3rd March 1890
Reference Numbert18900303-287
VerdictsNot Guilty > unknown; Not Guilty > no evidence

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287. ELIZABETH VINCENT (26) was indicted for feloniously shooting at Lewis Henry Isaacs, with intent to murder. Second Count, with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

MESSRS. POLAND, Q. C., and BESLEY Prosecuted; MR. MURPHY, Q. C., with MESSRS. PAUL TAYLOR and J. H. MURPHY, Defended.

LEWIS HENRY ISAACS . I live at No. 2, Pembridge Square, Bayswater, and have offices at 3, Verulam Buildings, Gray's Inn, where I carry on the profession of an architect and surveyor—the defendant was employed as a nursery governess about the end of September, 1888, and was with us for three years and a month—she left at the end of October, 1881—after leaving she went to a lady at Hendon, and afterwards to North Germany, to improve her qualifications as a governess—she returned in 1884—my wife died in June, 1882—when the defendant returned my daughter, to whom she had been nursery governess, was alive, and is still living—I met her on her return at her request—some time after her return there was intercourse, and in April, 1887, a child was born—Dr. Coker attended her, not at my request; she appointed him as her surgeon—I made her an allowance prior to her confinement, and some time after that I made a settlement on her; I think that was in August, 1888—Dr. Coker and Miss Emslie, a schoolfellow and friend, who had been in Germany with her, became her trustees—the settlement was £2,000 absolutely invested for the child, and £1,000 was given to her to go into a business with, and £600 to purchase the house in which, she was then residing—subsequently she came to the House of Commons to see me—she had an allowance of £200 a year at the time I made the settlement—she came to the House of Commons to represent to me that she could not live on £200 a year, and I must increase it, and I ultimately consented to make it £400 a year during my life—I think that was in the year following the settlement—I have taken the trouble to cast up the cheques for the last year, and I find them considerably in excess of that sum; £930 5s. 8d. is the exact figure up to the 8th October—a portion of that was for furnishing her house—on 5th October I received this letter by post; it is her writing—before that she had spoken of her approaching marriage. (Letter read: "Richmond, Saturday morning. Received your second letter this morning. The truth is an amalgamation of circumstances has made me thoroughly ill, and it is absolutely impossible for me to live on here, and I want to talk the matter over with you, and I shall never get better while I have it on my mind. I do not intend asking you to advance my next month's allowance. Pray do not further delay, but make, as you suggest, an appointment for the beginning of the week. You never have a moment to talk, on account of clients' visits, if I come up, and I dislike doing so very much. To Major Isaacs, M. P., 3, Verulam Buildings, Gray's Inn")—I rep lied to that, and

