At precisely 12.30 pm on Thursday July 25th, The High Sheriff, Charles Paget Esq of Ruddington with his carriage and four, attended by the Under Sheriff William Enfield Esq. escorted by gentlemen and a cavalcade of javelinmen left the George Fourth Inn. In great pomp and circumstance, the procession made its way down London Road to Lady Bay Bridge, near Old England House, where they met the honourable judges of the Assize. His Lordship Sir Thomas Coltman, Knight, was escorted into the town amidst a vast concourse of spectators who crowded the whole line of the road. Having opened his commission in the Shire Hall, Mr Justice Coltman proceeded to the Guild Hall where he arrived at a quarter to three. Here, twenty five members of the grand jury were sworn in and T Carver Esq was appointed as Foreman. The proclamation against vice and immorality having been read, his Lordship addressed the jury briefly. He remarked that he had been informed there were only two cases likely to come before them, and they were, as far as he could judge from looking at the depositions of such a character as would not occupy a great length of time in investigating or require any observation from him as they would fully appreciate both the law and facts relating to them. The Court then adjourned until four o clock.
His Lordship, attended by the High Sheriff then proceeded immediately to St Peters church where divine service was performed by Rev W Almond MA, Rector, reading prayers and a sermon preached by Rev H Bell of Ruddington. His Lordship then left to re-open Court at twenty minutes to five o clock, where twelve gentlemen were sworn in as the petit jury. Almost immediately the assize trials began in the Guild Hall. Two prisoners were brought into the court and arraigned in the dock together. George Moore, 17 years of age was dealt with first. He pleaded guilty to stealing a pint plated cup and two half pint plated cans on 12th January last. He was sentenced to be imprisoned for three months and to be kept to hard labour in the House of Correction. George Moore, 18, pleaded not guilty to an indictment of stealing a coat. He was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for ten years. The prisoners were both removed to cells and the court rose at ten minutes past five o clock.
On Friday July 26th, Lord Chief Justice Denham entered Shire Hall a few minutes after ten and immediately set about business as he had a large number of cases to deal with. Twenty three gentleman of the grand jury were sworn in. In his charge to the grand jury, his Lordship expressed his sorrow that the calendar should present so numerous a list of those charged with crime. The greater part however were of such a nature as to need no lengthened observation and they would be dealt with first. A smaller petit jury were sworn in and all then took their places in the crown court. From the cells below the court room, the prisoners were slowly brought up to discover their various fates. First to trial was William Swindin, a labourer aged 25 was charged with stealing a lamb and pleaded not guilty. The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to be transported for ten years. Sam Andrews alias Bentham 21 and John Ellis 18, both tramps, pleaded not guilty to stealing or pocket picking on Mansfield Road. Andrews was found not guilty and released. Ellis was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for ten years. Sarah Wilkinson 20, a ropemaker was indicted on a charge of robbing Rebecca Rawson and pleaded not guilty. She was sentenced to be imprisoned at Southwell for twelve months. John Shelton, a Framework Knitter of Arnold was indicted on a charge of cutting and wounding John Summers and pleaded not guilty. He was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to hard labour for twelve months¸at the end of each three months he was to be kept one week in solitary confinement. George Parker 40, a labourer of Hucknall Torkard pleaded not guilty to stealing a shirt at Blidworth and also stealing a shift. He was judged to be guilty on both counts and sentenced to six months in the House of Correction at Southwell with the last week of each three months in solitary.
The dock was nearly filled with the next case as William Boot 18, James Smith 19, Peter Alford alias Alfrey, James Wyeld alias Wild, all framework knitters were indicted for breaking and entering and stealing seven pennies. Boot pleaded guilty, the others not guilty. They were all found guilty and sentenced to be transported for fifteen years. The dock was nearly full again when three new men were arraigned. William Shaw a labourer 29, Benjamin Salt, labourer and William Holmes 23, and a brick maker, were indicted for the most serious charge yet, the killing and slaying of Lewis Smith. All pleaded not guilty and the jury agreed and the decision was not guilty for all prisoners. Silvanus Rudin 16 of New Lenton, William Pacey 13 and Samuel Wooley 14, all labourers were all charged with stealing a basket containing cherries, copper scales and a half pound weight. Rudin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to be kept in prison six months in hard labour and horse whipped. Pacey and Wooley pleaded not guilty but were sentenced to prison for one month and to be privately whipped.
Joseph Sephton alias Shipton 19, a blacksmith from Warrington pleaded not guilty to stealing a bay mare in West Bridgford. Found guilty he was sentenced to be transported for ten years. John Berridge Clark,47 a labourer of Sutton Bonington pleaded not guilty to a charge of cutting and wounding Francis King with intent to murder. He was acquitted and discharged. This proved to be the final not guilty plea of the day. Thomas Moore 21, a labourer of East Retford, pleaded guilty to stealing a sheep and was sentenced to be transported for ten years. John Dalley 40 and a framework knitter in Nottingham was sentenced to be confined to the House of Correction for four months for stealing two handkerchiefs. Cephas Dawson 18, a joiner from New Lenton was sentenced to prison for one day only for stealing a duck. Abraham Farr 21, and a tramp, was sentenced to be transported for life for setting fire to a stack of stubble value three pounds. James Hurst, 31 and a sawyer from Gainsborough was sentenced to prison for twelve months for stealing a mahogany plank and a piece of pine wood. William Cook,10 and labourer of Clowe, was sentenced to prison for one month with three days in solitary for stealing a jacket. James Harris 13 a servant in husbandry of Cotgrave and Thomas Simpson 13 a labourer of Cotgrave proved to be the final cases of the day. They were both sentenced to three months in prison with the last week in solitary for setting fire to a stable.
It was late afternoon by the time the last prisoners descended to the cells below. Lord Chief Justice Denham adjourned the court until eight o clock the following morning. There were still two cases to be dealt with and these were by far the most serious. It was known that defence counsel had been secured for one of these two cases and a long day ahead was expected by all. The Nottingham newspapers carried only news about the arrival of the Justices and the events of Thursday. The fates of George Allsopp and George Moore were of interest to some but everyone wished to know more about the trial of just one man and many people were determined to attend the final day of the trials and watch from the spectators gallery. It seemed that most of Nottingham and district wanted to be in the Shire Hall Court room on Saturday July 27th. There was however one man living in Carlton who decided he really did not wish to attend at all and this was all rather difficult; he was a key prosecution witness![i] [ii]