Richard Parrott, Killing > murder, 21st October 1761.

Reference Number: t17611021-34
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death > death and dissection

318. (M.) Richard Parrott , was indicted for the wilful murder of Anne his wife , by cutting her tongue out , &c. he likewise stood charged on the coroner's inquest for the said murder, September 20 +

William Haines . I was constable; the prisoner was brought to me in a very bloody condition,

all down his shirt, and his fingers. We searched him, and found a clasp-knife upon him. [Producing one.] This is it. I was told he had cut his wife's tongue out. I said to him, Richard, sure you are mad in doing this vile action. He made answer, he was very sensible. I said, by what means could you do this vile act upon her? He said, she had told a great many lies of him, and he took a piece of her tongue off, that she should tell no more. After I had secured him, and charged another officer with him, I went to see his wife at her own house; which was about half a mile from the place where he was brought to me. She lay on the bed, leaning over one side, spitting blood, but could not speak. Her mouth was swelled, and battered in such a manner, there was no such thing as seeing her tongue. She was so swelled and black, she looked like a blackamoor; I should not have known her, though I had known her from a little girl, being born in the same parish.

Q. What parish?

Haines. The parish of Harmansworth ; her son, Richard Parrott , who is about 26 or 27 years of age, took the knife from my hand, and shewed it to his mother; who took it, and put it across her throat; then delivered it to me, and put her hand upon my knee, then her hand upon her own breast; signifying, as we thought, that he kneeled upon her.

Q. Did you see any bruises about her body?

Haines. There were very great marks of violence, one upon the right-side of her neck, another on her nose, that were very black. The next day I saw her again, she was very bad then; that day I delivered him here into Newgate.

Q. Could she speak then?

Haines. No, she could not.

Q. When did she die?

Haines. She lived 'till the 7th of October.

Q. When was this done?

Haines. On the 20th of September.

Q. Did you see her any more after this?

Haines. No, not 'till after she was dead.

Q. What do you think was the cause of her death?

Haines. We have reason to think it was that of cutting her tongue out; to affirm it I cannot; she never was well afterwards.

Prisoner. She was after me with a gun, and threatened to shoot me.

Q. to Haines. Do you know any thing of his wife's attempting to shoot him?

Haines. No, I do not.

Valentine West. I live in the next parish to where the prisoner did; our parishes join near where he lived; so that we did not live much above 200 yards distance. On the 20th of September the children came and alarmed the neighbours, and said their father had cut their mother's tongue out. I made to the house with a neighbour as fast as I could.

Q. What was that neighbour's name?

West. His name is Thomas Pierce We stopped a little to hear if we could hear the woman speak. In the mean time the prisoner came out of the house with a spade in his hand, and some ashes upon it, and threw them down on the dunghill.

Q. Did you see any blood?

West. No, I did not; I said, Hollo, Richard, what is the matter? I spoke pretty loud, knowing him to be pretty hard of hearing. He made no answer, but went into the house. I followed him in, and no sooner turned my head, but I saw the woman sitting; she was very bloody, particularly her mouth; her shift was either torn or cut down; she had no stays on; I cannot say what other cloaths she had on. I said nothing to her, but took him by the collar, and with my left-hand held his right-hand, and said, Lord have mercy upon me, Richard, what have you been at? He said, she has been blowing me, and I have only took a piece of her tongue off. I looked hard at her, and she made motions with her hand to her throat several times.

Q. Which way did she make motions?

West. She put the ends of her fingers to her throat; I said come Richard, go along with me, let you and I go and drink. Aye, said he, where shall we go? His house stands upon the common; he built it himself. I sent for a surgeon, or she would have bled to death. He said, Let me go, and I will send for one. I took him away to the constable's.

Q. Did you see the woman after this?

West. I did several times, but I did not ask her a great many questions.

Q. Could she speak?

West. She could, as I could understand her; she held her hands together, clasping her fingers, and prayed for me; and said, God bless you for coming in at that time.

Q. How long did she live after this?

West. She lived a fortnight and three days. As the prisoner and I were coming down the common, I said, What did you cut it with? it must

be something very sharp; was it a knife, or a razor? He said he cut it with a bit of an old knife.

Q. Did he shew you the knife?

West. No, he did not; nor did I examine him, I only asked him what he had done with the knife. He said he had hid it somewhere.

Q. Was he sober?

West. He was very sober; there was a man in the parish some time ago, that killed his father; I said to the prisoner, you are as bad as Dick Urwin , that killed his father, did not you think of him? His answer was, He was not in his senses, but I am. When we came to the constable's, on the left-hand side of his great coat was a sort of a pocket; there this knife was taken out. [ Producing a longer clasp-knife than the other.]

Q. Did he own this to be the knife with which he cut his wife's tongue out?

West. No he did not.

