11th July 1787
Reference Numbert17870711-41
VerdictNot Guilty

Related Material

ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error
Navigation< Previous text (trial account) | Next text (trial account) >

599. JOHN ELLIOTT was indicted, for that he, on the 9th of July , with two certain pistols loaded with gun-powder and divers leaden bullets, which he in both his hands then had and held, in and upon one Mary Boydell , spinster , in the peace of God and our Lord the King then being, unlawfully, wickedly, and feloniously did make an assault, and at her the said Mary did shoot, in the King's highway, in a certain place called Princes street , against the statute, and against the King's peace .

A second count, charghing him with shooting at her with one pistol.

(The case opened by Mr. Garrow.)

Gentlemen of the Jury, I am of counsel in this case for the prosecution against the unfortunate man at your bar, who is charged, as you have collected from the indictment, with the offence of shooting at Miss Boydell; and that offence, by an act of parliament, in the ninth of George I. is made capital, and subjects the party accused, and found guilty of it, to the punishment of death. Gentlemen, this is a sort of offence in this country, and in this metropolis, which for the honour and credit of both, is a very rare one; and therefore whenever such a case is brought before a Court and Jury, it calls for their most serious and most careful attention; for it such offences should be committed in the metropolis of this kingdom, with impunity, I am sure all of you will feel that security in which you boast, to be much less than you have flattered yourselves it is; if a daring assaffin, urged by impetuous desire, by resentment, or any other ungovernable passion, shall place himself at the corner of the streets, and take, or attempt to take, the lives of the king's subject; surely our security would be at an end; and therefore, sure I am, that such cases require from a Jury the most serious and careful attention; more than such an attention I do not ask. Gentlemen, I do not desire to inflame your passions, or ask you to give a verdict against the prisoner, unless you are clearly satisfied, first, that he has committed the act; and next, that he is in a state, in which he ought to be accountable for his actions: I say this, because I understand, that the defence is not, that the fact has not been committed; for that will be made out to you as clear as that sun in whose face it was committed; but it will be attempted on the part of the prisoner, to be stated to you by witnesses, that this unfortunate man is not, by the law of England, accountable for his actions; and therefore your attention will be, to discriminate and to enquire, whether he is an accountable being or not; whether by the law of England, under the directions of the bench, he is accountable for his actions. Gentlemen, I will now proceed to state to you who the parties are, that are concerned in this prosecution; what this supposed connection was, and shortly to state the facts which give rise to the present prosecution. Gentlemen, Miss Boydell, who is the person that has been attacked in the present case, is the niece of Mr. Alderman Boydell; and I believe there does not exist in this town, or perhaps in his Majesty's dominions, a more respectable, a more amiable, or a more virtuous character than Miss Boydell is: she lives in the family, and under the protection of her uncle; and the prisoner, during the earlier part of his life, lived at Mess. Smith, and Co. apothecaries,

