Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 24 January 2021), April 1745, trial of John Sutton (t17450424-43).

John Sutton, Sexual Offences > rape, 24th April 1745.

241. + John Sutton [a black] of St. James Clerkenwell , was indicted for that he, on the 2d day of March upon Mary Swain spinster, did make an assault, and her the said Mary, wickedly, unlawfully, and feloniously did ravish, and carnally know and abuse, against the form of the statute .

Mary Swain . [A mulatto] first and foremost Mary Sutton [the reputed wife of the prisoner] came to our house, and asked for my mother; I told her my father and mother were in bed - This is about seven or eight weeks ago. Then she desired me to come and sit with her till her husband came home; I said I could not, for my father and mother would be angry; but I did go and sit with her, and in about three quarters of an hour John [the prisoner] came home, and they gave me some goose.

Q. Where does Sutton live?

Swain. He lives in our alley - Rose alley by Turnmill street ; then she asked him whether he would not give his countrywoman something to drink; they had a pint of drink (about 10 or 11 at night) and made me drink the best part of their beer; they desired me to stay a little longer and a little longer, and at last they shut the door and took the key out, and would not let me go home, and said, I should lie there all night; I said it would not be proper for me to lie with a man and a woman; says she, you have no occasion to be afraid, as I shall be in the room with you. I said, I did not chuse it, as I had a house of my own to go to: she said, I should lie behind her back. She kept me till between four and five in the morning, and I grew drowzy; then she bid me go to bed; the prisoner was in bed a good while before I went to bed: she took my gown and one of my petticoats off, and put me to bed with two petticoats and my stockings on; and I went under the blanket that the prisoner lay upon; as soon as I got under the blanket, he began to grow impudent.

Q. What did he do to you?

Swain. He pulled up my two petticoats - I am ashamed to speak what he did to me; but I would not take a false oath for the world; I would not go to take his life away for a wrong thing .

Q. Was the prisoner's wife in the room all the time?

Swain. Yes, and she bid him be rude with me. I am not willing to take his life away.

Q. What was it he did to you?

Swain. He put his impudence into me. [The girl with a great deal of seeming unwillingness and reluctance expressed herself in such terms, as were sufficient to prove the fact.]

Q. Upon your oath was that done with your will or against your will?

Swain. It was done against my will. He struggled with me, and was too many for me. I cried out murder, and he said if I cried out, he would do me a mischief, and his wife bid him be rude with me; and I begged and prayed of her to help me, and she would not do it. And afterwards she said, you b - h, I'll tear your handkerchief off your neck, because you have lain with my husband, and then she beat me.

Thomas Swain . [the girl's father] My Lord, I am very willing the prisoner should be discharged; she was a long time before she would tell me the circumstances of the thing.

Q. You said you cried out murder, what persons were in the house besides them?

Swain . I don't know the people that live in the house; there is one Hitchcock has the room above the prisoner, and another person the room above him.

Q. Was you let out at last?

Swain . Yes, and as soon as Betty Forbes cried out, they opened the door, and turned me out.

Q. What time was this?

Swain. This was about 5 o'clock in the morning, my father looked out of the window, and cried Polly, and I said, they wanted to kill me, they would not let me come out, and when I came out my father beat me, because I went into the house.

Q. Did you acquaint your friends with it?

Swain. I was going to tell my father of it, and he would not hear me, and he said, I deserved as much more for going into the house; for they had a warrant for my father before. I went to sleep at 5 o'clock, and slept till between 12 and one; and before that time Sutton had told all the people what he had done to me.

Q. Did you discover it before Sutton did?

Swain . No, I did not, for I did not tell it before my father came home.

Q. When was this done?

Mary Swain . It was done on the Saturday morning - I took him up the next Monday or Tuesday following.

Thomas Swain . On the 1st of March, between 9 and 10 in the evening, my wife and I went to bed; I slept till about four o'clock, and was sadly surprised with the cry of murder. I listened to the crying, and thought it was the voice of my own girl. I listened again, and presently I heard murder cried out again. I felt in the bed, and missed my girl, (for I have but one bed, and she sometimes lies at the head, and sometimes at the feet.) I listened, and there was murder cried again, and my wife said, for God's sake, get up, it is Polly. I went to the window, and there was murder cried again; and Betty Forbes called out, and said, You black dog, what are you doing with the girl, turn her out of doors, or I'll make you, for upon the cry of murder we can break open the door. And I said to Betty Forbes , I believe it is my girl; and then the prisoner's wife opened the door and let her out; and as there had been a quarrel between them before, I began to beat the girl, because I had bid her not to go there. She began to open her complaints, but I did not care to hear her, but beat her the more. She was very sleepy, and I believe about 5 o'clock she went to sleep, and I went out about 6 to get a place of work, and desired my wife to go to Black John and Mary, to know why they used the girl so, and kept her out. When I came back, I was surprised with the account of this story. Said I to my wife, this rogue, Black Jack, has debauched Polly. (I did not believe he was such a villain , and though he has told me so frequently in publick, I did not believe it.) Said I, you villain , how could you use my girl in this manner? he said, she came to bed to me; I said, how, and in what manner? he said, she undressed herself , and came to bed to me. I said, if she came to bed to you, did she ask you to use her in this manner ? he said, she did not; but he argued a point of law with me. and said, if any body was to come into my bed, and I was to lie with them, the law could not hurt me; but afterwards he said, he would make it up at any rate. No, I said, I will not put this up for a pot of beer, or any such thing. Then he said he would marry the girl; said I, how can you marry her when you have two or three wives already? (for he is not married to this Mary) I would rather chuse she should be a whore all her life time, than be a wife to such a rogue as you, for then she will get something. Then he told me the reason why his wife beat the girl; that it was because she caught her in bed with her husband; but when he came before Justice Poulson, he said he was drunk, and did not know any thing of the matter.

Elizabeth Vaughan . I know Black John very well, I have lived by him two years, and never heard or saw any ill of him in my life.

Q. Did not you hear murder cried out?

Vaughan. I can't tell. I heard her cry out, and I heard her say in the room, don't tell my mother, pray Mary; and as she was coming out, Moll said, go you b - h, what have you been - with my husband for?

Q. Did you hear at that time that she had a rape committed upon her?

Vaughan. No, she said she had got a handkerchief from her.

Thomas Swain . Ask her whether she did not hear the prisoner's wife say in a braggadochio, I bid Jacky - her; and Lambert declared she heard the girl cry out murder.

Lambert. I was in bed, I never heard her cry out murder.

Elizabeth Dandrews . I was sent for to search Mary Swain , to know whether she had been wronged, and her mother flew upon me, and would not let me. She sent for me afterwards, and I found she had been lain with; but there were no marks of violence, for I handled her pretty roughly, and she did not cry out. The father of the girl was angry with me, because I would not come into his judgment.

Thomas Swain . When this woman searched her, it was three or four days after the thing was done.

Eleanor Nash . I know the prisoner to be a very honest man ; I have lived by him two years . I heard her say, she had more right to the prisoner than his wife, and she would have to do with him when she pleased.

Q. When was this said?

Nash. This was the 2d day of March, between one and two on Saturday morning. Acquitted .