Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 24 January 2022), February 1807, trial of ELIZABETH GODFRY (t18070218-5).

ELIZABETH GODFRY, Killing > murder, 18th February 1807.

175. ELIZABETH GODFRY was indicted for the wilful murder of Richard Prince .

EMILY BISSET . Q. Do you know the deceased Richard Prince . - A. Yes.

Q. You lodged in the same house with him. - A. I lived with him.

Q. You cohabited with him. - A. Yes, I lodged with him in the next room to the prisoner.

Q. Did the prisoner come into your apartment. - A. She came to my door.

Q. Upon what errand did she come to the door. - A. She came to the door and said she wanted to speak to Prince, he went to the door, there was no one there, he shut the door, and the second knock came. I then said why do you not take a light and see who is there.

Q. What time was this. - A. Between five and six o'clock in the evening.

Q. What day was it. - A. Christmas day.

Q. It was dark then. - A. Yes, just dusk, the moment that I said take a candle, she said it is me that wants to speak to you. He then went to the door, and she said what did you trouble your head to fetch the watch for me the other night; she made use of very bad words, she said there, take that. He then came into the room and said, Oh! I am a dead man; when he came into the room, he pulled the knife out of his eye, and threw it on the floor; momentary as he came in, Mr. Scott the landlord came up, and he said to her, why should you be so malicious as to hurt a fellow creature in that way; she then said, serve him right. I then took him over to the surgeon's, they said it was a dangerous a case, he must go into the hospital.

Q. The surgeon will tell us; how long did he live from that. - A. From Christmas day, till the 18th day of January.

Q. What is the surgeon's name. - A. Barry.

Q. He died then. - A. Yes, in Middlesex hospital.

Q. Do you know of any quarrel and dispute between the prisoner and the deceased before this time. - A. Yes, on the day before.

Q. What was that for. - A. Through his fetching a watchman for her on Tuesday night before, for which when he came home, she abused him most grossley.

Q. When was this quarrel. - A. On the Christmas day, between one and two o'clock in the day.

Q. I thought you said the day before. - A. No, the same day that the accident happened.

Cross-examined by Mr. Alley. The deceased was the man that kept the house, in which the prisoner and you lived. - A. No, a lodger.

Q. He cohabited with you. - A. Yes.

Q. There were several other women in the house in an unfortunate way. - A. Yes.

Q. The deceased was a gentleman's coachman . - A. Yes.

Q. Was there any intimacy between them. - A. He had never seen her before he took her to the watchhouse, she had only been living in the house four days before that.

Q. You said there had been a quarrel, and he fetched the watch, did he give the watchman charge of her. - A. He did not charge the watchman, the landlord did.

Q. Do you not know that she took out a warrant against him for cutting her hand. - A. No, I never heard of that.

Q. You lived with him, did not you. - A. Yes.

Q. You must be cautious, although he was your friend, to tell the truth; did not Atkins serve him with a warrant for cutting her hand. - A. No, I never Atkins till he came to take her.

Q. This accident happened between five and six o'clock at night. - A. Yes.

Q. After dinner time this man had been drinking something. - A. No, he was perfectly sober, we were just drinking our tea.

Q. How long had he been in your room after the quarrel that happened between one and two. - A. He never saw her after that time, till the knock came to the door, he never went out of the house after between one and two o'clock, from the time that they had the quarrel.

Q. Do you mean to say that you did not observe any more than the quarrel, and that you did not see Atkins, did not Atkins come to take him in custody. - A. No, he did not.

Q. Did you see her hand cut. - A. No, I did not.

Q. Do know whether her hand was cut or not. - A. I heard that her hand was grazed.

WILLIAM SCOTT . You keep this house where the deceased and the prisoner lodged. - A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember on Christmas day being called up - A. Yes.

Q. Say what happened to him. - A. On Christmas day, about five o'clock in the evening, I heard the deceased Richard Prince, he halloed out, I went up stairs, I saw Richard Prince was wounded in his left cheek just below his eye; he said oh, Mr. Scott, see how she has served me.

Court. You must not say that, that is no evidence, only say what you observed. - A. I saw a knife on the floor, the knife was half bent, and there was blood upon it.

Q. Did you ask the prisoner any questions about it. - A. I went to the prisoner, then I said, how could you be so malicicus to serve a man so, she said it served him right.

Q. Had she any thing in her hand at that time. - A. a case knife.

Q. Then he was taken to Middlesex hospital. - A. Yes.

Q. Do you know any thing that passed the day before Christmas day. - A. No.

Q. Was not the prisoner taken to the watchhouse. - A. The deceased came and acquainted me that there was a man in her room.