Q. to Haines. Did you hear him say any thing about this knife?

Haines. He said this was not the knife.

William Frogley . I live at Hounslow.

Q. How near is that to where the fact was committed?

Frogley. It is about four miles distant; I was sent for on a Sunday morning, five weeks ago I believe next Sunday. I went to the woman and found her lying on the bed, with her head hanging over the side, spitting out blood. I ordered the people to get her off the bed, that it might be more handy for me to see what was wounded I looked in her mouth, and saw part of her tongue was gone; but how much, I could form no judgment.

Q. Could she speak?

Frogley. No, she could not then; I believe I was with her about half an hour; with a yptick and lint I stopped the blood. When I found that was stopped, I ordered her to bed, and told her I would send her something to wash her mouth with; and bid her use no force, but be gentle with it, lest it should see it a bleeding again. I left her. The next morning I went again, and found her mouth and jaw greatly swelled.

Q. Could she speak then?

Frogley. No, she could not; she sat up in a chair; I tried to see how much of the tongue he had taken away, but could not discover that; I saw some scurf. Seemingly to stick at the roof of her mouth, and with my instrument removed it, that she might swallow. I ordered her mouth to be poulticed, and for them to keep washing her mouth. I visited her, I believe, on the Tuesday, and found the parts much swelled.

Q. Could she speak then?

Frogley. She could not; then I thought the swelling a small matter subsided, and desired them to supply her with broth; and found, by enquiring of the women, she could swallow with difficulty. I believe I was there on the Wednesday, but am not sure. I visited her continually 'till the swelling came down, which was I believe the fifth day; I thought she was out of danger; I believe the 5th day, she spoke to me, and told me that it was her husband that cut her tongue out. When the swelling came down, I looked into her mouth, and found on the left-side, upon her jaw, something had bruised the jaw more than cutting; I saw scurf lie there, and enquired what he cut it with; she said a knife. I then discovered there was a large piece of the tongue gone; I believe it was on the Sunday I asked her how she came to put her tongue out to let her husband cut it. She could not speak then, but made motions with her hand; she put her hand down, and crawed it up her belly.

Q. What did you understand by that?

Frogley. I could not tell what to understand by it; but the people told me that he offered to rip her up, which I afterwards found to be true. The fifth day she explained that motion; I asked her the question again; she told me he saw, if I did not put my tongue out, that he would rip me up, or cut my throat. I desired them to give her what nourishment she would take, such as paada, broth &c. I attended her 'till the Thursday before her death; then I looked upon her tongue to be out of danger. On the Saturday after, going by the door, I called in to; I saw something, which I found to be a bit of egg. She said she been eating an egg. The next day I called in, she told me the side of her mouth was sore; I could not see any thing. She told me before that he had broke four of her teeth. I thought a stamp might cut her; I thought then she might do very well. She lived 'till Wednesday; that day I saw her last, that day she died.

Q. What did she die of?

Frogley. I cannot directly say. When I saw her that time, I could see, when I went into the room, her cheek violently red. I asked her to get up, that I might see into her mouth; I found that activity gone, as I had observed before; I could hardly get her mouth open. I found some scurf upon her tongue, and got a bit of rig, but could not wipe it off. The people told me she had been taken very ill with a vomiting and purging about two hours. I found her very bad, but did not think

she was so near her latter-end, as it proved to be.

Q. What was the cause of her death?

Frogley. I cannot be clear of that; whether the vomiting and purging, or whether that of cutting out of her tongue, The justice was with me; he asked me my thoughts; I said to him, indeed I cannot be clear; she had a fever.

Q. Was that fever occasioned by the cutting out of her tongue?

Frogley. I cannot say.

Q. What do you think brought on the vomiting and purging?

Frogley. That seemed to be brought on of itself.

Q. Suppose the tongue had not been cut out, would this vomiting and purging have come on?

Frogley. It might be, she being in a weak state; and by the loss of blood, the diseases might carry her off the sooner.

Q. Was there any putrefaction?

Frogley. There was a scurf upon her tongue, but the heat of the fever might cause that; but I could not get at it directly to see what it was.

Q. What is your opinion upon the whole? If her tongue had not been cut, and those disorders had come upon her, upon proper application might she have done well?

Frogley. That might be the case; her constitution having been weakened, they might carry her off; and I cannot say one way or other.

Q. Would not the great loss of blood bring on a fever?

Frogley. Loss of blood generally prevents a fever; we empty the vessels in such a case, that no intamation may succeed.

Q. After people have been wounded, and lost a great deal of blood, is it not common to have a fever follow it?

Frogley. Not from the loss of blood.

Q. Does not a wound often cause fever?

Frogley. It often does cause a great fever; that is the reason we make evacuations, in order to prevent that fever.