in pursuance of an appointment I went to Richmond on 8th October—I reached her house between half-past four and five—I had been there twice before—she kept a servant—I had never seen the young man she was about to be married to; I had only seen his portrait on a bracelet—on 8th October I knocked at the door, and it was opened by the prisoner—I entered the house, and the front door was closed after I entered—I went into the dining-room; she followed me; when she got in she immediately locked the door, and took the key out, and deposited it in a cabinet—she then produced a revolver and said, "You and I are alone in this house, and if you wish to leave it alive you will sign this paper," pointing to a paper on the table—I read it—I said as to the opening paragraph, alleging that I had seduced her with violence, I would rather suffer a thousand deaths than sign it, and I tore it off immediately—she was at the other end, lengthways, of the dining-room table, which was probably 7 to 8 feet long—she then asked me to sign a simple declaration that I had seduced her—I said, "I cannot see the benefit it would be to you; but if you wish it, you shall have it," and I wrote on another paper an admission that I had seduced her—I then signed this paper, which is her writing, and from which I had torn the top part. (This document was read, as follows: "The sum of £20,000 in the following sums: I give her now a cheque for £200, payable at once, and a cheque for £1,800, payable the day after to-morrow, Thursday, October 10th, 1889; and I undertake to pay her the balance, £18,000, on Tuesday, October 22nd, 1889, a fortnight from to-day")—she asked me to give her cheques for the amounts stated in the paper, and I said I had no cheque-book with me; she said, "That does not matter; here are pieces of paper ready stamped, you can write the cheques on these," and she brought three blank pieces of paper (halfsheets of note paper, I think, that size), each with a penny stamp on it, out of a drawer—the revolver was in her hand; she had retained it the whole time—she said if I wished to see my daughter alive, and if I cared for the prestige of my name, I would sign and fill in the cheques—she was standing in the same place near the window, by the side of the cabinet and drawer, and the length of the table from me, and had the revolver in her right hand—I was sitting—I saw the whole character and scope of the plot, and felt there was nothing left for me to do but to close with her and get the pistol from her, and get out of the house—I got up and moved towards her; she moved away as I came near her—my leg hit against the table and moved it, and it pinned her, so to speak, between the table and the sideboard—I saw the pistol in her right hand in alignment with my head; it looked to me as being very likely to lead to danger, and I threw up my hand as a guard; I was about four or five feet from the pistol then, I think the table was still between us, but I had moved round, and it was less than the full length—when I put up my hand the pistol was discharged, and I received the bullet in my arm, a little below the wrist—I reached her side and laid hold of her hand, I had only one arm then of any use to me; my right arm became instantly swollen and in great pain, but I clenched her and the pistol with the left hand—I exclaimed, "I am shot"—she said, "Where?"—I drew up my sleeve—she saw the wound and the blood oozing from it; she commenced to scream, before I actually reached her side and before she saw the wound, at the last move I made to close with her—after she

saw the wound I think she kissed me; she was highly hysterical, and then laid the pistol on the table—then there was a violent kicking at the dining-room door, and a demand from someone to open it—the prisoner took the key from the drawer where she had placed it, and opened the door, and a young man entered the room and demanded to know what it all meant, and who and what I was—I replied that he had better ask the lady—then I began to feel a little faint from loss of blood and the enormous swelling in the right arm—I asked them to give me a little brandy and water—she procured that for me—I then said I would leave the house, and I did so—the young man went with me to the railway-station, where he left me—I went to Mr. Newth, my surgeon, whose house is near mine, and showed him the injury—I was under treatment for some considerable time—the bullet has not been extracted, it is here—I sent for my solicitor the next day, but I did not institute any prosecution until some time in February—prior to instituting a prosecution I had a great many threatening letters—this letter, in her handwriting, was left on my desk in Verulam Buildings by her personally. Read: "You may rest assured after this that a revenge so sure shall overtake you that escape will be impossible. I dedicate my life to it. It is so truly absurd to think I am foiled in the least because you place this man here to eject me"—these letters and envelopes addressed to me are in the prisoner's writing. (The first letter was dated 14th January, 1890, 13, Northwick Terrace, Maida Vale. It asked for the £40, due on the 1st, to be sent at once, and said she was writing to tell Br. Coker she had decided to accept £8,500 if all were settled at once; £6,000 to be invested in trust, and £1,500, originally intended for the house, and £1,000 added in cash, to bug furniture with. The next letter, dated 18th January, 1890, from the same address, said Dr. Coker had just called, and his visit was fruitless, as it was to persuade her to accept a lower sum than she had named; and that she would not accept a penny less than £8,500 in all.)

Cross-examined. The prisoner was fifteen years and about eight months old when she came into my service—she remained with me for three years and one month—she visited me at my chambers in Verulam Buildings during my late wife's lifetime—I deny that improper intimacy took place then—she came to explain a bill in which there was a mistake; she was there more than once—she afterwards went to school as a pupil teacher—I visited her there, and she came to my house while she was there—I and my daughter have taken her out for drives—then she went to school near Bremerhaven, in Germany—I never promised to marry her—my wife was an invalid for many years before she died—I met the prisoner at the boat when she returned from Germany—I went with her to the First Avenue Hotel that day—we had luncheon there—I did not seduce her, nor was there any intimacy there—I quite admit she was a perfectly virtuous upright girl when I seduced her—during the time I was intimate with her, and after the birth of her child, there was a real affection between us—I was very fond of her—I think she was fond of me; I was very fond of her, and passionately fond of the child—then I made her an allowance, including an annuity of £400 a year—I don't think disputes arose about the allowance, but about her buying a house at Richmond without consulting me first—I had given her £500 to buy the house in which she was residing at West Kensington, but instead of doing that she agreed to purchase a house at Rich-mond

