In few instances has the public mind ever received so severe a shock, as that produced by the discovery of the barbarous and revolting murder of which Greenacre was guilty. The mere mention of the name of this atrocious malefactor is a sufficient introduction to his case; and without farther comment we shall proceed to describe the dreadful circumstances by which his crime was surrounded.
The first cause of suspicion of the murder having been committed arose from the discovery of the mutilated remains of a woman in the Edgeware-road. It would appear that in the year 1836, some dwellings, called the Canterbury Villas, were in progress of completion, situated in the Edgeware-road, at a distance of about a quarter of mile from the spot at which the Regent's Canal emerges from under the pathway. Five of these had been finished, and the gardens in front of them were protected from the public highway by a wall about ten feet high, which had not yet been extended to those houses in which the workmen were still employed. The materials for building lay along the side of the footpath, and in one of the finished houses, the only one which remained unoccupied by tenants, a man was lodged by the builder as a superintendant of the works, and as general watchman over the property which lay there. The severity of the weather towards the close of the month of December compelled the labourers to desist from work, and from Saturday the 24th of the month until the following Wednesday few persons visited the spot. On the latter day, the 28th of December, a man named Bond, a bricklayer engaged upon the buildings, visited his place of work; and about two o'clock in the afternoon was proceeding in the direction towards Kilburn, when his attention was attracted by his perceiving a package enveloped in a coarse cloth or sack, which appeared to have been carefully placed behind a paving-stone which was resting there, for the purpose of concealment. He removed the stone in order to obtain a more distinct view of the package, and was terrified to observe a pool of frozen blood, in such a position as exhibited that it had escaped through the wrapper of the parcel. In a state of great alarm he called the superintendant of the works, and another person, to the place, and they determined at once to open the package to ascertain the nature of its contents. Their astonishment and horror may easily be imagined, when they found that it consisted of a portion of the remains of a human body. The trunk only was there, the head and legs having been removed. Fearfully excited by this shocking discovery, they at once called in the aid of the police; and Pegler, a constable on duty, took charge of the dreadful package, and procured its immediate conveyance to the workhouse of the parish of Paddington. It was there at once submitted to the inspection of Mr. Girdwood, the surgeon of the district, who made a most minute examination of all its parts. It proved to be the body of a female, apparently about fifty years of age, and who from the appearances presented by the arms and hands, had evidently been employed in a laborious occupation. The head had been severed from the trunk in an awkward manner, the bone of the neck having been partly sawed through, and partly broken off; and the legs had been removed in a similar irregular way, the one at a distance of about four inches, and the other at a distance of about five or six inches from the hip-joint. The body itself presented a healthy aspect, but exhibited a malformation of a peculiar nature, which eventually proved of material importance in proving its identification, but to which it would be indelicate more specifically to allude. The result of the investigation of Mr. Girdwood, however, clearly showed that the deceased person had not met her death from any illness, and that therefore the presumption was that she had been murdered, and that the mutilation of her body had not taken place until subsequently to her decease, when, in all probability, means had been adopted by the murderer to conceal the identity of the person, as well as to dispose of her remains.
An occurrence of so extraordinary a nature, it may well be supposed, excited a degree of consternation and horror throughout the metropolis of the most fearful description; and the dreadful mystery in which the transaction remained wrapped for a considerable time, the remains of the deceased and her situation in life being alike unknown, tended in no small degree to extend the universal anxiety which prevailed. Inquiries of the most minute and searching description were made with a view to ascertain the means by which the mangled remains had been placed in the position in which they were found; and suspicion seemed to attach to a chaise-cart which had been seen to draw up near the spot on the previous Saturday night; but all the vigilance of the police failed, as well to discover the owners of this vehicle, as the murderer. The body had been wrapped up in a piece of blue printed cotton, which appeared to have formed a child's frock, but which was worn to rags, an old towel, and part of a small white shawl, over which was placed a piece of sacking; but no marks were visible on either of the articles which could at all tend to afford any clue to their former possessor.
An inquest was held on the body on Saturday the 31st of December, at the White Lion Inn, Edgeware-road; but although every witness was examined, whose evidence tended to throw the smallest light on the occurrence, the jury were at length compelled to return a verdict of "Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown." A minute description of the appearances and aspect of the body was then taken by Mr. Girdwood; and in the course of the ensuing week, it was committed to the grave in Paddington churchyard, no prospect being yet afforded of the discovery of the remaining portions of the murdered woman's frame.
The public excitement, however, was soon afterwards wound to the very highest pitch, by a notification being given of the finding of a human head in a place called the "Ben Jonson Lock," of the Regent's canal, which runs through Stepney fields. Universal credit at once attached it to the body which had been already discovered, and no time was lost in exhuming those remains, in order to ascertain the truth of the suspicions which were entertained. This new discovery had been made on the 7th of January 1837, under circumstances of a remarkable character. A barge had entered the lock for the purpose of passing through it, and the lockman was engaged in closing the flood-gates at the tail of the lock, when he found that there was some obstacle which prevented their completely meeting. He remarked that he had no doubt that it was the carcase of a dead dog, and called to his assistant to bring him a long instrument called a hitcher, shaped like a boat-hook, usually employed for similar purposes, to remove it. Having made several ineffectual attempts to bring it to the surface of the water, he at length fixed his hitcher in the substance; and upon raising it from the water, it was seen to be the head of a human being. It was instantly brought on shore, and the circumstance communicated to the police, by whom the head was conveyed to Mr. Birtwhistle, a surgeon, for examination. His report stated that the face was disfigured with bruises and lacerations, and that the lower jaw was broken -- injuries which were without doubt the result of the exertions of the lockman, first to close the gates, and secondly, to bring the head out of the water, but that there was appearance of a bruise on the eye inflicted during life; and further, that the head appeared to have been severed from the body in an awkward manner; the cervical vertebrae being sawed through in a rough way, evidently denoting that it had not been done by any surgeon. The exhumation of the body having now taken place, the necessary comparison was made, and Mr. Girdwood at once declared that the head and the trunk were portions of the same frame.
Although some public satisfaction was afforded by this most singular event, still no clue whatever appeared yet to have been found to conduct the police to the murderer; for that murder had been committed there was no doubt. The expression of the face was so much altered and disfigured since the death of the woman, that little hopes were entertained of the possibility of its identification. Thousands of persons inspected it, prompted by curiosity or a desire to secure the ends of justice, by pointing out the individual who had been murdered; and although frequent reports were circulated, that the features had been recognised, no real evidence was obtained as to the person whose remains had been discovered. Decomposition in the head shortly commenced; and it was deemed advisable to adopt measures to prevent all remaining traces of the features being destroyed, and Mr. Girdwood was instructed to take the necessary steps to secure this object. The head was accordingly placed in spirits, and was preserved at Mr. Girdwood's, where it remained open to the inspection of all persons who it was supposed would be able to afford any information upon the subject.
The mystery which surrounded the case, however, seemed to become greater every day. The inquiries of the police for the remainder of the body were quite unsuccessful; and the difficulties which existed, arising from their total ignorance of the quarter to which their investigation should be directed, appeared to leave small hopes of its eventual dissolution. Until the 2nd of February this obscurity still prevailed; but then accident again interfered to bring to light the remaining members of the body of the murdered woman.
On that day James Page, a labourer, was employed in cutting osiers in a bed belonging to Mr. Tenpenny, in the neighbourhood of Cold Harborlane, Camberwell, when in stepping over a drain or ditch, he perceived a large bundle lying in it, covered with a piece of sacking, and partly immersed in the water. His curiosity prompted him to raise it, and he saw what appeared to be the toes of a human foot protruding from it. He became alarmed and called for his fellow-workman, who was only a short distance off; and upon their opening the package, they found it to contain two human legs. These, like the head, were transmitted to Mr. Girdwood for examination, and proved to be portions of the frame which had been discovered in the Edgeware-road. Thus had three discoveries, each more remarkable than the last, produced the component parts of the body of the deceased; but the further interposition of the all-powerful hand of the Almighty was yet wanting to disclose the name and character of the murdered woman, as well as to point out her inhuman murderer. Intense anxiety was universally manifested by the public to unravel the mystery in which the dreadful transaction was enveloped; and every minute circumstance connected with the affair was sought after with the most astonishing avidity. Investigations of the most searching description were carried on by the authorities, but every inquiry proved fruitless.
