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plaintiff in the most conclusive manner: for, in the first instance, he should be enabled to prove, that for several months of that period during which the servant of the reverend plaintiff had so positively sworn that she had regularly attended Sutton church, no divine service had been performed in the church at all: he meant the months of June, July, August, and part of September; during which months the plaintiff had so shamefully neglected his duties, that he had received a monition from the bishop of the diocese. He should also prove, that at other periods, the reverend plaintiff was so inattentive to the performance of the religious service of his church, that his parishioners were constantly in a state of uncertainty as to the hour at which service was to commence, or whether it would be performed at all. Independent of this, it was no very pleasant thing for the defendant, when he did go to church, to hear a sermon delivered, which, instead of inculcating divine truths, was made the vehicle of personal abuse to himself. With these facts before them, the jury would be able to form a pretty correct judgment of the motives of this action. The next ground on which he rested with confidence, on the goodness of his own cause, he derived from the statute of Elizabeth itself; for by the statute of the 1st of Elizabeth, which was embraced by the 23d, it was enacted, that where the defendant in a qui tam action, such as that now before the Court, could assign a reasonable excuse for absenting himself from public worship, and should afterwards conform to
his religious duties, the action should be quashed. On this head of defence he should be enabled to prove that Sir Montague Burgoyne, who was a general in the British service, had returned from Gibraltar in 1814, in a most precarious state of health, and had continued thus afflicted down to the present day, a circumstance which he hoped, in addition to the uncertainty of the performance of church service at Sutton, would be considered a sufficient excuse for his non-attendance. With regard to his sentiments on the subject of religion, those would be best proved by the evidence he would adduce of its being his invariable practice to read the church prayers to his family every Sunday, when capable from the state of his health so to do; and if unable himself to perform that duty, to call upon Lady Burgoyne to read for him. He should also prove, that prayers were frequently read in his house by the Rev. Dr. Hughes, in his occasional visits to his family. There was another ground on which he was still more decidedly entitled to a verdict. This was to be found in the statute of the 1st James II. c. 4, whereby it was enacted, that any person offending against the statute of Elizabeth, by a non-attendance of divine worship, became exonerated from all consequences, by conforming to the rules of his church before judgment was obtained, and declaring himself publicly to be a faithful son of the Church of England. This Sir M. Burgoyne had done in the presence of the bishop of the diocese himself, and was there ready again to declare openly in court his high veneration for, and accordance
accordance in, all the principles of the Christian religion.
Evidence was then called to support the defendant's case.
Lawrence Coxall, churchwarden of the parish of Sutton, proved, that Sutton church had been shut up from the 25th of June to the 3d of September.
Thomas Brown, the other churchwarden, corroborated the testimony of the last witness, and proved that the church had been farther shut from the 15th of September to the 5th of November, no service having been performed.
Dr. M'Garth, a inedical gentleman, proved the precarious state of Sir Montague Burgoyne's health from his return from Gibraltar to the present moment, and the danger of his going to church at particular stages of his disorder.
Lucy Carrington, nurse in Sir Montague's family, bore testimony to her master or mistress invariably reading prayers to the family on the Sunday when they did not go to church.
The Rev. Dr. Hughes occasionally visited Sir Montague's family for weeks together, and always read prayers to the family when they did not go to church.
Mr. Baron Graham being of opinion that a reasonable excuse for the non-attendance of the defendant at his parish church had been proved, Mr. Serjeant Blossett did not call any more wit
Mr. Baron Graham summed up the evidence. His Lordship abstained from making any remark upon the motives by which the plaintiff had been actuated in this action; but at the same time remarked, that no liberal mind could have construed the statute of Eli
zabeth in the manner in which it had been construed by him. He left it for the Jury to say, whether a reasonable excuse had not been proved for the non-attendance of the defendant at church, and whether, in other respects, the case of the plaintiff had not received a complete answer.
The Jury without hesitation found the defendant-Not Guilty.
BEDFORDSHIRE LENT ASSIZES.
