John Collins.
6th July 1748
Reference Numbert17480706-11
SentenceMiscellaneous > branding

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328. John Collins , otherwise Collings, was indicted, for that he, on the 18th of December, 1731, at the parish of St. Ann, Black-Friars, did marry Alice Vintyman , widow; and that he afterwards, to wit, on the 26th of May, 1748 , at the parish of St. Botolph, Bishopgate , did feloniously, and unlawfully, marry, and to wife take, Elizabeth Watkins , widow, his said wife, Alice being living, and in full life , against the Statute in that case made and provided.

Council for the Prosecutrix. My Lord, I am council in behalf of the Prosecutrix, the poor unfortunate woman, who is married to the Prisoner, and married him, thinking him to be sole, tho' he had a wife living. Gentlemen, the Prisoner got into the Charter-House, and there is no body can get into the Charter-House without being single *, and, upon proof of his being married, he was turned out. He afterwards got into company with one Mrs. Elizabeth Watkins , widow, and she thought the Prisoner would make her a good husband, and consented to be married to him. Gentlemen, we shall call our witnesses to prove the first and second marriages, and if we do, no doubt but you will find the Prisoner guilty; for this is gross adultery.

* The person must make an affidavit that he is single, before he can be admitted.

Rev. Dr. Grainger, rector of Black-Friars, sworn.

Pros. Coun. Do you know any thing of the marriage of John Collins and Alice Vintyman ?

Grainger. Yes, I do.

Pros. Coun. Have you got the register here?

Grainger. Yes. [ The register was produced.]

This is seventeen years ago; it is the 18th of December, 1721, John Collins and Alice Vintyman were married; it is entered, John Collins , of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, and Alice Vintyman , of All-Saints, London, widow.

Robert Hayward sworn.

Pros. Coun. Do you know Collins?

Hayward. Yes.

Pros. Coun. Did you know him seventeen years ago?

Hayward. About seventeen years ago the Prisoner married Alice Vintyman, and she lost her freedom, by marrying a foreigner; she kept a publick-house in All-Hallows, Thames-Street, and afterwards lived in Distaff-Lane.

Pros. Coun. Did they live together as man and wife?

Hayward. She always owned him as her husband, and went by the name of Collins.

Pros. Coun. Do you know any thing of Collins's owning her to be his wife?

Hayward. Her son, Benjamin Vintyman , died in Collins's house, in Distaff-Lane, and I buried the deceased person from that house.

Pris. Coun. Then you know nothing of this but by the general report of people.

Hayward. No: I know the son was very much displeased at it.

Pros. Coun. When did you see this Mrs. Collins, that was Vintyman?

Hayward. I have not seen her these three or four years, to my knowledge.

John Warner sworn.

Pros. Coun. Do you know the person, who was Alice Vintyman ?

Warner. Yes, I lived over against her; I have seen her at my own house many a time, but I know nothing of their being married; I know they passed as man and wife.

Pris. Coun. Did he behave to her as man and wife?

Warner. It was said that he did.

Pros. Coun. Do you know that he ever acknowledged her to be his wife?

Warner. Yes, many a time; the Prisoner kept my books for me.

Pros. Coun. Where do you live?

Warner. I live at Trigg-Stairs.

Pros. Coun. You say you knew this Vintyman; when did you see her last?

Warner. I saw her last Tuesday.

Pros. Coun. Was she living, and well then?

Warner. Yes.

Jury. It is very plain that she was married, or she could not have lost her freedom; and if fifty witnesses were called, it would be only losing time.

Elizabeth Watkins sworn.

Pros. Coun. Do you know the Prisoner?

Watkins. Yes.

Pros. Coun. Are you married to him?

Watkins. Yes; I was married to him the 26th of May last, (it was six weeks yesterday) at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate.

Pros. Coun. How came you to discover that he was a married man?

Watkins. My maid-servant told me that he was a married man.

Pros. Coun. Was you married by a clergyman of the Church of England?

Watkins. Yes.

Pros. Coun. Who was you married by?

Watkins. I think it was Mr. Warren.

[The Prosecutor's council produced a letter, and delivered it into Court.]

Q. Look upon that letter, have you seen this before?

Watkins. I received it from his own daughter's hand.

Q. Is that his own hand-writing?

Watkins. It is his own hand-writing.

Q. Do you swear it to be his hand-writing?

Watson. Yes.

Pris. Coun. This is not directed to any body. I question whether they can read.

Q. to Watkins. Have you seen him write?

Watkins. Yes, many a time.

[The letter was ordered to be read, which was as follows.]

'' My dearest wife,

'' As I always shall term you, for the other '' is, by agreement, to me no more, than one that '' I never saw; and might I have 10,000 l. shall '' never live with her, being more than divorced '' from her, in the sight of the Almighty; and '' therefore, notwithstanding the vile character '' that miscreant may have given you of me, '' I shall ever remain your sincere friend; and before '' I would wrong you, or your children, of a '' penny. I would first put my hand into the fire, '' and burn, having nothing more at heart, of '' all worldly things, than to secure you in your '' property, and shall ever be devoted to your '' service, and am

'' Your most affectionate husband, '' whilst I am, '' JOHN COLLINGS .''

26 June, 1743.

Q. to Mrs. Watkins. What did he say to you, when you discovered this?

Watkins. He said he had another woman, and he knew it was against the laws of the land, but it was not against the law of God.

Q. Did he come and live with you, after marriage, as man and wife?

Watkins. Yes.

John Mitchell sworn.

Q. Do you know that man at the bar?

Mitchell. Yes.

Q. Do you know Mrs. Watkins?

Mitchell. Yes.

Q. Did you see her married to Collings?

Mitchell. Yes; I gave her away.

Q. At what church?

Mitchell. At St. Botolph, Bishopsgate.

Prisoner. I would have put this off, and I would not have married; and she told me, if I would not marry her soon, she would not have me at all. I told her, I had a woman that I had kept company with sixteen years; but I never said any thing of marriage to her.

Q. I think she was in the right of it, for people are not to be dallied with for ever.

Guilty .

[Branding. See summary.]

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