(A very curious and wicked case.)
IN our dreadful catalogue of crimes, committed by man upon his fellow-creatures, none is attended with more pernicious consequences to society than that which we now, and with much reluctance, are about to describe. The hope that this relation will cause every female to reflect with detestation on a wretch who could make such murderous practices a kind of business alone determines us to give a place to the case of this abandoned woman.
On the 15th of August, 1732, Eleanor Beare, wife of Ebenezer Beare, of the town of Derby, labourer, was tried before a most crowded court, for procuring abortion in women. We forbear following the reporter of this trial through the evidence adduced against the prisoner; let it therefore suffice to quote the speech of the counsel for the prosecution on opening the case, which was as follows:
"Gentlemen of the Jury,
"You have heard the indictment read, and may observe that this misdemeanour, for which the prisoner stands indicted, is of a most shocking nature. To destroy the fruit in the womb, carries something in it so contrary to the natural tenderness of the female sex, that I am amazed however any woman should arrive at such a degree of impiety and cruelty, as to attempt it in such a manner as the prisoner has done. It has really something so shocking in it, that I cannot well display the nature of the crime to you, but must leave it to the evidence. It is cruel and barbarous to the last degree and attended with the greatest danger to whoever it is practised upon."
It was proved that this dangerous woman had not only procured abortion in different women, but even persuaded a man named Nicholas Wilson, upon having a quarrel with his wife, to poison her; and for this purpose gave him a deadly powder, which the man, more humane, instead of administering, dug a hole in the earth, and buried it.
The learned judge before whom she was tried was greatly moved in summing up the evidence, and giving charge to the jury. He declared that he never met with a case so barbarous and unnatural. She was sentenced to close imprisonment for the term of three years, and to stand in and upon the pillory, on the two next market days of the town of Derby.
Pursuant to this sentence, she was exposed in the pillory three days afterwards, being the next market-day, when the populace impressed their indignation, by pelting her with rotten eggs, and any filth they could collect; and she might with her life have expiated her crimes, had she not, in struggling, disengaged herself, and jumped among the crowd, from whose fury the Sheriff's officers, with great difficulty, rescued her. The next week she was again brought out of prison, and again pilloried. As soon as she mounted the platform, she kneeled down and begged mercy of the still outrageous mob. The executioner finding, from her struggling, some difficulty in getting her head through the hole of the pillory, pulled off her head-dress, and therein found a large pewter plate, beat out so as to fit her head, which he threw among the, spectators. As soon as she was fixed, a shower of eggs, potatoes, turnips, &c. assailed her front every direction; and it was thought she would not be taken down alive. Having expended all the ammunition of the above description, stones were thrown, which wounded her to such a degree,, that her blood streamed down the pillory.. This somewhat, appeased the resentment shewn against her, and she was returned to gaol a shocking spectacle to behold.
This remarkable case, with those immediately preceding, viz --- Hatton's Waller's, Hewit's, Smith's, Irwin's, and Clarke's, were never before regularly reported.