14th September 1791
Reference Numbert17910914-1
SentenceDeath; Death > executed

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312. GEORGE DINGLER 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 16th of August last, in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster , in and upon Jane his wife , in the peace of God and our lord the king then and there being,

feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault, and her the said Jane then and there feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike and kick, and her to and against the floor of a back room did cast and throw, and her laying on the said floor, by means of the casting and throwing, with both his hands, knees, and feet, her the said Jane, in and upon the body of the said Jane, did violently strike, beat, kick, and press, giving her, by the said casting, and by the striking, beating, kicking, and pressing aforesaid, in and upon her head, stomach, and belly, divers mortal bruises, of which she languished from the 16th of August to the 28th of the said month, and languishing did live; on which said 28th of August, she the said Jane, of the mortal bruises aforesaid, did die; and so the jurors say, that he the said George her the said Jane feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder .

He was also charged on the coroner's inquisition with the said murder.

(The witnesses examined apart.)

The case was opened by Mr. Fielding, as follows:

May it please your Lordship: Gentlemen of the Jury; you have collected already, from the indictment which has been read, that the crime imputed to the prisoner at the bar is that of the wilful murder of his wife: on the present occasion, very different feelings must be excited than what obtained on the last trial; for if the evidence be true in support of the present charge, it will exhibit to you a scene as shocking as ever attended the commission of the crime of murder: the circumstances are extremely short, and must necessarily be so, since the crime was committed when he, the prisoner at the bar, and his wife were alone in an apartment; however, we are able to lay before you some of those circumstances, as well from the examination of the woman taken before a magistrate, as from what she herself said to others on her death-bed: it appears that the prisoner at the bar and the woman deceased, his wife, were married, I think, in the year 1790, early in that year; they did not live together long, having lived most unhappily indeed from the commencement of their marriage: at the end of six months they parted; but soon after their separation the prisoner at the bar solicited her, over and over again, to return to him; she resisted all those applications, till very lately, before the day when this fatal circumstance took place, she was, in consequence of a visit of his, persuaded to go to his house; he lived in a place called Strutton-Ground , in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, and there kept a pork-shop : about twelve at noon, on the 16th of August, this woman went to the house; she had been in the shop but a very few minutes before there was an appearance about him that alarmed and frightened her much; a very little conversation took place, and it seems the conversation was of this kind; she intimated to him, the prisoner, that he was connected with some woman in that neighbourhood; he, on his part, immediately began a charge of recrimination; he said to her, that his son could attest that she had been seen in bed with several different men; soon after it was (indeed her account even to the magistrate and nurse who attended her on her dying bed does not go much further) he instantly took a knife that lay in the shop; she was considerably alarmed, and retreating from it, she ran into the parlour; he followed her, and instantly rushed upon her; he got her down on the floor, and made a stab at her with the knife, but meeting the resistance of her stays, the knife broke; he left her, and went into the shop a second time, and returned with another knife, indeed a most deadly instrument; the woman, then on the floor, was calling murder! nobody came to her on the instant, so that the savage had got her the second time, kneeling upon her, and stabbing her in several different places; she attempting to make all the resistance she could, putting her hands to the place where she received the wound,

her hands of course became cut, as well as several other parts of her body: at length the cries of the woman drew the attention of the neighbours; several people came round; and it will be proved, that he was seen in such a situation, so using the knife; and the immediate, the inevitable impression on your minds must be, that at that time he was in the perpetration of this murder; at first some women were afraid to go in, but other people came; then the man, alarmed from his savage purpose, he indeed had left off either stabbing or striking her; the woman had got from the floor, and had got, somehow or other, this knife in her hand, rushing out of the parlour, and saying that was the knife he had cut her with: one of the witnesses will tell you that she was driven to every sort of resort that a mind at such a time could enable her to lay hold off; she called out, Dear George, dear George, do not kill me! however, he went on in the completion of this purpose: when he was apprehended, the poor woman was sitting by him; she was taken for medical application, and conducted to the Westminster infirmary; the poor woman lived until the 28th; the medical assistance that she met with indeed turned out so successful, as to all the wounds that had been given by the knife, that several of those wounds were actually healed within that time; and the surgeons hardly attribute the cause of her death to any of those wounds, but to the violent contusion in consequence of the bruises on one of her breasts, which will be more properly described by them, having a sort of connection with the lobe of the lungs, was the cause of her death. Having stated the outline of the evidence, and which will be supplied by testimony that will leave no doubt on your minds, that your attention will be especially called to the particular circumstances of this case; Gentlemen, the crime of murder, in our law, must always have that constituent part, namely, a malice aforethought, and that malice must be either expressed, or implied from the circumstances of the case: whenever any human being comes to death by the hand of another, that homicide must always be accounted for by the person accused but, gentlemen, it sometimes happens, and the law indeed, always attentive to the nature of our being, admits, that circumstances may be of a kind to raise a sudden natural gust of passion where there has been no predetermined malice, nothing before harboured in the mind, and under the impulse of that passion a person even inflicting death on another, that by possibility may only amount to the crime of manslaughter; but, gentlemen, in the present case, under the circumstances I am instructed to state to you, that it appears to me the present case will preclude the prisoner at the bar from all such considerations; but if there should appear any cause, which I at present cannot think can appear; but if there should appear a possibility for his accounting for this horrid transaction, by any thing that can furnish the least degree of excuse, you will hear that excuse with wonderful satisfaction, because it will be for the honour of human nature: if there be any thing on the part of this woman, any thing on the part of this woman's behaviour, any thing that could induce a natural provocation, and that sudden gust of passion not originating from any preconceived malice in his mind, not originating from any circumstance, you will readily attend to it; on the contrary, if the behaviour at the time appears to be such as could not be called for by any provocation that the poor woman could have manifested, and therefore indicates a savage and brutal mind, there can be no doubt but that will come up to the crime of murder: Gentlemen, in common cases, between man and man, for indeed the distinction frequently occurs so as to be obvious, Judges always direct juries accordingly; where a blow has been given, as from man to man, that may easily, naturally, properly (I may almost say), occasion a gust of passion, that may amount to manslaughter; but, as between man and wife, nay, as between man and woman not with that connection, it appears to me that the distinctionof manslaughter can rarely ever arise where the crime has been attended with circumstances like those I have described to you: Gentlemen, on an occasion like the present, I should think myself extremely to blame, if I was to comment more on a case like the present: you shall hear the evidence; and I am sure, gentlemen, your determination will be as satisfactory to the Judge and Jury as any determination can possibly be.