Q. Did you see any bruises on any other parts of her body?

Frogley. No, I did not; I asked her if she was bruised; she told me had kneeled upon her, and tumbled her down, and they bad had a struggle.

Q. Could not that kneeling upon her bring on a fever?

Frogley. I did not find any fever upon her 'till the Wednesday; she said he broke out four of her teeth, in attempting to cut out her tongue.

Q. Did the tongue appear to be cut out?

Frogley. It did, within the mouth.

Mary Dew . The officers of the parish desired I would go and nurse the deceased; I went to her on the Monday, the day after the fact was done. I staid a week with her; she was very much swelled, and her mouth very much abused; I poulticed it, and brought it down, and put plaisters of brown paper and treacle to her throat.

Q. Did she ever speak to you?

M. Dew. She did, on the Wednesday; I sat down by her, and asked her if her husband and she bad had any words, to bring it to that; she told me no, no farther than this, he called up the biggest boy and girl to go and fetch the cow, and she said, Richard, why need the boy go, one can go as well as both, the girl goes every day of the week, let the boy go this morning; it was very wet, and the girl almost naked; she got up to make a fire against the girl came in, and her husband was immediately at her heels: she wondered what was the reason he got up so soon; he pinn'd the door; she said, Richard, why do you pin the door? He went up to her, and took her by the shoulders. Sit down, said he. What should I sit down for, Richard said she. She sat down, he took her by the shoulder again; he kissed her; she thought her husband was very loving; she wished he had no evil in his heart; he went to look for a snickasee knife, then he went to her, and in a devilish motion, and down'd with her across the hearth, and swore, G - d d - n her, if she did not put out her tongue he would kill her, he would rip her up; she put up her hands, and said, Pray, Richard, for God's-sake don't kill me; why do you offer to hurt me? I don't hurt you. He tore three stumps of teeth from one side of her head, and four from the other; but if he had done her no other harm, she should do very well; for when she got a little cold it went to them stumps, and gave her pain. Still he insisted upon her tongue; she scuffled as long as she was able, till she thought she must die; he pinched her upon her cheek and nose, till her nose was as black as a hat; she said she believed he opened her mouth, but remembered nothing of her putting her tongue out; her throat was very black.

Q. Was much of her tongue cut off?

M. Dew. It was cut to the root, all beyond the guides underneath.

Q. How long did you nurse her?

M. Dew. I nursed her the first week, and no longer.

Q. Did you see the body after she was dead?

M. Dew. I was sent for after she was dead, I

took the sheet from the body as far as decency allowed, and all down the right-side from her neck, down by her ribs, ws as black as a hat.

Q. Upon the whole, what do you think was the cause of her death?

M. Dew From the best of my knowledge, I think it must be the wound that he gave her.

Lydia Cooper . I lived by the prisoner upwards of seven years, I have known him to be a very barbarous cruel man to his wife, ever since I lived by him.

Q. Do you know any thing of this affair?

L. Cooper. Yes, I was the first woman that went to her assistance; I found her in a very dismal manner, sitting in a chair, by the feet of the bed; she had neither cap or handkerchief on, and the bosom of her shift open as low as her apron-string, and her breasts bare, her mouth all bloody; she sat spitting, and pulling the blood out of it; she pointed to a porridge-pot, there I looked, and saw a handkerchief and a clout, all bloody: she said, Hem, hem, hem, describing he had cut off the string of her petticoat to take off her apron; but as her tongue was cut out, I could not properly understand her.

Q. Did she tell you when she came to her speech?

L. Cooper. I sat up with her one time, and said to her, Mrs. Parrot, if you can make me sensible of the truth, do; she leaned up in the bed upon her elbow, and shewed me with her right-hand cross the fire-place, with her face towards the side of the bed, and her head towards the window; and then she clapt her hand to her throat, mouth, and nose, and said that she expected nothing but death.

Q. How did she speak?

L. Cooper. She spoke very thick, and mentioned a snickasnee knife, and told me he insisted upon her tongue, and when she thought she must die, she believed she opened her mouth, and he, in the struggling, got the knife into her mouth, and pulled out several teeth; that he turned the knife first on one side, then on the other, and cut the roof of her mouth and sides.

Q. Was her tongue cut out?

L. Cooper. It was.

Q. Did you ever look into her mouth?

L. Cooper. I never could have a heart to look in.

Q. Did you see her often?

L. Cooper. I saw her most days till she died.

Q. What do you attribute her death to?

L. Cooper. To the want of subsistance to support her; she somewhat revived, and told me, with tears in her eyes, she should be starved to death, for she could not swallow.

Q. Do you think that was occasioned by the wound she received?

L. Cooper. To the best of my judgment this wound brought all upon her, and was the cause of her death.

Sarah Marsh . I went to see the deceased as a neighbour, the Thursday after she had received the injury; then she was come to her speech.

