Robert Finch, Robert Finch, Killing > murder, 17th July 1754.

Reference Number: t17540717-43
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

391. (L.) Robert Finch was indicted for the wilful murder of Eliz. his wife , May 23 . He stood likewise charged on the coroner's inquest for the said murder. *

John Bates. On Thursday the 23d of May, about a quarter after 7 in the evening, I was going to light the lamp at the cistern in Ludgate , I am scavenger of the house. I met a man, a stranger that came in to see a brother prisoner, who told me there was a woman fell down stairs, and he believed she was fuddled. Then I went with a lighted-piece of paper, which I had in my hand, to see who it was. Then I saw one Jourdan on the stairs; I desired him to fetch me a large candle, he said he could not. I asked what was the matter, he could not tell, and repeated the words several times. While I then stood by the woman she lifted up her head on one side as she lay at my foot. I jumped over the body and went into the ward for a candle, there I saw the prisoner standing at the upper end of the ward; I went to him and said, Finch, what have you done? done, said he, I know I have done it, and came up to me and gave me two letters; I said don't give me your letters, come down along with me. I went down into the cellar to light my candle, he went with me. I left him in the laundry. When I was below I saw Mr. Taylor, sitting in the bar in a fright. I stood to see what was the matter with him, he told me Finch had killed his wife, so I staid below while the gentlewoman, Mrs. Inskip, that keeps the tap, went up stairs to see if it was so or not. She came down and said he had almost cut her head off; then I went up, and when I came into the lummery I was ordered by the steward of the house to search Mr. Finch, who was there at that time; he immediately put his hand into his waistcoat pocket and said, here is the razor, and gave it me, it had blood on it. Produced in court with blood dried on it. Then I took off his neckcloth, garters, and buckles, and was ordered to carry him into the strong room by the steward and constable of the day. Then I said to him, Mr. Finch, do you chuse to see your wife as you pass by, or shall I put a handkerchief over your eyes? He chose the latter. Then I led him to the strong room, there I searched him again and took a penknife out of his pocket my reason for searching him was left he should make away with himself.

Q. Did you think he might do so from any disorder of mind, or lunacy ?

Bates. No, none at all, but as he had done a desperate action, I knew not but he might do so to himself. I tied his arms behind him with a cord, and locked him into the room till we could get a pair of hand-cuffs, which were sent for from Newgate. When they were brought, we went to him; at opening the door he sat on the bench with his hands behind him as I left him. I asked him what he had been doing twice, but he gave me no answer. I laid hold of his arm, and said, Why you have broke the rope. He gave me no answer. I went and put the handcuffs on. When he came to himself, we began to ask him how he could be guilty of such a rash action; he said, nobody could tell the provocation he had to do it. When I have sat up with him in the night, he would frequently say, he would do it was it to do again, sooner than any man should enjoy his wife. He told me the time we left him he had tied himself up twice, and his neck appeared red, and shewed the mark of the rope.

On his cross-examination he said he never look'd upon the prisoner to be disordered in his mind, there were no signs of lunacy all the time he knew him; that he appeared as a man in his senses; and that he was very well respected by the whole house.

Henry Cleaver Taylor. On the 23d of May, about 7 in the evening, I was coming up out of the cellar; the stairs front those where the murder was committed, I saw the deceased fall down within five or six stairs of the bottom. I turned round and ran to the bar, and told Mrs. Inskip that I was frighted out of my wits, and desired her to give me a little water, for I thought I should faint. When I came a little to myself, she asked me what had frighted me. I told her I believed Mr. Finch had thrown his wife down stairs, because as she fell she made no motion at all to save herself, but went with a dead weight with her head against the cistern at the bottom of the staircase. I sat in the bar while she went up. She returned in a very short space of time, and said he had cut her head almost off. Then I went up, and two or three persons having set her up on her breech, I saw her head was cut in a manner almost off. I went to the farther end of the lummery, there I saw the prisoner, Mr. Bates, and the Steward, they were searching him. Bates had the razor in his hand. I said to Mr. Finch, How could you be guilty of such a rash action ? He said, the provocations were so great, that was it to do again he would do it; for he was a dead man he was sure.

The prisoner said nothing in his defence, but called John Branham , Edward Cartey , Thomas White , Robert Whittle , and John Mumford , who had each known him nine years, and had failed with him, some on board the Vigilant and Mermaid, they deposed he went by the name of mad Finch or crazy Finch, and was looked upon as a lunatick or frensical man on board, and John Crouch and John Rogers , who had been prisoners with him in Ludgate, deposed they took him to be disordered in his senses at times.

Henry Cleaver Taylor, being asked again as to the prisoner's behaviour, answered, The whole house, which were left behind, were surprized to think any of these people were coming on such an affair; that they did not apprehend him to be disordered in his mind through the whole house, but took him to be as much in his senses as any body in the house.

Bates to the same question said, He never took the prisoner to be disordered or lunatick the time he had been with them, which was about three months.

Walter Fisher deposed he behaved as well as any gentleman could in Ludgate; but sometimes when his wife had stay'd a little away he seemed to be cast down.

Alexander Bartley , deposed he had known the prisoner four or five years, and was very often in company with him; that he always behaved as a good companion, except when fuddled.

John Carpenter deposed he had known him about three months; that he never saw him out of his senses, or any thing like it.

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


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