2nd August 1881
Reference Numbert18810802-684
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation; Not Guilty > unknown

Related Material

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

684. WILLIAM NASH (26) and ANNIE MARIA WEIGHT (29) were indicted for the willful murder of Elizabeth Jane Clark. NASHwas also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like murder.


DR. THOMAS BRAMAH DIPLOCK . I am coroder for the Western Division of Middlesex—on 17th May I held an inquest as to the death of Ann Susannah Bond, Eliza, Jane Clark, John David Bond, Philip Clark, Harry Church, and Louisa Church—on the second hearing on 25th May the prisoner William Nash was examined before me—I cautioned him before he was sworn—I took down the effect of his answers, and at the conclusion of the inquest read over his deposition to him, and he signed it—this

is it—on the same day the prisoner Wright was also examined, under the name of Anne Maria Nash—at that time it was not known she was not married—she was not cautioned; I have her deposition also—on the next hearing, on 30th May, she was recalled, and further questions put to her, and then her entire deposition was read over to her, and she signed it.

Cross-examined. Both the prisoners attended on the first occasion—I can't say whether they did so voluntarily; there was a roomful of people—I can't say whether they attended on the second occasion of their own accord—the woman was examined before Nash on the second occasion—I cautioned the witnesses in the usual way, and put down their own words as far as possible—I do not know whether either of them had any legal adviser.

The depositions were read as follows:—William Nash. "I live at 48, Golborne Boad, Kensington; I did live on the 15th May at 422, Portobello Board. I am a dairyman. I was out on Sunday evening, the night of the fire, my wife with me. We came in at a little after 11 o'clock, not as late as half-past; we were both in bed by half-past 11. I did not hear anybody go out after that. I went to sleep; my wife woke me; she pulled me, and said 'For God's sake, what's this?' The room was full of smoke and illuminated up. We got out of bed, and my wife ran up the stairs. I believe I got out of bed, and took what clothes were on the chair and my wife's dress off the bedstead. I pulled my trousers and drawers on in the passage, and I believe I gave my wife her dress somewhere, she says in the passage. I went for the escape after that. I do not know where the fire was; I did not go to see where the fire was; I saw no flames. I do not believe the fire was in the bedroom. I took my clothes and went out. I went out by the door in the Warrington Board. I do not know if the fire was in the shop; I did not go to see, I had no time. I took nothing but my clothes and my wife's dress. I went for the fire-escape, and somebody had been there, and it was pulling off the path in Ladbroke Grove Road. I went round by Sutton's, the pawnbroker's. I believe the Portobello Board door was that which I left at. I do not know if my wife had gone out there or not; I think I left her there, she had only a dress. Mr. Keen was standing on the stairs when I came out of the parlour. I did not hear my wife at the top of the house; I could not say if I heard her knocking at the doors at the top of the house, and I did not see Mrs. Keen until I came back with the escape. Mr. Keen broke open the door leading to the shop; he was on the stairs in his trousers. In that time I had got my clothes off the chair, that's all. There were no combustibles in the shop. The passage was boarded off from the shop up to about 8 feet high, and open above that. The illumination came from the Portobello side. The stock-in-trade and everything was insured for 120l. There is no fireplace in the shop, it is all bricked up. The latest time I saw a fire in the parlour was between 3 and 4 in the afternoon—the latest time I was in the shop on Sunday was at about half-past four. I did not look into the shop when my wife awoke me. The glass was cracking in the door, and the smoke pouring through. My wife did not have her boots in her hand when she went up stairs. Keen was on the stairs. I did not say 'Save yourselves, or you will all be burnt'. He did not say 'You have on the same clothes that you wore

yesterday.' I put on my boots in the passage. I left the house in a low-crowned hat. I had on the same shirt I have on now, not a night shirt. I had my waistcoat and a "brown Cardigan jacket under my arm as I went for the escape, and I put them on as I came back with it. I had not those things on when I left the house. I did not wear an overcoat on Sunday at all. I have no idea what caused the fire in the front shop. I did not take any furniture to Portobello Road from Golborne Road. The articles I had in Portobello Road were a table and an iron bedstead, a mattress or flock bed; I had them from Keen for a cow and calf and some cash. I have not had all the money yet, there is some 7s. owing; he has paid me, I think, 1l. 4s. I value the lot of bed and mattress and table at about 2l. I think I sold the lot I bought of Collins. I had five chairs, three cane-bottomed and a horsehair arm-chair. I brought part from Golborne Road where all was not sold. I had one or two ornaments and some photographs and a fender worth some 4l. or 5l. then; I had my clothes and my wife's clothes. I do not know in what amount the furniture was insured. The policy we have not got; it was burnt, I suppose; it was in the house. I had not paid any rent for six weeks, and I had borrowed 2l. from a loan office about five weeks ago. The landlord asked me to sell some furniture for him, and I bought some myself for about 1l. 1s., of which I sold a music-stool for 2s. I had in the shop also scales, show tubs, milkperambulator, and other things, which I value at 16l. or 17l.; there was one pair of scales also that was not mine. There was a door from the passage into the shop; no one could get into the shop except through the parlour door if that into the passage was fastened, unless they got over the partition. I have made a claim on the Yorkshire Fire Insurance Company for 79l. My wife did not say anything when she came down stairs, except that the doors were locked; I do not know if they were in the upstairs rooms. My wife said Mrs. Bond spoke to her. I do not think I told the escape man that there were people in the house. (Signed) William Nash."

