« AnteriorContinuar »
tol from a powder-horn, which his the limb. On the left side of the master had given him, and went out head there was a severe wound, but for the purpose of sleeping at his not so severe as to have produced master's farm-house, announcing his death; and in the opinion of the surintention of being up at an early hour geon who was examined, the death the next morning to look out for was produced by strangulation. On poachers. He was heard to go out searching about the wood-yard, the of the farm-house, which was near fick of a hare was strewed about the his master's mansion, about three ground, indicating that the deceased o'clock on the Sunday morning. He, had been engaged in a conflict with however, did not make his appear. some person who had been poaching. ance in the breakfast-ball as usual, Near to the body was the pistol of nor at church with the rest of the the deceased, the stock of which was servants; and being still absent at broken, and its contents discharged; the dinner-hour, the latter-became and at a few yards distant was an alarmed, and would not sit down to odd sock made out of an old hat. their meal until some inquiry was Upon the gate which led from the made about him. Several persons wood-yard were the marks of bloody went in different directions, and in a fingers, as of a person who had esvery short time his body was found caped that way; and near the gate in the wood-yard of Sir Gilbert was found a clasped knife, covered Heathcote, which adjoined Mr Tes. with blood, and which evidently must sier's premises, exhibiting unques. have fallen from the murderer in his tionable appearances of violence and retreat. These were the principal murder. On examining his body, circumstances touching the causes there was found round his neck his of death to the deceased. own silk neckkerchief, containing The facts charged against the prithe stiffener, tied behind in a great soner to support the indictment were number of knots, and twisted in such these : The prisoner lived in a cota manner as to reduce his neck to tage, about forty yards from Sir Gilthe size of a man's wrist; and in the bert Heathcote's wood-yard, where twisting was inserted a piece of stick, the body of the deceased was found, so as to form what seamen call a and there was a mode of communiSpanish windlass. He was then lying cation from the back part of the cotupon his back, with his legs crossed, tage to the spot where the body was so that it was quite evident he must discovered. On Sunday morning, have been upon his face when the the 2d of August, about six o'clock, neckkerchief was tied in the man. the prisoner came home to his cotner above described. His right arm, tage, and was seen by his next door between the wrist and the elbow, was neighbour, who observed him from fractured; in the inner part of the his window, to be in a very great same arm was a long, deep, incised heat, and sweating profusely from wound; but the coat which covered his forehead. In the course of that it was untouched by the weapon, morning he was seen to take some and the shirt wrist remained button. water in a wash keel, and shut himed. The inside of the hand of the self up in his house, and afterwards same arm had a deep gash across the hang his shirt and neckcloth out to fingers, as if a knife had been drawn dry; upon which articles of apparel through it; and the little finger of were afterwards observed by the same the left hand was nearly severed from neighbour faint marks of blood. The prisoner, who was a journeyman gar as, on the Tuesday the prisoner pointdener, had on the following day been ed out where a currant, and not a set to work by the person by whom gooseberry-bush, had been broken he was employed, to cut strawberry in the branches, and had then been roots; but instead of employing the recently tied up; but the branches clasp-knife which he was accustom- were not withered, which would proed to use, he performed his work bably have been the case had they with a case-knife. The bloody knife been broken on the Sunday mornwhich was found, as above mention- ing, in the then hot weather. Mr ed, resembled that which the prisoner Howarth, however, positively swore usually carried about him. The prithat he did not observe the same cursoner had been a seaman; and as the rant-bush to have been broken when knot which had been tied round the he examined it on the Monday. Anneck of the deceased was what is other circumstance of suspicion al. called a granny knot, which could leged against the prisoner was, that only have been made by a person who on the Sunday morning, about nine had been at sea, or had been taught o'clock, he came out of his house, to make it by a seaman, it was urged and was met without any stockings as matter of inference, amongst o- upon him; and upon being asked why ther circumstances, as proof of guilt he so appeared, he said the reason against the prisoner. When the pri- was, that he could not find a pair of soner's house was searched three stockings handy. Under the prihat-socks were found, one of which soner's bed, between the