Research Subjects: Government & Politics




Testimony in the Parliament about the "Attack on his Majesty."

[The Bow Street Patrol was formed in the mid-Eighteenth Century as a police force for London and in 1792 the first Constables were attached to Police Offices throughout London.]

Lord Grenville rose and stated, that, previous to the discussion of the king's Speech, he wished to draw their lordships attention to a subject of great and immediate importance, he therefore wished that the bar should be cleared.  Being informed that the question on the Speech must first be disposed of, he moved, that it be taken into consideration to-morrow.  The bar was then cleared, after which Lord Westmoreland, who rode in the carriage with the king, stated the insult and outrage with which his majesty, and those who had accompanied him were of opinion, that the glass of his coach had been broken by a ball from an air gun which had been shot from the window of a house adjoining the Ordnance office.  This statement was corroborated by lord Onslow, who, as one of the lords of the bedchamber, had also accompanied his majesty; and the House was resolved into a committee of privileges; before which the following examinations took place.

Mr. John Walford, of Pall-Mall, Haberdasher, was called in: and being sworn, was examined as follows:

Were you called out on this day by the high constable?—I was.

Upon What duty?—The office of constable, which I serve at present.

Where was you stationed; and what part of the attendance had you?—I was stationed by Mr. Jones, the high constable, at the Horse Guards.

Did you place yourself according to direction?—Yes.

Did you attend his majesty's coach from the Horse Guards to the House of Lords?—Yes; on the right hand side of his Majesty's carriage.

Give an account of what you observed in that attendance?—On entering into Parliament-street, I observed one man in particular among the crowd very active; which I observed to Mr. Stockdale, my brother constable, at the time.  This man was running by the side of the house, calling out "No war! Down with George!"  And on our entrance into Palace-yard, I observed something came with great velocity from the foot pavement, as I thought; on which I observed to Mr. Stockdale, "Good God! The glass is broke! That must surely be a ball!"  His Majesty then passed on to the House, and I observed the man with the crowd perfectly quiet.  Immediately on his Majesty's coming out of the House, they set up a hooting and hissing.  I did not observe the man any more, particularly, till I got into the Park; I then perceived him frequently stoop down, but whether he picked up any thing or not I cannot say; but at that time there were many stones being thrown about.  Hearing him make the same exclamation again, I told him, if not quiet, I most assuredly should take him into custody.

The exclamation of, "Down with George!" again?—Yes; his still repeating it, when I came opposite to Carleton Gardens, I made one or two attempts to seize him, by putting my hands between the Horse Guards.  Finding I could not do it, without danger of being trod upon, I requested one of them would draw back; upon finding which I immediately seized him, and drew him in close to the carriage, and conveyed him to the Court-yard of St. James's, where I believe he now is.

On what part of the pavement was the coach, when the glass was broken?—Almost the centre of the coach way, just going from crossing Bridge-street; just opposite to a bow window house by the Ordnance office, on this side of the office.

Whether you are understood right, that you saw whatever struck the glass as it came through the air, before it touched the glass?—Yes.

You cannot say what it was?—It is utterly impossible, it came at such a velocity.

Whether it struck upon the glass side of the carriage, or passed through the carriage first?—It struck the glass which was up; immediately after I saw his Majesty look down.

What size did you apprehend this mischievous weapon to be of?—I observed at the time it must be the size of a marble or bullet.

Do you judge from its size in the air, or from the hole it made in the glass?—It was impossible to judge of its size as it passed, but I judged from the hole it made in the glass.

Whether, at the time this weapon passed, you observed the man you have before described?—I saw him immediately after; at the time my eyes were not on the pavement.

When you then saw him, was he upon the pavement?—Whether on the foot pavement or not, I cannot tell. The Horse Guards were between the mob and the constable.

Did you observe any thing in the hands of the man during any part of the time?—I did not.

Have you any reason to know whether he had any thing in his hand or not; any recollection of it?—I did not see his hands at all.

