5th April 1815
Reference Numbert18150405-18

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441. ELIZA FENNING was indicted for that she, on the 21st of March , feloniously and unlawfully did administer, and caused to be administered, to Haldebart Turner , Robert Gregson Turner , and Charlotte Turner , his wife , certain deadly poison, to wit, Arsenic, with intent the said persons to kill and murder .

SECOND COUNT. That she did cause to be taken by the same persons arsenic, with intent to kill and murder them.

THIRD and FOURTH COUNT For like offence, as in the first and second, only charging the offence to be committed against Robert Gregson Turner only, in one of the counts, and in the other, against Charlotte Turner .

CHARLOTTE TURNER . I am the wife of Robert Gregson Turner; he is a law stationer in Chancery-lane; his father , Mr. Haldebart Turner, is his partner ; he lives at Lambeth . The prisoner came into my service as cook about seven weeks before the accident.

Q. In a short time after she came into your service had you occasion to reprove her - A. I had, about three weeks after she came.

Q. What was the occasion that you reproved her - A. I observed her one night go into the young men's room partly undressed. I said it was very indecent of her to go into the young men's room thus undressed.

Q. What age were the young men - A. I suppose seventeen or eighteen years old.

Q. How many of them were they - A. Two; I reproved her severely the next morning for her conduct; I threatened to discharge her, and gave her warning to quit; but she shewed contrition for it. I forgave her, and retained her; that passed over.

Q. What was her department after that for the remaining month - A. I observed that she failed in the respect that she before paid me, and appeared extremely sullen.

Q. Did she, after this, say any thing to you upon the subject of yeast dumplings - A. She did; a fortnight before the transaction she requested me to let her make some yeast dumplings, professing to be a capital hand. That request very frequently was made. On Monday, the 20th of March, she came into the dining-room, and said the brewer had brought some yeast.

Q. Had you given any order to the brewer to bring any yeast - A. Oh, no. I told her I did not wish to trouble the man, that was not the way I had them made, I generally had the dough of the baker, that saved the cook a good deal of trouble, and was always considered best, but as the man had brought a little yeast, on the next day she might make some. On Tuesday morning the 21st, I, as usual, went into the kitchen. I told her she might make some; but before she made the dumplings, to make a beefsteak pye for the dinner of the young men; and as she would have to leave the kitchen to get the steaks, I did not wish her to leave the kitchen after the dumplings were made. I told her I wished them to be mixed with milk and water. She said she would do them as I desired her. This was about half past eleven; she carried the pye to the baker's before the kneading of the dough commenced. I told her, I wished her not to leave the dough, that she might carry the pye to the baker's. She carried the pye to the baker's near twelve. I went into the kitchen after she had been to the baker's; I gave directions about making the dough. I said, I suppose there is no occasion for me stopping; she said, Oh, no, she knew very well how to do it. Then I went up stairs. In about half an hour I went into the kitchen again; I then found the dough made; it was set before the fire to rise.

Q. What other servant have you - A. Another maid; her name is Sarah Peer ; at the time that the dough was made, I had given Sarah Peer orders to go into the bed room to repair a counterpane. I am certain that during the time the dough was made no person was in the kitchen but the prisoner; this was about half past twelve; we dine at three, the young men at two. From half past twelve to three I was in the kitchen two or three times, until the dough was made up into dumplings.

Q. Where was the dough - A. It remained in a pan before the fire to rise; I observed it never did rise. I took off the cloth, and looked at it. My observation was it had not risen, and it was in a very singular position, in which position it remained until it was divided into dumplings. It was not put into the pan as I have seen dough; its shape was singular; it retained that shape to the last. I am confident it never was meddled with after it had been put there.

Q. About what time was the dividing the dough into dumplings - A. I suppose about twenty minutes before twelve. I was not in the kitchen at the time; I had been in the kitchen half an hour before that time.

JURY. Q. Did you remark to the prisoner the singular appearance of the dough - A. I did not remark to her the singular appearance; I told her it never had risen; the prisoner said it would rise before she wanted it.

Q. How many dumplings would there be - A. Six; the prisoner had divided it into six dumplings. About three o'clock I sat down to dinner; the dumplings were brought upon the table. I told the other servant they were black and heavy, instead of white and light.

Q. Who sat down to dinner with you - Mr. Haldebart Turner, myself, and my husband. I helped Mr. Haldebart Turner and my husband to some dumpling, and took a small piece myself. I found myself affected in a few minutes in the stomach after I had eaten; I did not eat a quarter of a dumpling; I felt myself very faint, and an extreme burning pain, which increased every minute. It became so bad I was obliged to leave the table I went up stairs.

