FRANCIS SMITH, Killing > murder, 11th January 1804.

Reference Number: t18040111-79
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

139. FRANCIS SMITH was indicted for the wilful murder of Thomas Millwood .

JOHN LOCKE sworn. - Q. Where do you live? - A. At Hammersmith.

Q. What is your profession? - A. A wine-merchant.

Q. Do you know any thing of the manner in which the deceased came by his death? - A. On the 3d of this month, at half past ten at night, I met Francis Smith ; he informed me he had shot a man, who he believed to be the pretended ghost of Hammersmith .

Q. There had been such a rumour, had there? - A. For a considerable time; I went with him, and the watchman.

Q. Did the watchman come up to you? - A. The watchman was in company with me; we went up Cross-lane.

Q. All three of you? - A. Yes, and Mr. George Stowe with us; it is a cross lane that crosses Black Lion-lane and Beaver-lane; we saw the deceased lying apparently dead; Mr. Stowe consulted what was to be done with the deceased; we sent for the high-constable, and ordered him to come down to see what was to be done.

Q. What appearance had the body of the deceased? - A. No appearance of life.

Q. Did you observe the head, or any part of the body? - A. I observed the head; it appeared to be shot on the lower part of the jaw on the left side.

Q. What did the prisoner say? - A. He seemed very much agitated; I told him what I thought of the consequence of firing; he said, he had fired, and did not know it was that person; it was an extreme dark night; the prisoner appeared very much agitated, and I advised him to go to his lodgings.

Q. Did he say any thing had passed between him and the deceased? - A. He said he had spoke to him twice, and received no answer.

Cross-examined by Mr. Const. Q. You have said there had been some talk about a ghost? - A. Yes, for some time, I suppose for five weeks previous to that.

Q. Had you, among others, ever seen the figure? - A. No, I had not.

Q. You know, I believe, however unfortunate it has turned out, that almost all the young men had gone out? - A. Yes, several parties had gone out.

Q. Which was publicly known and talked of? - A. Yes.

Q. The dress of the phantom had also been described? - A. Yes, and corresponding very much with the dress of the deceased.

Q. What was that dress? - A. Linen twowsers entirely white, washed very clean, a waistcoat of flannel, apparently new, very white, and an apron, which he wore round him; his trowsers came down almost to the edge of his shoes.

Q. What was he? - A. A bricklayer , I am informed, I did not know him.

Court. Q. What was reputed to be the appearance of the mischievous person? - A. In white sometimes, and sometimes in the skin of a beast; a calf skin, or something of that sort.

Mr. Const. Q. From the communication of the prisoner, you knew of the unfortunate accident? - A. Yes.

Q. You observed he was in great trepidation? - A. Yes, wonderfully so; so much so, that he could hardly speak.

Q. Do you recollect whether, in the disclosure, he told you of the conduct of the deceased, and what he did? - A. He said he advanced to him, and irritated his fears, or something of that sort.

Q. That he called twice, and the figure advanced to him, and raised his fears more? - A. Yes, and which was the case certainly.

Q. This lane is described as a very dark lane? - A. Yes, very dark.

Q. And it was a very dark night? - A. Yes.

Q. I understand the lane is inclosed between two hedges? - A. Yes, and if it was a light night, it would be dark in the lane, though it is not wider than from me to you, (about four yards,) you could not perceive any body on the other side of it.

Q. The prisoner, I understand, is in the Excise? - A. He is.

Q. You have known him some time? - A. I have; he lives just by me.

Q. Did he surrender himself afterwards? - A. Directly; I advised him to go to his lodgings; he went, and afterwards when they called to him, he came down directly, but he wished to surrender himself in the first instance; he said first, I wish you would take me into custody, or send for somebody.

Q. What is his disposition? - A. A very mild one.

Q. And a man of humanity? - A. Yes.

Q. Generally esteemed? - A. I don't know any one that has any reason to say any thing against him; he is generally liked.

