Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 02 October 2014), April 1726, trial of Katharine Hays (t17260420-42).

Katharine Hays, Killing > petty treason, 20th April 1726.

Katharine Hays , was indicted for Petty Treason, in being Traiterously present, comforting and maintaining the said Thomas Billings in the Murder of the said John Hays , her Husband. Richard Bromage thus depos'd. After the Prisoner Katherine Hays was committed to Newgate, I and Robert Wilkins , and Leonard Myring went to visit her. - I am sorry, says, I, to see you here on this Account. And so am I too, says she, For God's sake, says I, what cou'd put it into your Head, to commit such a barbarous Murder upon your own husband? Why says she, the Devil put it into my Head, but however John Hays was none of the best of the Husbands, for I have been half starved ever since I was married to him. I don't in the least repent of any Thing that I have done, but only in drawing those two poor Man into this Misfortune. I was Six Weeks in importuning 'em to do it; they deny'd it 2 or 3 Times, but at last they agreed. My Husband was made so drunk that he fell out of his Chair, and then Billings (who was a Taylor) and Wood carried him into the back Room, and laid him upon the Bed. I was not in that Room, but in the Fore Room on the same Floor when he was kill'd. But they told me that Billings struck him twice on the Head, with a Pole Ax, and then Wood cut his Throat. When he was dead I went in and held the Candle, while Wood cut his Head quite off, and afterwards they chop'd off his legs and Arms. And why, says I, did you use your Husband in such an inhumane manner. Because, says she, we wanted to get him into an Old Chest, but he was too long, and too big. We thought to have done it with only cutting off his Head, and his Legs, but we were forced to cut off his Thighs and his Arms, and then the Chest would not hold 'em all. The Body and Limbs were put into Blankets, and carried out at several Times the next Night, and thrown into a Pond. But what, says I, could induce the Men to be guilty of all this? Was it the sake of Money? No, says she The Devil was in us all, and we were all got drunk. And what, says I, can you say for your self when you come before the Judge? Why, says she, it will signify nothing to make a long Preamble, I'll hold up my Hand and say that I am Guilty, for nothing can save me, nobody can forgive me. Robert Wilkins depos'd to the same Effect. Leonard Myring thus depos'd. I was with the Prisoner 2 or 3 Times before this; one of those Times was I think on the Sunday after she was committed. - I am glad you're come, says she, for the Men that did the Murder are taken. and have confess'd it. I was not with 'em when they did it, for I was sitting upon a Stool by the Fire in the Shop, but I heard the Blow given, and heard somebody stamp. And why did not you cry out, says I, Because I was afraid they would kill me, says she: and after his Head was cut off it was put into a Pail, and Wood carry'd it out; Billing sat down by me; and cry'd, and would lye all the rest of the Night in the Room with the dead Body. But what, says I, was she first Occasion of your contriving to do this? Why, says she, my Husband came Home drunk one Night and beat me, upon which says Billings, This fellow deserves to be kill'd, and says Wood I'd be his Butcher for a Penny, and I told 'em they might do as they would, and so they made a Contrivance to kill him; but I did not know that they'd do it the Night that it was done on. And why, says I, did not you tell your Husband of this Design to murder him? Because says she, I was afraid that he'd beat me. Joseph Mercer thus depos'd. The Monday after the Prisoner was committed to Newgate; I went to see her. - Mr. Mercer, says she. you are Tom Billing's Friend as well as mine, and therefore pray go and tell him, 'tis in vain for him to deny the Murder of my Husband any longer, for we are both Guilty, and must both die for it. John Blakesly thus depos'd. I live at the Brawns-Head in New-Bond-Street. On the 1st of March last, about 4 in the Afternoon, the Prisoner and 2 Men that pleaded Guilty, came to our House for 6 Quarts of Mountain, which she paid for at the Bar, and saw it put into Bottles. I sent a Porter Home with her that he might know where to fetch the Bottles when they were Empty, but about 9 the same Night, one of those two Men brought back the Empty Bottles, and had another Quart of Wine away with him, in a Bottle which he brought besides ours. Mary Springet thus depos'd. I lodged up Stairs in the House where the Murder was Committed. I had been out all Day at Work, and came home between 8 and 9 at Night, My Husband told me there had been great Merrimaking below, Drinking, and Dancing, and Singing. I was tired and wanted to go to Bed, but I was willing first to know if their Liquor was almost out that I might not, be disturbed when I went to Rest. - And so I came down and tap'd at the Door, and ask'd her if they had almost done Drinking; ay, Child, says she, I am just not a going to Bed; and so up I goes again, and not long after I heard the Door open, I call'd and asked who it was that went out. O says She it is my Husband, he's gone into the Country with a Charge of Money, and I am frighted out of my Wits for fear he should be Murder's. I wish he may come safe Home, but I never knew such an Obstinate Man in my life, when he gets a little Liquor. - There was no persuading him to stay till Morning. I went out early next Day which was Wednesday, and return'd about 9 at Night. The Prisoner was sitting by the Fire, but without a Candle in the Shop, with Wood and Billings. She again shew'd a great deal of uneasiness for her Husband, for fear some wicked Rogue or other should knock him on the Head for his Money. I went into my own Room, but had not been there long before I heard something drawling along the Floor, and 2 Men go out at the Door. I came down, again and asked what they were doing. She said those 2 Men were going to fetch a Bed home, when they came back they brought only a Broomstick with them, and said that they had not Money enough for the Bed. - I went up again, and by and by I heard another drawling upon the Floor, and the Men went out again. - When they return'd I let them in my self, but they had not yet bought the Bed. What says she, was the Landlords Mark upon the Bed? Yes, say they. Why then, says She I am glad you did not bring it. I left them, and once more went to my own Room: In a little time I heard another Bustling below. I begun to be very uneasy, and thought that something more than ordinary must be the Matter, and so I was going down again; but the Prisoner met me at my Door, and told me she was come to smoke half a Pipe with my Husband. While she staid I heard the Men going out again, and I stept to the Stair-Head and look'd down. She follow'd me, and ask'd why I was so uneasy. Truly, says I, Mrs. Hays I believe your'r a going to move your Goods by Night, and I think its Shame you should do so when you have got Money that lies by you. - No indeed, says She its no such thing. Why then pray Mistress Hays tell me what is the Matter? Why nothing, says she. - I beg you to make your self easy. The next Day which was Thursday, I saw Wood go out with a Bundle, and turn down Swallow Street. I asked her what that Bundle was, why, says she, 'tis a Suit of Cloaths that be borrow'd to go abroad in Last Sunday. - The Head that was thrown into the Thames at Mill Bank, and the Pail that it was carried, in, were both brought to me at the Gate-house to see if I knew 'em, and I did know that the Head was Mr. Hayns's and that the Pail was his Pail, and this is his Coat. - At the sight of the Coat, the Prisoner at the Bar fainted away, but being recover'd, Richard Bows thus depos'd, on Thursday the 5th of March, Thomas Wood came to Lodge at my House and brought this Coat with him, which Mrs. Springet Swears was the Coat of the Deceas'd. The Prisoner in her Defence acknowledged, that 3 or 4 Days before her Husband was kill'd, She knew that there was a Design against his Life, and that she was in the next Room when the Murder was done, but said that she had no Hand in it, and therefore she was clear of his Blood. The Jury found her Guilty .

[Death. See summary.]