Mr. Fielding. Where do you live? - No. 14, Strutton-Ground, Westminster.

Do you live near the shop that was kept by the prisoner at the bar? - Next door to it.

He kept a pork-shop there? - Yes.

On the 16th of August, about noon, did you observe any thing that took place in the shop of the prisoner? - Yes.

Tell your own story, and let my Lord and these gentlemen hear you. - It was on a Tuesday, between the hours of twelve and one; I was sitting in our back parlour, and we heard a rumbling, and then something which fell with a considerable weight, which shook the room where I and Mrs. Gardner were; I was desired by her to go to the door; I went, and I saw many people standing round the door of the prisoner; I went into his house, and went half way up the passage from the street-door; the left hand is the shop; and I heard the cry of murder! very loudly, by a woman; I only heard it once; I went back to my own door, and Mrs. Gardner desired me to go a second time, and I met a woman who lodges in the house, I do not know her name; she took me by the left arm, and pushed me into the back parlour, where the prisoner was, and his wife; the fire-place was facing the door; the woman lay on the floor, on her right side, with her face towards the fire-place; the prisoner was kneeling on her left side with both his knees, between the arm-pit and hip; she was struggling, with both her arms up; she had no cap on, and he had hold of her neck-handkerchief with his left hand, and in his right he had something which appeared like a knife, striking at her with it; it appeared like a knife by the handle, I did not see the blade.

In what manner was he using his hand? - I saw him use his hands once like a back stroke towards her throat, as it appeared to me; then I put my hands together, and ran out.


I live at No. 64, in Strutton-Ground; my kitchen is directly opposite to the prisoner's; I was there, and heard the screams of murder! I went up stairs, to hear where the cries came from, and I saw Mrs. Spencer come out with her hands up, and from what she said I went in and looked into the parlour; I saw Mrs. Dingler laying on her right side, and Mr. Dingler kneeling on her left side, on both his knees, having hold of her neck-handkerchief with his left hand very bloody, and the knife in the right hand; he seemed to me, by the motion he had under her neck, as if he was attempting to cut her throat; I called to him, with my hands clasped together, for God's sake, Mr. Dingler, do not kill your wife! for God's sake, Mr. Dingler, do not murder your wife! he looked round to me with a sniggling grin, but did not speak; I went out of the room, and saw Mrs. Dingler lay bleeding on the room; then I went away, and called for assistance; I did not go in the house any more: I saw Mrs. Dingler after this; I found assistance was coming, and I returned back to the door; Mrs. Dingler was coming to the door.

How long was this before the time you first left him? - Nearly about ten minutes; then, on returning, I saw Mrs. Dingler coming into the passage, with a knife in her right hand.

Where was Dingler at that time? - About a yard behind, or he was coming after her.

What did Mrs. Dingler say to you? - I came to the door, and I said, Dear me! what a distressed creature here is, murdered! and she held out the knife, and said this is the knife which I am murdered with.

Describe a little the situation of this poor woman when you met her in the passage.

- I saw her in the passage, with a knife in her hand, covered with blood from the head to the foot; she had no cap on at all; she delivered me the knife, and said this is what I am murdered with.

When she said this to you, did Dingler say any thing to you? - He said nothing; he returned into the shop; he was coming after her, about a yard behind; he went into the shop, and looked through the glass of the shop-window at the people.

Court. That was when his wife was gone into the street? - Yes; she fixed her hands, and rested herself on the top of the step, in a very weak condition; and at last she sat on the step of the street-door: I went to the next door but one, and I was shewing it to the people what a weapon it was, and Mr. Barrow came up and desired me to let him look at it; he put it into his pocket, and ran away with it, and I never saw it till I saw it before the justice; the knife was very bloody.

Court. When he was kneeling on the deceased, can you describe what part of the body? - On the side.

Was it on the front, or the back? - It was on the front.


On the 16th of August did you receive any knife from Mrs. Gatenby? - Yes; (produces a knife, a large pork-knife, all over blood;) it was all over blood when I had it, wet at the time, handle and all.

Did you see any thing of the situation of the poor woman? - Not when she was in the house; I saw her from our window; the people sent for me; I went, and the man refused to let her in the house; I immediately told him I would not do any thing till she was admitted; then he said she might come in, he cared nothing about her; she was not let in; I desired she might be taken to the Westminster hospital; I took the knife from Mrs. Gatenby, and put it into my pocket; I went to the hospital, but the woman was not come; I waited till she did come.

Had you any further conversation with him or with her? - I had with her, but not with him; I think it was on the Thursday night; I went to see how she did.

Mr. Garrow. This transaction took place on Tuesday? - Yes.

The conversation you are now about to relate was on the subsequent Thursday? - Yes, or on the Wednesday evening.

How long did the poor woman live after that? - I believe, twelve days.

You are a medical man yourself? - Yes.

At that time, when you had that conversation with her, do you imagine she was in danger of death? - At first it was impossible to tell.

But at that time were there hopes of recovery? - There were.

Did you communicate those hopes to the patient? - I did not.

But at that time you considered her not in a dying situation? - I did.

Mr. Garrow. Then you will not relate that conversation; Mr. Fielding agrees with me, that it being so long before her death, that it is not proper.

Did you continue to visit the woman occasionally till her death? - Till within four or five days of her death.