That discovery which alone was wanting to satisfy the public mind was, however, at length made. On the 20th of March, Mr. Gay, a broker residing in Goodge-street, Tottenham-court-road, applied to Mr. Thornton the churchwarden of the parish of Paddington, for permission to inspect such of the remains of the deceased woman as had been preserved above ground. He founded his application upon the fact of the sudden disappearance of his sister, whose name was Hannah Brown, and who having quitted her home on the afternoon preceding Christmas-day, had not since been seen or heard of. A request so reasonable was at once complied with; and upon Mr. Gay seeing the head, which had been placed in spirits, he at once declared his belief that it was that of his unfortunate relation. Other persons who had been acquainted with Hannah Brown also came forward to express their opinion as to her identity; and from the statements which they made upon the subject of her habit of body, and the opinions which they expressed in reference to the identity of the head, no doubt remained of her being the individual who had been so inhumanly destroyed.
From the inquiries of the police, it was elicited that the unfortunate woman had received with favour the advances of a man named James Greenacre, to whom she was about to be married; and that on Christmas-eve she had quitted her lodgings in Union-street, Middlesex Hospital, in order to accompany her intended husband to his house, in Carpenter's-buildings, Camberwell, preparatory to their union on the ensuing Monday. Greenacre was the person in whose company she had been last seen; and to him, therefore, the authorities naturally turned for information, as to the manner in which they had parted, if they had parted at all, before her death. A warrant was granted by the magistrates of Mary-le-bone Police-office for the apprehension of this man; and after considerable difficulty he was at length taken into custody on the 24th of March, 1837, at his lodgings at St. Alban's-place, Kennington-road, together with a woman named Sarah Gale, with whom he cohabited, and her infant child.
On Monday the 25th of March, an extraordinary degree of excitement prevailed throughout the parishes of Paddington and Mary-le-bone, in consequence of the apprehension of these persons being made known. At an early hour the greater part of High-street was thronged with persons who were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the prisoners. A coach was, at a quarter-past twelve o'clock, seen to approach the police-office, from which Greenacre and Mrs. Gale were taken, and conducted through the magistrates' private entrance to the office. Upon their being placed at the bar, Greenacre appeared to be a man about fifty years of age, of middle height, and rather stout in figure. His aspect was forbidding, and he conducted himself with considerable firmness of demeanour. He was wrapped in a brown great-coat, and returned the gaze of any one who looked at him, with an air of insolent bravado. Towards the close of the examination, however, he appeared to be oppressed with a sensation of weakness, a circumstance which was attributable to his having, during his sojourn in the station-house, attempted to strangle himself with his pocket-handkerchief -- an attempt, the effects of which were only removed upon the introduction of surgical assistance.
The prisoner Sarah Gale was between thirty and thirty-five years of age; she was tolerably well dressed, and had with her a child between four and five years old; she seemed quite unconcerned at her situation, and was the object of as much, if not more attention, and interest than her fellow-prisoner and paramour.
In the course of this and the succeeding examinations of the prisoners, evidence extending to a very great length was procured. A succinct narrative of the proceedings, however, will be perhaps better understood than a lengthy statement of the testimony of each particular witness; and to such a descriptive account, therefore, we shall confine ourselves. The various witnesses having been examined, whose testimony was requisite to prove the circumstances attending the discovery of the body, the head, and the legs of the deceased woman, which we have already described, proof of the identity of those remains was given; and upon this subject the peculiarity of the formation of the body, to which we have already alluded, tended at once to dispel all doubts, if any such existed. Mrs. Brown, it then appeared, had lived for about a year-and-a-half before her death at No.45, Union-street, Middlesex Hospital, where she gained a living by taking in washing and mangling. While in this situation she became acquainted with Greenacre, and the intimacy after a while ended in an offer of marriage on his part, which was accepted by her. Mr. and Mrs. Davis, of No.45, Bartholomew-close, Smithfield, were friends of Mrs. Brown, and were made acquainted by her with the nature of her connexion with Greenacre; and they acceded to a proposition which was made to them, that Mr. Davis should give away the bride, and that their daughter should act as bridesmaid. The day after Christmas-day was fixed upon as the day of the wedding, and the banns were in due course put up at the church of St. Giles, Camberwell, preparatory to the nuptial rites. On the 22ud of December, Mrs. Davis last saw Hannah Brown. The latter then called at her house with Greenacre, and they at that time appeared perfectly happy and "sociable," and, as it seemed, eagerly wishing for the wedding-day. They remained to supper and went away together, having immediately before their departure spoken of an intention which they had, after their marriage, to settle at Hudson's Bay. On the afternoon of the 24th of December, Mrs. Brown quitted her lodgings in Union-street, with Greenacre, in a coach, and on the same evening they were seen together at the residence of the latter, in Carpenter's -buildings. Mrs. Brown had previously disposed of what little property she possessed; but as the coach would not contain all her personal movables, she took away the key of her door with her, saying, that she should return for them at night. She did not return, however, and Mrs. Corney (her landlady) did not again see her alive. On the night before Christmas-day, Greenacre called upon Mrs. Davis, and inquired whether she had seen anything of Hannah Brown? She answered that she had not; and Greenacre then said that he found, upon inquiry, that Mrs. Brown had deceived him as to her property, and that it would not do for them to plunge themselves into poverty by marrying. At this interview he appeared agitated and angry, and his countenance presented an aspect of such peculiarity, that it was remarked by Mrs. Davis to her husband. On the Tuesday after Christmas-day, Greenacre also called upon the brother of Mrs. Brown; and he acquainted him also with the fact of the postponement of the marriage, saying that he and his intended wife had quarrelled with respect to her property, and that she had in consequence quitted his house, and he had seen nothing of her since.
In the meanwhile, the continued absence of Mrs. Brown from her lodgings excited some apprehension in the minds of her friends; but it was not until the 27th of March, (as we have already stated), that they exhibited any fears of the probability of the murdered remains which had been found being those of their unfortunate relative. An inspection of those remains, however, at once informed them of the melancholy cause of her disappearance.
The apprehension of Greenacre and Gale took place under circumstances which tended to confirm the suspicions of their guilt of murder, and to give conclusive evidence of their perfect cognizance of the fact of the death of the deceased. Inspector Feltham was the person by whom this capture was effected; and he took the prisoners into custody at a small house, No.1, St. Alban's-place, Kennington-road, accompanied by a police constable of the L division. He proceeded to that house and found them in bed together; and upon his entering the room, he informed them of the object of his visit. Greenacre at first denied all knowledge of any such person as Hannah Brown; but subsequently, upon his being further questioned, he admitted that he had been going to be married to her, although he did not then know what had become of her. The prisoners having dressed themselves, Greenacre declared that it was lucky that the officer had gone on that night, for that they were about to sail on the next day for America, a fact which appeared to be true, from the appearance of a number of boxes, which stood in the apartment, ready packed and corded for travelling. A minute examination of the contents of the trunks, afforded highly important evidence.
Many articles were found in them, which were known to have belonged to Mrs. Brown; but besides these, some remnants of an old cotton dress were discovered, exactly corresponding in pattern and condition with the pieces in which the body had been wrapped, on its being first seen in the Edgeware-road.
Subsequent inquiries afforded additional proofs in the case, implicating both Mrs. Gale and Greenacre. These consisted in the discovery of evidence as to the proceedings of the prisoners, on the night of Christmas-eve, and the following days. Greenacre, as we have already stated, was observed on Christmas-eve to take home his intended wife to his house in Carpenter's-buildings. Previously to this time, Mrs. Gale had been living with him there as his wife; but she appears to have been sent away on the morning of the 24th of December, in order to made room for the new-comer. On that night some noise and scuffling was heard in Greenacre's house by the neighbours, but no notice was taken of it; and on the following day Greenacre was observed to go out, and the house remained locked up, and with the shutters closed all day. On that day it was proved that he went to dine with Mrs. Gale, at lodgings which she occupied temporarily, at Portland-street, Walworth. On Boxing-day (Monday), Mrs. Gale was again in Carpenter's-buildings, and she seemed to be engaged in washing the house, as she procured some water from some of her neighbours, and she was noticed to be employed with a bucket and mop, as if she were hard at work. On Wednesday, Greenacre was observed to leave his home, carrying with him a blue merino bag, and it was ascertained that about a week afterwards he quitted the house in Carpenter's-buildings altogether, his boxes and furniture being removed by a man named Chisholm. About a fortnight afterwards the house was stated "to be to let," and several of the neighbours went to look at it. The floors of one or two of the rooms appeared to have been carefully scrubbed and cleaned; and besides this, there was observed to be a strong smell of brimstone, as if it had been employed in fumigating the house, and the fire-places were boarded up, so as to prevent the escape of the vapour by the chimney. Independently of these circumstances, various expressions were attributed to Greenacre and Mrs, Gale, from which it was inferred that the latter was aware of the murder; and it was also shown that the bag or sack in which the body was enclosed, had been stolen by Greenacre about a week before Christmas, from the shop of a Mr. Ward, a mangle-maker, in Cheyne-walk, Tottenham-court-road; whose shopman, Higgins, was enabled to identify it by a particular species of shaving, which was still adhering to its interior, and also by the cord, with which it was made to close.