"Ann Maria Nash. I live at 48, Golborne Road, Kensington; I did live on 15th May at 422, Portobello Road. I am wife of William Nash, he is a dairyman. We were both at home all day on the 15th, except when my husband went out with his milk. We went out in the evening at 6 or 7 o'clock for a walk round the houses about there. We came in at 11 or a few minutes after; we went straight to bed then; my husband went to bed at the same time, he did not go into the shop before he went to bed. I went to sleep; I was awoke by a suffocating feeling. My husband was not awake then, I awoke him; I did not hear the fire at that time, but the room seemed full of smoke and light. I got out of bed, as did my husband; I do not know what he did, for I went up stairs to wake them at the top of the house and the Keens. I did so; I awoke the Keens first, I did not see them come out of their room. I went up to the top of the house, and I knocked at the door until I was answered by Mrs. Bond; neither of the others spoke to me—not Clark nor Church. The suffocating feeling was not at the top of the house when I went up, it was when I turned to come down stairs. Neither of them on the top floor came out to me. Mrs. Bond said 'What is the matter, Mrs. Nash?' I said 'The house is on fire; 'I never heard her answer me. I believe the Keen' door was open as I was going down;

I did not hear or see anything of Mr. or Mrs. Keen as I was going downstairs. When I went down I found my husband in the passage near the door leading to Portobello Road. I did not see Mr. Keen then; the first time I saw him was at the fire-escape. There is a glass door between the shop and the parlour. The light seemed everywhere when I woke. I do not know where the fire was, in the front of the house I suppose; I could not say if it was inside or outside the house, it was all illuminated everywhere. When I found my husband by the door leading to Portobeilo Road he gave me my dress, and he seemed to be arranging his own dress. I went out, and I knocked at next door. I have no recollection whether my husband came out with me or before me. By the time I came out the fire had got much ahead; I do not know if it was in the shop then, it seemed everywhere. I then turned and met the escape, and said there were people up stairs. The engine did not come for some time. There was a fireplace in the front kitchen in the basement, but it was never used. I went out at the hall door; that door was not shut. I had my nightdress on when I went up to call them, and when I came out of the house I had only my dress and nightdress on. The landlord retains the front kitchen as a lumber room, and that is kept locked. I cannot say if the front room was on fire in more places than one, it seemed all illuminated. I did not take my boots up in my hand, nor give them to Keen. My husband was undressed in bed, except his night-dress; if he said he had slept in his boots and clothes it would not be true. After the fire he went to his cousin, who lent him a coat; he did not take away an overcoat from the fire; I cannot say if he was wearing a hat when I saw him with the fire-escape. Before the fire he had a brown cardigan jacket, and he has that now. He always made a practice of putting all his clothes together on a chair, but not his greatcoat. I cannot recollect whether he had on the cardigan jacket when I saw him with the fire-escape; he had nothing round his neck, no scarf or tie. He had insured the property directly he went there; I believe the furniture in the parlour was insured for 50l., it was worth more than that. I cannot say what was the value of the property in the shop; some of it was furniture, some of it belonged to Darvill; there were two beds, two tables, a washstand, and a lamp, worth, perhaps, 5l. (Signed) A. Wright or Nash." Re-examined. "I lived at Brixton, I think, before Portobello. Road—no, Branstone Street. I have been married five years. I was staying in Grolborne Road before Branstone Road. I do not know where I was married. I am not married to Nash. My maiden name was Wright. (Signed) A. Wright or Nash."

JOHN BALDWIN DAEVILL . I am the owner of 422, Portobello Road—on 16th of May last the second floor, which is the top floor, was occupied by Mrs. Bond as my tenant—Mrs. Clark lived with her; John David Bond, Mrs. Bond's son, a boy Philip Clark, Mrs. Clark's son, and a little girl, Louisa Church; Harry Church, the father of Louisa, used also to sleep there on Saturday and Sunday—there were two rooms on the first floor occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Keen and their child, and there is a shop at the back occupied also by Keen, which fronts into the Warrington Road—you can get on to the flat zinc roof of that shop from a staircase window at the back—Keen also occupied the back kitchen in the basement—you get into the back shop from the house through a passage on

the ground-floor—there is a shop and a back parlour opening into the Portobello Road by a door in the middle of the shop, and over that door is a fanlight; it is a double-fronted shop—there is a private door at the side of the house, which opens into a passage—there is a thin partition, which does not reach to the ceiling, dividing the passage from the shop—there is a door, the upper part of which is glass, communicating between the shop and the parlour at the back, and another door at the back of the parlour, communicating with the passage, and there is glass also at the upper part of that; a person looking through that door can see into the parlour and shop—the prisoners occupied the front parlour and shop at a rent of 7s. per week unfurnished—I retained the front kitchen myself as a store-room for furniture; I kept it locked; I did not live on the premises—the prisoners came into occupation on 15th February—they had no kitchen—there were fixtures in the shop, which belonged to me, counters, scales, &c.; I left them there with the conagreed sideration that if he succeeded he would purchase them; no value was upon; their value was about 10l.—he opened the shop as a greengrocer's—he did not pay his rent, there were seven weeks owing when the fire occurred; I had pressed him for that often, I had been in two or three times a day sometimes—I wanted the shop—he owed me 1l. 19s. for gas up to March; 4l. had been consumed altogether, and he was responsible for 1l. 19s.; up to the date of the fire his portion would come to about 25s.—I had asked him several times about the gas bill due to March—he failed as a greengrocer, and abandoned that trade, but the shop was not entirely unused, he kept a few things there—I asked him a few days before the fire to give up the shop and occupy the parlour, I had a quantity of furniture which I wanted to expose for sale, and he offered me half the shop for my purpose, and said his wife would superintend it for me—at the time I put my furniture there I don't think there was anything in the front shop belonging to the prisoner—he afterwards purchased some furniture and placed it in the shop with mine for the purpose of selling; it was placed there after I had arranged for half the shop—I saw some furniture there which did not belong to me, and he told me he had purchased a portion of some furniture that had been left in a room for 21s—I recollect the fire; after it I went to the infirmary at Kensington Workhouse, where I saw two dead bodies amongst others, there were six altogether; one corresponded in size and sex with the appearance of Harry Church, and the other with that of Louisa Church.

