Sarah Dazley - Full Newspaper Report on the Trial
Bedfordshire Mercury and Huntingdon Express 22 July 1843
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SATURDAY CROWN COURT (Before Baron Alderson)
THE MURDER AT WRESTLINGWORTH
Sarah Dazley, aged 28, of Wrestlingworth, committed 21 March, was indicted for the wilful murder of Jonas Mead. " The Grand Jury ignored the bill on second charge.
Mr Prendergast and Mr Gunning appeared for the prosecution; Mr O'Malley conducted the defence.
The prisoner, on being called into the dock, appeared to be very much affected. However, after the indictment had been read, she firmly and boldly said "Not Guilty". During the time the Jury were being sworn, tears were observed to trickle down the wretched woman's cheeks. The Court was crowded to an almost suffocating degree, so great was the interest excited.
Mr Prendergast said, in addressing the Jury, that at the time the matter occurred, William Dazley, deceased, was a labourer, living at Wrestlingworth, and the prisoner, Sarah Dazley, was his wife. It appeared that they had lived for some time together, and he was not aware of anything having occurred between them different from what is generally found in persons of the married state, and in their circumstances of life, excepting on one occasion, not long before William Dazley died, when they had a quarrel of a most serious description. On the 22nd of October, being Saturday, or the 23rd, being Sunday, the unfortunate deceased appeared to be attacked with sickness of a serious and aggravated kind. A medical gentleman, Mr Sandal of Potton, was called in to see the deceased, and he ordered him some proper medicines, and the deceased was better. On Tuesday he was in a better state of health still, but on the following day he was seized with violent sickness, after taking a pill which had been placed for him on a table near his bed by his wife. One of the pills was taken by a young woman, who would be called, which had a remarkable effect on her. Part of the contents of the stomach which Dazley vomited in consequence of taking the pill, were thrown into a yard adjoining the house where there was a pig; the pig appeared to have eaten the substance, and was found dead the following morning. The symptoms of deceased continued during Wednesday: on Thursday he was better, and on Friday he was better still; on Saturday he was better than he had been during the week. On the evening of that day some medicine was given to deceased by his wife, as coming from Mr Sandal, the surgeon, at Potton. About half an hour afterwards he was seized with similar symptoms to those he had after taking the pill, in a more aggravated form, and at half past six the following (Sunday) morning he died. No particular examination of the body then took place. The medical gentleman of Potton proposed a post mortem examination, but was not allowed by the prisoner. Some time after, however, in consequence of rumours in the neighbourhood of Wrestlingworth, the body of the deceased was disinterred, and examined by the surgeons; the internal parts were ascertained to be in that state they would have been had something of an inflammatory nature been administered " as those medical men, who would be called, and who had examined the stomach would tell them, - just in such a state as it would have been had poison been administered. The internal parts were in a high state of preservation, which is always the case when some kinds of poison are taken. In various parts of the intestines, a white powder, which had been subjected to analyzation, was found, which the surgeons would tell them was arsenic. The circumstance of sickness following after the pill and after the powder were administered to the deceased, the circumstances of the young woman, who also took one of the pills, being seized with sickness, and the circumstance of the pig, which had eaten what had been vomited by Dazley, dying, all showed that what had been administered must have been poison. And who was the cause of the death of William Dazley? His wife attended him during his illness, and no medicine was given to him but by her, or by her direction; and it would be clearly shewn that the prisoner was in the possession of arsenic at the time the illness of deceased commenced, on the 23rd October, and previously to that time. On the Tuesday the prisoner was seen making pills. On Wednesday she went to see the medical attendant at Potton; he gave her some medicine, which would be proved to have been pills (although he had no recollection of giving them to her), and which were changed for other pills on the road. These pills she told a person who was with her she got from Mrs Gurry, and that they would do her husband more good than those which Mr Sandal had sent for him. She took them from a piece of old newspaper and a witness would be called who saw Sarah Dazley put the pills she made in a piece of old newspaper. The symptoms of the young woman who took one of the pills were precisely the same, after taking the pills, as those observed in the deceased.
Some time afterwards, in consequence of the numerous rumours in the neighbourhood " when the nature of the death had become rife, and the exhumation of the body was about to take place " the prisoner left Wrestlingworth and went on her road to London, with a person who she described as her brother, but who was not. She was followed to London, taken there a day or two after, just at the time the investigation was taking place in a serious manner. Not long before the illness of her husband, they had a most serious quarrel; he struck her, and she struck him. At that time she said she would be even with him some day " she didn't care for such a man as he was. The prisoner had also said two months before her husbands death, at a time when he was quite well, to a person of the name of Waldock, that her husband would not live long " he was so short breathed she would soon have to follow him to his grave. The prisoner, after being taken in London and brought to Biggleswade, made a statement before two persons, who will be called. The jury would have to say that, finding that the prisoner was the only person through whom medicine was administered " finding that she was in the possession of arsenic " finding that she made pills, which she substituted for those sent by the medical man " finding the circumstances under which the prisoner was then living with her husband " finding that there was hardly a possibility of the arsenic being administered by any other person, except be her means " finding such to be her conduct on the rumour in the neighbourhood, and such her statement at he inn, it would be for the jury to decide whether the prisoner was guilty or not guilty.
Elizabeth Dazley " Know the prisoner at the bar, who was the wife of my son: they had no family: I lived in the same village with them: I was sent for on Sunday the 23rd of October, it was about one o'clock, he was ill in bed: very sick and vomiting. He complained of pain in his stomach: I remained with him until the evening, and left about 7 o'clock. I was with him again between 8 and 9 on Monday morning. Mr Sandel was there about 4 o'clock on Sunday: a bottle of medicine came in the evening, which deceased took. His wife gave him part of it. When I went on Monday morning he was still vomiting; I saw nothing given to him on Monday. Saw him again on Tuesday morning about 9, he was yet sick, I saw nothing given to him that day.
