14th July 1813
Reference Numbert18130714-44
VerdictNot Guilty

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730. RICHARD RALPH was indicted for the wilful murder of Mary Ralph , his wife .

ELIZABETH BELL . I lodge at No. 27, Rose-lane, Spitalfields . The prisoner and his wife Mary lodged in the same house, in the next room to me. On Saturday the 26th of June, almost at ten o'clock at night, I saw the deceased: she opened my door, and spoke to me very smiling; she did not converse with me long; she wished me good night. She appeared well and sober. She then went into her own room; I never saw her more.

Q. How early the next morning (Sunday) did you see the prisoner - A. I had been out on Sunday morning; about eleven o'clock the prisoner opened my door; he said, neighbour, will you be so kind as to step into my room; he said, I do not know what is the matter with my wife; she came home last night very drunk; she tumbled down, and never moved more. I went into his room; I saw the poor creature on the ground; she looked black and blue, and blood was coming out of her mouth. She was lying on the floor on her right side. I said, your wife is dead. He said, do not say so. I felt her hand; she was cold. Her face appeared black and blue. I then called in the other inhabitants.

Q. Was she a sober or drunken woman - A. I never saw her drunk in my life.

Q. Upon what terms did she and her husband live, did they live happily or very unhappy - A. Very unhappy.

Q. Had you been frequently disturbed by them - A. No; they kept themselves to themselves, and so I did. They lodged in the house three or four months.

Prisoner. Did you ever hear my wife and I fight, or only have words - A. Only have words.

COURT. How far was your room from the prisoner's room - A. There is a little passage between; his is a back room and mine is a back room.

Q. When there was any noise in his room was your room in such a situation that you could hear

it - A. I could hear, but I could not understand what they said.

Q. When the deceased came into your room on the Saturday night was the prisoner in his own room or not - A. I do not know. I continued up about an hour after I saw the deceased. I think I went to bed about an hour after.

Q. Did you hear any noise in their room that night - A. Never a word.

Q. When the deceased left you did she go into her own room or go out - A. She went into her own room.

Q. Was there any other person that lodged on the same floor - A. There are two front rooms, and lodgers in both these front rooms.

ELIZABETH HADLEY . I lodged on the same floor with the prisoner and his wife; they lived very unhappy indeed. I have heard the deceased as she went down stairs call him a murdering rogue. I have heard them wrangle, but I did not notice the words.

Q. Had you seen her on Saturday night - A. No.

Q. Did you hear any noise in that room on Saturday night - A. Yes, at almost ten o'clock, as I was unlocking my door, I heard a violent blow against the partition, and when I came into my room I heard another small blow come against the other side of the partition. I neither heard a word or a groan.

Q. Are you quite sure that noise was in the prisoner's room.

Q. How early did you see the prisoner the next morning - A. I heard him before I saw him. About ten o'clock a little girl came with a pair of shoes; he and his wife blacked shoes . The prisoner said he could not take them shoes to black under the course of an hour. The prisoner then was standing with the door in his hand. About half an hour after that I was walking across the passage, I heard him say, Mary, why do not you get up.

Q. How soon after that was the alarm given that she was dead - A. About half an hour after that, and upon the alarm being given I went into the room; I found her laying on the floor on her right side. All her clothes were on. She was dead. I could not tell from the appearance of her face whether she was a black woman or a white woman. I was frightened. I ran out of the room immediately.

Prisoner. Did you hear me have any words or fighting with my wife that night - A. No, I did not.

COURT. You say it was almost ten o'clock at night when you heard the noise in the prisoner's room - A. Yes.

Q. Did you continue at home the whole of the evening after that - A. No, my husband and I went out together.

Q. Do you know who was in the prisoner's room at that time you heard that noise - A. No.

Q. Do you know whether the prisoner was in the room - A. I cannot tell.

Q. Did you hear the prisoner's door open after you heard this noise - A. No, I did not.

Q. Was the noise you heard like a person falling against a partition - A. I think that was the first noise, the other noise was a very small noise indeed. I neither heard a voice or a groan.

Q. Was it at that part of the room in which you found the body the next morning - A. Yes, it was.

Q. What aged woman was the deceased - A. I don't know indeed. I think she was between fifty and sixty; a little woman, not infirm; she used to go up and down stairs very well. She was a very hard working woman.