JURY. You eat nothing else - A. I eat a bit of beef steak that the prisoner had cooked. When I went up stairs I perceived my sickness had increased and my head was swollen extremely. I reached very violently; I wondered none of the family come up to my assistance; I was half an hour alone. When I came down I found my husband's father very bad, and my husband. I was ill from half past three till nine, sick and reaching; at nine it abared, but did not cease; my chest was swollen; we called in a gentleman near, and afterwards Mr. Marshall, the surgeon.

HALDEBART TURNER. A. You are the father of Robert Gregson Turner - A. Yes. On Tuesday the 21st of March I was at my son's house; I dined there. Our dinner consisted of yeast dumplings, rump steaks, and potatoes.

Q. Did you eat of the dumplings - A. I did; after some time Mrs. Charlotte Turner left the room indisposed. She went up stairs; we did not then know she was very ill. Some time afterwards my son left the room, and went down stairs. I followed him shortly afterwards, and went into the parlour below. Coming out I met my son at the foot of the stairs; he told me had been very sick, and had brought up his dinner. I found his eyes were exceedingly swollen, very much indeed. I said, I thought it very extraordinary; I was taken ill myself in less than three minutes afterwards; the effect was so violent, that I had hardly time to get into the yard before my dinner came up. I felt considerable heat across my stomach and chest, and pain.

Q. Was the vomitting of a common kind - A. I

never experienced any thing before like it for violence; I was terribly irritated; it was not more than a quarter of an hour my apprentice Roger Gadsell was taken very ill in a similar way to myself.

Q. Was your son sick also - A. He was.

Q. Did the prisoner give any of you any assistance while you were sick - A. None in the least.

Q. Did you observe whether the prisoner eat any dumplings - A. I did not; I had suspicion of arsenic; I made a search the next morning; I found a brown dish or a pan that the dumplings had been mixed in; there appeared to be the leavings of the dumplings in it; I put some water into the pan, and stired it up with a spoon, with a view to form a liquid of the whole; I found upon the pan being set down for half a minute, upon my taking it up slowly, and in a slanting direction; I discovered a white powder at the bottom; I shewed it to several persons in the house; I kept it in my custody, and shewed it to Mr. Marshell when he came; no person had access to it.

Q. Had you any arsenic - A. Yes; I kept it in a drawer in the office: any person might have access to it.

Q. Do you happen to know whether the prisoner can road - A. I believe she can read and write.

Q. To Mrs. Turner. Is that so - A. She can read and write very well.

Q. To Mr. Turner. Was that drawer locked or open - A. It always has remained open.

Q. Who lit the fire in that office, do you know - A. It was the prisoner's duty to do so; waste paper was kept in that drawer; she might properly resort to that drawer for paper to light her fire. I saw that paper of arsenic in that drawer on the 7th of March, never after that time; I heard of it being missed about a fortnight before the 21st of March. I observed that the knives and the forks that we had to eat the dumplings with were black; there was no vinegar used in the sauce at all. I have two of them in my pocket to shew, (witness producing two of the knives,) I saw them with this black upon them the next day; on the next day I asked the prisoner how she came to introduce any ingrediants into the dumplings that were so prejudicial to us; she replied that it was not in the dumplings, but it was in the milk that Sarah Peer brought in. I had several discourses with her on that day on this subject; during the whole of which, she persisted that it was the milk, as before described, that milk had been used for the sauce only; the prisoner made the dumplings with the refuse of the milk that had been left at breakfast. I asked the prisoner if any person but herself had mixed or had any thing to do with the dumplings; she expressly said no.

Mr. Alley. Q. In the conversation you had with the prisoner, did you tell her that you had missed the poison - A. I did not.

ROGER GADSDELL . I am an apprentice to Mr. Turner.

Q. Do you remember seeing in the office in a paper with arsenic deadly poison upon it - A. I do, sir; the last day I saw it was Tuesday, the 7th of March, I missed it in a day or two after; I mentioned in the office that I missed it. On Tuesday, the 21st of March. I went into the kitchen between three and four in the afternoon; I had dined at two; I observed there a plate on the table with a dumpling and a half; I took a knive and fork up, and was going to cut it to eat it; the prisoner exclaimed, Gadsdell, do not eat that, it is cold and heavy, it will do you no good; I eat a piece about as big as a walnut; there was a small quantity of sauce in the boat; I put a bit of bread in it, and sepped it up, and eat it; this might be twenty minutes after three. Mr. Robert Turner came into the office soon after, and said, he was very ill. I was taken ill about ten minutes after but not so ill as to vomit. In consequence of the distress the family were in, I was sent off to Mrs. Turner, the mother; I was very sick going and com- coming back; I thought I should die.

Q. Had the prisoner made you any yeast dumplings the night before - A. She had; I partook of them, and the other maid; they were light and white; quite different from these dumplings.

