case made by Taylor at his Trial, your Petitioner begs leave most humbly to submit to the consideration of this Honourable House, as a proof of his Innocence, the dying Depositions of Four Persons, who were executed for the Offence charged upon Taylor, all negativing Taylor’s presence at, or participation in, the Crime for which they suffered.
That one Stephen Laurence, who employed all the Persons who were engaged in the said Affray, at Marsh Bay, declared to several Persons of the most respectable rank and character in the Neighbourhood of Margate, that Taylor was wholly innocent of the Charge brought again him, and that he (Laurence) was the person who spoke the words, and did the acts, attributed by Cooke to Taylor.
That your Petitioner most humbly submits to this Honourable House, that whether regard be had to the Evidence given at the Trial, or that which has been subsequently obtained, but more especially when both are taken together into consideration, there is abundant proof of Taylor's Innocence; for your Petitioner sheweth that of the Four Witnesses who were produced on the part of the Prosecution, one only affected to identify Taylor; and that Witness admitted that he was at the time to which his Testimony referred, placed in such circumstances as necessarily to induce much suspicion as to the possibility of his accuracy; for there was great noise and confusion then prevailing, and he was in a state of much personal alarm, and the night was dark and hazy.
That such Testimony, if it stood alone, your Petitioner humbly submits, ought to be deemed insufficient to ground a Judgment of Guilty upon, but your Petitioner sheweth that the Prisoner's Defence is fortified by the negative Testimony of Three of the Witnesses produced on the part of the Crown by the direct and positive Evidence of Three consistent Witnesses produced by the Prisoner, who could not be mistaken as to the Fact to which they deposed, by the dying Depositions of Four Convicts who were Executed; and by the declaration of Laurence, who admitted himself to be the Person whom Cooke mistook for Taylor; so that the Charge against Taylor, your Petitioner sheweth, is sustained by the Testimony of' One Witness only, who was placed in circumstances which furnish strong ground to conclude that he was mistaken; while his Innocence is attested by Twelve Witnesses, Ten of whom could not be under any mistake or delusion as to the Prisoner's identity.
That your Petitioner, relying upon the circumstances of the Case, upon the learned Judge's Recommendation, and, above all, upon the unbounded Benevolence of the Royal Breast, preferred a Petition to His most Gracious Majesty through The Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Home Department, stating the Facts herein before mentioned, and praying that His Majesty might be graciously pleased to grant to the said James Taylor, His Majesty's Free Pardon, and restore him to his disconsolate Wife, and three Infant Children.
That shortly afterwards, the Secretary of State returned an Answer to your Petitioner's Application, stating that he could not recommend the said Convict for any further extension of the Royal Mercy.
That, under the foregoing circumstances, your Petitioner submits the Case of the said James Taylor to the Justice of this Honourable House, and prays such Relief as to them in their Wisdom shall seem meet.
And your Petitioner shall ever pray,
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled.