Convicted of Burglary
IN December, 1721, the prisoner was indicted for breaking and entering the dwelling house of George Baillie, Esq., in the parish of St. James, Westminster, with intent to ravish Grizel, the wife of Alexander Murray.
Mrs. Murray was the sister of Mrs. Baillie, and lived in the house of her brother-in-law, in the absence of her husband, who was a military officer.
It was sworn on the trial that, about four in the morning of the 14th of October, the prisoner entered Mrs. Murray's room, with a drawn sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, and threatened to kill her if she made any noise; that she asked him the meaning of such a procedure, to which he replied, "Madam, I mean to ravish you, for I have entertained a violent passion for you a long time; but, as there is so great a difference between your fortune and mine, I despair of enjoying my wishes by any means but force."
On this the lady remonstrated with him; but, persisting in his intention, he laid the sword on the bolster, and attempted to pull off the bed-clothes; but Mrs. Murray pushed him against the wall, wrenched the pistol out of his hand, and rang the bell; on which the prisoner quitted the room; but she followed him to the door, and called out murder, by which the family were alarmed.
The servants now ran to the assistance of the lady, but Gray had got to his own room, and thrown himself on the bed with his clothes on; and, having been out in company the preceding evening, it does not appear that he was undressed during the night.
Being apprehended, and taken before a magistrate, he confessed that he entered the room with an intent to ravish the lady; but this he afterwards steadily denied; and various were the opinions of the public respecting his guilt or innocence.
The prisoner, in his defence, said that, thinking he heard a noise in Mrs. Murray's room, he went down stairs and fetched a sword and pistol; and, as the door stood partly open, he went in, and, laying down his arms to look behind the bed, Mrs. Murray rang the bell, and alarmed the family.
The jury, having considered the evidence, brought him in guilty, and he received sentence of death; but, Mrs. Murray's relations interceding in his behalf, he was afterwards pardoned on condition of transportation.
This affair made a great noise at the time it happened, and many persons did not scruple to insinuate that Gray had been admitted to favours which might warrant his entering the lady's chamber at any hour.
The single reflection arising from this story is, that illicit pleasure leads to disgrace: there is no doubt but there was some foundation for this prosecution. If Gray had been previously too intimate with the lady, she was punished by the exposure of a public trial; if otherwise, he was punished for the attempt, in the ignominy of a public conviction. Hence let it be learnt that chastity is a virtue which cannot be prized at too high a rate.