Whereabouts was it that you saw him frequently stooping down?  In the Park, by Carleton-gardens.

When you said, "Good God! It must be a ball!" did you mean to say, that it must be discharged by an instrument?—I made the observation, that nothing could throw it with that velocity, but an instrument.

Whether you observed any other outrage committed on the carriage in which his majesty was?—Several.

State them to the House?—By repeatedly throwing stones.

Do you mean by the same man, or others?—I do not positively say that this man threw any; by others many were thrown.

You have stated that you heard this man use the expression, "Down with George! No war!"  Did you hear any other persons use expressions of treason or disrespect?—Several repeating the same.

Did they appear to be persons aiding or abetting this man, or accidental persons, differently dispersed in the crowd?—I cannot say whether they were immediately of his party; but, there was one party, whom I observed the whole way, keeping by the side of the carriage, both to the House of Peers and back again; the same people.

Were they merely men; or men and women indiscriminately?—They were entirely consisting of men and boys.

Did you conceive any of them spoke with a French accent, so as that you might think they were Frenchmen?—No, I did not.

Are any of them in custody?—There are three, I believe.

Upon your seizing the man, did he make resistance, or show any alarm; or what was his behaviour on the occasion?—He struggled very much to get away; on which I was obliged to have assistance of one or two other constables to convey him.

Was he alarmed?—Very much.

Did he say any thing?  What was his behaviour after you seized him?—He said, "Good God! That I should ever be suspected of disloyalty!"

After he was seized, was he encouraged, or otherwise addressed by any of the other persons whom you remarked?—It was impossible any of them could get to us for the horse; but he kept repeating the whole way, "He thought there could be no harm in acquainting his majesty with their grievances."

At the times you seized him, and he struggled, did any body attempt to rescue him?—I conceive it impossible they could attempt any thing of the kind, from the horse closing immediately upon us.  We were surrounded directly by them.

Was it generally observed by the persons who surrounded the king's carriage, that this man was taken into custody?—Do you mean the constables, or the mob?

The mob?—I really cannot say.

Did you search the man you seized?—We did.

Did you find any weapon about him?—There was nothing at all found in his pockets of any kind.

Did the man appear to be in liquor?—No.

Did the ball appear to come in an horizontal direction?—I really cannot tell, it came with such velocity.

Then Mr. John Stockdale, Bookseller of Piccadilly, was called in; and being sworn, was examined as follows:

Are you serving the office of constable now?—Yes.

Had you notice from the high constable to attend to-day?—Yes.

Where were you placed?—At the Horse Guards.

Were you all the time near the last witness, Walford?—I was.

Give an account, then, what you observed from the Horse Guards?—I observed a great crowd, and a number of persons, about forty or fifty, going near the king's coach, and crying out, "No war! No George!" and a number of expressions of that kind.

What other expressions?—A number of others, which I did not take particular notice what they were.  Mr. Walford, mentioned to me, he observed some persons that were very active in hissing and making a riot.  Nothing particular happened, till I observed, when we came to the narrow part of the Palace-yard, when I saw something thrown at his majesty's carriage, and heard it hit the glass. Mr. Walford, who was standing close by me (I was then within a few yards of the carriage) remarked to me, that he thought that was the person who flung it, and desired me to assist in seizing him, and pointed out the man.  But as the crowd was very thick, I did not take any particular notice, as I thought it impossible to seize any man, the crowd was going so quick.  Nothing farther passed till his majesty alighted, when Mr. Walford observed the man alluded to standing in company with some others near the carriage: he made this remark, that he believed that was the man that had flung the stone, and that was so very active; and pointed him out, I believe, to one of the Bow-street persons; I don't know the person, but they said his name was Kennedy.  After his majesty was in the coach, and set off on his return home to the palace, we observed this same person, with a number of others, that had followed the coach at the same time downwards, keeping company on the side of the coach in a very disorderly manner, hissing and groaning, and calling out, "No war!" and making use of a number of disagreeable expressions.

