Sentenced to death for privately stealing, but afterwards pardoned, September, 1722
THIS trial contains nothing in the case itself of import sufficient to be allotted a place in these volumes how ever, it presents an extraordinary specimen of the Scotch dialect, which those far removed from the Northern extremity of Britain will deem a curiosity.
At the sessions of the Old Bailey in September, 1722, Margaret Fisher was tried for privately stealing thirteen guineas from the person of Daniel M'Donald, who gave the following evidence, with true Scotch pronunciation and gesticulation:
'And leek yer loardship, I had just taken my wages, thirteen guineas in goud, and was gawn alang King Strate in Westmanster, when I mat wi' this fow quean at the bare, and she speird where I was gawn; I taud her hame. She said gen I wad ga wi' hur tull Joanny Davis's hoose, she wad gi' me drame, sir, for, in troth, she tuck me for a poor gawkey boss-headed chiel, and leek yer loardship. Sa she tuck had o' my haind, sad lad me a gat I kenna reet weel. And when we came tull Joanny Davis's hoose, she caud for muckle beer and braindy, and gerd me as bung as a swobe, and leek yer hoanour. I staid there wi' her a pratty while; and thane, sir, I put my hand in tull my bricks, to feel for money to pay the rackoning; but the deel a bawbie could I find, for it was aw tint. And when I speird about it, they glowred, and taud me, gen I wanna' tack myself awaw, they wad gar me ga, wi' a deel to me; and sa, sir, they dang me su' sair, and turned me oot at the back door, intull the strate, and I rambled aboot, and con' na' find the hoose agen; and the watchmen met wi' me, and carried me untill the roond hoose, And there I taud 'em hoo I bad been roabed. The neist moarning I gaed and food oot Joanny Davis's boose, but she was ran awaw, and the prasoner too. But at neet, about saven a cloke, I mat wi' this impudent betch at the bare, and tuck her up. I ken well enugh that she must ha' my goud, for na saul also wi' me but Toanny Davis, wha brote what we cawd for. Let her denee it an she can. Somebody (but I kenna' what it was) offered me sax guineas in my haind to make the matter up, but I wanna tack it.'
In her defence the prisoner alleged that, meeting with a coachman and the prosecutor, the former asked her to drink; on which they went to the house of Mrs. Davis; but that she sat on the opposite side of the room that the prosecutor did, and had not robbed him; and that nothing was found upon her when she was searched. The jury not believing her allegations, and the prisoner having no person to appear in behalf of her character, she was found guilty, and received sentence of death. Having, however, pleaded pregnancy, which was confirmed by a jury of matrons, she was afterwards pardoned.
The remark to be made on this ease arises from the folly of those men who will suffer themselves to be robbed by the women of the town. Nothing is more common than for countrymen to be picked up by these abandoned creatures, who entice them to drink, and then strip them of their whole property. One would imagine that the repeated accounts of these transactions given in the newspapers might be sufficient to guard all men against the artifices of these wretches: but experience proves the contrary. It may, therefore, be proper to caution our readers from a higher authority than that of the newspapers.
'My son, attend unto my wisdom; and bow thine ear to my understanding:-- that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge:-- for the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:--- but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword: her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.' -- Proverbs.