Joseph Mills, Killing > murder, 17th July 1754.

Reference Number: t17540717-34
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

383. (M.) Joseph Mills was indicted for the willful murder of Samuel Room . He likewise stood charged on the coroner's inquest for the said murder, April 22 + .

Ann Lawlass . On a Monday night about 9 o'clock, I can't tell the day of the month, I was in my own room up 2 pair of stairs, at the house of Mr. Coombs in the Little Minories ; I had been down, going up again I heard some body come behind me, I turned round and saw it was the deceased; he asked me if Mr. Mills was at home (Mr. Mills lodged in that house up one pair of stairs ) I said I believed he was; he knocked at his door, Mrs Mills opened it; he asked if her husband was at home, she said yes. I went up to my room, and presently I heard murder cried.

Q How long after?

A. Lawless. I don't think it was much above a quarter of an hour after I came down and called to Mrs. Mills at her door, and asked what was the matter; she gave me no answer; soon after

that she came to the back chamber door ( there are 2 rooms on a floor, they can go out of one into the other, and each have a door to come out at to go down stairs) I saw the top of her thumb was bloody. I asked what was the matter with her, she said she did not know what was the matter with herself, but her husband had stabb'd a man; then I went down stairs to call for help, and as I came up again I met Mr. Room coming out at the back chamber door; he looked at me and said Mills had stabb'd him; I asked him if he could come down stairs, but what answer he made I cannot tell. I went down before him, and he came after me as well as he could. When he got into the street he desired the people to fetch a surgeon, and said Mills had stabbed him; I saw on his right side, to the best of my remembrance, his bowels were working out.

Q. Were his clothes unbuttoned?

A. Lawless. I did not discern that they were.

Q. How much of his bowels did you see?

A. Lawless. About the bigness of a large walnut thro' clothes and all; then I went to tell Mr. Coombs, and saw no more of it.

Prisoner. Did you see (when the door was open) the deceased upon me?

A. Lawless. I did; this was after the murder was cry'd; he lay a-cross the prisoner.

Q. Whose voice was it that cried murder?

A. Lawless. It was Mills's wife's as near as I can tell.

Cross Examined.

Q. How long have you known Mr. Room?

A. Lawless. I have a long time, and Mr. Mills too.

Q. Have you seen them together at Mills's before?

A. Lawless. I have in that room as I pass'd and repass'd.

Q. Were they quiet till you heard murder cried ?

A. Lawless. I heard no noise to take notice of, till I heard murder cry'd.

William Jennings . I live up in an apartment in the same house, I heard a cry of murder, and went down betwixt 9 and 10 at night to see what was the matter; Mills's wife begg'd of me to go into the room. When I went in I saw the deceased holding Mills down by his two hands; he desired me to take hold of the prisoner, which I did, and held him some time; as no assistance came I took him up and sat him in a chair, he seemed to be very obstreperous and not willing to sit down; after I had got him in the chair, he called for his wife, she came to him, and said, do you know, my dear, what you have done? He said, what have I done ? She said, my dear. I am afraid you have stabb'd the man; he said, if I have I have not given him enough, then there came assistance in, so I quitted the room, and did not see the prisoner till now at the bar, nor did I see the deceased till he lay dead on the bed.

Cross Examined.

Q. Did you take the prisoner to be in his senses ?

Jennings. I thought he was in liquor when I took him up, but he seemed very sober when he spoke.

Q. How came you to think he was in liquor ?

Jennings. Because when I first went to take hold on him, he did not seem to be resolute at all, and afterwards he was.

Q. Did you know any thing of their being intimate?

Jennings. I never was acquainted with either of them, I live above the other evidence.