in Cheapside; he there had opportunity of knowing the character of Miss Boydell, which certainly was of a nature that might have provoked the affection of any man living; the prisoner afterwards set up in his business, exercised very considerable talents, and procured for himself very large emoluments; it happened (for in this case it is not my object, nor is it the object of those who sent me here, to keep any thing from you that might operate, as an excuse or palliation for the prisoner) it happened that the prisoner in the character of an apothecary, visited some young ladies of the name of Lloyd, who, rather than depend on relations, had submitted to the employ of mantua-makers; Miss Boydell employed them in that capacity; the prisoner visited them in his professional character; and I understand they took many opportunities of recommending the prisoner to Miss Boydell, speaking of him as a person of good character, and thriving in the world; and Miss Boydell, I understand, upon some application of these persons, may have expressed some wish for the wellfare of this prisoner; but beyond that, I am instructed he cannot carry it; and therefore if it amounted to a complete plea in bar of this indictment, if it were a perfect excuse that he had received encouragement from her, no such excuse exists in this case; but no man can certainly shelter himself from the law of England, by stating that he has been ill-used; that his resentment has been provoked, that his passions have been excited by that which appears to him to be bad conduct; and therefore if it was to appear clear to you, that from Miss Boydell this man received encouragement, (which he has not) but if he had, it could not operate in this case: I mention this only, that you may not be caught hold of, that your passions may not be excited, that you may not be run away with by suggestions or apprehensions, that possibly he had been led by jealousy, by attachment, or any other motive; for I am authorised to state it; and I challenge the world to prove the contrary; that he had no such excuse, he has no such palliation, he has had no such encouragement. Gentlemen it happened on the 9th of July, that Miss Boydell, in company with a witness I shall call to you, a Mr. Nicoll, a bookseller in the Strand, who is perhaps known to you to be a very respectable and well-known character, were going to Miss Boydell's brother's to dinner; they were in the street arm in arm, she had not seen the prisoner, nor bad they any reason to expect any thing that could alarm them; when in an instant, the first thing that Mr. Nicoll perceived was a violent explosion at his ear; that ear next the lady; he turned round and saw the prisoner in great agitation; he seized the prisoner, and used some expression like this; You villain, is it you that have shot? to which he said, yes; avowing the act; by no means disavowing it. or shewing any contrition of what he had done; he was secured; in the way to the magistrates he was searched, and upon him were found two pistols. Gentlemen, you will observe that this explosion was not by a single pistol; it was not by one common instrument of death; but by a brace of pistols well secured together by packthread; so that they might be discharged at one and the same instant, and in that state, with both his hands close to the body of the lady, these two pistols were discharged! You will all agree with me, that, it was miraculous enough, that her life was not taken! after he was secured, in his pocket were found another brace of pistols, exactly resembling those he had in his hand; and tied up and made secure exactly in the same form. Gentlemen, it has in a case of this sort, once before been urged, as well as it could, that this must be desperation, and that you are to conclude that the second instrument was intended for his own destruction; but if that was certainly the case, it constitutes no apology; it affords no excuse; it amounts to no justification; because if a man is desperate enough to attack his own life, it is not permitted to him to involveothers by the same desperation: but I am afraid it forms a very formidable and considerable part of the testimony against this prisoner; I am afraid it looks unlike that which they make their defence; and it looks like cool deliberation; it looks like premeditation; and if you suppose that it was his intention, either if he failed, or completed his purpose, to take away his own life, it does not weigh a straw; and therefore can go no one step towards an acquittal. Gentlemen, the prisoner was taken to the magistrate's, he was there examined; and, in that respect particularly, I must request you to attend to his language; at first he seemed perfectly resigned to his fate; rejoiced in the mischief he supposed he had done, congratulated himself that Miss Boydell, the object of his resentment and passion, was now at an end; and declaring that he did not care how soon he followed her; but upon its being whispered in the room that she was not dead, he broke out into the most ungovernable passion; and he then manifestly displayed his intention, and confessed that all his disappointment, and all he felt of an uneasy nature was, that that design had not been carried into execution. Gentlemen, I have now stated to you all the facts that belong to the case; I mean to the immediate commission of it; there are others which it will be extremely important for you to lend your attention to: and, Gentlemen, I understand the defence of the day is, that he is not in his perfect senses. I know of no defence that calls so much on a Jury for calm and deliberate attention; because there is none which, if it is well made out, ought to be so effectual; for the humane principle of the law of England is this, that no man shall be accountable for his actions, who is under the visitation of Heaven, by a malady which renders him unknowing what he does, unconscious of the mischief he commits, and therefore he is not amenable to any Court of human judicature; but such a defence ought to be made out in such a way, that the Jury shall, without pause, without hesitation, be convinced of it; for it is a defence easily made, and easily collected from the fact itself, and dangerous in the extreme, if not admitted with great caution. Gentlemen, I wish to guide your attention to this; and it is fit that every Jury should be so guarded, and that they should not conclude that, because this is a fact, in its own nature atrocious and beyond example, therefore the man who committed it is undoubtedly insane. Gentlemen, I intreat you to seek for clear and unequivocal proofs of insanity; if you find them, in God's name let him be acquitted; God forbid he should be condemned, if you find out that he was not in his sober senses; for by the law of England, insanity is a sufficient excuse, if he is under the operation of it: On the other hand, although you know infants are not amenable to the law in general, yet there are cases where an infant has had a found discretion, or rather a mischievous intention; and an infant of very tender years has been executed: just so in the case of lunatics, if they are in the state of infants, not having a found discretion. I say again, God forbid they should be condemned, but if the Jury find they have a malicious discretion; that they know what they are about; that they plan it with the deliberation of a man in his sober senses, then they are not, from the atrociousness of the act, to infer that the criminal is a lunatic: let us therefore, Gentlemen, look at the facts of this case, and see whether they are those that bespeak the madman. I am not in possession of the history of this unfortunate man; he has been a man attentive to his interest, very attentive to it I understand, and I shall be able to prove as attentive as most men have been: I shall prove to you that this was not the sudden start of a madman influenced by the moon, or any other planet; but that it has been the result of a long and premeditated intention; that it has been the subject of his conversations, and that it has been the topic of letters, written to Alderman Boydell and the Lady; and I shall prove that there isno doubt but this fact has been harboured in his mind, and there are his own declarations that the pistols were purchased for the express purpose; that he had kept them, because he had not an earlier opportunity of putting it into execution. Gentlemen, I can say with truth, that neither me, nor those that sent me here, seek the life of this man; but I shall prove that he has been for weeks and weeks seeking an opportunity of perpetrating this outrage, and that in an assumed name, not his own; and that is not the act, I am afraid, of a madman; he had placed himself in the family of a servant of the brother to this lady at West End; introduced himself to the servants of that brother; played with the children, and sought every opportunity of being there under a borrowed name. Gentlemen, I shall also prove to you, that having about three months ago continued in that family for six weeks, and having left it, he returned there, and desired to be admitted to sleep in that house, on the Wednesday before this transaction, and also to have some liquor. Gentlemen, the declarations he has made at the office, and the letter written to Alderman Boydell, will be strong proofs of these facts; he said at the office that he had written a letter to Alderman Boydell, that he meant to take her life, and the Alderman's life; and I shall prove that such a letter has been sent. Then the only inquiry you will have to make, in point of fact, will be, whether this man has maliously and wilfully shot at Miss Boydell, and about that, the fact will be extremely short. I mentioned to you that there were found on him when taken, another brace of pistols; and it is necessary, as I have it not in my power to produce those pistols, to say one word or two about them. Gentlemen, the prisoner was carried, most unfortunately indeed for the purposes of public justice, to the office of Mr Hyde, a Justice of Peace; he was there examined; and the pistols were delivered into Mr. Hyde's possession; when I first knew of this case, I desired the very first thing I did, that they might no longer remain in that custody; it appeared to me to be essential for the purpose of public justice that they should be in other hands; in consequence of my applications, application was made for them; and it is enough for the purpose of to day that I should state the fact; but it must be enquired into in another place; the fact is, those pistols are not forth-coming! Why not? Why Mr. Hyde knew that he ought not to have parted with them to any human being? Why, he has parted with them? To whom; and on what occasion; or what apology he can offer to the Court, it is for himself to state, not for me. I have stated the apology of the prosecutor for not producing them, and I shall only add at present, that if Magistrates so entrusted, dare so to conduct themselves, it is to be lamented that public prosecutions fall into such hands; it is no impeachment of the prosecutor, he essayed to bring them here, and he has postponed this trial in hopes of producing them; but I understood to my utter astonishment, and to my extreme surprize, they are not to be produced; but I also understand it is in the power of Mr. Hyde, the Justice, to give some account of them; to tell you that they were like those that were found on the prisoner, and that were discharged, and to tell you what was the contents. Gentlemen, I thought it my duty to state to you that they are not here, and to state to you as well as I can; not the reason, but the apology of the prosecutor. Gentlemen, the question you have to decide under my Lord's direction, therefore is, whether the fact has been committed, and committed by the prisoner at the bar; and next, whether he was in a state of insanity. All that I have to say to you on that subject; for you will receive very able instructions from the Judge, who has had the painful office of watching such defences before, and has summed them up; all I have to say on the subject, is this; that if you are satisfied that in the general, this man was in his discreet and found mind; that he knew what he was doing; that he was accountable; that he ought tobe accountable; that he ought not to be let loose to commit murder, and then plead madness; you ought to pronounce him guilty. If on the other hand, my friends prove him a lunatic, then you will find him not guilty; and we shall all have to rejoice in common, that the efforts of a madman have not had the desired effect. Gentlemen, you cannot, nor you will not compromise your oaths; if you are satisfied he is guilty, you will find him guilty; if you are not satisfied of that fact, I shall not ask you for such a verdict.


