The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

The Times, Friday, Aug 04, 1826; pg. 3; Issue 13037; col E

                              CARLISLE, TUESDAY, Aug. 1.
                    CROWN SIDE. - (Before Mr. Justice PARK.)

The Grand Jury having been sworn, Mr. Justice PARK proceeded to deliver the
charge. He said that in the four counties through which he had travelled on the
present circuit, he or his learned brother had had to congratulate the gentlemen
of the Grand Jury on the lightness of the calendars, both with respect to the
numbers and the nature of the offences. Here, however, the reason for
congratulation was still stronger than in the other counties; for the present
calendar exhibited a list of only five prisoners, and the number of charges
amounted but to three. The gentlemen of the Grand Jury would not require any
observation from him but upon one case, which was a charge against a woman for
the murder of her female bastard child. The law now in force against this crime
was very different from what it had been for the last two hundred years. During
all that time, England had been disgraced by a law of the utmost barbarity, by
which a woman was bound to defend herself against this most dreadful charge,
when the prosecution had only been able to establish the fact, that the mother
had concealed the birth of her dead child, and from the evidence of the
concealment, the guilt of murder was presumed. That disgraceful law was now
altered, and owing to the improvement of medical science, some of those
circumstances which were formerly considered sufficient to show that the child
had lived, were now deemed inconclusive to support that fact. As the law now
stood, the jury must be convinced that the child had been alive, and must also
have evidence to satisfy their minds that the death had been caused by the
unnatural conduct of the mother.

The Jury withdrew, and in a short time returned the bill.

Hannah GRAVE, a prepossessing young female, was indicted for privately stealing
in a dwelling-house, a quantity of lace, &c., the property of Mrs. Margaret
NICHOLSON, of Cockermouth, in this county.

It appeared that the prosecutrix kept a dressmaker's and milliner's shop in the
above place, and the upper part of the house was occupied by a person named
STODART, with whom the prisoner lived as servant. In consequence of articles of
lace being frequently missed out of the shop, the prisoner was taxed with
stealing them. Her box was searched, and a piece of lace containing several
yards was found therein, which the prosecutrix recognised to be her property,
which she identified by the pattern, and also the edge corresponding with the
edge of the piece from which it was cut. She, accordingly, was carried before a
magistrate, by whom she was committed. The facts being proved in evidence,

The Jury said, they did not believe the facts had been proved in evidence.

Mr. Justice PARK (warmly). - Why so, gentlemen?

Juror. - Because the prosecutrix did not see her steal the lace!

Mr. Justice PARK. - Did you ever see a man commit a robbery? If so, it is not
very common. Or did you ever see a murder committed? These cases are generally
proved by circumstances alone. Sir, if this is your opinion, you are not fit to
be a juror. In this case the law has done all that is required; the prosecutrix
has proved the property found in the prisoner's box to be hers - now, what more
is required?

The jury then consulted, and at length said, they found the prisoner guilty of
having the lace in her possession.

JUDGE. - That won't do. I can't take that verdict.

Foreman. - Well, then; guilty altogether.

The verdict of guilty was then recorded, and the prisoner, after an admonition,
was sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and to be kept to hard labour.