Upon the statement of all these circumstances, the prisoners were called upon for any defence which they might have to make, and Greenacre thus addressed the magistrate. He spoke in a clear voice, and without betraying any emotion.
"I have to state, that in the evidence given there are many direct falsehoods. I distinctly told Mrs. Davis that we had had no words at all of consequence -- that is, no quarrel. What I mentioned to her was, that I had found out Mrs. Brown had no money at all, and had tried to set up things in my name at a tally-shop. I merely argued the point with her, but there had been no dispute worth speaking of. There may have been duplicity on both sides. I represented myself to her to be a man of property, as many other people do; and I found out that she was not a suitable companion for me, which may fairly be concluded from her conduct towards her brothers and sisters. I'll adhere strictly to the truth in what I am saying, although there are many circumstances in the evidence combining together against me, and which may perhaps cost me my life. One of the witnesses has said, that I helped to move the boxes on the Saturday; that is true, but I will precede that remark by stating, that I had this female (the other prisoner) in a room at the time, where she was lodging, and did my cooking for me. I gave her notice to leave previous to Mrs. Brown coming home, and she had left accordingly. On the Saturday night before Christmas-day, Mrs. Brown came down to my house, rather fresh from drinking, having in the course of the morning treated the coachman, and insisted upon having some more rum, a quantity of which she had had with her tea. I then thought it a favourable opportunity to press upon her for the state of her circumstances. She was very reluctant to give me any answer, and I told her she had often dropped insinuations in my hearing about her having property enough to enable her to go into business, and that she had said she could command at any time three hundred or four hundred pounds. I told her I had made some inquiry about her character, and had ascertained she had been to Smith's tally-shop, in Long-acre, and tried to procure silk gowns in my name. She put on a feigned laugh, and retaliated by saying she thought I had been deceiving her with respect to my property, by misrepresenting it. During this conversation she was reeling backwards and forwards in her chair, which was on the swing, and as I am determined to adhere strictly to the truth, I must say that I put my foot to the chair, and she fell back with great violence against a chump of wood that I had been using; this alarmed me very much, and I went round the table and took her by the hand, and kept shaking her, but she appeared to be entirely gone. It is impossible to give a description of my feelings at the time; and, in the state of excitement I was in, I unfortunately determined on putting her away. I deliberated for a little while, and then made up my mind to conceal her death in the manner already gone forth to the world. I thought it might be more safe that way than if I gave an alarm of what had occurred. No one individual up to the present moment had the least knowledge of what I have stated here. This female I perfectly exonerate from having any more knowledge of it than any other person, as she was away from the house."
Mrs. Gale, after denying that she was at Camberwell at the time of the murder, or that she had participated in any way in causing the death of the deceased, said -- "Mr, Greenacre told me I was to leave his house a fortnight before Christmas, but I did not then leave, as I could not suit myself with lodgings, and I went away on the following Thursday. On the Monday week after that I returned to the house, and he told me that, the correspondence between him and Mrs. Brown was broken off. That's all I have to state."
During the whole of the time occupied by the police in prosecuting their inquiries, new and increasing interest prevailed upon the subject of the case, and every opportunity was seized upon by the public at which it was thought that a glimpse of the prisoners might be obtained.
The 5th of April was fixed upon for the last examination; but owing to the extreme difficulties which had attended every fresh inquiry before the magistrates at the police-office, arising from the crowds which were every day collected, they were induced to determine upon holding their final meeting at the New Prison, Clerkenwell, where Greenacre had been confined. Mrs. Gale had been kept in custody at the House of Correction; and the intention of the magistrates being soon made known to the mob, many of them proceeded from the neighbourhood of Marylebone to Clerkenwell, in the hope of catching a glimpse of her as she passed to the New Prison. During the examination both prisoners were much affected, and trembled violently.
The principal object of this meeting was the re-perusal of the whole of the vast body of evidence which had been obtained in the presence of the prisoners. The statements made by Greenacre and his fellow-prisoner were also read, and signed by them as true. Gale, when called upon to affix her name to her statement, appeared to be labouring under extreme trepidation. She got up from her seat, and walked with a faltering step to the table; she took the pen with a trembling hand, when Greenacre, seeing the agitation she was in, said to her, "Sign, sign; don't frighten yourself at what people say about your going to be hanged, and all that sort of stuff!" Gale at length appended her name, and resumed her seat.
The whole of the evidence having now been read over, the prisoners were fully committed to Newgate for trial.
The following lines were circulated by Greenacre among the reporters present at this examination, with a view to their publication in the newspapers.
"To a humane and enlightened public.
"New Prison, Clerkenwell, April 5.
"Everything that ingenuity and malice could invent to influence the minds of the ignorant, and to fill the minds of the good and religious with awe, has been the result of newspaper comment against me. It is said that the finger of God is manifested in bringing this horrid and wilful murder to light, the day only before my flight to America! I contend that this manifestation of Divine Providence is to serve my case, or the cause of a suffering mind, to prevent me from a life of continual dread of being fetched back from America upon this awful charge, and which would certainly have been the result, if the deceased had not been recognised until I had departed; thus it may be shown that Providence is on my side. Again, if in my crossing the Atlantic or by any other means, my death had ensued, the fatal conviction of an innocent female would certainly have been the result -- suspicion would have been too strong against her to have saved her; it was for God, and God only to prevent this fatal termination -- no human mind could have discerned anything in her favour, if my death had preceded this investigation. God is just; and God be praised for this timely interference to prevent my premature death through either my crossing the seas, or the distracted state of my mind. I hope, therefore, that my unfortunate situation may not be prejudiced by malice and perverted comments."
Monday, the 10th of April 1837, was the day fixed for the trial of these offenders, and on that day they were placed at the bar of the Central Criminal Court, and arraigned upon the indictment found against them. Greenacre was charged, as the principal, with the wilful murder of the deceased, and Gale was indicted for being an accessory after the fact, in comforting, aiding, and assisting her fellow-prisoner.
Chief Justice Tindal, Mr. Justice Coleridge, and Mr. Justice Coltman, were the judges who sat to try these offenders, and the court was crowded in every corner.
The evidence produced now was a repetition of that which had been brought forward at the various examinations at the police-office. Mr. Adolphus, Mr. Clarkson, and Mr. Bodkin, appeared to conduct the case for the prosecution; and Mr. Price and Mr. Payne defended the prisoners. The line of defence was consistent with the statements which had been made by the prisoners at Marylebone police-office. The witnesses who were competent to give any evidence as to the possibility of the truth of these declarations being cross-examined with a view to its being shown, that Greenacre's account of the transaction might be correct; and, further, that in the direction in which he stated Mrs. Brown to have fallen, she might have passed through a doorway, which was behind her, and into the back-room. This suggestion was, however, negatived by the declaration of the witnesses; and the testimony of the surgeons who were examined also tended to prove that the injuries which had been received by the deceased could not have been the result of such a state of facts. Mr. Girdwood underwent a long examination, and exhibited throughout an extensive acquaintance with those branches of his profession which were material to the inquiry. He declared his belief that many of the appearances of wounds or bruises on the head were the result of injuries inflicted during life; and, further, that the bloodless state of the arteries of the head exhibited that the process of disseveration had been commenced before life was extinct.
Mr. Price addressed the jury for the prisoners, urging those topics in his argument to which he had applied himself on his cross-examination.