She had some very dangerous wounds? - There was one, the danger of which we could not at first ascertain; it was at the top of the breast bone; it appeared to be inflicted by a sharp, cutting instrument: there were several other wounds; one on her forehead, which appeared to be given by a stab, and two or three cuts on her face like chops.

After this had taken place was her head opened? - I believe it was not.

Therefore you cannot inform us whether there was any fracture of the skull? - No, I cannot; I fancy it was a very trivial wound.

You do not know the state of the brain? - No.

We all know very well a very small stab might occasion an exfoliation of the skull? - Not in this case; it did not appear so to me.

In general that is an effect very likely to be produced by such a case? - It may.

You have known, I dare say, instances in which a blow of the breast has produced that effect? - I never knew it.

In the case of a fracture you do not think there are hopes till the 16th day? - No.

This woman died on the 12th day? - Yes.

Injuries on the lungs are not in general so mortal as injuries on the brain? - That depends on circumstances.

So does every thing; but the brain is of the more delicate texture? - Undoubtedly it is.

Extravasation there does not easily get cured; a rupture of the vessels does not get easily cured? - It does not.

However, there was no opening of the head? - There was not.

From all these appearances, together with the degree of violence that has been described, do not you conceive those wounds, upon an irritable habit, a habit addicted to drinking, were the cause of her death? - No, Sir, I do not consider it from the wounds.

From what cause? - From blows, pressure, or both.

Was the body opened? - It was; I saw it.


I was going past the prisoner's house on the 16th of August; I run into the house after my dog, and I heard the woman call out, Oh, my dear George! do not do it: then I went into the passage, to the parlour door, and I saw the prisoner kneeling upon her, but his back was towards me, I cannot say on what part, and he was in one corner; he looked round when he saw me, and turned round and got off from her, and wiped his hands, which were bloody, on his apron; and she arose up, and took the knife from off the floor, and brought it to the door, and gave it to one of the witnesses; I saw no more.


I was coming past this house on the 16th of August, Tuesday; I was coming down Strutton-Ground; I saw a great concourse of people at his door; two women came out, crying out, He is cutting her head off, Murder. I instantly made the best of my way for a constable. One Henderson said, he was a constable. I went in with him to take him; then Henderson said, he would have nothing to do with it. Then I went in again to take him. After that he took up a knife, and went backwards into a back room; then I followed him; I drew my sword; and Henderson and another gentleman followed me immediately, and we secured him.

Had he a knife in his hand at that time? - He had a knife in his hand, his steel round his waist, and a bottle in his pocket, which was taken out afterwards. I desired him not to attempt to do any thing to himself, but to surrender himself up; it would be better for him; the case might not be so bad as he expected. The phial was a small bottle in his breeches pocket; I do not know what it was. Henderson took the phial out of pocket.


I am one of the patroll. I went with the serjeant to apprehend him. I took a phial from him, and gave it to John Taylor , the constable.


I produce a bottle, which Mr. Henderson delivered to me, and a steel which he had by him.

(The bottle had laudanum.)


I am a magistrate for Westminster.

Did you visit this poor creature in the hospital? - I did.

Did you take her examination on oath? - I did, on the 17th.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, I object to that; I take it I need not state any objection to you. My learned friend does not offer this as the examination of a person deceased, under such imminent danger of immediate death as the law would justify in

receiving without oath; this is an examination upon oath. I humbly submit, that the law is precisely the same, whether it be the examination of the person deceased, whose death is imputed to the person accused, or the examination of any other ordinary witness, who had known something of the transaction, who had died subsequent to that knowledge before the trial. I need not enlarge very much on the danger which would necessarily result from receiving such evidence, if a person in full health (for so I am inclined to state it) as this is, not under the pressure of appearing before a higher tribunal; it stands exactly as if Mr. Barrow, for instance, had gone before a magistrate, and there made an examination upon oath, either in the presence of the prisoner, or in his absence, without any cross examination; because you know it is the course of office of many magistrates, though certainly not very proper, to take just so much as is necessary for the conviction of the prisoner, reserving the rest for his defence on trial. Now, in order to put the argument more distinctly and plainly, taking this to be the deposition of any body else besides the woman deceased, and supposing Mr. Barrow had died since he was examined before Mr. Justice Abington, could his examination have been received as evidence? My Lord, if I am called upon to illustrate the mischiefs that must result from receiving this examination, to be sure the difficulty is not very considerable. It may and will happen, in consequence of death by duelling, for instance, that there is but one single witness; now suppose that witness goes before a magistrate, and there truly deposes that the party fell by my hands, that party who has given in his examination, and was the second, is dead before my trial can come on, and then, according to the argument, his examination not taken in my presence, and without the advantage of cross-examination, taken behind my back, not containing all the circumstances that he knows, but containing just so much as shall justify my commitment, shall be heard against me; suppose this same second to live till the trial, though he should depose on that trial that the deceased fell by my hands, yet suppose on the cross examination he deposed that the deceased assaulted me; that he called me to answer; that I was reluctant, and offered terms of reconciliation; and that I was obliged to discharge my pistol in my own defence; certainly, though I should be discharged, yet by this compendious mode of proceeding, supposing him to have died, I should stand at this bar accused by the testimony of a man who meant no wrong indeed, but who had disclosed so much as was necessary to criminate me. Only consider, my Lord, the situation in which I should stand; and permit me to ask, with great humility, whether this case does differ from that which I have been feebly representing? This woman might have recovered after the examination; the offence would have been a different offence; it is offered to you just as the examination in the case I have now stated; as the examination of a witness before a magistrate upon oath. As far as I have been able to tax my memory, I have not found one instance where such an examination has been received; and although my poor experience is so little, yet to be sure the knowledge and experience of your Lordships, particularly of one of the learned Judges on the bench, would furnish such precedents, if any there are; therefore, I submit that this evidence would be extremely dangerous, if received.

Mr. Fielding. This is not the examination of a prisoner, but the examination of the deceased. It is an examination upon oath.

Court. I have ruled against it.

Mr. Fielding. You attended at the hospital, Sir, when the poor woman was there? - I did, the next day after she was sent there.