I went again on Wednesday morning, and he was a little better, and talked more cheerfully. He vomited again on Wednesday, when he appeared worse. About 7 o'clock William Bunyan went to fetch some medicine from Mr Sandel's: my son complained of pain in his bowels; I laid a bran poultice on his stomach. He also complained of heat at the throat, and I put three leeches on it. They drew, and bled profusely; Bunyan brought some liquid in a bottle, which he took and was easier after. Did not see any pills given on Wednesday: I remained with him all night; he dozed, and his wife went to bed. He vomited into the pot, and it was emptied into a front yard of the cottage; it was a yard littered down with straw: I threw it among the straw. On the following morning I found a pig which was kept in the yard, dead; the pig was there when I emptied the pot the night before. I said to the prisoner "Sarah whose pig is this?" She said "It is Mr Gurry's; pray mother, empty the pot next time into the yard". On Thursday morning he was more cheerful, but deceased still vomited. On Friday morning I went to see him again, he appeared better, but vomited, although not in so much pain. On Saturday I saw him about two o'clock. He seemed a good deal better and got up for an hour. I saw him again about six in the evening, he was then better and talked cheerfully. I was fetched about 1 o'clock my son was very sick, and complained of pain in his chest, putting his hand to his breast (as I now do) it was a very severe pain; he continued vomiting; and died about half past six o'clock that morning: the vomiting was enough to reach his insides out; was not sick during the last hour, Mr and Mrs Gurry came about an hour before he died.
Cross examined by Mr O'Malley " Became ill on the 23rd, his wife sent for Mr Sandel; she gave him something out of the bottle, according to directions; on Wednesday she sent William Bunion for Sandel; he did not come but sent some medicine; at his death on Sunday there were present Mr and Mrs Gurry, witnesses husband, two sons, Mary Bull, and the prisoner. Mr Gurry sells medicines and gives advice; Hannah Dark and a little girl laid the person out; they cleaned up the place; the prisoner was upstairs and we came downstairs; deceased vomited on the boards and bed; witness took the candle on Sunday morning to see what he brought up; Mary Ball came on Wednesday and staid till the day after he died. Ann Mead lived in the house, she was the daughter of the first husband's sister; deceased was better at six o'clock on Saturday when witness left; he never said the pain had come back; the yard is the farm yard in which the house stands, and there is a thoroughfare; Mr Garry's pigs were in the yard; her son lived in the cottage in the yard; never saw but one pig of Gurry's; it was dead and swelled like a bladder; it was about 10 or 11 weeks old; thought her son had some inflammation which the pig had caught; mentioned before the coroner the last time that she saw the pig dead. [The Judge objected to the mode of putting the question]. Did not mention it to Mr Sandal; told him that she objected to open the body; Mr Sandal said that he was sure his illness was not the cause of his death.
Mr Prendergast " did mention it to several persons, and mentioned it to Mr Gurry [The judge objected to the question, as it did not explain any previous question or the answer to it].
Ann Mead sworn, stated that she was 15 years old; prisoner is her aunt-in-law; remembers the death of her husband; lived in his house up to the Wednesday before his death on Sunday,; was taken ill on the Sunday before witness left, with sickness; he kept getting worse; the day before witness went away saw prisoner making some pills in a saucer; wrapped them up in a piece of newspaper and put them in he pocket; saw three pills after she had mixed something in a saucer, which were brown; her aunt said she was going to Potton; no-one went with her out of the house. Mrs Dazley brought some pills with her in a red pill box; heard her tell her husband about 12, at noon, to take the pills; she opened the box when she came home, and put the pills on the table beside his bed; there were 3 pills; they appeared to be white; she said she was going to Eyeworth, Dazley said he could not take the pills; witness said "see me take one" which she did; Dazley then took one, the others remained; was a quarter of an hour in the room; about 2 began to be ill, was sick, had aching pains in her throat; was bad for two or three days, always throwing up; had pain all the while in the chest and throat; the man who died told her witness had taken one of the pills; she scolded me and told me I should not have taken it; the people in the house said witness had got the sick headache; next day grandmother fetched her home; William Dazley was sick the same as I was; Mr Dazley became sick about an hour after witness; can't tell what became of the third pill.
Mary Carver " Knows the prisoner; went with her to Mr Sandel's at Potton, on Wednesday morning; got back about half past twelve o'clock; the prisoner asked Mr Sandel to give her a few pills, as her husband was not willing to take his medicine; Mr Sandel said he must take his medicine, and he would send him three resting pills, and the prisoner was to give him two when she got home; she had also a bottle filled by Mr Sandel; she took the pills out of the box and threw them into the ditch, and took a piece of newspaper out of her pocket and put three pills out of it into the box; she said she thought those pills would do him the most good, she had got them of Mrs Garry; parted with her before going into Dazley's house; was there in the afternoon, and saw William Dazley there; he was wonderfully retching; saw Ann Mead; was ill with a retching and a pain in the head; was at the house on Friday about three or four o'clock in the afternoon; saw William Dazley then; he was a little better; the prisoner asked me to help her to wash her linen; she said her husband was so short of breath he would soon be taken ill; he was sometimes a sickly man before that; did not appear to ail anything at the time.
