The former tried for committing a rape on Sarah Woodcock, and the two latter as accessories before the fact, 26th March, 1768
Sarah Woodcock forcibly introduced to Lord Baltimore
THOUGH conviction did not follow the trials of these presumed offenders, it is our duty to state the affair as it was transmitted to the public at the time.
Frederic Lord Baltimore was the lineal descendant of Mr. Calvert, who was promoted to the degree of a peer of Ireland by King James I. from whom he received the grant of an immense tract of land in America, which has since borne the name of Maryland.
Lord Baltimore's father had a country seat at Epsom, where the object of our present notice was born, and sent for education to Eton School, where he became a great proficient in classical knowledge, and was said to have a singular taste and capacity for the learning and manners of the ancients; and his father dying before he was of age, left him in possession of a most ample fortune.
His lordship married the daughter of the Duke of Bridgewater, and was exceedingly unhappy in the nuptial connexion, owing to his unbounded attachment to women. In fact, his passion for the sex was so illiberal and so gross, that his house had the appearance of a Turkish seraglio rather than that of an Englishman of fortune; nor was it reputable for any woman of character to have entered within his walls.
Lord Baltimore, during his residence abroad, sailed from Naples to Constantinople, where he saw and admired the customs of the Turks and on his return to England, in 1766, he caused a part of his house to be taken down, and rebuilt in the form of a Turkish harem. He kept a number of women, who had rules given them by which to regulate their conduct; and he had agents, to procure him fresh faces, in different parts of the town.
Elizabeth Griffenburg, wife of Dr. Griffenburg, a native of Germany, and Anne Harvey, a woman of low education, were two of the parties employed by Lord Baltimore in his irregular designs on the sex.
In November, 1767, Mrs. Harvey told his lordship that young lady named Woodcock, who was very handsome, kept a milliner's shop on Tower Hill. Prompted by curiosity, and a still more ignoble motive, Lord Baltimore went once or twice to the shop, and purchased some trifling articles, by way of making an acquaintance. He then asked her if she would attend him to the play; but this she declined, having never been at a play in her life; and, as she had been bred up among that rigid sect of dissenters called Independents, she had been taught to consider theatrical diversions as incompatible with the duties of Christianity.
Some time afterwards Lord Baltimore went hastily into Miss Woodcock's shop, saying that be had been splashed by mud from a hackney-coach. This was noticed by the young lady, who expressed her surprise that he could be so near the coach as to see, but not avoid it. He answered, 'I was thinking of you, Miss;' but she paid no regard to this compliment, as she considered him as a neighbour, and a married man.
At length Lord Baltimore and his agents had completed the outlines of the ungenerous plan which they had determined, if possible, to carry into execution. Mrs. Harvey, going to Miss Woodcock's shop on the 14th of December, bespoke a pair of laced ruffles, which she desired might be made up against the next day, for the use of a lady, who might be a good customer if she was not disappointed, as she was fond of encouraging persons who were young in trade.
On the following day Mrs. Harvey called and paid for the ruffles, and, having given orders for some other articles, desired that they might ho brought to her house in the Curtain Road, near Holywell Mount, Shoreditch, on the succeeding day.
At the time appointed Miss Woodcock went to the house, where Mrs. Harvey received her politely, and desired her to drink tea; but as the days were short, and as she had no friend to attend her, she expressed her wish to decline the invitation. During their conversation one Isaac Isaacs, a Jew, came into the house, and, having paid his respects to Mrs. Harvey, said he was going to the play. Hereupon Mrs. Harvey said 'I was going to attend a lady with some millinery goods;' and then to Isaacs, 'This is the lady I was speaking to you of;' then again to Miss Woodcock, 'I would be glad you would go with me; the lady wants a great many things, and will be a very good customer to you.'
Isaacs now observed, that, as it was necessary for him to have a coach, he could set them both down at the lady's house. This was objected to by Miss Woodcock, on account of her dress; but this objection was overruled by Mrs. Harvey, who said that circumstance could not have any weight with the lady they were about to attend.
At this time Lord Baltimore's coach was waiting in the neighbourhood; and Isaacs, going out under the pretence of calling a coach, gave directions for drawing it to the door. This being done, the parties got into it; but Miss Woodcock did not observe whether it was a hackney-coach or not.
