John Wright.
5th July 1749
Reference Numbert17490705-3
VerdictGuilty > manslaughter
SentenceMiscellaneous > branding

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373. John Wright , late of St. George's Hanover-square , was indicted, for that he, upon Ann , wife of the said John, with a certain knife made of iron and steel, value 2 d. held in his right-hand on the neck of the said Ann, did give a mortal wound one inch long and half an inch deep, upon which she did languish from the 13th till the 21st of May , and then died. He stood likewise a second time charged with the Coroner's Inquest for the said murder .

John Baker . The prisoner, and two other chairmen , came into my house about ten at night, on the 13th of May, and called for two pots of beer, and bread and cheese. She lodged at my house; his wife abused him very much in language: the prisoner desired her to go to bed several times, she would not. I at last went to her, and said, if she would not go to bed, and cease this noise, I would charge the watch with her; the other two chairmen that were drinking with him, paid their reckoning, and went away, and left the prisoner and his wife together: she staid about a quarter of an hour scolding at him, at last she went out at the house-door, and he followed her: they had not been out of the house above a minute, but she returned with her hand to her neck, and said she was hurt. I saw the blood run over her hand, she sat down on a form, she took her hand and apron from her neck, and I saw the blood fly out of her neck. I went to the door, and the prisoner was sitting by the watchman on the bench; I told him what he had done, saying, you have murdered your wife: says he, I have not; he and the watchman came in where she was: so I charged the watchman with him, the house was full of people, and I did not hear what she said. Before I went with him to the watch-house, I took the knife out of his pocket.

Q. Did you perceive any blood upon it?

Baker. I did not, my Lord. I led him to the watch-house; he said there was no occasion to hold him, for he would not run away: this was the Saturday night, and she lived till the Sunday sevennight following. She came to my house on the Tuesday after; but I was busy, and never spoke to her; she went up stairs to change her clothes, and desired me to bail her husband the prisoner out of the Gate-house. He is a chairman, a very hard working man; I have known him eight or nine years, and she was a very foul-mouth'd woman.

John Dalley . On the 13th of May, about ten a clock at night, I happened to be drinking a pint of beer in this house, I saw the deceased strike the prisoner several times on his head and shoulders; he appeared very good-humoured, and did not strike her, as I saw. He desired her to go to bed, she would not: she went out of the door, and he followed her; she returned in about a minute's time with her hand up to her neck; I did not perceive the blood at that time; she cried out, the rogue shall not murder me: she took her hand from her neck, and I saw the blood spout out of it; he came in a little time after, and the people told him, he had murdered his wife, and would be hanged; he sat down on a bench, and smiled, and said, he did not care, he was glad of it. The landlord took hold of him, and asked if he had got a knife about him. The prisoner said he had got never a one. I saw the landlord take the knife out of the prisoner's breeches pocket, I took it out of the landlord's hand.

Q. Was it bloody?

Daliey. It was a little bloody, it was fresh blood being moist, I put the knife in my pocket, and paid my reckoning, and went out of the house. I kept it till the next morning; then the landlord sent for it, and I delivered it to him. It was shewed in Court, a common sheaf-knife with a sharp point.

John Morgain . I am watchman in the place. I was sitting on the bench at the door betwixt ten and eleven, with my lanthorn and candle by me, the woman came running out, the prisoner followed her, she went round a chair, and he after her; he did not overtake her in the street: she said, if I must die, I will die in good company: she turned into the door of the house again, and he after her, he had not as yet been so nigh her as to touch her, and what was done must be done in the passage at the door; for there he got up to her, I did not see him give the wound; she was out of the house but about half a minute. I took him to the watch-house that night.

Richard Maplethorp . On the Sunday in the afternoon the deceased was brought to St. George's hospital, I examined her, and found a wound on the right side of her neck, it had been dressed by a Surgeon the day before; and as the woman seemed in very good health, and no bad symptoms, I did

not remove the dressings that day; but in dressing it the next day, I found the wound pretty deep, but I did not apprehend it to be mortal then: she continued seemingly in very good health till Friday morning, and eat the common diet as is there allowed: she was then seized suddenly with a fit, was never sensible afterwards, and died the Sunday following. The reason of her having this fit I apprehend was owing to the violent passion she threw herself in for the concern of her husband being in prison, as she had shewed a great concern for him all the time she had been in the Hospital; she once asked me to sign a note, to get him released out of prison.

Q. Do you think this wound she had received on her neck, was the cause of her death?

Maplethorp. I believe the bad consequences that followed the wound, were the occasion of her death.

Prisoner's Defence. I have been married to the deceased about four years; she was a very honest woman; she was given to a glass of liquor. I came into my landlord's house with two men with me on the 13th of May. My wife abused me with her tongue, calling me many names, and beat me: she was very passionate, and said she would go away. I said she should not go away: I flung the knife out of my hand, but did not think of hurting so much as a dog or cat: she said she was hurt, and I was committed to the Gate-house; she sent me eighteen pence, knowing I had no money, and she sent word, she would come and get me out on the Tuesday following; she came, and called for a tankard of beer, and we drank it together; she paid for it, and gave me six-pence, and said it was she herself that was to blame; after we desired God to bless each other, she went to the Hospital directly.

Guilty of Manslaughter .

[Branding. See summary.]

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