Q. Was the place that you heard the noise near their bed, or not - A. Yes, close to their bed

Q. Your room was close to the prisoner's - A. Yes.

Q. Could the prisoner walk without your hearing - A. Yes, he might; I did not hear the sound of his footstep after I heard the noise.

ESTHER WEBSTER , Q. I believe you lodge in the same floor - A. Yes, in one of the front rooms.

Q. On the night before you say this poor woman died had you seen her - A. Yes, I met her on the stairs at half past nine; she was coming up stairs with some beer in her hand; it was in a mug, what she fetched it in every night; it was rather dark; I said, who comes here; she said, it is me, neighbour. I said, come along. She was quite sober. I never saw her otherways.

Q. How long have you lodged there - A. I cannot say exactly. I have been there going on of three years. They have lived very unhappily. I heard them quarrelling frequently.

Q. What age was she - A. I suppose between fifty and sixty.

Q. When she went up stairs did you hear her go into her own room - A. I knew she went into her room. I never heard any words at all. I was up until half after two.

Q. The next morning how early did you hear any person stirring in that room - A. About half after seven I went down to get some water, and he went down stairs before me. He said nothing about his wife then. I saw him go up and down stairs two or three times before eleven o'clock. On neither of these occasions did I speak to him. He saw me.

Q. How many people are there in the house altogether - A. There are eight people altogether.

Q. How soon did you hear the alarm of her being dead - A. I went in the room upon Mrs. Bell calling me at eleven o'clock; I saw the deceased on the floor; she was very black; I said to the prisoner; you old wretch, you have murdered your wife. He said, go along, look and see if you can find any marks upon her.

Prisoner. Did you hear any words or fighting betwixt me and my wife - A. No words or blows.

COURT. You say at about half after nine you met the deceased - A. Yes.

Q. Were you at home all that night - A. I went out about ten, and returned home about eleven. I was at home from eleven until after two; I then went to bed, and during that time I heard no noise at all.

CATHERINE WELLS . Q. Did you lodge on the same floor - A. No, in the first pair; theirs is the two pair.

Q. On Saturday evening did you see the deceased

- A. Yes, about eight o'clock; she and I spoke together; she appeared to be sober; I never saw her otherwise; and I heard her speak to Mrs. Webster about half after nine.

Q. After you heard her speak to Mrs. Webster, did you hear any noise that came from the room - A. Yes, something like a fall, in about half an hour after she got up stairs. It was in her room I am sure.

Q. The next-morning how early were you up - A. A little after five.

Q. How soon after you were up did you see the prisoner - A. I heard him between five and six go up and down twice.

Q. You heard him I suppose by his wooden leg - A. Yes.

Q. Between six and ten o'clock did you see him - A. Yes, twice; a little after six; when I first heard him he made way for me to go by him to go down stairs for water

Q. Did he upon either of these occasions say any thing to you about his wife - A. No, he did not.

Q. How early have you seen him up of a morning - A. Never before eleven o'clock. I have frequently heard his wife call him at eight, and from that till nine. I never saw him but once a day, and that was about the middle of the day.

Q. Have you ever heard him up so early as seven before - A. No.

Q. On Sunday forenoon, about eleven o'clock, did you hear the alarm of her being dead - A. Yes; upon that I went into her room, her face was very black, the front of her throat was black, and the side of her neck was some white; there were two white marks on one side, and one on the other, but to say which side were the two white marks I cannot.

Q. Was she cold - A. I did not touch her I said to the prisoner, you old villain, you have killed her; he told me he had not, and if I said so again he would serve me the same. We went down in the street and gave the alarm, and in about three quarters of an hour he was taken in custody.

Prisoner. Q. Did you ever hear me fight, or quarrel with my wife - A. I have heard you quarrel, and you have throwed crockery-ware after her down stairs.

COURT. Were you at home all the Saturday evening - A. Yes.

Q. Do you know whether the prisoner was in the the room at the time that you heard the noise - A. I cannot say.

Q. What time did you go to bed - A. About half past ten; it was before I went to bed that I heard the noise.

Q. You did not hear the diceased go to Mrs. Bell's room and speak to her - A. No, I did not.

Q. Can you tell at about what time it was that you heard that noise - A. Yes, about ten o'clock.

Q. Was it before you heard the deceased speak to Webster on the stairs - A. It was after; it was about half an hour after she met Mrs. Webster on the stairs.

Q. to Mrs. Bell. I think you said you went to bed about an hour after you saw the deceased - A. Yes.

Q. Did you go out of your house at all after you saw her that night - A. No.

Q. When she came to you did she come from her own room - A. She came up the stairs; she opened the door, and spoke to me.

