Date Of Execution: 10 Dec 1783
Crime Location: unknown
Execution Place: unknown
Execution not confirmed
4. JOHN CLARKE was indicted for that he, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, on the 5th day of November last, with force and arms upon one Thomas Johnson , in the peace of God and our Lord the King then and their being, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought did make an assault, and with a certain clasp-knife called a welt-knife, of the value of 2 d. which he then and there had and held in his right-hand, in and upon the belly of him the said Thomas, near the navel of him the said Thomas, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike, stab, penetrate, and wound, and did then and there give to him the said Thomas by such striking, stabbing, penetrating, and wounding as aforesaid, in and upon the belly of him the said Thomas, near the navel of him the said Thomas one mortal wound of the depth of three inches and of the breadth of one inch, of which said mortal wound the said Thomas from the said 5th day of November to the 7th day of the said month did languish, and languishing did live; and on the said 7th of November the said Thomas of the said mortal wound aforesaid did die. And that the said John of his malice aforethought him the said Thomas did kill and murder. The said John Clarke was also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like murder .
THOMAS CANNON sworn.
I live in Ratcliff-highway ; I keep a public house, the hoop and bunch of grapes .
Court. Do you know the prisoner at the bar? - I remember him coming into the house the 5th of November, at nine o'clock, as near as I can tell.
What happened then? - He went across the tap-room and reached across the table, and struck at one Johnson the deceased man who was sitting there; I knew the deceased by sight.
How long had Johnson been in the room? - About ten minutes, I believe.
What was Johnson's Christian name? - I cannot tell.
Did any body come in with Johnson? - Not to my knowledge.
When he struck at Johnson, what followed upon that? - He went immediately out of the door and said to Johnson, are you coming, or come along, I do not know which.
In what manner did he strike at the deceased, did he strike a violent blow? - I thought it was in anger, but his blow was not violent.
In what manner did he speak the words come along, or are you coming, those are not words of anger? - Not outrageous.
Can you describe the manner in which he spoke those words? - I did not see his face at the time to my knowledge, his back was towards me.
Did Johnson go out? - Immediately with him.
Did he attempt to return the blow before he went out? - No.
Did Johnson say any thing before he went out? - No, he did not make any answer in my hearing, I followed him to the door immediately.
What did you see when you came to the door? - Nothing more of it.
Did you go and look out of the door? - Yes.
How far could you see? - About as far as where you sit.
Was the night dark? - It was dark, and people were letting off squibs and serpents about the place.
For what purpose did you follow them to the door unless it was to look after them? - My Lord, I did not go to the street door, it was the tap-room door.
Do you know any thing farther? - No, nothing farther.
Was the deceased with any company in the tap-room? - There were people in the same box that were sitting, he had a pint of beer, I do not know that he was in any other company, I saw or heard nothing more.
There were no other words passed between them? - No.
Was there any woman in company with the deceased in your house? - There was a woman sitting in the same box that had been crving fish about the streets.
Did she come in with him? - No.
Court to Prisoner. Have you any desire to ask any questions to this witness?
Prisoner. I was in liquor in his house, I do not know what I did in his house.
WILLIAM DIMSEY sworn.
I am a victualler, I keep the King and Queen in Old Gravel-lane.
Do you know the prisoner? - Yes, I have seen him several times.
Did you know Johnson the deceased? I knew him by using the house, I did not know him any otherwise.
Do you remember his coming into your house in the afternoon of the 5th of November? - He was in my house that afternoon, him and the prisoner, and a woman along with them, and had five or six pots of beer; the woman's name is Goodman.
Who was the woman that was in company with him? - The woman is here, she was the deceased's woman that he lived with.
Was there any other woman that was in company at your house that afternoon? - No, Sir.
How long did they stay at your house? - I suppose the space of three hours in all.
What time did they leave your house? - I believe in the afternoon, about five or six to the best of my knowledge.
Had there been a quarrel or dispute among them at your house? - No, Sir, all very good tempered.
All apparently very good friends? - All very good friends, not a word of anger that I heard.
Did they all go out together? - I cannot say, I was below stairs when they went out.
Did you see any thing either of the prisoner or the deceased that night again? - Yes.
How soon after? - The deceased came into my house about half past nine.
Not before that from the time they went away? - No.
What happened then? - He called for a glass of gin; he told me that the man that had been drinking with him all the afternoon in my tap-room called him to the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes door, and had run a knife in his belly, he pulled up his apron and shewed me the place; I did not see the would in his belly, I only saw his shirt was all bloody, and I saw the blood on the floor; there was another man drinking with him besides this man.
Did he say which man it was? - No, he did not mention whose name, nor any thing about it.
After he told you this, he held up his apron, and you saw his shirt bloody, and the blood running down on the floor? - Yes.
What became of him afterwards? - I advised the man to go home, and sent my boy to lead him home. I went soon afterwards to the place where the deceased lived, which was right facing of me in some old houses backwards, almost facing the King and Queen, to see how the man was.
Did you know where the prisoner lived? - He lived next door to the deceased.
What were they both? - Two journeymen shoemaker s.
When you went to this house did you see him? - I went and stood in the yard, the prisoner was coming down stairs, I heard them talking together while I stood in the yard, and then I saw Clarke come down stairs, and this woman with him.
Could you distinguish any of their voices? - Yes, I heard the prisoner's voice up stairs.
Did you hear any body else? - There were two or three voices, I heard this Johnson say do not hurt me any more, for I believe you have done it already.
Court. Repeat the word as near as you can? - Do not kill me quite, for I believe you have done it already.
Are you sure these are the words? - Yes, them were the words.
They are very different from the words that you said just now, which were, do not hurt me any more, for I believe you have done it partly already? - Them last were the words.
Repeat them again? - Do not kill me quite, Jack Clarke , for I believe you have done it partly already.
Did you hear any thing that Clarke said? - I cannot say that I did, I stood in the yard till Clarke and the woman came down.
How long was it after you heard this expression of Johnson that Clarke and the woman came down? - About two minutes.
Did you hear any thing that passed between them when they came down? - I asked the prisoner how Johnson did, he told me he believed he had cut his navel strings.
In what manner did Clarke express that? - I asked him, how is Johnson? just in that manner, says he, I believe I have cut his navel strings, and away he went.
Did he seem to speak it with concern or with triumph? - I am sure he was in liquor.
In what manner did he speak it? - He did not speak it in an over harsh manner.
In what manner did you understand him to speak it? - He spoke it mildly like.
Did he express any concern for what he had done, or any thing of that sort? - No, no further, and upon saying that, he and the woman went out together.
Did the woman say any thing? - I heard them say they would go to some doctor's, and they went to the doctor's afterwards, I followed him in the highway, and I took him by Mr. Bishop and Bayley's door, I knocked his heels up and caught hold of him, and I took him before Justice Green.
What did he say when you laid hold of him? - As soon as ever I took hold of him, and threw him down on the stones, there was another man who assisted me, and took a knife out of his pocket; says he that is not the knife I killed the man with.
Are you sure that was his expression? - Yes, them were his words.
What sort of a knife was it that was taken out of his pocket? - A clasp knife, I took him before Justice Green, and they put him in the watch-house till the next day, there I left him.
Was he examined at all then? - No, it was quite late at night.
Did you examine whether the knife was bloody or not? - No, Sir, the knife was shut, it was not bloody at all.
Did you see the deceased again that night? - Yes, I went back, and lent the man a hand to put him on a board to send him to the hospital.
Did the deceased say any thing then? - I heard him say, who could have thought that the man I had been drinking with all the afternoon, and pawned all my things to treat him with, should have served me in this manner. I know nothing further.
When did the man die? - He died on the seventh of November.
How long have you known the prisoner? - I did not know much of this man, I never saw him half a dozen times in my house before.
BENJAMIN SAYRE sworn.
I keep a publick-house, the Duke's Head in Old Gravel-lane, the prisoner came to my house on the 5th of November,
about half past nine, within a few minutes under or over.
Did he come alone, or any body with him? - He came by himself.
Did any thing happen while he was there? - Not at my house, he came dancing in as if he had come to play, he had a knife in his hand, and he said I have killed a man, and I will resign myself to you, says I, you are mad, and he appeared to me as such.