Cross-examined. Nash was first a greengrocer, and after trying that for some time he was unsuccessful, and became a furniture dealer, but he did not give it up altogether, so there was a little greengrocery there at the end of the time—there are not gas pipes in every room of the house; there were two burners in the shop and two in the parlour—the meter was kept in the back kitchen downstairs in the basement—there was no gas on the first floor; there was no gas on the second floor—there were two gas-burners in the back shop—the gas bills are sent to me as the landlord; I called upon Nash for his share—the whole house tumbled in, it was gutted by the fire—I have since had men there clearing away and rebuilding; among them there has been a German named Flamme about the premises 14 or 15 days; he has made no statement to me about the state of the chimney; last evening I heard something about

the chimney from the next house being out of repair since the fire—there were 17 inches of bricks placed by me in the fireplace before the fire; they are there now, except a portion at the top which has been removed, and since then smoke has come down from one chimney to the other when the wind is in a certain quarter—smoke, or sparks could not get into the shop from the neighbouring house, the 17 inches of brickwork would prevent that—I heard yesterday afternoon from Flamme that there was a sort of aperture, by means of which smoke might come from one house to the other—there were 11 men there last week, yesterday there were only two—I did not make inquiries of the men some time ago—these were new houses, three years old—since the fire the gas pipes have been recovered and examined; I have seen nothing of a fracture myself; they are being relaid; they tumbled down when the woodwork was burnt away; the lead pipes were melted away, and the meter was destroyed—I have had no experience of gas igniting; I know if gas escapes it will ignite, and it will escape wherever there is the least opening for it—the Salvation Army burnt the gas there six months previously—I have no recollection of any case where gas has taken fire except by lighting; I do not think the slightest spark coming from the fire would ignite the gas—an explosion would accompany the ignition, and it would spread quickly if there was much gas about—I cannot account for this new house being so quickly burnt; I can attribute it to other causes than the escape of gas—I had not been down to the bottom of the house for a week or ten days before this; I know pretty well the state it was in; I found it after the fire in the same as it was before.

Re-examined. Seven or eight day's before I had been in the kitchen under the shop, that was all safe, and it was undisturbed after the fire—I had glass doors in. there, and have got them out since, unbroken—there was no fire kindled there—the gas-meter was in the scullery of the basement in Warrington Road; it was left for use, turned full on—there was an understanding with the people in the house to use the gas—before the prisoner came to occupy the shop it had been let to a previous tenant up to three weeks or a month before—I was in the shop with the carpenter fitting it up before the prisoner came in; it had been a public room for two years—there was a fireplace in the wall adjoining the next house quite bricked up, full of bricks right up, 17 inches in thickness—it is not possible, in my judgment, that any spark could have come from the adjoining house during the time the prisoner was there, from 15th February to 5th May, the prisoner never complained that anything was wrong with the shop—since the rebuilding I did myself observe once a small smouldering smoke come down the chimney, after I had taken out two rows of those bricks placed in the fireplace; that was when a draught was made, before that no smoke could have come through—it came from the other house—when it was bricked up there was no aperture for the smoke to come through—my own house had then no fire in it, and it would be colder than the other house—there was no grate, but where the grate ought to have been was bricked up—there was not a space left at the top; there might be room enough to get a thin knife up—the house adjoining is a beerhouse with an "off" licence.

FREDERICK WOOD . I live at Clifton House, Lancefield Street, Chelsea, and am a painter—on Suhday, 15th May, about 9.30, I went to 422, Portobello Road with Harry Church, a friend of mine—we went upstairs to

the top of the house where Mrs. Bond and her son lived, and Mrs. Clark her sister, Philip Clark, and Louisa Church—we stayed there chatting—the children had gone to bed, the other persons were up—we left about 11.30, leaving those six persons there—I said good-night to them, and came downstairs alone—I went through the passage and out of the private door into the Portobello Road—I shut the door after me—I believe it closed with a latch—I did not smell any gas, nor did anything attract my attention—I saw no light in the shop or back parlour or anywhere—I went home—I heard of the fire next day.

Cross-examined. I was not there above an hour or an hour and a half—I had no supper there—we had a little beer, that was all.

