William Bradford.
24th April 1754
Reference Numbert17540424-59

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297. (M.) William Bradford was indicted for the wilful murder of Joseph Floyd , April 13 *. .

William Parker . The deceased William Floyd was servant to Mr. Hutchens at Chelsea , who is a farmer and gardener; he had lost about five pounds worth of greens from out of the garden, and he set John Lee and I to watch the garden. On the 12th of this instant, about half an hour after nine at night, Lee and I went into the ground, we heard a rustling among the greens or colworts, we got nearer and nearer the person: then Lee pushed on and took the man by the collar, it was the prisoner. We took him, and told our master we had caught a man in the colworts; he desired us to carry him to the constable's house, and our master ordered the deceased to assist, so we three took the prisoner to the watch-house.

Q. What time of the night was it you took him?

Parker. It was after ten: the constable was out of town, and his wife sent us to the head-borough, named Longslow, there we asked for the lock and key of the cage; Longslow said he did not know where they were: then I went to the beadle for them, he sent me to Mr. Strickney's for them, I went; he told me the cage was not in a condition to put any body in; then I came back to the headborough's house, and met Mr. Anderson, the high constable, coming out at the door; I told him Mr. Strickney had said the cage was not fit to hold the man; then he said, you must continue at the headborough's all night. Then Lee, the deceased, I and the prisoner sat down round the fire: the deceased said to me, now is a proper time to take our rounds, to see if any body else is in the fields; I said to the deceased, are you able to take care of the prisoner? he agreed so to do. I bade him, when Lee and I were out, to lock the door, and put the key in his pocket, and if the prisoner was troublesome, to call the head-borough up, who lay over-head. We went out into the field; in about two or three minutes we heard a rustling amongst the greens again and saw a man, but could not take him; he escaped from us: we returned to the headborough's house, this was about two

o'clock in the morning of the 13th: we found the door just a-jar; I ran in and saw the deceased laying stone dead on the hearth, in a gore of blood running about: I called up the headborough and went and fetched the constable, and John Lee fetched my master; the deceased lay with his right arm bent under him, his head amongst the blood, and this iron poker laying by him. [A large iron poker produced in court.] He had received some blows behind his head; the prisoner seemed to be asleep when we went out, and we left the prisoner to the care of the deceased.

Q. Were you all sober?

Parker. We were: we had but two full pots of beer to drink.

John Lee confirmed the testimony of Parker.

Mary Diamond . I saw the prisoner in custody of the three persons mentioned in the head-borough's house on Good-Friday, about ten at night; I did not stay above a quarter of an hour.

James Emson . I am a surgeon, and live at Chelsea; on Monday the 15th of April, I examined the head of the deceased, I found he had received two very violent blows thereon, which had greatly fractured the skull, and so much hurt the brain and membranes, as not to leave the least doubt but that the blows were the cause of the man's death.

Robert Smith . I am a surgeon, I scalped the deceased with Mr. Emson; I laid open the fractures and took these pieces of the skull out, [he produced seven pieces.] He seemed to have received two blows or more, which without doubt were the cause of his death.

Q. from the prisoner. Whether the wound seemed to be given by the poker?

Smith. It appears so to me.

Emson. It appears the wounds could not be given by a sharp instrument. The poker is bent at the end, and the edges of the lower end not sharp, but as it were a little rounded off.

Jennet Lawman. The prisoner lodged in a room next to mine, in Peter's-Street, Westminster; we could not speak in the room but we heard each other; he has not been at home ever since this accident happened, which was last Thursday was fortnight.

William Cooper . I have known the prisoner five years, he was a soldier in the same battalion I belong to, but he has lately been discharged. On the 16th of April I was upon the review, and heard some of the soldiers say, he was said to be the man that killed the gardener at Chelsea: I live at the King's-Head, Islington. On the 17th I was going out to fetch some pots and saw the prisoner; I got assistance and took him up.

John Hutchins , the gardener who imployed the witnesses to watch the garden, confirmed what was said by them.

Prisoner's Defence.

I have no friend to plead for me, I leave it to your lordship to plead for me: God Almighty will clear the innocent.

Guilty , Death .

This being on the Saturday, he received sentence immediately to be executed on the Monday following, and his body to be dissected and anatomized.

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