You say now he appeared to you to be mad? - He seemed to be not in his mind.
Do you mean that you formed that idea from the strangeness of the declaration at the time, or from his other behaviour? - By his coming in, in the manner that he did, to resign himself to me, dancing with the knife in his hand, he stuck the knife in the table, and said I have killed a man, and I will resign myself to you; I said to him you are mad, for no man that had committed murder, would have come in dancing.
Did you know him before? - A good while before, he is a shoemaker.
Did you know him shew any signs of insanity before this? - Always in liquor, they always used to call him mad Clarke when he was in liquor.
But not when sober? - No, I never heard any one call him mad then.
What did he say? - He sat down a little while, and still persisted he had killed a man, I asked him where, he told me at the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes; I asked him who, he told me Johnson, he said he saw his bitch, I believe, or something as bad as that, getting out of the window from the man, or the door, I cannot be positive which, I cannot be positive to the words, it was getting out of a window or a door, the one from the other, but I cannot be positive which; if it is where he mentioned, it must be a door, for the pavement is raised.
How did you know what place he meant? - The house that Clarke used to live in.
Who did you take him to mean by his bitch? - A woman that used to live with him.
Do you know her name? - I cannot be positive to her name, she went by the name of Clarke, she lived with him a great many years, and had several children by him, at the same time my wife came in, she had been out with a pot of beer, and this man was walking by the door, says she, you scoundrel how can you say you have killed the man, and he is just gone by; so it put me out of all thoughts that he had killed any body.
Is your wife here? - No, my Lord, it is rather hard for us both to be out from our business at once.
Does your house lay between the Bunch of Grapes, and the King and Queen? - Yes, before you come to the King and Queen, between the one and the other.
What did he say upon that when she said the man had walked past the door? - He went out directly, as soon as she said that, he took the knife out of the table, and went out.
He took out the knife? - Yes, he struck it into a little wainscot table, and though the point of it is pretty sharp, it fell, he took it up and went away; I should have preserved the knife, if I had thought any thing of the kind.
Did you observe any thing upon the knife? - I had no thoughts of looking at it, nor did I think he had done any such thing.
What sort of knife was it? - I was a very picked pointed one, with a short handle, it appeared to me to be a shoemaker's knife, they call it a welt knife.
MARY ANN GOODMAN sworn.
Court. What do you know of this matter? - I know so far as this, I went out with my goods.
What business do you follow? - I walk the streets with fish and oysters, and such things.
Where had you been that afternoon before? - At home till about five o'clock,
then Johnson came over to me and I drank share of five pots of beer in Mr. Dimsdale's house.
Are you sure of the time? - Yes, it was about five when I went with Johnson to Mr. Dimsdale's.
Was any body else in company? - Only this Clarke, Johnson, and I.
Was Clarke with you? - Yes, Johnson left Clarke at Dimsdale's, and came and fetched me to drink, Clarke was with him all the blessed day, till about half after hine at night, Johnson left Clarke, he said, he left him there, I found Clarke at Dimsdale's.
Had they been long at Dimsdale's before? - I cannot say how long they had been there.
You found Clarke there when you went? - Yes, along with Johnson.
How long did you stay there? - I staid there till a little after six o'clock.
Did you all come away together? - We all came away together, Clarke, Johnson, and me, and all went up into my room together.
Who else was in company with you at Dimsdale's? - Nobody else, they went along with me to my room, which was in Johnson's house, we staid about ten minutes, and then I went down to borrow Johnson a shilling at his master's, his master had no change, and I left Clarke and Johnson together in the Lower Town in Shakespear's Walk.
Did you get the shilling for Johnson? - No.
When you left them in the street or road, did you leave them together? - Yes.
That was about half past seven? - Yes.
How long was it before you saw either of them again? - It was almost nine, before I saw Clarke.
In this afternoon had they had any quarrel that you know off? - None at all that I know off.
No high words of any kind? - No high words at all.
What time did you come back? - I came back with my goods, and carried my basket home when the bell rung eight o'clock, I went to my own place.
