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night. I spent the whole of the evening of the 18th of October with a Mrs. Reynolds and a Mr. Northern.
In cross-examination by Mr. Hunt, witness admitted that he occasionally went to fetch the newspaper from Mr. Woodward's house, and to take it back, but he did not see either of the young ladies there. He did not visit at Mr. Woodward's. He could play the flute. Once was invited to play the flute at Mr. Woodward's, when there was a party there. He did not see the young ladies there that evening; he was in another room, and when Mr. Woodward rapped at the door he played. He paid his addresses to Mr. Woodward's servant-girl. Admitted that he, on one occasion, accompanied Miss Susannah on the road towards Olney. She was on a pony; but being afraid to ride he took the pony back to Harrold, and she went on to Olney in a chaise.
Ann Robinson remembered having seen Susannah Woodward for a long time before her preg. nancy was publicly known. She appeared ill, and wore a large cloak. She saw her soon after James Harris was sent to prison. She then perceived she was in a family way very plainly. Her sister used to say she wore the cloak to keep out the fever. Her size was such, that no person could live with her and not see that she was pregnant.
Mr. Sergeant Blossett was about to call further evidence, but the learned judge conceived he had already submitted sufficient to support his case.
Mr. Sergeant Blossett said, he was prepared with witnesses who
would prove a clear alibi on the part of his client.
Mr. Hunt now addressed the court and jury on the part of the defendants. The indictment in this case had been prepared ever since last spring assizes, and had been laid before the grand jury as soon as ever James Harris, who was described as having been so much injured, was acquitted. He begged to state to the jury, that this acquittal had taken place, not from any direct discredit attached to the evidence of the prosecutrix, but upon a rule of law for as soon as ever Susannah Woodward had gone through her testimony, Mr. Sergeant Blossett got up and told the jury, that by a rule of evidence, which had been made a rule of law, the prisoner must be acquitted. The prosecutrix, he said, had concealed the fact of the violation of her person for eight months, and this concealment, by law, prevented the conviction of the person accused. It would be observed, from the course of cross-examination which he took, that he was anxious to see whether any attempt would be made to cast any reflection on the character of this young lady; and that, in no single instance, however minute, had any thing like levity or impropriety of conduct been attributed to her. The jury had, no doubt, watched with becoming attention the manner in which Harris had on this day given his testimony. They must have observed the boldness with which he, in the first instance, denied any acquaintance with Mr. Woodward or his daughters, after he quitted school; but upon being pressed, he admitted that he had
gone to the house to play the flute, and went there frequently for the newspaper: and, upon being still closer pushed, he allowed that he had once accompanied Miss Susannah towards Olney. How much oftener these meetings took place it was not his interest to confess. He was at a loss to know by what means Mr. Robert Woodward, the father, could be made a party to their crime. Had the character of that gentleman been impeached in the slightest degree? Had the breath of calumny in the most minute instance affected his moral conduct? Certainly not. Then what were the grounds upon which his guilt were supposed to rest? Why, forsooth, that his daughter could not have been 8 months pregnant in his house without his knowledge. Good God! Could any thing be more absurd than this? Was a father, who had brought up his children in the strictest paths of virtue, to be watching them with suspicion, and to be viewing them as common prostitutes? Could any parent, who loved and confided in his offspring, harbour a suspicion so foul as that they would prostitute their persons in the way in which they must have done to have produced the appearance described? Of all men living, a father, in his belief, was the last man who would have made such a discovery. What was Mr. Woodward's conduct when he did find out what had happened? Did he not immediately carry his daughters before a magistrate? What else could he have done to show his indignation? And then comes the last ground upon which suspicion could be attached to him,
It was said, that when before the magistrate he prompted his daughter as to the kind of night on which the violation had been committed. Why, could any thing have been more natural? The unfortunate girl, in the agony of her mind, returned an answer different to that which she had before given him; and in the anxiety of a parent, alive to every circumstance which she could relate, Mr. Woodward set her right, openly, and in the hearing of every person. Was here any thing like
