Date Of Execution: 3 Apr 1725
Execution Place: unknown
Executed at Tyburn, April 3rd, 1725, for the murder of his wife.
WHENEVER a man ill treats a woman, who by every action of her life shows herself his friend, the partner of his toil, and the consoler of his mind, under worldly misfortunes, it is abominable; but what punishment awaits the execrable wretch who sheds the blood of such a wife? Such however, shocking to relate, befel the wife of this abhorred murderer, who appears to have possessed qualities, deserving the protection of a good man. We have already, in the duty we owe the reader, had occasion to present too many instances of the flagitious conduct of females; but to the good, we would repeat, after the excellent Poet Otway, --
"There's in you all that we believe in heaven,
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love."
This shocking sinner, who followed the trade of a butcher in Smithfield, behaved with cruelty to his wife, and though he had been married some years, accustomed himself to keep company with women of ill fame.
Going out one Sunday morning he staid till noon; and coming home to dinner went out again soon afterwards, and was directly followed by his wife, who found him drinking with some bad women at a house in Pye-corner; and coming home, mentioned this circumstance to her neighbours. Soon afterwards the husband returned; and using some threatening expressions, the wife desired a lodger in the same house to go down stairs with her, lest he should beat her. The woman accordingly attended her, and was witness to Davis's beating her in a barbarous manner, and threatening to murder her because she had interrupted him while in the company of the other women. Hereupon the wife ran away, and secreted herself for a time; but returning to her lodgings, begged admission into her landlady's room, who hid her behind the bed. In the interim the husband had been out; but, returning, went to bed, and when his wife thought he was asleep, she went in the room to search his pockets, in. which she found only a few halfpence, and coming down stairs said that her husband had laid a knife by the bedside, from which she concluded that he had an intention of murdering her.
Mrs. Davis being concealed during the night, the landlady went into her husband's room in the morning, and said, "What do you mean by threatening to commit murder in my house?" On this he snatched up, his knife; and the landlady taking hold of a small cane, he took it from her, saying he valued it as his life; as he kept it to beat his wife with.
In the evening of this day the wife and landlady finding him at the before-mentioned house in Pye-corner, he beat his wife most severely; on which the landlady advised Mrs. Davis to swear the peace against him, and have him imprisoned, as she had done on a similar occasion. About an hour after this he went home, and said to his wife, "What business have you here, or any where in my company?---You shall follow me no more for I am married to little Jenny."
The wife, who seems to have had more love for him than such a miscreant deserved, said she could not help it, but she would drink with him and be friends; and on his taking his supper to an alehouse, she followed him; but soon returned with her hands bloody, saying he had cut her fingers.
On his return he directed his wife to light him to his room, which she did, and earnestly entreated him to be reconciled to her; but instead of making any kind of reply, he drew his knife, and following her into the landlady's room, he there stabbed her in the breast.
Thus wounded, the poor wretch ran down stairs, and was followed by the murderer: She was sheltered in a neighbouring house, where sitting down, and pulling off her stomacher, she bled to death in about half an hour.
In the interim the landlady called the watchman, who soon apprehended Davis and conducted him to the house where the dead woman lay; on which he said, "Betty, won't you speak to me?" A woman who was present said, "You will find to your sorrow, that she will never speak more;" and to this the murderer replied, "Well, I know I shall be hanged; and I would as soon suffer for her as another."
Being committed to the care of a peace officer, he was conveyed to prison, in his way to which he said; "I have killed the best wife in the world, and I am certain of being hanged; but for God's sake don't let me be anatomized."
When he was brought to his trial, the above recited facts were proved by the testimony of several witnesses; and on the jury pronouncing the verdict of Guilty, he execrated the court with the most profane imprecations.
While he lay under sentence of death, he affected a false bravery; but when orders were given for his execution, his assumed courage left him, and he appeared greatly terrified, as well indeed he might at his approaching fate. He had such a dread of falling into the hands of the surgeons, that he sent letters to several of his acquaintance, begging they would rescue his body if any attempt should be made to take it away.
He behaved in the most gloomy and reserved manner at the place of execution. It was our intention to have commented, at some length, on the unmanly and inhuman crime, of a man murdering his wife, in our account of the preceding murderer, Lewis Houssart; but we find the case of Davis even still more detestable, and the feelings of our readers on its perusal must render it unnecessary to do more than express our detestation of such monsters.