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " Waldock paid court to witness at the end of last harvest; did not hope he would marry her; -(laughter was here indulged in by some persons in the court, and the learned Judge remarked with some severity on the impropriety of so doing, on such an important and momentous trial, particularly in the quarter where it came from) " did not expect him to marry witness; he was paying court to her till last harvest; cannot tell when she heard that Sarah Dazley was going to marry Waldock; witness told his mother the prisoner seemed wonderful fond of her husband about a fortnight after his death; does not remember speaking to Waldock about it; the pills she put into the box were a dark colour; in the evening heard he was a great deal worse; never gave remembrance of the pills when she saw Dazley worse did not mention it to her mother.
Henry William Sandel, of Potton, Surgeon, sworn, stated that about two or three o'clock, found the deceased complaining of pain in the stomach, sickness and retching; thought it was a common irritation of the stomach; should have saline composed of carbonate of soda and tartaric acid for effervescing; witness called on Tuesday; he was very little better, if any; sent an aperient powder, composed of tartarite of soda one drachm, powdered rhubarb ten grains and powdered ginger ten grains; it was nearly as dark as rhubarb; found him better on Wednesday about 10 or 11 o'clock; then gave him a mild stomachic mixture; thinks Mrs Dazley came on Wednesday itself for it; did not recollect sending any pills; there is no account of them in the day book; generally enters in the day book before making any medicine; the pills are not in the day book on that day; on the Thursday found him better; his mother said he had a pain in his throat, and put on some flannel; if the powder had been mixed with water the colour would have become darker; similar powders were produced to the court; prisoner said her husband was considerably better; on the Monday heard he was dead, and went on Tuesday; was surprised at his death; she did not answer the question put to her, but cried and seemed in great distress; enquired how he was previous to his death; proposed an examination of his body, as witness could not account for his death; she said she was quite satisfied with my attendance, but could not allow it; he does not keep arsenic in powder; does not always put white powder; if perient, puts magnesin; seldom puts white powder to resting pills made of opium; they have one grain in each, and would not give an anodyne in inflammation of the bowels; could not have ordered him opium pills with two grains on the Wednesday morning; should not have thought of giving resting pills when the inflammation had subsided, as he would not have required it, unless there was irritation without inflammation, should not have given him resting pills but a mild tonic; makes a distinction between irritation and inflammation.
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " His pulse was stronger and more regular; the inflammation had wholly subsided; if arsenic was in the stomach it would depend on the quantity to exhibit inflammation; irritation in the bowels may be in the bowels without external tenderness; powder is put with pills to prevent them massing; when dry pills it is not necessary; did not suspect the man was poisoned, therefore did not tell the coroner; asked to open the body to enlighten him as to the cause of death; did not offer to give a certificate that would clear her character; she said there were rumours that she had poisoned her husband.
Re-examined by Mr Prendergast " John Dazley, brother to the deceased, was with him when he died; had sat up with him; his wife put a white powder into a cup, which she took out of a paper by the bedside; and put some water, and stirred it with a spoon; she told him if he would take that powder he would soon be better or worse and that Mr Sandal said so; he took the powder from his wife’s hand and drank off what was in the cup, and he took a little water soon afterwards; for about an hour afterwards he seemed easy; he then vomited into the pot and complained of a pain as of choking; at last he vomited a little blood up; the sickness gave over an hour before his death; he asked for a drink every now and then.
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " It was candle-light, the candle was half burnt out; it stood upon the table where the white powder was laying; when he went up about nine o'clock it was about two feet from the bed; the light was on the same side and she stood rather to one side so as he could see the cup; he vomited when witness went up; did not vomit for an hour after taking the powder.
Gilbert Dazley, brother of deceased, went about nine o'clock at night on Saturday; saw his wife give him a white powder, it was wrapped up in paper; she said if it operated right he would soon be better, and if it operated wrong it would soon be dead. Mr Sandal said so. Saw her pull the paper out of her bosom and put it (the white powder) in the teacup; she put water out of a teapot to it, he was not willing to take it at first; was sure it was quite white; heard him retch an hour and a half but did not see him; at 4 o'clock went up to his room and stayed till he died.
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " was about two feet and a half from the table.
Mary Bull " When she saw the powder it was dry; she (witness proposed that he should take the powder; he refused; she said go downstairs Mary and I will give it him; did so, and went down; heard him retch in an hour after; he complained of pain in his chest; he was better before he took the powder. Was there before the young Dazley came in; did not see the powder put in the cup, but saw it a minute or two afterwards. A teapot was on the table with tea in it, not of a deep colour. The two young Dazley's were in the room on the other side of the bed, when witness had the cup in her hand. The colour white by candlelight. Was only going backwards and forwards upstairs. The powder was dry in the cup when she went downstairs.
Sarah Garry " Was sent for on Saturday night. On Sunday morning went to Dazley's house; remained till he died. Gave Sarah Dazley some antibilious pills out of a box (produced) the Saturday previous before her husband died. He had been very poorly at times before.
Mr Garry " had a pig in the yard at Dazley's house, which died two or three days before Dazley.
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " Found the pig sick, and put it in the barn where it died.
By the Judge " Threw it out of the barn
Mr J Burnham " Am a chemist at Potton; the prisoner has been in the habit of coming back and forward as a customer; remember supplying on the 22nd October half an ounce of syrup of rhubarb, and pound of black lead to her; some saltpetre had been previously ordered; I recall selling her one pennyworth of arsenic about the fall of last year; does not know that he sold it more than once to her ; is positive it was on a Saturday between the summer and Christmas.