What expressions?—Such as "No war!" and I believe "No king!" And this person, with several others that went down and came up, making frequent exertions to get through from amongst the horse to the king's carriage, which by main force we put back betwixt the horses.  When we had got about the middle of the park, the constable who was with me (I believe his name is Walford) addressed himself particularly to the young man that was taken up, desiring him to be peaceable and behave better, or he would take him into custody.  He, with others, appeared to be very insolent, to set the constable at defiance; upon which he was seized and kept in custody till we got to St. James's.  Nothing else passed, that I know of.

Did you see any body in the act of throwing?—I did not.

Were you or Walford foremost when the glass broke?—We were nearly together; he was a yard or two before me.

Did Walford make any observation to you upon it?—He did.

What was it?—He said, "I am certain that was the man that flung the stone; let us seize him,"—alluding to the person that was afterwards taken up, a young man in a grey coat and a black collar.

Did you observe the stroke on the glass?—I did not, but I saw whatever it was that was thrown very distinctly, and heard it go against the glass.  It seemed to me to have the appearance of an halfpenny; and I saw it so distinct, that it appeared as if the force of the throw was spent before it hit the glass, and, by that means, that it could not break the glass, though I do not know that it did not.

Did you observe if the glass was broke?—No, I did not.

Did Walford make any observation to you with regard to the stroke upon the glass?—I do not recollect—but I really believe that what I saw thrown was not what broke the glass, because other persons that were near me heard something that went past with great velocity against the glass, and that was not the case with what I saw thrown against the glass; as I have said before, the force was spent.

Did Walford make any observations to you upon the velocity with which it was thrown?—I am not certain whether he did or not; but I think he did not think that what I saw thrown was what broke the glass.

Do you recollect that Walford at the time said any thing to you of what he thought broke the glass?—I am not certain; I think he thought it was something thrown with great velocity, but I am not certain.

Did he say what the something was?—He did not, but I am perfectly satisfied as I can be, that there were two substances thrown at the same time, for the reason I mentioned before.

You said, there were forty of fifty persons went back from here?—do you mean to say they were the same parties?—Yes; and several of them seemed to know each other, as if they belonged to the same gang, if I may be allowed such an expression.  My reason for it is, that there were several standing together.  The young man taken up was resting his shoulder on one of his companions in a friendly manner.  I asked him, at St. James's, "if he knew the person whose shoulder he was resting on?"  And he denied having any knowledge of the persons he was standing with.

When Walford talked of a substance thrown, did you understand him to mean thrown with the hand?—Yes; but there were other persons present that differed from him in opinion, and thought it was a shot from a window where there were no persons looking out.  I looked at the window myself.  I gave credit for that opinion, because what I saw thrown, through I heard it hit the glass, could not; nor I could not believe the window was broke, till I inquired of the servants about the coach, and then that convinced me that it was something thrown from some window, a marble, or something of that kind, with great velocity.

State the particular part of the street where you saw the substance like a halfpenny strike the window?—It was betwixt the two palace yards, thrown from the right-hand side, in the narrow part.

You attended the carriage from one palace yard to the other—did you hear any other substance strike the window between one palace yard and the other?—I did not; and for that reason, that if there was any thing that went through the window, it must have been at the same time, for I did not hear any second stroke against the glass.

Do you recollect who the persons were that thought it must have come from a window?—I do not; but, it was the conversation of the different constables that were about the carriage after his majesty alighted, and the opinion of several: I do not recollect who asserted the fact of its being thrown from a window.

Have you since seen the hole in his majesty's carriage?—I have seen the hole; that was after the carriage got into the palace and that was made, I believe, by a tile or something of the kind, thrown at the carriage as it was entering the palace gate in returning.

Did the brick hit his majesty's carriage on the same side as the substance hit it in the Palace yard? was it on the right-hand side, or the left?—On the left, I believe.