for £2,000; and, having entered into the arrangement, she asked me to come and look at the house—she paid £500 deposit—then she informed me she had entered into an engagement to be married—I don't recollect her saying to me that she was anxious that instead of having an annuity of £400 a year, which might have to be explained to her future husband, a sum should be paid instead—she did not say that to me at that time—what she said was that the £400 was to be paid to her during my life, and she pointed out on more than one occasion what would happen to her in the event of my death, when the £400 would cease, and I said I thought her husband would by that time be able to provide for her—the child lived with her—on the 8th October there was a considerable amount of excitement—I never lost my presence of mind, as is evidenced by the fact that I shielded my head when the pistol was pointed at it—I think the sequence of events was mainly as I have stated; I won't pledge myself to every detail—I am sure the revolver was produced at the early stage of the interview I speak about—I think when I hesitated to sign the blank pieces of paper she said, "Unless you sign them I will shoot you and myself, and make the whole affair public," but it was not the only time she had used such words—I don't recollect her saying anything then about writing a history of her relations with me—I am sure she did not say anything on that occasion about leaving the history of her relations with me behind her, to be published in the Pall Mall Gazette, like Mrs. Langworthy—she may have done so on another occasion; I don't know when that was—she was in a badly-excited state, undoubtedly, during the whole of the interview—at all times she was undoubtedly hysterical—I tore off the part of the paper relating to violence; I most distinctly deny violence was used to her—I left the paper on the table; I did not take any of the pieces away—I tore the piece off, and I did not sign it; it was valueless—I have not got it; my solicitor has not got it, to my knowledge—there was no struggle to get possession of the paper I did sign, the struggle was to get possession of the pistol—I did not try to get the paper back after I had signed it—I moved from the top of the table to the bottom, and then to the side, she having got to the top—that was the paper about £20,000—I left it on the able, some distance in front of me, when I had signed it, I being at one end of the table and she at the other—I was seated the whole of the time—I think she took it up—she held it in her hand, as well as the pistol—I cannot say if it was in the same hand—I did not care about that paper till she asked me to sign the cheques, and then I began to think—I cannot say now what became of the paper—I did not try to get the paper from her; I tried to get the pistol from her; my great desire was to get out of the house, that was all I cared about—I chased her round the table; I made the complete circuit of the table; she retreated as I advanced; that was not to get the paper out of her hand; I assure you my intention was to get the pistol, that I might get out of the house—I pushed the table in the struggle—I went as rapidly as I could towards her; I, of course, lost no time in reaching her side, if you like you may call it rushing; when I reached her side there was a struggle—it was not in the struggle that the pistol went off, it had gone off before I reached her side; I was close to her, which, of course, accounts for the bullet travelling as it has done—I cannot swear that the pistol did not go off accidentally; I did not know, of course, what was

passing through the prisoner's mind when it was discharged—I say now, as I said at the Police-court, I cannot swear that it did not go off accidentally—I never lost my presence of mind completely; I was to some degree excited, as would be Natural under the circumstances—I was not anxious that the document I signed should not be in her possession; I have explained with reference to that my mind was pretty easy; I felt that, extorted from me as it was, under the circumstances, it was not much to be feared—I don't recollect telling her that I was anxious that such a document should not be in her possession; I may have done, I don't recollect it; I don't think it occurred; if it is in the depositions, I suppose I did—I may have told her so—it was not a desirable document to leave behind me, I must say that—I did not wish to take it—I said at the Police-court that she said if I did not sign the paper she would shoot herself, and make the whole thing public—she also threatened to shoot me; that was the time when she produced the blank pieces of paper; it was in the same conversation—she frequently said she would shoot me; she is very hysterical.