JOHN TREASURER . I am a tailor, and live at 3, Whetstone Road, Portobello Road, about two or three minutes' walk from 422—a few minutes before I on the Monday morning, the 16th, I was aroused by the alarm of fire—I was in bed and asleep—I got up at once and went to 422—it was then alight from the shop right through to the roof, in one blaze—my daughter, Elizabeth Jane Clark, lived there—my other daughter, Mrs. Bond, rented the floor, and the Clarke lived with her—about 9 that same morning I went to the Kensington workhouse, and there saw six charred bodies—I recognised one of them as the body of my daughter, Elizabeth Jane Clark, and the other bodies corresponded in size and age with the other persons.

Cross-examined. I did not go for the fire escape—I did nothing—I went home, and returned again and saw the six bodies lying on the pavement—when I got there the place was one sheet of flame.

JAMES KEEN . I am a milkman—on 16th May I lived at 422, Portobello Road—I occupied the whole of the first floor, the shop at the back, and the back kitchen—on the Sunday evening preceding the fire I saw Nash, about 6.30, in his own shop; he appeared to be pulling and shifting the things about from one part of the shop to the other—I and my wife went to bed at half-past 9—I was aroused about a quarter to 10 by Mrs. Bond to serve a person with milk—I then slept till something past 12—I was then aroused by Mrs. Nash (Wright) knocking loudly at the door, and saying, "Jim! Jim! get up, the place is in flames"—I and my wife and child got up and escaped on to the landing through the staircase door—we did not wait to dress—they were assisted down into the street—I went back and down the staircase into my shop—I made an attempt to go back into my room on the first floor, but could not succeed because of the smoke and flames coming through the door into my bedroom—after Wright had aroused me I heard her upstairs knocking at the door on the top floor, and calling to them to get up; that was before we got out on the leads—Wright passed me on the staircase as I went down—I said to her "Have you roused the people at the top of the house?" she said "Yes, and they will be down in a minute"—she had on her dress, no bonnet—her dress was not fastened in front, and I could see a white substance under it—she was barefooted, and she handed me a pair of boots as she passed—she made no remark—I saw her leave the house; she went through the passage and closed the door after her leading into Portobello Road—at that time I had looked at the front shop—as Wright passed me I glanced my eyes into the shop through the half glass door in the passage and saw two flames, one in the right hand corner, and one on the left—the right hand corner was at the farther end

of the shop, close to the parlour, the other was dose to the Portobello door, the passage door—I saw Nash at that time; he was in the passage at the bottom of the staircase—he had on a cardigan jacket, a hat, boots, and trousers, and the appearance of a scarf round his meek—I said to him "You know something of this;" he said "You must look to yourself"—he then assisted me to burst open the door leading into my shop, and I escaped with him through the shop into Warrington Street—I went that way for the purpose of saying what I could from my shop, and I took some utensils with me—I could not find the keys—I took the boots that Wright gave me to an empty house in Warrington Gardens—I did not go for the fire escape—I saw Nash about an hour after; he came to me and asked me for the boots—I said "They are in a house in Warrington Gardens"—I went with him and he got them—he went with them to a shop kept by Joseph Fry—I saw Nash again between 5 and 6 in Portobello Road opposite the fire; he was then wearing an overcoat—I had seen him with a coat on similar to that on the Sunday morning—I said to him "You have got the overcoat?" he said "Yes, I have saved that"—I said "You have got the same boots and all on that you had on yesterday morning when I saw you about half-past 6;" he said "Yes, I did not pull them off; I had been to bed, but I was not undressed"—I did not notice any smell of gas on that Sunday evening or afternoon—I moved into this shop in November—previous to my coming there I had some furniture where I formerly lived, and in exchange for a plaster cow and calf, gilt, I lent him a table and three chairs—I did not sell them—I allowed him 8s. for a bed and mattress and 9s. in money, and I still owe him 3s.—I have been in his parlour since 15th February, and I saw the bedstead and a deal box—I did not notice any other furniture—there were two large boxes, packing cases, and some dummy boxes; they were worth 15s. or a 1l.—I lent him a pair of scales—there was no fender in the parlour—I recollect an insurance agent coming in March; Nash brought him in from his shop to mine—the agent said "Mr. Nash has just insured his furniture against fire; if you will insure I can bring the policy for both at one time and save trouble"—I declined to insure—Nash said "Yes, I have insured, and shall have the policy in a week"—some week or two afterwards he told me he had got the policy—he mentioned again about being insured, and I said "You can't insure, for you have got nothing to insure;" he said "I have insured"—several weeks after he told me he had got the policy; be called me into his back parlour, and said "Would not this place burn well, Jim?" I said "Yes, but don't burn us"—I did not insure, I lost everything except a few cans and utensils which I saved myself.

Cross-examined. At the time Wright came to the door and roused me up there were no flames in my room—I got up immediately and put on my trousers and slippers, and roused my wife and child—I got them safe out before I went down stairs; it did not take many minutes—I did not save any of the property in my room, I lost everything except my troubers and slippers—I lost my watch and purse; there was some silver in the purse—after seeing my wife and child safe I tried to enter my bedroom, but could not get in for the smoke—Wright passed me on the staircase as I was going down to my shop, and it was then I said to her "Have you aroused the people at the top?"—I was then standing,

