John Dell, Richard Dean, Killing > murder, Killing > murder, Theft > animal theft, 10th December 1679.
Then followed a famous Tryal of a Country-man, living at Edgher in Middlesex, charged with the Murder of his Wife . There were many strong presumptions against him; as, that they lived untowardly together; that he had threatned her of late, in case she did not comply with his humour to part with some Estate which he could not dispose of without her. Nor was the manner of her death less suspitious: For he takes her with him on horse-back to Barnet, under some pretences,
and in the evening, as they came back, in a lonesome place by a Wood-side, she was kill'd. He pretends that three Thieves came to rob him, and that she skream'd out; which so incensed the Robbers, that one of them knockt her down with so violent a blow, that he then believed it mortal, as afterwards he found: And besides, that they made at her with their Swords. That thereupon he did fight with the Thieves, who cut him, at least his Cloaths; for he produced his Hat and Coat, which had several gashes, so also had his Stick, which was found by the Body, though many suspected these might be made on purpose; for himself had no considerable wounds, onely one small hurt on the head, and another on the arm. He further told his Story, that having so destroy'd his Wife, and master'd him, two of them forced him into the Wood, and that he saw the third drag his Wife such a way: that they turn'd his Horse into the Field, and took from himself seven or eight shillings in money, all that he had, and then bound his legs with a string, and his arms behinde him with a piece of the Reyns of his Bridle, and so left him: That with much struggling he got his feet at liberty, but with his hands so bound, went to an house about half a mile off and got them to loose him, though the man that did swore it was so indifferently done, that he believed he might have got them open himself. Whilst this horrid Act was done, there was a man doing some business in a field neer the place, who testifies that he did hear one sudden violent Shriek, and no more noise; upon which, fearing some mischief might be done, he hollowed five or six times, but received no Answer: And this very man happening to be employed to drive the Cart that carried the Body home, the Prisoner understanding that he was the person that had so been in the said Field, askt him the same Question six times in driving that two or three miles, though he returned him a plain Answer; which some attributed to the guilty apprehensions and terror of mind, that the Prisoner was then under. When he raised the Countrey, as aforesaid, to seek his Wife, they found her drowned, as well as otherwise Murdered, for she lay in a very obscure place (which was observed he directed them unto) near water, in which her Head had been, for her Hoods and upper part of her cloaths were wet; she had a Wound in her Head, but many that saw it were apt to believe that it was made with a pair of Sizzars, &c. On a full scanning of the matter, there was nothing but Circumstances could be proved, so the Jury acquitted him; we wish his Conscience may give in the same Verdict. Another was Indicted with him, as being his great Companion, and absent at that time, without being able to give any good or true Account where, &c. but this no man thought sufficient Evidence to Convict him, so that without any difficulty he was discharged.
The next day the same persons, by name John Dell and Richard Dean , were tryed for another Murther committed on Daniel Ball , his late Wives Father , a person of Eighty years of age.'Twas proved, that when the old man went thither to live, he expressed his fears that Dell would do him some mischief; that Dell had prevail'd with him to make over all his Estate to him; and frighting him with danger of Arrests, though he ow'd no man, perswaded him to go to lie at Dean's, where he dies (as they say) without any body being by, and so is put into a Coffin, bespoke by Dell before he was dead; who also hired a Coach for thirty shillings to come about midnight and bring him to London, where privately they interr'd him at the Savoy; and all this secrecy, to prevent the Corps being, forsooth, arrested: But when at the Inne, where the Coach put in at in the Strand, they were told they must have the Searchers, Dell was very unwilling, saying to the Coach-man, there was Blood settled in his face, &c. and perhaps they might make a great business; and therefore he had a good minde to carry it back again: but at last he admitted the Searchers, who slightly looking on him, return'd, That he died of an Impostume, with divers other odde things, and contradictions of the two Prisoners in their several Tales. Yet all being still but Circumstances, they were acquitted of this too, as they had also been about a year ago for the Murder of Mrs. Dell's own Brother, a Tanner, whose body was found in Red-lion-fields.
But now comes an Indictment against the same two Companions for stealing a Mare . The
owner swore she was stoln such a time from him in Hartfordshire; a man and his wife swore, and prov'd by a Copy of the Toll-book, that soon after they bought the same Mare of Dean at such a Fair for twenty six shillings, and that afterwards Dean being questioned, his great friend Mr. Dell owned and declared that it was his Mare, and that he employed him to sell her: And therefore it appearing that they were such bad people, and Confederates, they were both on this found guilty ; God ordering it, that however they brazened out other Crimes, yet they should not at last escape Divine Vengeance.
[Death. See summary.]