The Lord Chief Justice began to sum up at a quarter past six o'clock on the second day of the trial. Having recapitulated the terms of the indictment in form, his lordship proceeded to observe, that the conviction of the prisoner Greenacre of murder or manslaughter would not necessarily involve the prisoner Gale in the charge, unless the jury were satisfied that the evidence was sufficient to bear out the allegation of her having been an accomplice in the transactions connected with the death of the deceased. He had no doubt the case would receive the most benevolent and patient attention of the jury. He would read over the evidence, and leave them to say whether they considered the prisoner Greenacre to have been the author of the woman's death, and whether the evidence amounted to proof of murder, or of manslaughter of an aggravated kind. There were certain undoubted, principles of law which must be kept in mind. One was, that where a person met his death from the hand of another person, that other person was bound, either by direct evidence or out of the circumstances of the case as they appeared in evidence before the jury, to mitigate or reduce the charge to the lower or minor class of offence. But then some circumstance of alleviation, mitigation, excuse, or justification must be brought before the court and jury, or be derivable by fair inference from the evidence. What they would have to say, therefore, was, whether, looking at the whole of the case, they were satisfied that it was left on the broad ground on which it was started by the counsel for the prosecution -- namely, the actual murder of the deceased individual, or whether there were any circumstances in the case to induce them to come to a conclusion of a milder character -- namely, that of a felonious manslaughter or accidental homicide. The learned judge then proceeded to refer to the evidence which had been adduced, commenting with great minuteness and perspicuity upon every circumstance from which the guilt or innocence of the prisoners was argued. He observed that the male prisoner had, by his own statement, admitted that he was guilty of manslaughter, unless they came to the conclusion that by an act of carelessness, or of playfulness in tilting up the chair, the woman had met her death. If, on the other hand, they were of opinion that the prisoner had occasioned the death of Hannah Brown, either by premeditated malice or by a malignity of feeling, caused by conduct of an exasperating nature, thereby giving rise to a spirit of revenge, then they must find him guilty of the higher offence. They would observe that the doctors had given it as their opinion, that the knife had been applied to the neck during life; they would therefore have to say whether, being possessed of a malignant spirit, the prisoner had not taken the knife and completed that act which he had wickedly intended to effect. He would exhort them to weigh well the circumstances of the case, which was one of extreme difficulty. Above all things, it behoved them to turn a deaf ear to any manifestations of clamour which might have been exhibited on the part of the public; such impressions ought at all times, but more especially upon an occasion like the present, to be banished from a court of justice. They would enter upon the performance of their solemn and painful duty with feelings of patience and calmness, giving to every portion of the evidence such favourable interpretation as it would allow, and they would give any benefit which might arise therefrom to the prisoners; they would look into all the evidence watchfully and narrowly, and if upon mature reflection they entertained a doubt of the guilt of the prisoner of the charge of murder, they would let him derive the full advantage and benefit of such a doubt. If, on the other hand, the evidence was so clear and satisfactory as that in their minds it brought the commission of the crime home to the prisoner, they would doubtless do their duty. With respect to the other prisoner, Sarah Gale, if they found the male prisoner guilty, either of the crime of murder or manslaughter, they would say whether by her assistance and aid she had protected, comforted, and enabled him to screen himself from the justice of the country. If so, they would find her guilty of the charge for which she was indicted. If, on the other hand, they thought that she had not in any way acted as an accessory, and had had no guilty knowledge of the crime, then they would give her the benefit of such opinion, and return a verdict of acquittal.
The jury having retired from the box for the purpose of considering their verdict, after an absence of a quarter of an hour only, returned into court to deliver their decision upon the case. As they passed to their box, Greenacre surveyed each of them with a keen, searching, and eager glance, as if to read in their expressions the fate which awaited him, and of which the jury were now the arbiters. His countenance, however, remained unchanged; and he still appeared to preserve the same degree of firmness and self-possession which distinguished his demeanour throughout the whole of the trial, and seemed as a man who had already anticipated his fate, and whose mind was made up to the worst that could befall him. The prisoner Gale, on the contrary, seemed lost and bewildered, and almost unconscious of her awful situation; but with that feeling of attachment for her paramour which women will evince even under circumstances of misery, shame, and peril, she fixed her look during this painful interval of suspense and agony upon the countenance of him to whose fate she appeared to cling, even in this trying moment, when life or death was about to unite them once more, or sever their unfortunate connexion for ever.
The clerk of the arraigns having called over the names of the jury, said, "Gentlemen, how say you; do you find the prisoner at the bar, James Greenacre, guilty or not guilty of the felony of murder with which he is charged?". The foreman of the jury answered, "Guilty."
The question was then asked with regard to the prisoner Gale, and the foreman of the jury again answered "Guilty."
The countenance of Greenacre remained unaltered. He exhibited no emotion, but leaned back in his chair and seemed perfectly indifferent to what might follow. Gale appeared almost unconscious of what was passing around her.
Upon the announcement of the result of the case outside the Court, the huzzaings of the crowd, who were impatiently awaiting its termination, were of the most deafening description; and several well-dressed persons were observed in elevated positions, waving their hats to the mob, as if upon the intelligence of some important victory.
The recent alteration in the law with regard to the period of the execution of murderers, rendered it unnecessary that sentence should be immediately passed on the prisoners; but on the following day, the 12th of April, they were brought up to receive the judgment of the Court.
Upon their being called upon in the usual way, to say any thing they had to urge why sentence should not be pronounced upon them:
Greenacre (in a husky, but firm tone) said -- "My Lord, my unhappy condition in this unfortunate affair has given rise to abundance of evidence against me, such as might be collected in any pot-house or gin-shop, owing to the reports spread abroad to my prejudice, upon which the jurymen have acted. It is contrary to reason and common sense to suppose that I should have meditated the death of the woman, much less that I should effect it in the manner described, because of the property she had. If that had been my object, I could have had it all on the next morning, when our marriage was to have taken place, and then it would have been mine. What, then, was my motive for murdering of her? It is --"
The Recorder. -- "This is all very proper matter to have been urged by your counsel at the trial, but should not be pressed upon the Court now. The only question now is, as to the matter of law. If there are the slightest grounds for questioning the verdict of the jury, your only course is to apply to the Secretary of State, the Court having no power of itself to interfere. Have you anything more to say?"
Greenacre. -- "In the next place, my lord, I beg to say that this woman was utterly ignorant of the affair up to the time of my being taken to the police-office. She had no knowledge whatever of it, and is as innocent as any lady or gentleman in this court. This I say, as I am going into my grave -- that she is innocent. I invited her back to the house after the body was removed, and she never knew anything of it. I deem it a religious duty to exculpate her from having any concern in this unfortunate affair. I have no more to say."
The Recorder. – "I shall make the same observation to you, Gale, that I have just addressed to the other prisoner. If there be any ground for a further inquiry into your case, you must apply to the Secretary of State, who will exercise his best discretion upon the subject, under the advice of the responsible officers of the crown."
