JOHN PETER DRAMATTI
Executed at Tyburn, on 21st of July, 1703, for the Murder of his Wife, who said she was allied to the French Royal Family
This is a case, though of the most heinous nature, yet the perpetrator is entitled to some commiseration. He was a foreigner, but had served the King of England with bravery as a soldier; and was inveigled by an artful female impostor into marriage. He did not seriously resent the trick played upon him, but continued his habits of industry and integrity, until, on being grossly assaulted by this woman who had led him a wretched life, he killed her in the scuffle which ensued.
JOHN PETER DRAMATTI was the son of Protestant parents, and was born at Saverdun, in the county of Foix, and province of Languedoc, in France. He received a religious education; but when he arrived at years of maturity he left his own country and went into Germany, where he served as a horse grenadier under the Elector of Brandenburg, who was afterwards King of Prussia.
When he had been in this condition about a year he came over to England and entered into the service of Lord Haversham, and afterwards enlisted as a soldier in the regiment of Colonel de la Meloniere. Having made two campaigns in Flanders, the regiment was ordered into Ireland, where it was dismissed from further service; in consequence of which Dramatti obtained his discharge.
He now became acquainted with a widow, between fifty and sixty years of age, who pretended that she had a great fortune, and was allied to the Royal Family of France; and he soon married her, not only on account of her supposed wealth and rank, but also of her understanding English and Irish, thinking it prudent to have a wife who could speak the language of the country in which he proposed to spend the remainder of his life. As soon as he discovered that his wife had no fortune he went to London and offered his services to Lord Haversham, and was again admitted as one of his domestics.
His wife, unhappy on account of their separate residence, wished to live with him at Lord Haversham's, which he would not consent to, saying that his lordship did not know he was married.
The wife now began to evince the jealousy of her disposition, and frequent quarrels took place between them because he was unable to be with her so frequently as she desired.
At length, on the 9th of June, 1703, Dramatti was sent to London from his master's house at Kensington, and calling upon his wife at her lodgings near Soho Square, she endeavoured to prevail upon him to stay with her. This, however, he refused; and finding that he was going home she went before him, and stationed herself at the Park gate.
On his coming up, she declared that he should go no farther unless she accompanied him; but he quitted her abruptly and went onwards to Chelsea. She pursued him to the Bloody Bridge, and there seized him by the neck-cloth, and would have strangled him, but that he beat her off with his cane. He then attacked her with his sword; and having wounded her in so many places as to conclude that he had killed her, his passion immediately began to subside, and, falling on his knees, he devoutly implored the pardon of God for the horrid sin of which he had been guilty.
He went on to Kensington, where his fellow servants observing that his clothes were bloody, he said he had been attacked by two men in Hyde Park, who would have robbed him of his clothes, but that he had defended himself, and broke the head of one of them.
The real fact, however, was subsequently discovered; and Dramatti being taken before a magistrate, to whom he confessed his crime, the body of his wife was found in a ditch between Hyde Park and Chelsea, and a track of blood was seen to the distance of twenty yards, at the end of which a piece of a sword was found sticking in a bank which fitted the other part of the sword in the prisoner's possession.
The circumstances attending the murder being proved to the satisfaction of the jury, the culprit was found guilty, condemned, and on the 21st of July, 1703, was executed at Tyburn. If ever a criminal possessed claim to royal mercy, surely this man's case should have been favoured. He sought not for blood; but, impelled by assaults of the most foul and aggravated nature, he killed an antagonist, who ought to have cheered him through life. He was an ill-treated stranger too; and therein he became doubly an object of compassion.