You took her examination upon oath? - I did.

Have you that examination in writing? - I have. I took it myself; read it to her, signed it myself, and saw her mark it; which she did with great temper and

great coolness. I recommended to her to be quiet and composed, and not to hurry herself, but to speak the whole truth.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, I beg pardon, this objection came by surprise; but there is certainly an authority of very considerable weight expressly in point, to shew that this examination under the circumstances cannot be read. I beg pardon for it; the answer to my objection, as it is understood at present, is, that the statute has authorized the magistrates to take the examination of the prisoner, and of the witnesses, to return them to the Court of Gaol Delivery; and if the witnesses should die in the mean time, these depositions should be read. Statute, the 2d and 3d of Philip and Mary, chap. 32, that applies to this question.

The consequence of the law is, that if an examination has been taken pursuant to the directions of this statute, and certified here, that then, if occasion requires, and if the case is let in by the death of the party, it may be read; but I insist that this examination is not taken pursuant to the statute; that it is not one of those provided by the statute, which I shall prove, first, by the language of the statute, and then by the circumstances of the case. The statute says,

"That every Justice or Justices,

"before whom any person shall be

"brought for manslaughter, or felony, or

"suspicion thereof, shall take the information

"of those persons, and of the prisoner,

"of the fact and circumstances

"thereof, and as much thereof as shall be

"material to prove the felony shall be put

"into writing within two days, and returned

"to the sessions." The language of the statute is, that the Justice has nothing to do but with a man coming before him to be committed. This is an examination which Mr. Justice Abington certainly took, from very honourable and proper motives, from the deceased; but it was not in the course of a judicial examination; the prisoner was not present; the prisoner was not on his defence; and though I admit that there is no magic in a Justice's office, and though I admit that he might have held examination in the hospital, acting strictly in pursuance of the statute of Philip and Mary, that he might have thus brought the prisoner before him, and then I agree that this examination might have been read. I take the liberty of telling your Lordship, that this case has been very fully considered indeed in the year 1789, in this place. When I mention to you the authority of the Lord Chief Baron, who was the trying Judge, assisted by Mr. Justice Ashorst and Mr. Serjeant Adair, I shall have instant credit for the case being fully considered. It was a murder of a wife by a husband, of the most atrocious nature; it was a case as atrocious as that which is opened against the present defendant; more, certainly, it cannot be. He had invited his wife to go out in the fields, manifestly for the purpose of murder. A magistrate, of the name of Read, attended this poor woman in the poor-house; he found her a baptised mulatto, in a state of perfect recollection; he told her he was a magistrate come to take her examination. He admonished her to speak the truth; and as she appeared sensible of the importance and danger of falsehood, he administered an oath to her. He took her examination, read it over to her, and gave it to her to sign; she made her mark, and it was read in evidence. The Lord Chief Baron, in summing up the case, for there was no objection taken at the bar to receiving this in evidence, but after it had been read the learned Judges themselves upon consideration were of opinion that it ought not to have been received. It went to the Jury, but it went expressly, and in a marked manner, as an examination taken in extremis, when the poor creature considered herself near her end. The Judge laboriously stated to the Jury, that under all those circumstances it could not be received, in the only way in which the present examination is contended to be received. The Lord Chief Baron says thus:

"If I was satisfied

"that the case was quite full, without

"this circumstance of her confession, I

" would not state these circumstances to

"you at all, as I would not wish that they

"should make any part of the consideration

"now before you, because they come

"under some difficulties. Great as this,

"and every crime of this nature must always

"appear to be, the conviction must

"proceed on grounds of legal evidence;

"and ordinarily legal evidence consists in

"the deposition of witnesses, taken on

"oath, before the jury, administered in the

"face of the Court where the prisoner is

"tried; and that evidence comes down to

"the jury, under all the advantages which

"examination and cross-examination can

"give. There has been admitted beyond

"that kind of evidence, two other species

"of evidence; one is the declaration of

"the dying person, who has been murdered;

"and that has been admitted under

"certain circumstances, to stand in the

"place of evidence given before a jury on

"oath. Another species of evidence has

"been, that of examinations taken before a

"Justice of Peace, having, under a particular

"act of parliament, a justification to

"take such examinations; and being called

"upon to send such examinations afterwards

"to the Court of Gaol Delivery,

"where, if by accident, the party should

"die before the trial of the prisoner, it

"should be of necessity substituted in his

"room." Here he comes to that which, I humbly apprehend, rules the present case.

"A doubt has arisen among us, to which

"doubt I subscribe, which is, whether the

"examination taken by Mr. Read, is an

"examination of that nature; for the examinations

"directed to be taken by act of

"parliament, are examinations taken where

"persons are in custody, and when the justice

"hears the examination of witnesses

"against persons in custody, upon which

"examination he is to do his duty, either

"to commit, or to bail: such examinations

"are allowed to be read after the death of

"the party. It was a very proper and

"prudent act of the Justice; but it was a

"voluntary act of him, at the request of

"the overseer. Now that voluntary examination

"is like every other, not taken

"before the jury who tried the prisoner,

"and therefore not properly to be received

"as an examination on oath; but though

"we must strip it of that sort of sanction,

"yet still it is the declaration of the party;

"signed by herself; and you may class it

"with all those other declarations which

"this woman made after she was found,

"and before she died. Now, with respect

"to that, the general rule by which these

"declarations is made evidence is this, they

"are declarations made in extremis, when

"the party is considered as at the point of

"death, no hopes for this world, with

"every obligation upon them therefore to

"speak truth; and that situation being

"considered as so solemn and so awful, as

"to create an equal obligation to that of a

"positive oath, judicially administered."

My Lord, if one could trust one's self to say a word after this, it would be, that his authority grows out of the statute of Philip and Mary; it is commensurate with the terms of it, therefore it is utterly impossible, that unless the prisoner is present, as it seems on the authority and language of the statute, aided by this late case, your Lordship will be of opinion this examination cannot be read.