Mr. Garrow. You are acquainted with Miss Boydell? - Yes.

And have been so for some time past? - Yes; I was in her company on the 9th of July; I was going to conduct her to her brother's to dinner; we were going to Wimpole-street from Pall-mall; we had to call in Princes-street, Leicester-fields, about some business.

What time of the day was it you was in Princes-street? - I think about half an hour after one, or twenty minutes.

Tell us distinctly what you first observed relative to this business? - An excessive noise and blow on the side of my head; I observed a violent report louder than the ordinary discharge of a piece; I believed it to be a blow on the left side of my face; I immediately let the lady's arm go, and turned round suddenly, believing it was some mischievous boy, who had fired off something, and with my open hand meant to give him a blow; upon my turning round, I observed the prisoner seemingly in a pause, and seemingly in great agitation close to me, within a foot of me, immediately behind me, holding the two pistols tied together, as I found afterwards, in his right hand, which he had discharged.

Had you observed him at all before? - No, not at all; I never saw his face before in my life; I seized him immediately; upon my seizing him, he dropped the pistols, or held them so slightly that a little boy in livery, a stranger whom I never saw before, took them from his hand.

Did you say any thing when you seized him? - I cannot exactly remember the words, but I suppose I made use of some such as these, was it you, you villain, that fired.

Did he make you any answer to that? - He said I am the man; upon that there came out from a shop close to which the accident happened, a Mr. Griffiths, a shoemaker, who being behind us, saw what we did not see; he came out, and took his left hand; the boy I believe his right hand, I holding him in the mean time; but it occurring to me, that the lady who was with me was in danger, of course I immediately let him go, and turned round as quick as I could to look for the lady; finding her protected in a shop, I returned to the prisoner, and on searching him, I found another brace of pistols fastened in the same manner, and exactly similar; they were in one of his coat pockets; they were exceedingly like the other two, I am sure of that, which were fastened together with packthread.

In what manner? - First round the barrels, and then round the stock; they were fastened the same way with those he had in his hand; we immediately drew up the pans of the pistols that were found in his pocket, turned out the priming, and let down the cock; and then I put them in my pocket.

Did you observe whether besides being primed, they were loaded? - They were loaded to the muzzle, the wadding stuck out at the mouth of each pistol, I observed that particularly; upon this, we carried him before Mr. Hyde, the Justice.

Did any thing pass in your way to the Justice's? - In our way there he said he was happy he had sent her before, and that he was willing now to die, for he had had his revenge, and he was satisfied.

Did he say that more than once? - Frequently, repeatedly all the way thither; we then went before the Justice, the Justice

then examined the pistols that were fired off, and returned them to the boy in livery, who had taken them from the prisoner; the boy's name is Butler; the Justice then asked who had the charged pistols; I said I had; he desired to take them into his hand, and I gave them to him; he then laid them on a shelf on his left hand.

Did the prisoner say any thing in the presence of the Justice that is material to state? - We then went on to take our depositions, and during the time of our depositions, a woman came into the room, and said she had seen the lady, or heard of the lady; I naturally having nobody to enquire of, was very anxious to know; I asked this woman how she was; she said she was better than could be expected, or something to that purpose; when the whisper went round the room that she was not killed, the prisoner exclaimed in a most violent rage at his disappointment; to the best of my knowledge he said, is not she dead! and clasped his hands seemingly with great agitation, and disappointment, in a way that shocked me: he then broke out into terms of abuse of the lady, the alderman and family, that can hardly be repeated.

That I believe is all that you know to be material? - I believe it is, that is all that passed in the presence of the Magistrate; I left these pistols with the Magistrate, supposing they could not be safer than in the hands of a Magistrate before whom the prisoner was carried; I have since applied for them, and have not got them.