The coachman drove at a great rate; the glasses were drawn up, and at length they arrived in the court-yard of a house, apparently that of a person of fashion. Mrs. Harvey took Miss Woodcock upstairs through a suite of rooms elegantly furnished, in one of which she saw an elderly man sitting, whom she afterwards knew to be Dr. Griffenburg, who politely desired her to repose herself, while he informed the lady of the house of her arrival.
Dr. Griffenburg had not been long absent when Lord Baltimore entered; and Miss Woodcock was much alarmed when she discovered that he was the very person who had repeatedly been at her shop; but he desired her to be appeased, saying that he was steward to the lady on whom she was come to attend. Miss Woodcock desired that she might immediately see the lady; on which Lord Baltimore said he would fetch her; and, soon afterwards bringing in Mrs. Griffenburg, said that she was the lady who had ordered the millinery goods.
Orders were now given for tea; and, when the equipage was taken from the table, Lord Baltimore brought from another room some purses, a ring, some smelling-bottles, and other articles, which he said he had purchased for Miss Woodcock. She seemed to despise the trifles, which she intimated might have pleased her well enough when a child.
As the evening advanced, she seemed importunate to depart, saying that her friends would become uneasy at her long absence; but at this time she had no idea of being forcibly detained.
To divert her from the thought of departing, Lord Baltimore took her to view several apartments in the house. On their coming into one of which, where there was a harpsichord, he proposed to play a tune on that instrument to the young lady; and, when he had so done, and she became still more anxious to depart, he insisted that she should stay to supper, and gave a private intimation to Mrs. Griffenburg to make the necessary preparations.
Mrs. Griffenburg being retired, Lord Baltimore took Miss Woodcock behind the window-curtain, and behaved to her in a manner very inconsistent with the rules of decency. On her making violent opposition to this insult, Dr. Griffenburg and Mrs. Harvey advanced, as if to assist his lordship; but she contested the matter with them all, and, forcing her way towards the door, declared that she would go home immediately: yet still it does not appear that she had any suspicion of sustaining the violence that was afterwards offered her.
After this, Lord Baltimore insisted on her sitting with him at supper; but her mind was too much discomposed to admit of her thinking of taking any refreshment. He offered her a glass of syllabub; but she beat it out of his hand, and ran towards the door, with an intention to have departed: but he told her it was late; that no coach was then to be procured; and at length said positively that she should not go home.
Dr. Griffenburg, with his wife and Mrs. Harvey, now endeavoured to prevail on the young lady to go to bed; but she declared that she would never sleep in that house. On this they conducted her to a room, in which they went to bed: but she continued walking about till the morning, and lamenting her unhappy situation.
Looking out of the window about eight o'clock, she observed a young woman passing, to whom she threw out her handkerchief, which was then heavy with tears. As the party did not see her, she called out 'Young woman!' on which the other made a motion as if she would fling the handkerchief within the rails.
As Miss Woodcock called to the woman, with an intention of sending her to her father, the two women now jumped out of bed, and forced her from the window, upbraiding her with what they called a rejection of her good fortune, and wishing themselves in so happy a situation.
Her reply was, that all the fortune the man possessed should not prevail on her to think of living with him on dishonourable terms; and she again demanded that liberty to which she had so just a claim.
The women now quitting the room, Lord Baltimore and Dr. Griffenburg came in soon afterwards; when the former said that he was astonished at her outrageous behaviour, as he had promised that she should go home at twelve o'clock. She replied that she would go home directly, as her sister, and particularly her father, would be inexpressibly anxious on occasion of her absence.
Lord Baltimore now conducted her downstairs, and ordered breakfast; but she refused to eat, and wept incessantly till twelve o'clock, when she once more demanded her liberty. His lordship now said that he loved her to excess; that be could not part with her; that he did not intend any injury to her, and that he would write to her father: and on this be wrote a letter, of which the following is a copy; and in it sent a bank-note of two hundred pounds:-- 'Your daughter Sally sends you the enclosed, and desires you will not be uneasy on her account, because every thing will turn out well with a little patience and prudence. She is at a friend's house safe and well, in all honesty and honour; nothing else is meant, you may depend on it; and, sir, as your presence and consent are necessary, we beg of you to come, in a private manner, to Mr. Richard Smith's, in Broad Street Buildings.'
