Babblery and prittle-prattle from Early Modern England
A true narrative of the proceedings at the Sessions House in the Old Bailey, beginning on the 11th of this instant July, 1677, wherein is contained the trial of the woman for committing that odious sin of buggery with a dog; and likewise of the man for buggering of two mares. With the trial of the young maid that poisoned her mother, a maid, and two gentlewomen, and all the rest of the most remarkable trials there, with an account of how many are condemned to die, how many burned in the hand, to be whipped and transported.
One of the first and most talked of trials at this Sessions was for such an abominable crime, attended with such odious circumstances as it is thought scarce any story can parallel it, especially in this, our more modest and chaster climate, hitherto a stranger to such unnatural wickedness; and we hope the justice executed on this wretched criminal will deter all others from any the like detestable inclinations for the future.
A married woman lately living without Cripplegate who appeared to be between 30 and 40 years of age was arraigned for that, she having not the fear of God before her eyes nor regarding the order of Nature, on the 23rd of June last, to the disgrace of all womankind, did commit buggery with a certain mongrel dog, and wickedly, devilishly, and against nature had venereal and carnal copulation with him, etc. It was proved that the prisoner was a person of a lewd conversation, and lodging in a room into which there were several holes to look in at from the next house, they had often seen her in the very acts of uncleanness with villains that followed her. But one day one of the witnesses (a young woman) happening to cast her eye in, saw her use such actions with a dog as are not fit here to be recited, at which being amazed, she called up another woman, and after that a man, who all saw her several times practising this beastliness, and fully evidenced the same in court, where the dog was likewise brought, and being sat on the bar before the prisoner, owned her by wagging his tail and making motions as it were to kiss her, which it was sworn she did when she made that horrid use of him. For herself she had nothing to say, but denying the fact, alledging it was malice in the witnesses which her husband, who appeared on her behalf, likewise suggested, but could not make out any quarrel or occasion of any such malice in the least; whereupon after full consideration of all circumstances she was brought in guilty.
Yet cannot the bearded sex, though pretending a stronger reason, jostle on this unhappy precedent upbraid the weaker vessels or tax them with this dishonour, for the very next arraignment was of a fellow for buggery of a mare. The evidence against him testified that they saw him in the fields beyond Shoreditch on Sunday the 17th of June amongst the brick kilns, driving a white mare to a small heap of bricks which he had laid together, and there used most unnatural and brutish endeavours several times, and after that to another bay mare, but being near threescore yards distant, they could not make that direct and positive proof which the law exacts, so that he was acquitted on that indictment. At the bar he behaved himself as one insensible, scarce speaking a word for himself, save only that he did no harm. He confessed he lately came out of Kent to seek as he said for work, and within 3 or 4 days after his coming up was apprehended in this beastly action.
The last Sessions an ancient man keeping a victualling house was arraigned for stealing a black mare. The case was somewhat strange: on the 9th of May last between 4 and 5 in the morning, a person leading this mare tied her to the pales of this house and went in to drink, and after one pot went away, pretending to come again presently, the mare stood there till 4 o’ clock in the afternoon. Then, the victualler took care of her, put her to grass and shortly after was taken on her back by the owner who thereupon indicted him last Sessions, though two men who saw the person that brought her thither, attending then to give evidence on behalf of the victualler, happened to see and seize one in the Sessions House Yard (between the time of his arraignment and trial) whom they said was the man that brought the mare; whereupon the court being ready to break up, the victualler’s trial was put off, and this person taken into custody. The witnesses now spoke home that he was the man, but he absolutely denying it, endeavouring to prove where he was that night, and several people of fashion attesting his former good conversation, credit, and estate, and it not being improbable but the witnesses might mistake one they never saw but once, and then only transiently without any occasion to take particular notice of him, the jury thought fit to bring him not guilty; as likewise they did the said victualler; but (according to the proverb) the man has his mare again, and all is well.
A carman who unhappily run his car over a child in Busts Lane was indicted for murder, but it appearing to be by the child’s accidental falling from a bench just as he was passing, without his seeing of it or any default in him, he was acquitted.
A young wench was convicted for stealing four small gold plates off a silversmith’s stall, whereof one was taken upon her.
A boy not above eleven years old being sent by a gentleman in his master’s house up stairs to fetch a pair of pistols, not suspecting them to be loaded, and thinking to frighten the servant maid with flashing a little powder which was in the pan, discharged it, and thereby unhappily killed her, for which he was brought in guilty of manslaughter.
A fellow being indicted for stealing a piece of cloth out of a shop in Cheapside. One of the witnesses was a porter who could not directly prove the felony. The other that could have done it was a young man who out of a foolish bigotry refused to take an oath, and after the court had long endeavoured from scripture and reason to answer all his erroneous scruples, finding him still obstinate, committed him to the bail-dock to be proceeded against and fined according to the statue in that case provided; and his master who was bound to prosecute being sent for, he affronting the court by putting on his hat and the like insolent carriage, was committed to keep his man company till he should find sureties for his good behaviour; but in the mean time the felon escaped and wishes all the town of this silly religion.
An old notorious offender indicted for breaking a house and stealing a flitch of bacon and other things, for want of exact proof escaped thereupon; but it appeared he was lately transported on a conditional pardon, and had come over within the time to practice his rogueries afresh, whereby his life was legally forfeited.
An apprentice was indicted for stealing 80 l. from his master; but it appearing that satisfaction had been already accepted, and that the sum embezzled was far less, he was brought in only guilty to the value of 10 d.
A young man that occasioned the death of a man near Bow Church in Cheapside in the last Whitson Holidays took a trial for the same, a woman that was in company with the person killed swore that the prisoner gave the first affront by pushing by the other as they met, but three others witnessed that the deceased first quarrelled with and beat the prisoner, and being like to choke him with pulling his cravat, after several entreaties to be quiet, the prisoner drew his sword, and wthout making any pass, as they were struggling together, the man unhappily received a mortal wound; which was brought in manslaughter, and the prisoner burned in the hand for the same.
There succeeded a long and remarkable trial of a young girl for murdering her own mother by poison. The prosecution was grounded wholly upon her own voluntary confession, and several worthy persons proved that she had acknowledged it to them, and also that she for several times endeavoured to poison a Lady with whom she lived, though through mercy she had recovered and was in health again. But that not immediately concerning the present case, and the girl denying the poisoning of her mother now at the bar, as likewise for that it did not appear that her mother was at all poisoned, or any suspicion raised thereon, she was brought in not guilty.
There were in all ten burned in the hand this Sessions. Two men and five women received sentence of death, amongst whom that monster who prostituted herself to a dog was one; the rest incorrigible thieves, and three for petty crimed ordered to be whipped.
Printed in 1677.