Richard Savage, James Gregory, William Merchant.
6th December 1727
Reference Numbert17271206-24
VerdictsGuilty; Guilty > manslaughter
SentencesDeath; Miscellaneous > branding; Miscellaneous > sureties

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Richard Savage , was indicted for the Murder of James Sinclair , on the 20th of November last, by giving him one mortal Wound on the lower Part of his Belly, of the Breadth of half an Inch, and the Depth of nine Inches; of which he languished till the 21st, and then died . And James Gregory , and William Merchant were indicted for aiding, assisting, and comforting the said Richard Savage in the aforesaid Murder . They were a second Time indicted on the Coroner's Inquest; to both which Indictments they pleaded Not guilty.

The Witnesses were examined separately, in the Absence of each other, at the Request of the Prisoners. Mr. Nuttal thus depos'd, On Monday the 20th of November, I, in Company with the Deceas'd, Mr. Limery and his Brother, went to Robinson's Coffee-house near Charing-Cross, about 11 at Night, where we staid till One or Two in the Morning; we drank there two Bowls of Punch, which came to six Shillings, and were just concluding to go when the Prisoners came into the Room; the first who came in was Mr. Merchant, who, setting his Back to the Fire, kick'd down our Table without any Provocation, upon which, I said, What do you mean? Mr. Gregory answered, What do you mean? Upon which Mr. Savage drew his Sword, we retreated to the further End of the Room, I did not see the Deceas'd draw his Sword, but Mr. Gregory drew, and I beg'd of Mr. Savage and Mr. Gregory to put up their Swords, which they refus'd, and Mr Gregory turning to the Deceas'd, said, Villain deliver your Sword, and soon after took the Sword from the Deceas'd; Mr. Gregory's Sword was broke in the Scuffle, but with the Deceased's Sword in his Hand, and part of his own, he came and demanded mine, I refused, he made a Thrust at me, I defended it; he endeavoured to get my Sword, but he fell, or I threw him, and took away the Sword from him; three Soldiers came into the Room and secured him. I did not see Mr. Savage Push at the Deceased, though I heard the Deceas'd say, I am a dead Man, soon after which the Candles were put out; after this I went up to the Deceas'd, I saw him in a Chair, with something hanging out of his Belly, which I did believe to be his Caul, or Fat. The Maid Servant of the House came in, and kneeled on her Knees to such the Wound; after this the Soldiers came in, and I. and Mr. Gregory, were carried to the Watch-house: Being cross examined by Mr. Gregory, If he did not say, Put up your swords, he said, there might be such an Expression, but I cannot call to Mind when it was spoke. Mr. Limery thus depos'd, I was in Company with the Deceas'd, Mr. Nuttal, and my Brother, at Robinson's Coffee-house when this unhappy Accident happen'd, we were ready to go home, when some Body knock'd at the Door, and the Landlady opening it, let in the Prisoners, and lighted them into another Room, but they would not stay there, but rudely came into ours; Mr. Merchant kicke'd down the Table, Mr. Gregory came up to the Deceas'd, and said, G - d d - n you, you Rascal, deliver your Sword; (all our Company retreated,) I saw Swords drawn, and Mr. Savage made a Thrust at the Deceas'd, who stoop'd and cried oh! at which Mr. Savage stood for some Time astonish'd, and turn'd pale, then endeavoured to get away; I held him, and the Lights were then put out, we Struggled together, and the Maid came to my Assistance, and pulling off his Hat and Wig, clung about him, and striving to force himself from her he struck at her, and cut her over the Head with his Sword and got away; I went to a Night Cellar and got 2 or 3 Soldiers, who took Mr. Savage and Mr. Merchant in a back Court. When Mr. Savage gave the Wound the Deceas'd had his Sword drawn, but pointed downwards to the Ground on the Left Sides As to Mr. Merchant, I did not see he had a Sword. (This was likewise confirmed by Mr. Nuttal, and that he did not see him in the Room after the Play began, the Candles being put out, he went into a back Court, in which he was taken with Mr. Savage.) Jane Leader thus depos'd, I was in the Room and saw Mr. Savage drawn first, then Mr. Gregory went up to the Deceas'd, and Mr. Savage stabb'd him, and turning back he look'd pale; then the Deceas'd said, I am dead, I am dead, and would have gone out of the Room, but I opened his Coat and made the Servant Maid suck his Wound, but no Blood came. I, upon his Death-Bed, asked him to tell how he was wounded, he said, the least in Black gave the Wound, (which was Mr. Savage,) (for Mr. Merchant was in coloured Cloaths, and had no Sword) that the Tallest, (which was Mr. Gregory,) pass'd or struck his Sword, whilst Mr. Savage Stabb'd him: I did not see the Deceas'd's Sword at all, nor did he open his Lips, or speak one Word to the Prisoners. Mrs. Endersby, who keeps Robinson's Coffee-house, depos'd, That finding the Prisoners in Liquour when she let them in, she Shew'd then another Room, and they were rude to her, on which, she said, If they wanted to have any Liquour, they should have it, if not, she desired they would be gone, when one of them took up a Chair, and offer'd to strike her with it; she saw Mr. Savage Struggle with the Maid Servant, and cut her over the Head with his Sword, and that Swords were drawn and the Mischief done, (as has been sworn by others) and told the same Story of Mr. Merchant's kicking down the Table, which, she said, was a Foulding Table with two Leaves, and that there were two other Tables in the Room, which is the publick Coffee Room in the Day-time; whether they were sitting or standing at the Table, she could not be positive. Mary Rook , the Servant Maid depos'd, That she, with her Mistress, let the Prisoners into the House, and that when her Mistress shew'd them a Room, Mr. Merchant pull'd her about very rudely, and she resisting him, he took up a Chair, and offer'd