Did you see the brick hit it?—No; I did not.

You saw no other hole in his majesty's carriage?—No.

You think something was flung out of a window of a house;--do you know the house?—Certainly I could not; nor within fifty yards.

Do you know the Ordnance office?—I do not.

You mentioned "Walford had taken notice of the activity of a man;" was that when the glass was broke, or before that time?—I believe he mentioned that circumstance to me before the stone was thrown; about half way between Horse Guards and Palace-yard.

Was the person whom Mr. Walford pointed out to you in Palace-yard, as the person who threw the stone, the person who was later taken up?—Yes.

And Mr. Walford said, "that was the man who threw the stone?"—Yes; he said, believed that was the man, and pointed him out to Kennedy.

Where did he point him out to the constable Kennedy?—In Palace-yard, within about ten yards of his majesty's carriage, after his majesty alighted.

Was that the same man that he pointed out to you in Parliament-street?—I believe it was; but he then pointed him out with several others, but not him in particular.

Then Mr. John Walford was called in again, and examined as follows:

Did you point out in Palace-yard, to Mr. Stockdale, a man who had thrown a stone?—I certainly mentioned to Mr. Stockdale, that I thought that was the man who threw the stone or the other matter, or whatever it was that broke the window; my reason for doing so was the activity he had shown the whole of the way.

Did you hear conversation about an open window?—I heard one of his majesty's footmen make that remark, and asked me, if I had seen it.  I told him I had not.

You have said in one of your answers, that you thought it was a bullet from an instrument; you have now said, it was a stone;--reconcile these answers.—I certainly in the first instance, thought it was a bullet, or some other hard substance, from the velocity with which it came.  Mr. Stockdale said he thought it was a halfpenny, or something of that kind.  I said I really could not tell what it was, but that it must be something rounder and harder to occasion that blow.

Then Mr. James Parker, of Pimlico, one of his majesty's footmen, was called in; and, being sworn, was examined as follows:

You attended his majesty to-day from his palace to the House of Lords?—Yes.

Where was your place?—At the coach door, on the right-hand.

Relate what you saw there.—We were coming down by the Ordnance office, and about two doors from there, there was a kind of ball, or a marble, or something of that kind, that whisked by my face; it appeared to come with great velocity, right straight forwards.  I immediately said to one of the yeomen, "I think that came from a gun, a wind gun, for I heard no report."  I immediately looked round, could see nothing; I looked at the glass of the carriage, and saw a little hole, I looked round, to see if I could see where the ball or substance, or whatever it was, came from, and I perceived a window open—there was nobody at it, which gave me reason to think it came from that direction.—I said to the yeoman, "I thought it was very strange where that could come from," or something to that effect.—I don't know any thing more.

Can you point out the house?—It has green outside windows.

Was that the only empty window?—I did not observe any other.

Was it a window in a first floor, or where?—A parlour window.

What part of the glass was hit?—Rather lower than the middle; it was no great way from my head: I had hold of the handle of the door.

You say this was one of the houses near the Ordnance;--was it a house with a bow window?—A bow, not of the parlour, but of the floor above it.

Was it not the house next to the narrow passage that comes into Palace-yard, next the cathedral?—It was the end house, there is no other.

You made no inquiry there?—No. 

Do you believe the hole in the glass was made by the bullet, or other round object, that you heard whizzed by you?—I have no doubt about it.

Do you think that, to have done what you describe, it could have been thrown by a hand?—I think it impossible to have come in that way, and leave so small a hole in the glass.

Did you observe any thing else thrown about the same time?—Nothing at all.

Did you give such attention to the house at the time, as to say which window it came from?—No; I could not tell that it came from the window or the street; I only thought that it might come from the window.

Was there any person in any other window?—I do not recollect there was; I was so timid I looked into the carriage, and saw his majesty was not hurt.

You have nothing more to relate?—No.