Q. Who made the fire in the office - A. The prisoner; nobody could get into the office until I did; any person might go into the office in the day; at night it was locked; loose paper was kept in the drawer where the arsenic was kept. I seeing her going to that drawer, it would not strike me as any thing extraordinary; I should not watch to see what she did there.

MARGARET TURNER . Upon this melancholy occasion I was sent for: when I arrived, I found my husband, son, and daughter, extremely ill, and soon after I came, the prisoner was sick, and vomitting; I exclaimed, oh, these devilish dumplings, supposing they had done the mischief; she said not the dumplings, but the milk, ma'm; I asked her what milk she meaned; she said the halfpenny worth of milk that Sally had fetched to make the sauce.

Q. Did she say who had made the sauce - A. My daughter. I said that cannot be, it could not be the sauce; she said, yes; Gadsdell had but a very little bit of the dumpling, not bigger than a nut; but he had licked up three parts of a boat of sauce with a bit of bread.

Q. To Mrs. Turner. Was any of the sauce made with the milk that Sarah fetched - A. It was; I mixed it, and left it for Eliza to make.

ROBERT GREGSON TURNER . Q. Did you partake of the dumplings - A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you eat any of the sauce - A. Not a portion of it whatever. I was taken ill soon after dinner, I first felt an inclination to be sick; I then felt a strong heat across my chest; I was extremely sick.

Q. Did it produce any swelling in you - A. I was exactly as my father and wife, was sick and stronger symptoms; I had eaten a dumpling and a half.

Q. Were your symtoms any other but such as would be produced by poison - A. I should presume so. We were all taken in the same way and pretty near the same time.

SARAH PEER . I am house-maid to Mrs. Turner; I have lived in the family near eleven months.

Q. Do you remember the circumstance of warning being given to the prisoner some time after she came - A. I do, sir; after that I heard her say she should not like Mr. and Mrs. Robert Turner.

Q. On the morning of the 21st of March, did you go for any milk - A. Yes; that was after two, after I had had my dinner, I eat beef steak pie for my dinner; I never eat any of the dumplings; the same flour was used for the crust of the pie as the dumplings.

Q. Had you any concern whatever in making the dough for the dumplings - A. No, sir, nor the sauce, I was not in the kitchen when the dough was made; I had permission of my mistress to go out that afternoon; when I had taken the dumplings up I went directly.

Q. To Mr. Haldebart Turner. Did you keep this arsenic to poison the mice that infested the office - A. Yes, it was only to be used in the office.

WILLIAM THISSELTON . I took the prisoner into custody on the 23rd of March, I asked her whether she suspected there was any thing in the flour - A. She said she had made a beef steak pie that day with the same flour that she had made the dumplings; she said she thought it was in the yeast, she saw a read sediment at the bottom of the yeast after she had used it.

JOSEPH PARSON . I am a servant to Mr. Edmonds, the brewer, in Gray's-inn-lane.

Q. Were you in the habit of taking table beer to Mr. Turner's - A. Yes. On Thursday the prisoner asked me for some yeast; I told her if I came that way on Saturday I would bring her a bit, if not on Monday; I brought her the yeast on Monday; I took it out of the stelliards were the casks lay; it was the same yeast as bakers have.

Mr. Alley. Q. When you brought the yeast to the house you gave it to the last witness, not to the prisoner - A. Yes, I gave it to the house maid.

Q. To Sarah Peer . What did you do with the yeast - A. I emptied it into a white basin; I told Eliza that the brewer had brought the yeast; she took the basin; I saw no more of it.

MR. JOHN MARSHALL . I am a surgeon. On the evening of the 21st of March, I was sent for at Mr. Turner's family in a great hurry; I got there a quarter before nine o'clock; I found Mr. Turner and Mrs. Turner very ill; the symptoms were such as would be produced by arsenic; I have no doubt of it by the symptoms; the prisoner also was ill, that was caused by the same.

Q. Did Mr. Haldebart Turner shew you a dish or pan the next morning - A. He did; I examined the dish; I washed it with a tea-kettle of warm water, I first stand it, and let it subside; I decanted it off, I found half a tea spoon of white powder; I washed it a second time; I decidedly found it to be arsenic.

Q. Will arsenic if it is cut with a knife, will it produce on the knife the colour of blackness - A. I have no doubt of it; I examined the remains of the yeast; there was no arsenic in that.

Prisoner's Defence. My lord, I am truly innocent of all the charge, as God is my witness; I am innocent, indeed I am; I liked my place, I was very comfortable; as to my master saying I did not assist him, I was too ill. I had no concern with the drawer at all; when I wanted a piece of paper I always asked for it.

COURT. Q. To Roger Gadsdell . You say the prisoner used to light the office fire - A. She used, I and my fellow apprentice have seen her go to that drawer a many times.

The prisoner called four witnesses, who gave her a good character.

GUILTY - DEATH , aged 20.

Second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

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