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Trial of Humphrey Boyle




For the better Exposure of Corruption, and the Obscene Jew Books, and as a Continuation of what they, with the Attorney-General, have to expect by continuing

to institute such Prosecutions, from him who is inexpressibly grateful




JUNE 10, 1822.


&c. &c.


HUMPHREY BOYLE left Leeds about the middle of last December, for the sole purpose of making one that should battle the Constitutional and Vice Associations, through the medium of Mr. Carlile's shop. On the 27th day of that month he was arrested, with Joseph Rhodes, who had come from Manchester at the same time, for the same purpose, and both were committed to the Giltspur-street Compter, on refusing to give their names. Before the January Sessions they were removed to Newgate, and at that Sessions they were called on to plead, but refused to give their names and traversed to the February Sessions. There were four Indictments against four shopmen, William l'amplew Holmes, John Barkley, Joseph Rhodes, and Humphrey Boyle. Three of the Indictments were found true in the 'names of William Vamplew, Joan Barkley, and William Holmes; and the fourth indicted “a man with name unknown, but whose person was known.” Here no Indictment applied distinctly either to Joseph Rhodes, or to Humphrey Boyle, and they refused to plead; but one Cooper, an officer, was brought forward to swear falsely that Joseph Rhodes was known by the name of William Holmes. It happened that Cooper bad arrested William Vamplew Holmes as William Holmes, in the summer of 1820, on some publication about the Queen and Soldiers, but of Rbodes he could not possibly know any thing, though he swore positively to him as being Holmes. On this false swearing of Cooper the officer, Joseph Rhodes was told that he must plead or stand convicted, but being confused from the want of a knowledge of what his enemies could do in the matter, he pleaded Not Guilty.

After Joseph Rhodes had pleaded, Humphrey Boyle, or the Man Unknown, was called forward and addressed by Mr. Adolphus as follows:

Well, Mr. Unknown, will you plead?

Clerk.—Prisoner, you have heard the Indictment read before, what say you, Are you Guilty or Not Guilty?

Prisoner.-I wish to hear the Indictment read now.

Common Sergeant (Knowlys).—Let it be read, and in an audible voice, that every one may hear it.

The Clerk having read the Indictment, and asked the usual question as to the plea, the Prisoner observed, “ I cannot plead to that Indictment, I do not know that it applies to me."

The Clerk kept repeating the question, “ Are you Guilty or not Guilty?”

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The Prisoner stood mute and smiled, which seemed to afford amusement to the persons in the Court. The Barristers and Lawyers round the Table rose up, and one of them walked across it to the Common Sergeant, and after whispering together for some minutes, the latter observed, “ Prisoner, we will give you till the other man is tried to consider whether you will plead or not, if you then refuse to plead you must take the consequences, but I will not now tell you what those consequences will be.”

Prisoner.—Very well.

In the course of the evening, before the other had been tried, the “ Man Unknown" was again put to the Bar and asked to plead. Prisoner reminded the Court that he had been given time until the other had been tried to consider of his plea, and observed, “ Try him, and I will plead immediately."

Common Sergeant.-We did no such thing, Sir, as give you time until the person was tried to whom you allude, we gave you the time until the next case was tried.

The Prisoner was then about to address the Court, and after being repeatedly refused by the Common Sergeant, he persevered and said, “ I wish to give my reasons for not pleading."

Common Sergeant.—We will not hear your reasons, Sir. Let him be remanded until the next Sessions ; if he then refuses to plead he will stand convicted.

On the 4th of March the Prisoner was again put to the Bar, and Mr. Prendergast the Barrister having counselled him to plead a Demurrer, he accordingly did so, and the next day the same Mr. Prendergast counselled him that his Demurrer was not sustainable, and advised its withdrawal, to the no small chagrin of the Defendant, who had a mind that could not brook such trifling. The Common Sergeant assented to withdraw the Demurrer, and on the Clerk asking the usual question, as to Guilty or Not Guilty, the Prisoner pleaded Not Guilty.

Common Sergeant.-Prisoner, what name do you plead by ?

Prisoner.-By no name; as I have been arrested and imprisoned by no name, and indicted by no name, I will therefore be tried by no name.

Common Sergeant.-That you cannot do; neither you nor any one else can be allowed to appear here, or act under a mask. You must give in your name before you plead.

Mr. Prendergast.-I advise you to give in your name. Prisoner.-(angrily) I will not, Sir. Common Sergeant.—Take him away. At the April Sessions Humphrey Boyle was again put to the Bar, and asked if he would plead. He answered that he had pleaded in the former Session. The Coinmon Sergeant, Knowlys, had by this time been made Recorder, and he asked the Prisoner if he would then be tried; to which he replied that he wished then to take his trial, but on still refusing to put in his name, he was remanded for another Session.

After this unprecedented proceeding, measures were taken to move the Court of King's Bench for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, to try the legality of the conduct of the then Recorder Knowlys, but the pressure of business in the Easter Term being so great, it was delayed, and it seems Murray, Adolphus, and Knowlys got intelligence of what was passing, and were glad to force on the Trial before another Term arrived.

On Friday, May the 24th, Mr. Law moved the Court at the Old Bailey, that the Man with name unknown, now in custody of the Keeper of Newgate, should be removed to the Grand Jury Room in proper custody, there to be identified by the Jurors, for the purpose of a fresh Indictment.

