25th October 1786
Reference Numbert17861025-85
VerdictNot Guilty

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843. FRANCIS SHURLEY was indicted for that he, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the 11th day of October , with force of arms, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault upon Jane, the wife of Alexander Reed , and did strike, beat, and kick her on the head, breast, back, belly, sides, and other parts of the body, and did maliciously, willfully, and of his malice aforethought, cast and throw her down to, and upon the ground, giving her, as well by the said casting and throwing, as also by striking, beating, and kicking, in, and upon the head, breast, back, belly, sides, and other parts of the body, with the hands and feet aforesaid, several mortal strokes and bruises, of which she then and there instantly died; and so the Jurors upon their oaths say, that her the said Jane, he the said Francis, in manner and form aforesaid, did kill and murder .

He was also charged on the Corner's inquisition, with feloniously killing and slaying the said Jane Reed .


I live No. 56, John-street, Tottenham-court-road ; the deceased lived in the two pair of stairs front room; she lodged with me.

Did her husband lodge there with her? - Yes; he is a taylor; the prisoner is a pot boy at Mr. Colvill's, the Rose and Crown, in Colvill's-court; my husband was ill in bed; I was going to dinner in the parlour; I heard a great noise up stairs; it was the 11th of this month, about twelve at noon; as I went up stairs, Mrs. Gibson, who was up one pair of stairs, says, break his neck down stairs, for if I was dressed I would; then I went up stairs, but as I went up stairs, I heard the deceased say, you dirty villain, what do you mean by striking me; he said he did not; and the deceased mentioned again, and said he did; by that time I had got up stairs, I laid hold of him by the two shoulders, and said you villain, what do you mean by striking the woman; he said Mrs. Godfrey, let me alone; he repeated the words twice, he told me, if I did not, he would serve me the same; with that, I brought him down stairs, and put him out of doors; and in about ten minutes after, I was called up again by one Elizabeth Nelson , who begged I would come up, for the deceased was in a fit, with that I went up stairs, and she was sitting in a chair, and she cried out, oh, my dear Mrs Godfrey, my head, my head, how sick am I; she still continued sick; I said to the person in the next room, we had better lay her upon the bed; we did so; the doctor was sent for, and when he came, he said, in the state she was, it was impossible any thing could be done for her; when she came a little better, get an ounce of salts, and dissolve in half a pint of gruel, and that must work it out of her head in a little time; the deceased's husband came in, and we went to get a warrant, but the office was shut up; we went to Bow-street, and they asked me if I saw him strike the deceased, I said no; they said that was nothing, they would not grant me a warrant; then we went to Mr. Walker's, he granted me one; and when I returned, the deceased was dead; I was gone about half an hour, or three quarters of an hour.

How long had this woman lodged in your house? - Four or five months; the boy used to come up now and then for pots; I do not know how they quarelled.


This prisoner brought me a pot of beer; I live in the next room to the deceased, up two pairs of stairs; about half past one I took it of him, and I said I will come down and pay your master, and he said very well; then he knocked at the deceased's door, and he said he came for the money for the pot of beer she owed him on the Friday night; she said, she owed him none; he said she did owe for a pot of beer, and he would not go without the money; she said, you good-for-nothing fellow, if you will not go down, I will beat you down stairs, or drive you down, one of those words; I owed for a pot of beer myself, so I opened the door, and said, do not accuse this woman for a pot of beer I owe for; and he said I carried a pot of beer into that room, meaning her room, so I thought she might owe for a pot of beer as well as me, and so I shut my room door; and Mrs. Godfrey came up stairs; the deceased said she owed for no beer, and said she would pay his master if she owed any; and he would not go away.

Did you see any blows? - No.

Did you hear the woman say, the villain has struck me? - No, she said, would you strike me? and he said, I did not strike you.

Did Mrs. Godfrey come up before you shut your door? - Yes; I saw all that passed before Mrs. Godfrey came up.

Do you remember somebody on the one pair of stairs saying, I would throw the villain down if I was dressed? - That was below me; I did not hear that.

How soon after that he knocked at the door of the deceased; did you open your door? - I opened it directly, but I opened it again when Mrs. Godfrey came up.