John Terry . On the 22d of April about 7 at night, the deceased and prisoner came to my house the Rose and Crown at Aldgate, they call'd for a tankard of beer. The prisoner said to the deceased. I'm going a little farther, sit down I'll come again presently. About 9 or a little before, I went up stairs, and the deceased came up to me and said, Mr. Mills does not come, I will have something to drink; we drank a pint of rum and water together, after that he said hang him he does not come, I can't think where he is got, I suppose he is got drunk some where, and went away about a quarter after nine o'clock, and about a quarter before 10 two men came in and asked for Mr. Mills; I said, what is the matter? they said they believed he had murdered a man, and that they had been drinking at your house tonight; then I went there and found the deceased sitting in a chair, holding his head on one side, and his 2 hands to his side. I laid hold on his shoulder, and said, for God's sake what is the matter? Who has done this? Mills, Mills, Mills, I can't say how many times he repeated it; then I left him, and came the next morning again, and found him laying on his head; I said, for God's sake tell me how this happened; he said, I will if I can; he took me by the hand and said, you know when I parted with you I went directly to see if Mr. Mills had got safe home. I knocked at the door, the wife came to the door, and directly

said I don't thank you for keeping my husband out, and putting bad words into his head, whereby I am us'd ill. He said I have not seen your husband since he left me at Mr. Terry's at 7 o'clock: then Mills came and said, God d - n you, I believe you have been great with my wife; he answered no, no, if you was sober you would not say so. Then Mills locked the door, and put the key in his pocket, and said, I'll have a dram, the deceased said I don't care if I have one too. As soon as Mills had got the bottle he took it and flung it at his wife's head, but how he came by it he did not know: then words arose for two or three minutes, concerning being great with his wife (I asked him was there everany thing in it? he said no, it never was in his thoughts) after that he said to Mr. Mills, let me go home, I want to go home; no, said the other, you shall go home when I please; then he observed the pocket he put the key into; he got up to take the key out of the prisoner's pocket to let himself out, in so doing Mills put his hand into his side pocket, and took out a knife, and stabb'd him directly, and left it in his body.

Q. Did he give any account of some struggling in endeavouring to get the key out of his pocket, or whether there were any blows between them?

Terry. He said there was not one blow.

Court. I put you in mind of this, because there was some account given of a struggling on the coroner's inquisition.

Terry. I gave the same account then I do now, he said there was no blow struck nor any scuffle.

Cross Examined.

Q. How did they seem to come to your house, as friends or not?

Terry. They seemed to come as friends, as two brothers.

Q. How long have you known them?

Terry. I have known the prisoner about two years, and the deceased about a twelve-month, during which time they us'd to come very lovingly; they have breakfasted, din'd and supp'd together at my house; the deceased was a paviour, the other a turncock to the bridge water works, their business lay together. When the prisoner is sober he is as civil a man as ever was born, but liquor alters people to be sure.

Thomas Watkeis . I was at my lodgings in a publick-house, the Sieve in the little Minories, on the 22d of April, my shop-mates and I were drinking a tankard of beer together; Mr. Room came into the house much about 10 o'clock all over blood, and there were a great many people about him; he sat down in a chair, and had his hand upon his bowels, I saw them out much about as big as a pint pot. I said, what is the matter with you? Said he, Mills the turn-cock man has stabb'd me, and said it is a very hard thing, though we have been particular friends, that he should not suffer the law, and wish'd some body would go and take him. I went up stairs and saw Mr. Jennings standing in the room, I said is your name Mills, he said no. Mills was sitting in a chair with his hat and wig off, I asked him if his name was Mills, he said, yes; I said, did you stab Mr. Room? he said, yes; why did you? said I; for a very good reason, said he. Then I took hold on his throat and said for that same reason you shall stab no-body more, and led him along, and in the other room threw him on his back and secured him. Then my shop-mates came with a candle up stairs; then Mills called for his wife, and said, Salley, my dear, will you not come and kiss me? She came to him and said, yes; she kneeled down to kiss him, and I observed her all over blood; I said, good woman, what is the matter with you? He said, ah, Salley, you see what is come on it, and I told you I'd do it. I said to her, pray what is the matter with you? she said, her husband had us'd her very ill, and she was afraid Mr. Room had lost his life by taking her part.