sacking and completely matched, in point of ap- the mattress, were found a pair of pearance and texture, with that faded gray pantaloons and an old which had been picked up near the waistcoat, upon each of which apbody of the deceased. On the Mon- peared visible marks of blood, which day morning after the murder the were considerably faded. Within a prisoner's forehead was observed to few inches of the prisoner's gardenbe scratched, as if it had come in fence was found the powder-task of contact with some bushes; and up- the deceased, stained with blood. on being asked to account for the These were the principal circumscratches, he said that on Sunday stances adduced in evidence to susmorning he had got into one of his tain the inference of the prisoner's apple-trees, for the purpose of ga- guilt. thering some fruit, to take to his fa. Mr Common Sergeant and Mr ther, and that one of the branches Curwood conducted the prisoner's giving way, he fell into a gooseberry. defence. bush, and
thereby scratched his face. The prisoner, who was a very go On the Tuesday he told the same looking man, about six feet high, story, but described the accident to and who, during the whole time, was have taken place on the Monday cool and collected, and betrayed no morning. His garden had been ex. other anxiety than another man in amined by Mr Howarth, the Mem- the like perilous situation, put in a
8 ber of Parliament, but no traces written defence, which was extremecould then be found of any goose. ly well drawn up, and which statberry-bush or apple-tree having been ed, that on the Sunday morning in injured in the branches, as must have question, the prisoner had risen abeen the case if the prisoner had bout six o'clock, and had gone into fallen as he had represented. Where. his garden and gathered some ap
ples; and in doing so had fallen from humanity and general good conduct. the tree, by which means he had The other circumstances which apscratched his face against a goose- peared in evidence favourable to the berry-bush. He then took the ap- prisoner's innocence were, that the ples to his father's, where he remain- witness, Page, never mentioned a ed half an hour, after which he re- single word of the material part of turned to his own house, where he re- his evidence until after his second mained the whole day.--He totally examination, and until after a reward disclaimed any knowledge of the of L.200 had been offered for the cause of death to the deceased, for detection and conviction of the murwhom he had the highest respect, and derer; that the prisoner, after his first would have been the last man in the examination, had been discharged by world to injure him, still less would the Magistrates, and remained at he have been disposed to commit up- large, without any attempt on his on him the foul crime of murder. part to fly from justice; and that, in With respect to the clothes found point of fact, the pantaloons and under his bed, he said, that they had waistcoat said to have been stained lain by there for six or seven months with blood, had been for seven months as old and useless, and no longer ca- previous to the murder in the situapable of being worn, as he had grown tion in which they were found. lusty in his person, and could not put Mr Justice Park summed up the them on. He admitted that he was case for the jury with the greatest in the habit of wearing socks made perspicuity; and, with his wonted hufrom old hats, as poor people in inanity and regard for the interests the country were accustomed to do; of the accused, cautioned them a. but knew nothing whatever of the gainst any thing like prejudice, and odd sock which had been found in impressed upon them the necessity Sir Gilbert Heathcote's wood-yard. of deciding the question of guilt or As to the bloody knife and the powo innocence in this case according to der-Alask he knew nothing of them, the facts proved in the evidence. and he conjured the jury to dismiss The Jury, after deliberating for a. from their minds those prejudices bout five minutes, returned their verwhich some persons had taken great dict of Not Guilty. pains to excite against him ; adding, that he relied upon the intelligence and discernment of the court and jury to relieve him from the heavy conse- MYSTERIOUS MURDER. quences of a charge of which he was innocent, and which was abhorrent Gloucester Assizes, Tuesday, April 6. to his nature.
Several witnesses were examined, The following trial, which took whose evidence was perfectly com- place on the preceding Tuesday at patible with the prisoner's statement. Gloucester, excited an uncommon Two of them deposed, that the man degree of interest. Page, who spoke to the fact of the William Burton, aged thirty-three, prisoner having been seen on the stood capitally indicted for the wilful Sunday morning in a state of per- murder of William Syms, in the spiration, was not to be believed upon month of November last. his oath, and all the witnesses gave
Mr Ludlow stated the facts of the the prisoner an excellent character for case, which were as follow:- On
VOL. XII. PART 11.