Mr. Silvester Prisoner 's Counsel. If I understand you right, not a word was said by the unfortunate gentlemen at the bar before your heard the explosion? - Not a word.

But the moment you made use of some very strong expressions, he appeared very much agitated, and said he was the man? - Yes.

Then he was taken before the Magistrate? - Yes.

And at that time seemed to express very great satisfaction? - Very much.

What were the words? - He was glad he had sent her before him; he was glad he had had his revenge, and many more that I cannot remember.

So that he expressed as much satisfaction as a man would do that had done a praise-worthy act? - Most assuredly.

That was at a time when he was in custody, and you going to lay an accusation against him? - Yes.

When he heard that she was not killed his passion began, and he made use of very abusive language? - Yes.


I am servant to Mr. Brown, the Surgeon; I happened in be in Princes-street at the time this accident happened; I first observed the prisoner stepping very fast after Mr. Nicoll and Miss Boydell in Princes-street.

How long did he follow her before he came up to her? - I did not see him very long, I saw him much about five yards off.

Was it near the corner of the street? - It was just opposite No. 7, within seven doors of the corner of Princes-street, that goes down to Coventry-street, just as I came up I heard the report of a pistol, and saw it flash.

Where was that pistol at the time? - In Elliot's hand.

Where did he present it, where did he hold it? - Towards the lady.

How near to her? - As close as he possibly could.

Upon your hearing the explosion, what happened then? - I was just come up to them; then I saw Mr. Nicoll turn round, and seize the prisoner; I heard Mr. Nicoll say, is this you, you villain, who fired, and he said yes, it is, and immediately he dropped the pistols, and I took them up.

Have you got these pistols here? - Yes.

Have you had them ever since? - Yes.

Are they in the same state they were then? - Yes, except a piece of paper that kept them fast; they are in the same state, they were tied together in the manner they are now, at the barrels, and at the handles; the right side lock was exactly in the same state it is now, the other was not, and some of the priming of the right hand pistol was in; one pan was down, and the pistol discharged; and the other pan was not down, and the cock half cocked, and a very little of the priming in; there was nothing in the barrels of either of them.

Who examined them? - They were examined at the office.

Did they appear to you both to have been discharged? - They appeared both to have been discharged.

If they both appeared to have been discharged, what do you mean by the pistol being half cocked? - By the strength of the string, I thought the pan flew back again.

Put them in the position they were when you had them? - The pan was quite down as it is now, and the pistol on the half cock, a small part of the priming was in the pan of one.

Did you examine the barrels whether there was any of that sort of dirt which is in pistols after they are discharged, any of that moist powder? - No, I did not, they examined them at the office, only I observed that they were both gone off by there being nothing in the barrel; from the strength of the string, I thought it might spring back again.

Was there any of the priming? - A little just at the edge of the pan.

Did you hear any of the expressions that the prisoner made use of? - At the office he made use of very violent expressions; at first, he said he was very willing to die, as he had sent Miss Boydell before him, and he wished somebody would take the other brace of pistols, and blow his brains out.

That you say he said at first? - Yes.

Do you remember any body coming in, and speaking how Miss Boydell was? - A woman came in, and said Miss Boydell was better than could be expected; he immediately fell into a violent passion, and clapped his hands together and said is not she dead? is not she gone? and seemed very sorry that she was not dead; he said at the office he had wrote several letters to Alderman Boydell, that he intended to take her life away, and for the Alderman to take him before he did do it; the Justice asked him how long he had had the pistols, and whether he bought them for that purpose, and he replied that he did, he said he could not rightly tell how long he had had them, but he had had them better than two months.

Mr. Silvester. You saw the pistols quite close to the lady? - Yes.

Then afterwards, when Mr. Nicoll called out, he did not attempt to go away? - A little at first; not after he dropped the pistols, and I picked them up.

Then when he came before the Justice he seemed very pleased at first at what he had done? - He seemed pleased at first, but rather in a flurry; he expressed himself as very happy at what he had done; then he flew in a violent passion at hearing the lady was not dead; said he had wrote to the Alderman, and told him all about it, and desired the Alderman to take him.

So that before the Justice at first he was very well pleased, then in a violent passion, then very abusive, then he told you he had wrote letters about it? - Yes.


I live in Princes-street; last Monday, between one and two o'clock, as I was standing at my shop window, I observed Mr. Nicoll and a lady walking by my shop, arm in arm; just as they came opposite to me, I saw the prisoner step up very hastily behind them, and thrust his hand forward, the instant he thrust his hand, I thought he was going to pick the gentleman's pocket; I heard a violent report, and saw the flash of a piece go off; it was such a sudden matter, I could not tell what he was going to do; as soon as ever the piece went off, I immediately ran

out of the shop, and I saw Mr. Nicoll, I thought he was dropping down, I thought he was shot, upon the edge of the curb-stone slipping off; I immediately laid hold of the prisoner by the collar, but recollecting he might have other fire arms about him; I let go his collar, and seized him by the two wrists; he made a struggle, but not a struggle to get away, but a struggle as I thought to put his hands in his pocket; when I had him by the hands, several other people came up, and I desired their assistance to take him, least he should have other fire arms in his pocket; when he found I believe there was no opportunity of putting his hands in his pocket, he directly said I have other fire arms, I have another brace of pistols; when we secured him, we searched his coat pockets, and in one of his coat pockets we found a brace of pistols; I left them in the pocket, and saw them taken out by the person that was on the other side.