speaking to Nash; he was in the passage leading into Portobello Road—there was a good deal of smoke there, and flames too, and on the stairs—I saw how he was dressed from the reflection of the flames in the shop—there was no partition in the passage—I was able to see what dress he had on—to the best of my recollection he had on the same clothes that he had at 5 or 6 in the morning—I did not advise him to insure—I am sure of that—I did not go for the fire escape because I was told that someone else had gone for it—I don't know who told me; it was someone in the street—there was a crowd collected about the house—Nash had not got on the overcoat when I saw him in the passage—I don't know whether the officer from the insurance office came to solicit him; he asked me—Nash did not ask my opinion about it before he insured; I swear that—it was several weeks after he had insured that he said "Would not this place burn well?"—no one was present at the time—he said "I have got a largo fire and the gas on; would not this place burn well, it being all match board?"—he had a large fire in the room, in the grate, and the gas was burning in the room—I have not stated this conversation before; I have not been asked—the first thing he said when I went in was "Is not this room hot to-night? I have got a large fire and the gas well on; this place would burn well"—my statement before the Magistrate was read over to me—I believe I said then "He called me into his back parlour and said 'Would not this place burn well, being all wood?'"—I don't know whether I said anything about the gas being well on; I did not think of it—I never told anybody that I had recovered my money and my watch—I never said so to a person named Parsons—I never complained of the gas, or said that I could not sleep in consequence—he had the gas burning in the parlour when he called me in—I don't know whether it was lighted in the shop, I did not notice; it was past 8 in the evening, I believe—I don't know whether the shop was shut—the shop and parlour joined; I believe there was a glass door between them—I did not see whether the shop was lighted or not, I had my own shop to look after—I just opened the door and looked in as I passed—I don't know whether I mentioned to anybody about the gas being well on—I believe I mentioned it before the Coroner, not before—I don't think I mentioned it before the Magistrate—I did not think then that he was going to set fire to the house; I regarded it as a light passing observation, a joke, that was all—it was not many minutes after Wright had aroused me that I saw the fire in the two corners—the police assisted in getting my wife down—the shop was full of flame at the time; the two fires formed an archway—I could see through the glass door in the passage—I was on the staircase—there was a door leading from the shop to the passage—I believe there is a door from the shop to the parlour—that was not the door I was looking through; it was the passage door—there are twelve or thirteen stairs—the staircase is halfway along the passage, and I had to turn sharp round to the right to my shop—the staircase runs as far as the door leading from the passage into the shop—I can't say on which stair I was standing, I might be two or three steps up, I don't know—the door was on my left hand, and it was through that door I saw the two fires—I did not mention this to anybody till I was before the Magistrate—I did not discuss it with anybody—I know a Mr. Harris—I don't know what he is—I did not hear him

before the Magistrate describe the fire as forming in archway—the door I saw through had a thick plate glass, frosted half way up; the door was shut—I have been charged with being on the pavement with my milk perambulator—I was charged with embezzling 3s. 6d. (I was looked up about two hours) from a person of the name of Smith, a dairyman in Ladbroke Grove Road—I was in his employment—I was sent for trial at the Middlesex Sessions two or three years ago—I was acquitted—I was not acquitted because of the absence of a material witness—there was no witness absent that I was aware of—I will swear it was not so—I was not charged with stealing a load of grains—I was out on bail—the trial lasted about half or three quarters of an hour—Mr. Smith gave evidence—I did not bring an action for false imprisonment—I never had any quarrel with Nash—I was on good terms with him.

Re-examined. I was examined before the Coroner on the 25th—I then mentioned having seen what appeared to me to be two fires—the dispute with Mr. Smith was about a load of grains I was entrusted to sell, and I was deficient 3s. 6d—the same witnesses were examined at the trial as had been called before the Magistrate—I was acquitted by the Jury—after that I started selling milk for myself, and have ever since got my living as a milkman—it is true that I lost my watch at this fire, and everything except the few things I saved from my shop—I could see over the partition from where I was standing on the stairs—on the right hand corner of the shop close to the match-board the flames were working up the matchboarding against the wall, and cm the left-hand corner was a heap of sacks against the wooden partition near the door of Portobello Road—the two flames were working up together, the ceiling was all match-boards, and they formed an archway—I could see that the Backs were on fire.

ALICE KEEN . I am the wife of the last witness—on this Sunday night I went to bed just after 9—I had not been out during the evening—we had been sitting in the front room all the evening, and about 9 weal to the back room to bed—at that time I had not smelt any escape of gas or anything of the kind, all appeared to be right—after I had been in bed I heard the female prisoner knocking at my door—she called out "Jim, Jim, get up, the house is on fire"—she then went upstairs and knocked at the door there—I got up at once, and got out of the window on to the leads at the back—I did not see anything of the prisoner that night, not till next morning at 10.30—Wright and I were on finally terms—about six weeks before the fire she said to me "We have received the policy," and I saw it—I had heard that they had insured.

Cross-examined. It was about 5 or 10 minutes from the time I was first aroused till I got out into the street—I was out directly I was called; in a few minutes, I was in a great hurry, and very much confused—there was a chink in the flooring between our room and Nash's, through which I could see the light shining from the gas in the parlour—I had not been in the habit of throwing things down—I dare say the hole was about an inch or an inch and half wide, I could not say exactly—I heard Mrs. Nash knocking upstairs as I was coming down—I did not hear it more than once—I did not hear the people answer.

Re-examined. I could see from our front room the light shining into their back parlour—it was a little hole in the floor where the wainscot was not quite finished, near the folding-doors between the two rooms—I

could see through it when the gas was alight in the prisoner's backparlour, I could see the light shining—I did not notice it that night—they were out when we went to bed.