The prisoner Gale was then led to a chair at the back of the dock, and the usual proclamation for silence, preparatory to the passing of the sentence of death, having been made,--
The Recorder, in a solemn and impressive tone, proceeded to address the male prisoner in the following words:-- "James Greenacre, after a protracted trial, which endured for two entire days, upon a patient and impartial investigation of all the circumstances connected with your case, a jury of your country have found themselves inevitably compelled to find you guilty of the dreadful offence for which you were indicted. You have been convicted upon evidence, indeed the most satisfactory, of the crime of wilful murder. The appalling details of your dreadful case must be fresh in the recollection of all who now hear my voice, and will long live in the memory and (may I not add?) in the execration of mankind; and generations yet to come will shudder at your guilt. You have, indeed, acquired for yourself a revolting celebrity: an odious notoriety in the annals of cruelty and crime. The means to which you were prompted to resort, in order to conceal the mangled and dismembered portions of your victim, were for a season attended with partial success. You disposed of her remains, as you thought, in places secure from discovery, but that course availed you not; for after a short interval accumulated evidence and irrefragable proofs of your guilty contrivance became apparent. The amputated limbs and the dissevered body were united to the bloodless head of the murdered woman, and every injury by you inflicted after death has afforded the means of proving by comparison, beyond doubt, that the wound on the eye was inflicted by you while your victim was in life, and strength, and health. Horrible and revolting to humanity as was the spectacle presented by the mutilated trunk and mangled remains, fresh details and discoveries suggested both the means and manner by which you accomplished the destruction of the deceased. Both surgical skill and medical science came to the assistance of common observation; and it was clearly and beyond all doubt demonstrated that the wounds on the eye and skull were sufficient to produce death; and it was still further proved, that while the blood was yet in a fluid state, and circulating through the veins and arteries, you accomplished your horrible object, by severing the head from the body. Stupor of the senses and suspended animation were the effect of your blows; and then you embrued your hands in the gushing life's-blood of the wretched and unhappy being who was stretched senseless and unconscious at your feet. The still warm corpse was then barbarously mutilated and mangled by you, in the hope that the eye of man would not detect your guilt; but the eye of God was upon you. The natural disgust and horror which your conduct in this respect excites compels me to throw a veil over the frightful and appalling particulars of that hideous scene. But even that scene, revolting as it is, may be useful in a moral point of view, for it shows how the hand of Providence points out the guilty, and proves both the means of detection and the certainty of punishment. The certain but unseen agency of Providence is exhibited in the development of the peculiar and complicated circumstances of your case. The curiosity excited, the alarm produced, and the peculiarity of each succeeding discovery of the mangled members of the body, and the seemingly impenetrable mystery in which the circumstances of such a murder were shrouded, all conspired to awaken suspicion, renew inquiry, and incite to fresh exertion, until at last the mystery was developed by the family of the deceased. The embalmed head was identified, the name of the murdered woman came to light, and sufficient evidence was produced to point out you as the author of her death, and bring you before the tribunal of public justice. The circumstances attending the discovery of this murder lead to the inevitable conclusion that neither cunning nor ferocity can shelter and secure a murderer; for although the crime may be hidden for a time -- although delays may occur, and the mystery of the transaction almost preclude the hope of its discovery, yet the all-seeing eye of God is cognizant of the deed, and man becomes the agent of its discovery. Indeed instances of escape from such a crime are so rare, that the detection is almost as sure as the punishment is certain. It is plain from the attention with which I perceive you are listening to what I now say, that I am addressing an individual not devoid of education, of reasoning faculties, and strength of mind. The occasion you must indeed be aware is, as regards yourself, standing where you do, and under the circumstances in which you are placed, awful and solemn to the last degree, both as regards your fate in this world and the world to come. I will not draw arguments from my own feeble resources alone, to endeavour to induce and implore you to repent before it is too late. Let me, then, before I proceed to pass upon you the dreadful sentence, entreat you to consider well your past life, and the chances which await you in the life which is to come. In making this last appeal, in attempting to revive within your breast the last remaining sparks of virtue and religion, let me refer you to an extract which I am about to read to you from an excellent work, called 'The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed.' I have selected the passage because I think it may be applicable to your present state of mind, and because the sentiments it conveys are far better than I could ever hope to address to you from my own resources. The passage is as follows:-- 'Indeed,' says the learned author, 'when one has been recollecting the proper proofs of a future state of rewards and punishment, nothing, methinks, can give one so sensible an apprehension of the latter or representation of it to the mind, as observing the many disregard-checks, admonitions, and warnings which people meet with in the ways of vice and folly, and extravagance -- warnings from their very nature, from the example of others, from the lesser inconveniences which they bring upon themselves -- from the instruction of wise and virtuous men; after these had been so long despised, scorned, ridiculed -- after the chief bad consequences, temporal consequences of their follies, have been delayed for a great while, at length they break in irresistibly like an armed force -- repentance is too late to relieve, and can serve only to aggravate their distress: the case is become desperate, and poverty and sickness, remorse and anguish, infamy and death -- the effects of their own doings -- overwhelm them beyond the possibility of remedy or escape.' The limits of time and the span of this present life furnish no obstacles in the way. of a repentant sinner. Turn, therefore, I implore you, with an humble and penitent heart, to the source of all hope and mercy -- the blessed Redeemer of mankind, and employ the brief interval which is yet left you on this side of eternity in penitence and prayer, as the only means of obtaining that mercy hereafter which the laws of God and man deny to you in this world. It now only remains for me to pass upon you the dreadful sentence of the law; and that sentence is, that you be taken from hence to the prison from which you came, and from thence to a place of execution, where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and that your body be then buried within the precincts of the jail; and may the Lord God Almighty take compassion on your sinful soul."
The learned Recorder towards the end of this address was sensibly affected; and he could scarcely give utterance to the concluding words.
The prisoner Greenacre remained apparently unmoved, but he listened with attention, and never once changed his position or relaxed a muscle. He was then led back, and
Gale was brought forward to receive her sentence.
The Recorder said -- "Sarah Gale, I will not aggravate the sufferings which you must now endure with any observations tending to increase those sufferings. The unhappy man who a short time ago stood beside you at that bar has declared that you had no guilty knowledge of the transaction in which he was involved. I cannot but observe, however, with regard to that remark, that you had united yourself to him, sharing his society and bed, and comforting, assisting, and sheltering him, without being joined to him by any moral or religious tie. As he has stated that you were ignorant of the dreadful transaction, I think it right to remind you that the ear-rings found in your pocket had belonged to the unfortunate woman who had been slaughtered by his hands; that duplicates of property which belonged to her were also found in your possession; and that in an adjoining room a box was found, proved to have been hers, besides other property. I cannot, therefore, as at present advised, entertain any doubt but that the verdict of the jury in your case was well and justly grounded. How far your attachment to the prisoner induced you to continue your intercourse with him, notwithstanding his possession of the property of the deceased under circumstances which I should think must at least have excited suspicion on your mind, it is not for me to judge. Perhaps you considered that what had been done could not be undone; but whatever feeling actuated your conduct in connexion with the circumstances of the case, I feel that I am bound to pass upon you the full sentence directed by the act of parliament; and if upon further investigation of your case, should you be disposed to apply to the Secretary of State for a revision of your sentence, any favourable circumstances should arise, that matter will be considered and disposed of by the competent authorities. At present I have only to pronounce upon you the sentence of the law; and that sentence is, and this Court do adjudge, that you be transported beyond the sea to such place as His Majesty, with the advice of his privy council, shall direct and appoint, for the term of your natural life."