Lord Baltimore showed this letter to Miss Woodcock; but so greatly was her mind disturbed, that she knew little of its contents; and so exceedingly was she terrified, that she wrote the following words at the bottom, by his direction: 'Dear father, this is true, and I should be glad you would come this afternoon: From your dutiful daughter.'
After writing the above postscript, she appears to have been convinced of the impropriety of it, and, turning to his lordship, she said 'Can you look me in the face, and say that your name is Richard Smith, or that these are Broad Street Buildings?' Struck with guilt, be acknowledged his name was not Richard Smith, but said that gentleman lived within a few doors; and that the place was not the Broad Street Buildings in the city, but another of the same name at the west end of the town.
She now wept incessantly at the thought of her unhappy situation, and repeatedly begged for her liberty; but, no sooner did she presume to go towards the window to make her distress evident to any casual passenger, than one or other of the women forced her away.
At length Mrs. Griffenburg gave orders that the window should be nailed up; but Lord Baltimore came in at the juncture, and pretended to be very angry at this proceeding, lest it should be suspected that murder was intended to be committed in the house. His lordship then told Miss Woodcock that if she presumed to pull up the windows, or make any disturbance, he would throw her into, the street; a circumstance by which she was greatly terrified.
This happened at the approach of night, and she continued weeping and lamenting her situation, and refused to take any refreshment at supper. When desired to go to bed, she refused to do so, unless Lord Baltimore would solemnly promise not to molest her. On this she spent the night walking about the room, while the two women who were appointed to guard her went to bed.
In the morning she went into a parlour, where Lord Baltimore waiting on her, she endeavoured to represent his ill conduct in the most striking light, and begged that if he had the tenderness of a father for a child he would permit her to depart. He said that she might write to her father, which she did; and, fearful of giving offence, said that she had been treated 'with as much honour as she could expect, and begged her friends would come immediately.' Lord Baltimore was now out of the room; but the women told Miss Woodcock that his lordship had sent two hundred pounds to her father on the preceding day. She seemed amazed at this circumstance, which appears to be a proof of the anxiety of her mind at the time the letter was written.
Soon after this a servant came in with a letter as from the presumed Richard Smith. It was written in a language she did not understand; but Lord Baltimore pretended to explain it to her, saying it intimated that her father had been at Mr. Smith's, but would not wait while she was sent for.
In order to carry on the imposition, his lordship sent for a man who personated the supposed Mr. Smith; but Miss Woodcock was soon convinced that be had never seen her father, from the unsatisfactory answers that he gave to her inquiries.
After this Lord Baltimore played a tune, while the pretended Mr. Smith and Mrs. Harvey danced to the music; but in the mean time Miss Woodcock was tormented by a thousand conflicting passions. She was then shown some fine paintings in the room, one of which being that of a ship in distress, she said it bore a great resemblance to her own unhappy situation.
Then the man, called Smith was desired by Lord Baltimore to draw Miss Woodcock's picture; and he instantly pulled out a pencil, and made the drawing, while the young lady sat in a posture of extreme grief and dejection.
At midnight Mr. Broughton, his lordship's steward, brought intelligence that Isaacs, the Jew, having offered a letter to Miss Woodcock's father, was stopped till he should give an account where the young lady was secreted. Lord Baltimore was, or affected to be, in a violent passion, and vowed vengeance against the father; but in the interim the Jew entered, and delivered a letter which he pretended to have received from Miss Woodcock's sister. She took it to read; but she had wept so much that her eyes were sore; and of all she read she could recollect but this passage:-- 'Only please to appoint a place where and when we may meet with you.'
The hour of retirement being arrived, Miss Woodcock refused to go upstairs, unless she might be assured of not receiving any insult from his lordship. She had not taken any sustenance since she entered the house. For this night she laid down in her clothes, on a bed in which Mrs. Harvey reposed herself. She asked this bad woman if she had ever been in love; and acknowledged that she herself was addressed by a young fellow, who appeared to be very fond of her, and that they were to settle in business as soon as the marriage should take place; wherefore she desired Mrs. Harvey to show her the way out of a house that had been so obnoxious to her: but the answer of the latter was, that though she had lived in the house several years, she did not herself know the way out of it.
