ARSON IN HIS MAJESTY'S DOCK YARD, PORTSMOUTH

ID: 25926
375.00
The trial (at large) of James Hill; otherwise, James Hind; otherwise, James Actzen:

TRIAL: James HILL,, The trial (at large) of James Hill; otherwise, James Hind; otherwise, James Actzen: for feloniously, wilfully, and maliciously, setting fire to the rope-house, in His Majesty's Dock-Yard at Portsmouth. Tried at the assize, at Winchester, on Thursday, March 6, 1777. Before the honorable Sir William Henry Ashhurst, Knt. one of the Justices of his Majesty's Court of King's Bench; and Sir Beaumont Hotham, Knt. one of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer. London: sold by G. Kearsly ..... and Martha Gurney. n.d. [1777].

folio, 40pp., well bound in 19th century dark green half roan gilt.

First edition: uncommon.

James Hill (1752-1777), known as 'John the painter', was a young criminal who seemed to have had something of a penchant for crimes of arson, most particularly carried out in His Majesty's Dockyards (i.e. in Bristol and Plymouth where he actually failed). He succeeded at Portsmouth, however, having been promised 300 by a Mr. Silan Dean, although he received only twelve French crowns. He was duly convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged at the Dock gate in Portsmouth. It seems, by his own account, that he had spent about two years in Virginia, "as an adventurer to seek his fortune", before returning to England in 1775 to pursue a short but doomed career in burglary, theft and arson.