The early life of this most atrocious malefactor is involved in some degree of uncertainty, as, from his sullen and dogged indifference during the period of his confinement in jail, but few particulars concerning his parentage and education could be obtained from him. From his own statement, at the period of his trial he was only twenty-three years of age; and there is good reason to believe, that although upon all occasions he stated his name to be Richard Gould, he was born of respectable parents, whose name was Nicholson. His father carried on the business of a publican; but, having failed, he determined to emigrate to Van Diemen's Land with his family, and the necessary preparations for the voyage were made. Our hero, however, whose disposition had always exhibited him to be a person of unsteady determination, at the last moment rejected the offer of his father to accompany him, and, having secreted himself until the period of the departure of the vessel in which he was to have sailed, had passed, at the age of eighteen years found himself his own master, and without employment, in London.
In a condition of absolute destitution, he was driven to seek for the means of livelihood; and, devoid of the knowledge or the introduction requisite to procure for him a situation in exact consonance with the rank of life in which the condition of his parents had entitled him to move, he accepted an engagement as pot-boy at the Duke of Cumberland public-house. Red Lion-street, Spitalfields. In this condition, by no means calculated to lead him to form connexions or habits likely to improve his position in society, he appears to have made acquaintances by whose instrumentality he was gradually conducted to the vices of dissipation and intemperance, and, after about twelve months' employment, he was discharged by his master. From this time he seems to have supported himself in a loose and discreditable manner for about a year and a half, at the expiration of which time he called at the house of his late master, and informed him, that he had enlisted in the Hussars. Subsequently, he again made his appearance there, saying that he was about to proceed to Ireland, where he hoped to obtain employment as an engineer; and, about three weeks before his apprehension on the dreadful charge of murder, upon which he was subsequently tried, he a third time called, saying that he had just returned from the trip, the nature of which he had described upon his former visit.
This statement, however, appears to be untrue; for during a considerable portion of the period of his absence, he was known in the neighbourhood of Islington, where he was employed as a pot-boy at the Barnsbury Castle public-house.
It was upon the morning of Tuesday, the 17th of March 1840, that the murder was discovered for which Gould was eventually indicted. Mr. John Templeman, the unfortunate victim of this most dreadful crime, was about seventy years of age at the period of his death. He resided in one of numerous small cottages erected in an open space called Pocock's-fields, near Barnsbury Park, Islington, principally occupied by persons of the poorer grades of life. He lived by himself, and was possessed of a small income, arising from the rents of one or two houses which belonged to him in Somers Town. The supposed miserly habits of the old man, and the great desire which he appeared to entertain to be considered rich, and which he exhibited by constantly boasting of his property, were the undoubted causes which led to the dreadful catastrophe by which he was deprived of life.
It appears that on Monday the 16th of March, he went as usual to Somers Town to collect the money due to him for the rent of his houses; and having called upon his tenants, he received of them 6l., the whole of which was paid him in silver, except one half-sovereign. Upon his return home, he sent for a Mrs. Thornton, who acted as his charwoman, and who lived in an adjacent cottage, to whom he communicated the fact of the receipt of the money; and having instructed her to procure various trifling articles of which he stood in need, at about six o'clock he retired to rest. On the following morning Mrs. Thornton sent her daughter to the house of the deceased with some of the commodities which she had been directed to purchase, and she knocked at the door, and called Mr. Templeman by name. No answer was returned, and she went back and informed her mother of her inability to obtain admittance to the house; and then upon Mrs. Thornton proceeding to the cottage and looking in at the bed-room window, she was horror-stricken at finding the unfortunate old man stretched upon the floor brutally murdered. For a time she was at a loss to know what proceedings to take in reference to this most dreadful transaction; but being aware that the deceased had a grandson, a solicitor, in Mortimer-street, Cavendish-square, she determined to await the arrival of her son-in-law, a Frenchman, named Capriani, who was employed as a night-watchman at Sadler's Wells theatre, in order that he might take the necessary steps in the affair. At eleven o'clock in the day he returned home; and then upon his being made acquainted with what had occurred, he at once proceeded to the residence of Mr. Templeman, jun., to inform him of the murder, omitting altogether to give any information to the police of the discovery which had taken place. During the absence of Capriani, the baker who was in the habit of delivering bread at the cottage of the deceased arrived, but was met by Mrs. Thornton, who sent him away, saying he would get no answer there; but Mr. Templeman, jun., soon after making his appearance, the police were called in, and informed of the horrid transaction.