On the following morning, when Miss Woodcock went downstairs, she pleaded earnestly with Lord Baltimore for her liberty; on which he became most violently enraged, called her by the vilest names, arid said that, if she spoke to him on the subject any more, he would either throw her out of the window, or send her home in a wheelbarrow, with her petticoats tied over her head; and, turning to Isaacs the Jew, he said, 'Take the slut to a mean house like herself;' which greatly terrified her, as she presumed he meant a house of ill fame.
The sufferings she had undergone having by this time made her extremely ill, Lord Baltimore mixed a physical draught for her, which he insisted on her drinking.
On the Sunday afternoon he begged her to sit and hear him talk. His discourse consisted of a ridicule on religion, and every thing that was sacred, even to the denying the existence of a soul.
After supper he made six several attempts to ravish her within two hours; but she repulsed him in such a determined manner, that it was impossible for him to accomplish his dishonourable purpose. On that night she lay with Mrs. Harvey; but could get no rest, as she was in perpetual fear of renewed insults from his. lordship.
On the Monday morning she was told that she should see her father, if she would dry her eyes, wash herself, and put on clean linen. Mrs. Griffenburg now supplied her with a change of linen; and then she was hurried into the coach with Lord Baltimore, Doctor Griftenburg, and two women. They were carried to Lord Baltimore's country seat at Epsom, where she experienced several fresh acts of indecency from her ignoble tormentor; and, on her again resisting him, he said she must submit that night, with or without her consent; and in this declaration he was supported by the two infamous women.
At supper she ate a few mouthfuls; but declined drinking any thing, lest some intoxicating matter should be mixed with the liquor. Lord Baltimore and his people now diverted themselves with the game of blind-man's buff; but Miss Woodcock refused to take any share in their ridiculous folly.
The two women now conducted her to the bed chamber, and began to undress her; nor was she capable of making much resistance, being weak, through want of food and continued grief. Still, however, she begged to be deprived of life, rather than submit to dishonourable treatment.
On the drawing of the curtains she observed that Lord Baltimore was in bed, which added to her former terrors; but she was not suffered to remain long in doubt: the women left her; but, alas! not to her repose; for that night gave rise to the crime which furnished matter for the prosecution of which we are now reciting the particulars.
Twice (according to Miss Woodcock's deposition) was this horrid purpose effected; and, though she called out repeatedly for help, yet she found none; and in the morning, when she went to Mrs. Harvey's room, and told her what had passed, the latter advised her to be quiet, for that she had made noise enough already.
The infamous Harvey now hinting that worse consequences might still be expected, Miss Woodcock determined to seem content with her situation, disagreeable as it was, in the hope of obtaining the protection of her friends.
In this hope she frequently went to the window, flattering herself that she might see some person whom she knew. With the same view she went out once with his lordship, and once with Mrs. Griffenburg; and, having accidentally heard the name of Lord Baltimore mentioned, she presumed this to be the person who had treated her so ill; nor had she a guess who it was till this period.
On the afternoon of the day that she made this discovery they went to London, to the great joy of Miss Woodcock, who hoped now to find an easier communication with her friends. At her request she was permitted to sleep alone; and the next day he introduced her to Madam Saunier, the governess to his lordship's natural daughters, telling her that Miss Woodcock had been recommended as a companion to the young ladies.
On this day he gave her some money, and desired her to dispose of it as she thought proper; and, when night advanced, he sent Mrs. Griffenburg to order her to come to bed. She at first refused to comply, and at length yielded only on conditional terms. What passed this night is too horrid for relation.
On the following day Mrs. Griffenburg told her that she had been preparing another apartment for her, and begged that she would come and see it; and conducted her to a stone garret, which was remarkably cold and damp; and, being among the servants' apartments, she began to apprehend that Lord Baltimore, having gratified his own passion, was disposed to transfer her to his dependents.
Miss Woodcock's friends now began to form some conjectures where she might be secreted; and Mr. Davis, a young fellow who had paid his addresses to her, determined to exert himself to ascertain the fact.
On the Sunday he placed himself under a window of Lord Baltimore's house, and had not been there long before she saw him, and intimated that she did so. On this Davis took out a book, motioning with his hand for her to write. She then waved her hand for him to approach; but, as he did not seem to comprehend her meaning, she ran into another room, and said 'I cannot come to you; is my father well?' He answered that all parties were well, and asked what was become of Mrs. Harvey. The young lady now put down the window, and retired, unable any longer to continue the conversation.
