Date Of Execution: 26 Oct 1857
Execution Place: unknown
1077. THOMAS ROBERT DAVIS (40) was indicted for the wilful murder of Martha Davis: he was also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like offence.
MR. W. J. PAYNE. conducted the Prosecution.
HENRY BILES . I am the brother of the deceased Martha Davis, I know nothing about the circumstances of the case.
MARK WELCH . I live at the Royal William public house, in Ball's Pond, and am a waiter. I knew the deceased, and her husband, the prisoner—I was at the public house on the night of the 6th Oct.; I left it at 5 minutes to 11 o'clock—I saw Davis and his wife at that time, going down the street together—Mrs. Davis had got the child in her arms, and Davis had a pint of beer in his hand—he asked me to carry it for him—when I got to the door
I gave it to him in his hand—he was the worse for liquor at that time; I do, not know whether his wife was, I did not observe anything about her—nothing passed between them as they went along—I gave him the beer at the door, bade him, "Good night," and went on to Phillips's, which is near there, to deliver a pot of beer—in coming away from Phillips's, I had to pass the prisoner's house—the street door was open—I did not hear anything said—I saw a light in the bed room—this was at 5 minutes to 11 o'clock at night—the light in the bed room showed light into the passage—I saw the prisoner and his wife struggling against the cellar door, which faces the street—the next thing I saw was the child stamping its feet, and saying, "Oh, you b—" to the prisoner—the child was about four years old—after that the woman ran out into the street; she was bleeding from the neck—the child was running after her, catching hold of her dress—the child was covered in blood—the deceased held up her arms, and said, "Oh dear, Mrs. Harman!"—Mrs. Harman was looking out of her window—I ran up the street, home, to where I live—she did not say anything to the prisoner when they were in the passage together, just before she ran out—I did not see anything in the prisoner's hand myself.
Cross-examined by MR. SLEIGH. Q. The husband and wife had been in the habit of coming to your master's public house, had they not, frequently? A. Yes—he always appeared to act very kindly towards his wife—I believe he was staggering drunk on this night—he reeled against me—he could stand very well—the distance I had to go beyond Davis's door, with the other pot of beer, was about the length of this Court, not further—when I came back, I saw the man and woman struggling with each other in the passage, by the cellar door.
JOHN AUSTIN . I am landlord of the Royal George public house, Lower Road, Islington. I know the prisoner and his wife; they were very seldom indeed at my house—they were there on Tuesday night, 6th Oct—they came in at 20 minutes to 11 o'clock—they had a quartern of rum and a pint of beer—the deceased had a child with her between four and five years old—they took away the pint of beer in a little can—the prisoner had been drinking, but he was not tipsy—this was the night before the Fast Day—it was manifest that he was not perfectly sober, bat I feel confident that he was well aware of all he was doing—his wife sat down all the time she was there, with the child across her knee—she appeared to be sober—they were only in my house three minutes—a man named Bentley came in; the prisoner asked him to stand something, and he said, "Yes, let them have what they like;" and Davis said, "Let it be a quartern of rum," which I gave him; he poured out a glass of it, and handed it to his wife, and said, "Here, my dear, you drink first;" she did so, and he drank some of it, and they left, Davis carrying the beer, and she having the child in her arms.
SARAH STUMP . I am the wife of John Stump, and live at No. 11, Dorset Street, Ball's Pond, at the same house that Davis and his wife lived. I occupied the second floor; they lived down stairs on the first floor, just under me—on Tuesday night, 6th Oct., I was in bed, and about 11 o'clock I heard a grumbling noise in the bed room, the back room—I heard the prisoner call his wife a b—w—, and she said, "No, Davis, don't call me that; I have got enough of you, without any more"—the next thing I heard him say was, "I will go and get it"—I said to my husband, "Jack, for God's sake, get up; he is going to kill her"—my husband got up, and on my suggestion we went down stairs, and our neighbour, Mrs. Day, went down too—before we got down stairs, I heard her call him a rogue, and she
said, "You are a-going to kill me"—that was before I came down—I did not hear any more words before I came down stairs—as we were opening our door, we heard both her and her child call out, "Murder!" three times—when I got down stairs, I saw Mrs. Davis staggering along the I passage, and Mr. Davis coming out of the door; they were both dressed—they had been in doors about a quarter of an hour—Mrs. Davis ran into the street, and the child followed after her—I could see the blood, and that was all—I saw a razor in the prisoner's hand—my husband laid hold of the prisoner, and said to him, "Bob, for God's sake, what have you done?"—the prisoner said, "I have done the deed for her this time, I have done it to rights"—he said he gave himself up—he said, "This is what I have done it with, and I will give it up to you"—he was smothered in blood, his face and all—he was half drunk and half sober—he was not so drunk as I have seen him.