the 3d of November, the prisoner style of extravagance, quite at vaand the deceased, William Syms, set riance with his former state of poout together in a boat belonging to verty. It was next found that the a Mr Hurd, from Woollaston to deceased, on the day of his leaving Bristol. Having transacted some Pyle, was in possession of three L.5 business, in consequence of stress of Chepstow Bank notes, together with weather they, on their return, put some smaller ones of the same bank. into a place called Pyle, where they These, he was observed, previous to were seen in company at a publice his embarkation, to put into his left. house. On this occasion the de- hand breeches pocket, which, when ceased produced several bank-notes. his body was subsequently picked up, On Saturday, the 7th, they again be- was found turned inside out. To took themselves to the boat, to re- these were added other facts equally turn to Woollaston. On their way suspicious. On the morning of the down the Avon to the Severn, they supposed murder, a handkerchief were seen by several people. The was seen in the hands of the deceaprisoner arrived at Woollaston, but sed; it was marked W. S. ; and this the deceased did not. This excited handkerchief was traced to the possurprise, and inquiries were made of session of the prisoner. Upon an the prisoner as to what had become alarm being raised, he had lent it to of his companion. To these in-. a man of the name of Davies, who quiries he gave contradictory an- would be called as a witness. It swers ; at one time saying he had further turned out, that the prisonstaid at Pyle, and at another, that er, shortly antecedent to the disaphe had put him on shore, at his own pearance of Syms, had been repeatdesire, at a place called the Eastern edly applying to Hurd to lend him a Point, and that he had expressed an few shillings. His shoes had acciintention of sailing for America. At dentally burst, and he then declared first no suspicions were entertained, “ that he was unable to refit himbut subsequent circumstances led to self, and that he must box hard to a discovery of the dreadful deed. raise the wind to buy himself a pair The boat was examined, and on the of shoes, though he should go to the gunwale and after-beach stains of devil for it." Upon being called blood were distinctly discovered, al- upon to account for his increase of though it appeared that every at. wealth, he stated that he had bortempt had been made by means of a rowed L.8 from an old shipmate of mop and water to eradicate thein. the name of Jones, while he was at This produced further inquiry, and it Bristol; but unfortunately for him, was ascertained that the prisoner and happily for the ends of justice, had set out for Bristol in a state this statement was discovered to be of extreme penury; that at the time utterly without foundation ; for, inhe left Pyle, on his return liome with dependently of the fact that, at the the deceased, he was equally dis- moment he was leaving Bristol, he tressed, but that immediately after had not the means of paying for his be landed at Woollaston, he seemed breakfast, it would be proved by the to have suddenly become rich. He wife of Jones, (the man himself being commenced by changing two L.5 at sea), that at the time in question notes of the Chepstow bank; one Jones had been very much distressed in payment of a small sum, and the for money, and could not have made other merely for the sake of the any such advance; added to which, change. He also began to live in a his intimacy with the prisoner was
so casual a nature as to forbid at Pyle, and was acquainted with the ch an act of friendship, even if he deceased. He saw him at Mrs Chafed had it in his power. All these fey's, at the Swan, on the 6th of Nosclosures tended more strongly to vember. He also saw him and Buronfirm the guilt of the prisoner, ton going down the river next mornhich became still more apparent in ing in the boat together.
It was ne morning of the 27th of Novem. about seven o'clock. The tide was er, when the body of the unfortu. low. ate Syms was found floating on the Stephen Hook saw the prisoner Severn in a state of putrescence. It and the deceased together in the vas, however, soon identified, and on boat on the morning in question. being examined by competent per
John Wade lived at Woollaston. sons, presented two dreadful frac. On the 7th of November he saw the cures on the front and back of the
prisoner alone in a boat on the Se. head, either of which would have vern, going towards Chepstow. He been sufficient to occasion instant asked him if he was going to Chepdeath. Mr Ludlow baving conclud. stow} He replied he was. ed his detail, called his witnesses. about two o'clock. Witness said,
William Hurd proved the fact of You have had a fine tide this mornthe prisoner and the deceased set- ing. The wind and the tide were ting out for Bristol in his boat on fair, and the boat was drifting up. the 3d of November ; they remained Witness also observed to the prisonat Bristol two days. He remem- er that his shoes were not water bered seeing them together after- tight. The prisoner answered, “ No,
. , wards at the Swan public-house at master, but I'll have better before I Pyle. Syms called for two glasses
Old Hurd asked the of rum and water. He said, “I have prisoner where Syms was left, and a five-pound bill in my pocket.” he said, “ Not at Pyle." He after
, The landlady said, " I should like wards said he had landed him at to see it.” Syms upon this pulled Eastern Point. out three five-pound bills, two of John Bundy picked up the body which were Chepstow bills, quite of the deceased floating in the Senew. He put them on the table, to. vern. The left hand breeches pocket gether with three or four L.1 notes. was turned inside out. He tied a Witness and Syms slept together rope round the arm, and drew it on that night : he heard the clock strike shore. This was on the 27th of No. five in the morning, and said lo vember. Syms, “ It is time to get up; I wish Mr John Else lived at Framptonyou would help Burton to take the on-the-Severn. On the 28th of Noboat up,
and stand into the Old Pas- vember he was called to examine the sage, where I will meet you.” Syms body. He could not say how long agreed to this.
Witness was then it had been dead; it was in a putrid going to Tockington. They parted state.
state. He examined the head, and soon after five. Witness went to found several wounds. At the back Bristol on the Friday following ; and part of the head there was a mortal did not go to the Old Passage, for it wound, the skull being shockingly rained hard, and he got wet through. fractured. There was a heavy blow He looked for Syms at Bristol, but over the nose, and on the upper did not see him. Burton's shoes part of the frontal bone. were in a very bad state.
clear the man's death had been oc. John Purcell deposed, that he lived casioned by these wounds.