Murder at the Royal Wedding (The Fox & Farraday Mysteries)
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He suffered August 3, , on Pennenden Heath, near Maidstone, the usual place of execution for the county of Kent. In person, the unfortunate prisoner was tall, his hands and feet remarkably large, and his countenance pallid, mild, and humane. His appearance was apparently that of a person above his rank in life. T HIS was a case of revolting indelicacy and deep-laid villany. We shall give it in the words of the counsel retained to prosecute the accused at the Carrickfergus assizes, March the 21st, She is a young woman of respectable family in Derry; and upon the death of her father she became possessed of about two thousand six hundred pounds: this property, her youth, being scarcely seventeen, and her personal attractions, have been the causes of two different atrocious outrages, for the purpose of obtaining possession of them.
In August last, upon the Sabbath day, while returning from the meeting, she was forcibly carried off, and taken to Ballymena, where she was rescued by her brother and her uncle. On their return home, her mother, alarmed for her safety, sent her for some time to reside within a few miles of Stewartstown, with a Mr.
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On the night of the 3rd of November, Mr. The prosecutrix, with Mr. Robert Fairservice, his sister, and Miss Dick, then went from Mr. While at Mr. When out of the halldoor, she was forcibly seized by some person, and put into a chaise in which was the prisoner, who caught her by the arm; when in the carriage she found her cloak and bonnet had been previously placed there, which was sufficient proof of the pre-concerted plan. The prosecutrix, the prisoner, with Miss Dick, and the other person, were driven to Lurgan, a distance of twenty miles, before day-light in the morning, the prisoner Dick guarding the prosecutrix with a pistol!
From the fatigue she had suffered the two preceding nights, joined to the anxiety of mind she had undergone, she fell asleep; and found on awaking, that in place of Miss Dick being her bedfellow, the prisoner at the bar was. The next morning the prisoner attempted to soothe the prosecutrix by promises of marriage, and went to Dr.
Cupples, of Lisburn, to procure a licence, leaving his sister and the other person to watch over her till his return; in spite of them, she contrived to escape to the house of a Mr. English, where she was protected until delivered into the hands of her uncle.
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This statement being supported by the evidence, the jury without hesitation found the prisoner Guilty—and he was sentenced to death. T HE extraordinary circumstances attending the execution of this unfortunate man give his case a melancholy interest. Our readers, doubtless, recollect the singular conduct of the Edinburgh mob, at the execution of Porteous. A scene, if possible more disgraceful, occurred on the present occasion. Robert Johnston was a native of Edinburgh, where he spent the first part of his life without reproach. His parents were poor, and Robert was employed as a carter.
In his twenty-fourth year he got into bad company, and was engaged in the robbery of a chandler in Edinburgh, and being apprehended he was brought to trial with two others, and found guilty. His companions had their sentence commuted to transportation for life, but on Johnston the law was ordered to be put in force. The execution was directed to take place on the 30th December , and on that day, the judgment of the law was carried out, but under circumstances of a most extraordinary nature. Tait, and the usual other functionaries.
The customary devotions took place, and the unhappy wretch, with an air of the most undaunted boldness, gave the necessary signal. Nearly a minute elapsed, however, before the drop could be forced down, and then it was found that the toes of the wretched culprit were still touching the surface, so that he remained half suspended, and struggling in the most frightful manner. It is impossible to find words to express the horror which pervaded the crowd, while one or two persons were at work with axes beneath the scaffold, in the vain attempt to hew down a part of it beneath the feet of the criminal.
A number of the mob now gained the scaffold, and taking the ropes from the neck and arms of the prisoner, they removed the cap from his head and loosening his clothes, carried him, still alive, towards High Street; while another party tore the coffin prepared to receive his body into fragments, and endeavoured unsuccessfully to demolish the fatal gallows.
Many of the police were beaten in this riot; and the executioner, who was for some time in the hands of the mob, was severely injured. The unhappy man, half alive, stripped of part of his clothes, and with his shirt turned up, so that the whole of his naked back and the upper part of his body were exhibited, lay extended on the ground in the middle of the street, in front of the police-office.
At last, after a considerable interval, some of the police-officers laying hold of him, dragged him trailing along the ground, for about twenty paces, into the office, where he remained upwards of half an hour, while he was attended by a surgeon, bled in both arms, and in the temporal vein, by which suspended animation was restored; but the unfortunate man did not utter a word. In the meantime a military force arrived from the Castle under the direction of a magistrate, and the soldiers were drawn up in the street surrounding the police-office and place of execution.