Robert Norman " Boy with Mr Bond of Potton, remembers Sarah Dazley coming between 10 and 11 months ago for some arsenic; she said she wanted to poison mice and rats; gave her one pennyworth.
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " it was about 10 or 11 months ago; never said it was about 10 months before the inquest; they were pulling down Mr Hall's bakehouse, which was at the same time; can swear she had one pennyworth of arsenic in a bit of paper.
George Waldock " Was living with his mother when Sarah Dazley came and he asked how she liked to be married she said she had a very good husband but wished he was dead, she should like to follow him; recollects her husband dying; began to court her about Christmas; put the banns up; had a conversation with her the first Sunday about the report of her husbands death and mentioned what she said to him before, when she said it was a joke, and did not think anything of it; he stopped the banns; she said they might take up her husband if they pleased; they might do what they liked; there was some talk about her husband and her fighting; she said "I would always do for any man that would hit me, and would be d----d if I would not, and so I did2; he said, do you mean to say you poisoned him; "no, but I never took him his dinner after; nor took him up some beer for supper, nor would I if I lived for twenty years after."
Cross-examined by Mr O'Malley " The prisoner laughed when her counsel put the question to the witness, "you were very much given to courting"; a long examination of different attachments of the witness took place, but were unimportant.
John Healey, of Wrestlingworth, stated " On the 12th of October the deceased and his wife came fighting out of their house; prisoner said "I don't care a damn about such a man, and I never will; but I shall be a match for you some time or other. Witness saw them both strike blows, prisoner was in great passion.
Rebecca Craft, of the New Inn, between Baldock and Biggleswade, prisoner came to their house on the Thursday before the inquest; she asked witness if she had seen a young man go past with a bundle tied up in a shawl. I said I had not; witness's husband said "you have got a good husband, and I suppose have run away"; she said "it was concerning a young woman who said her husband had been poisoned, and she would have him taken up and cut limb from limb.
John Gynn " Apprehended the prisoner at Broken Wharf, Upper Thames Street, London; witness said "I suppose you know what we want you for"; she answered "Yes, I know they say I murdered my husband, but they can't prove that I bought the poison, or gave him anything, but what I bought of the doctor. They say the last thing I gave him was out of a teacup, but that is not true, for I gave him some pills. If you had not come for me I should have given myself up, for I am sorry I done it."
Mary Ann Knibbs " Lives at The Eagle, Biggleswade, the prisoner slept at the house, and witness slept with her; ordered to do so by the constable; she told witness how her husband was taken ill; that he was seized with a sickness and shivering, and at the request of his mother went to the doctor's; she likewise told witness that Mary Carver had said that she threw the pills away; but she (prisoner) said she did not. Fanny Simmons was also sleeping with her.; Simmons told the prisoner that it was reported that she (prisoner) should say, "that she would have seven husbands in seven years; " prisoner said " I did not say so, I said I would have seven husbands in ten years" She likewise said "They don't hang people as much as they used to do; there is one thing to prove, no-one knows where I bought the poison; no-one saw me give it him."
Fanny Simmons " She told us to get into bed, and she would tell us all about it (This witness recapitulated the prisoners statement, as made to Knibbs)
James Dillon, Clerk of Wrestlingworth, identified at the inquest the body of William Dazley, which he deposed to.
G D Hedley Esq. " Is not a surgeon in the Infirmary, was formerly a lecturer on medical jurisprudence. On opening the body of William Dazley found the outer parts (face and skin) very decomposed, but the inner parts very fresh; there was a redness and florid hue in the outer parts of the intestines; there were also one or two patches of a bright yellow on the outside of one small intestine; there was some white powder ; there was an opening in the bowels, through which it had escaped. The parts were taken in a stone jar to the infirmary; on examining them we found at least a drachm of arsenic in the body, also appearances of violent inflammation.
In reply to the Judge " That person died from taking arsenic; a drachm is more than enough to produce death. The first symptom is vomiting, which is from one to eight hours before it begins, accompanied by pain and tightness in the throat, and faintness when vomiting. Arsenic is not readily thrown out when vomiting, from the envelope of mucus which covers it. The non-decomposed state of the internal parts may be attributed to the presence of the arsenic. Reproduced the metal, and reconverted it into white oxide of arsenic, and applied the arsenal liquid tests. They indicated arsenic in every trial.
Cross-examined by Mr O’Malley " There is an absence sometimes of inflammation of the stomach when a person takes a large dose of arsenic; has not met with a case where an erosion has taken place, but it may take place in two days; the erosion in the gullet was considerable; leeches would relieve it; should not expect a person to live two or three days after the contents of the bowels have escaped into the cavity.
Isaac Hurst, Esq., said he had been a surgeon in the town for 30 years; from the whole assemblage of medical circumstances he had no doubt the man died from taking arsenic.
William Thurnall, house surgeon to the Bedford Infirmary, believed there was quite sufficient arsenic to cause the death of the person.
This closed the case for the prosecution.
Mr O’Malley addressed the Jury at great length, but called no witnesses.
His Lordship summed up the case with great solemnity and precision.
The Jury then retired, and in half an hour returned with a verdict of GUILTY, when an awful silence pervaded the Court.
The Learned Judge having placed the black cap on his head, proceeded to address the prisoner in a solemn depressed tone of voice, admonishing her to prepare for the presence of her creator, and alluded to the death of her child in the most feeling language; his lordship concluded with passing sentence in the usual awful manner. The prisoner exclaimed " “I AM NOT GUILTY!”