Did you observe what condition these pistols were in? - When we took them out they were loaded up to the muzzle.

Did you see Mr. Nicoll shake out the priming? - No, I did not; after the pistols were taken from him, he said, not to use him ill; he did not mean to run away, as he had now had his revenge; he said he was very willing to die the next minute; we took him to the Justices, and he said he had written letters to Mr. Boydell and Miss Boydell, and he was amazed, Mr. Boydell had not had him taken up to ease his peace of mind, and prevent the mischief he had now done; I remember when the Justice asked him for what purpose he had bought two brace of pistols, he said he meant to shoot the lady with one pair, and to make away with himself immediately with the other; the Justice likewise asked him how long he had had them, and he said, he had had them a month or two, but he was so confused then, that he could not recollect how long, but he believed it was a month.

That was his own expression was it, that he was so confused then? - Yes, that was his expression, he said he bought them for that purpose; the pistols that were left with Mr. Hyde, the Justice, were loaded to the muzzles.

Mr. Silvester. You saw the wadding at the end? - Yes.

That is not the usual way of loading pistols? - I do not know, I am no sportsman.

Is that your way of answering? it was all instantaneous I think? - Yes, it was all done in a second or two.

He was very much agitated, you do not think he was pleased or satisfied at all? - Why he expressed a little satisfaction before he knew the lady was alive; he said as he had now had his revenge, he was willing to die the next minute; he repeated it several times; when he was told the Lady was not dead, he was in a violent passion, at the Justices; I cannot tell whether it was before or after when he said he was confused, I did not see the lady.

Mr. Garrow to Mr. Nicoll. How soon after did you see Miss Boydell? - I did not see the clothes till I came from the Justices, the cloak was a muslin one, and burnt almost one half of it in the back part, and just by the right shoulder, which was the shoulder next to me; the appearance of the gown was a large black spot in the same place, under the cloak, I believe the gown is here; in the middle of that large black spot, seemed to be indented two marks, as if the gown was stretched ready for bursting, as far as the elasticity of the stays would permit, the two marks were about the size of the mouth of these pistols, and as near as I now hold my fingers, it appeared to be about the distance of the mouth of these two pistols from each other.

Court to Griffiths. You speak of a flash and a loud report, could you in the suddeness of the thing, discern whether there was one or two flashes? - That I could not.

Could you discern whether there was a double or single report? - I cannot say, but it was a very loud report.


I am a surgeon; I attended this lady after the accident; on examining Miss Boydell, I found a graze on the right shoulder blade, there were two wounds that appeared more swelled than the general contusion; the contusion became general the next day, it was general at first after the accident.

Describe the first appearance of it. - There were two wounds appeared swelled and red.

At what distance from each other. - I suppose an inch, or rather more.

Of what size did the first impressions appear to have been? - One of them was as large as a walnut would cover, the other did not appear so large, but next day the swelling became general and black; it was seven in the evening before I was called in, no doubt it must have time to swell, it could not instantly rise.

What might the extent of the contusion be? - The size of the palm of my hand.

Did you examine the dress that had been over the affected part? - Yes.

Did you observe any correspondent marks to those two tumours? - There were two marks on the gown, from which I concluded some hard body had struck that occasioned the tumours underneath, they were opposite to the tumours as near as I recollect.

Mr. Silvester. So that any two things that had gone with force against it would have left that mark? - No doubt any force would have caused those two tumours.

Mr. Garrow. Had Miss Boydell any stays on? - Yes, they were the usual stays.

Is not there an elasticity in whalebone? - Yes, certainly.

Do you apprehend that the force of a man's hand might cause those two marks? - No doubt if they were applied with any degree of force, it might have produced that swelling underneath.

From the whole appearance together, from the dress and the contusions, do you apprehend it proceeded from such a force, or from the explosion of the pistols and what was contained in them? - There are marks of blackness in the gown, two black marks.

Court. Have you happened to be used to gun shot and pistol wounds? - I have not been particularly used to them.

You saw the dress that Miss Boydell had on? - Yes.

Do you conceive it was sufficient to turn two pistol balls if fired at so small distance? No, I do not think it possible to turn such force.

Mr. Garrow. You told my Lord you had not been accustomed to gun shot wounds? - No.

Do you happen to know that a pistol loses its power of doing mischief, in proportion as the air is diminished; if it is placed very close to its object, from the want of air it loses its effect? - Yes, I know it.

Did you ever fire a tallow candle though a deal board, and you cannot get a ball through it if you were near? - That depends a great deal on the direction it is fired in.

Mr. Silvester. You do not mean to say that a ball against the belly of a very fat man would not go through him? - No, I do not.


I am servant to Miss Boydell, this is the cloak.

A muslin cloak produced, half burnt; and a neck handkerchief burnt.

This is the gown as it lays now. Miss Boydell had whalebone stays? - Yes.

Mr. Silvester. They were not remarkably thick? - No.

Was it whalebone all through? - Yes.

- HYDE, Esq. sworn.

Was you the Magistrate before whom the prisoner was examined? - I was one of them.

Was there any pistols delivered to you?