- GIRDLER sworn. - Q. You are a watchman at Hammersmith? - A. Yes.

Q. You went with Mr. Locke on the 3d of this month? - A. Yes.

Q. Tell me what you observed with respect to the deceased? - A. I saw him laying upon his back in the lane.

Q. In what condition was he? - A. Laying on his back quite straight.

Q. What did you observe with regard to his person - did he appear to be alive or dead? - A. He was quite dead.

Q. Did you observe any wound about him? - A. No farther than in the jaw.

Q. What sort of wound? - A. Just on the left side; it appeared as if it was done by the shot.

Q. Tell me every thing you heard and saw? - A. I was called by Mrs. Honor at the White Hart, and Mr. Smith came up there, after he had shot the man.

Q. Was that the occasion of your going to the place where the man was shot? - A. Yes.

Q. What did he say or do? - A. We met Mr. Locke and Mr. Stowe at the corner of Black Lion-lane; I went down with Mr. Smith.

Q. What did Smith say to you when he came there? - A. He said he had hurt the man; I said, I hope you have not hurt him much; says he, I have, and I fear very bad.

Q. You, and Mr. Locke, and Mr. Stowe, went to the deceased? - A. Mr. Smith and I went first, and Mr. Locke and Mr. Stowe came up immediately after.

Q. Did Smith desire you to go? - A. Yes.

Q. What passed when you came to the place where the deceased lay? - A. Nothing passed then.

Q. Did the prisoner say any thing? - A. I don't remember his saying any thing farther about it.

Q. What did you do when you got there? - A. Carried him to the Black Lion.

Q. Had you any meeting with the prisoner in Beaver-lane that night, or any night before? - A. I met him at the corner of Beaver-lane that night, and he said he was going to search after the ghost.

Q. What time was it you met him there? - A. About half past ten; I said, I would come round after I had cried the hour, and search the lanes, and we would take him if possible; we agreed, if we met in the lane, to say who comes there? Friend. Advance, friend.

Q. What did you do? - A. I went upon my own business.

Q. Did you hear the gun fired? - A. Yes, just before I came to Black Lion-lane.

Q. What did you do on hearing the report? - A. I did not take any notice of it, because I hear them every quarter of an hour, almost all night.

Q. Do you mean you hear guns fire frequently in the night-time? - A. Yes.

Q. What did you do then? - A. We took the body to the Black Lion.

Q. Did you meet any young woman as you were going to the White Hart? - A. No.

Q. You said before the Justice that you did? - A. Mrs. Honor's maid came with a candle, and called me, and said, I was wanted to go along with Mr. Smith.

Q. Did you see the prisoner with a gun in his hand any time that evening? - A. He had a gun in his hand when I met him at the corner of Beaver-lane.

Q. When you came to the body of the deceased, did you see a gun there? - A. No.

Q. Did he say any thing about delivering himself up? - A. He told Mr. Locke and Mr. Stowe he would deliver himself up immediately.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. When he told you he was going to look after the ghost, were you armed? - A. I had a pistol with me, as I always have.

Q. Was it dark? - A. It was very dark.

Q. Had you heard the rumour of the appearance of a ghost? - A. Yes, I had seen it myself the Thursday before.

Q. What day did this accident happen? - A. On Tuesday.

Q. What appearance had it when you saw it? - A. It had a white sheet or table-cloth, I cannot say which.

Q. How near to Beaver-lane? - A. It was the other side of the lane.

Q. Near Beaver-lane? - A. Yes, just opposite the four-mile stone.

Q. Did you pursue it? - A. Yes.

Q. When you pursued it, how did it escape? - A. Slipped the sheet or table-cloth off, and then got it over his head; it was just as if his head was in a bag.

Q. How long had the neighbourhood been alarmed with its appearance? - A. About six weeks or two months.

Q. Was the alarm great and general? - A. Yes, very great.

Q. Had considerable mischief happened from it? A. Many people were very much frightened.

Q. Do you know of any mischief that happened to any woman by it? - A. I have heard tell of it, but I don't know it.

Q. There was a rumour of mischief having occurred from it? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you known the prisoner for sometime? - A. Yes.