Cross-examined. Q. You sleep up stairs on the second floor, as I understand you? A. Yes—when I heard this quarrelling begin, I and my husband were both in bed, and my husband was asleep—we went to bed about 9 o'clock—I was awake at the time they came home; my husband was asleep—I awoke him—it had only been going on a very few minutes before I awoke my husband—the struggling and quarrelling was such that I thought it right to wake him.
MR. PAYNE. Q. What do you mean by saying that the struggling and quarrelling was so great? A. I did not Bay that, I said I heard a grumbling in the bed room—I did not hear her say anything more than I have stated.
SARAH ANN DAY . I am the wife of George Day, a chimney sweep. I live on the second floor of the same house that Davis and his wife lived in—ours is the adjoining room to Mrs. Stump's—I remember Davis and his wife coming home on Tuesday night, 6th Oct., about 11 o'clock—when he was in the first floor passage I heard him say, "You b—soldier's w—"—she said, "No, Davis, don't say that, I have enough of you, I want no more"—they then went into their bed room, the back room—the bed room door was shut to—after they had gone into the bed room, and the door was shut to, I heard a grumbling noise; I could not hear what was said—at last I heard him say, "You b—w—, I will go and get it, and do it"—he came out of the bed room door, and locked the door, and locked her in, and he went to the front room door, and kicked that open—he then went back to the bed room, and opened the door again, and went in—I did not hear the door shut—I heard her say, "You b—rogue, you are going to kill me"—I did not hear him say anything to that—I then heard her and the child scream "Murder!" three times—the child said, "Oh! father, you b—, you are a-killing of my mother!"—Mr. and Mrs. Stump and myself all went down stairs together—when we got down I saw the deceased staggering from the bed room door through the passage with the child by her side—I saw Davis standing between the stairs and his bed room door with the razor in his hand—he was shaking the blood from his hand and the razor—after I had seen Mrs. Davis stagger through the passage with the child, I heard the prisoner say, "Come along, jack" (meaning Mr. Stump), "I will give myself up to you"—I then heard him say, "I have done it, Jack, I have done for the b—w—this time"—he then said, "I am a happy man now"—he said, "Here I stand, like a man, and will not flinch, but die for it"—he was not sober.
Cross-examined. Q. Were you in bed when you heard the commencement of this? A. No—I was up in my room, sitting up for my husband in the second floor back room—I heard them open the hall door to come in—he
called her a soldier's w—as soon as he came in at the door—it continued up the stairs, and in their room.
JOHN STUMP . I live in the same house with Davis and his wife. I was in bed on the night of 6th Oct.—I was awoke by my wife—I heard the kicking at the door, and screams of "Murder!" from below—Mr. Davis's rooms are down below—I went down stairs—I saw the prisoner standing against his bed room door, smothered with blood, and an open razor in his hand—I said, "Bob, what have you done?"—he said, "I have done the deed for her this time; come on, Jack, I will give myself up to you"—I then took the prisoner by the arm, and placed him against the wall; I said, "What a foolish man you must be, Bob, to do this"—he said, "I have done it; I am a happy man now, and I will die for it"—I then took the razor out of his hand—he said, "Stand on one side a minute or two, Jack, while I go out into the back yard"—I said, "No, Bob, you are in my hands, and I shall not let you go out until the arrival of a policeman, and when the policeman comes he will let you go out where he thinks proper"—the policeman came some few minutes afterwards, and I gave the prisoner into his hands, for killing his wife, and likewise the razor, which was covered with blood—I saw the wife stagger along the passage—it seemed as if she was bleeding from her throat—the prisoner was rather worse for drink.
Cross-examined. Q. I am afraid he was very often the worse for drink; was he not in the habit of being in drunken fits? A. At times—I did not remain in bed, I dare say, more than two or three minutes after my wife called me, before I went down—I went down stairs as soon as I heard the screams—I did not hear a good deal of scuffling between them—I went down because I heard the woman kicking at the door, and screams of "Murder."
MR. PAYNE. Q. Did you hear any quarrelling between the man and the woman? did you hear her use any violent expressions against him? A. No, I did not.