Bedfordshire Mercury and Huntingdon Express 29 July 1843
[As 22 July with the following addition:]
Mr O’Malley then rose and said that it now became his unhappy duty to address the Jury on behalf of the poor unfortunate woman; and it was with unfeigned sincerity that he said that he had never, during the whole course of his profession, undertook a duty, the discharge of which, gave him more pain. He felt, and deeply felt, that he was not equal to the duty under the peculiar circumstances under which he was placed. He stood there, as the jury would perceive, opposed by the ablest counsel which could have been selected to conduct the prosecution, with all the information the country could supply them with, while he (Mr O’Malley) was unprepared with any information except that to be derived from the depositions taken before the coroner; and the statements of the additional witnesses. This placed him in uninterrupted difficulty. In the absence of resources, and under his inability to do justice to the case, he should not have undertaken it, but he was aware that he should have the proper and powerful support which the constitution of the country afforded to such persons under such circumstances. And tried as she was by such a Judge (whose feelings were never marked against anyt persons tried for life) he was led to hope that the learned Judge’s humanity and learning would be brought to bear in this case: and whatever he might leave unsaid, or misapply wrongly or indiscreetly, would be corrected by the experience and knowledge of the learned judge. The difficulties which had increased since he had come there, for he had learned that prejudices had been acted upon, rumours had been circulated far and wide, stories had been told and magnified as they had gone about, of the crime with which the prisoner was charged.; presuming, from first to last, that she was guilty; and, the jury were aware, that it was one of the unfortunate conditions of the human mind to give full credit to such stories. Those prejudices, and rumours, and stories abounded in every part of the neighbourhood; so that, he was sorry to say, in representing the prisoner at the bar, before her case commenced, he was not only without resources but also without their sympathy. Such had been the effect of the reports which had been circulated. But he (Mr O’Malley) knew from his own experience how completely feelings within, arising from prejudices without, vanished on the jury when entering the box, and how justice could be done by juries acting contrary to prejudices, and he hoped, therefore, to have their merciful consideration. He would go through the evidence, and point out to them what appeared to him to present insuperable barriers to conviction in this charge. He would first remark on the nature of the evidence, and he must say that it was of a harsh and cruel nature. They had heard witnesses for the purpose of raking up every idle word and expression which the poor unfortunate woman had used, and which she had uttered months before the charge was brought against her " those expressions had been raked together, considerably coloured, and presented to the Jury as material evidence to prove the prisoner’s guilt. He (Mr O’Malley) would apply a few observations to that part of the evidence and would be as short as he possibly could. It was conceded by his learned friend who had opened the case for the prosecution, that there was nothing in the ordinary tenor of the womans life, while she lived with her husband, but what might naturally be expected by persons in their circumstances of life. Her conduct had been of the highest character. There was not a single circumstance in the history of that woman’s married life shewing any malice or evil disposition towards her husband to strangers it was left to assign some motive of malice against him. Surely the father, and mother, and brothers, and niece, and people living in the house could have supplied that evidence, if their life had not been of a character equal to persons in their sphere and condition. It might be, therefore, assumed that they were a loving couple. the evidence to the contrary spoke to a sudden quarrel rising between them, when the woman was under great provocation; for there was nothing so calculated to excite a woman’s temper as when her husband laid hands upon her. To give effect to that quarrel they had they had brought before them a conversation between the prisoner and Waldock " a conversation the previous style and temper of which they knew nothing; and where were the wives who would not sometimes in the lightness of their hearts, and in their moments of idleness indulge in such frivolities!
The style in which those conversations were altered, was the only way to judge of their tone and as they knew nothing in the way and manner in which they were uttered, did it not appear as if the affair had been trumped up to tell against the prisoner. This was the only instance brought forward in evidence at all showing any evidence or ill will. Even supposing the conversation to have been as Waldock had said, it would be characterised by the most extraordinary inconsistency, unless uttered it that light and jocular manner he had alluded to. Was it not probable that she said "My husband will soon be getting ill, , he is very short breathed, and I shall want you to come and visit me", when you hear from Mrs Gurry that her husband had been getting ill. A slight turn of the sentence would alter the meaning and character of it. With regard to the conversation between the prisoner and Knibbs and Simmons, the learned counsel contended that it was dangerous to take notice of such loose expressions; the whole tone of her conversation with them being a denial of her guilt. If the jury considered it otherwise it would be saying in one word "I am guilty" and the next "I am not". He trusted that when they considered that part of the case they would say that it really was favourable to the unfortunate woman. For she, even then, with reports from one end to the neighbourhood to the other of having poisoned her husband, and being now in the custody of the officers, in the consciousness of her innocence, and the certainty of justice, said "A proof of the thing must be made out before I can be convicted; it cannot be done; I know I am safe whatever the prejudice and rumours may be; I cannot be hanged, because they cannot show that I either bought or administered the poison."
Such was the meaning of the observations now pressed against the prisoner to endeavour to establish her guilt. He hoped no reliance would be placed upon the statement made against the prisoner by Waldock. Did that man give his evidence in a satisfactory way? Were they satisfied with him, when a woman as standing there for life or death? Were they satisfied with Waldock who came there and swore to the use of words " the very form and turn of expression- their verbal accuracy " used nearly twelve months ago " and yet the most important transactions in which he had been engaged he knew nothing of. Nay, in these transactions, not only could he not speak of the form of expression, but had utterly forgotten what the very nature of them were. The learned counsel would not charge him with harshly coming to swear away the life of the prisoner; but he contended that he (Waldock) was carried away by prejudice and preconceived opinions existing in his own mind, and whatever were his feelings once, he was now anxious to push to the utmost limit all that he knew against her. The only important to which he had spoken showed the temper of the man " because there was nothing easier in relating a conversation than to give one branch and leave the other. He had also sworn that the woman had uttered language which showed her crime " the language of revenge. And yet he said when he asked her if she intended to poison him that her answer was "No, she had not taken him any dinner or beer, nor would do so if she lived for twenty years." He (Mr O'Malley) trusted that no reliance would be placed on his testimony when the character of the facts to which he deposed were considered.
