Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 02 June 2023), September 1771, trial of Susannah Brackstone Mary Cole (t17710911-68).

Susannah Brackstone, Mary Cole, Killing > murder, 11th September 1771.

616, 617. (M.) Susannah Brackstone and Mary Cole , spinsters , were indicted, the first for the wilful murder of John Basset , by giving him with an iron poker, a mortal wound on the side of his head, of the length of three inches, and the depth of half an inch, of which he died; and the other for being present, aiding, abetting, comforting, and maintaining her the said felony and murder to do and commit . Aug. 5th . +

They likewise stood charged on the coroner's inquisition with the said murder.

Timothy Melone . The day the murder was committed, the deceased and I came on shore pretty drunk, I cannot justly tell the day of the month; I believe it was in August; we had been on board the Duke of Kingston; the deceased, I understood, lodged in the house where the fact was committed; he told me to go to the next door, and order a pint of beer. to go to his apartment; I went in and called for a pint of beer; the deceased desired I would stop till he went into the room; he hired it he said, he kept company with Mary Cole , we had our rattans in our hands, that we brought home with us, the deceased came running to me; and said, there was a man in bed in his room, with his girl, he desired me to follow him, I went up stairs into his room, and to the best of my knowledge, they were on the bed together; I did not know Mary Cole before this time.

Q. Did you see her face, so as to remember it?

Melone. Yes; I think I could swear to it; afterwards, while the deceased and I were in the room, the door was shut fast upon us; the deceased gave it a shake, but could not get it open, with that, he lifted up the sash, and got out at the window, on the green; being fastened in, I gave the door a shake, and it came open.

Q. You was not quite sober?

Melone. I was not, I walked down stairs and stood along with Brackstone; she rapped out a wicked oath, what it was, I cannot say; that the first man that broke the door open, she would knock his brains out with a poker.

Q. What door did she mean?

Melone. The door of the lower apartment.

Q. That lower apartment you understood to be her's?

Melone. I do not know, she was in the room at the time when she swore this oath; she took the poker out of the fire place.

Q. Was the outer door of the house open?

Melone. I do not know whether he found it open, but I believe it was opened for him to go out; the deceased stept within the threshold of the door, and she struck him over the scull with the poker; he cried out murder, and dropped on the outside of the threshold.

Q. With which end of the poker did she strike him?

Melone. I believe on the upper end; this was between four and five, or six, in the afternoon.

Q. Was the door open or shut?

Melone. It was shut; the door of the lower room, I mean; he was endeavouring to come into the room where Brackstone was, because he thought the man was in that room.

Q. And upon that Brackstone hit him over the head with the poker?

Melone. She said the first that entered the room, she would split his scull with the poker; the deceased having his foot within the threshold, she hit him with the poker.

Q. Had she her clothes on?

Melone. I think she had a black kind of a gown and a handkerchief on; I do not know where Mary Cole was, I did not see her do any thing; the blood stew in my face; I snatched the poker out of her hand and kept it and a gold laced hat belonging to the deceased; I went for a surgeon, he came while the deceased was lying bleeding; I called the surgeon to stop the blood, he said, it is a thing of great consequence; I will not come nigh him till he is taken into a house; somebody desired me to go to justice Sherwood; I went and got a warrant to take the people up.

Q. How long after this did the deceased live?

Melone. He was taken to the Infirmary; I went there to see if he was living; I found him very low, and he spoke inwardly; I saw him once afterwards, when I was shifting the vessel and going away.

Ann Thompson . I never saw the deceased before to my knowledge; till I saw him streck with the poker: I was going of an errand to Wellclose-square with a child in my arms; and as I past the door I saw a great mob. I saw the deceased run into the house in his shirt; it was all over blood; as he run in at the door, I saw Brackstone strike him over the head with the poker; as soon as he was struck he fell down at the door; I had one foot on the threshold and the child in my arms.

Q. Does the entry lead up to the stair case?

Melone. Yes.

Q. Was there a door out of the entry into any other room?

Melone. I cannot say, the deceased was about three yards off me when he was struck.

