Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 16 January 2019), February 1732, trial of John Tapper (t17320223-15).

John Tapper, Killing > murder, 23rd February 1732.

18. John Tapper of Aldgate , was indicted for the Murder of Joseph Cannon , by giving him with a Knife one Mortal Wound in the Body near the Right-pap, of the Breadth of half an Inch, and Depth of three Inches, the 11th of January last, of which he languished till the 22d of the same Month, and then died .

He was a second time indicted on the Coroner's Inquisition for the said Murder.

Joseph Rohan . You must know that Tapper the Prisoner, and Cannon the Deceas'd, both lodged at Cannon's Mother in-Law's, and she keeps a Chandler's-shop in Gravel-Lane in Hounsditch ; and so I happen'd to go thither about Noon, the 11th of January last, to buy some Chandler's Ware, as usual.

Council. What Company did you see there?

Rohan. There was Cannon and his Wife, and her Mother; and Tapper and my Wife Jonny ; and - let me see - Smith and Cotterl, and Wilcox. Now Wilcox and the Deceas'd were playing at Cards together, and Wilcox won all his Money. Then the Deceas'd pull'd off his Waistcoat to send it to pawn for 2 s. but his Wife said to him, You had better buy me a Smock to my Back; at which he fell into a Passion, and got up to beat her. She ran out, and he after her, but she got into some Neighbour's House, and so he came back again. By and by some-body came in, and told him, his Wife was miscarried; What, says the Prisoner to the Deceas'd, was your Wife with Child? Yes, says the Deceas'd, and that's more than yours will ever be. How do ye know that? says the Prisoner. Because, Mr. Tapper, says the Deceas'd, I have tapp'd her many a time. Have ye so? says Tapper, Why then, G - d d - n ye, I'll tap you. My Back was towards them when I heard this Discourse, but as soon as I turned about the Deceased opened his Waistcoat, and shew'd me a Wound under his right Breast; and he said to the Prisoner, Lo you think you shan't pay for this?

Council. You had all been drinking, had ye not? Rohan. Yes. Coun. And were you not all got Drunk? Rohan. No. Coun. Was not you Drunk? Rohan. No, I tell ye; why, sure I am not to be persuaded that I was Drunk. Coun. Have you ever seen the Prisoner and the Deceased a drinking together before this Accident? Rohan. Yes; but they were always a quarrelling. Coun. How far was you off when the Deceas'd receiv'd the Wound? Rohan. About three Yards; but I did not see it given. Coun. Was not the Deceas'd a paring his Nails just before this happen'd? Rohan. I don't know. Coun. Did you hear no mention of a Whetstone? Rohan. Not as I remember. Coun. How long did the Deceas'd live after the Accident? Rohan. Eleven Days, from the 11th of last Month to the 22d, and the Coroner sat on him on the 25th of the same. The Deceas'd told me (when he was under the Surgeon's Care) that if the Prisoner would be so good as to pay the Surgeon, he'd forgive him. I afterwards met the Prisoner accidentally in Bishopsgate-street, and asked him, how he could be so barbarous as to stab the Deceas'd? and he answer'd, I am only sorry that I did not give him a prick on the other side.

Ann Hoskins . I am a Servant to Mr. Creed, at the Bell and Magpye Alehouse in Bishopsgate-street, the Prisoner used to drink at our House; he came in, and I said to him, How could you stab Mr. Cannon? G - d d - n his Blood, says the Prisoner, I am only sorry that I did not cut his Throat.

Joseph Ackers . I was at Mr. Creed's on the 18th of the last Month, and the People were telling the Prisoner that he had half a Guinea to pay the Surgeon; and the Prisoner answer'd, Damn him, I'll go and pay the Surgeon the half Guinea, and then I'll stab him [Cannon] on the other side.

Richard Austin . The same Day that the Jobb was done, the Deceas'd would have made the Matter up for a Guinea to pay the Surgeon, but the Prisoner refus'd, and said, if any Body would give him a Quartern of Gin he would stick him on the other side, and send him out of the World.

Mary Richards . When the Prisoner was at Mr. Creed's, I ask'd him why he stabb'd the Deceas'd; and he said, Damn him, I'll give him a prick on the other side, and that will set him upright.

Margaret Roberts . A little before the Deceas'd dy'd, he took me by the Hand, and said, Tapper is the Man that has murder'd me, and I expect that you will see him brought to Justice, that he may suffer himself as he has made me suffer.

Henry Batchelor , Surgeon. On the 11th of January, about Three in the Afternoon, the Prisoner came to me, and said, he was stabb'd. I found a Puncture about an Inch and a half below the Right-pap, it run something upwards, and was about half an Inch long, and three Quarters deep. Next Day he seem'd tolerably easy, as if the Wound had been in a muscular Part of the Body. The third Day the Wound look'd well, but the next Morning he was out of Order. I would have blooded him, but he refus'd. I told him then I would do no more, and advis'd him to send for an Apothecary; he was very aint, but the Wound all along digested well openly. He died on the 22d, and on the 24th, I (with another Surgeon ) opened his right Side, and 2 or 3 Quarts of Blood and Matter was taken out of the Thorax. He had spit no Blood, and I found the Lungs no way touched, but they could not possibly perform their Office with such a Quantity of Blood in the Thorax which was penetrated, tho' we could not perceive it before the Body was open'd. He had a Fever, and the Blood lying on the Maphragma, might cause his Urine to be something bloody. He was suddled when he came to me first.

Margaret Roberts , the Nurse. He could not lie in his Bed, but was forced to sit bolt up right, for if he lay down, he turn'd black in the Face, and was almost strangled. I took seven Pints of Blood out of him after he was open'd.

The Prisoner's Defence.