Was either Clarke or Johnson there then? - No.
Which of them did you see first after that? - Clarke.
When did you see Clarke? - I saw him just before nine, I was looking after Johnson, and I saw Clarke with his apron turned on one side, and the knife in his apron, at the bottom of Chamber-street, Ratcliffe Highway.
Clarke lives next door to you I believe, does not he? - Yes.
How did you know there was a knife in his apron? - He out with the knife and shewed it me.
Did he do that directly? - Yes, immediately, I asked him first whether he had seen Johnson, no, he said, he wanted him; he shewed me the knife, and said, that either Nan or Johnson should be the first that should have that knife stabbed in them.
Who did you understand him to mean by Nan? - His wife.
Is he a married man? - No, Sir.
A woman that lives with him by the name of Nan? - Yes.
Did you ask him any further questions? - I told him, says I, for God's sake whatever you do govern your passion.
Did he say what he would stab them for? - He said, they both jumped out of the back window together.
Did he say that before you told him to govern his passion? - Yes.
What did he say when you begged him to govern his passion? - He told me he would not.
What more passed? - He run into this gentleman's house, the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes, I saw him go in, but I did not follow him in, because I had been in just before, and I did not see Johnson there.
Did you see him come out again? - I did not, I went away.
Where did you go to? - I looked in at the door, and saw him reach over the table, and give somebody a blow on the head, and I thought it was his wife that he gave the blow to, and I thought it was no business of mine, I could never have thought it was Johnson he struck, as they had been drinking all the blessed day, I went away to the next publick house, the Bell.
What did you see or hear then? - I thought, I would see what became of her on account he had used her so ill the night before, thinks I, I will sit me down here and see what comes of this, I saw Johnson come out and he was almost double.
Where did you see Johnson come out from? - From the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes, I called out Johnson! Johnson! three times, he was just going to turn back again when he heard my tongue, he turned round, and said to me, he has done for me and you too; who has says I, Jack Clarke , says he.
Did you see Clarke come out? - I did not, I suppose he passed me while I turned away.
Why, when Johnson come out directly from the entry, and said, Clarke had done for him, did not you look to see if he was coming? - I suppose he was gone out before.
What became of Johnson after he said this to you? - I laid hold of him and crossed the way with him, and led him right facing Mr. Dimsdales, then I heard Clarke coming out of Mr. Sayers, he said, bowpots; it is a cramp word he had got.
What does he mean by that? - I do not know any more than the dead, he often crys bowpots when he is in liquor: Says I to Johnson, shall I lead you home; no, says he, go to Clarke's for my candle which is on his table, and I went; Clarke, Clarke, says I, give me the candle that is burning on your table.
Did you ever know what he meant by that word? - When he was in liquor he used to cry it.
You knew the man? - I never knew him but about two months in my life; Johnson desired me to go and get my candle which was burning on Mr. Clarke's table, and he would go over immediately to Mr. Dimsdale's and get a drop of gin.
Did he tell you what candle it was that was burning upon Mr. Clarke's table? - I bought the candle myself, a penny flat candle.
Did he say how the candle came to be burning there? - No, he never did, it was Clarke's room, and Clarke went with me and I took the candle off of his table: Clarke said nothing to me nor I to him, as I went for the candle.
You found the candle burning? - Yes.
Was there any body in the room? - Nobody at all.
Did you see Nan at all? - No.
What did Clarke say to you when you went into the room? - Nothing at all.
Where did you go from there? - Into my own room.
That was in the next house? - Yes.
Did Clarke go with you to your room? - He met Johnson at our own door, I heard him as I was coming down stairs to light Johnson up, it was not three minutes after, I heard Johnson say to the prisoner, Jack, come up and see what you have done; I know says he, what I have done, says he, I have done it on purpose to kill you, I have stabbed you on purpose to kill you; Johnson says to me, I wish you would go and fetch a doctor, Clarke said, he would go, says I, I will go myself, says Clarke, I will go with you.
Did this pass up stairs or where? - It passed up stairs, he came up into the room by Johnson's orders, to see what he had done, and Johnson shewed his wound to the prisoner.