He would now call attention to the facts connected with the death of William Dazley. The charge made against the prisoner was one of the most horrible that it was possible for a human being to be charged with " there was not an instance of greater guilt than that with which she was charged.
MURDER was the highest offence, with the exception of treason " but this was the murder of one to whom she had avowed obedience and affection " one with whom she was having a happy and peaceable life " murder by poison administered in the helplessness of sickness and disease " at the very moment he is leaning on her bosom for comfort and support. Could the jury believe the prisoner guilty? " guilty of that which, in her 28th year, without sufficient temptation, had plunged her into the lowest depths of guilt and misery. When they considered the nature of the charge " the magnitude of the guilt " and looked at her time and circumstances of life he (the learned counsel) was quite sure they would require clear and conclusive evidence before they said she was guilty. And could they say the evidence which had been given was free from doubt and difficulty? Let them look at the history of the disease. Dazley is taken ill on one Sunday, he dies the next. Does the prisoner seek for opportunity to poison him? She sends for his relations and friends. For what? To witness her guilt if she be the murderer of the man? She sends at the first for the doctor, who would have been most capable of discovering poison, if it had been administered. She sends twice again during his illness, and goes once herself. Would a guilty person have done so. Crime seeks seclusion, it seeks to withdraw itself from observation and place around it as many safeguards as possible; but this woman seeks to make it public. Look at the way in which it is said she administered it; whenever you hear of powders or pills or any medicine, or the administration of them, it is when other persons are present - Mary Carver is with her when she goes for medicine to Potton " Mary Bull is in the kitchen to witness something else - and it is said she administered poison while the two brothers were standing by the bedside. These were inconsistencies and difficulties which must be got over, before the Jury could come to the conclusion that the prisoner was guilty
It was not competent for him (the learned counsel) to deny that the man was poisoned by taking arsenic; after the analysis made by those medical gentlemen who had given evidence; he was quite satisfied there was no possibility of shaking the testimony on that point. Were the jury satisfied the prisoner had arsenic in her possession? Mr Burnham had no memorandum " no real knowledge of the time when he disposed of arsenic to her, yet he was quite sure that she bought one penny worth. The errand boy in Burnham's shop took them anterior to the time of the quarrel with her husband " he said it was about 11 months ago from the present time. He doubted the accuracy of this boy's statement: it was not his business to sell arsenic. The master himself declared that he sold it: the boy says it was sold by the shop boy, yet the shop boy made no entry of it in the books. He submitted therefore that in the absence of satisfactory evidence of the purchase of poison, they could not find the prisoner guilty. The woman, during the whole of this eventful period, never administered medicine but at times when it had been prescribed by Mr Sandel.
Let them look to Mary Carver's evidence respecting the pills: she said she saw the prisoner by the roadside throw out the pills given her by Mr Sandel, and substitute those which she said she got from Mrs Gurry. Recollect the colour she had told them they were. She had stated that Mr Sandel's pills were white and those substituted much darker; was it not reasonable to suppose that those were really pills bought of Mrs Gurry? But Mr Sandel denied selling pills " he could not believe that he did " he hardly thought it possible, he had no entry to that in his books " if he did sell any they would have been of a different colour to those described to the witness he had just alluded to. Painful as it was to charge anyone with a wilful misrepresentation of the truth, he must say that Mary Carver had given evidence that must not be believed. If it had been the prisoners intention to have poisoned her husband , she would not have chosen an occasion to change the pills in the presence of a second party. Look to Mary Carver's subsequent conduct with regard to the pills " She leaves her at Wrestlingworth between 12 and 1 " she visits her again at her own house in the afternoon " she sees the man, William Dazley, considerably worse " sees him labouring under the most aggravated symptoms " yet it never occurred to her mind to say " Why did you change the pills? She tells you that it had escaped her mind and vanished from her recollection when it was most likely to be important " and she never thinks of naming it till the man had been dead a fortnight, when she mentions it to her mother. He thought they had heard enough to hew that Mary Carver had had a hand in circulating the report against the unfortunate woman " and had a feeling against her in consequence of Waldock having deserted her to pay his addresses to the prisoner. He begged of them then to dismiss from their minds the evidence of this witness altogether, as it was not supported by a tittle of corroborative evidence.