Q. What character has he borne? - A. Always a very good-tempered young man.

Q. Nothing like a man of a cruel disposition? - A. No.

ANN MILLWOOD sworn. - Q. With whom do you live? - A. With my father and mother, in Black Lion-lane.

Q. The deceased was your brother, I believe? - A. Yes.

Q. Be so good as tell the Jury what you know relating to this melancholy affair? - A. Between ten

and eleven o'clock, my brother came to my father's house; he had been to see for his wife, who was at Mr. Smith's, the Out-riders; my mother and I were just going to bed when he came in; he said, mother, are you going to bed? I made answer, yes, Thomas, is your wife come home? he said, no, she will not be at home for half an hour; I said, will you come in, and I will sit with you? he came in, and I sat with him; we talked a considerable time, till my mother fell asleep; while my brother was sitting, I heard the watchman crying past eleven o'clock, as I thought; I told my brother, your time is expired, you had better go; he did not attend to me, but set for a considerable time; I said, you had better go, it is dangerous for your wife to come home by herself; he jumped up, and said, I will go; he bid my mother and me good night, and went out of the door, and shut it. As soon as he was gone, I jumped up, and went to the door; as soon as I got to the door, I heard a voice say, d - n you, who are you, and what are you, d - n you, I will shoot you? and whilst they were speaking, the gun went off, and I saw the flash of fire from the gun; I went from the door, and called Thomas, as loud as I could, three or four times, but nobody answered. I went into my mother, and said, I do think my brother is shot; I did not stay for an answer, but went up to my father, who was in bed, and said, do get up, for my brother is shot; he would not believe me, and then I went into a room adjoining, and awakened a young man; he would not believe me neither; I went to the window, and called Thomas, as loud as I could call. At last I said, well, if nobody will believe me, I will go myself; I ran out of the door, and when I had got half way from my father's house to my brother's, I saw my brother laying dead at the gate; I took hold of his right hand, and said, speak to me, but he could not, for he was quite dead; his head was laying towards me, as I went up to him.

Q. Who was there at the time? - A. Nobody, I was by myself, I saw nobody; when I saw my brother, I don't know whether I went home directly, or not, but I run to Mrs. Wells afterwards, if I did.

Cross-examined by Mr. Const. Q. You saw the prisoner afterwards with Mr. Locke? - A. Yes; when I came back from Mrs. Wells, I saw Mr. Locke, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Stowe, and Mr. Smith, with my brother; that was as I was coming back from Mr. Wells's, where I went.

Q. Had they a lantern? - A. I don't know, I believe they had.

Q. You say your brother shut the door after him? - A. Yes.

Q. You did not go out exactly at the same time? - A. I got up directly out of my chair, and got upon some bricks adjoining the door; I heard the words spoke.

Q. When you were out of the door? - A. Yes, and when I was upon the bricks before the door.

Q. The dress he had on, was a bricklayer's dress? - A. Yes, his working dress.

Q. You must have heard of this ghost? - A. Yes, I heard great talk of it, that sometimes it appeared in a white sheet, and sometimes in a calf-skin dress, with horns on its head, and glass eyes.

Q. Did it ever occur to you to mention any thing to your brother about his dress? - A. I often spoke to my brother, and asked him, if he saw it, should he be afraid, and he said, yes.

Q. As he was dressed in white, did it happen that you cautioned him about going in that dress? - A. No, I never did, because I never had any such thought of him.

Q. I only mean, as to his being in danger? - A. No.

Q. I don't mean to have it supposed your brother was guilty of it, but as every body was out to take the ghost, did you mention his being in white to him? - A. I did not know it.