The prisoners were then led away from the bar; but Greenacre, instead of being conducted to the condemned cell, as is customary, was re-taken to the apartment which he had previously occupied. The reason for this alteration in his case, was the necessity which existed for a strict watch being maintained over him, to prevent a repetition of the attempt which he had made upon his own life, which there was good reason to apprehend; and it was felt that the inclemency of the weather would render such a duty in the lower cells of the prison, a punishment upon the attendant turnkeys of no ordinary severity. The demeanour of Greenacre, after his conviction, partook of the same firmness and determination which he had hitherto maintained; and upon the day after his condemnation he requested to be supplied with pens, ink, and paper. His desire was instantly complied with; and from this time he appeared to be occupied in the fabrication of a new statement, bearing the impress of truth, in reference to the foul crime for which he had been tried. He industriously applied himself for several days to this task; but none of the productions of his pen appeared to afford him satisfaction, and each was committed to the flames almost immediately upon its completion. In the course of the day after he received sentence of death, he was visited by the sheriffs, and to them he made a new confession of the circumstances of his crime. The general facts which he now detailed corresponded with the story he had told at the police-office; but in one most important particular he admitted the falsehood of that statement. This was with reference to the immediate cause of the death of Mrs. Brown; and he now stated that the unfortunate woman, having accompanied him home, as proved in evidence, they had taken tea together. Mrs Brown afterwards proceeded to wash up the tea-things, and while she was so occupied, they continued a conversation which had before commenced, upon the subject of her property. He became enraged at the deception which she had practised on him, and seizing a rolling-pin which lay on the dresser, he menaced her with it, and at length struck her on the eye. She fell to the ground, and on his going to her, he was shocked to find that she was insensible, and apparently dead. He paced the room for some time, in terror at the act which he had committed, as he conjectured that he should be charged as her murderer, and began to reflect upon the best means of screening himself from the consequences of his guilt. A variety of methods presented themselves to his mind; but at length he hit upon the horrible expedient of dividing the limbs from the body, and disposing of the dissevered members separately. He, in consequence, immediately set about cutting off' the head, and having done so, he suffered the whole of the blood to drain from it. This done, he determined instantly to get rid of this portion of the frame of his victim, and wrapping it in a silk pocket-handkerchief, he quitted the house with the horrible burden. On reaching Camberwell he got into an omnibus, which conveyed him to Gracechurch-street, and without alarm for the discovery of the contents of his bundle, he carried it on his knee during the whole journey. When he left the vehicle he scarcely knew which way to turn, but a Mile-End omnibus overtaking him as he reached Cornhill, he jumped into it, and was conveyed to the East end of the town, still carrying his dreadful load on his lap, in the same manner in which he had supported it before. On his leaving this second conveyance, he walked on until he reached the Regent's Canal, and he pursued the course of it, until he came to the Lock at Stepney. An idea suddenly suggested itself to his mind, that this was the fitting place to get rid of the head, and without more ado he "shot it from the handkerchief into the water." He then directly turned back, and on his way home he called at Mrs. Davis's, in Bartholomew-close, with whom he entered into conversation, as described in the evidence. He slept in Carpenters-buildings alone on that night, but on the morning he went to Mrs. Gale's lodgings, where he staid until the next day. At an early hour on the morning of the 26th of December, he proceeded to his own house, to dispose of the remaining parts of the body. He began by separating the legs from the trunk, and having done so, he packed them up in a sack and took them to Cold Harbour-lane (it being quite daylight at the time), and threw them into the osier bed. He then once more resumed his dreadful task at his house, in Carpenter's-buildings, the trunk of the body being now all that he had to get rid of. The sack and the remnants of a gown which were discovered with the body, were the only coverings in which he could wrap these remains, and having securely corded them up, he took the bundle on his back and went out, undetermined as to the course which he should pursue to dispose of this remaining evidence of his guilt. A carrier's cart passed him soon after he reached the public road, and his load being heavy, he requested permission to place it on the tail-board. This was acceded to, and he walked behind the cart as far as the Elephant and Castle, at Newington. The carrier there stopped to procure his dinner, and left him in the street to take care of the cart; but alarmed lest, during the prolonged absence of the driver, some accident might occur which should procure his detection, he called a hackney cab, and having thrown his bundle under the seat, directed that he should be driven to the Edgeware-road. On his arrival at the Pine Apple Gate, he quitted the vehicle, and paid the driver, and the man having turned back, he walked on towards Kilburn. A favourable opportunity soon presented itself for disposing of the load, and he deposited it behind the stone in the position in which it was found two days afterwards. This, also, he declared took place in the day-time, and he conceived that he underwent less risk in pursuing his operations thus openly, than in endeavouring to conceal them under the shades of night. On his return home, he burned the handkerchief in which he had carried the head, and he also wiped up the blood from the floor with flannels, which he disposed of by throwing them down the privy. This confession was not reduced to writing; but the evident object of the prisoner was to screen Mrs. Gale from the punishment which awaited her, and to raise a belief of her innocence. This, however, failed, for the evidence which was adduced with reference to her implication in the murder, was too clear to admit of any doubt being entertained; and indeed the general impression was, that the murder was the result of a pre-conceived determination, both of Greenacre and his paramour, in order to the accomplishment of which by the former, the latter only temporarily quitted his house. During the subsequent imprisonment of Greenacre, he appeared to be little anxious for the spiritual consolation of the reverend gentleman, who was the ordinary of the jail. He occasionally employed himself in the perusal of religious works, but was generally engaged in writing, although the result of his labours in this respect were, as we have already stated, usually burned. In the conversations which he had with the official persons, by whom he was visited, he complained loudly of the prejudices which had been excited against him by the circulation of a great many false accounts of circumstances which had occurred in his early life. He particularly referred to an allegation which had been made, of his having murdered one of his children, of which Mrs. Gale was the mother; and he asserted, and Mrs. Gale corroborated the truth of his declaration, upon her being separately questioned, that the child had died a natural death; although he admitted that he had disposed of it, by placing it at the door of a Mr. Dale, in Rupert-street, Haymarket, by whom it was sent to St. James's Workhouse, where it lived for nine months.
On Wednesday, the 26th of April, the case of Greenacre was reported to his majesty by the Recorder, and the following Tuesday, the 2d of May, was fixed for the execution. The intelligence was on the same evening conveyed to the prisoner, but he seemed to have made up his mind to the impossibility of there being any mitigation in his punishment, and was unmoved. He declared that he cared nothing for death, although he was sacrificed to the prejudices of the world; but he shuddered at the thought of quitting life with the brand upon him of a wilful murderer. He maintained that he had committed no murder, and that he was to blame for nothing except the mutilation of the body of the deceased. At his meeting now with the ordinary, he declined his spiritual assistance, and said that he could find no relief in anything but inward prayer.
On the following Sunday the condemned sermon was preached in the chapel of the jail by Dr. Cotton, and the most intense anxiety was exhibited on the part of the public, to procure admission to this ceremony. Greenacre throughout the service conducted himself with much propriety, and repeated the responses with accuracy and precision. During the sermon, however, in which he was spoken of as a murderer, he appeared to be much incensed; and on his being subsequently visited by the worthy ordinary, he complained of the application of that term to him, and not without warmth, he declared, that he thought the observations which had been made might have been spared. Subsequently, however, he resumed his wonted composure, and he appeared to receive the attentions of the clergyman with more satisfaction. On Monday night he was requested to join the ordinary in partaking of the sacrament, but he declined to do so; and in the course of a 'conversation which passed upon the subject, he asserted, that although he believed that the Saviour was a very good man, he placed no credit in the assertion that he was the Son of God. To further questions which were put to him, he said that he believed in the existence of a Deity, and .in a future state of rewards and punishments, but that he had no doubt that he should be happy, for that the sufferings through which he had passed in life were a sufficient atonement for any faults of which he had been guilty. On Monday night he slept soundly for several hours; but about four in the morning he arose and dressed himself, and indited several letters. He had completed these by seven, and at that hour he partook of some refreshment, and now, for the first time since he had entered Newgate, he was observed to shed tears. As the hour of eight approached his agitation increased, but he remained absorbed in silent meditation. Upon the appearance of the usual officers he submitted with calmness to the operation of pinioning; and this being completed, he requested as a favour, that he might not be long exposed to the gaze of the multitude without. The last words which he uttered conveyed a request that his spectacles might be given to Sarah Gale; and then, unheeding the remarks of Mr. Cotton, he joined the procession to the scaffold.
The exterior of the jail meanwhile presented a wondrous scene of confusion. The mob had begun to collect as early as ten o'clock on the night before, and at day-break on Tuesday morning, every spot was occupied from which a glimpse of the scaffold could be obtained. At four o'clock the erection of the scaffold was commenced; and the appearance of this instrument of death, as it was wheeled from the prison-yard, was hailed with three cheers of deafening applause. The same terrible welcome was given, at a subsequent period, to the transverse beam when it was raised above the platform; and again to the executioner, when he came forward to fasten the deadly halter on the chain which is suspended from it. The pressure of the crowd as the hour of execution approached became terrific; and many persons were carried from it, exhausted by their exertions. At a quarter before eight the bell of St. Sepulchre's Church began to toll, and from that moment the screams and groans occasioned by the pressure from the two extremities of the crowd towards the centre were perfectly appalling. When the executioner again presented himself on the scaffold, however, to see that all the preparations were complete, every feeling seemed to give way to that of curiosity; but it became evident that there was a sensation in that immense assemblage, which would express itself in clamorous exultation as soon as ever the wretched criminal appeared, to atone for the blood which he had so unrelentingly shed. No sooner did those officers who usually precede the criminal to the place of execution, become visible, than it burst forth with a loud, deep, and sullen shout of execration against Greenacre, even before that miserable wretch came under the terrible ordeal of their indignant glance. As soon as he mounted the scaffold, the populace again exhibited their detestation of the bloody atrocity of which he had been convicted, by setting up a wild hurrah of approval of the retaliation which he was about to endure under the hands of the ministers of justice. He placed himself at once in the hands of the executioner, who was thus enabled to complete the final preparations for his death with unprecedented rapidity. The ordinary then read the commencing verse of the burial-service, and before it was concluded the bolt was withdrawn, Greenacre fell, and the vengeance of the law was accomplished. In two minutes from his first appearance on the platform he ceased to be a living man. One grasp of his hands was observed on the rope reaching its full tension,-- nothing more, and then all but the relentless shout of the multitude, was still. In a few minutes afterwards the mob began to disperse; but a large concourse of persons remained until nine o'clock, when the body was cut down amidst a yell of triumph, which will live long in the memory of those who heard it. On the same night the body of the criminal was buried within the precincts of the jail, near to those of Thistlewood and others, who had been executed for high-treason.