The powder was said to have been administered in the presence of two young men., recollect their testimony; it was for the jury to determine whether they had been carried away by prejudice; he did not wish to cast any reflection upon them " he only wished to cast reflection upon their evidence. They were called into court to prove the exact colour of the powder, which was seen by candlelight; they told him that it was a white one, and everything in a great measure depended upon the accuracy of their statement. John Dazley spoke first to the fact. Nothing could appear to be more clear than that statement about it " he told them where the table stood " where the candle was placed " where he was himself " and where the prisoner stood. He came at 9 o'clock, his mother was just removing a vessel into which he ad been sick; and the powder was lying in a paper by the bedside. He swore to it; there he remained for half an hour, when his wife administered it. The next brother gives you the position of himself, and his brother and the candle, and says he saw the woman distinctly take the powder from her bosom, and though interrogated over and over again on that point, yet he never swerved; he was quite positive he saw her do it; he was quite sure that there could be no mistake in his mind. No human ingenuity could reconcile these two stories. Could the jury undertake to say which was true? If they could not arrive at the truth of one statement, both of them ought to be dispersed with. Those were the two witnesses on which they were to decide so nice a point as to the colour of two powders. Besides, they had no great opportunity of seeing it. They found that the woman was between the second brother and the table, and yet he undertook to swear to the colour of that powder, though they differed in other respects. In such a position then the action of putting the powder into the cup would afford but slight opportunity of observing the colour of it. How was it possible that a woman standing with her whole body between the two, unless they were in right angles, could determine the point? The third witness's statement was not consistent with either of them. One says the powder was lying on the table, another says she took it from her bosom, the third that it was dry in the cup when he came in. The contradictory evidence of those witnesses must be reconciled before they could arrive at a right conclusion. But supposing there were arsenic in the house according to the evidence of the errand boy, it was procured before there was any quarrel between the prisoner and her husband " when no vindictive feeling existed " supposing arsenic was found in the house " it was not improbable that, in the hurry and confusion of the moment, considering the small corners of those houses where things were put, she might have taken arsenic by mistake, and poisoned her husband by accident. The contrary must be shown before the impression could be removed. The prisoner would not have been the first who had poisoned her husband by mistake [Mr O'Malley instanced the case of the Irish privates wife poisoning her husband by mistake in administering arsenic instead of medicine].
What motive could the prisoner have had to perpetrate such a deed? It had not been shown there was any attachment to any other man " any hankering after any other person " what motive, he asked, could be conceived " what reason assigned for doing this deed under such circumstances, and at such a time, when there was no possibility of escaping detection. The learned counsel then alluded to the statement of Mr Sandel respecting his surprise at the suddenness of the deceased's departure, and his asking the wife to allow him to open the body of the deceased. He (the learned counsel) contended that it was natural for a wife under any circumstances to refuse her consent to have the body of her husband opened " that she was the wrong person to make the application to " and that it was remarkable that if he thought the death extraordinary, he did not give information to the coroner. But to show he had no suspicions he was willing to give her, when the rumours had spread far and wide, a certificate of her attention, kindness and watchfulness during her husband's illness. If the prisoner had been guilty of the crime it was strange that other persons were allowed by her to lay out the body of her husband, with the vessels about the room.
Everything depended on the extreme accuracy of the witnesses, and they had not been examined immediately after the event, but after a lapse of many months " when the remembrance of the circumstances had nearly died away. In conclusion, if she committed the crime she must have brought friends and neighbours to witness the murder of her husband " if she committed the crime she must have called the doctor to have told him of its commission " if she committed the crime she must have gone through it with a quietness, a composure, a firmness and presence of mind unequalled in the annals of crime.
And when they looked at the youth of the woman " the situation in which she was placed " with so many eyes upon her, he would ask them was it possible she could have done it with so much composure? She manifested nothing at the time but what was natural, tender and affectionate. That alone was sufficient to outweigh a great deal of evidence. Looking at the case in every point of view, it was impossible to find the prisoner guilty. After an earnest appeal on behalf of the unhappy woman, the learned counsel left the case with the Jury.
The learned Judge said " The question the Jury had to determine (with God's help) was whether Sarah Dazley was guilty of the crime with which she was charged, that of wilfully and maliciously poisoning her husband, William Dazley, with arsenic, whereby in the words of the indictment 'he became sick, ill, and died'. If in case the jury were satisfied that arsenic was administered to him by the prisoner, and he took it not knowing it to be so, and it caused his death " if they had no reasonable doubt but that it was done wilfully, then it must have been wilfully and maliciously done; for the wilful administration of poison constituted the crime with a design to kill which was malicious ; therefore the questions for them to consider were:- Did William Dazley die from the effects of poison administered to him by someone? Was the poison wilfully administered? And was the prisoner the person who administered it? Those were questions the jury had to determine by their verdict. If it were found that the prisoner were guilty, the consequences no doubt were dreadful; but that was the case with all capital offences; and if a jury were never to convict of any offence because it was capital " if no jury were to convict of murder " because the person found guilty was liable to the punishment of death, where was the use of trying for murder at all? If from the circumstances which had been brought to their notice, clear and satisfactory proof were given to the minds of the guilt of a prisoner, they ought not to do an injustice because a man had to be transported or to die. They must look for the truth; dreading not the consequences, they must look to the investigation of the truth. The Jury would find that that in the long run would bring home the greatest satisfaction to their minds and consciences. Let them then come to the discussion of the matter as men seeking for truth. Let them give the full benefit of any doubt to the poor unhappy person; but yet to do their duty as the truth led them. A painful duty was imposed upon the duty for the prosecution, in opening the case; but if he had stated the facts of the case, as far as his knowledge led him, he had discharged his duty. Then came the evidence, and the observations upon it; and if the evidence had been correctly given, and the remarks upon it were faithfully, and truly, and properly made, then those who had given it, and he who had commented upon it, had discharged their duty.
After that came his (the learned Judge’s) duty , which was to state both sides of the case " impartially, if he could " clearly, if he could " and justly, if he could " to look neither to the right or to the left, but to act as in the sight of God, who was the watcher of his secret thoughts and motives at all times. But he did trust that if he should lay the case justly, and simply, , and clearly, and impartially, before them, he should have discharged his duty.
It was important that no weight should be given to anything but what was deserving of notice. Let them then begin to read, to weigh, and to consider " calmly, dispassionately, faithfully, and truly,. and then in pronouncing that verdict which they conceived to be according to the truth, they would have discharged their duty in the sight of God.