Mr. Fielding to Mr. Abington. I understand you did not send for the man to be examined again? - No.

Did you commit on the examination? - After I had committed him once, I sent for him again, that he might have all the advantage he could make of it.

Mr. Garrow. Had he the advantage of suggesting the questions to the woman? - No, he had not.

Mr. Fielding. If your Lordship tells me, that you subscribe to the opinion as delivered in the case cited by Mr. Garrow, I confess it struck me at first as an objection not at all tenable on any possible ground; I should have argued it, setting the act of parliament out of our view; I should have bottomed myself in that first principle; I have reduced all my reasoning within the compass of that principle, that the best evidence

is required that the nature of the case will afford.

(The examination not allowed to be read.)


I am house-surgeon to the Westminster Infirmary. On the 16th day of August this poor woman was brought to the Infirmary between twelve and one; she was wounded in different parts of her body; her face wounded superficially in five or six different places; her hands wounded also superficially in four or five places; there was a deep gash on the upper and interior part of her chest on her breast; it appeared to have been made by some cutting instrument.

Were there any other wounds that appeared to have been made by a cutting instrument? - All of them.

Were any of these wounds, according to their first appearance, dangerous in your opinion? - That on the breast-bone might be dangerous.

What did you order to this poor woman when she was taken under your care? - The wounds were dressed. She complained of a pain in her right breast.

From her complaint, and your inspection of the part, could you or could you not determine that there was any danger from that pain? - There were appearances the next day of discolouration of the skin.

Were there any appearances of danger from that? - Yes.

I apprehend you dressed her wounds as soon as you could? - Yes.

The second day, then, from the discolouration of the skin, and the complaint you had heard the day before, you conceived there was danger as well from that as from the wound in the breast? - Yes.

Did any other appearance arise from the course of the second day? - No, Sir, that pain began to increase, and she had difficulty of breathing. I am not able to speak any further, as she was taken under the care of the physicians the second day. I am not very sure whether she complained of this pain in her right breast on the first day, but she did the second.

Did her wounds heal and get better? - They were nearly healed when she died.

How long did the woman live? - Twelve days, I think.

On the twelfth day she died? - Yes, she did.

Was the body opened after the death? - It was.

Could you, before the opening of the body, determine to what cause that death was attributed? - No.

Did you see the body open? - I did, by the direction of Mr. Watson, the senior surgeon of the hospital.

Upon opening the body, did any cause appear to your observation from whence you ascribe her death? - Yes.

From what cause? - From a rupture of some blood vessel in the cavity of the thorax, as there were found two quarts of blood in the right cavity; the internal mischief corresponded with the external.

Describe to the satisfaction of the Gentlemen of the Jury to what external appearance this was connected? - From the bruise received on the right breast.

Then from the bruise that was received on the right breast, this which was the internal injury appeared? - Yes.

Do you therefore think that the death of the woman was to be attributed to that injury, according to the best of your opinion and skill? - I believe it was.

Did you at any time communicate to the woman your opinion of her situation? - No, Sir, I did not; I gave her the best hopes.

Was the head opened? - It was not.

Having gone so far in your enquiry, were you satisfied that the injury you have described was the occasion of her death? - Yes, Sir, I am satisfied in my own mind that it was.

Did any other surgeon attend your examination? - Mr. Watson, he is here, and the physicians were present.

Did these dangerous symptoms increase on the woman? - They did.

At what time did you think there was imminent danger? - About three or four days before her death.

Had the discolouration increased? - No, but the difficulty of breathing had become greater.

Mr. Garrow. On the first day, as far as as you recollect, she complained of the wounds? - She did.

The wound on the breast bone was about an inch deep? - It was.

How far removed from that part of the breast that was discoloured? - About two or three inches.

When you speak of the breast, you mean the breast, properly so called? - I mean the sternon.

Beyond all question, the discolouration of the breast might be occasioned by external violence offered to the breast? - It might.

Might it not be the consequence of a wound on the sternon? - No, Sir, I do not think it could.

Might it not be the consequence of the the extravasation of the blood under the sternon? - I think not.

Was the discolouration on that part of the breast nearer to the sternon or further from it? - Further from it.

Was there any spitting of blood? - I believe there was a little; the expectoration was chiefly blood.

Was it the latter part of the attempt to cure, or the beginning? - I believe it was at the beginning, the discolouration got better.

An injury on the breast must have been of a very violent sort indeed, to have affected the internal part so as to have produced a rupture of the blood vessels? - Undoubtedly.

Is not it possible that that rupture was occasioned by the blow on the sternon? - No, Sir, I do not think it.

Supposing so great a degree of violence to have been inflicted on the cavity of the thorax, to have occasioned a rupture of the blood vessels there (protected as that cavity of the thorax is by the ribs) would not the appearance of the breast have been much worse than it was in the present case? - I think so.

If there had been a sufficient degreee of force applied to the external part of the body on the breast to occasion that extravasation of the blood, the appearance of the breast would have been more discoloured, in all probability, than it would have been on the present occasion? - Yes.

Mr. Fielding. Do you mean, must have been, might have been, or would have been? - There was a greater mischief internally than there was externally.

Was that wound, in your mind, at all the cause of this extravasation in the thorax? - It was not.

Do you, or do you not, attribute that interior injury as arising from this contusion on the breast? - I do.

Court. You say she complained of pain the second day? - She did.

Did you observe any discolouration on that part where she complained of the pain? - Yes, I did.


Mr. Fielding. Did you superintend Mr. Scott when he opened this woman? - He opened her by my orders, and I was by when he opened her.

Did you see her before her death? - Yes, almost every day I saw her, the very day she came in, the very hour.

Most of her wounds were cutaneous, except the wound on the breast? - She had a wound between her finger and thumb, which seemed to be made by drawing a knife over her hand.

Was the death of this poor woman occasioned by that wound, the most dangerous one on her breast? - There was a wound in the center of her body on the sternon.