ROBERT HARRIS . I am a journalist, and live at 196, Ladbroke Grove Road—the back of the house faces the front of 422, Portobello Road—at half-past twelve on the morning of the 16th May I was in bed in the back room ground-floor—I heard a noise like the crackling of fire—I got out of bed, looked out of the window, and saw that the shop almost opposite my house was on fire—I could see through the fanlight over the shop door—I saw that the flames were reaching up both sides of the room, forming an archway—there was a blank space in the centre, a dark space—I went down-stairs as I was, without waiting to dress—I saw two men outside the shop—I at once went for the fire escape, which was about 300 yards off, at St. Michael's Church, and roused Moore, who was in charge of the escape—I assisted in taking it to the top of Ladbroke Grove Road, opposite my own door—I did not see Nash assist in fetching the escape—I did not notice any man putting on his clothes as he walked by the side of the escape.

Cross-examined. The escape was not drawn by horses, we were pushing it as hard as we could—there were not many pushing it, I was the only one on the right-hand side—I did not send any account of this to the papers—I mentioned the matter to the manager or one of the reporters of the Echo—I did not write any report of it—I describe the flames as reaching up both sides of the room, forming an arch—I have seen two or three fires, but I never saw one before like that—the road is about 20 yards wide—I did not know Nash before that night—I don't think it possible that he could have been assisting at the fire escape without my recognising him—he was not on my side—he might have been on the other side without my seeing him.

FRANK MOORE . I am a fireman—on the morning of 16th May I was in charge of the escape at the end of Ladbroke Grove Road—about 12.30 Mr. Harris called me, and I took the escape to 422, Portobello Road, with constables Leech and Meredith and Mr. Harris—no one else assisted—I did not see Nash there, or any man putting on his clothes near the escape—they were all dressed except Mr. Harris; he was in his trousers, I believe, without any boots or stockings—the fire had a good hold on the building when we got there—the floors were falling in, and the roof was just starting—the fire-escape was no use at all.

Cross-examined. There is another fire-station in the Harrow Road; that is about a mile off—a fire-escape did come from there, and an engine and escape from Notting Hill station—I saw them arrive about 25 minutes afterwards—there was no fire-escape that arrived five minutes after—I could not say exactly the time the engine from Notting Hill arrived, but I should say about 12 or 14 minutes after me—they were of no use; the whole place was burnt—I was called at 12.30, and arrived there at 26 minutes to 1 o'clock.

THOMAS LEECH . (Policeman XR 22). I was in Portobello Road on this Monday morning about 12.15 on duty in uniform—I passed by No. 422 in front and rear; the place then seemed all right—I saw no sign of fire—about a quarter of an hour afterwards, as I was standing at the corner of Bonchurch Road, I saw the flames suddenly burst through the shutters of the shop and crawl up towards the first-floor windows—I was then

between 300 and 400 yards from the house—I went quickly towards the fire, and seeing some people moving about in front of the fire I ran to the fire-escape, arriving there just half a second after Mr. Harris—I and Mr. Harris and Meredith and the fireman assisted with the escape—on the way Mr. Harris, having no shoes or stockings on, complained of the stones hurting his feet, and he fell out, and a man in the uniform of a railway-guard or signalman assisted us with the escape up to the house—I found it all in flames—the flames were up to the second-floor windows—I have known Nash 13 years—I saw nothing of him at all before getting to the house; he was not in any way near the fire-escape—I remained there till the fire was put out—I can't exactly say the time it was got under—I remained there till past 6 o'clock in the morning—I did not see the bodies recovered, but I saw them going away in the shells between 2 and 3 o'clock—after they had been removed I saw Nash—he came round the corner in the direction of Mr. Sutton's, the pawnbroker's, and went to Mr. Barlow's back door—he was wearing a brown Chesterfield overcoat, buttoned up to the top, a billycock hat, trousers, and boots; he was fully dressed.

Cross-examined. I had known him a long time—I know nothing against his character—I always considered him a respectable man.

RANDALL MEREDITH (Policeman X 149). I assisted to fetch the fireescape from Ladbroke Grove Road to 422, Portobello Road—Nash was not there—I know him by sight.

JOSEPH FRY . I am a grocer, of 9, Hearn Terrace, Warrington Road, Notting Hill—on the morning of the fire, after the engines had arrived, the two prisoners came to my private door—Wright had her dress on, but no shoes or stockings and no shawl or hat—I asked her to come off the step, because of her bare feet—Nash was dressed as usual, in boots and socks—he asked Wright if she would have his socks; she refused to do so, and he said he would go and fetch her a pair of boots—he went and returned with a pair, and she put them on—she showed great distress with reference to people at the top of the house; she feared if they did not follow her directly after she knocked they did not escape.

Cross-examined. She was in a very excited state—the man was not saying anything, only he asked her to come to his brother's.

