WHILE the lord-mayor was detecting the 'men of blood' in the city the magistrates at Bow Street were not less meritoriously employed in tracing similar crimes to a police-officer, named Vaughan, and several others not immediately employed by the magistrates, but who were well known as loungers about the different offices. Several of these atrocious wretches were apprehended, and many revolting circumstances disclosed.
George Vaughan, Robert Mackey and George Brown, were tried at the Middlesex sessions, on the 21st of September, 1816, on a charge of conspiring to induce William Hurley, Michael Hurley, William Sanderson, William Wood, aged thirteen, and Dennis Hurley, to commit a burglary in the house of Mrs. M'Donald, at Hoxton; arid, by having them convicted of the fact, thereby procure for themselves the rewards given by parliament for the conviction of housebreakers.
It appeared on the trial that Drake,[*see note] who had been au acting lieutenant in the navy, had been introduced by Mackey to Vaughan, when the latter proposed that Sanderson and the others should commit a burglary at the house of a friend of his in Gray's Inn Lane. Drake accordingly spoke to Sanderson and the others, who agreed to do it. This he communicated to Vaughan and Mackey, and they went to Brown's house to talk over the matter. About eleven at night Drake went with the men to the house which was to he robbed, but which they could not effect in consequence of the watchman. Some time after, the burglary in Mrs. M'Donald's house was planned, for which Vaughan found the money. Brown kept Mrs. M'Donald out of the way, and Drake took the five men to the house, when Vaughan and Mackey came up, and took the men into custody. Vaughan had promised Drake part of the rewards.
Various witnesses were examined, who proved the facts against the prisoners, and Mackey made a full confession, which exposed the nefarious conduct of the conspirators, and stated that Vaughan furnished the skeleton-keys and crow-bar which was used at Mrs. M'Donald's.
The prisoners being found guilty, the Court sentenced them to five years' imprisonment in the House of Correction, and at the expiration of that time to find security for three years, themselves in eighty pounds, and two sureties in forty pounds each. Vaughan was tried two days afterwards, with John Donnelly. The latter for burglariously breaking into the house of James Poole, and stealing therein thirty yards of cloth; and the former for counselling, aiding, and abetting him in the same, on the 16th of December, 1815. On which charge both prisoners were found Guilty.
*Note: William Drake, the accomplice and evidence against Vaughan in one of his exploits, is a person whom the town loungers and treasurers of electioneering anecdotes will recognise as an accuser of the late Mr. Sheridan, whose natural daughter he married. It seemed that Drake forged a certificate from that gentleman, while Treasurer of the Navy, recommending a Jew slopseller to the captains of ships of war, for which he obtained five guineas, or thereabouts. This affair Drake made known to Mr. Paull; and by means of a petition of the latter to the House of Commons against Mr. Sheridan's return for Westminster, an investigation took place, when it plainly appeared that Drake had taken advantage of his known connexion with Mr. Sheridan to sell a forged recommendation, and afterwards, in revenge for merited neglect, had attempted to prove him corrupt, by means of his own forgery, offering his services to Mr. Paull, who was his dupe, for that express purpose. The extreme contemptibility of this man, and that of another reptile with whom he was connected, were so apparent to the house, that Drake was, by unanimous vote, committed to Newgate, and the whole business fell to the ground. He said he had lost his leg at Camperdown -- it was not true: that he had half a dozen pensions for services -- he had only one from the Greenwich chest. His time, place, and circumstances, with respect to the immediate subject of his evidence, were nearly all proved false; and, in short, he was altogether disregarded as a dissolute and abandoned character. His real history proved him to be a young man whom an unfortunate accident injured in his professional career, and who had consequently fallen into idleness and bad company. His utter degradation at present it is unnecessary to dwell upon, presenting, as he does, the horrible picture of superior address and cunning prostituted to the vilest purposes. And hence another feature of the blood-money system; the friends it creates are all of the specious Belial kind -- creatures who possess talents to concert means and ends with exceeding plausibility. The necessity of making such men as Drake witnesses, too, grows out of it; for though it fortunately happens in the present case that his evidence is fully supported, the indecency of this exhibition, combined with impunity to so much wickedness, produces a sensation of moral loathing, which saps the foundation of general philanthropy and good will to mankind.-- W. Hone.