Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 17 October 2021), December 1721, trial of Arthur Gray (t17211206-10).

Arthur Gray, Theft > burglary, Sexual Offences > assault with intent, 6th December 1721.

Arthur Gray , of St James Westminster , was indicted for Burglary, in breaking and entring the House of George Baillie Esq in Great Marlborough-street , in the Night time , with an intent to Ravish and Carnally know Grizel the Wife of Alexander Murray against her will , the 14th of October last.

Mrs. Murray deposed that on the 14th of October about 4 in the Morning the Prisoner enter'd her Room, in the House of George Baillie Esq; with a Pistol in one Hand, and a naked Sword in the other, telling her that there being such a vast disparity in their Fortunes, he had no hopes of succeeding any other way, and therefore was fully resolv'd to ravish or kill her, that she us'd what entreaties she could to dissuade him from his design, but he still persisting, laid the Sword on the Bolster, and endeavour'd to pull down the Bed Cloaths; that she beg'd him to delay till she had spoke to him further, asking him it nothing would prevail with him to desist, that he answer'd he had already ventur'd his Life for her sake, and therefore was resolv'd to pursue his design, be the consequence what it would, adding that all the Family was a sleep and if she made a noise he'd shoot her with the Pistol. That he then offering again to take off the Bed-Cloaths, she pusht him against the Wall, wrench'd the Pistol out of his Hand, and with her other Hand rung the Bell, upon which he ran out and she followed him to the Door and cry'd Murder, which rais'd the Family: that he was in her Chamber 3 quarters of an Hour.

Elizabeth Trimnel deposed that she waited on Mrs. Murray to Bed about one a Clock and shut the Door after her, that coming by the Door again about 3 she found it open again, that she then shut it again and left it shut and believ'd it was fast. Then the Prisoner put several Questions to this Evidence about the Lock, to which she made in effect the following answers. That it was a brass spring Lock that open'd and shut without a Key, that the Lock was faulty, difficult to make fast, and apt to slip back and open of it self, which she believed might be the reason she found Mrs. Murrays Door open the second time she came to it.

James Park deposed that hearing a noise near 5 a Clock he stept out of Bed, and ran down Stairs in his Shirt, thinking there had been Thieves in the House, but finding nobody below went up again, where he met the Lady Baillie and Mrs. Murray at the Stairs head, when he heard Mrs. Murray say, The Rogue is just gone out of the Rooms down Stairs. That the Lady Baillie told him that Arthur had attempted to ravish her Daughter Mrs. Murray. That afterward going in search for the Prisoner, he met Mr. Hays who shew'd him a Key and askt if he knew it, this Evidence answered yes, then Hays said if he'd follow him he'd bring him to the owner of the Key, that Hays carried him to a Room in his House, where be law the Prisoner lying on a Bed without his Hat and Shoes. where Thomas Hughs afterwards came to him; that he this Evidence askt the Prisoner, if he went into Mrs. Murray with a Sword and Pistol with an intent to lye with her? The Prisoner said yes. The Evidence then askt what possest him to do it? The Prisoner answer'd he believed the Devil possest him. The Deponent askt him if he was Drank, he answer'd he could not say he was.

Thomas Hughs deposed, that being in Bed he arose at the Noise at the time aforesaid, and took a Blunderbuss in his hand, thinking Thieves had been in the House, but found none. That afterwards hearing the cause of that disturbance he went in search of the Prisoner, and at last between 8 and 9 that morning found him on Hays's Bed with neither Shoes nor Hat. That he heard the Prisoner own he went into Mrs. Murrays Room in the manner aforesaid and that he was sorry for it; but this Evidence did not remember that he heard the Prisoner say he went in with intent to Ravish Mrs. Murray, or that he heard Parks ask Gray on what account he went in. The Prisoners Confession before Mr. Justice Blany was read, in which he own'd that He open'd and entered the Chamber of Mrs. Murray with a design to ravish her, and that he brought the Sword and Pistol, to put her in fear and oblige her to comply. Several of the Prisoners Letters were produced in Court, one of which (directed to the Honourable and most Christian Lady Bennyng .) was openly read where he says. I must acknowledge my fault, and pray forgiveness of God, and the Lady of the Family whom I have offended.

The Prisoner in his Defence said, that having been out making merry with some of his fellow Servants , he came home very much disorder'd with Liquor, and going up Stairs to Bed without his Shoes as he usually did.) he thought he heard somebody in Mrs. Murray's Room, upon which he went down again, brought up a Sword and Pistol and went into Mrs. Murray's Chamber, that he laid down the Sword to look behind the Bed, at which time Mrs. Murray rung the Bell and alarmed the Family.

John Vandercome deposed, that the Prisoner and 7 or 8 more, were in Company together at his House the Night preceeding the 14th of October, that they drank 4 pints and half of Brandy, and 4 quarts of Beer, that he went home between 3 and 4 in the Morning, not quite Drunk but very mellow. Jane Ruffield deposed, that the Cook was drunk over Night, but that the did not observe any of the others. That in the half Year she lived with the Lady Baillie, she never knew Mrs. Murray's door to be lockt fast at Night, for that she us'd to go into Mrs. Murray's Chamber every morning to light a Fire. That it was a Brass Spring Lock very faulty, and that it never us'd to be lock'd with a Key. All the Evidences gave him the general Character, of a Youth of civil and modest behaviour. The Jury (after about an hours Consultation,) found him Guilty of the Indictment. Death .