JAMES LEGG, Killing > murder, 28th October 1801.

Reference Number: t18011028-39
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

798. JAMES LEGG was indicted for the wilful murder of William Lambe .(The case was opened by Mr. Attorney-General.)

JOHN FORSTER sworn. - Examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. You are, I believe, a pensioner in Chelsea-hospital? - A. Yes.

Q. You are a captain, I believe? - A. I am in that stile called a captain.

Q. Do you know the unhappy man at the bar? - A. Yes, and have some years.

Q. On the morning of the 2d of this month, did you go into the apartment of Lamb and the prisoner? - A. Yes, between seven and eight in the morning.

Q. What was it that particularly called you into the room in the morning? - A. As I was coming down stairs in the morning, I heard a noise; I stopped upon the landing of the passage, and heard a pistol discharged; I then went into the room, and saw the dead man laying on his back along-side of his bed, and saw the blood running through his shirt; I stood in amaze, and did not know what to say; the prisoner was then in his own bedchamber, but he came out of it, and said, I have done it.

Q. Before those words were made use of by him, had you addressed any thing to him, or said any thing about what you had seen or saw? - A. No; he said, it is I that have done it, twice over.

Q. Did he come forth from his bed-chamber at that time? - A. Yes, when he said that.

Q. What had he about him at that time? - A. I took a pistol from him at that time.

Q. Did you examine that pistol, whether it was loaded or not, or whether it had been discharged? - A. It was a discharged pistol, with the cock down.

Q. Was there a smell of powder in the room? - A.Surely there must be.

Q. What further passed? - A. A little after, I found a broken pistol laying upon a chest of drawers; Charles Coates, the Governor's servant, was in the room just before me; I kept the pistol I took from the prisoner; the serjeant-major came, and ordered Charles Coates and me to stay, and take care of the prisoner, while he went to fetch somebody; Coates said to me, perhaps that pistol will shoot somebody; I took it up to see if there was any priming in it; there was some, which might have been in sometime, but am not sure; I took the ramrod, and put it in, and said, there is not much in here; then I turned the screw-end down, and drew out a little bit of white paper, and took out a ball, which I have got here; I then put the ramrod down again, and felt no powder in the barrel.

Q. During this time, did any thing pass between you and the prisoner? - A. He demanded the pistols of me, and said, he would lock them up in his drawers, and that he had bought them; there was no more conversation.

Q. Had you known them both for sometime? - A. Six or seven years, but knew nothing of their affairs.

Q. Did you know of any existing quarrel? - A. No; I know nothing of it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. You said, this broken pistol had the appearance of having been loaded sometime? - A. From the pan, it seemed as if it had; if you understand the nature of powder, after it has been put in sometime, it will grow soft.

- LAMB sworn. - Examined by Mr. Fielding.

Q. You are the wife of the deceased; tell the story of the melancholy event that took place on the 2d of October? - A. I got up in the morning a little before seven; Mr. Legg was walking about the common room, swearing, and quite in an ill humour, I thought; I asked him what was the matter, when he began to swear the more, and said, I will turn you out of the room, if you speak another work; my husband was then in bed and asleep; I thought I heard him stirring, and opened the door to see; he had just got out of the bed, when the prisoner rushed past me, and put a pistol into his hand; he took it, turned it about, and looked at it, and said, what is this for; the room was dark, and then he threw it into the common room; my husband had just put on a little flannel waistcoat, and stood up against the door; the prisoner then, after my husband had thrown the pistol away, rushed up immediately, and fired at him, as he saw him through the glass door; when he had done so, he looked at me, and said, I have done it; I saw the blood coming out of his breast, and I cried out, murder; he fell directly; and expired; he endeavoured to call my name, but could not.

Q. You had known this unhappy man for sometime? - A. Yes, some years.

Q. How long had you lived with your husband, while the prisoner was in this common room? - A. All the while the prisoner was there, and sometime before.

Q. Was there any ill-will between your husband and this man? - A. God knows what ill-will he had, but my husband had none towards him; I took him to be a very solid man, for he washed

his own linen, cooked his own victuals, and took the sacrament regularly, so I thought he was a man rather better than what he has turned out.

CHARLES COATES sworn. - Examined by Mr. Abbott. Q. Be so good as to tell us what you know of this affair? - A. I went into the deceased's room in the morning of the 2d of October, and found him laying quite dead on his back; I never perceived him move hand or foot; after I looked at the body, I was turning round, and the prisoner came towards the bed-room; he began to say, spreading his hands, I am the person; I immediately said, what, did you shoot him; and he said, I did, or to that effect; I understood him plainly that he had done it.

Q. Did he give you any reason why he had done it? - A. I said, good God, why you have killed him, he is quite dead, how could you do so; he paused, and said, I gave him a pistol in his hand, to come out and fight me like a man, he would not, but threw it down, then I tired.

Q. Did he make any further observation? - A. When he first told me, he was very little agitated; I could almost have said, you are joking, but did not; afterwards, he walked up and down the room, and grew more agitated; he said a great deal more, but I cannot take upon myself to repeat exactly; he said, it is done, and so on; I overheard him say, I am satisfied it is done; that was some time after, or to that effect.