John Cotterell . On the 11th of January, I was in Company with the Deceas'd, and several others, at his Mother-in-Law's House, in Gravel-Lane. He went up and call'd the Prisoner out of Bed to drink and play at Cards. The Deceas'd play'd with Wilcox, and lost all his Money; then he fetch'd down a Looking-Glass, and made Money of it, and lost that too; then he would have pawn'd his Waistcoat, but his Wife would not let him. He got up in a Passion, she ran away, and he after her; but she got shelter in a Neighbour's House, and so he came in again. News was brought that she had miscarry'd; but afterwards we heard that it was not so bad with her.

Coun. Did you hear any Joaks pass about Tapping the Prisoner's Wife?

Cotterell. No; the Prisoner was standing at the Table cutting his Nails with a Pen-knife, and he ask'd the Deceas'd (who stood with his Back to the Fire) if he had never a Whetstone? No, says he, but there's a Trowel lies in the Window, whet your Knife on that. The Prisoner took the Trowel, and whetted his Knife for some time; Uamn the Monkey, says the Deceas'd, what a Noise he makes with whetting his Knife, there's no bearing what any Body say. And with that he gave the Prisoner a Push, and turn'd him round, so that the Prisoner fell with his Back against the Table, and he fell over the Prisoner. The Deceas'd got up again, and said, he had prick'd himself, and says the Prisoner, I am sorry for it, but it was your own fault, why did you push me when I had a Knife in my Hand. They were both drunk. About 3 or 4 Days after this, I was talking with the Deceas'd, about this Accident, and he said, It was all owing to his Wife, and the old Bitch her Mother.

Coun. Where was Joseph Rohan when the Deceas'd was hurt?

Cotterell. He was talking with Wilcox at the farther End of the Room.

Tho Smith . Cotterell and I call'd upon the Deceas'd, he was just come down Stairs, we were not for staying, but he would run up and call the Prisoner. We drank together, and then went to Cards. The Deceas'd won the Prisoner's last Half-penny, and then play'd with Wilcox. They play'd for a Farthing a Game, till the Deceas'd had lost all his Money. Then he fetch'd down a Looking-Glass, and sold it for 15 d. and lost all that Money too. And when that was gone, he stripp'd off his Dimitty-Waistcoat, and bid his Wife go and pawn it for 2 s. You Rogue, says she, you had more need fetch my Smock out of pawn. And you Bitch, says he, I'll beat your Brains out. She ran into the Lane and made an Out-cry, and he follow'd her, but she got into a House, and he came back again. The Prisoner went to the Table to pare his Nails, and ask'd for a Whetstone. The Deceas'd told him there was a Trowel in the Window, and he might whet his Knife upon that, which the Prisoner did, but while he was whetting, the Deceas'd said, Damn the Fellow, what a Noise he makes with his Knife; and then gave him a shove by the Shoulder that turn'd him round, so as he fell backwards against the Table, and had been quite all along on the Ground if the Table had not been in the way, and then the Deceas'd fell over him, for they were both fuddled and stagger'd. When the Deceas'd got up, he shew'd me the Wound; Bless me, says I, how came that? I don't know, says he, but it's all along of that Bastard Tapper's Nonsense.

Coun. Did you hear the Deceas'd say any Thing about Tapping, Mr. Tapper's Wife.

Smith. No, not a Word; if any such thing had been spoke, I must have heard it.

Edward Wilcox . The Deceas'd won the Prisoner's Money, I won it again from the Deceas'd, who then bid his Wife pawn his Waistcoat. She said he should not play there to pawn his Cloaths, and so she snatch'd up the Cards and ran out, he follow'd her, but came back again, and said, she was got in a Neighbour's House. Word was brought that she was in a Fit, and that a Midwife was sent for. Her Mother went to her, and in a little time return'd and said, Thank God she's recover'd, for a Surgeon has been there and blooded her. The Prisoner was standing and paring his Nails at a Table by the Window, and ask'd for a Whetstone. The Deceas'd who stood with his Back to the Fire, and not far from him, bid him take the Trowel that lay in the Window by him, he took it, and whetted his Knife. The Deceas'd did not like the Noise, and so push'd him down, and fell over him; but there was then no quarrel between them. The Deceas'd got up, and said, Jack, you have hurt me, do you think you shall not pay for this? And then he went out, and said, he would get a Warrant. I went to see him afterwards, and ask'd, how he did? He said the Wound was pretty well; but he had got out in a thin Coat without a Wastcoat, and had got Cold. A little before his Death, he blam'd his Wife for putting him in a Passion, and said he never intended to take the Prisoner up. When the Surgeon first prob'd him, he said it was but a frivolous Wound.

Thomas Williamson . I saw the Deceas'd in the Little-Old-Bailey, on the first Day of last Sessions [January 14.] and ask'd him about the Accident. He told me, if it had not been for the Bitch his Wife, it had never happen'd, for he had never minded the Prisoner whetting his Knife, if she had not put him in a Passion, and that thereupon he push'd the Prisoner against the Table. Afterwards I saw him and the Prisoner drinking together very friendly, and he being poor, desir'd the Prisoner to give him half a Guinea to pay the Surgeon.

Henry Allen . I ask'd the Deceas'd how the Wound happen'd, and says he, I don't know very well; I got it when I push'd him against the Table; but Damn it, I don't mind it, I'll drink it off. When he spoke this the Prisoner was with him, and they shook Hands, and seem'd very good Friends. I have been acquainted with the Prisoner 7 Years, he was always a quiet Man, and not given to quarrel.

Several others appear'd to the Prisoner's Character, and swore that they had known him many Years, that they had been drinking in his Company many hundred Times; that he had often taken even blows patiently, without returning the ill Usage. The Jury acquitted him, and found that Cannon's Death was accidental .