Executed on the Top of the New Prison, in the Borough of Southwark, 8th of April, 1806, for Murder, after a Trial at which accommodation was provided for the Royal Family
RICHARD PATCH was born in the year 1770, at the village of Heavytree, Devonshire, within two miles of Exeter. His father was a smuggler, and was noted for a fierceness and intrepidity peculiar to this class of men. Many feats were related of his dexterity and enterprise in eluding and daring the officers of the excise, but he was at length laid hold of by the officers of the revenue, condemned in heavy fines, and sentenced to imprisonment for twelve months in the New Jail at Exeter. When the period of his confinement was at an end he did not, however, desert his station in the prison, but was engaged by the keeper as one of the turnkeys. In this situation he died, leaving several children, the eldest of whom was Richard, who became a farmer, uniting with his own paternal estate a small farm which he rented. It seems, however, that he farmed with little success, as he was soon obliged to mortgage his estate for more than one half of its value. Some years, however, were passed at Ebmere, when an accident drove him from his home. He went to London and immediately presented himself at Mr Blight's, with whom his sister, at that time, lived as a menial servant.
Richard had not been long in the service of Mr Blight when he, naturally, cast a look towards his estate in Devonshire, and commenced a journey into that county for the purpose of making an arrangement respecting it. Accordingly, in 1804, he disposed of his land; for which, having first been obliged to clear off every embarrassment, he received a net sum of three hundred and fifty pounds, two hundred and fifty of which Mr Blight received for the purpose hereafter mentioned, and the remaining hundred pounds passed through the hands of his bankers, whom he probably constituted as such upon the credit of this money.
The next year, 1805, on the 23rd of September, Mr Blight, who was induced to come to town by means of Mr Patch, during the absence of the latter was mortally wounded by a pistol, which was secretly fired at him, and which occasioned his death the next day. The case was particularly inquired into by A. Graham, Esq., the magistrate, who, suspecting Patch of the horrid murder of his friend and master, committed him to prison, and his trial came on at the Surrey Assizes, continued by adjournment to Horsemonger Lane, in the Borough, Saturday, 5th of April, 1806.
So great was the interest excited by the approaching investigation, that by five o'clock in the morning a vast concourse of the populace had surrounded the avenues to the sessions-house, Horsemonger Lane. On the opening of the court it was with the utmost difficulty that the law officers, and others whose appearance was necessary, could obtain an entrance. The persons of rank who obtained admission were the Dukes of Sussex, Cumberland and Orleans; Lords Portsmouth, Grantley, Cranley, Montford, William Russell, Deerhurst and G. Seymour; Sir John Frederick, Sir John Shelley, Sir Thomas Turton, Sir William Clayton, Sir J. Mawbcy; Count Woronzow, the Russian Ambassador, and his secretary. The magistrates, who had met for that purpose the preceding Wednesday, had made every accommodation that the court would admit of. It was floored and lined with matting, and the upper parts were covered with green baize. New railing was put up on the sides and rear, and a box was fitted up for the Royal Family.
The prisoner was conducted into court soon after nine o'clock, and took his station at the bar, attended by two or three friends. He was genteelly dressed in black, and perfect composure marked his countenance and manner. Precisely at ten o'clock Lord Chief Baron Macdonald took his seat on the bench, and the business of the commission was opened by arraigning the prisoner in the usual form. To the indictment he pleaded, in an audible voice, "Not guilty," and put himself on his country.
He peremptorily challenged three jurors; after which a jury were sworn, and the indictment read. Several witnesses were called, and the jury pronounced a verdict of guilty.
His Lordship then proceeded to pronounce the awful sentence of the law. He observed that the prisoner had begun his career of guilt in a system of fraud towards his friend; he had continued it in ingratitude, and had terminated it in blood. He then directed that he should be executed on Monday, and his body delivered for dissection.