Q. You never had any conversation about it? - A. I heard that some people had seen it, but I don't know any thing of it.

Q. Had Smith and your brother any animosity against each other? - A. I don't know, it is impossible for me to know.

- FLOWER sworn. - Q. Did you examine the body of the deceased? - A. Yes; I saw the body the day after the accident, and examined it on the 6th, by order of Mr. Hodgson; it had a gunshot wound on the left side of the lower jaw with small shot, about the size No. 4, one of which had penetrated the virtebre of the neck, and injured the spinal marrow, which has a communication to the brain; I examined the brain, but there was no injury whatever to the brain itself.

Q. What is your opinion with regard to this wound having been the cause of his death? - A. I have no doubt that it was the cause of it; it is what we call necessarily, a mortal wound.

Q. What appearance was there of this having been given by a gun-shot, besides the spinal marrow being touched? - A. It had broke the jaw, and the face was black.

Cross-examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. Did you know any thing of Smith before? - A. I did not; but the character I have heard of him is very good, far from being a vindictive man; on the contrary, a very mild man.

- BROOKS sworn. - On Tuesday, the 3d of January, just before ten o'clock, I took the body of the deceased to the Black Lion; Mr. Stone told me, I must go along with him, and Millwood,

the father; going up a lane, they said, we are going to take the man that shot the other; we went up to the door, and knocked; upon which, Smith looked out of the window, and came down immediately, and surrendered himself; I had him two days and nights in my custody.

Prisoner's defence. My Lord, I went out with a good intention, and when this unhappy affair took place, I did not know what I did; speaking to the deceased twice, and he not answering, I was so much agitated, I did not know what I did; I solemnly declare my innocence, and that I had no intention to take away the life of the unfortunate deceased, or any other man whatever.

Evidence for the Prisoner.

Mrs. FULBROOKE sworn. - Examined by Mr. Const. Q. Are you related by marriage to the deceased? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you heard any conversation at Hammersmith about the ghost? - A. Yes.

Q. In consequence of what you heard about it, did you ever say any thing to the deceased about the dress he wore? - A. On Saturday evening, he and I were at home, for he lived with me; he said he had frightened two ladies and a gentleman who were coming along the terrace in a carriage, for that the man said, he dared to say there goes the ghost; that he said he was no more a ghost than he was, and asked him, using a bad word, did he want a punch of the head; I begged of him to change his dress; Thomas, says I, as there is a piece of work about the ghost, and your cloaths look white, pray do put on your great coat, that you may not run any danger; I don't know what answer he made; he said he wished the ghost was catched, or something of that sort.

THOMAS GROOM sworn. - Examined by Mr. Gurney. Q. Are you servant to Mr. Burgess, a brewer, at Hammersmith? - A. Yes.

Q. Have you heard any thing of this appearance of a ghost? - A. Yes, I heard great talk of it.

Q. Was it your misfortune to be hurt by it? - A. Yes; I was going through the church yard between eight and nine o'clock, with my jacket under my arm, and my hands in my pocket, when some person came from behind a tomb-stone, which there are four square in the yard, behind me, and caught me fast by the throat with both hands, and held me fast; my fellow-servant, who was going on before, hearing me scuffling, asked what was the matter; then, whatever it was, gave me a twist round, and I saw nothing; I gave a bit of a push out with my fist, and felt something soft, like a great coat.

The prisoner called twelve witnesses, who gave him a good character.

The Jury retired for about three quarters of an hour, when they returned a verdict of Manslaughter. The Lord Chief Baron informed them, that according to law, he could not take that verdict, as they were not at liberty to find it; that they must either find the prisoner guilty, or not guilty, generally, there being no circumstance in the case that could reduce it to manslaughter. If they could say, upon their oaths, they did not give credit to the witnesses for the prosecution, then they might find the prisoner not guilty; if they could not say so, then they must convict him, and the prerogative of shewing mercy lay in the Crown.

The Jury immediately pronounced the prisoner

GUILTY , Death , aged 29.

First Middlesex Jury, before the Lord Chief Baron.


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