Johnston was then carried again to the scaffold. His clothes were thrown about him in such a way, that he seemed half naked, and while a number of men were about him, holding him up on the table, and fastening the rope again about his neck, his clothes fell down in a manner shocking to decency.
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While they were adjusting his clothes, the unhappy man was left vibrating, upheld partly by the rope about his neck, and partly by his feet on the table. At last the table was removed from beneath him, when, to the indescribable horror of every spectator, he was seen suspended, with his face uncovered, and one of his hands broke loose from the cords with which it should have been tied, and with his fingers convulsively twisting in the noose.
Dreadful cries were now heard from every quarter. A chair was brought, and the executioner having mounted upon it, disengaged by force the hand of the dying man from the rope. The unhappy wretch was observed to struggle very much, but his sufferings were at an end in a few minutes. The soldiers remained on the spot till the body was cut down; and, as it was then near dusk, the crowd gradually dispersed. The following is a remarkable instance of a similar scene which occurred in France in the year Peter Hebard, who had been confined in the prison at Abbey, in France, for five months, expecting the final order for his punishment, having been convicted of a murder, committed under aggravated circumstances, and who had been allowed to indulge in hopes of a reprieve, was told to prepare for death in the afternoon.
The prisoner was bound to the board laid across the scaffold; and upon the usual signal, his head was placed between the lunette in the guillotine. The knife fell with a trembling motion, but did not touch the criminal. A cry of horror arose from the crowd.
A volley of stones was discharged at the executioner and his two assistants. For the third time the instrument was let down, but it only inflicted a slight wound. The chief executioner again mounted the scaffold, and the knife fell twice more without success. The excitement in the crowd became indescribable.
Hebard, who was found standing up to the block, still breathed, and remained for two hours in that situation, during which time he frequently opened his mouth. It appears that the scaffold had been intentionally damaged by a person who acted as assistant to the executioner on account of a grudge. T HE name of Mr. Hunt is too well known to require it to be introduced to our readers with any long explanation of the particular character which he filled up to the time at which he underwent an imprisonment for a misdemeanor against the government.
He was probably the most popular demagogue of the day, with the exception of Wilkes; and, like his prototype, he appears to have been totally undeserving the confidence or the applause of the people. Like Wilkes, too, he was the occasion of several deluded people losing their lives, while he himself escaped with a comparatively trifling punishment. Hunt was born at Widdington, in the parish of Upavon, near Salisbury Plain, on the 6th November His father was a respectable farmer and our hero, when young, being designed for the church, obtained the rudiments of a classical education.
At sixteen years of age, however, he altered his mind and joined his father, and having attained great proficiency in his new business, he was treated with great confidence by his father, from whom, at this early age, he imbibed principles diametrically opposed to those which he afterwards espoused. Hunt was enraged at this supposed affront, and riding to the parade, he publicly challenged his late noble commander to fight a duel. At about this time he was married to the daughter of a respectable inn-keeper, for whom he is said to have formed a most romantic attachment.
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The conduct of Hunt in reference to this person appears to be of a most extraordinary character; for in his Memoirs, he speaks of the unalterable attachment which he bore her, and with the most fulsome declarations of his love for her, dwells on the happiness which he had experienced in her society up to the time of the publication of his work, when she was still living with him His indignant and injured wife, it appears, received an annuity of l.
Hunt, at this time, appears to have been living in a style of considerable pretension. We do not profess to give any lengthened history of his remarkable career, because to do so would be to exceed the limits and intention of a work of the character of the present; but the following, we believe, will be found to be a faithful, though necessarily short, narrative of the chief circumstances of his life. While in Bath Mr.go to link
Hunt formed an acquaintance with the son of a brewer, who deluded him into a partnership; and it appears that he absolutely lost eight thousand pounds in a brewing concern at Bristol, which was the first occasion of his becoming acquainted with the people of that city. Having once embarked in politics, he was ever restless, and on every possible occasion he forced himself upon public notice with officious zeal; and in he came forward at Bristol, to propose Sir John Jarvis, as a fit representative for that city.
His noisy interference on all public questions at this time, drew upon him a host of enemies, particularly among his own neighbours, who forbade him to sport upon their grounds; and, as no gentleman would hunt with him, he was obliged to dispose of his stud of horses. On one occasion he committed a trifling trespass, on which an action was brought against him, when he effectually pleaded his own cause, and, encouraged by success, he determined, from that day forward, to dispense with the assistance of counsel in any legal proceedings in which he might be engaged.