to strike her with it, and asking who was in the next Room, this Deponent said, Company who had paid their Reckoning and were just going away, and desired them to have Patience till they were gone, but they would not, and then ran in; and not long after this Deponent going in, saw Mr. Gregory and Mr. Savage with drawn Swords, and Mr Sinclair had his Sword in his Hand with the Point from him, and soon after Jane Leader said, Poor dear Sinclair is Kill'd; She suck'd the Wound but it would not bleed, Mr. Savage endeavouring to get away, this Deponent stop'd him, &c. But this Deponent did not see the Wound given, but was an Eye-witness after to the Encounter between Mr. Nuttal and Mr. Gregory. The Reverend Mr. Taylor depos'd, That on the 21st of Nov. he was sent for to pray by the Deceas'd, and after recommending him to the Mercy of Almighty God, Mr. Nuttal desired him to ask the Deceas'd a few Questions, but Mr. Taylor not thinking it belong'd to his Province, modestly refus'd it: But Mr. Nuttal, willing to have an Evidence to the Words of a dying Man, persuaded Mr. Taylor to stay whilst he himself should ask him a Question, and turning to the Deceas'd, Mr. Nuttal said, Do you know from which of the Gentlemen you received the Wound? To which the Deceas'd answered, From the shortest in Black, (which was Mr. Savage) the tallest commanded my sword, and the other stabb'd me. Rowland Holderness depos'd, That he was a Watchman that came to the Room just after the Wound was given, and then heard the Deceas'd say, he was stabbed barbarously before his sword was drawn. Joseph Wilcox , another Watchman, depos'd, That he saw the Deceas'd learning his Head upon his Hand, and that then he said, he was a dead Man, and stabbed Cowardly. Mr. Wilkey the Surgeon depos'd, That he searched the Wound, which was on the Left side of the Belly parallel with the Navel, that the Sword had grazed on the Kidney, and he did believe that Wound to be the Occasion of his Death. Being ask'd, If he did believe the Deceas'd could receive the Wound in a Posture of Defence? he answer'd, He did believe he could not, unless he was Left-handed. Mr. Gregory, in his Defence said, That the Reason of their coming into the Room was, for the Benefit of the Fire, and that the Table was thrown down by Accident: He then endeavoured to bring the Evidences for the King under the Imputations of Loose-lives, and People that had no Regard to Justice of Morality; he likewise insinuated to the Court, That the House in which the Disorder was committed bore a very infamous Character. Mr. Savage, in his Defence, gave the Court an Account of his leaving his Lodgings at Richmond, and his being necessitated to spend the Night in a Manner not suitable to his Inclinations, he being disappointed of a Lodging in Town. After which, he made some Observations on the Depositions of Mr. Nuttal, Mr. Limery, and Mrs. Leader, in which he presum'd, there were some Incoherencies; and then proceeded to invalidate their Evidence, and to prove, that he, and the Gentlemen of his Company, were not of inhumane or barbarous Dispositions; adding, that he should not have endeavoured to escape, but to avoid the Inclemencies of a Goal, and the Expences which must necessarily follow, which were too extravagant to be supported by a Person in his Circumstances. He then called Henry and Thomas Huggins , and Robert Fish , who had been Spectators at the Conclusion of the Broil, their Evidence confirmed Mr. Nuttal's being engag'd with Mr. Gregory, and Struggling for a Sword, and said, It was a House of ill Fame. Mary Stanly appeared in Behalf of the Prisoners, but the Extent of her Deposition amounted to no more, than that she had seen the Deceas'd in a Quarrel, and that Mr. Nuttal and he were very well acquainted, and that she had seen Mr. Nuttal, and Mrs. Leader, in Bed together. John Pearce depos'd, That Jane Leader told him, That when the Swords were drawn she went out of the Room, and did not see the Wound given; and further said, That she was a Woman of very ill Reputation, and the Coffee-house had a bad Character. Daniel Boyle depos'd, That the Deceas'd had the Character of an idle Person, and had no Place of Residence. John Eaton said, he knew the Deceas'd for two Months, and said, he had but an indifferent Character, but yet he confess'd he knew nothing of his Character from other People. Mr. Rainby depos'd, That going to Robinson's Coffee-house to enquire for Mr. Merchant, he heard Mr. Nuttal say, the Morning after the Accident Happened, If he had any one of them in a Convenient Place, if he could escape the Law, he would cut their Throats. Mr. Cheeseborough depos'd to the same Effect. Then Mr. Nuttal produced several Gentlemen, who depos'd, That he was a Man of Reputation, as well as good Manners and Civility; acknowledging at the same Time, that being moved by the barbarous Treatment his Friend had met with, he believed he said, That if he had them (meaning the Prisoners at the Bar) in an open Field, he would not put them to the Law, but would do Justice himself. There appeared in Behalf of the Prisoners, several Gentlemen and Persons of Honour, who gave each of them the Character of being peaceable and quiet in their Temper, and not given to Quarrel; and the Prisoners hop'd, that their good Character, and the Suddenness of this unfortunate Accident would intitle them to Favour. The Court Sum'd up the Evidence, and took Notice where there were any Inconsistencies that might make for the Prisoners, and directed the Jury, That as the Deceas'd and his Company were in Possession of that Part of the Room where the Fire was, that the Prisoners were the Aggressors, by kicking down the Table and drawing their Swords immediately upon it; that if they did believe that the Deceas'd retreated, was pursu'd, attack'd and kill'd in the Manner as is sworn, and declared by the Deceas'd on his Death-Bed, without the least Provocation on his Part, that it was Murder as well in him that gave the Wound, as in the others who aided and