Gale, it may be observed, during the latter part of her imprisonment, previously to the time of the execution of her late paramour, fell into a state of great despondency. She had been informed that an interview with Greenacre could not be permitted; and this, combined with the certainty of his death, and her apprehensions as to her own fate, reduced her to a state of the greatest mental weakness. The wretched woman, after some delay produced by the applications of her friends in her behalf, was, on the 26th of June, removed from Newgate to the Hulks, from whence eventually, accompanied by her child, she was transported.
Having now related the particulars of this atrocious case, we shall proceed to lay before our readers the sketch which Greenacre himself published of his life, during the period of his incarceration. It was in the following terms, and, as will be seen, was written before his trial.
"Having furnished my counsel and legal advisers with every true and particular statement of my case, I conceive it to be my necessary duty towards myself, my family, and a reflecting public, to pen a brief outline of my history, in the hope of counteracting the vindictive feeling and public prejudice which have been excited against me, through falsehood and exaggerated statements that have appeared in the public newspapers, and which it is my duty to refute, by immediately committing this narrative to paper, to prove to the world that I am not that bloody-minded character which is reported of me, to the prejudice of my character in the minds of those persons in whose hands my life is placed.
"I am not immaculate; neither am I without many sins of commission and omission; but that truth may appear, and that justice may be done to my name when I am no more, should the prejudice of my jury prevail over the extenuating facts of my case, I proceed to state the circumstances of my life.
"I was born in 1785, in Norfolk (at a village called Westwinch, two miles and a half from Lynn, we believe), of honest and industrious parents, who were farmers. I only, of a large family, relinquished the business of a farmer, and was put into business in the grocery line, in the parish of St. George, in the Borough, by my own parents, at the age of nineteen. From the moment I became a landlord, no tenant of mine ever questioned the kindness of my disposition; I have been many years in the possession of three cottages, which I built in Jane-place, Old Kent-road, and have had many tenants, but never distrained upon any of them for rent, but have always taken pleasure in assisting them in any difficulty, and have often, very often, given up to them their back rents or arrears that unavoidably happen to poor persons in cases of sickness, and the want of employment. I had also eight cottages in Bowyer-lane, Camberwell, but I never once distrained upon a tenant in my life, but have absolutely felt all the sympathy of a near relative, when my claim for rent has been met by an apology through sickness, in times of accouchment, and other causes of distress. I can with perfect safeness say, that of these eleven cottages, and those two in Carpenter s-place, I never distrained upon a poor tenant in my life.
"Now, as regards my domestic history, I will just refer to a few demonstrations of my disposition and general character, as a husband, a father, and a respected friend. I have been a man of affliction, in losing three amiable companions, with whom I always lived in the most perfect harmony. It may be added, that I was no fortune-hunter in these cases; but I always sought after the prospects of my issue, by forming an alliance where my children might reap the advantages of their mother's dower on the death of their parents; and I have much consolation in finding that my children, by each of my wives' parents, are amply provided for by legacies. Before I pass over this trait in my character as a husband and a father, the scandalous reports of my enemies make it necessary to refer to the deaths of my wives. The first was the daughter of Charles Ware, of the Crown and Anchor Tavern, Woolwich, to whom I was married at the age of nineteen; my wife eighteen. I was then in business in the grocery line, by the assistance of my own parents, who were farmers in Norfolk. My wife died suddenly of a putrid sore throat. She was attended by that eminent physician. Dr. Blackburn, who, and whose assistants, admonished me not to go near my wife to receive her breath; but such being the result of my feelings, that I could not resist the force of affection, and there are many persons now living who can bear testimony to the fact, I took the complaint, and it nearly cost me my life. I engaged a respectable woman as housekeeper, who, as nurse and housekeeper, has since been in my service at intervals for a period equal to thirteen years, and who is now living. My next wife was the daughter of Mr. John Romford, a considerable land-owner in Essex. By this lady I also had two children. This wife died of a brain fever, brought on by exerting herself, I believe, riding on horseback, whilst on a visit at her own relations; and having an infant at the time, her milk was affected by the fever, which caused her death. Mr. Culthred, now residing in the Borough, attended her. My old housekeeper, who nursed my wife at each accouchment, now became my housekeeper again. I continued a widower fifteen months, and married Miss Simmonds, of Long-lane, Bermondsey, with whom I also lived in harmony and affection up to the time I went to America (May 1833). This amiable companion, with whom I had arranged to come after I had provided a home for her, died in London, of the cholera, about three weeks after my departure. By this wife I had seven children, two only of whom are living. My old housekeeper always attended as nurse to all my wives, and upon all occasions of sickness, making a period of near thirteen years. As a sober and affectionate husband, no person living can deny but this has uniformly been my character. I have always abhorred a public-house, and the babble of drunken men. The society of my books, and wife, and children, have always been to me the greatest source of delight that my mind could possibly enjoy.
"As a master and a friend, I trust the following statement will show that kindness and liberality, and a desire to cultivate the friendship of my neighbours and the tranquillity of my home, have always been the object of my study, and a pleasure most dear to my heart. My apprentices and servants have always manifested much pleasure in their situations, and have always continued with me several years. My apprentices have always been the sons of respectable persons, and have generally been the means of recommending each other, through their connexions with each other's families. I always received a good premium with each apprentice, one only excepted, who was a cast-off apprentice from the Foundling, but who became a good servant under a kind master and mistress, and staid with us many years after her apprenticeship was expired. I have had seven male apprentices since I commenced business, in 1814. Two were brothers, the sons of Mr. Falls, who was then measurer in his majesty's dockyard, Deptford; and my last apprentice, in 1833, was the son of Mr. Green, of the Royal Oak, Sevenoaks, in Kent, whose eldest son had served his time, five years, with me, and with whom I received a large premium. I have always encouraged my servants and apprentices by very many indulgences and kind treatment, and have always found them obliging and assiduous in business. I had one who robbed me. This was the son of a highly respectable tradesman in London. I gave the boy in charge of the beadle, and, contrary to my wishes, he was remanded to Horsemonger-lane jail. I applied to the youth's father, to consult upon his son's escape. This gentleman's tears and distress of mind I most acutely participated in, and had near been brought into trouble by refusing to prosecute. No servant or inmate of my house can say that I was ever intoxicated, or that I ever lifted my hand against my wife, or caused a tear by harsh treatment. Now, as a friend, I think I can give the most incontrovertible testimony; and had it not been for the infamous lying and slandering newspapers, who glory in any crime for the sale of their dangerous weapons, I might have received the visits, advice, and assistance of hundreds of friends, but all are frightened by those horrifying falsehoods. I have received anonymous letters whilst in jail, which I have shown to the governor of the prison, and have handed to my solicitor, wherein the writers express their wishes to aid me, but durst not avow their names. My counsel also have received instructions to aid me by the receipt of anonymous letters enclosing money, with the like expressions of the writers' fear that their names may be known. Thus it is that I am compelled to give this brief outline of my life, in the hopes of defeating the power of falsehood and slander.
"I have continued in business twenty years in the parish of St. George, in the Borough. I have always lived under the same firm, or landlord, and have always experienced an increasing connexion of customers and friends. This manifestation of friendship was evinced by my numerous fellow-parishioners in their electing me to the office of overseer, on Easter Tuesday, 1832, by the largest vestry that ever assembled in the parish church of St. George. A poll was demanded, and my friends increased, and never before or since have there been so many parishioners polled. These numerous parishioners, with whom I had resided so many years, would now most willingly aid me by a subscription or other means, but that they are naturally frightened by the false and slanderous newspaper reports.
"As a debtor, when in business, no person was ever more punctual in his payments; and at the time I went to America, my debts, about 150l., were never before so trifling, and the number of my creditors were so few, I had left with my wife the invoices and the cash to pay them; but her illness and sudden death by the cholera caused the discharge of those bills to be neglected, when my creditors, who knew that I had houses, and who, misconstruing the cause of their not being called upon, proceeded by combining their small accounts to make me a bankrupt. Never before, I believe, was a person made a bankrupt whose debts were so trifling as mine. Had fraud been my object in going to America, I could have easily had ten times the debts and as many more creditors, with whom I had dealt for many years. I have one creditor only who has refused to sign my certificate, and from him I never demanded a stamp receipt, which has saved him a sum nearly equal to the debt I owed him.