Q. Did you hear her speak to any body on the stairs - A. No.

Q. Had she any thing in her hand - A. I cannot say: I saw nothing.

Q. What o'clock do you think it was - A. Almost ten.

Q. You did not hear any noise in her room that night, did you - A. No, not a word; nor any noise.

Q. Could there have been a noise of a person tumbling down without your hearing it - A. If I had been looking out of my window I could not hear any thing.

Q. Were you looking out of your window that evening - A. I cannot remember any more.

MARY FOY . Q. Do you lodge in the same house - A. Yes, in the one pair front room.

Q. On Saturday evening did you see the deceased - A. Yes, about half past nine; I saw her on the stairs as I was going to market; she gave me the wall, she was coming up.

Q. Was it light enough for you to see what she had in her hand - A. I cannot say whether she had any thing in her hand or not.

Q. On the next morning how soon did you hear the prisoner up - A. By five o'clock. I heard him stumping up and down stairs.

Q. Had you ever heard him up so early on a former occasion - A. No, his wife; used to call him at eight; she was an early riser.

Q. Upon the alarm of her death did you go into her room - A. Yes; her face was quite black; her eye was large, starting out of her head; upon her throat were marks of white; her hand was over her face; she was dressed; her apron and bonnet were off; the ribbon of her cup was on; her shoes I think were off her feet; her cap was tied under her chin with two little tapes. I cannot say it was tied tight. I said to the prisoner, you old villian, you have throttled your wife; the prisoner was very angry; he drew back; he said, a nasty wretch, if I said so again he would serve me the same. I was frightened, and ran into the street.

Prisoner. If she knew any thing against me to speak, that is all.

THOMAS HART . I am parish beadle, and headborough. On Sunday, the 22nd of June, I was sent for, upon the alarm of this woman's death; I came to the house about a quarter past eleven. The deceased was laying upon some rags, which they call a bed; there was a bedstead in the room, but no bed; only some rags like taylor's cuttings; the rags were on the floor; the bedstead was turned up, nothing was on it. The deceased's face was very black; her right eye was swelled very much, as if from a very violent blow.

Q. Did the prisoner give you any account how she came by her death - A. He said, she came home about eleven o'clock very much in liquor; she was in the act of making the bed, and fell over the leg of the bedstead which was turned up, and she fell against the wainscoting, and struck her eye; she go, up after that fall, and fetched herself some beer,

and ate her supper; he went to bed; she would not come to bed; she laid down by the side of the bed. He said in the morning he called her to get up; I think he said about eight o'clock, I will not be certain about it; she making no answer he took her by the hand to wake her, and finding that she was cold he ran into his next neighbour and begged her to come in. I sent for Mr. Brown, and Mr. Wright came.

COURT. You were examined before Mr. Moser - A. I was.

Q. Then you did not give this conversation - A. No, I did not. The bed seemed to be made of taylor's cuttings, or something of that kind. I looked round the room to see if I could see any thing that could have done the murder; I found this rope.

ANN LEFEURE . I lodge in the house, in the one pair front room.

Q. Did you see the deceased on Saturday night - A. Yes, when the bell rang eight o'clock; I did not see her afterwards. I was at home from eight until half past ten, and during the time that I was at home I heard no noise in the prisoner's room.

Q. The next morning how soon did you see or hear the prisoner - A. I did not see or hear him untill eleven o'clock.

Prisoner. Can you say any thing against me, my dear - A. You were always having words.

JAMES WRIGHT . I am a surgeon; altogether I have been a surgeon for twelve or fourteen years. I was called in; I examined the deceased; I found there was a considerable distortion of the integuments of the face and neck.

COURT. That is the outside of the face and neck was a good deal discoloured - A. It was; the transparent of the corner of the eye was extraversated with blood.

Q. Do you mean the white of the eye - A. Yes.

Q. Use language that the jury might all understand.

Mr. Gurney. We are not all surgeons. Was there any bruise upon any part of the face - A. Upon the temple there was a bruise.

Q. Had that bruise any thing to do with her death - A. No.

Q. Did you observe any appearance of the jugular vein - A. I opened the integuments of the neck, the skin, and several membranes; I found a small quantity of coagulated blood in different parts of the jugular vein; on dividing the jugular vein there was a considerable quantity of coagulated blood issued out of the jugular vein. I opened the windpipe; there issued a quantity of mucus, and a quantity of lymph.