Was the man William Dazley poisoned by arsenic? That depended on several circumstances but especially on the circumstances spoken of by the three last witnesses, who, from the analysis they had made, had no reasonable doubt but that death was occasioned by arsenic.[The learned Judge proceeded to read over the evidence]. Then he must have died by someone. The symptoms of a person who had taken arsenic, according to the skill and medical experience of those who had given evidence, were vomiting, which might come on immediately or not, according top the constitution of the person, which in some cases reaches four hours, and in one case only Mr Hedley recollected it was eight hours.
The next was tightness of the throat, which would be relieved with leeches. The third was pain in the stomach, beginning at the gullet, and extending to the other end; this would be accompanied by faintness. The learned Judge then recapitulated the evidence of Sarah Dazley and other witnesses, all of which allowed that such were the symptoms in the deceased. The evidence of Sarah Mead was very material. She saw the prisoner make the pills, and put them into a piece of newspaper; and although they were said to be white when administered, that might be easily accounted for after they had been in a box wherein was white flour. Mary Carver’s statement agreed with that of Sarah Mead. She said the pills were taken from a piece of newspaper; and though she differed on some minor points, yet on the important points there was no variation.
Six persons telling the same tale would scarcely ever tell it alike in every respect, and yet the story might be substantially correct. The learned Judge instanced the Gospels of the four Evangelists, and yet, added he, who would disbelieve the truth of their statement? He Conceived there was no proof against the prisoner till Wednesday evening, and then the effects produced on Sarah Mead and the pig, which had died in consequence of having eaten the which the deceased vomited; the fact of the prisoner scolding Mead for taking the pills " (the intermediate part, between the making and the taking of the pills being supplied by Carver) -- were matters which would require their most serious consideration.
Mr Sandel had no arsenic in his shop, therefore he could not have made a mistake. Mr Burnham, although he could not remember the precise time, was certain the prisoner bought some arsenic at his shop. This was also corroborated by the shop boy and errand boy. Certainly there was no memorandum to that effect, but it would be for the Jury to determine whether so small and item as one pennyworth of arsenic would be put down. Although there was a slight variation in the evidence of the three witnesses respecting the mixing of the powder on Sunday evening, yet they all agreed that the powder was given to the deceased by his wife; and on that point it would be for the Jury to say whether she was guilty. It was a natural, he would say not an unreasonable prejudice, for a wife to refuse to have the body of her deceased husband opened. Mr Sandel ought, if he had any suspicions, have told the Coroner of them. If the prisoner had administered the pills by mistake, there would have been something to have shewn it, and her conduct would have been different. The other parts of the evidence his Lordship carefully read over but did not lay much stress upon them. He concluded by enquiring if the facts stated in the evidence satisfied them that William Dazley was poisoned by his wife, it would be their painful duty to give a verdict to that effect; but if on the contrary, after they had retired (for he should wish them to retire) they had a doubt - a clear and distinct doubt " then it would be their duty to give the benefit of it to the prisoner.
The jury then retired, and within half an hour returned with a verdict of GUILTY, when an awful silence pervaded the Court.
When the Jury had returned into Court, and delivered their verdict, his Lordship was evidently deeply affected. He fixed his eye on the prisoner in the most grave and dignified manner; the most death like silence continued for some considerable time, every eye watching alternately the prisoner and the Judge. It appeared the Clerk of the court though his Lordship was not aware of the verdict having been pronounced, but his Lordship bowed him to be still. As soon as his Lordship could compose his mind, he said " “Sarah Dazley, you have been tried and found guilty of a most atrocious crime, the murder of William Dazley, your husband. I regret ..”"Here his Lordship was completely overcome, and he remained with his face in his hands on the cushion for some time, and wept. Hid lordship raised himself, and replaced the black cap, which had fallen off when he laid his face in his hands on the cushion, and said “I regret that the murder of your husband is not the only murder you have been guilty of. I don’t allude to this merely to harrow up your feelings, but if possible to break and to soften your hard and impenitent heart. " [The prisoner till now had been apparently unaffected, now she wept] - To murder the man you vowed to love and cherish is a crime truly appalling, but to lay your murderous hand on your own helpless babe, to take away the life of your only child is a crime we have not language to express its atrocity. I exhort you with earnestness to seek for mercy where mercy can only be found. This I exhort you to do; though I am a poor sinner ands stand in need of mercy myself. You have but a short time to live; you must not look for mercy from any earthly tribunal, you must look to that Redeemer for mercy who suffered on the cross to take away our guilt. And though your guilt is great and your time is short, there is everything to encourage you to fall at the footstool of your offended Maker, and plead for pardon through the blood and righteousness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Here, and here only, can you obtain mercy. There is on record in this book (His Lordship had a little Bible in his hand) the conduct of the dying thief on the cross; he cried for mercy and his cry was heard and mercifully answered. This is sufficient to encourage you to hope; but there is only one such instance on record, that we might not presume. I do not ask you to confess your sins and your crimes to man, but I beg of you to humble yourself before God, and make a full confession to him. By doing this, and relying on the merits of Christ, you will find mercy. If by confessing yourself guilty to man of the crime of which you now stand condemned, and I must say I think justly so, would prepare your mind for that more important act of fully confessing your crimes to God, then I say do it. It now only remains for me to perform my duty, and that is, to pass the awful sentence of the law upon you, Sarah Dazley, that you be taken from this place to the gaol from whence you came, and that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and that your body be buried within the precincts of the gaol in which you shall be confined after your conviction, and may God have mercy on your soul.
The prisoner exclaimed “I AM NOT GUILTY!”
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