Mr. Baron Graham observed, that the jury had to decide whether the three defendants, two, or any of them, had been guilty of the offence imputed to them. In order to commit the crime of conspiracy, two must necessarily have been concerned; therefore, in this case, the jury must either find twó guilty, or acquit the defendants altogether. The learned judge then read over the whole of the evidence. From this evidence, he observed, it was clear that the father must have known that his daughter was in a state of pregnancy. In the first place it appears, that not a syllable of this charge came to the knowledge of James Harris till seven or eight months after the fact was alleged to have taken place; and then what was done? The charge is preferred, the prosecutrix is examined, and upon coming into a court of justice finds no credit. Now it is said, not with the strictest and most perfect correctness, that the prisoner was acquitted upon a point of law, and not upon the merits of the case. This, I am satisfied, is not true; the fact
is, that the improbability of the charge was the true ground upon which the acquittal took place; and certainly nothing could wear more the face of improbability than that, if the crime alleged had been committed, it would have been kept secret from the month of October to the June following; but it becomes still more improbable, when the situation of the parties is considered: the one a young woman of education and modesty, and the other a young man living in the same parish. Can any one believe, that the daughter of a clergyman could have been so ignorant of the state of society as not to know, that she would have been sufficiently protected from the violence with which she said she was threatened; or that she would, after having been so atrociously abused, under any feelings of terror, have lost a moment in proclaiming her disgrace, and asking for vengeance on her violater? but still less likely is it that she would have concealed a disgrace to which her own sister had been an eye-witness. These, I apprehend, were the grounds on which the acquittal took place, and not, as has been stated, on a mere rule of law. If the young woman had been treated with the violence she has described, she must and would have told her parent. That she was with child is a matter beyond doubt, and it might, by possibility, happen that this young man was the father of that child; but the violation must be put altogether out of the question. Even this surmise, which I have made for the benefit of the young woman, is set aside by the oath of the young
man himself, who swears most positively that he never had any connexion with her whatever; and that his evidence is at all deserving of discredit, I can in no respect discover. He is a respectable young man, and has given his testimony in a very unquestionable manner. I protest I was most anxious and desirous, for the sake of this unfortunate family, that something might occur which would lessen the enormity of their guilt. The natural compassion of one's feelings in seeing a man of education, and in holy orders, work up his mind to an offence for which there is no palliation, without using a harsher observation, led me to hope some circumstance might arise to lessen the enormity of his guilt. It is with pain, however, that I am driven to say no such circumstance has transpired. What could be the motives for concealing the real father, and fixing it on an innocent man, is beyond our ability to discover? If the charge of violation against James Harris is false, the next question for our consideration is, did the defendants agree to bring forward the charge, knowing it to be false? With respect to the young women, as they both swore to being present when the fact took place, no doubt of their guilt can exist. As to the father, perhaps the evidence is not so conclusive. In the defect of the evidence against the father, you have nothing but the general circumstances of the case, and the palpable falseness of the charge. You will consider whether the natural sagacity of a man of good education could really have persuaded him to give credit to so
foul a charge. If you are not fully satisfied of his guilt, you will acquit him by your verdict. The same observation applies to the daughters; but if you think they were all privy to the conspiracy, you will find your verdict accordingly.
The jury, after a few minutes consultation, found all the defendants Guilty.
Mr. Baron Graham immediately proceeded to pronounce sentence on the defendants. He observed, that during the whole of his judicial life he never felt more pain than in the performance of his duty on the present occasion. It was impossible to imagine a case more melancholy than that which was now before him: a clergyman of the Church of England, a character which stood so high in this country, convicted on the clearest and most satisfactory evidence, of of the most abominable and atrocious conspiracy-a crime which became still more dreadful from his having induced his two unfortunate daughters to follow him in his career, and to bear a part in his foul load of infamy. He confessed he knew not how to do justice. Compassion for the infirmities of human nature might induce him to alleviate the severity of punishment; but in this case all compassion was swallowed up in the contemplation of the scene before him-a seene which presented to his view a man, who, in spite of the benefits of education, and the dictates of religion, had sunk to the last degree of human crime.