Q. Did you see her before?

S. Marsh. I had seen her on the Monday before, then she was much swelled all over her mouth and throat, and could not take any thing in, to support her.

Q. Did she tell you any thing on the Thursday?

S. Marsh. She told me her husband threw her down in the house, and kneeled upon her, and said, D - n you, you b - h, if you don't open your mouth, and let me have your tongue, I'll rip you up; and that he cut it out by violence.

Q. Did she say some of her teeth were out?

S. Marsh. I did not hear her.

Q. Did you see the body after she was dead?

S. Marsh. I did, when the coroner sat upon her.

Q. What do you think was the occasion of her death?

S. Marsh. I believe it turned to a mortification, and by that means killed her.

Prisoner's Defence.

She was running after me to shoot me, and I ran away as fast as I could; she frightned me; I was down in Hertfordshire, making of hurdler.

For the Prisoner.

Richard Parrott . I am son to the prisoner at the bar, my mother sent for me a fortnight before this accident happened, by one of my young brothers; he told me my mother would have me come to see my father, because he was out of his mind.

Q. How long is that ago?

Parrott. It is two months ago last Monday.

Q. Where do you live?

Parrott. At Richmond. I went and saw my father, and got two young men to go with me; my father and mother were in the reaping-field; the first words my mother said to me were, My dear, your father is out of his mind, and I am

frightned out of my wits, fearing something should happen. My father seemed to be concerned about something, he told me people came after him to kill him; and my mother told me he ran away, and hid himself in a grove.

Q. Was this by day or night?

Parrott. I do not know that; my father told me my mother had poisoned him, and that she had dressed his cloaths with poison; my mother said he had cut his cloaths to pieces, and buried them.

Q. How long did you stay with him?

Parrott. I staid about three or four hours; he told me people were coming after him, and there were very bad things, and he thought he should not live long.

Q. Was he sober?

Parrott. He was.

Q. Were there many people reaping in the field at the time?

Parrott. No; my father and mother were by themselves, only the children; we went to the alehouse, and I gave them some beer.

William Appleton . I went along with Richard Parrott to see his father and mother, from Richmond.

Q. How far is Richmond from their house?

Appleton. I believe it is seven miles, or better. I saw the prisoner in the reaping-field with his wife.

Q. How long were you with them?

Appleton. We were there about three or four hours.

Q. Who else were there with them?

Appleton. There were the children, and nobody else.

Q. What did you hear him say, or see him do?

Appleton. We asked his wife what was the matter with him; she said she thought he was out of his mind, she could not tell what was the matter with him, she was almost afraid to live with him, he got up at odd hours, and ran about, and conceited people were coming to kill him, and seemed out of his mind.

Q. What did you hear him say?

Appleton. He said she had poisoned his cloaths, and he had cut them all to pieces, and buried them; he said he was forced to leave them off, for the poison eat into them, and would have killed him, if he had not left them off.

Thomas Cox . I live at Richmond, I was there the very day the accident happened, which was on a Sunday; I being a neighbour to his son, he sent for me to go along with him: when we came to the place where his father was, he asked his father how he came to serve his mother so; he said she did not use him well, she had tried to poison him, and make away with him, and she had dressed his cloaths all over with brimstone, and he had buried them in the ground behind his house. His son went to see if he could find them, I went along with him, he took a spade, and dug his coat up, but we could not perceive any thing done to it.

Q. Was it bloody?

Cox. No, it was not: it had been buried, as I was informed, three weeks before this happened.

Q. Do you know any thing of his being out of his senses?

Cox. I have heard his son say he had been out of his mind.

Q. Did you ever see any act of lunacy by him yourself?

Cox. No.

Q. to R. Parrott. Why did you not confine your father, when you was told he was out of his senses?

Parrott. I was not able.

Q. What was you sent for to do?

Parrott. I was sent for to talk to him.

Q. to Haines. How long have you known the prisoner?

Haines. I have known him from a little boy, we were both born in a parish.

Q. Have you heard what Cox the witness and the son have said?

Haines. I have, but I know nothing of it; I never saw the prisoner do any act of lunacy.

Q. How did he behave under your care?

Haines. He behaved very sensibly and well.

Q. Did you ever hear from the neighbours that he was out of his senses?

Haines. There was some talk of what this young man speaks of; but as to the truth of it, I can say nothing to that.

Q. Was the prisoner capable of knowing good from evil while under your care?

Haines. He was.

Q. to West. Do you think he was capable of knowing good from evil?

West. I believe at the time he did it, he did not think he should be hanged for it; but he knew what he did.

Guilty Death .

This being Friday, he received sentence immediately, to be executed on the Monday following, and his body to be dissected and anatomized.


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