Was that wound which was given by a sharp instrument the occasion of her death? - It seemed to be given, not with a very sharp instrument, but like that knife; it was prevented from going very deep, it stuck in the bone of the sternon; I could not call

any of these external wounds mortal, not any of them, not even that on the sternon; I saw the body opened; she went on for about three days, very tolerably well, the fourth day, and complained of pain in that side of her chest, and difficulty of breathing; she complained a little from the very first day, but not of much consequence till the fourth day; then she began to be very uneasy in her chest, and difficulty of breathing; I examined the breast, there was the mark of bruises, a contusion in the skin, as if a person had been boxing, a little towards the sternon.

Did this, from the fourth day, till the time of her death, alter its appearance? - Not a great deal, it grew rather stronger, the appearance grew rather stronger every day.

When you saw Mr. Scott going through the operation of dissecting the body, did you discover the cause, according, to your opinion, of her death? - That I did very particularly discover; I imagine it was the extravasation of a great quantity of blood and serum in the cavity of the thorax, with a great discolouration of the lungs, which appeared very bad, and which extravasation was enough to have oppressed any body.

What injury done to the body, either exterior or interior, according as you could collect, was the occasion of this? - Either some violent pressure or blows; violent blows on the body, or some great weight upon her of that kind; it had the appearance of pressing, she was a very corpulent woman, very fat, very relaxed, and weak fibres.

Then this appeared to have arisen from some violent pressure on her body? - Yes, I only mention this circumstance of her being so very fat, having such relaxed fibres, that she was more liable to injury from pressure, than others not so corpulent.

Was there any particular part of the body, the breast or any where else, that you derive this inward injury arose from? - From the appearance on the right side of the chest the injury seemed to have been done; she was very clear in her senses, and was very well, she had no pain or uneasiness in her head; we did not open the head, there was no necessity for it.

Do you, on the whole, in the way in which you make up your mind, attribute that inside injury to that cause? - Yes I do, I do not think the wounds with a sharp instrument sufficient.

To the wounds with a sharp instrument you do not attribute her death? - I do not.

Mr. Garrow. Excuse me doctor: to the wounds unconnected with the extravasation, you do not attribute the death? - No.

When you describe her to be a corpulent fat woman, do you mean that she was large made? - Large made.

Supposing a violent blow to have been given there, it would not be extraordinary that there should be a rupture of vessels in some adjacent parts? - That might take place, to be sure.

After the disposition to the rupture of vessels, that appearance would continue to increase till you would not be surprised to find they had discharged two quarts of blood? - That is very certain, if numbers of vessels are broke they will continue to ooze so as to fill a large cavity.

Might not an extravasation of blood be occasioned by the cutting the vessels, as well as by the contusion of them? - Undoubtedly.

Then, supposing any of the vessels on the sternon of my body to be cut by such an instrument as this, a consequent extravasation might take place? - It might happen, and it might not, if a number of small vessels under the skin were cut, supposing the wound to go no deeper.

The extravasation having taken place, from whatever cause, the difficulty of breathing would be occasioned by the cavity being filled, in which the lungs cannot operate? - Certainly.

Are not the vessels under the sternon, which, if ruptured, would discharge their contents into the cavity of the thorax, more exposed to the danger of rupture from the pressure of external violence, than those

vessels under the breast of a fat corpulent subject? - They certainly are; one reason is, they are larger.

Mr. Fielding. Does it appear, according to your best examination, that this wound on the sternon was occasioned by a sharp instrument, or otherwise? - Not from a sharp instrument.

Mr. Garrow. The fair question is this: Whether you can take upon yourself to say, in a case of life, on your oath, whether the cause of the death arose from the injury on the sternon, or from an internal injury? - Not from the injury on the sternon, nor by the injury on the breast externally, but from an internal injury.

The question is, Whether you can venture to say, that that internal injury was not occasioned by the pressure, of which you observed that mark on the sternon? - It is necessary to enquire into what she might have suffered from pressure.

But judging in the abstract, are you enabled to say, that that extravasation was not occasioned by the wound on the sternon? - I do not think it was; it was occasioned by the pressure.

Are you able to say that it was not? - Yes, I am able to say that, because I did not observe any mark of it.

Mr. Fielding. A little beyond what might have been, are you enabled to say, according to the best of your opinion, whether it was owing to any pressure on the sternon, or to any other pressure on the body? - I believe it was owing to the pressure on the whole side of the chest, in which the sternon might have its part, but not singly on the sternon.

Court. Did any of the vessels on the sternon appear to be cut? - No, Sir; it was owing to the external pressure of the sternon.

There was no appearance of the knife going through? - No more than that the skin was cut.

Did those vessels from whence the blood was supposed to extravasate appear to be cut? - No, only the vessels of the skin.

Then it was not from these vessels that this blood could possibly extravasate? - No.

Suppose the woman had made no complaint at all, and you had not seen any discolouration, of the breast, and you had seen that a blow had been given by a knife on the sternon, could you by that have accounted for the extravasation of the blood in the cavities? - No, I could not.

Should you have attributed this extravasation to that blow given by the knife on the breast? - I certainly should not.

Mr. Fielding. Who was the physician that attended this poor woman? - Dr. Morris.


Mr. Fielding. You attended this poor woman in the hospital? - Not through the whole of her illness; she was admitted on the 9th, and I saw her for the first time on the Saturday following.

What was her situation? - I did not form any opinion of her at that time, because I considered her as a surgeon's patient merely; I could not attend her regularly till the Wednesday following; she appeared to be under considerable distress with respect to her breathing; she had a very bad pain in her side; she could not lay on the opposite side to that which was affected; she was extremely restless, and had a great deal of anxiety in her countenance: these symptoms appeared to me of a very dangerous tendency.

Were her situations and symptoms such as to derive apprehensions in your mind for her situation? - She was very much afraid of dying; she thought she should die. I encouraged her, and gave her hopes; not from any conviction of her recovery, but merely to comfort her, from motives of humanity.