"I have mentioned my abhorrence of public-houses; I trust, therefore, that the vice of drinking, the foundation of error and crime, may not be considered the cause of my unhappy accident and subsequent resolve to put away the body, which has produced my disreputable notoriety. It was the horror of my feelings, and fear only that took possession of my mind. I was actuated by no feelings of a felonious or malicious kind. The unfortunate deceased was evidently very much in liquor, when her chair went backwards; and had candidly avowed her poverty when I talked to her on the consequences of our marrying in deception, and of her having been to a tally-shop to obtain a dress upon credit in my name. Felonious intentions cannot be attributed to me, since it is well known, that if she had property it might have been mine in a few hours' time by the legal right of marriage."
With reference to this autobiography, there is no reason to believe that any of the main facts which are stated are incorrect, but it appears that, throughout his life Greenacre had been notorious among his acquaintance for the violence of his political opinions, and the unreserved manner in which he stated them. Rumours were afloat during the period of his imprisonment, that he had been a party to the atrocious plots of the Thistlewood gang, and that he had escaped from the room where his coadjutors were apprehended in Cato-street, at the very moment of the entrance of the officers. This was a story, the truth of which, however, he utterly denied; but he admitted his acquaintance with a person implicated in the conspiracy who was apprehended in his presence, upon an occasion when he went to pay him a visit. We shall not go into the particulars of the whole of the tales which were circulated in reference to his past life. The public mind was so much excited during the continuance of the proceedings against him, that it would be both unfair and ungenerous to prejudice his memory by the repetition of every unproved assertion which was made. The fact which he stated of his being about to start for America on the day of his apprehension with Gale, was found to be perfectly true; for it appeared that a portion of his luggage had been put on board the vessel, which, however, had sailed without its passengers on the 3d of April. The most remarkable part of his conduct after the dreadful murder of which he had been guilty, was that which referred to a new attempt on his part to enter into the bonds of matrimony, by means of an advertisement in the public newspapers. The specious nature of his disposition is well depicted in this transaction. On the 23d of January, one month after the death of Mrs. Brown, an advertisement appeared in the "Times" newspaper in the following terms:--
Wanted, a partner, who can command 300l., to join the advertiser in a patent to bring forward a new-invented machine, of great public benefit, that is certain of realising an ample reward. Applications by letter only (post-paid), for J. G., at Mr. Bishop's, No.1, Tudor-place, Tottenham Court-road."
Among the answers to that advertisement was one from a female of great respectability, whose name and address we, for obvious reasons, abstain from making public; who, having a little money at her command, indiscreetly wrote to him on the subject, and afterwards had two or three interviews with him, without, however, coming to any arrangement. Greenacre, with that tact for which throughout the proceedings he has rendered himself so remarkable, clearly saw that it would be more advantageous to him. if he could form an alliance with the lady in question, and he accordingly determined, without delay, to make her an offer of his hand, which he did in a most specious letter, written on Saturday, the 4th of February, the very day on which the inquest was held on the limbs of his murdered victim, and probably at the very moment while it was sitting. The following is an authentic copy of his letter: --
"February 4, 1837.
"DEAR MADAM,-- Having had several letters in answer to my advertisement, yours is the third to which I have applied for an interview, and is the last one I shall answer. I advertised in the 'Times' newspaper of the 23d of January for a partner with 300l. to join me in a patent to bring forward a new invented machine, of which I have enclosed you a printed specification from scientific gentlemen of property, each anxious to co-operate with me in it; but upon mature consideration, and by the advice of my friends, I have determined not to throw away the half of this most important discovery for the trifling sum of 300l., as it is certainly worth as many thousands.
"It is, therefore, my wish to meet with a female companion, with a small capital, one with whom a mutual and tender attachment might be formed, who would share with me in those advantageous pecuniary prospects which are now before me, and thereby secure the advantages of my own production.
"No man can have a greater aversion than myself to advertising for a wife; nevertheless, this advertisement was intended to give an opportunity, by which I might make propositions of an honourable nature to one whom I might prefer as a companion for life. It may be, however, that the first impression from our short interviews has left very different feelings towards me than those by which I am influenced to write this letter to you; I hope however otherwise, or at least that you will not yield to any unfavourable conjectures relative to the moderation of my views, as regards the sum of money I named in my advertisement. It is, I think, sufficient to convince you, or any of your advisers and friends, that property forms but a small share of my hopes and object, in turning my attention towards a partner for life.
"I am a widower, thirty-eight years of age, without any incumbrance, and am in the possession of a small income arising from the rent of some houses. I was sixteen years in a large way of business, which I relinquished about three years ago, but have lost much of my property by assisting others and confiding too strongly in the professions of pretended friends. Under these circumstances, I am induced to seek a partner, or a companion with a small sum, to co-operate with me in securing the advantages of this machine, which will be a great public benefit, and which has long been attempted by many scientific persons, and is certain of realizing a competency.
"Having given you this plain statement of my situation, I beg leave to add, that my mind is thoroughly fixed upon making you the future object of my affections and constant regard. If you should feel disposed to favour my sincere and honourable intentions, I shall take the liberty of calling upon you, and hope that you will divest your mind of any idea beyond that of the most sacred candour and honourable intentions on my part. Should you feel disposed to communicate any remarks on the subject by letter, I hope that you will do so.
"Excuse the dissimulation by which I have obtained an introduction to you, and believe that my present proposal is dictated by every honourable and affectionate feeling towards you.-- I am, dear Madam, yours most sincerely,"
"No.6, Carpenter's-place, Camberwell, Surrey."
The "new-invented machine" referred to in the advertisement, appears to have been an apparatus for washing linen, as an article of that description was found in his possession at the time of his being taken into custody. It was fortunate for the individual with whom the correspondence was commenced, that the intimacy proceeded no farther than it did, for inevitable ruin and misery must have followed upon a matrimonial connexion. The letters to which we have alluded as having been written by Greenacre on the morning of his death, were addressed to his relations and to his legal assistants, Mr. Price, and Mr, Hobler. In both these effusions he maintained the same ground which he had taken both before and after his trial, that the death of Mrs. Brown was an accident; and that Mrs. Gale was totally unacquainted with the death of his victim until she was in custody.
Sarah Gale, it appears, had received a moderate education, and at an early period of her life is stated to have joined the theatrical corps of an East-end theatre, under the name of Wiston. From this position she sunk to that of an "unfortunate," and in that station she is stated to have been a frequent attendant at the theatres of the metropolis. While thus circumstanced she became acquainted with a member of the legal profession, with whom she lived for a considerable time, and by whom she had one child which died in its infancy. The intimacy with her protector, however, being broken off, she was considerably reduced, and was eventually married to a hackney-coachman. She now applied to the gentleman to whose acquaintance with her we have alluded, and by his assistance she was enabled to commence business in the borough of Southwark in a chandler's shop. Her husband soon dissipated all her profits, and again reduced to poverty by his desertion of her, about two years before the period of the murder, for her participation in which she was convicted, she became acquainted with Greenacre, with whom she lived at intervals up to the time of their apprehension. Her maiden name was Farr; and the child which remained with her throughout her confinement, was understood to be that of her husband.
A short memoir of the life of Mrs. Brown shall conclude our notice of this dreadful case. Mrs. Brown, it appears, was born in the year 1780, within two miles of the city of Norwich, of respectable parents. Her maiden name was Gay. At the age of sixteen years she entered into service in the family of Lord "Wodehouse, at Crimley-hall, but after remaining there for four years, she determined to come to London. For a considerable time she supported herself there as a servant, but at length she was married to a person named Thomas Brown, a shoemaker. This union proved an unhappy one, and at the expiration of two years her husband quitted her in order to proceed to Jamaica to claim some property, to which, by the death of a relation, he had become entitled. On his voyage he was washed overboard; and his wife, unacquainted with the precise nature of his claim, was unable to secure the bequest of her husband's relative. From this period she appears to have lived constantly in service, and it was supposed by her friends that she had amassed a considerable property by her savings. She was a person of reserved disposition, however, and communicated with few as to her position in life. Her acquaintance with Greenacre appears to have commenced only about three months before her murder, but the precise manner in which that connexion originated does not seem to have been known to her friends.