The sentence of the court was, that the Rev. Robert Woodward should be imprisoned in the cominon gaol of the county of Bedford
for two years; and that his daughters, Sarah and Susannah, should each be imprisoned one year in the same gaol.
The defendants seemed deeply affected with their situation. Mr. Woodward is a man about 50 years of age.
His eldest daughter, Sarah, has nothing prepossessing in her manners or person, and is about 25. The youngest, Susannah, is rather a pretty girl, of fair complexion. Their fate has excited but very little commiseration in the county.
COUNTY MEATH ASSIZES.
Trial of Roger O'Connor, Esq. Second Day, Tuesday, Aug. 5. A FEW minutes after nine o'clock this morning, Mr. Justice Daly resumed his seat on the bench, and the trial of Mr. O'Connor was immediately proceeded in.
When the officers of the court had taken their places at the table, Benjamin Rikey, Esq. the Deputy Clerk of the Crown, inquired, as is usual in cases where more than one prisoner is arraigned for the same offence, whether he (O'Connor) would join with his alleged coadjutor in the felony, in the challenges? He answered, that he would not.
It was then intimated to him by Mr. Rikey, that he would be tried separately from Martin M'Keon, who had just arrived in the custody of the under gaoler, and taken his station in the dock. Notwithstanding this intimation, the trial of M'Keon was subscquently proceeded in.
Some desultory conversation here ensued, between the counsel for the prosecution and Mr. Ben
nett, one of Mr. O'Connor's counsel, in reference to the panel, and to the manner of the challenges; and after the usual formalities, the names of the panel, which were very numerous, were called over, on a fine of fifty pounds.
A considerable portion of time was consumed in recalling the panel, and owing to the many challenges made on behalf of the crown and prisoners. Notwithstanding the number that appeared to their names, the panel became exhausted, and it was now found necessary in order to complete the jury (four of the number of which were yet deficient) to select from those challenged, previously to the following gentlemen, who tried the issue, being
John Ruxton, Esq.
Henry Walsh, Esq.
Henry Owens, Esq. William Henry, Esq. Christopher Carleton, Esq. John Ross, Esq. Frederick Dyas, Esq. Robert Sterne Tighe, Esq. Thomas E. Barnes, Esq. John Otway Cuffe, Esq. and James Somerville, Esq. The four gentlemen last mentioned were those who had been objected to by the crown, but were called and sworn after the panel was exhausted.
The jury having been sworn, the prisoners were formally given them in charge.
It was suggested by Mr. O'Connor's counsel, that lists of the several witnesses to be examined on either side should be handed in to the judge, in order that they might be commanded to with
draw, until respectively called upon to give evidence. In this arrangement the court and counsel for the prosecution readily acquiesced, and they, the witnesses, were ordered to retire accordingly.
The indictment having been read, Mr. Sergeant Jebb, as leading counsel for the prosecution, stated the case against the prisoners. The learned counsel confined himself to a simple relation of the facts which grounded the alleged charges of felony, and adverted in brief terms to the evidence and circumstances upon which he was instructed those charges would be sustained. In reference to Mr. O'Connor, personally, he regretted, as much as any individual even amongst the friends of that unfortunate Gentleman, the unhappy situation in which he was placed; and sympathizing, as he did, in common with those around him, in its painfulness, he declared he should feel the most sincere gratification in his acquittal.
Mr. Bartholomew St. Leger, of Dublin, coal-factor, was the first witness called. He was the person from whom the watch and keys, for which the prisoners were arraigned, were stolen, and he merely proved that the mail was robbed on the 2d of October, 1812, at Cappagh-hill; that he was a passenger; and that these articles were taken from him.
The next witnesses were John Pollock, and Arthur Hill Cornwallis Pollock, Esqrs. Clerk of the Crown for the province of Leinster, who proved the record of the conviction of Richard Waring (brother to one of the approvers) for the mail robbery in question.