This motion was acceded to, and between two and three o'clock in the afternoon the Prisoner was removed to the Grand Jury Room, where Murray and his swearing yeomen were in attendance. Smith swore to the purchase of the pamphlet from the individual before the Jury. The Foreman of the Jury asked the Prisoner his name, which was refused. A Juryman asked if he acknowledged the publishing of the pamplet; to which the Prisoner replied, “ This is not a proper place to answer such a question.” Several of the Jurors instantly supported the Prisoner, and said he was right not to answer such questions.



The King against a Man with Name unknown. London, Indictment of May Session, 1822. States, THAT

late of London, Labourer, being an evil disposed person, and disregarding all Religion, and particularly the Religion of our Lord the King, and the subjects of this Realm, and also disregarding the Laws of this Kingdom, and being greatly disaffected to our said Lord the King, and the Constitution and Government of this Kingdom, and wickedly and profanedly devising and intending to bring the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Religion into disbelief and contempt among the People of this Kingdom; and also wickedly and seditiously devising and intending to traduce and vilify and bring into hatred and contempt our said Lord the King, and the Kingly Office, Royal Family, Nobility, Constitution, Government, and Laws of this Kingdom, with the Liege Subjects of our said Lord the King, and cause it to be believed by the said Subjects that our Lord the King and the Royal Family, Nobility, Constitution, Government and Laws of this Kingdom were corruptly and partially administered; and thereby, as much as in him said Defendant lay, to render the said Subjects disaffected to, and discontented with, the Christian Religion, and with our said Lord the King, and the Kingly Office, Royal Family, Nobility, Constitution, Government, and Laws of this Kingdom, on the 27th day of December, in the Second Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Fourth, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, with force and arms, at the Parish of Saint Dunstan in the West, in the Ward of Farringdon Without, in London aforesaid, unlawfully and wickedly did publish and cause to be published, a certain scandalous, impious, blasphemous, profane, wicked and seditious Libel of and concerning Religion, and particularly the Holy Scriptures and Christian Religion, and of and concerning our said Lord the King, and the Kingly Office, Royal Family, Nobility, Constitution, Government and Laws of this Kingdom, and of and concerning the Administration of the Government and Laws of this Kingdom, containing therein amongst other things, in one part of said Libel, according to the tenor following: (that is to say) “ The Greeks are still struggling with their oppressors, and what amuses me most in this affair is that the Grand Turk has taken a lesson from the Despots of Europe, and cries out “ Religion is in danger.” He, too, calls upon his Turkish subjects to rise and defend their Religion! The Christian Despots of Europe are crying out against the Deistical and Atheistical Infi

dels, and the Turkish Despot touches the same string, but bids the Mahometans beware of the Christian Infidels!!! This fiend, Religion, (meaning amongst other Religions the Christian Religion) is again in her right element, again at her cut-throat work. The Patriarch of the Greeks, who is the Pope of the Eastern Christian Church, has been hung before his own church at Constantinople; every Christian place of worship in that city has been destroyed; thousands of Greeks have been cruelly massacred, and all upon the old score, the Glory of God, and the preservation of the true Religion. Thus every sect possesses this true Religion, and destroys every other for not changing theirs. We (meaning the people of this Realm) have now a fresh proof (if another be necessary) that the word Religion is strictly synonymous with massacre, misery, and devastation, and I have found a further stimulus (if that was necessary) to proceed in my endeavours to erase it from the vocabulary of mankind. At home the bellies of the people are about to be filled with the squandering of another million of money for a few hours gew-gaw. The pageant of a Coronation is at length fixed for the 19th of July, and is to be celebrated under the auspices and amidst the glittering congratulations of fifty thousand drawn swords and fixed bayonets. If his most Gracious Majesty (meaning our present Lord the King) was not quite so huge he ought to be served as the Roman emperors were served, hoisted aloft upon a shield and proclaimed King by the soldiers, amidst the clattering of their arms. Cannot this much beloved King (again meaning our present Lord the King) trust himself openly at this great national festival) as certain fools and rogues call it) without a body guard! let him take his wife with him to partake of the cermony, and he will not need a soldier to protect hini. However we (meaning the people of this Realın) have some further proof that Kingcraft is on the decline, and the office of King (meaning King of this Realm) become quite unseemly in the eyes of the Sovereign People.” (meaning the people of this Realm) And containing therein, amongst other things, in another part of the said Libel, to the tenor following: (that is to say) “One of the chief objections to Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, and one of the passages always selected for the prosecution, is that which condemns the obscenities of the Book called the Bible (meaning the Holy Bible) and particularly the obscenity or the incontinency on which the Christian Religion has its foundation, and which relates to the conception of Jesus Christ. No part of these assertions and condemnations in Mr. Paine's Book have ever been charged as false; it is that dread of a full exposure of the foundation of their Religion (meaning the Christian Religion) which makes the Christians prosecute this book.” And containing therein, amongst other things, in another part of the said Libel, to the tenor following: (that is to say) “ The friends of Religion (meaning amongst other Religions the Christian Religion) have no more kindred with the friends of morality, than the friends of vice have kindred with the friends of virtue. All Religion (meaning amongst other Religions the Christian Religion) I proclaim a vice in society ; it is-Idolatry, and nothing more tban was the mythology of former ages. It is the offspring of ignorance and credulity, and now enforced by Priestcraft, and can exist only with an ignorance of the laws of Nature.”. And containing therein, amongst other things, in another part of said Libel, to the tenor following: (that is to say). Archbishop Tillotson says, “ The difference betwen the style of the Old and New Testament (meaning the Holy Bible and the Holy Gospel of God) is so very reniarkable that one of the greatest sects in the primitive times did upon this very ground found their heresy of two Gods, the one evil, fierce, and cruel, whom they called the God of the Old Testament ; (meaning the Holy Bible) the other was good, kind, and

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