How long was the prisoner and the deceased together when he left you, before you opened your door, to say to him, do not accuse that woman of the beer that I have had? - I suppose about five or six minutes; all that while he was arguing about that pot of beer; and he said he was going away, and he must have the money.

Have you any reason to believe at the time you opened your door, there had been any blows struck? - No, not the least in the world, I never heard any blow struck; I have no notion how she came by her death; she was very a few well minutes before; she was very much enraged, and in a great passion, and was very weak; she had lain in about six weeks before; she was very week and poorly.

How soon after he went down did she begin to complain? - After he was gone down, I heard the child cry in the room, and I went in, and she was gone down stairs, into the one pair of stairs; there was only the children in the room; then about five or six minutes I heard the youngst baby cry very much indeed; and I looked out, and her room door was shut, and I opened her room door, and the deceased was leaning against the back of the chair, with one hand to her head, and the little child in her lap, like to fall off her knee; I took the child off her knee; and I said, oh, dear me, the woman is in a fit.

Jury. This strikes me to be a very material matter, for the evidences seem to be correcting each other; the late evidence, and those that are to come, they are remarking and commenting.

Court. Let one of the officers stand amongst them, perhaps it may be as well for them to go out of Court.

Ann Edwards . I took the child off her knee, and she was laid back in her chair, and she was very sick.

Do you mean she vomited? - Yes, like milk off her stomach first of all; then she vomited very much indeed; then Mrs. Godfrey came up stairs; I was holding the deceased, and the child in my arms; then we proposed sending for an apothecary, and Mr. Hooper was sent for, but before that we laid her down on the bed, and she seemed to be like in a fit; she never spoke after; we said we will send for your husband; and she said no, it will do no good, for he has not been at work for some time; she never mentioned the boy, or any thing of the kind to me; and I was with her from the time the first of the affair happened; I suppose she did not live half an hour after it happened; I never saw the boy but once before.

Court Mrs. Godfrey. When you came up, what posture did you see the prisoner with the deceased? - His two hands were on the deceased's breasts; the deceased had no cap on.

With the fists clinched? - I cannot say whether they were open or not.

Did he seem to be pushing her back? - She said, you villain, what do you strike me for? he said he did not; she said he did; she had no cap on.


I lodge in the one pair of stairs; I was dressing my child and I heard a great bustle in the two pair of stairs, and I opened the door, and I heard the prisoner ask the deceased for the price of a pot of beer; and the deceased said I do not owe you for any; some time after that I heard her swear, which was a very uncommon thing, that he should go down stairs; and I remembered the day that the boy brought that up stairs to Mrs. Edwards, in the next room, which was not paid for, and I thought the boy was under a mistake, and I wished to see it righted; I stepped into the next room, and desired one of the evidences to step up stairs to see it righted; in the mean time, Mrs. Godfrey and Mrs. Edwards were running up stairs; I sent up Mrs. Dorothy Knowles , Mrs. Gibson's servant; I heard no more of it till after the boy was gone down stairs; then I opened the door, and the deceased was standing in the middle of the stairs; I took her by the hand, and desired her to

come in to my room, and compose herself; I was eating a bit of dinner, and I asked her to come in and have part of a pint of beer; she said she was not used to drinking, she could not drink, her head ached; and then she said, oh, that naughty man, I never owed for a pot of beer; and she kept her hand on her head; she staid with me two or three minutes; she went up stairs in two or three minutes; I went up a little after, she was then very bad, and complained of her head very much; they were getting her into bed; the doctor was sent for, and he said he could do nothing for her in the state she was in; he said she was in a kind of fit.

Are you the person that said if you were dressed, you would throw him down stairs? - No, my Lord, it was Mrs. Gibson.

Do you know how her head came to be so bad? - By the violent passion she was in; she was perfectly well before.


I live in the one pair of stairs; I saw nothing of this misfortune; I heard a great noise; I was in my room, but I had not my clothes on, or I should have gone out.

You said you would have broke his neck down stairs, if you had had your clothes on? - Yes, I said so.