The King, on the prosecution of James Harris, v. the Rev. Robert Woodward, Clerk, and Susannah Woodward and Sarah Woodward, Spinsters.-This case has produced an uncommon degree of interest in all parts of the county of Bedford, from the peculiar character of the crime imputed to the defendants. The court was crowded at an early hour with persons of all ranks; but, from the nature of the evidence and remarks about to be submitted to the Jury, it was deemed proper that the ladies should be ordered to withdraw. The defendants having taken their places in court, the clerk of the arraigns read arraigns read the indictment, which charged them with having foully and maliciously conspired together, falsely to accuse James Harris of having committed a rape on the person of Susannah Woodward; in furtherance of which conspiracy the said parties appeared before the Reverend W. Hooper, one of the magistrates of the county, and preferred their charge, in consequence whereof a warrant was issued for the apprehension of James Harris: he was committed to gaol, and at the last
assizes was prosecuted for the of fence, but was acquitted. To this indictment the defendants pleaded Not guilty.
Mr. Serjeant Blossett addressed the Jury. The case demanded serious attention, not alone from its peculiarity, but from its importance, because it involved the character of a clergyman of the Church of England, and of his two daughters, who stood charged with having conspired to take the life of an innocent man, for a rape alleged to have been committed on one of them. The defendant, Mr. Woodward, was the vicar of the parish of Harrold, in this county, and his daughters lived with him in the vicarage-house. The present prosecutor, James Harris, was the son of a respectable saddler in the same town; and the charge imputed to him by the defendants was such, that it only required to be stated to convince every man that it was false: In fact, such was the nature of the evidence given by the young woman who represented herself to have been violated, that the jury before whom the trial took place, upon her testimony alone, pronounced young Harris Not guilty. That Miss Susannah Woodward had had intercourse with some one, whereby she was likely to become a mother, was beyond a doubt: but why it was thought proper to fix upo the present prosecutor must remain a mystery. In the testimony given by the prosecutrix on the indictment against Mr. Harris, she stated, that he had, in the month of July 1814, attempted some violence on her person: but that she had resisted him, and on his promise never to repeat similar conduct, undertook not to mention
the circumstance to her father. The more formidable part of the charge, however, she did not fix till the 18th of October, in the same year; when, according to her statement, she was coming from the privy in her father's garden, within a few yards of the house, the garden being overlooked by cottages, and her sister and a servant being at home, this very man, who attacked her in the July preceding, again assailed her, and at an early hour of the evening, in spite of all her resistance and cries, again violated her person. Her sister Sarah at length came to her assistance, when the ravisher got up, and after threatening both their lives if they attempted to disclose what had happened, went away. Whether it was possible to have committed a violation under such circumstances the jury would, after a disclosure of the other facts, be able to determine. From that period down to July in the following year, this young lady, according to her own tale, never disclosed to any person, except to her sister, what had happened, and then the disclosure came of necessity, for she proved to be eight months gone with child. During all this period she lived in her father's house, and under her father's eye. She, however, kept herself excluded from public view, and when she did go abroad, always wore a large cloak. He believed it was barely possible, under the deseription which she had given of the violence committed, that she should have proved preg· nant; but even allowing the possibility, it was not a little extraordinary, that, living in her father's house so many months, she had not made a disclosure of the viola
tion, or that her father himself, from the state of ber person, had not made some inquiries. It was not till it was impossible longer to conceal the business, that her father was found in company with his two daughters before the Rev. Mr. Hooper, a most respectable magistrate in the neighbourhood, preferring the charge against Mr. Harris. On that occasion Miss Susannah Woodward made the deposition which she afterwards gave on the trial; and her sister Sarah corroborated her testimony, by the following statement:-"On Tuesday the 18th of October last, I was alone in the house; I heard the voice of my Sister Susannah calling out Sally! as if in very great distress, from the garden. I immediately ran into the garden, and there saw my sister on the ground, and a young man, named James Harris, a saddler, of