abetted in this Violence; that the Jury had heard what had been objected to some of the Evidence, and what had been reply'd on their Behalf, and as they did credit them, they were to give a Verdict accordingly: As to the Character of the Prisoner that should influence a Jury where the Proof is doubtful, but not to defeat plain and positive Evidence; and for the suddenness of this Accident, where there is a sudden Quarrel, and a Provocation from one that is kill'd, or where on a sudden Persons mutually attack each other and fight, and one is kill'd in the heat of Blood, that is Manslaughter; but where one is the Aggressor, pursues his Insult with his Sword, and kills the Person attack'd without any Provocation on his Part, though on a sudden, the Law implies Malice, and this is Murder. As to Favour from the Character of the Prisoners, and having no premeditated Malice, that lies properly before the Fountain of Mercy. But the Jury are to proceed according to the Evidence and the Rules of Law: The Court indulg'd the Prisoners, to remind them if any Thing that they thought material on their Behalf, and been unobserved in summing up so long an Evidence, and took Notice accordingly to the Jury of what they mention'd. Upon the whole Matter, after a Hearing of about eight Hours, the Jury gave their Verdict, That Richard Savage , and James Gregory , were guilty of Murder, and that William Merchant was guilty of Manslaughter .

[Savage and Gregory:Death. See summary.]

[Merchant:Branding. See summary.]

[Merchant:Provide sureties for good behaviour. See summary.]


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