Mr. Davis now went and informed Miss Woodcock's father of the discovery he had made; on which the old gentleman went to Mr. Cay, a baker, in Whitecross Street, to ask his opinion. Mr. Cay went with him to Mr. Watts, an attorney, who advised them to make application to Lord Mansfield for a writ of habeas corpus. But it may be now necessary to take notice of what passed between Lord Baltimore and Miss Woodcock in the meantime.
On the day following that on which she had been seen by Davis, his lordship told her that she should see her father that day, at Dr. Griffenburg's, in Dean Street, Soho; and he said he would make a settlement on her for life if she would acknowledge that she had been well treated. This she agreed to, in the hope of obtaining her freedom. She was then told that her father had caused Mrs. Harvey to be taken into custody.
Lord Baltimore now went to Griffenburg's with Miss Woodcock, taking likewise a young lady, of whom she was to declare herself the companion: but they had been only a few minutes at Griffenburg's when a servant came to apprise his lordship that Sir John Fielding's people had surrounded his house.
Lord Baltimore, having previously sent one of his servants with a letter to Miss Woodcock's father, now ordered a coach; and he, and Dr. Griffenburg and the young lady, now went to a tavern in Whitechapel, in quest of the servant, who told them that Mr. Woodcock having been out all day in search of his daughter, and not being returned, he (the servant) would not leave the letter, from a point of prudence.
Hereupon they drove to a house in Covent Garden, where the servant soon arrived with a note from Sir John Fielding's clerk, desiring Miss Woodcock to come to Bow Street, where her friends were, in expectation of her arrival. Fearful of taking any step that might involve her in still farther difficulties, she showed Lord Baltimore the note, when he declared she should not comply with the contents; and they immediately drove to Dr. Griffenburg's.
At this place they were met by his lordship's steward, who said his house was still surrounded by peace-officers; but, as they went away soon afterwards, this unworthy peer then took Miss Woodcock home in his own carriage.
On their arrival the valet-de-chambre told his master that on the Sunday morning the young lady had spoken to a person from the window, His lordship now demanded if this was fact. She acknowledged that it was; but said she had not acquainted her friends with her distressed situation.
He now tried to calm her mind, but said that she must sleep with him that night, which she positively refused, unless he would engage not to offer her any insult; and this promise was made, and complied with.
In the morning Mr. Watts, the attorney, called at Lord Baltimore's house with a writ of habeas corpus; but the porter would not admit him till he produced the writ; but then he was asked into the house, and Lord Baltimore made acquainted with his business. On this his lordship told his prisoner Mr. Watts's business, and begged she would prepare to see him with all possible composure.
In the interim his lordship waited on the attorney, who demanded whether one Sarah Woodcock was in his house: but, on his declining to give an immediate answer, Watts said that he would serve the writ unless she was instantly produced; and that the consequence would be that all his doors must be broke open till she was found: but he hoped that so violent a procedure would not be necessary.
His lordship now begged his patience for a short time, and his requisition should be complied with. Mr. Watts agreed to wait, and the other, going to Miss Woodcock, requesting her to write to her father, and declare that she had been used with tenderness, and had consented to her then situation; and he desired her to add that she wished to see her father and sisters, but hoped their visit would be of the peaceful kind; and with all this she complied, in hope, as she afterwards declared, of obtaining her liberty.
This letter being sealed, and dispatched by one of his lordship's servants, be introduced the attorney to Miss Woodcock, who asked her if her residence in that house was a matter of choice, or whether she was forcibly detained. She replied that she remained there by her own consent, but that she was anxious to see her father.
With this declaration Mr. Watts appeared satisfied, saying that no person had any right to interfere, if she voluntarily consented to her situation.
His lordship then intimated that it would be proper for her to go to Lord Mansfield, and make a similar declaration. She made no hesitation to comply with this proposal; but still appeared exceedingly anxious to have a conference with her father.
On this the parties went to Lord Mansfield's house in Bloomsbury Square, where they were shown into different apartments; and Miss Woodcock's friends waited in an antechamber, to hear the issue of this extraordinary affair.
The young lady being examined by Lord Mansfield, he inquired minutely into the circumstances respecting her being conveyed to Lord Baltimore's house. She answered every question in the most explicit manner; and, when the judge asked her if she was willing to live with his lordship, she answered in the affirmative; but expressed great earnestness to see her friends first.