Did you observe, during your continuance, whether the apprehensions you had discovered, were or were not removed from her mind? - I apprehend not entirely; but that is only apprehension; this was on the Wednesday preceding her death.


I am the nurse at this hospital; I attended her in the day-time during the whole time; there is a night nurse in the night; but if any thing happens, I always come in. The first day that she came in, she was in a very bad condition of blood; when her things were washed, and she recovered herself, she complained of a pain in her side.

You continued to attend her to the hour of her death in the day-time? - Yes, I did.

Now, within the three or four last days did she say any thing to you then? - Only how terrible bad she was; only how her husband had used her.

Did she say any thing about her husband during the three or four last days of her existence? - No; she never mentioned him after the first time that she told me how cruel he had used her, which was on the first day, when she recovered herself a bit.


I knew the deceased since 1769; I knew very little of this husband, but I knew her first husband.

Did you see her any time after the 16th, or on the 16th? - I saw her the 16th, between six and seven in the evening at the hospital.

Court to Prisoner. You have heard what has been sworn against you by these witnesses. You are charged with the murder of your wife; do you wish to say any thing in your defence.

Prisoner. I leave it to my counsel.


Mr. Garrow. Do you know the prisoner at the bar? - Yes.

Did you know his deceased wife? - I did not know a great deal of them.

On the 16th of August was you at his house in Strutton Ground? - Yes, I lodged there.

Did you see any thing pass between the prisoner and his wife at that time? - I was come out of the country, and coming by the shop where they both stood, she had been abusing him, and cursing and swearing at him, and he said nothing at all; then there was a butcher's chopper laying on the window, she took that up, and made a full blow at his head he took the chopper out of her hand after she aimed a blow at him, and he laid the chopper down; I staid a little while afterwards, but there were words, and I went up stairs into my my apartment; I would not stay any longer. I had not been many minutes up stairs before I heard the cry of murder.

How many minutes do you think it was? - Perhaps it might be six or seven minutes.

When you left them they were still quarrelling, and in six or seven minutes you heard the cry of murder? - I do not know what happened afterwards; I saw nothing more happen. I have known the prisoner since Midsummer-day; he is as good a natured man as ever took the house, and a sober man; I saw him three or four times a day.

Mr. Fielding. What day was this? - I believe it was the 16th of August.

How long did you remain up stairs after you had heard any noise below? - Six or seven minutes before I heard a fresh noise again; then I came down stairs, and there were several people in the passage.

When you first went into this shop, you heard them quarrelling? - Yes.

Do you recollect any of the words made use of? - No further than calling rascal and rogue, and such as that; I did not take any great account of what she said further than that; I did not expect any more should be of it.

You did not interfere at all between man and wife? - Not at all; I did not expect any danger.

So he took this knife out of her hand without any difficulty? - Yes.

The prisoner called ten witnesses, who gave him a very good character for sobriety, humanity, good-nature, and tenderness.

Mr. Garrow. I fancy, as far as a good character goes, the jury do not wish for

more satisfaction; there are a vast number more.

Mr. Garrow. My Lord, now the evidence is closed, I feel it my duty, as counsel for the unhappy man at the bar, to state to your Lordship two several objections on his behalf; the effect of one of which, if I succeed, will be, that your Lordship will be compelled in point of law to instruct the jury to acquit the prisoner altogether. If, however, I should fail in that, the remaining objection will have the effect of reducing the crime to manslaughter; and he must have been a very inattentive observer of all that has passed in this Court for some hours, that has not observed that mine is at this moment a very painful situation. To your Lordships, who know the legal constitution of the country, and to whom I may perhaps, without presumption, say, I have the honour to be known; to your Lordships and the Jury I am sure it is unnecessary for me to make the least apology. Let it be recollected, and when I say so I mean, let it be recollected by all the bystanders, (for you do not require to be reminded of it) that every man is presumed to be innocent till proved guilty; that every man who is indicted is entitled, God knows not to make an ample defence by counsel, but to the assistance of counsel; therefore, though the duty of a profession every now then imposes a painful task on an individual, every body must feel it is the duty of that individual to discharge that task manfully, and to the best of his power for the life of the man committed to his care. Nobody can therefore blame me for suggesting two objections to your Lordships. The first objection is that which goes to an acquittal, upon this ground, that the indictment imputes the death of this woman to have taken place by means, and under circumstances, which the evidence before your Lordship and the jury does not sustain. I am not uninformed that there may be modes of death, which, though not charged with perfect accuracy in the indictment, may be charged with something approaching to accuracy; but I take it to be clear, that if the death imputed in the indictment be different and variable in any essential degree, that then the defendant will be entitled to an acquittal. This has been long the law as laid down in the books; the distinction has been broadly marked, so that any man who runs may read. In the present case the indictment charges, that the death was occasioned by throwing the deceased to the ground, by bearing and pressing her with the hands and knees, and feet, and by that sort of pressure. I shall confine myself to my province, and I insist that the evidence proves a death by other and different means; by means so distinct, as to be within that distinction which the ancient wisdom of the law has laid down, and which entitles the defendant to his acquittal. I am aware that the surgeons have delivered their opinion that the death was occasioned by an extravasation of blood which filled the cavity of the thorax; that in their judgment that was occasioned by an external violence opposed to the breast, and not to the sternon. I think, in so stating it, I do ample justice to the force of the pressure of the argument against it; but although the jury are to form an opinion, that is to be an opinion grounded (I speak it with all the respect necessary) from the premises given in evidence; and that they have said, that the pressure of external violence on the sternon has in the present instance done, that which in the abstract it may do: Mr. Scott and Mr. Watson have told your lordships, that from the formation of the human body, from the anatomy of those parts, the probability was, that the extravasation should rather have been on the sternon, than from that part which is more protected from that injury. If the Jury are of opinion that that is so in point of fact, it becomes my duty to apply that in point of law. The indictment should have charged that he, with a certain instrument called a knife, which he had and held in his right hand, did, by one violent cut and blow, which he gave in and upon the sternon of the deceased, which ruptured the vessels, and the