What was your cause? - Only being saucy; I thought it was not well for a pot boy; I did not think he had struck the woman, I only know that she desired him to go down stairs, or she would push him down stairs; and he would not go down, till he had the money for the pot of beer; I spoke to the deceased, and asked but, why she put herself in such a passion, and she never answered me, only called out, oh, my head, several times; she walked up of herself; I did not think she was nigh death, or death was nigh her; but she d a few minutes after she went up stairs; I sent my woman for some hartshorn; I thought there might be some life in her; I told the apothecary to bleed her if he thought proper; he said it was of no use; he bled her, and she bled three drops, and no more.

Had this boy been often there? - I do not know the boy particularly, I have seen him before, he came for pots.


They had a commence about a pot of beer ten or fifteen minutes before I went up; I went up by order of my mistress, and he had her by the right breast with his right hand, and his other hand up to strike at her; I asked him the reason he was going to strike her; he said no, she owed him for a pot of beer, and he would have the money before he went out of the room, and I told him it was the next room that owed him for the pot of beer, and not her; he said he insisted upon it, he took the beer into the room, and set it upon the table; I asked him if it was not a lusty gentlewoman that took it from him upon the stairs; he said, yes; I knocked at the room door adjoining, and Mr. Edwards came out, and told us it was him that owed for the pot of beer, and his wife came and looked over his shoulder; and Mrs. Godfrey then immediately came up and insisted he should go down, or she would push him down; that he should not use her lodgers ill; he said he would be paid for the beer before he went out of the place; and Mrs. Godfrey insisted on his going down, and she pushed him down, and he told her on the stairs that he would serve her as he had done the other, if she did not let him alone; I saw no blows at all.

You say he had hold of her breast? - He had hold of her breast; his hand was upon her breast pushing against her to get out of her apartment.


How old are you? - Ten years old.

Will you be sure to tell me the truth? - Yes, Sir.

You know it will be a very wicked thing not to tell me the truth? - Yes, Sir.


I am the son of the poor woman that died; I remember the prisoner coming up

to our room; I was at home, he came and knocked at the door, and asked her for the money for the pot of beer she had on Friday night; she told him she did not owe for any pot of beer; he told her she did; and so she told him to go out of the room, and she wanted to put the door in his face, and he shoved back again, and then he took and struck her on her breast with his fist, and then he collared her, he caught hold of her breasts here with both his hands, then Mrs. Godfrey came up and caught hold of him, she caught him collaring her, and she turned him down.


I did not know the deceased in her lifetime; the coroner and his jury sent a request that I would come and examine the body, it was the evening after the day of her death, in that space of time there can be very little room for any great alteration by putrefaction; I could not observe the least marks of any injury externally; I ordered the head to be shaved, supposing I might have found something there, but there was not the least mark of injury or mischief thereabouts, or her breast or neck; but upon examination in the internal parts, (I will not trouble you with every part we examined, it is not necessary) but in the head there was considerable mischief, so that it is not at all to be wondered at that she died so soon; in the brain there was a very considerable extravasation of blood; there had been a rupture of some small vessels, they had discharged their contents, and a great deal of this blood was diffused through the brain; no where else did I observe any injury at all, except a general appearance of weakness, such as might have been expected from a woman who had lately laid-in.

I suppose these ruptures proceed from numberless causes? - A variety of causes, it might arise from violent anger, sudden fear, and a plethora might produce it; there are frequent instances of people that die suddenly from such causes; I believe my deposition was pretty much to that effect; it was like an apoplexy, if it was not quite so.

Court to Jury. Gentlemen, there wanted nothing but the authority of a gentleman of the profession, to satisfy us about that, which I think the whole course of the evidence sufficiently points out, which is, that this woman came by her death from a sudden eruption of the blood vessels, which her emotion with this pot-boy occasioned; the death happening in that way, it is impossible to carry the consequences of this boy's misconduct to such an extent, as to impute that rupture to him: we cannot measure the effect that impertinent behaviour will have on different constitutions, so as to make it a crime of one degree in a boy to affront a person of a strong constitution, who does not care a farthing for him, and of another degree to affront another person whose spirits are all in an uproar at his behaviour; that is a refinement which cannot be admitted into the definition of crimes; so that upon the whole, I think it is impossible for us to say, that this woman came by her death by the hands of this boy; therefore we cannot examine into the crime of this boy, as both the charges against him presuppose that he was the cause of her death, though his impertinent behaviour was the thing that did lead to this unhappy end.


Tried by the London Jury before Mr. Baron EYRE .

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