Mr. Nicoll is here, and he will contradict me or inform the court; Mr. Nicoll and Mr. Elliott were brought to the office

together; I did not know at first who the prisoner was, they were so violent, the room was so full; the prisoner got partly behind me; I saw the pistols, and the mouth of them was against my shoulder; I desired them to be quiet; there was a sort of quarrel between Mr. Nicoll and Mr. Elliot, I took them out of his hand, and they were put down on the table; Captain Lee, who was sitting by me takes them up, and he puts them on a shelf behind; I did not do it; while Mr. Nicoll had the pistols in his hand, I observed the mouth of the pistol with the wadding, that the bullet or slug, or whatever it was, had been drove in, for it had broke the paper, for I could see the lead at the mouth of the pistol as plain as I could see any thing; that was my desire in asking Mr. Nicoll to put the pistol down; Mr. Nicoll went away, they were not asked for, nobody thought of them.

Where are they now? - Sir, I will tell you.

Are they here? - No Sir, I have not seen them since.

Where are they? - I do not know upon my word, upon my oath I do not know; about ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour after, a person that was standing in the room, who was talking with Mr. Elliot -

You have not these pistols here which were left with you by the parties? - A person that was standing by, who was talking to Mr. Elliot, who was aggravating Mr. Elliot; I desired him to be quiet and hold his tongue, or I would turn him out of the room; immediately after that he walked round to Mr. Nicoll, and stood by him all the time of his examination; soon after the parties had gone away, he came back and said he came for the pistols.

Had he, on the part of the parties, made any information on the part of the crown? - No.

Did you know him? - No, I did not know the pistols were in the house till then.

Did you ask him his name? - Yes, and he said his name was Thomas Brown, a Cabinet-maker, and he lived in Drury-lane.

When did you give them him? - Directly, I suppose it was three o'clock on the day on which the examination was had.

Did he ever make any information before you? - Yes, at that time.

In whose presence? - There is a person who is subpoened, John Pation , who attends the office.

Did you write the information? - I did.

On what day? - The 9th of July.

Will you swear it was the 9th? - Yes.

Not upon the 11th? - No.

Then he never gave any information on the 11th? - No.

He described himself to live in Drury-lane, and to be a cabinet-maker? - Yes.

That was his description? - Yes.

Did you believe that description? - Yes.

Did you never say he lived next door to Griffiths? - No Sir, I have sent all over London after him.

You say it is not your custom to keep things brought into the office; is it not your custom to keep material evidence, which is to be produced in a prosecution? - I never had any thing left, nor this would not have been left if we had seen them.

Did you know where Mr. Nicoll lived? - Yes.

Did not you know where Mr. Alderman Boydell lived when this man was committed? - No Sir.

Do you mean to swear that? - I do mean to swear I did not know where he lived.

Did not you bind the parties over? - Alderman Boydell was not there; Mr. Nicoll was bound over; he told me he lived in the Strand, and was a bookseller; I should have delivered them, supposing Mr. Nicoll had sent his servant; when Butler brought the two pistols that were produced, there was a doubt whether one or two of them had gone off; the pistols

were produced, and laying on the front of the table, we took a pen and examined the bottom of the pistols, and we found there was nothing in either of them; but they were, as the boy said, half cocked; and I gave him the pistols again, and I says, do you take and keep them; and produce them at the trial; and I should have done those the same, supposing they had not been left; for I believe Mr. Nicholl did not think of them any more than I did; I could not so well see one as the other; I think I tried the one the pan was down, which was on the left hand, that was black and moist; but I could not see the other, having been blacked with the powder; I did not try any further, there was such confusion; in short, Mr. Elliott was in such a frantic state, and Mr. Nicoll was very angry and hot, that I had enough to do to keep peace between the parties.

Mr. NEWSOME sworn.

I am a surgeon and apothecary; I have attended Miss Boydell since; she has a fever, and I do not think she is in a proper state to be examined as a witness; her mind is a good deal disordered; I saw her shoulder three or four days after.


I belong to St. Margaret's, Westminster; I am constable, I searched the prisoner, not at the office; I had him committed, and carried him to Bridewell, to Tothill-fields; and when we were ironing him, and chaining him down to the floor, one of the turnkeys searched him on one side, and I searched him on the other; and he pulled out a bottle of glazed gunpowder; I asked him what it was for? he said if the pistols had not gone off, he meant to prime them and fire them again; we chained him to the floor before I left him.

Mr. Silvester. You found no ball about him? - No.

Only that little powder? - No.


I am gardener to Mr. Josiah Boydell .

Where is your master's house? - At West End, Hampstead; he is brother to Miss Boydell; Miss Boydell used frequently to visit at my master's house, generally came to dinner there every Sunday; and some times when she was not well, was there for a month together.

How near is your house to Mr. Boydell's? - About an hundred yards; I know the prisoner very well; I have seen him since he has been in custody; he boarded and lodged with me all last winter at West End.

By what name? - By the name of John Corp ; he was with me six or seven months, I do not really know when he left me, whether it was the beginning of March or April; he was down at our house last Wednesday was a week in the evening; he generally called to see me when he came that way; he used to call and rest himself; we had some gin and water; he was at my master's house at Christmas, in the kitchen with the servants, me and my wife.

Was that known to your master? - I believe my master passed through the kitchen, and saw him in the kitchen; he did not know him before I believe.

When did he come to you, and when did he go away? - He went away the latter end of March, or the beginning of April; he had been there six months.

Court. During the time he lived with you, how did he behave himself? - He behaved himself very well to me all the time he was with me; but one time he had been out, and had had a little drink, he abused my wife, and she never liked the gentleman since.

Was he in good health? - Sometimes he was in pretty good health, and sometimes but poorly.

Did you observe any thing very remarkable or particular about him? - No, nothing particular.

In plain, did you observe any appearance of his being disordered in his mind? - No, never, when he was sober; unless he had drank a little; when he had drank, he was passionate and rash.

