John Burnham.
28th April 1742
Reference Numbert17420428-40

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45. + John Burnham was indicted for that he not having God before his Eyes, &c. on Henry Oliver , feloniously, wilfully, &c. did make an Assault, and with a certain Knife made of Iron and Steel, &c. on the right Eye of the said Oliver did strike and cut, giving him one mortal Wound, of the Length of half an Inch, and Depth of three Inches, of which he instantly died , March 7 .

He was likewise charged by Virtue of the Coroner's Inquisition for the said Murder.

The Witnesses were examined a-part.

John Jones . I saw the black Man standing in Shorter-street , by Well-close-square : His Name was Henry Oliver . There came a Press-Gang to take a Woman that had pick'd a Man's Pocket, and they found her, and took her to the Watch-House. The Prisoner came by with a great Stick in his Hand like a Broom-stick, and a Knife or Dagger in the other. The Press-Gang pushed him down in the Middle of the Highway, and left him: Then he got up again, and stood talking to the black Man: I heard the Black say something to him that the Woman ought to be hang'd for picking the Gentleman's Pocket, and the Prisoner immediately gave him a Punch with something that he had in his Hand; I can't tell whether it was a Knife or a Dagger, but I am sure the Black did nothing at all to him. The Prisoner struck him in the Face, and then gave him another Knock with the same Instrument, and the Black fell down in the Highway directly, and never spoke afterwards. Then the Prisoner ran away into the Ship Alehouse, and was lost for half an Hour before we could hear any Thing of him; but we went into a Gentleman's Yard, and saw him getting over the Pales: He hid himself under a Bench in an Arbour, and we pulled him out from thence, and told him he had killed the Black: He said, he hop'd he had not, and then we took him to the Watch-House.

Pris. Ask him whether the black Man was not bleeding over the Eye before I came to the Place?

Jones. I believe the black Woman gave him a little Scratch: They were scolding together, and the Woman gave him a little Push, and scratched him over the Eye; but it did not bleed.

Stephen Jones . I was coming Home with my Brother on Sunday Night, and in Shorter-Street there was a black Man and a black Woman fighting; presently a Press-Gang came by, and went into a House by the Hay Field, and took a Woman out who had picked the Captain's Pocket. Coming through Shorter-Street again, I saw the Black go through the Square with the Press-Gang, and he stood by while they put the Woman into the Watch-House: The Prisoner was there at the same Time, and the Black said something that the Woman deserved to be hang'd, or some such Thing: Upon which the Prisoner gave him a Push with something that look'd like one of your snick or snee Knives: He gave him another Push, and he fell on his Back, and never spoke afterwards: The first Blow was on the right Eye, and the second on the right Shoulder. As soon as this was done, we cry'd out, The Fellow has kill'd the Black! Upon which the Prisoner run away, and got into an Arbour in a Garden, from whence he was taken.

Q. Where did you see him do this?

Jones. In the Highway, just by the Watch-House: He ran down with the Knife ready drawn, and a Club in his Hand, but the Press-Gang took the Club from him.

William Hopkins . I was smoaking my Pipe, and just going to Bed, when these People came by the Door: I went to the Door, and hearing that a Woman was taken by a Press-Gang, I followed them 8 or 9 Rods: The Prisoner and the Black came up; the Black stood a little Distance off, and I stood in the Middle of the Road: The Prisoner had a Stick at his Side, and one of the Sailors took it from him; upon which he seem'd to grumble, and then the Sailor knocked him down, and went off. After this three or four People being talking about this Affair, the Black said, the Woman was a Whore, and ought to be hang'd: The Prisoner

went to him directly, and gave him a Push in the Face, which made him reel, and as he was falling, gave him another Stab on the Shoulder: I believe the Prisoner did it with a Knife, for his Stick was taken away. When this was done, the Prisoner jump'd upon him, or over him, I can't tell which, and run away; but he was afterwards taken from under a Bench in a Summer-House belonging to a Garden: We told him he had killed the Black, and he said he knew nothing of it; but there was some fresh Blood upon his Shirt.

Pris. Ask him, whether one of the Press-Gang did not make my Nose bloody?

Hopkins. No: He was only knock'd down, but that was a good while before.

Q. Did you see what the Prisoner gave the Push with?

Hopkins. Yes; it was a Weapon with a very long Blade.

Francis Mitchel . I had been at my Mother's, and coming back, I saw a Parcel of People: There was a black Man and a black Woman came by, and they fell to fighting, and the Woman cut his Eye or his Face: After that the Press Gang came by to look for the Woman, and the Black went with them: They got the Woman, and presently afterwards the Black came by again; and, to the best of my Knowledge, the Prisoner struck him on the Shoulder, and made him reel: Then he struck him on the Eye, and he fell at his Length, and cry'd Murder. The Prisoner run into an Alehouse; - I believe it was a Knife that he struck him with, and I did not see the Black do any Thing to him.

Jury. Did the Woman strike the Black on the same Eye as the Prisoner did?

Mitchel. The Woman cut him some where about the Face.

Thomas Thompson . I was at the taking of the Prisoner, and did not find any Thing at all upon him. I did not see what was done in the Highway.

Gould Cole, Surgeon. I searched this Negroe's Wounds two Days after he died; one was a small incis'd Wound on the Top of the deltui'd Muscle, about half an Inch long, and an Inch deep; there was another small Wound on the Frontis, which is the Forehead; and another, which was a perquilated Wound, above the right Eye, (into the Socket which contains the Eye) about four Inches and an half deep, and an Inch long: The Wound in his Eye was certainly the Cause of his Death, for that in his Shoulder was of no Signification.

Q. Were there any Parts of his Face scratched?

Cole. I did not observe any: This Wound in the Eye I take it, was given by some sharp Instrument, like a Sword or Dagger; and that on the Forehead, was a little small Wound like a Scratch.


Jane Wall. Another Woman and I went into Mr. Allen's to call for a Pint of Two penny: The Black came in after us, and said, he had been there some Time of the Day, and spent three half Crowns in Punch, and had lost some Money in the House by some of the Women: He made a Noise in the House, and said he would not go till he had got his Money. There was a Lad along with him, who said he had lost a Shilling; and the Gentleman of the House turned them, and some of the Women out of Doors. In a little Time the Black came back again, all over Blood: - This was about 7 o'Clock at Night.

Hopkins. The Fact was done about half an Hour after 9, or thereabouts.

Wall. He came in, and stood against the Partition; and the Blood run down to his Temple.

Jury. Did you look in his Face then?

Wall. Yes, and the Blood run down all over his Shirt.

Jury to the Surgeon. Did the Wound in the Eye disfigure the Negro's Face?

Cole. It went quite through the Eye-Lash; but that in the Forehead might bleed a little.

Wall. The Blood that I saw, proceeded from this Place. [Pointing to her Forehead.] I desired him to go Home, for fear of being used ill; and he said he would lose more Blood, before he would go Home without his Money.

Hester Cole . This Woman and I were in the Alehouse when the Black came in: He said he had been ill used, and robbed in the House, and he would have his Money. There were two Women, one black and the other white: And the People of the House bid him get out, but he refused; and so they shut him and the Women out in the Entry: They all came in again in a few Minutes, and then I saw the Blood run down his Shirt on the right Side: This was about Seven o'Clock at Night, and next Morning I heard he was murdered.

Guilty Death .

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