What did Clarke say after he saw the wound? - He said, he knew it, he had done it on purpose.
Did he say it twice or once? - He said it once up stairs and once at the door.
Did he express no concern when he saw him? - No, none at all.
How come he to offer to go for a doctor? - He said he had done murder, and he desired to die for it, and he said so in both the doctors shops.
Court. Did he say desire or deserve? - That he desired to die for it, that is what he said in both the doctors shops.
Was you with him when he was tripped up and taken? - Yes Sir.
What did he say? - I do not know, I found he was secured, and I ran immediately to the third doctor, and the doctor came down.
And what came of Johnson? - The doctors said he must go immediately to the Hospital, or he would be a dead man.
He was carried to the Hospital then? - Yes.
Did you ever hear him say any thing more respecting it? - No, I did not.
Did you ever see him after? - Yes, I saw him the next morning.
Did you ask him how it happened? - Yes, he told me it happened at the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes, he said, he came and gave him a punch of the head, in the Hoop and Bunch of Grapes.
Did you ask him any thing about Nan? - No, I did not, I never heard Johnson say what had been the reason of this.
When did Johnson die? - He died the 7th of November, about nine in morning, at the Hospital; this accident was on the 5th, he was carried to the London Infirmary.
JOHN MARSHALL sworn.
I went to bed on the 5th of November, about eight in the evening; I live the corner of Mount Pleasant; I was awaked by a sudden noise, crying out he is murdered! he is murdered! I get up and put on my clothes, that was about five minutes before ten.
What did you hear and see? - I live on the ground-floor, and I went out of the door and I heard a women say that Clarke had murdered a man; I went to the back-yard and I heard a noise in Johnson's room, I did not know what it was, I went up into the room and I saw Johnson laying on the bed which was on the floor, and I asked him what was the matter with him; he told me that Clarke had stabbed him; he said to me who would have thought this, such friends as we have been all day; I asked him whether he had any words or no, and he said he had no words at all with him.
Did you see Clarke? - No: I went down and found the knife sticking in the floor, I have the knife here.
Court to Goodman. Did you say any thing about a knife? - Clarke jobbed a knife in the floor in his own room as I was taking the candle out of the candlestick; he damned and buggered his eyes, and said if Nan was here the same that is in Tom Johnson should go into her.
I think you told me just now that you nor he never spoke to one another when you went for the candle. - He spoke them words; but he did not speak them to me.
Did you tell Marshall where he had jobbed the knife in? - Yes, I told him he jobbed the knife into the floor; it stuck upright.
Court to Marshall. The woman told you that he jobbed the knife into the floor? - Yes.
Did you go up to see? - I went down and took the knife out of the floor.
Down where? - I went down from Johnson's room to Clarke's room, I found the knife in the floor and the point rather bent.
Was the knife bloody? - I did not see any blood at all on the knife; (The knife produced and handed to the Jury, a shoe-maker's sharp knife, between three and four inches long, with a sharp point, and a common wooden bundle) he was taken to the hospital, and he said, God bless you, master, I shall never see you any more, for I am a dead man.
Did he say any thing of the reason of this? - No, he said he had no words with him.
WILLIAM ELBY sworn.
I saw the prisoner locked up; just before he came to the watch-house, I asked the prisoner what he had been doing, he told me
he had cut a man across the belly; I asked him how he could be guilty of such a thing, he told me it was through passion and liquor, and that after he had cut him he went to a couple of surgeons to get them to dress him, and that he hoped to God the man would not die.
Court. Where is the surgeon? - He left a card of his place of abode where he might be sent for, Mr. Seaman, No. 33, Thread-needle-street.
(The Surgeon sent for.)
Court to Marshall. Did you see the wound? - Yes.
What appearance had it; what sort of a wound was it? - It was about an inch long.
Where about was it? - The right side of the navel, just under the navel.
Did you observe any thing particular about it? - I did not observe any thing particular, but I saw a part of the caul of the belly hanging out of the wound.
A part of the caul? - Yes, a good part of it.
Court to Goodman. What state of health was Johnson in before he received the wound? - He had no disorder at all.
Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, if you think there is sufficient evidence before you now, that the wound which this man received in his belly was the cause of his death, in that case, if you are satisfied with the evidence now before you of that fact, it may not be necessary to wait for the surgeon, for it certainly is not necessary in point of law that that fact should be proved by a surgeon; there may be cases where a surgeon could not be had.
Jury. We wish to wait for the surgeon, my Lord.
Court. You cannot be too cautious in such cases, but it is not in point of law necessary that it should be proved by a surgeon.
(The Surgeon sent for, but was not at home, he was gone to the other end of the town; the Court ordered his recognizance to be estreated, but it was afterwards discharged on the application of the Surgeon.)
Court to Goodman. You say this man was in a good state of health before he received this wound? - As good a state of health as any person in the world.
Did you see his wound? - No, I could not bear to see it; I went to see him in the hospital three times.
Was you with him at the time of his death? - No, I was not.
Court to Marshall. You knew this man before? - Yes.
Was he in good health? - Yes, in perfect health.
No disorder that appeared to have indangered his life? - No, I believe by the stab he got his death.
I have nothing to say any farther than I knew nothing of stabbing him, there was nobody but the woman; I have nobody to my character; my master that I have worked for this twenty years did not expect I should be tried till to-morrow.
Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, I will state to you what the witnesses have said, with such observations as it is my duty to suggest to you. (Here the learned Judge summed up the evidence, and then added as follows:) The declarations of the deceased after receiving the death-wound are always considered as admissible evidence in cases of murder, through nothing before that wound is considered in that light. The result of the evidence seems to be this; that this man, as appears from some of his expressions, from some conceived jealously, the cause of which does not appear in evidence, or whether it existed at all further then in his own mind, went with a determined purpose, with this weapon with him, in search of the deceased Johnson, and him, called him out of the house where he was, and instantly stabbed him in the belly: it
appears also, that they had been drinking together a considerable part of the day, and there is reason to suppose the prisoner was in liquor; and he himself said to Eloy that it was through passion and liquor. Sayer describes his conduct, when he came into his house, as appearing to him in the light of a madman; that led me to enquire whether the prisoner had shewn any signs of madness, and the witness said, only when he was in liquor on former occasions, and then he was called Mad Clarke.
In the first place, Gentlemen, it is my duty to state to you the law upon the subject. The killing a man deliberately, and with premeditated malice, is clearly and unquestionably murder, and is the legal definition of that crime; the killing a man at all in consequence of an intention to hurt or injure him, is in law an high offence; but where death ensues from a sudden quarrel, or the wound which occasions the death is given in consequence of a sudden provocation at the instant, the law makes that allowance for the impetuosity of passion, and the frailty of human nature, to reduce the crime to manslaughter; but it is necessary that the provocation should be sudden, and proportioned in some degree to the violence of the party who kills; for a greater degree of provocation, provided it is sudden and instantaneous, will reduce to manslaughter, when the same degree of provocation would not justify the use of a deadly weapon, even though it was done on the instant: and the law has held it so strict, as to consider that nothing but personal violence will mitigate the offence of using a deadly weapon, however sudden the occasion may be; no words, however provoking, can reduce the offence to manslaughter.
In this case there is no proof of any actual provocation given by the deceased at all; there is no evidence, except from the declarations of the prisoner, that tends to shew that he had conceived some kind of jealousy with respect to the deceased and a woman who lived with him; now that jealousy would not be a sufficient cause, even if the cause of it had been proved to exist, in point of law to reduce that offence of killing a man to manslaughter; but independent of that, no such case is in proof to have at all existed: it is in proof to you that this man, before he gave the wound which is supposed to have occasioned the death of the deceased, declared to a witness that it was for the purpose of killing him; that declaration being accompanied by the other I stated to you, if you take the one you must take the other, it is for that reason alone that I selected those expressions of the prisoner that imported jealousy, for he declares expressly his purpose to kill the deceased; he goes in search of him with that deadly weapon, he finds him in a house where it is proved the deceased had been ten minutes before, he strikes him a blow, calls him out, and the wound must then have been instantly given; the deceased afterwards declared he had received his death wound from the prisoner, and the prisoner makes the same declaration in a manner very extraordinary: I therefore am of opinion, that no provocation is proved in this case to have existed, that can reduce the offence from murder to manslaughter.