Re-examined. I brought nothing away with me except the wound in my arm—the paper I signed was left in the room; I did not touch the piece that was torn off—I did not produce the paper at the Police-court; it was produced by the prisoner's solicitor, and I was asked if that was the paper—when I went to the house I did not know that she had got a revolver—I left the torn piece of paper on the table; I never touched it; I did not bring it away—there was no struggle between us before I was shot, the struggle was when I reached her side—the first time intercourse took place between us I used no violence; it happened at an hotel at the west end of the town, a restaurant—we had not gone to dine there, it was in the afternoon.

OWEN COLE COKER . I am a Licentiate of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons—in April, 1887, I was called in to attend the prisoner at her confinement, in Percy Road, Shepherd's Bush—I saw both her and Mr. Isaacs for the first time some weeks after the confinement—in August, 1888, I became the prisoner's trustee, at her request; it was for £2,000, when £1,000 was given to her in money; that was done through me—I saw her afterwards from time to time—on 16th October last year I went to 110, Church Road, Richmond, where she was then living, in consequence of a letter she had sent me—I went into the dining-room—she made a statement to me as to what had happened between herself and Mr. Isaacs; she said she had sent for Major Isaacs to come down, and that he came there, and that she presented a paper to him for £20,000—she said she locked the door before that, and that after he had signed the paper he attempted to take it away from her; and that he followed her round the table, and then pushed the table against the sideboard to prevent her escaping; and then she said, "I shot him"—those were the very words she used—I said, "I am very sorry for you, that is the worst act of your life"—I asked her where the servants were, and she said, "Out"—I said, "Where was the woman in charge?"—she said, "Out; there was no one in the house but me"—I think that was all that was said—I asked her where the revolver was purchased—she said, "I purchased it at Beading"—I think I said, "Well, supposing you had killed him, what would you have done?" and I think she replied, "I think I

should have shot myself, "or something to that effect—the next time I saw her was at Ramsgate, when I was telegraphed for—I saw her at the solicitors' office, about four weeks since, on 10th February—I had previously seen her with reference to signing a deed, and discussed the matter with her—I had consented to be a trustee again for £6,000—at the solicitors' office she said she would not accept less than £15,000, and not a penny of it should be in trust; that he should hand it to her in cash—the solicitor said that he was authorised to offer her £8,500; £6,000 in trust, and £2,500 to be handed over in cash—that was her own proposition to me by a letter—she then wrote to me that she would not accept it—she said, if Mr. Isaacs would not give her the £15,000 he should die; she did not say in what way; she said she would murder the child before our eyes, and she also said she would shoot everyone connected with the business—she then left; she positively refused to sign the deed, or accept the sum offered—one day before that, in December, when in Hertford Road, she became very excited when I advised her to accept what was offered—she said she did not care, she would meet him in the street and deliberately run a knife into him—at the solicitors' office Miss Emslie was with her; she had been one of the trustees.

Cross-examined. I first knew the prisoner about a year before her confinement—I attended her afterwards in the country, I believe at Ramsgate—I have not been paid for my attendance; I have sent in a claim to Major Isaacs—I was present at the Police-court, but was not called—I was not in communication with Messers. Wontner from October until this prosecution was instituted, nor during any portion of it—the only communication I had from Messers. Wontner was in January, when the deed was sent, that was after she agreed to accept £8,500; then they wrote, sending the deed, and a letter afterwards, stating that I was to meet Miss Vincent at their office—that was the only communication I had with Messers. "Wontner—I was not in communication with them before I went to the Police-court—I was as to what had occurred in their office—I merely saw the statement that was written after my meeting her at the office—I was called to the Police-court on the morning that she was charged—I was not requested by Messers. Wontner to be there, I don't know by whom I was requested—I have the police telegram here; I don't know who called me—it was not issued by Messers. Wontner; it was sent to my house at nine in the morning—I don't know that Messers. Wontner were responsible for my going there—I don't know whether the prisoner requested me to go—the telegram is dated 12th February, 1890—she was then in custody; she was apprehended the previous evening—I did not know that she was going to be apprehended—the telegram was addressed to me; it was sent from Richmond to Starch Green Police-station, and brought from there to my house at Shepherd's Bush. (Telegram read: "Please inform Dr. Coker Elizabeth Vincent is in custody at Police-station, and will be taken before the Magistrate at ten a.m. to-day; will he come at once? Reply")—I had no communication whatever with Messers. Wontner before that, that I recollect—on the 11th I received a press copy of a note that one of their clerks had made of the interview—I went to Richmond, as I was requested by the telegram—I attended at the Police-court both days, but was not called—I had communicated what the prisoner had said to me about the interview with Major Isaacs —I never thought I should have been brought