Q. Who took her to the watchhouse. - A. The deceased and I, the deceased fetched the watchman on that day before.

Q. Do you know what the charge was. - A. Yes, the deceased Richard Prince , he heard a man in her room, he came down and acquainted me that there was a man in the room, he said there was some dispute about half a guinea, and seven or eight shillings between the strange man that was in her room and the prisoner.

Q. That was the reason for your sending for the watch. - A. Yes.

Q. Did you take it amiss that the prisoner should take strange men in her room. - A. He knew that the prisoner was not allowed to take any men into her lodging.

Q. That was the reason that he was sent for the watch. - A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear any dispute with the prisoner and the deceased about two o'clock. - A. Yes, about two o'clock I heard a kind of skirmish, and the prisoner said when I went up to her, look Mr. Scott, (this was after she was liberated) she shewed me the back of her hand, it was grazed; she said I have got no man to take my part, and I will not put up with it; I bid her to drop the quarrel; she said no, I will not drop it so easy as you might think.

Cross-examined by Mr. Alley. I suppose when she made use of that expression her anger still continued upon her. - A. Yes.

Q. He continued to be irritated. - A. Yes.

Q. Had you any opportunity of seeing that man from between two and five o'clock, had you seen him at any time subsequent to that. - A. No, only that time, and when they were at the watchhouse.

Q. You do not understand me - had you seen her after two o'clock, when she shewed you her hand. A. She went directly to get a warrant.

Q. Do you know whether she brought an officer or not. - A. No, she did not, to my recollection.

Q. Then you do not know, in point of fact, whether that warrant was brought - A. No.

Q. Did you see Atkins on Christmas day. - A. No, I did not.

JOHN FOY . I am an officer of Marlborough street. I was only sent by the magistrate to the hospital to enquire into this business. I received this knife from Mr. Barry, the surgeon at the hospital, and the nurse.

CHARLES BARRY . Q. You are the surgeon of Middlesex hospital. - A. I was house surgeon at that time.

Q. Did you attend the deceased. - A. I did.

Q. Tell us in short of what he died, without any terms of art. - A. He came into the Middlesex hospital on the 25th of December; he died in consequence of the wound that he had at the time when he came into the hospital.

Prisoner's Defence. Sir, this is the second time that I have lodged in the house, I lodged there a year and a half ago, and this house is a noted house for women of the town lodging there, and taking men home to their apartments. On Christmas eve I slept out all night; when I came home I saw the deceased and Emily Bisset , they had been drinking and singing with Mr. Scott. I went to my own breakfast, so far was I from thinking of any harm, that upon the little child coming to me, I gave the child some mussin; Emily Bisset and the deceased stood on the stairs; he said to her, you b - y w - how have I pawned my things for you to go out, she made answer, how she had walked about to get a shilling for him, and she says, that woman knows that; he had never done any thing for his living for some months. I could not be of so furious a temper, if I had I could not have come in the house again. The deceased says to me, and you b - y w - , you shall not sleep in the house to night; I says, are you the landlord, with that Mr. Scott came up, I said it is very hard I cannot be let alone, I never insulted Mr. Prince, depend upon it I will send for somebody; he turned round, I had my pattens in my hand, he took my patten from me; he run to hit her, and he gave her a black eye; he turned round again, he made a blow at my head, he made a second attempt, and I met with the blow on my hand. I says Mr. Scott, this is the second time that I lived in your house; I have always been quit, he said yes. I went up to Bow street, I asked for Mr. Atkins, I shewed him my hand, I told him it was done by a patten; he says it is not done by a sharp instrument, you must take a warrant. I went home, I says to Mr. Scott, I have no man to protect me, why am I to be ill used by any person, I opened my door, his door was open, it hit against his door, my door opens the same as a cupboard door; they cannot go out of one door with the other open; he said who is there, I said it is me, he made a blow at me; this door was that way, and the table was there, (prisoner describing it), it was a little back room, it held but two chairs, a bed, and a table, the table was close to me, in the dark; I did not know what I took up; he certainly struck me first.

WILLIAM ATKINS . - Mr. Alley. Do you recollect the prisoner at the bar coming to you on Christmas day for any warrant. - A. Yes, her hand was bleeding very much at the time.

Q. What time did she come in the office. - A. I know that she came before three, because I recollect going away to dinner before three o'clock.

Q. Did you accompany her to the house where the deceased lived. - A. I did not, I heard no more of it.

GUILTY - DEATH , aged 34.

First Middlesex jury, before Mr. Justice Heath.