FRANCIS MERCIER OTHERWISE LOUIS DE BUTTE
Executed in Prince's Street, opposite Swallow Street, in the City of Westminster, 8th of December, 1777, for Murder
THIS malefactor was a Frenchman, and was convicted at the sessions held at the Old Bailey on the 6th of December, 1777, of the murder of Monsieur Jaques Mondroyte, his countryman, attended by singular circumstances of treachery and premeditated cruelty.
Jaques Mondroyte was a jeweller and watchmaker of Paris, and had made a journey to London in order to find a market for different articles of his manufacture. His stock consisted of curious and costly articles, worth, as was computed, a few thousand pounds. He took lodgings in Prince's Street, and engaged Mercier, who had resided some time in London, as his interpreter, on a liberal gratuity, and treated him as a friend.
It appeared that the ungrateful villain had long determined upon murdering his employer, in order effectually to possess himself of the whole his valuable property.
To this diabolical end he gave orders for an instrument to be made of a singular construction. It was shaped somewhat like an Indian tomahawk, and this instrument of death he concealed until an opportunity offered to complete his detestable purpose.
One day his employer, Mondroyte, invited him to spend the evening; they played at cards, sang some French songs, and took a cheerful glass, but with that moderation from which Frenchmen seldom depart. Thus the time passed until it grew late, when the interpreter was asked to stay the night. The ungrateful villain pretended to hesitate, but at length assented.
As soon as all the inhabitants were wrapped in sleep, Mercier took from the lining of his coat, where he constantly carried it, the fatal weapon, with which he struck the unconscious victim repeatedly on the head until he was killed. He thrust the body into one of the trunks in which the owner had brought over his merchandise, and plundered the apartments. He then locked the doors and made his escape.
Next day he had the effrontery to return to the house and inquire whether Monsieur Mondroyte had set off, pretending that he had proposed a journey into the country; and the people of the house, concluding that he had let himself out before they had risen, and which accounted for their finding the street door on the latch, replied that he must have departed, giving that circumstance as a reason for such belief. This audacious farce was acted by the murderer for some days, during which time he frequently called to know whether his friend had returned.
The family, however, beginning to entertain suspicions of some foul play, procured a ladder, entered the chamber window, and soon discovered the body, which had been crammed into the trunk, and was beginning to putrefy. A warrant was granted to apprehend Mercier, whom they took just as he was alighting from a post-chaise, in which he had been jaunting with a woman of the town. In his lodgings and on his person were found sixteen gold watches, some of great value, a great number of brilliant diamond and other rings, a variety of gold trinkets and seventy-five guineas.
On his examination he confessed the fact, which added to the proof that the manufactured articles had been the property of Mondroyte. He was convicted, and sentenced to be hanged on the following Monday.
He was accordingly carried to execution, opposite the place where he committed the murder.