Mr. Silvester. What are you? - I am gardener to Mr. Boydell.

Did you know whether Miss Boydell was at all acquainted with him? - I never knew that.

Then you never saw them together there? - No, neither there, nor any other place; I often came to town, but I never saw them speak to each other; I know Mr. Corp, as he called himself, said he knew Miss Boydell; but I never knew there was any acquaintance between them; and he was there last Christmas Eve with the servants, and Mr. Boydell came there and saw him; Mr. Boydell does not go much there in the winter time, he generally resides in town.

Mr. Silvester. My Lord, the indictment states, that the pistols were loaded with powder and ball; your Lordship knows there must be evidence of some kind to the Jury, to ascertain the fact, whether the pistol so fired, was loaded with ball; in this case there is no evidence whatever, that either of these pistols, had ever been loaded with ball at all.

Court. I consider the fact of the pistols being loaded with ball, as in general to be collected from the circumstances; it can rarely concur that there can be direct proof of the act of loading; it may more frequently occur, that the ball may in some way be traced; now that may not always occur; nor do I think it is necessary that there should be direct specific proof, either of the act of loading, or that the ball should be afterwards found; I conceive that, like any other fact, must depend on circumstances, to be left to the Jury; though I agree with you, that before a Jury can find a prisoner guilty, they must be satisfied that the pistols were loaded with ball; the evidence to that is perhaps not very strong; of that the Jury will judge; but it is impossible to say there is no evidence to be left to the Jury; the declaration of the prisoner is evidence to be left to the Jury.

Prisoner. I have witnesses out of number.

Doctor SIMMONS sworn.

Mr. Silvester. I believe you are physician to St. Luke's? - I am.

How long have you known Mr. Elliott? - For these fifteen years or more; I have known him more particularly during his residence in Carnaby-market; for the last three years I have known less of him, in respect to the state of his mind; I have for some time past looked upon him as a man somewhat disordered; but it was in the month of January last, that I was particularly led to suspect his mind was deranged, in consequence of a letter I received from him, which I have in my pocket; if the Court will give me leave, I will just read a few lines.

Mr. Garrow. It certainly is not legal evidence, but I have no objection to it, if the Court chuses it.

Mr. Silvester. It was not written for this purpose; let the officer of the Court read it.

(The letter read.)

On the light of the Celestial Bodies, in a letter to Samuel Foart Simmons, M. D. F. R. S. by John Elliott , M. D. Dated January the 9th, 1787.

"Dear Sir,

"Doctor Priestly , some years ago, said that he could by means of the electrical spark, phlogisticate common air; it was then imagined that the phlogistication came from the common matter; but it was since thought, that phlogisticated air must be a combination of phlogiston and nitrous acid; because this air is the proper product of nitre deflagrated with charcoal, and of other phlogistic processes with that acid; and that the wires were partly calcined; the trial was first made in common air; after a great number of sparks were produced, a small combustion of common air was plainly to be perceived; no calcination of the wire appeared; if there was any, it was only in the common case: it is well known, that in the common way, metals

cannot be calcined, not being at all affected, when any other than respirable air is employed; I therefore at first concluded that the phlogistication came from the wire; but I soon perceived that though part of it was certainly derived from this source, yet the whole could not; for proceeding on the theory of Monsieur Lavotier, in his justly admired papers, the amount of the phlogistication, could by no means be sufficient to the greater quantities of air; the remainder therefore was partly filled by the electricity itself; and this opinion is formed by the following considerations: when the spark is taken in unrespirable air, it is usually of a red colour, or between that and white; for the air is so violently struck by the flash, just as the inflammable body is heated to the same degree, by friction, or in a common fire, there is merely a heat without any combustion; but when the spark is taken in common air, a blue light appears; and this I have formerly shewn, never appears, but where there is real combustion: Thus alkohol burns with insufficient heat, insomuch that it may may be held in the naked hand; but before iron can burn, it must be made not only red, but even white hot; so that this appears to be that kind of calcination, and the blue light must proceed from some other cause."

The intent of the letter is to prove that the sun is not a body of fire, but that the light of the sun descends not from any fire in itself, as every body has supposed; but from an aurora, and therefore his intent is to prove, that the sun, so far from being a hot place, is a very comfortable and habitable spot.

These papers were intended to be read at the Royal Society.

"If the sun's light, he says, proceeds from such a dense continual and universal aurora, as supposed, it will afford ample light to the inhabitants on the surface beneath; and yet is at such a distance aloft, as not to annoy them.

"No objection (he observes) arises to that great luminary's being inhabited; vegetation may obtain there as well as with us; there may be seas and dry land; woods and open plains, hills and dales, rains and fair weather: and as the light, so the season will be perpetual; at least it will be diversified only by distance, and occasional interstices in the luminous meteor. A fruitful imagination may easily conceive it to be by far the most blissful habitation of the whole system."

Court. I think I could point out a passage in Buffon, that would prove him as much insane? - I look upon him as a man disordered in his mind from the general inconsistence of his conduct, and the irritability of his temper; when I first knew him, he was one of the mildest creatures in the world.

Mr. Garrow. Have you ever been called upon to attend this man as a physician? - Never.

Never has been confined at all? - No, he has since published a pamphlet upon the subject.

I believe that pamphlet has been very well received? - I do not know, he has been talked of as a man of great ingenuity.

You thought that this was very absurd philosophy? - I think so.

Is the argument well pursued to establish the point with which the author labours; - I think not; the argument itself appears to me to be absurd.