Then John Sawyer, officer of Bow-street, was called in; and being sworn, was examined as follows:

Were you attending the procession to day?—yes.

Were you near his majesty's carriage when it came into Palace-yard?—Yes.

What did you observe?—I observed something come against the carriage.

Were you near the carriage?—Close to it.

What did you observe?—I could not tell what it was—it made a crash.

Against what part of the carriage?—Against the glass of the door.

The center, or pannel?—The center.

You did not see in what direction it came?—No; I looked up immediately.

What effect had it on the glass?—I saw the glass broke.

In what manner?—Apparently with a hole in the middle of the glass with a cracked star up it.

Did you see any thing thrown at that time?—I did not.

Was it a large hole or what?—I take it it might be as big as my finger; a round hole; apparently round.

Did you observe any open window?—I did not.

Was any other officer with you at that time?—No.  Where was Kennedy?—A little before me; near the carriage.

Do you recollect the place where it happened?—Yes.

Do you know the house opposite to where it happened?—Yes.

Which house is it?—To the best of my knowledge, it is the house next to the Abbey.

Whose house is it?—I do not know.

Did you accompany the carriage going and coming?—Yes.

Then you saw what sort of people they were—did you take notice of those who were guilty of the riots and insults going and coming?—Yes.

Did they appear the same, or a different set of men?—There were some different men at different places, but some followed all the way. 

What was the number, as far as you can state, that you think followed all the way?—There might be thirty or forty of each side of the carriage.

Did those thirty or forty appear to know one another?—I cannot say that.

What was the nature of the insult they offered, in language, or how?—They were swearing and hissing.

What language?—They hallooed out, "Peace! Peace!"

Any thing farther?—I heard nothing farther.

You did not hear them say, "peace! And no George!"—No.

Did you mean thirty or forty on each side of the carriage, or only thirty or forty on both sides of the carriage?—On each.

Then you mean eighty?—If I was to say hundred on each side, I should not exceed.

Do you mean these hundred came and returned?—No; they might for what I know.

Did you see the man that Walford took into custody?—I saw a man that was taken into custody, but do not know it was the same he took into custody.

Was the person you saw in custody one of thirty or forty that were turbulent?—I saw him, amongst a number of other persons that were hissing, when the constable laid hold of him.

He was seized in the park?—Yes.

Do you recollect seeing him before, in Margaret-street or Palace-yard?—No.

But you had seen him before, among the crowd?—Yes.

Then you had not seen him before?—No.

Be quite clear as to the number of persons who followed the coach the whole way going and coming—whether thirty or forty on each side or more?—I suppose there might be more than that going and coming.

Then Christopher Kennedy, Bow-street officer, was called in: and being sworn was examined as follows:

Were you in attendance to day?—Yes.

Were you near the carriage of his majesty?—Yes.

Did you see any thing pass in Margaret's-street or Palace-yard?—I heard something come against the glass of the door of the state coach—I looked up, and saw a hole in the glass, and the glass starred.

What sort of a hole?—A small hole.

What do you suppose it was made it?—I do not know what it was made with; I do not think it could be a stone.

Why?—If it had been a stone, I should think it would have made a larger hole.

Did you observe any open window opposite to the carriage at that time?—I did not.

Did you observe a number of people about the coach?—Yes.

Did they follow the coach going, and on its return?—Yes.

Did they appear to be the same party on its coming and returning?—Yes, they did.

In what manner did they behave?—Some huzzaing, some hissing, and some calling for peace.

Any thing on the return?—On returning, I heard several somethings come against the state coach.

What things?—I do not know.  I did see one stone, and that about as big as a walnut.

Did you go with the coach till it got back to the palace?—Yes.

Was there a glass broke then?—Entering the Stable-yard, I heard something come against the glass.

The witness was directed to withdraw.


The Parliamentary History of England… Vol. XXXII. London: Hansard, 1818.




Placed on the Napoleon Series July 2002


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