A minute examination of the house of the deceased then took place; and from the appearances which presented themselves, it became evident that the murder had been committed in the most savage manner. The body of the deceased lay extended on the ground, covered only with a night-gown, his hands being bound in front with a strong cord, and his eyes being also bandaged with a stocking bearing marks of blood. The bed was completely saturated with blood, and the floor presented indications of a desperate conflict having taken place. On examining the body, several severe wounds were found at the back of the head; the forehead was completely dashed in by a violent blow from some heavy instrument; the nose and both jaw-bones were broken; and the mouth was severely bruised and mutilated; while three of the teeth of the poor old man, wrenched from their sockets, were found lying on the carpet. The house, which consisted of two rooms only, was in a state of great confusion. The drawers had been forced open, and the box in which it was known the deceased kept his money had been ransacked of its contents. In the sitting-room the pipe of the deceased was found lying upon the table, and beside it lay a number of books of a religious tendency exhibiting the manner in which the old man had spent the later hours of his life. Upon the search being continued, to ascertain the means by which ingress had been obtained to the house, it was discovered that the outer shutter, which was of slight materials, having been first forced open, a pane of glass in the parlour window had been broken through, and then a hand might have been introduced to open the door on the inside.
The circumstances which had hitherto been disclosed left but little clue to the murderer, but some suspicion being attached to Capriani from the delay which had taken place in the discovery of the murder by him to the police, he was taken into custody. The examinations which were made by the police in the course of the ensuing day or two, however, satisfactorily proved that Capriani was in nowise implicated in the horrid affair, and he was discharged; but soon afterwards Gould, and a man and his wife, named John and Mary Ann Jarvis, were apprehended. The evidence which was discovered in reference to these persons soon demonstrated the innocence of the man Jarvis, and he was set at liberty; and subsequently, although a close intimacy was proved to exist between Gould and Mrs. Jarvis, it was found that no such proofs remained against the latter as to induce a probable belief of her guilt, and she too was discharged from custody.
Gould, in the mean time, underwent many examinations at Hatton Garden police-office, upon the charge of being concerned in the murder, the utmost interest and excitement being occasioned by the mystery connected with its committal. It would be useless to go through the history of the investigations which took place before the magistrates, and also before the coroner, upon this case; but there can be little doubt, that if those functionaries had not suffered themselves to be led away by feelings with respect to the comparative importance of their respective offices, inconsistent with the due performance of their duties, and that if the police had, in the ordinary language of their calling, "managed the case well," a conviction which every one now must believe would have been a proper one, would have secured to justice the punishment of a most heinous offender. Such portion of the evidence which was brought forward at these various examinations, as could legally be produced against the prisoner, was adduced upon his trial at the Old Bailey; and we shall proceed to describe that inquiry, and the occurrences which subsequently took place.
The case came on to be tried before Mr. Baron Alderson, at the Central Criminal Court, on Tuesday, the 14th of April, Mr. Chadwick Jones appearing as counsel for the prosecution, and Mr. Chambers conducting the defence of the prisoner. Witnesses were examined as to the facts which have been already detailed; and other persons were produced, from whose testimony it appeared that the prisoner for some time before the murder had lodged in the house of a Mrs. Allen, who lived in Pocock's-fields, near the cottage of the deceased. The most important facts proved against him were, that previous to the murder he had frequently declared to many of his companions that he was greatly in want of money, and that he had suggested to one of them, a pot-boy at the Duchess of Kent public-house in the Dover-road, that he knew an old man who had got money, for that he had seen him flashing about a 50l. note; that he knew where to put his hand upon it in the drawer where it was kept, and that it was "just like a gift" to him, and that he wished he could get "a right one" to assist him in the robbery. Other witnesses proved that he had expressed to them a desire to procure "a screw" and "a darkey" (meaning a picklock key and a dark lantern), to "serve" an old gentleman in a lonely cottage; and the concluding evidence was that of Mr. and Mrs. Allen, his landlord and landlady, as to his conduct on the night of the murder, and of some police-officers, who proved the discovery of some money in the rafters of the wash-house of Allen's cottage, corresponding in its denominations with the silver which had been paid to Mr. Templeman by his lodgers at Somers Town.
