"The Boy Murderer," convicted of the Murder of another Child in the Poorhouse of Eyke, in Suffolk, May, 1748
William York, aged 10, killing Susan matthew, aged 5
THIS sinner was but just turned ten years of age when he committed the dreadful crime. He was a pauper in the poorhouse belonging to the parish of Eyke, in Suffolk, and was committed, on the coroner's inquest, to Ipswich Jail for the murder of Susan Mahew, another child, of five years of age, who had been his bedfellow. The following is his confession, taken and attested by a Justice of the Peace, and which was, in part, proved on his trial, with many corroborating circumstances of his guilt.
He said that a trifling quarrel happening between them, on the 13th of May, 1748, about ten in the morning, he struck her with his open hand, and made her cry. That she going out of the house to the dunghill, opposite to the door, he followed her with a hook in his hand, with an intent to kill her; but before he came up to her he set down the hook, and went into the house for a knife; he then came out again, took hold of the girl's left hand, and cut her wrist all round and to the bone, with his knife, and then threw her down, and cut her to the bone just above the elbow of the same arm. That after this he set his foot upon her stomach, and cut her right arm round about, and to the bone, both on the wrist and above the elbow. That he then thought she would not die, and therefore took the hook and cut her left thigh to the bone; and, observing she was not dead yet, his next care was to conceal the murder. For this purpose he filled a pail with water at a ditch, and washed the blood off the child's body, buried it in the dunghill, together with the blood that was spilt upon the ground, and made the dunghill as smooth as he could; afterwards he washed the knife and hook, and carried them into the house, washed the blood off his own clothes, hid the child's clothes in an old chamber, and then came down and got his breakfast.
This "boy murder" was found guilty, and sentence of death pronounced against him; but he was respited from time to time, and on account of his tender years, was at length pardoned.