Q. Was this in the hearing of Mills?

Watkeis. It was; he then was down on his back. I saw some places thro' her petticoats bloody, as much on the top of a tankard; said she, my husband has stabbed me in 2 places upon my thigh, and fell a crying, and said, she did not know what to do. Then there came in the headborough of the parish, and insisted upon searching him; they pulled a sheath out of the side pocket of his breeches; she said, I have put by the knife he stabbed Mr. Room with; I said to her, you had better deliver it to me; she said she did not choose that; I said, if she concealed it, it would be worse for her; then she delivered it; it was all over bloody (Produced in court with a bloody rust upon it) then I pinion'd his arms with a bit of a rope, and brought him down stairs and into Mr. Brooks's at the Sieve; from thence he was taken to the Tower goal, going along he said, where are you going to take me? I said, you are going to goal. What have I done? said he; I told him he had stabb'd his friend; he said, well, what if I have. I said, are you sorry? he said, no. I said could you drink a drop of his blood if you had it? he said yes, he could. We took him to goal,

there he seemed to be a little uneasy, we brought him a pillow to lay his head upon. The next morning, about 11 o'clock, we went with him before Sir Samuel Gore , there the knife was produced; the justice asked him if he knew it, he said, yes: he asked him how he came to stab the man with it, he said they had a struggle together, and he, that is, Mr. Room, had kicked down a pail of water, and it might happened to him as well as the other; he had stabbed the man and was sorry for it. Going home, a person that is here said to me, Sir Samuel says it would be proper to go to the wounded person and hear what he says, and take it down in writing. Accordingly Thomas Mears, a barber, Joseph Elliot , John Everit and I went. He produces a writing; this is as near as we could take it. We took notice of the words, and put them down in writing; and when we were not certain we read it to him, and asked him again, and he to each answered, yes.

Q. Was the paper read over to him after it was wrote?

Watkeis. I can't say it was, but we read it by parts as we wrote it.

Q. Give an account the best you can of what he declared.

Watkeis. It was on the 23d day; he declared Mr. Mills and he had been drinking in company together the best part of the evening, and Mills parted with him at Aldgate. He being in liquor the deceased went after him home, and found him with his wife in his own room. When he entered the room Mills locked the door upon him, and put the key in his pocket, and said, I'll do for you both, and d - n you, you have insinuated something into my wife's head these three months, and then threw a bottle of water at his wife's head. The deceased strove to get out but could not, then he came and ran his knife into his belly, and the deceased pulled it out with his own hand, and with the assistance of Mills's wife, he being drunk, they got him down; then his wife opened the back door into another room, and let the deceased out.

Q. Did he say any thing more?

Watkeis. I don't remember he did. This is the contents of the paper. I don't remember any thing particular that we omitted taking down; here is not a word but what he spoke or to the same purpose.

Thomas Mears and Joseph Elliot confirmed his testimony, as to the account taken in writing from the deceased's mouth.

Bartholomew Edwards . I was going home between the hours of nine and ten at night, I heard somebody say, for God's sake send for a surgeon. I saw a man with his right hand to his belly; I said, what is the matter? he siad Mills the turncock has stabbed me with a long knife. After that I went to Mills's room, there I saw him on his back, and saw a sheath of a knife taken out of his pocket; the knife was bent and bloody, his wife had put it by.

Mr. Within and Mr. Williams, two surgeons that attended him, deposed the wound was the occasion of his death.

Prisoner's Defence.

The deceased and I were always as intimate as two brothers, and so continued to the very last. There was a struggling between us, (my wife not consenting to our drinking-together ) and a bottle fell down out of my hand, and we fell both together, how the wound came I don't know. I was eating a bit of bread and cheese, and had a knife in my hand, but did not know he was wounded till after the people came up into the room.

He called Thomas Dodd , John Oakley , John Gyles , John Ferguson , Robert Cornish , Samuel Sturges , Samuel Terry , William Littlehailes , and John Coleman , who all confirmed that of the deceased and prisoner respecting each other as brothers, and that the prisoner bore the character of a peaceable honest man.

Guilty Death . This being the Friday he received sentence to be executed on the Monday following.


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