Sentenced to Death 6th of April, 1692, for strangling Dr Clenche in a Coach
HENRY HARRISON, gent., appeared at the Old Bailey on 6th of April, 1692, charged with murdering (with the assistance of some person unknown) Dr Andrew Clenche, by strangling him in a coach. According to witnesses Dr Clenche had advanced one hundred and twenty pounds to Mrs Vanwicke, a widow, on a mortgage, and when a trustee for her and her children, named Rowe was unable to meet his covenants, the doctor served an ejectment order on the tenant of the house under mortgage. This incensed Harrison, who was a friend of Mrs Vanwicke. Mrs Mary Sheriff deposed that Mrs Vanwicke and Mr Harrison came to her house; and Mrs Vanwicke desired the deponent to go with her to Dr Clenche, which she did; and Mrs Vanwicke desiring the doctor to let her have twenty pounds more, he said he would lend her no more so long as she kept company with Harrison, for he would spend it; and told her he would recommend her to be some gentleman's housekeeper, and that though she owed him one hundred and twenty pounds he would take one hundred pounds. That when they returned to the deponent's house, Mrs Vanwicke told Mr Harrison what the doctor said; and Mr Harrison answered: "God d —-n him! Would he have a person of your quality go to service? He deserves to have his throat cut"; and added: "Let me alone; I'll manage him as never man was managed," and then Mrs Vanwicke and Harrison went away together. That Mr Harrison was always talking against the doctor, and said he was an old rogue, and Mrs Vanwicke was almost starved to death. John Giles, coachman, deposed that on Monday, the 4th of January, he set down a fare at the Green Dragon in Fleet Street about nine in the evening, and was driving from thence towards the Temple, when two men, who stood about Fetter Lane end, asked him if he knew Dr Clenche, who lived in Brownlow Street, in Holborn. And the deponent saying he knew the street, they came into his coach, and he drove them to the end of Brownlow Street; and one of them bade him go and tell the doctor two gentlemen in a coach desired him to go with them to see one who was not well. That the doctor asked the deponent if he knew them, but he said he did not; and the doctor dressed himself (being before in his gown and slippers); and when he came to the coach, one of the men removed and gave him the hinder part of the coach, and bade the deponent drive to Leadenhall Market: and when he came about Holborn Bars, one of them bade him drive faster, which he did, and came to Leadenhall. Then one of them bade him drive to the Pye Tavern without Aldgate, where they bade him ask for one Hunt, a surgeon; but no such person was there. Then one of them bade him drive back to Leaden- hall, and Aldgate being shut they gave the watch sixpence to open it; and when he stopped again at Leadenhall Gate one of them gave him three shillings and sixpence and bade him buy a couple of fowls of Hunt, the poulterer; but not being able to find such a man, he bought them of another; and coming back to his coach he found Dr Clenche (as he thought). sitting against the fore-seat, with his head against the cushion: that he pulled him and called to him, but could not get a word from him; and, calling the watch, he found he was strangled with a handkerchief about his neck, and a coal in it, placed just upon his windpipe; but the other two men were gone. That he could not tell what clothes the prisoner had on, but one of them had a light wig, and he verily believed it was the prisoner, and that the other person was taller, and wore his own hair. Mrs Ashbolt deposed that, being sent out on an errand the night Dr Clenche was murdered, she saw a coach stop at Brownlow Street end between nine and ten o'clock, and one in the coach bade the coachman go and tell Dr Clenche that two gentlemen waited for him in a coach, and one of them leaned out of the coach and swore at the coachman as he was going that he made no more haste. That the deponent went round the coach and could discern Mr Harrison's face, and she saw Dr Clenche go into the coach, and one of them gave his place to the doctor.
MR DARNEL (prosecuting): Tell us how you came to be so curious, and what you observed further.
MRS ASHBOLT: I thought they would give the coachman the slip; and I clearly observed Mr Harrison, there being a lamp burning on each side the coach, which lighted quite through; and when the men saw me look at them they pulled themselves back. Afterwards, when Madam Clenche desired me to go see Mr Harrison in Newgate, I knew the voice to be one of those who were in the coach, as he was talking very loud, before I came into the room, and I told the company so that were with me. And I knew the prisoner to be one of those who were in the coach as soon as I saw him. But Mr Darnel produced a record to prove that Baker, one of the prisoner's witnesses, was convicted of cheating the parish of St Giles's when he was a scavenger, by altering the figures in the book and then extorting greater sums from the parishioners than they ought to pay, and he called two other witnesses, who deposed that Maccaffee, another of Harrison's witnesses, kept a very disorderly house, where thieves and housebreakers and lewd women resorted. The Lord Chief justice summed up the evidence very impartially, and the jury withdrew to consider of their verdict; and, after retiring half-an-hour, they brought the prisoner in guilty of wilful murder; and the last day of the sessions the prisoner received sentence of death.