Q. What death did these symptions indicate - A. Suspension of circulation; in consequence of pressure.

Q. Pressure, where? -

COURT. There had been a pressure upon the jugular vein that stopped circulation - A. Exactly so.

Mr. Gurney. Did you see any marks outside - A. I saw a small mark.

COURT. Was there this pressure of the jugular vein on both sides, or only one - A. Only on one side, on the right jugular vein; no pressure at all on the other. There was a small mark on the outside of the neck.

Q. What colour was that mark - A. A black colour, strictly upon the jugular vein.

Mr. Gurney. In your judgment could she inflict that upon herself - A. That is impossible for me to say, sir; the pressure on circulation occasioned her death.

Prisoner. Did you see any marks of violence on her neck - A. One mark on the temple, and one on the neck.

Prisoner. That was occasioned by the fall.

COURT. Q. to Mr. Wright. Did you observe a mark upon the neck before you made the incision - A. I did.

Q. How came you not to open the neck - A. Conceiving the woman died in suffocation, in consequence of stopping circulation.

Q. Had the woman a cap on - A. No, I believe it was off.

Q. Was the mark upon the temple of considerable violence - A. It was of considerable violence.

Q. Was the mark such as might be produced by the woman's falling or not - A. Yes.

Q. Supposing the woman to be stunned by a fall and her cap in ordinary tightness, could that cause the pressure of the jugular vein - A. No, it could not.

Q. Supposing her to have fallen down in a fit, and her cap tied tight on, would that have caused a pressure upon the jugular vein to have occasioned this appearance - A. No, I do not think it would; it might.

Q. Then you cannot be sure but her death might be caused by apoplexy - A. No.

Q. Might that bruise on her temple be occasioned by her falling down in an apoplectic fit - A. It might.

Q. Could not you have formed a more distinct judgment whether she had died of apoplexy if you had opened her head - A. Yes, a much more accurate account if I had opened the head.

Q. Would death ensue by stopping one jugular vein - A. Yes.

Q. Supposing there had been a pressure upon one jugular vein would that cause death - A. That depends upon the pressure.

Q. A strong pressure upon one jugular vein, the other being left free, would the pressure on one jugular vein produce death - A. No, it would not.

Q. You saw no more to indicate a pressure but upon one jugular vein - A. But on one jugular vein.

Q. Would a fall in an apoplectic fit produce blood in the white of the eye - A. Yes.

Q. Were there no symptoms but what would be referable to a death occasioned from apoplexy - A. Not one.

Q. You say there was a bruise on the jugular vein - A. Yes, on the same side as the bruise on the temple.

Q. From the situation of the two bruises, is it possible that they might be received at one, and the same time by a fall - A. No, not by a fall.

Q. Would a fit of apoplexy produce a considerable swelling of the neck, or considerable exertion on the jugular vein - A. If it is attended with much convulsion it would.

Q. Supposing considerable convulsion to be produce in a fit appoplexy, and any thing tied tight round her, either cap or any thing, might that produce such a wound upon the neck - A. Yes, if the knot was extensive.

Q. Suppose the knot of the cap had been tied tight and there had been considerable convulsion, might the knot produce that mark - A. Yes, if the knot had been large.

Q. Supposing the deceased to have been killed by a pressure upon the jugular vein inflicted by another person, would the death have been instantaneous, or would there have been a good deal of struggle on her part - A. A great deal of struggle.

Q. And is it not probable that she would have screamed - A. There is a possibility of it, but there would have been a great deal of strugling.

Q. What would have prevented her screaming - A. - A. The extreme pressure might have prevented her screaming.

Q. Was this woman of a full habit or not - A. Of a spare habit. She had the appearance of being much younger than the prisoner.

Q. Had she the appearance of so much strength as to be able to resist - A. She appeared thin, and feeble.

Q. There was nothing that indicated that there had been a struggle, was there - A. No.

Q. If she had been throtled by any person is it likely that she would have struggled so that to have been heard in the next room - A. Her voice could not be heard.

Q. Could she have struggled without being heard in some one or other of the adjoining rooms - A. That might depend on the position in which he had her.

Prisoner's Defence. My lord, I am innocent as there is a God in heaven; the neighbours are all here; they cannot accuse me of fighting, and beating my wife.


First Middlesex jury, before Mr. Justice Bailey.

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