here to give evidence against the prisoner—I told him each interview I had with her from time to time, and her threats—I do not recollect her saving when I went to attend her immediately after this occurrence that she had had a fearful accident since I was there—she may have said such a thing; I don't recollect it—she did not say she had a bad head; she sent for me to come over, to tell me what had occurred—I authenticated the statement sent to me, about ten days since—that was the first time I had any idea that I was going to be a witness—I thought I should be called, and I was not called the second time; I went there without any notice; I did not know whether I should be called or not; as a trustee I thought it better to attend—I did not see the prisoner's solicitor since I received the press copy from Messers. Wontner—oh, yes, I did, on the following day—I never told him anything more than I have told here—I think I told him that—I told him what she had told me—I think I told him that she said she had shot Major Isaacs; I don't recollect quite now, but I think so—I spoke to him at one time about what had occurred at Messers. Wontner's office—I don't recollect whether I told him the story about the knife; I don't think so; I don't know.

By the COURT. Really I don't recollect what I did tell—I know I did tell Mr. Dutton what she had told me at Richmond, what she described as having taken place at Richmond—I don't recollect telling Mr. Dutton that she said she would run a knife into Major Isaacs—I did not tell him about her killing the baby; I think Mr. Dutton knew exactly what had taken place; I mink he knew it before—my impression is that I did tell him on a previous occasion—I have seen Mr. Dutton three times, I think—I did not see him for the first time the day after I had given my statement to Messers. Wontner; I correct that, that was not the first time I saw him; I saw him shortly after the prisoner was apprehended, when he wrote to me, then I told him what had occurred at Messers. Wontner's—I think I told him then what had occurred at Messers. Wontner's—I have seen Mr. Dutton three times—I told him, I think, about the press copy the first time I went to his office—I think I made the statement I have made to-day to Mr. Dutton the second time I went, and the first time I showed him the press copy and spoke of her conduct at Messrs, Wontner's—the first time I called I told him what I had known of the case for some years—I don't recollect whether I told him about the conversation I had had with the prisoner in October the first, second, or third time I went—I could not swear I have ever told him about it—I have had a great deal of trouble in the matter since October—I have not been to Messers. Wontner's office more than twice; I have seen Mr. Isaacs at least once or twice a week—I have not expected any pay for seeing him; I have for going to Ramsgate—I am quite indifferent about recompense; I have nothing down in my visiting book—I have no reason to expect payment, but I hope, certainly.

Re-examined. At the interview with the prisoner at Messers. Wontner's, Miss Elmslie and Mr. Inman were there; the following day a press copy of what purported to be notes of what had occurred was sent to me—I saw it was correct—after my statement as a witness that was taken—my full statement as a witness was taken on last Friday week.

CHARLES WILLIAM INMAN . I am a member of the firm of Wontner and Sons, solicitors, of Ludgate Hill—I have acted for Mr. Isaacs from time to time since about April, 1888—I prepared the deed referred