On this she was shown into the room where her friends waited; and the first question she asked was 'Who Lord Mansfield was, and whether he had a right to set her at liberty?' She was told that his right was indisputable; and his lordship being again consulted, he inquired if she still adhered to her former opinion; to which she replied that she did not, but desired to go home with her father.
His lordship then asked her how happened the sudden change in her mind. Her answer was 'Because, till I saw them, I did not know you had power to release me.' His lordship then said 'Child, it is in my power to let you go;' and told her she was at full liberty to go where she pleased'; on which she went into the other room to her friends, but was unable to express her joy on the occasion.
In the interim Lord Mansfield addressed the Reverend Mr. Watson, a dissenting minister, and some other persons present, to the following effect:-- 'Gentlemen, I would have you take notice of Miss Woodcock's answers, because possibly this matter may be variously talked of in public, and justice ought to be done to both parties; for, when this lady came before me on her private examination, she expressed a desire to see her father and sister, or sisters: and now she has answered as you have heard.'
On Miss Woodcock's discharge, Mr. Cay, the baker, in Whitecross Street (to whom her father bad delivered the two hundred pound bank-note, which had been enclosed in the letter by Lord Baltimore), conveyed the young lady to Sir John Fielding, before whom she swore to the actual commission of the rape by Lord Baltimore.
At this time Mrs. Griffenburg and Mrs. Harvey were in custody; and a warrant was issued to apprehend Lord Baltimore; but he secreted himself for the present, and surrendered to the Court of King's Bench on the last day of Hilary term, 1768; and the two women being brought thither by habeas corpus, they were all admitted to bail, in order for trial at Kingston, in Surrey, because the crime was alleged to have been committed at his lordship's seat at Epsom.
In the interim Miss Woodcock went to the house of Mr. Cay, in Whitecross Street; but, not being properly accommodated there, she went to the house of a friend, where she lived in great privacy and retirement till the time arrived for the trial of the offending parties.
Bills of indictment being found against Lord Baltimore and the two women, they were all brought to trial before the Lord Chief Baron Smythe; and, after the evidence against them had been given, in substance as may be collected from the preceding narrative, Lord Baltimore made the following defence, which was read in Court by Mr. Hamersley, solicitor to his lordship:--
'My Lord and Gentlemen,
'I have put myself upon my country, in hopes that prejudice and clamour will avail nothing in this place, where it is the privilege of the meanest of time king's subjects to be presumed innocent until his guilt has been made appear by legal evidence. I wish I could say that I had been treated abroad with the same candour. I have been loaded with obloquy, the most malignant libels have been circulated, and every other method which malice could devise has been taken to create general prejudice against me. I thank God that, under such circumstances, I have had firmness and resolution enough to meet my accusers face to face, and provoke an inquiry into my conduct. Hic murus aheneus esto, -- nil conscire sibi. The charge against me, and against these poor people who are involved with me, because they might otherwise have been just witnesses of my innocence, is in its nature very easy to be made, and hard to be disproved. The accuser has the advantage of supporting it by a direct and positive oath; the defence can only be collected from circumstances.
'My defence is composed, then, of a variety of circumstances, all tending to show the falsity of this charge, the absurdity of it, the improbability that it could be true. It will be laid before the jury under the direction of my counsel; and I have the confidence of an innocent man, that it will be manifest to your lordship, the jury, and the whole world, that the story told by this woman is a perversion of truth in every particular. What could induce her to make such a charge I can only suspect: very soon after she came to my house, upon a representation to me that her father was distressed, I sent him a considerable sum of money: whether the ease with which the money was obtained from me might suggest the idea as a means of obtaining a larger sum of money, or whether it was thought necessary to destroy me, in order to establish the character of the girl to the world, I know not; but I do aver, upon the word of a man of honour, that there is no truth in any thing which has been said or sworn of my having offered violence to this girl. I ever held such brutality in abhorrence. I am totally against all force; and for me to have forced this woman, considering my weak state of health, and my strength, is not only a moral, but a physical, impossibility. She is, as to bodily strength, stronger than I am. Strange opinions, upon subjects foreign to this charge, have been falsely imputed to me, to inflame this accusation. Libertine as I am represented, I hold no such opinions. Much has been said against me, that I seduced this girl from her parents: seduction is not the point of this charge; but I do assure your lordship and the jury this part of the case has been aggravated exceedingly beyond the truth. If I have been in any degree to blame, I am sure I have sufficiently atoned for every indiscretion, which a weak attachment to this unworthy woman may have led me into, by having suffered the disgrace of being exposed as a criminal at the bar in the county which my father had the honour to represent in parliament, and where I had some pretensions to have attained the same honour, had that sort of an active life been my object.