In he held the first meeting for reform, for by this time he had become a disciple of Cobbett. In he took a large farm in Sussex, called Rowfant, where he continued to reside for one year, at the expiration of which he sold it, and went to live at Middleton cottage, which is situated on the western road, three miles from Andover.
In he stood twice candidate for Bristol, but was defeated by a large majority on the opposition of the venerated Sir Samuel Romilly.
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This year he also became a liveryman of London, and from that time Guildhall was often favoured with his presence. He now attended almost every public meeting throughout the country, and gradually became the idol of the mob, to whose comprehension his speeches were admirably adapted. His patriotism, however, proved injurious to his private affairs, for we find, that in , he had overdrawn his account with his bankers, who refused to advance him any more money.
In he attended the notorious meeting in Spa-fields, where he acted as chairman; but it is only justice to say, that he had held no previous communication with Thistlewood and his colleagues, except for the purpose of striking out some portion of their resolutions, which he considered as offensive. In the year , he appears to have become so flattered by the success which his previous exertions as a popular speaker had gained for him, that he resolved to stand for Westminster, in opposition to Sir Francis Burdett; but whatever may have been his popularity among his own peculiar party, the experiment was unsuccessful, and at the close of the poll it was found that his friends had given only forty-one votes for him; and he had also to regret his rashness in thus publicly thrusting himself forward, as, while upon the hustings, he was soundly horsewhipped by a gentleman, upon whom he had previously inflicted a cowardly and an unmerited injury.
In the year the principles of radicalism appear to have reached a point of almost ungovernable fury, and Hunt secured to himself the character of the best and firmest champion of the party, by his conduct at a public meeting, which took place at Smithfield at this period, and at which, in truth, it appears that he acted in a manner without reproach.
An event, however, soon afterwards occurred which procured for him still greater notoriety. In consequence of this expressed determination on the part of the authorities, the meeting was abandoned, but fresh notices were issued for a new assemblage on the 16th of the same month, with the avowed legal object of petitioning for a reform in parliament. An open space in the town, called St. For some hours before the proceedings were appointed to commence, large bodies of people continued marching into Manchester from the neighbouring villages and towns, formed in ranks five deep, and many of them armed with stout staves, while the whole body stepped together as if trained for military purposes.
Each party bore its own banners, and among others two clubs of female reformers made their appearance, bearing flags of white silk. By mid-day it was calculated that 60, persons had assembled. The magistrates, it appears, were anxious that the peace should be preserved, and a number of special constables were sworn in, who formed themselves in a line, from the house in which the justices were sitting, to the stage or waggon fixed as a platform for the speakers.
Soon after the business of the meeting had commenced, a body of yeomanry cavalry entered the ground, and advanced with drawn swords towards the stage, when their commanding-officer called to Mr. Hunt, who was addressing the meeting, and informed him that he was his prisoner. Hunt endeavoured to procure tranquillity among the people, and offered to surrender himself to any civil officer who should present himself, and should exhibit his warrant; and a constable immediately advanced and took him into custody, with some other persons who were similarly engaged.
Some uneasiness being now exhibited among the mob, the yeomanry cried out to seize their flags. The men stationed near the waggon, in consequence began to strike down the banners, which were attached to the platform, and a similar course being pursued with respect to those which were raised in other parts of the field, a scene of the most indescribable confusion ensued.
The immense number of persons on the field, rendered it almost impossible for the military to move without trampling down some of them under foot; and some resistance being offered, many persons, including females, were cut down with sabres, and while some were killed, the number of wounded amounted to between three and four hundred. In a short time, however, the ground was cleared of its original occupants, and as they fled in all directions, military patroles were immediately placed in the streets, to preserve tranquillity.
The whole transaction does not appear to have occupied more than ten minutes, in the course of which time the field seems to have been cleared of its recent occupiers, and filled with different corps of infantry and cavalry. Hunt and his colleagues were, after a short examination before the magistrates, conducted to solitary cells, on a charge of high-treason, and on the following day notices were issued by the magistrates, by which the practice of military training, alleged to have been carried on in secret, by large bodies of men, for treasonable purposes, was declared to be illegal.
Public thanks were, by the same authority, returned to the officers and men of the respective corps engaged in the attack; and, on the arrival in London of a despatch from the local authorities, a cabinet council was held, the result of which was, the return of official letters of thanks to the magistrates, for their prompt, decisive, and efficient measures for the preservation of the public tranquillity; and to all the military engaged, for the support and assistance afforded by them to the civil power.
The circumstances of the Manchester case eventually turned out to be such, that government, by the advice of the law officers of the crown, found it expedient to abandon the threatened prosecution of Mr. Hunt and his colleagues for high-treason.