Richard Hanmore . On Monday, April 5, at night, when I had done work, I was coming over the fields with another young fellow. I saw a great mob round the door where this was done; when I stept over the bank, I heard there was a murder committed; I went into the alehouse and saw them lay the deceased down with his head on a bolster; a man squeezed his head to squeeze it together, and another bound a cloth round his head; then Melone went to justice Sherwood and got a warrant.

Q. Did you know who lived in the house?

Hanmore. No; Melone took up both the prisoners; the man was carried to the London infirmary; I never saw him afterwards.

"Mr. Richard Ludlow , who is a pupil at the London Hospital, deposed that the prisoner, after being a few days in the hospital, got so much the better, that he desired to go out; that the surgeons refused his request, as they were afraid that something worse might come on that. He left the hospital without leave; that in about ten days he returned and begged to be admitted again; that he was then very bad, and had a high fever upon him; that he could not pretend to determine whether his death was occasioned by the blow, or his irregular way of living; that he believed if the deceased had staid in the hospital and followed the directions of the surgeons, it was probable he might have recovered; that upon examining the body after his death, he found a fissure on the skull, and the pericraneum which immediately covers the skull was quite detached from it; that the fissure did not go through both rables, but was very slight; that by taking off the top of the skull, he found immediately under the fissure a large collection of matter; that the dura mater and the brain were very much inflamed; that it was impossible for any person to say positively, but that it was his opinion he might have recovered."

Elizabeth Colley . I lived next door to where the accident happened. I heard a noise, and went up one pair of stairs where the deceased lived; they were lodgings that he hired by the week. Susannah Brackstone lived on the lower floor, and saw Mary Cole with a gentleman a top of the bed with her; it is called the Match Walk, Shadwell . I saw the deceased striking him with a rattan as he lay on the bed, and I saw Mary Cole strike him over the head with a pint pot that stood by the bed side. They were both a bed; I came down stairs, took my children in my arms, and went to bed. I saw no more.

Q. from Cole. What time did you go to bed that night?

Colley. Between ten and eleven o'clock.

Q. to the Surgeon. When you examined the head, did you see more than the mark of one blow?

Mr. Ludlow. There was on the opposite and inside a very small erasion of the skin, but nothing of any consequence.

Q. from the Jury. Where did that blow fall, do you say?

Colley. On the right side of his head.

Q. to the Surgeon. Was it on the right side of the head?

Ludlow. Yes; that blow was of no consequence, not in the least.

Thomas Davis . I knew the deceased John Bassit very well; he was in the London Hospital after the time he received this blow; after he came mirthere he lived, very drunken life, ranting, roaring and lying in the street, all night long. I lay with him in the streets two nights at peoples doors, down Black Horse Yard.

Q. How came you to let him do this when he was in this way?

Davis. I could not prevail with him to go home; the first night I lit of him; I came up from Woolwich; he seemed very much in liquor, and he desired me to go along with him; we went down to one Mr. Whitting's, there we had two or three pots of beer, I cannot say justly; then we came up Gravel Lane, to the sign of the Swan and Rummer, there we had some bread and cheese, some salmon, and some more beer; after that I followed him and brought him in again; he wanted to get him down to Black Horse Yard; I wanted to get him home to Mr. Seamore's; I brought him in, he fainted away three or four times in my arms; all his cry was, oh, my girl, my girl. I could not prevail on him to go home to Mr. Seymoor's; he went into an alehouse and wanted to fight; he went and knocked at a door in Black Horse Yard; they would not let him in, so he laid down upon the stones at the door; I endeavoured to awake him, but I could not, so I laid down with him. He lived in a very irregular manner for six or seven days. He was seen to drink seventeen half quarterns of gin in two hours.

" William Wright deposed that he saw the deceased run out of doors in a great rage, that after that, he saw the deceased force Brackstone's doors open with his hands, that in a few minutes the deceased came out with his head bleeding."

- Baxter. I am the person that was a bed with Cole; the deceased came and beat me and made my eye bleed. I went into Brackstone's room and laid down upon her bed; Mary Cole came in and brought something to bathe my eye; the prisoner made a great disturbance.

Brackstone, Guilty of Manslaughter , B .

Cole, Acquitted .