John Gray, Killing > murder, 5th July 1749.

Reference Number: t17490705-30
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

404. John Gray , late of St. Paul's Shadwell , was indicted for Felony and Murder, that he, on the 21st of May , on Ann his wife , with a certain knife made of iron and steel, that he held in his right hand, on the throat of the said Ann, did strike and cut, giving the said Ann one mortal wound, length five inches, depth three inches, of which she instantly died . He also stood charged on the Coroner's Inquest for the said murder.

Michael Murray . The prisoner's wife lived a servant with me. On Sunday, the 21st of May, they were at breakfast together (as I suppose) in the kitchen about ten o'clock in the morning; what words passed between them, I know not; but my boy called to me, and said, Mr. Gray had killed his wife, I turned about, and ran to him, she fell just by the bar-door, he stood by her. I saw the wound on her neck, I put my hand upon it, and called for a Doctor or Surgeon; the wind and blood coming out so fast, she died directly. Her throat and wind-pipe were cut a-cross, almost from ear to ear: said I, you rogue, do not stir, she is dead, and you shall be hanged; I got hold of him, and took the knife out of his hand. I was obliged to strike him twice before I could get it out of his hand. [The knife was shewed in Court, a case-knife with a round point.] here is the blood on it, his hands trembled, and he swore and curs'd. He said, he did the thing, and he did not want to go off; saying, he would be hang'd first. He was not at all daunted at the thing. The next day he said he was willing to die for it.

George Potter . I was backwards behind the kitchen, the prisoner and his wife were together, I heard her shrike out; I ran to see, and called my master, who put his hand upon the wound; I ran for a Doctor; the prisoner was standing in the kitchen with the knife in his hand. Just as she fell I past him, who said, Now I have done it. On the day before he beat her, and abused her with bad names, and then he threatened to kill her. This was a little after two o'clock; I was in the kitchen with them.

David Ryon . The Saturday night, betwixt 11 and 12 at night, the night before the prisoner murdered his wife, the prisoner said (before the other two servants and a lodger and I) You whore, I'll see an end of you: no-body shall see you more. This was spoke in the fore-room. Thomas Hide , one of the men that heard this, is now at Bristol. He then struck her three or four times over the face; he went out with a bundle of clothes, when he returned early the next morning, and knock'd at the door, we would not let him in till about 8 o'clock; he went and lay down on a bench at the back-door, and slept. When the door was opened he came in, and went up stairs, and came down again; he did so several times. I went up and told his wife, her husband had been asking for her: she came down and made a fire, and set on the tea-kettle, he came and sat down near her; they had some grumbling words, I cannot tell what. I heard her say, she desired none of his talk, and desired he would let her alone; then I stepped out of the kitchen; I had not been gone half a minute before she came towards me with her throat cut, and beckon'd after me with one of her hands. My master stood at the fore-door, I cried, Master, Master, John Gray has killed his wife. Mr. Murray said, What have you killed your wife with? It is done, said the prisoner, and I cannot help it, it is all I wanted.

Arthur Keneley . I am the constable. When we took the prisoner before the Justice, he there had nothing to say in his own defence. He signed his own confession, and I carried him to Newgate.

Prisoner's Defence. I came home from the West-Indies in a Man of War, I lodged in Mr. Murray's house, my wife came from Bristol to me. I went and took a room, we lived together 8 or 9 weeks; I got a voyage to the Northward, my

wife was agreeable, when I was going away: said Mr. Murray, I should be very welcome to let my wife be there till I came back; I thought it would save expences. When I returned, I found the strangest alteration, she looked quite cold and black upon me, in private she would use me very barbarously. On the Friday-night before this happened, I took her to task, saying, What is the Reason of this alteration? She called me Old Dog, and hit me a blow on my mouth, and made my nose bleed. Betwixt 4 and 5 o'clock next morning she got up, and swore (I never heard her swear before) she would never lie in a bed with me more, saying, she would go out of the house or I should. I did not come down stairs till about two hours afterwards; when I came down, I asked her the reason of her usage last night? I kick'd her back-side two or three times, saying, I have a good mind to turn you out of the house (she encouraged that very boy to use me ill, and all the people of the house looked black upon me.) The man of the house came down, and said, I desire none of this; if she is your wife, she is my servant. I went out, and staid till about 6 o'clock. I desired, at my return, to be reconciled: she bid me be gone, and said, I should not lie in a bed where she lay: said I, then go and get my things; she went very willingly up stairs, and tied my things up, (this was about ten o'clock) and came and perfectly shoved me out of the house, I thought it was a folly to return. I went on board the vessel, and related the story to an acquaintance there; he desired me to go and be reconciled. The tide served, I took a wherry, and all my clothes, and came to the back-door, I believe, about half an hour after 3 o'clock in the morning. I knocked there, and put my clothes upon a place; I said to a man, I desire you will take care of these things, and I will satisfy you, while I go up street to see for a house open; I found one, and went in, and called for a pint of beer. When I returned, the man and things were gone: I asked people after them, but could not hear of them. The things were taken in by my wife, she opened the door, and looked earnestly at me, then she shut it, and would not let me in; so I knocked at the door, and no door opened. I went away to the house where I came from, and staid there till about eight o'clock. When I came in, I asked every body about the things, no-body knew any thing of them. I did not see my wife till a good while after; at last I saw her, and ask'd her about the things: she said, D - n you, I know no business you, or your things, have here. Do you think, said I, I will go away without letting the world know the reason? besides, I owe the landlord money, and I shall pay him before I go away. When she came into the kitchen, it was to toast a bit of bread upon the point of that knife. I leaned my back against the bench, and talked to her very seriously; she told me, she wanted no discourse with me. I desired to make it up, and went to salute her; she clapped both her hands against me, and pushed me away, and then took the knife, and flung it at me with all the violence in life. I catched up the knife, and fetched a stroke at her, and knew not where she was cut; she started and run from me: I looked after her, and saw her drop. I never offered to run away.

Guilty of Wilful Murder .

[Death. See summary.]


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