EDMUND PHILLIPS . I am a provision dealer in Albion Place, Ball's Pond, adjoining Dorset Street. I knew the deceased and her husband the prisoner, as customers—I saw them on the night of 6th Oct. about twenty minutes to 11 o'clock—they were standing outside Mr. Austin's public house, the Royal George—I did not take any particular notice of them at that time—they were standing outside, bidding somebody good night—about five minutes to 11 o'clock I was bolting my door, and heard a scream—I could not tell where it appeared to come from, till I opened the door—I then saw the boy Welch looking into Davis's passage—I next saw the deceased run out of the house, across the road, towards the boy—there was a light in the window where Mrs. Harman lives—Mrs. Davis held up her arms, apparently to Mrs. Harman, as though she was asking for Mrs. Harman—she staggered across the road towards me—when she got to the edge of the kerb I thought she was going to fall, and I put my arms out and caught her on my right shoulder—I asked her what was the matter—she could not answer—she put her hands up to her throat—I saw her throat was cut, and the blood pouring violently from it—I held her until Mrs. Harman came—I called out "Murder!" and "Police!"—Mrs. Harman came up and went back again, and I held her till she came again—I kept on crying "Police!" and when Mrs. Harman came I delivered the woman to her, and went into my shop, on account of my wife fainting there.
MARY ANN HARMAN . I am the wife of Edward Harman, of No. 17, Dorset Street. I know the house where Davis and his wife lived—my house is facing the door of theirs—my husband being out on the Tuesday, I was sitting up for him; when he came home, I went up to the top of the street with him
to the William public house to have a drop of beer with him—we came back; my husband went into the yard; I went up stairs—I heard a noise, and opened my window—I heard Mrs. Davis screaming "Murder!" and the little child crying out "You are killing my mother"—a few minutes afterwards Mrs. Davis rushed out of the passage across the road to me, put her hands up, and said, "Oh dear, Mrs. Harman"—I ran down stairs immediately, as fast as I could—when I got to the door, she had got across the road to Mr. Phillips, and fell in his arms—I ran back again as fast as I could, and screamed for my husband to fetch a doctor—her throat was bleeding very fast—I took her in my arms—she died a few steps from her own door.
JAMES WILLIAMSON . I am a surgeon, and live at 6, Mildmay Place Ball's Pond. On Tuesday night, Oct. 6th, I was called to the deceased, who was lying on the pavement in Dorset Street—she was dead, but warm—I examined to see what had caused her death, and found her throat cut—there was no doubt at all that she died from the cutting of the throat—it was such a wound as a razor would inflict.
JAMES HOLLIDAY . (Policeman, N 518). On the night of the 6th Oct. I was called to Dorset Street—I received the prisoner in charge from John Stump, at No, 11, Dorset Street; he also gave me this rater (produced).
HENRY BOVIS . (Police sergeant, N 1). I went to No. 11, Dorset Street, on the night of 6th Oct.—I saw the prisoner in the passage there—he was in custody—he did not say anything to me then—I was in the front room, and be sent for me—I went; he asked me if I would shake hands, which I did: he did not say anything at that time—I went into the next room to assist the deceased—he sent for me the second time—he said, "Well, sergeant, will you shake hands?" I did so—he sent for me the third time, and he said, "Well, sergeant, what am I charged with?"—I said, "You are charged with the wilful murder of your wife"—he said, "I wish I were in India, to kill some of the b—s there"—he then said, "Sergeant, I shall want you to take charge of all my things, as I shall want it for counsel"—he then pointed to a work box—he said, "There is something in there"—I opened the work box, and found a piece of paper which contained a certificate of the marriage—he told me to take care of that—I have got it—on the way to the station he asked me if his wife was dead—I told him yes—he then said, "It is a bad job; it can't be helped now; it was all done in a moment"—he was drunk—I had cautioned him two or three times previous to his saying anything.
GEORGE LANGDON . (Police inspector, N). On Wednesday morning, about ten minutes to 1 o'clock, I was at the station—the prisoner said, "Mr. Langdon, I want to speak to you"—I proceeded to the cell door; seeing the state he was in, I said "Davis, you are not in a fit state to make any statement to me; go and lie down; I decline to listen to anything you say?—at half past 3 o'clock he said, "Mr. Langdon, are you there? I want to speak to you"—I then went to his cell again; I then said, "Davis, you had better be careful what you say to me; this is a very serious charge, and whatever you say to me, I might have to use it in evidence against you on your trial"—he said, "I thank you"—he then said, that they had been out all day together, his wife and he, and had spent a comfortable day together; he had been carrying some work home to Peckham Rye, and when they got home to their residence at Ball's Pond, he went out to get a pint of beer, some rum, and a pound of meat for their supper; when he returned home this occurred momentarily; he did not do it—he said, "I did not do it"—he then said, "Is she dead?"—I said, "She is"—he said,
"Good God, a better wife never walked English ground"—on the way to the police Court, the following day, he said, going along in the cab, "It's a bad job; I did not do it; I liked her too well to serve her in that way."
GUILTY .— DEATH .
Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 09 March 2013), October 1857, trial of THOMAS ROBERT DAVIS (40) (t18571026-1077).
Note: not certain that the execution actually happened?