William Archer, Breaking Peace > wounding, 25th April 1750.

Reference Number: t17500425-24
Offence: Breaking Peace > wounding
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

320. William Archer , was indicted, for that he with a certain gun loaded with powder and shot, wilfully, feloniously and of malice aforethought, did shoot off at Anthony Higgins , with an Intent the said Anthony to kill or murder , March 3 .

Anthony Higgins . I live in Whitecross-street ; I am a butcher , and have known the prisoner these ten years, and he dwells almost opposite to me. On the third of March, I was standing at my door, looking on my meat ; and about the hour of six in the evening, all of a sudden, I thought my head was taken from my body. I heard the report of a gun, but did not see who shot. A surgeon was fetch'd, and above 100 shot were taken from my head and neck behind; (He shewed the part, which looked much like a person recovered from the small-pox, and his hat also which could not have less than a hundred holes in it, as it appeared by holding it to the light) I was about eight days under the surgeon's hands, but if I now walk or drink much, or do any thing hastily, it puts me in very great pain. Here are some of the shot taken out of my flesh. (They were the third size.)

Mr. Nelson. On the 3d of March, about six in the evening, I saw the prisoner with a gun in his hand, and saw it go off; He held it out of his own shop-window towards Mr. Higgins's shop which is almost opposite, I was at my own shop door, the next to Mr. Higgins's. I saw Mr. Higgins go from the street into his shop, and heard him say, he was a dead man.

Being cross examined, he said, he heard no words between them before; he had heard the Prisoner had been cut of his senses sometimes, once tied down in bea. He saw the Prisoner's Wife at the door without, that he had followed the trade of a butcher twenty years, that he once saw him about seven years ago in the street naked, which he thought had the appearance of madness, &c.

Mr. Wood. I live facing Mr. Higgins, next door but one to the Prisoner, I heard the report, but did not see the gun ; I saw Mr. Higgins clap his anos to his head, saying, he was a dead man, that rogue Archer had killed him. Mr. Higgins's back was towards me, I was looking on him. I went to his house and staid about 5 minutes, then I crossed to my own shop, the Prisoner came out and said, D - n his eyes he had hit his mark, d - n my eyes I never missed it. The same day, about three o'clock, I heard him say to several people, there's Higgins an informer, d - n his eyes, but Mr. Higgins said nothing to him. He said he had known the Prisoner twelve years.

On his cross examination he said, he believed the Prisoner was about nine years ago out of his senses, in a violent fever; but he never heard he had been so since that time; that there was a bill found against him that day he shot Mr. Higgins, for selling meat on a Sunday.

Mr. Deane. I was passing by the door at the same time, being three or four yards, by Archer's door, when the piece went off; upon the noise I turned back to look, and saw Mr. Higgins clap his two hands to the sides of his head, and went into his shop. I heard Archer say, never fear but I hit my mark, and d - n my eyes I am not sorry for what I have done : He turned about and said, here I am I'll surrender myself to any body. I live in the neighbourhood, and never heard he was out of his senses before.

Thomas Smith I have known the Prisoner 20 years, I and my Fellow Servant, the last Witness, were going by the Door. He confirmed the Testimony of the last.

Thomas Steel . I am a barber, I have known the Prisoner about 8 or 10 years, the day this misfortune happened I was going by his door, he put out his head, and said, Master, I am indicted, in a seeming extasy, for selling meat on the sabbath-day, that villian Higgins has done it; said I, you may be misinformed, I'll be d - n'd said he, if I don't tip it him before night; when in liquor he used to be a very passionate creature, but when sober, very quiet. I took this to be only words. I heard the gun go off about 3-qrs. of an hour after. I was sent for to shave Mr. Higgins, his hair on his head was about three or four inches long, which I take to be of service to him at that time: The blood spouted out as water does through a cuilender. I had much ado to shave his head. I then did not think he could exhist.

On his cross examination, he said he could not tell whether he was in liquor, or not, when he spoke to him; that he should never have looked upon the Prisoner to be a madman.

William Daws . I heard the Prisoner say that day d - n the Rogue (meaning Mr. Higgings) I'll kill him before the week is out.

Sarah Smart . I keep a chandler's shop; on that day in the afternoon the Prisoner came to my shop, and bought an ounce of the best gun-powder, and half a pound of shot, that which was pretty large, it was No. 3.

Mrs. Ketly. I live just by the Prisoner, I went out to see two boys fighting. I saw a gun pointed out of Mr. Archer's Window, after he had shot off, I heard him say, I never aimed at a mark but I always hit it, d - n my Eyes: His wife said, now you have done, you have been all the week upon it; he said, when he came out at the back door, I hope I have killed the son of a bitch; and added, had he killed another he should have had his satisfaction.

Q. Did he appear to be srantick ?

Kelley. No, he did not.

Mr. Wells. I am an apothecary, I once attended the Prisoner, it is now ten years since; Dr. Barrowby was his physician, he was several days and nights bound down in his bed with a madman's waistcoat, but in about a fortnight's time he was restored to his senses; I have never seen or heard of him from that time, till he was taken into custody.

Q. Did this madness arise from a fever?

Wells. It was a high fever.

For the Prisoner.

Elizabeth Metherington . I have known the Prisoner 16 or 17 years. I dressed six blisters for him when he was under Dr. Barrowby's hands, about this time twelve years ago ; Dr. Barrowby said, at times he would be so.

A Witness. I have known the Prisoner for seventeen years; about a twelvemonth ago I was sent for to bleed him, he was in a very delicious way; had I not known him very well, I should not have ventered high him.

William Dring . I have known the Prisoner five years; several times, within that time, he has been out of his senses; about a year ago he was; I went to see him, I talked to him, he fell a raving and swearing, saying, I'll make a hole big enough, laying hold of the chimney, saying, Jack, come through, come thro', he was thus for several days.

Sarah Privinix . I was nurse in the house when any thing ailed him; he was so mad about nine years ago, he was corded down in his bed, and I have known him to be as mad as any man in Bedlam, three times within this Twelvemonth.

Guilty , Death .


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