The next consideration is, whether you can upon this evidence, find any other excuse that will reduce the crime of the prisoner. If the prisoner had been a man, really disordered in his senses, from natural and unavoidable infirmity, that act which would amount to murder in another man, would certainly not have amounted to that in him, because such a man is not considered as knowing what he does, and the consequence of his actions; but there is no pretence in this case for that sort of defence; for all the madness that is imputed to the prisoner, is the madness arising from liquor; and independent of the consideration, that such a madness is far from being an excuse for the commission of any atrocious crime; and it would be a great hurt to society, if such excuses were ever admitted; but independent of those expressions, he appears to have known what he was doing, both before he did it and afterwards; he declares, even after he had seen
the deadly wound (which one would have thought, would have made the strongest degree of resentment relent) he declared that that, he did it on purpose, and with intention to kill the man: therefore he clearly appears, even with that drunkenness, which in itself would not be an excuse, he appears yet to know what he was about to do, and what had done. It is there four for you to consider gentleman, first whether, you are clearly the satisfied with the truth of the evidence, and the result of the whole evidence taken together, the prisoner is the man the deceased that wound; and next wether you are satisfied that that wound was the cause of the man's death, for however criminal the conduct of the prisoner may have been, yet unless you are satisfied clearly from the evidence, that he was the actual occasion of the man's death, he is not guilty of murder; and with respect to that part of the case, to be sure the evidence is left less compleat and perfect than it sometimes is in other cases, from the absence of the surgeon who had examined the deceased, and dressed his wound and attended him; for that evidence would have put it out of all doubt. It is not however necessary, at all, in point of law, that that fact should be proved by the evidence of a surgeon particularly, provided it is proved without such evidence; but it is fair to make also this observation, that though it is clear that the presence of a surgeon is not necessary, yet where a surgeon has examined the wound, his evidence in that case is the best and most satisfactory that can be had, and where he is absent, a less degree of evidence appears before a Jury, than would be before them if that surgeon was examined. Subject, therefore, to that observation, gentlemen, you will consider the evidence as it stands; this man is in health, he receives his death wound, he, himself, declares his own idea of it, that it will be mortal; that wound is described as a wound in the belly, near the navel, a very dangerous place, where all the intestines are exposed to injury from the wound; and a part of the caul of the intestines is described as hanging out of the wounds; under these circumstances he is carried to the hospital between nine and ten in night, and on the morning of the seventh he dies; the witness who saw the wound who is not a man of skill or judgement, he has no doubt but the wound was the cause of his death; is therefore remains under the circumstances I have stated to you upon the description of the wound, the place in which it was given, the wound of giving it, the state of health of the man before, and the time he died: If from all these circumstances you are clearly satisfied that the wound was the cause of his death, and are also clearly satisfied with the truth of the rest of the evidence, and that the result of that evidence is proved clearly to your satisfaction, that the prisoner is the man that gave the wound, I am then obliged to tell you that I am of opinion there is nothing in this case that can reduce the crime below that aggravated crime of murder: and it will in that case be your duty to find the prisoner guilty of this indictment: If on the other hand you think there is any room to doubt the truth of the evidence, or that believing the truth of the evidence is not sufficient proof that the prisoner gave the wound, or that the wound was the cause of his death; in that case it is your duty to acquit the prisoner wholly; or if there appears any circumstances that would reduce the crime to manslaughter, in that case you may find that verdict; but there does not appear to me any sort of evidence to take that middle line: Therefore, give your verdict according to your own consciences, you must be clearly satisfied of the fact of a crime so heinous in its nature, and so penal in its consequences, and then it is your duty to the public and to justices, to find the prisoner guilty. If on the other you think there is any reasonable cause for doubt, either upon the fact of his warning the man, or of the wound being the cause of his death, you will acquit him.
Guilty of the wilful murder . Death.
The Conclusion of this will be in the SECOND PART.
see Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 25 June 2014), December 1783, trial of JOHN CLARKE (t17831210-4).