Harrold, holding her down upon the ground, with a knife in his hand close to her throat. I immediately cried out 'Murder!' and then Harris jumped up, and putting the knife close to my throat, said, if I cried out, he would run the knife into my throat. I said, if he would remove the knife, I would be silent. Harris then left the garden, after saying, 'that if I told my father, he, or some one else, would kill me or my sister." Upon these informations, Mr. Hooper granted his warrant for apprehending Harris. He was taken into custody; but, after protesting most solemn ly his innocence of the crime imputed to him, was committed for trial. On that trial, however, as he had already stated, he was acquitted in the most honourable manner. In this view of the case
it must be taken, that the charge of violation was altogether false. So it had been pronounced by a most respectable jury; and no man would have the hardihood to say after this, that the charge by Susannah was not foul and inalicious. Thus, if the charge of violation was false, he apprehended no doubt could exist, that Sarah, who had sworn that she was present when it was committed, joined with her sister in the fabrication of a gross falsehood, and thus became a party to the conspiracy against the present prosecutor. The two sisters being clearly implicated in the transaction, the next question for him to consider was, how the father became affected. In establishing the guilt of the father, he was persuaded, he should have as little difficulty as with the daughters. He would ask, in the first place, whether it was within the scope of possibility, that a father, a man of sense and discrimination,, could live in the same house with his daughter during eight months of her pregnancy, without discovering her situation? But, independent of this, when his daughter told him the story, which she afterwards swore to before a magistrate, could he believe it? But this was not all, for he would be found before the magistrate, as if to confirm his guilt more strongly, setting his daughter right as to the particular state of the night on which the violation was alleged to have taken place. When Mr. Hooper asked "what sort of a night it was?" Susannah said, "It was a dark night;" upon which the father stepped up, and placing his hand on his daughter's shoulder,
said, "No, my dear, it was a fine moonlight night." Now, he would ask, how, if there had not been something of concert and plan in this mysterious affair, Mr. Woodward could have been prepared thus to assist the memory of his daughter, who certainly ought best to have known the sort of night on which she had been so dreadfully abused?
The Rev. W. Hooper examined, deposed, that he was a magistrate; that he knew the defendant, Robert Woodward: he was vicar of the parish of Harrold. On the 7th of June, 1815, he brought his daughters to witness's house. Witness took their depositions on oath, which they signed. They were read over to them before they were signed. The depositions were then put in and read.
Wm. Rogers, a constable, proved that he apprehended James Harris, in consequence of the warrant granted by the former witness, and conveyed him before Mr. Hooper. Recollected Mr. Hooper asking Miss Susannah how she came to recollect the particular night on which the violence was committed. She said she knew it, because it was the night after the gipsey row. [There had been some quarrel in the village with the gipsies.] Mr. Hooper then asked her, what sort of a night it was: she said it was a dark night: upon which her father stepped up
to her, and said, "No, my dear, it was not a dark night; it was a bright moon-light night." Witness took James Harris to Bedford gaol the same day. He utterly denied ever having had any connexion with Miss Woodward.
Mr. Marshall Eyles was present at the examination of the Miss Woodwards before Mr. Hooper. He heard Mr. Hooper ask Susannahı whether it was a dark or a light night when the assault was committed? She said it was a dark night; but her father stepped forward and said, "No, my dear, you mistake: it was a light night."-Mr. Woodward spoke in
an audible tone.
Mr. John Garrard, solicitor for Mr. Harris, said he was present at the last spring assizes, when Mr. Harris was tried on the indictment for the violation: he heard Miss Susannah Woodward give her evidence, and took a note of what she said. Witness then read his notes, which in substance accorded with the deposition given by Susannah before Mr. Hooper, except that the particulars of the assault were more minutely detailed.
James Harris examined. - I live at Harrold, and am 22 years of age. I am a saddler by trade. I know the three defendants perfectly well. I never had criminal intercourse with Sarah Woodward in my life. I went to school to her father for about a year. I was then between 13 and 14 years of age. I had no acquaintance with Mr. Woodward, except going to school to him. I had no acquaintance whatever with his daughters. I did not assault Miss Susannah on the night mentioned in July, nor on any subsequent