CHARLES HENRY BOULTER . I am a fireman at the Ladbroke Grove Station—on Monday morning, 16th May, I received a call at 12.44 a.m.—I went with a manual engine to 422, Portobello Road—I arrived there about 12.50—the house was then burnt right out, the floor and roof had fallen, when the fire was extinguished we searched for the bodies, and found three on the ground floor and three in the front basement—they were afterwards taken to the Kensington mortuary—I examined the ruins—the basement under the ruins was not burnt at all—there had been no fire down there whatever; only the ruins fallen in from the floor above—there was a lot of second-hand furniture there; there was a cupboard there, but not even a panel was scorched—I afterwards examined the shop—I saw the place where the front shop joined the next house, where the fireplace had been; it was blocked up with bricks only, no mortar, to a thickness of about 16 inches—the bricks were as close together as you could stack them—no fire could come through there at all—the flue of the chimney joins the flue of the adjoining house—last night, in consequence of what I heard, I examined that fireplace again—I noticed

that some of the bricks had been removed, and a piece of quartering run through into the flue adjoining—it was my impression that that hole had been recently made, by the appearance of it—I thoroughly examined it and found that the mortar was quite fresh—the hole appeared to have been quite freshly made—there was not the slightest sign of smoke or fire—I examined the chimney belonging to the shop—there was no sign of smoke or soot adhering to it; the mortar was quite new, fresh, and clean—soon after the fire was extinguished I noticed the gas meter in the basement; it was disconnected from the supply pipe, and the gas was turned full on—one of my men turned it off—no doubt the action of the fire had caused the pipe to be disconnected from the meter—I did not know Nash before this night—I saw him in the middle of the road near the fire between 2 and 3 o'clock—he seemed to be completely dressed then—he had on a brown coat, and some sort of a plaid sear round his neck; he had a hat on and boots, and appeared to be fully dressed.

Cross-examined. The cock was turned full on, to admit the gas through the meter—the leaden pipe was all melted—the action of the fire would not turn the cock on in that way—it would melt the connecting pipe.

CHARLES TYLER . I am a greengrocer, of 3, Portobello Road—I rent No. 424, next to 422, and let it to my brother, who keeps a beershop—the, two kitchens I let to Charles Pease—the parlour adjoins the shop of 422—on Sunday, 10th of May, I was taking charge of the beershop for my brother—I had no fire in the shop all that day, nor in the parlour; we did not require it, not living there—there was only a fireplace in the parlour.

CHARLES PEASE . I occupy the two kitchens of 424, Portobello Road—I recollect the fire occurring on that Sunday morning—there was a fire in the front kitchen from seven o'clock to between eight and nine, but pot fire after that.

ANNE ANDEEWS . I reside at 4, Branstone Street, North Kensington—in December last the prisoners came to lodge at that house—they occupied one room, for which they paid 2s. 6d. a week—they stayed there till they went to 422, Portobello Road—I saw the furniture which they took with them; there was an iron bedstead, two chairs (the remains of cane-bottom chairs, I think), and a deal table; that was all I saw—I never saw any fender—Wright has borrowed clothes of me—since they went to 422 I went into the shop there; I looked into the parlour as I stood in the shop; they did not seem to have any more furniture than they had in the room where they had lived.

Cross-examined. I have known Mr. Keen four or five years; I lived in his house three years—I was not examined before the Magistrate—Mr. Keen did not tell me to come here; Inspector Phillips came after me—I have never spoken to Keen about this case—I was only once in the shop in Portobello Road; never in the passage or parlour.

JOHN CHARLES GRAHAM . I reside at Nutting Hill—I have occasionally dealt at Nash's shop, in the Portobello Road—I proposed that he should effect a policy, and I filled up this form, from answers to questions I asked him; he signed it—I forwarded it to the Yorkshire Fire Insurance Company's office, and a policy was issued, (The proposal was to insure household goods for 50l., trade effects 20l., stock-in-trade 50l.)

Cross-examined. I canvassed for the order—I called on him three

times, I think, before he consented; that is the usual custom the Insurance Offices have agents they, send round—I did not value the property; we always leave the man to do that—a man can insure for any amount, but he must prove the actual loss.

MCDONALD. I am a clerk in the Yorkshire Insurance Office—I have not brought my books with me—when a proposal is made a policy is made out from the proposal, and sent to the customer.

WILLIAM WOOLLETT . In May I was acting as surveyor to the Yorkshire Insurance Company—I received this claim, dated 5th May, from William Nash, for 79l. 19s. 6d., in reference to a policy issued, from our, office—the first payment was made before this was sent in; it was 3s. 3d.—the amount of payment varies according to the amount insured and the risk that is run—the amount insured is the first element.

DANLEL MORGAN (Police Inspector X). On Tuesday, 17th May, I saw the prisoner Nash, and he made a statement to me which I took down in writing—I read it to him; he signed it—on 23rd May I saw Wright, and she made a statement to me, which I took down, read over to her, and she signed it—at the conclusion of the inquest on 30th May I apprehended Nash—I told him he would be taken into custody for wilfully setting fire to his house, 422, Portobello Road, on the morning of 16th May, and causing the deaths of six people—he made no reply whatever—I took him to the police station at Notting Hill.

CHARLES PHILLIPS (Police Inspector X). I apprehended Wright on the 30th after the inquest—I said I should take her into custody for being concerned in setting fire to the house in which they lived, and causing the deaths of six people; she said, "It is all through the insurance"—the day after the fire I examined the fireplace in the front shop; it was bricked up to the top in mortar and bricks, about sixteen inches thick, the; thickness of three bricks—I should say sparks could net come through—I examined it again yesterday; three courses of bricks had been taken from the top.

JOHN BALDWIN DARVILL (Recalled). There is the shop door, and what is called the street door; the street door opens into a passage which leads to the foot of the stairs; the stairs are thirty feet from the street door; as you enter the shop from the street, the passage is on the right hand side, and there is a door into the passage at the farther end of the shop, on a level with the parlour door—there are two doors in one partition.