Allen's evidence was as follows:-- "I live at Wilson's Cottage, Pocock's Fields, Islington. I know the cottage in which the deceased lived. I have known the prisoner about twelve months; he has lodged at my house several times, and he came to lodge there seven nights before this occurrence took place. I remember the 16th of March; and at that time, from circumstances that occurred, I am confident that he had no money. On that day the prisoner went out between eight and nine o'clock without having any breakfast. He had on a pair of shoes which I sold him, and they had nails in them. The prisoner wore them constantly. He returned home about three o'clock in the morning, and he immediately went into his room. My wife said to him, 'Richard, is it early, or late?' and he replied, 'It is early.' The prisoner got up between eight and nine o'clock the next morning, and came into my sitting-room, and passed through into the wash-house, which leads to the privy. He staid out from five-and-twenty minutes to half-an-hour, when he returned into the house and went out at the front door. I did not observe anything unusual in his appearance. The prisoner returned home about seven o'clock in the evening, and in the mean time I had heard of the murder of Mr. Templeman, and I told him of it. The prisoner said it was a shocking thing, and he asked me if I considered Mr. Templeman could have done it himself. I said, 'Richard, how can a man bind his own hands and eyes?' The prisoner then appeared agitated, and said his inside was out of order, and he went into the yard, and remained for a few minutes. My attention had been attracted to the prisoner having a new pair of shoes on, and I had a suspicion. I asked him about them, and he said that his cousin had given them to him. He then asked me to get him some bacon and beer for his supper, and I fetched it for him. He gave me a shilling to pay for it. I asked him where he had been so late on the night before. He said he had been at the Rainbow, and had stopped there until twelve o'clock at night, and when he came out he met some friends, who detained him. Before this time I had a piece of wood in my possession, which was about a foot and a half long. The prisoner went to bed about nine o'clock, and I bolted him in and gave information to the police. He accounted to me for the possession of the money by saying that it had been given to him by his relations.
Mrs. Allen's evidence was to the same effect; but she proved in addition, that a stocking in which the money was found concealed belonged to the prisoner.
The evidence otherwise was of a very general description, and although many expressions of a very suspicious character were attributed to the prisoner by the witnesses, none of them amounted to an admission by him of his guilt. The jury, after having received the customary charge from the learned Judge, returned a verdict of acquittal.
During the whole of the time occupied by this investigation, the avenues of the court, as well as the court itself, were crowded to excess by persons anxious to obtain early information as to its result. The verdict of the jury appeared to excite considerable dissatisfaction in the minds of many persons; and so great was the anger exhibited by a great portion of the populace, that the prisoner deemed it prudent to accept an offer of protection which was made to him by the sheriffs, and to remain in the Compter prison until the popular clamour should have in some degree subsided.
While there, a very great degree of commiseration appears to have been unjustly excited in his behalf. Mr. Alderman Pirie, a gentleman for whose humane feelings and intentions every one must give him the highest praise, offered to Gould that he should quit this country, and that he should proceed in a vessel of his own, on the point of sailing to Sydney, to that colony; and the wretched culprit, conscious of his guilt and of the dangerous position in which he stood, at once accepted the offer which was so liberally held out to him. A few days sufficed to show how far the humanity of the worthy alderman was misapplied. A man was committed to the Compter from the Mansion-house, upon a charge of stealing from his employers a quantity of tea, entrusted to him for delivery. His answer to the allegations made against him was unsatisfactory; and in the Compter he was imprisoned in the same ward in which Gould was suffered to remain. Upon his second examination he started a line of defence, which it was thought would afford him a moderate chance of escape. He imputed to two men, that they had met him in the street, and having given him a shilling to go on an errand for them, had run off with his tea. The men whom he pointed out were eventually taken into custody, and they proved to be two of the persons who had given evidence upon Gould's trial, and whose false impeachment this fellow had basely procured for the purpose of revenging himself upon them for their having stated that which was undoubtedly true. The two men were fortunately able satisfactorily to prove that they were elsewhere at the time of the supposed robbery; and the other prisoner was conveyed to Newgate to await his trial.
In the mean time, Gould, exulting in what he then supposed to be the success of his scheme, had been removed on board the Elizabeth, the vessel in which he was to be conveyed to Sydney, and which lay at Gravesend. She was on the point of sailing, when the government, hitherto supine in its exertions to secure the discovery of the perpetrators of this most diabolical murder offered a reward of 200l. for their apprehension.
An idea was entertained that for the reward Gould would disclose all he knew upon the subject, for that he knew something was obvious, and Otway, a police serjeant, was despatched to communicate with him upon the subject. A long conversation took place, in the course of which the reward was hinted at, and Gould expressed his willingness to open a communication, provided some portion of the booty sufficient to satisfy him for the loss of his passage were guaranteed to him; but on the next day, he was surprised at finding that he had again got into the custody of the police, a warrant having been executed upon him, in which he was charged with being a party to the robbery which had been committed in the house of Mr. Templeman, on the night of the murder.
He was carried to London loudly complaining of the breach of good faith on the part of serjeant Otway, and on being conveyed to Bow-street, he repeatedly expressed his willingness to disclose all he knew upon his being liberated. This condition, however, was refused to be acceded to, and in the hope of obtaining the reward, on the 11th of May he made a statement to the following effect.