to, with a view to her signing it—originally it was a deed for £4,000, then it was increased to £6,000, and there were blanks for securities to be mentioned—on Monday, 10th February, about half-past four p.m., the prisoner came to our office with Miss Elmslie—Dr. Coker was present—she refused to sign the deed—I had read through the clause she objected to—immediately after she left my room with Miss Elmslie I put in writing what I considered to be the substance of what passed—this is the actual paper I then drew up; my signature is on it:—"10th February, 1890. Mrs. Vincent called between 4.30 and 5 with a friend (female). I informed her that I was instructed by Major Isaacs to settle the claim, but that he insisted on £6,000 being invested in the terms of the deed which I had before me, and that I should be in a position to hand her a cheque for £2,500 to-morrow morning. She at once said she would do nothing of the sort; that she required £15,000, and would have the money in her own hands. I pointed out that Major Isaacs was acting in the most liberal manner, and in requiring her to settle £6,000 he was studying her interests. She got up, and said she would not sign the deed, and that Major Isaacs should die, and that she would murder the child, and shoot all that were connected with the business. I asked her if she meant me, and she said, 'Yes; I may as well die for a sheep as a lamb.' I tried to reason with her, but she refused to listen; and on my pointing out that she was greatly mistaken as to Major Isaacs' means, she said she did not care, she would have his last penny. Dr. Coker, who was present, called her attention to a letter she had written, to which she replied that she would have accepted the money a month ago, but she would not have any money in trust. I again tried to reason with her by explaining to her the clauses she had objected to in her letter of Saturday, but she said, 'There is no use our prolonging the interview; he shall die, and so shall I! I will murder the child before your eyes! I will murder the lot of you, and will leave a paper to expose the whole!' Upon this she called her friend and left. (Signed) C. W. INMAN. "—she was very calm and very determined at that interview—I wrote to Major Isaacs the same evening, and the following day I applied for a warrant—the clause in the deed was that she should not molest Major Isaacs or any member of his family.

Cross-examined. I tried to reason with her, not to calm her; I am certain—I begged her to be calm, and listen to reason; she was not hysterical; she was walking up and down the room—you did not ask me if she was hysterical; I said it in favour of the prisoner—I don't think I twice asked her during the interview to be calm—I asked her to sit down and listen to me—I did twice ask her to be calm; I had forgotten it for a moment, till I refreshed my memory with this paper—she was not hysterical—it is going too far to say she acted like a reasonable being—she was not excited; she was walking up and down my room; she would not sit down and listen to what I had to say—she was not in a state of great excitement.

CHARLES VINEY (Detective Sergeant V). I had a warrant, and went on February 11th to 84, Seymour Road, where I found the accused—I told her I was a police officer, and held a warrant for her arrest for attempting to murder a gentleman named Isaacs at Richmond, on 8th October, 1889—she said, "Oh, have you?"—I read the warrant to her—she said,

"That sounds very serious, but it was an accident. Mr. Isaacs came to my house, we had a few words, and he struggled with me to obtain possession of a paper which I had; the pistol Vent off accidentally"—I took her by rail to Richmond—on the way she said, "I wish I had taken the money they offered me yesterday. His solicitor was at my house offering me £8,500, but I was to be bound not to molest him, and also bound that no other persons were to molest him, which I could not be answerable for, and declined the offer"—she desired a telegram to be sent to her "trustee, Dr. Coker, next morning.

Cross-examined. I said at the Police-court, "She mentioned something about seeding a telegram, so that the case might be withdrawn;" that was the purport of the telegram, so that Mr. Coker and Major Isaacs might meet to see if he could not be got to withdraw from the case—there is no reply to this telegram that I am aware of.

WILLIAM MATHIAS NEWTH . I am a surgeon in Kensington Park Road—on 8th October, at six or seven p.m., Mr. Isaacs called on me, and I examined him—I found his arm very painful, and very much swollen—I saw indications of the entrance of a bullet—I saw the severity of the wound, and said I should like to have further advice, and I took him home, and then fetched Sir William McCormac—Mr. Isaacs was treated for some time, and ultimately it was decided not to extract the bullet—the bullet is there now, lodged in the upper third of the arm; it is plainly to be felt.

MR. ISAACS (Re-examined by MR. MURPHY). I am aware that at the time of this shooting paragraphs were inserted in the papers that I had met with an accident by failing from a scaffold, and was attended by Sir William McCormac and that in a short time I should be all right again, and able to attend to my parliamentary duties—they were not by my sanction—I did not contradict them in any way.


There was another indictment against the Prisoner for unlawfully wounding Mr. Isaacs. No evidence was offered by MR. POLAND.


Before Mr. Recorder.

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