MR. RIBTON submitted that in order to establish the offence of murder there must be shown to exist malice towards the particular person killed, and an intent to kill that person; that the evidence here failed in that respect, and only justified a verdict of manslaughter: The doctrine of "constructive murder" he contended, was only founded upon a dicta, long acted upon, but not really coming within the meaning of the words "malice aforethought," MR. JUSTICE GROVE was clearly of opinion that the case must goto the Jury as one of murder, the argument submitted by MR. RIBTON being entirely contrary to the ruling always laid down by the Judges.

The following Witnesses were called for the Defence:— LOUISA MARIA BOND. I live at 46, Norbury Road, Notting Hill—I have known the prisoner Nash seven or eight years, and Wright about five—they were at my house on 15th May—they came about 7 and left

about 11—it would take them from 7 to 10 minutes to go from my house to theirs—I always found Nash to be a very respectable man, and Wright has borne a very good character: I never knew any harm of her.

Cross-examined. I am a dressmaker—the prisoners spent this evening with me—they were both sober.

CHARLES NASH . I am a cousin of the prisoner's, and on the night of the fire I was lodging at 48, Goulburn Road, Kensal New Town—between 2 and 3 o'clock Nash came to my bedroom and asked me to lend him my coat, as he had not one to wear—he had his trousers and boots on, and a cardigan jacket, no great coat—I lent him a black overcoat with a grey lining, and he left—I saw him again between 9 and 10 o'clock the following morning.

FRANCIS FLAMME . I live at 1, Hartwell Mews—I was employed by Mr. Darvill to clear the ruins of the house that was burnt; I was engaged about five or six weeks after the fire occurred—on one occasion, while working down in the cellar, I saw smoke and sparks of fire coming down the front basement from the shop—I could not say where it came from—I sung out "If anybody is there be careful"—I got no answer, and I came out of the basement and looked round, and there was nobody—Mr. Darvill used to lock me in—I saw smoke afterwards a good many times, but I only saw sparks the second day I was there—I could not exactly say how many sparks there were, I saw a good few—I did not try to find out where they came from, I never troubled my head about it at the time—there was nobody in the apartment where I was—the carpenter called my attention to the place a few weeks after; there was then a hole in the fireplace of Nash's shop, about 8 inches in length and between 4 and 5 inches in breadth—the hole was in the chimney, the fireplace was bricked up instead of a stove; the hole was above the bricks.

Cross-examined. I think it was about six or seven weeks after the fire that I went to work there—I am a professional by trade—I was not in the profession at this time, I was clearing the ruins, doing labouring work—it was while I was doing it that I saw the smoke and sparks coming down—I could not say where they came from—there were shavings about—there were no carpenters in the place then, not when I saw the smoke and sparks the first time—Mr. Darvill did not discharge me, I discharged myself; I told him I did not like to work for a gentleman that did not pay me—he did not tell me that I had charged for work that I had not done, and that I must leave—I told him if he did not pay me I would take him to the County Court—the hole in the fireplace was just above where the bricks had been put—men had been at work there since the fire—when the carpenter called me to witness it, the smoke came in my face and his—none of the workmen were using the place for warming glue or anything, that I know of—there was nobody there when I was working there, except one day another man was clearing the ruins—the carpenter's name is Ted Bowman.

By the COURT. I cannot tell how many men were working there; sometimes there was a man and a boy—there had been a great many—I was not examined before the Coroner or the Magistrate, this is the first time I have been up—I should not have known anything about the hole if Bowman had not called me to the place.

EDMUND MORIARTY . I am a fruiterer and greengrocer, at 48, Goulburn Road—I know the house where the fire was—I have lately been

over it—the last time was on Wednesday—I went through the hack shop into the front shop with Flamme—I saw a hole large enough to put my head into, directly under where the mantelshelf ought to be, hut there was none—the place was in a very dilapidated condition—I felt fire; Flamme drew my attention to it; he said "Put your hand in there"—I did so, and I could not bear it in there, the heat was so great—there was only a matter of 4 1/2 inches of brickwork between the two chimneys—I saw smoke, it was going up very freely; there must have been a good fire underneath, wherever it was—I have not been in the next house—the chimney seemed full of smoke—I could not see anything but smoke; I could not see the fire, I could feel it—it was not on the same level, it was evidently below somewhere—Flamme was with me all the time, and also a carpenter—I did not see any sparks.

Cross-examined. I have known Nash on and off for ten or eleven years—he is my wife's brother—he did not come to live with us after the fire—we lived in the same house—I rent the house, and his mother has apartments upstairs—it was last week that I saw this hole, that was the only time—it was a hole going into the chimney of the next house—it had not been recently made—the two chimneys back each other.

Re-examined. The first time I saw Nash after the fire was during the day when I went round to see the fire on the Monday; he came to my house the same morning, he and his wife.

GEORGE PARSONS . I saw Keen the second day after the fire—he said he went back for his money and watch, and very near got suffocated in the smoke—he did not say whether he got it or not.

NASH— GUILTY . Strongly recommended to mercy by the Jury on the ground that they considered he did not intend to take life.— DEATH.

WRIGHT— NOT GUILTY . She was also charged on two other indictments, one for arson and one for the murder of one of the other persons, upon which, no evidence being offered, a verdict of NOT GUILTY was taken.

View as XML