WILLIAM NORTH sworn. - I am the surgeon of Chelsea-hospital: I saw the deceased lying by the bed-side, and found the mark of a ball, which had penetrated on the right side, and satisfied me it must have killed him; I afterwards examined the body, and found the ball went in between the fifth and sixth ribs through the lungs, and through the large veins of the heart, and made its way under the shoulder on the opposite side, which was immediate death; the fifth rib was broke.

Q. Do you know the prisoner? - A.Perfectly well.

Q. Had you ever observed in his conduct any thing to induce you to believe he was deranged? - A. He never had the least appearance of it, in my opinion.

Q. How long have you known him? - A.Ever since he has been in the hospital.

Prisoner's defence. My Lord - After repeated insults, I prepared a case of pistols, according to what I had mentioned to my adversary, that I would prepare for him at any time he chose, to make a decision of the quarrels that had been between us from time to time; in the morning, he came out to me in a tyrannical manner; I told him I was prepared with a case of pistols, and would give him his choice; I went to my drawer, took them out, held them at arm's length, and said, take your choice, which he did, by violently snatching it from me, and throwing it with violence towards me, on which I cocked my pistol, fired, and shot him; had he done as a soldier should do - have taken a pistol moderately, and made an agreement to go to a proper distance, requiring or agreeing which should give the word to fire, then it would have been done after another manner; he was a tyrannical tempered man, and not easy to deal with; from time to time he aggravated me so, and harrassed my life so much, that I was driven to silence or moderate him; there was not one person but the deceased's wife present.

For the prisoner.

JOSEPH RYLAND sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q.Where do you live? - A.At Chelsea, and am a tobacconist; I have known the prisoner ten years, to the time of his being apprehended.

Q. Have you observed lately any thing in his deportment to lead you to conclude he is not in his right senses? - A. Yes.

Q. How long before the 2d of October? - A. This year past, he used to buy tobacco of me; one day, about half a year ago, he talked very wild, and said he was going to have a company, and be in commission afresh, under Lord Cornwallis in Ireland.

Q. Did he appear to be intoxicated? - A. Not the least.

Q. Did he say any thing more? - A. He asked what was the best way to destroy a man.

Q. Was that at the same time? - A. No, about seven o'clock in the morning; I told him, I thought shooting was the best, but if it was me, I should drown myself; I understood it, as applied to himself; I never saw him again till he was in Clerkenwell, when he asked me to bring him pistols, and I told him I dared not.

Court. Q. Has any thing else occurred to induce you to keep that opinion? - A. I always looked upon him to be insane, but I remember nothing particular after that, or before it; he was always alone, never with any body, and I don't suppose that he would take any notice of the Governor of the College; he was always wild.

Cross-examined by Mr. Attorney General. Q. He expressed a desire to have a commission under Lord Cornwallis? - A. Yes.

Q. He is a captain now? - A. He is called a captain, but is only a serjeant.

Q. I believe several of the invalids have been sent to Ireland during the late war? - A. I believe they have.

Q. And he is of that country? - A. Yes; he said he should like to be in actual service again.

Q. Was there any instance of a serjeant going out with a commission? - A.Never.

Q. He expressed a wish to be in actual service

again? - A. Yes, and I looked upon that to be great insanity; and wishing to have a company.

Q. You say he talked about the most expeditious way of killing a man? - A. He asked which was the best way to destroy a man, and I took it to be himself; he did not say whether it was to destory himself or others.

Q. Did those things impress your mind - have you mentioned it to any body in the house to take care of him? - A. I did not mention it to hardly any body at all, not thinking any thing would happen from the poor man.

Q. If the derangement had appeared to be considerable, should you not have thought it your duty to have communicated it to some person in the house? - A. I thought it would go off again; he always walked in this manner, (with his arms across.)

ANN GRANT sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney.

Q. How long have you known the prisoner? - A. About nine years; I am nurse in the Old Infirmary, at Chelsea; the prisoner was in the hospital, under my care, from the beginning of the year to the 10th or 11th of May; and, during that time, I saw a very great change in him, which I never saw before; a lowness, a melancholy and deranged state; knowing him so long, I took the opportunity of asking him what was the matter with him, and the reason of his melancholy; he told me his mind was confused; that he had no rest night or day; that he was hurried from place to place, and could not tell what he was doing; and I really was afraid he would make away with himself; I was always unhappy when he was out of my sight, for fear he should do himself an injury; I never mentioned it to the doctor, because he was harmless; after he left the Infirmary, I often met him in that melancholy state, and sometimes when I spoke to him, he would start like a person surprized out of a sleep; sometimes he would give me an answer, and sometimes only just a bow; I still observed that lowness and melancholy, and that his head was always confused down to the time of this unfortunate event.

Cross-examined by Mr. Fielding. Q. He was visited by the medical gentlemen? - A. Yes.

Q. They had just the same means of observing his conduct as you? - A. Yes.

Q. Did you mention it to them? - A. No; I did not like to do it, because I knew it would hurt his feelings.

MARY- ANN BARCLAY sworn. - I am partner with Mrs. Grant in the Infirmary, and have known the prisoner some years; I observed his drooping and melancholy, but can say no more than Mrs. Grant has; I have sometimes met him after he left the Infirmary, and spoke to him, when he has started as if he was suddenly waked.

JOHN ADCOCK sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. How long have you known Legg, the prisoner? - A. Very near two years; we were in one room together.

Q. Have you observed any thing in his conduct to induce you to think he was not in his right mind? - A. Not at all; I am both blind and deaf.

GUILTY , Death .

First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Heath.


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