extravasation ensued, and the death came in consequence; and if that fact was so, then I contend that it is not well charged in the present indictment, that the death was occasioned, or the extravasation brought about by means of another species of force and violence, namely, the beating and bruising with the hands and feet of the prisoner. My Lords, the next objection is that, which if the former should fail, will not go to an acquittal, but will reduce the degree of the prisoner's offence; I mean that case which has been stated to you on the evidence of Abraham Martin . My Lords, it is well known that it is not every species of death that is murder. The language of the law is, that in its wisdom, it attends to, and makes allowances for the frailties of human nature, as long as human nature shall continue to be what it is, as long as human nature shall have its frailties and passions, so long Courts of Justice, conversant on the transactions of human nature, must necessarily pay obedience to those passions, and to those frailties; therefore, if you believe the personal danger or violence threatened to the prisoner at the bar, at the time he committed it; then, though you should be of opinion, that he should not have the benefit of the first objection; yet, with great deference, I submit to the Court, that under this evidence, the offence can only be manslaughter. I only mean to shew how the law applies, as I am sure the Jury would not hear me, if I made any observations on the evidence; but the evidence is, that the husband and the wife being engaged in a furious quarrel, she took up a deadly weapon, and aimed a deadly blow at him: that the heat of blood had been increased by this violent act on her part, and still continued, and which still continued increasing, till the cry of murder was heard, and the fatal catastrophe was committed. My Lords, if in any heat of blood, the man has committed this action, under those circumstances, I submit to your Lordships, with all becoming humility, but with considerable confidence in the law, that he is intitled to be found guilty of no higher offence than manslaughter: upon principles so clear as these, recognized in every page of criminal law, from the first books to the last, it would be impertinent to mention precedents; but there is one so lately, and in the presence of the learned Judge, who tries this prisoner, which I dare say he will recollect, before Lord Kenyon, in the last session, he was here; which is so very much in point: it was the case of an indictment against a smith in the neighbourhood of Smithfield, for the murder of his wife by cruelty; the evidence was that in the course of the beating, which the witnesses heard, the woman had repeatedly said this, for God's sake do not kill me, indeed I do deserve it. This was a circumstance which the Judge left for the consideration of the Jury, that she frequently said, indeed I do deserve it. Now, said he, if from this you can collect, that at the time he gave the blows, which occasioned this death, he had received a resistance from this woman, which amounted to that degree of apology, which was sufficient to sustain the observation that the frailties of his nature were the cause of the beating, you may reduce the crime to manslaughter; now that direction his lordship gave, on no better evidence, than that in the course of a severe beating, the poor wretch, who would say any thing for her life, said, to be sure I deserve it. My Lords, I shall not be guilty of the impertinence of renewing an apology on the present occasion, but shall sit down perfectly satisfied that justice will be done to the prisoner.

Mr. Fielding arose to reply.

Court. You have no occasion to trouble yourself, I shall leave it to the Jury, as to the points which have been very accurately stated by the Counsel.

Here the learned Judge summed up the evidence, and the Jury immediately gave a verdict,

GUILTY , Death .

GUILTY, on the Coroner's Inquisition.

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

Clerk of the Arraigns. George Dingler , hold up your hand; you stand attainted for the wilful murder of Jane your wife; what have you to say for yourself, why the Court should not give you judgement to die, according to law?

(Proclamation made.)

Mr. Recorder. Prisoner at the bar, you have been tried and convicted of the very atrocious and cruel murder of your wife: you, by matrimony, had placed yourself in a situation the most likely in this world to afford you happiness and comfort; you had entered into a very solemn contract, for that consolation and comfort which you had a right to expect, to give protection to that woman so long as you both should live; you have, notwithanding that, aggravated your offence greatly, by the consideration that the person whom you have thought fit to murder, was a person whom, above all the world, you was bound by a most solemn contract, by every tie of religion, by every moral consideration, to assist, to countenance, and protect; you have had the good fortune, for this very atrocious offence, to be tried in a country where the administration of justice is a very mild one; and all who hear me can bear testimony, that all the ingenuity of a counsel, and all the patient hearing of a cause, could possibly do in your favour, has been done on the present occasion: the Jury, who upon their oaths are bound as much to protect the rights of the public as the injuries of the individual, after having given every weight that could possibly be given, even to a feather, that might have weighed in your case, have on a deliberate consideration decided against you, and I am under the necessity of telling you the dreadful news, that their decision has the full, complete approbation of the Court: though I have not long had the honour to sit in this situation, I have been called upon twice in the same day to pass the dreadful sentence of the law, which you are now to receive, on two persons who had committed the like offence under the most atrocious circumstances; I pray God, that though their examples have had no effect upon you, that the example which you are about to set, by your sufferings, may have a good effect on others, if there should be any found of a disposition (which God forbid) so brutal as yourself: you have endeavoured to excuse and palliate this offence; for one part of your defence was no alleviation, in point of morality, of your crime; it rested on a point of law, which as Judges we thought it justice to give you the benefit of, however brutal your offence has been; but you have attempted to mitigate that offence, by producing a witness to prove a circumstance of alleviation; and I must say, on that question also, the Court think the Jury have done right in deciding against you: by the sacred scriptures we learn, that whoever spills man's blood, his blood shall be spilled; you therefore, on a clear and satisfactory conviction, have nothing to expect from me but the sentence of the law: I hope you will make use of the very short space of time that is allowed to persons of your description to remain in this world, to the best advantage; and I hope that God Almighty, in his goodness, will at last pardon this very aggravated offence of yours, if you, as you ought, most sincerely repent of the crime which you have committed. Nothing remains therefore, now, but that I pass the dreadful sentence which the law compels me to do; which is, That you, George Dingler , be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck till you are dead, and your body afterwards to be diffected and anatomized, pursuant to the statute; and the Lord have mercy upon your sinful soul!

N. B. This prisoner was executed on the Monday following .

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