Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 24 October 2014), May 1676 (16760510).

Old Bailey Proceedings, 10th May 1676.

A true NARRATIVE Of the PROCEEDINGS At the Sessions Holden for London and Middlesex, At Justice-hall in the Old-bayly, The 10th and 11th days of May, 1676.

Setting forth the Tryal and Condemnation of the man for having several Wives, and the woman for having several Husbands: and other most material Passages

And also an account of the Tryal of the Woman who was arraigned as being accessary to the Sacrilegious Robbery of St. Giles's-Church: With the Tryal of the man for buying the Plate of her.

And likewise how many are Condemn'd, how many Burn'd in the hand, and Transported.

These are to Satisfie all People, that the Book of the Sessions with the Name of John Millet , was the Tryals four Sessions ago.

With Permission, Ro. L'Estrange.

LONDON: Printed for J. A.

A true NARRATIVE OF THE POCEEDINGS At the Sessiions Holden for London and Middlesex, At Justice-hall in the Old-bayly, The 10th and 11th days of May, 1676.

THe Malefactors Arraigned every month at the Sessions in the Old-bayly, being commonly so numerous, and their Crimes so various, as well as their methods of putting them in practice, so new-invented and unheard-of; It has been thought convenient from time to time to continue the publication of the Transactions there to the world, that the honest securely innocent may for the future be forearm'd by requisite caution and the ill disposed, warned to leave off and avoid such subtile and mischievous practices.

The Sessions began on Wednesday the 10th of this Instant May, and though it determined the following evening, yet to relate exactly all the Minute circumstances of the Villanies there unravel'd, would bee too tedious; we shall therefore give onely a brief, yet most true, and plain account of the most material Passages.

Amongst which we must reckon the trial of that much talkt of person charged by common Fame with having Seventeen Wives, though to do him Right it must be acknowledged that he was Indicted only for four , and being Arraigned upon the first, knowing what punctual proof there was prepared both of the Ministers that performed the Ceremony and others, and that if he were found Guilty on that, he should be excluded from the benefit of his Clergy upon the rest that he should be Convicted of, therefore being well tutor'd in that Skill, which not a fresh man in that University is ignorant of, He very frankly at once pleaded Guilty to that and all other Indictments within the benefit of Clergy, and so prevented all farther disquisition of the circumstances, and we are sorry were are forced to fail the Readers expectations in a Relation which would certainly have been very rare and divertiseing; But not wholly to disappoint their curiosity we hope we may insert what could gather from the most credible Reports concerning him, which is, that for about five years last past or more he has made it his business to ramble up and down most parts of England pretending himself a person of quality, and assuming the names of good families, and that he had a considerable Estate per Annum, though in Truth he was old sutor ultra Crepidam, a Knight of the Order of the famous Crispin, being originally by profession a Shomaker , and not many years since a Journyman; but on the pretensions aforesaid, where ever he came if he heard of any rich Maid, or wealthy widow at their own disposal, he would very formally make Love to them, wherein being of handsome taking presence, and Master of a voluble insinuating tongue, he commonly succeeded to engage their easie affections. And having inveigled them to marry him, and for some small time injoy'd their persons, and got possession of their more beloved Estates, he would march off in Triumph with what ready mony and other portable things of value he could get, to another strange place, and there lay a new plot for a second Adventure, but was at last discovered in the West, and apprehended, and at the great charge of the Prosecutor brought up by Habeas Corpus hither, but however subtilly he behaved himself heretofore, I conceive he fail'd in his politicks, when being brought to the Bar and demanded what he could say for himself why judgment should not pass upon him, whereas 'tis believed he might have had the benefit of the Clergy, he obstinately waived that, and insisted for Transportation, which being not thought convenient to be granted, because he stood charged in the Sheriffs custody with an Action of a thousand pounds, he thereupon received sentence with the rest to be hang'd .

To match him there was another (though not so famous) instance of the contrary sex, a woman being indicted for having two husbands at once alive , which being fully proved she was found Guilty , and her sex not being capable of the benefit of the Clergy, was likewise condemned to dye .

Another woman was arraigned as accessary to the sacrilegious Robbery of St. Giles's Church Plate , for which some were executed last Sessions. The witness against her was the same upon whose Testimony (chiefly) they were condemned; who gave evidence that they sold the plate to her, at three shillings eight pence per ounce, and that she paid them for it all in Clipt-mony, for which they forced her to make some further allowance. But it seems she was so cunning, as not to drive the bargain in person, but kept one Chamber, discoursing them in another; so that they never perfectly saw her, upon which, and some other flaws in the evidence, the Jury were favourable as to acquit her.

A Goldsmith was also Arraigned for buying the same Plate , and some Prisoners swore they saw him such a day, pay her part of the mony with an acknowledgment of more satisfied before; but he making it to appear that he was at that time out of Town, &c. was likewise found not Guilty .

There were three very gentile fellows Indicted for Felony and Burglary, stealing plate and monies to a great value , from a Gentleman of good quality in Westminster . They all confessing the Fact, pleaded Guilty , and beg'd the mercy of the Court, so that there was no farther need of reproof or examination of Circumstances, 'tis said they received intimation of the prize, by applying themselves to this Gentleman (being meer strangers) on the account of getting a reprieve (on many faigned Arguments and Allegations) for some of their Confederates Condemned last Sessions, and then with a most barbarous Ingratitude Robbb'd him for his Civility. However, they now pretended this was the first Felonious Fact that ever they committed, yet it being confessedly a Burglary, they were justly condemned to dye according to Law.

Three women of Stepney were indicted ( one as principal the other two as accessaries) for stealing Hemp enough to make Halters for all the Rogues in Christendome, that is to say, no less than four thousand weight in one Indictment, and three thousand in another. It beingsuggested that they had got a Key to a Rope-maker s Warehouse, whence at several times they purloyned those vast quantities. But no direct proof appearing, they were all acquitted .

A Schoolmaster was arraigned for a Rape or Carnal knowledge of a female Child of about seven or eight years of Age, but upon a Judicious Inquisition into the matter he came off being only found guilty of an Assault commited on her .

Two Men and two Women Convicted of several Burglaries and Felonies , being all old and notorious Malefactors, received sentence of Condemnation .

A Broker and a Woman that kept an Inn , took their respective Tryals, as accessaries for receiving stoln Goods , but the Witnesses being Prisoners, and thought to charge them out of malice, both were discharged .

There were in all nine condemned to dye, five were allowed their Clergy, and burnt in the hand, and six ordered for Transportation.

There was a Man some time before the Sessions brought Prisoner to Newgate, on suspition of murthering his Wife, but on examination of the matter, it appearing that he was Innocent, and the Woman a Felo de se, or self-murtheress, the Grand Jury returned the Bill Ignoramus.