But a man intending to establish such a conclusion, absurd as it may be, has he argued it rationally? - He has argued it ingeniously.

Court. I dare say you have read Burnett's Theory, and Buffon's System of the formation of the earth? - I do not pretend to have made myself master sufficiently of Burnett's Theory, and of Buffon's.

Mr. Garrow. Did you on receiving this letter, advise with his friends on the propriety of locking him up? - Why, Sir, till this time I hardly knew he had a friend.

Did you suggest the propriety of his being received into St. Luke's? - Never, I have seen him but seldom since.

Did you consider him as a man so mad

that he ought to be locked up? - I should have thought him a man likely to do some improper and dangerous thing, there was no answering for what he might do.

Do you mean to state it as your opinion, solemnly delivered, that he was a lunatic? - I should hardly think him fit to be intrusted; his life was almost totally different from any other man; he lived in a kind of a den, and was visited by nobody.

Mr. Silvester. Have not you met with a great deal of ingenuity on some subjects amongst those persons that you have known to be afflicted in this way? - Yes, a great deal.

Very capable of writing and reading? - Yes.


How long have you known the prisoner? - About a year and a half; I am an apothecary, his successor; I was his partner for some time.

What state of mind was he in? - In a very irritable state of mind, excited to strong passions from very little causes; since I knew him, he has been out of all proportion, and out of all bounds; my opinion given of him to others has been, that he was mad, and on a very slight provocation, he would go out of his mind and kill himself; that has been my opinion of him for months past; he was in business with me for some time, during which time I certainly formed this opinion of him from the tenor of his conduct and manner; there was that excentricity about him that made him appear insane.

Mr. Garrow. I dare say you are better employed as well as myself than in being an author; you do not write a great deal except prescriptions? - I do not.

You thought him a very excentric man? - Very.

A studious man? - Not that I know of; he had a philosophical mind well formed, and appeared to me to be mad; formerly I knew he was addicted to experiments; I knew nothing of the cause of his excentricity, he was so always since I knew him; he was my partner about six months; he attended my patients; prescribed for them; he directed the making of medicines.

He gave directions for bleeding and blistering, and taking proper care of his patients? - In that respect I saw no insanity, but in particular points the man was always insane.

How many of them might he have poisoned in the course of that six months? - I do not know that he poisoned any.

Then during the six months he was visiting? - He was getting into his own back parlour stamping, and swearing, and d - n - g like a madman, and had every appearance of a madman; in short he was a madman.

But during all this time he was a mad apothecary, attending his patients in partnership with you, and taking care of his patients? - Men are partially insane.

And that does not make them worse apothecaries perhaps? - Perhaps not.

Then I am sure I will not ask you another question.

Court. I am a little at a loss what to understand from you? - I have been so bullied; witnesses should be examined with candor, and not put out of temper, and out of their senses, so as not to be able to understand what they say.

Court. You describe this man as capable of going about his business, and prescribing for his patients, and as a man of a philosophical well turned mind; yet you say you considered him as a madman; why did you so consider him? - From his general conduct, when he came home as I have mentioned before, he would get into his back room, and there stamp and swear and drive things about, and nobody knew for what; and he frequently walked about melancholy, with his hands folded; it was my opinion before this affair; of late he has wandered about from place to place; I have had letters from him from different places upon business, particularly about taking down his name from over the door.

Do you know any thing of his concerns at all in the funds? - Before he left me

he had some successful dealings as I understood, but he kept his matters mostly to himself; he is older than me; all my family were afraid of him.


I am an officer of the customs; Mr. Elliot lodged with me twelve months, the first of this very month.

How did he behave? - He paid me very honestly; he never lived with me, only sleeping there at nights, he slept in the garret.

Did you make any observation on his mind? - I am never at home but of a Sunday, and a holiday; and when I am at home, he and I have drank a pint of beer together; my wife was at home, she is in Court; when we drank a pint of beer, she used to tell old stories, and before he had finished one story he would begin another; I used to tell her, says I, what sort of a man is is this, he is a madman? certainly he is out of his mind, or else he would not behave in that manner.

Mr. Garrow. Your wife is at home chiefly? - Yes.

You used to see this man frequently? - I had this opinion about ten days after he came to lodge with me.

What did your family consist of when you was from home? - My wife, and four or five children; he paid me every quarter; I would not wish to lose such a tenant; he was in the country part of the time.

Did he use to write much? - I do not know, he said he wrote several writings.


The prisoner has lodged at our house a twelvemonth up in a garret, no fire place nor window in it, only a sky light; he slept on a sliding board upon a bit of a bed; he had two blankets, and a rug, like what they throw over the homes; he was always like a man that was melancholy; sometimes he would come in as if he was wild and distracted, at other times very well; at other times he would go up without a candle; he would lay a bed almost all day long, and then go out in the afternoon; I looked upon him as a man out of his mind, as if something troubled him; he had one garret which he paid four pounds a year for; then he removed to a small garret at two guineas.

Mr. Garrow. What time did he go out the day he was taken? - About twelve at night to my knowledge he was down stairs.

You was not afraid he would do any mischief to your children? - No.

The Recorder was proceeding to sum up the evidence, when the Jury informed him they were all clearly satisfied that the pistols were not loaded with ball.

Court. Then Gentlemen, whatever may be the guilt of the prisoner, you must acquit him on this indictment.


Court. I shall certainly order him without any application, to be detained to be prosecuted for the assault.

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

View as XML