He said, that "the robbery of Mr. Templeman's house had been talked over for some time, by himself, Jarvis, and his wife, but it was not finally agreed upon until the morning before that on which it took place. He was then at Jarvis' house but he did not remain long, as Jarvis expected his brother, but before he went away, Jarvis went into the garden and got a piece of wood used as a dibber, and bored a hole in the handle and passed a piece of string through it so as to hang it on his arm. He then went to the Rainbow public-house and got drunk and went to bed at his lodgings. He was to have gone to Jarvis' on the next morning, but he lay in bed so late that Mrs. Jarvis came to fetch him. Jarvis had given her a message how it was to be done, and he (Gould) was not to go near the place until after the public-houses were closed. Mrs. Jarvis told him that she had prepared breakfast and that there was no fear of being noticed, but he went again to the Rainbow, and remained there until twelve o'clock at night. At that hour he went to Jarvis' house, and in a few minutes they went to Mr. Templeman's together, Mrs. Jarvis standing at the door of her own cottage to give an alarm in case of necessity. He (Gould) removed a piece of paper which was pasted over the window, and introducing his hand opened the door, and then he and Jarvis went in. He broke open a box which was in the sitting-room, and found some silver, and Jarvis went into the bed-room. Jarvis now suggested, that as the notes had not been found they must be under the old man's head, and that they might quiet him and fasten him. They had brought a cord with them, and Jarvis directly struck the old man with the dibber. He jumped out of bed as if to resist their attack, but the blows being repeated he was overpowered and his hands tied. They then continued their search for the notes, and they were found in the drawer in the box from which they had taken the silver, but upon their looking at them they found that they were useless, for they were barbers' notes upon 'the bank of fashion.' The deceased by this time had in some degree recovered, and exclaimed 'I know you,' upon which Jarvis declared, that he had rather finish him than be found out, and went into the bed-room. He (Gould) ran out of the house and was presently followed by Jarvis, and they went together to the house of the latter. Mrs. Jarvis was still standing on the look-out. He wanted to divide the money, but Jarvis said 'No, you had better plant (conceal) it, for the cottages here will all be frisked (searched).' He then took the dibber away and threw it into the New River, and he also threw the dark lantern which they had used into a pond in Pocock's Fields. Before he went away he agreed to meet Mrs. Jarvis the next morning at the Three Goats' Heads, Wandsworth-road, and when he quitted them he said that he would then show himself as quickly as he could. He went accordingly to a coffee-shop near the Angel, at Islington, and remained there for an hour and half, and when he returned home it was two o'clock. He went to bed, and on the next morning he placed all the money with the exception of 9s. in an old stocking, and put it where it had been found. He then proceeded to the Three Goats' Heads, and soon after he was joined by Mrs. Jarvis, who had her child with her. They went to Lambeth together, and he bought a pair of boots for 7s. 6d., and he sold his old ones in the New Cut. They subsequently went towards home, Mrs. Jarvis on quitting him desiring him not to go near her cottage that night, as there was a rare 'stink 'about it."
The villainy and falsehood of this declaration, except as regarded his own guilt, was soon clearly proved, for on the very same day on which it was made it was contradicted by the prisoner, but while as regarded Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis it was distinctly shown to be false, the prisoner had told so much of the truth as to enable the police to trace out so many new proofs as to leave the most conclusive evidence against him.
He had already been acquitted of the murder, and it was impossible that he should be tried upon any fresh indictment upon that charge; but it still remained open to the friends of the deceased to prefer against him a charge of burglary, subjecting him to a penalty of transportation for life. The statement of facts with regard to the dark lantern, and the purchase of the pair of shoes made by the prisoner, was plainly corroborated by investigation; and while he had unsuccessfully endeavoured to procure the new implication of Jarvis in the murder, he had unwittingly afforded evidence that he had himself committed the burglary with which he now stood accused.
Upon this latter charge he was indicted at the sessions of the Central Criminal Court, on the 22nd of June, and the same evidence which had been before adduced having been again brought forward, together with proof of those additional facts admitted in his own confession, he was found "Guilty."
Mr. Baron Parke, in addressing the prisoner, declared that there could be no possible doubt that he had been guilty of the murder of the unhappy deceased, and that he was justly brought to punishment. He sentenced him to be transported for life.
The prisoner, during his confinement in Newgate upon this new charge, made a most desperate attempt to escape, in company with a fellow-prisoner; but their schemes being discovered by the ever-watchful and most excellent governor of the jail, Mr. Cope, and frustrated, he became much impressed with the dreadful situation in which he had placed himself. At his trial he conducted himself with much firmness, cross-examining the witnesses with considerable tact -- and subsequently addressing the jury and court upon the case, with boldness and effect; but upon his hearing the verdict of "Guilty," which was returned, he lost his presence of mind, and became deeply agitated. During the period occupied by the learned judge in passing sentence, he recovered his self-possession, and at the conclusion of the address, he skipped away from the bar with great alacrity.
The terms of his sentence of transportation were subsequently carried out; but the prisoner was not removed from this country without having made a fresh effort to secure his escape.