I will take up no more of your lordship's time than to add that, if I had been conscious of the guilt now imputed to me, I could have kept myself and my fortune out of the reach of the laws of this country, I am a citizen of the world; I could have lived any where: but I love my own country, and. submit to its laws, resolving that my innocence should be justified by the laws. I now, by my own voluntary act, by surrendering myself to the Court of King's Bench, stake, upon the verdict of twelve men, my life, my fortune, and, what is dearer to me, my honour.
'March 25, 1768.'
The substance of the defences of Mrs. Griffenburg and Mrs. Harvey consisted principally in alleging that Miss Woodcock had consented to all that had passed, and that no force had been used towards her either by Lord Baltimore or themselves.
The evidence of Dr. Griffenburg was not admitted, as his name was upon record, on a charge of having been concerned in a crime of a similar nature.
After every thing alleged against the prisoners had been heard in the most dispassionate manner, the judge addressed himself to the jury in the following terms:--
'Gentlemen of the Jury,
The prisoner at the bar, Lord Baltimore, stands indicted for feloniously ravishing, and carnally knowing, Sarah Woodcock, spinster, against her will, on the 22d of December last, at Epsom, against the statute which makes this offence felony: and the other two prisoners are indicted as accessories before the fact, by feloniously and maliciously procuring, aiding, and abetting Lord Baltimore to commit the said rape, at the same time and place. To this they have pleaded not guilty, and you are to try if they are guilty. Before I state to you the evidence I will mention to you two or three things: in the first place, my lord complains of libels and printed accounts of this transaction, which have been circulated. It is a most unjustifiable practice, and tends to the perversion of public justice; and, therefore, if you have seen any thing printed on the side of the prosecutrix, or the prisoners, I must desire you to divest yourselves of any prejudice that such publications must have occasioned, and give your verdict only on the evidence now laid before you. Another thing I desire is, that, whichever way the verdict is given, none of the friends of any of the parties will make use of any expressions of approbation or applause, which are extremely improper and indecent in a court of justice, and I shall certainly commit any person whom I know to be guilty of it. The last thing that I shall mention to you is, to desire that no resentment you may feel at the manner in which she was carried to Lord Baltimore's house may have any influence on your verdict; for, however unwarrantable the manner was in which she came into his power, if, at the time he lay with her, it was by her consent, he is not guilty of the offence of which he is indicted; though it was proper to be given in evidence on this trial, to account for her being with him, and his having an opportunity of committing the crime: and to show, from the indirect manner of getting her to his house, the greater probability that her account is true. Having said this, I will now state to you the whole evidence as particularly as I can.'
Mr. Baron Smythe then stated the whole of the evidence to the jury, as before given, which took up three hours, and then concluded thus:--
'In point of law, the fact is fully proved on my lord and the two other prisoners, if you believe the evidence of Sarah Woodcock. It is a crime which in its nature can only be proved by the woman on whom it is committed; for she only can tell whether she consented or no: it is, as my lord observes, very easy to be made, and hard to be disproved; and the defence can only be collected from circumstances; from these you must judge whether her evidence is or is not to be believed. Lord Hale, in his 'History of the Pleas of the Crown,' lays down the rules:-- 1. If complaint is not made soon after the injury is supposed to be received; 2. If it is not followed by a recent prosecution; a strong presumption arises that the complaint is malicious. She has owned the injury was received December 22; the complaint was not made till December 29; but she has accounted for it in the manner you have beard. The strong part of the case on behalf of the prisoners is her not complaining when she was at Lord Mansfield's, the supreme magistrate in the kingdom in criminal matters. You have heard how she has explained and accounted for her conduct in that particular, which you will judge of. Upon the whole, if you believe that she made the discovery as soon as she knew she had an opportunity of doing it, and that her account is true, you will find all the prisoners guilty; if you believe that she did not make the discovery as soon as she had an opportunity, and from thence, or other circumstances, are not satisfied her account is true, you will find them all not guilty; for, if he is not guilty, they cannot be so; for they cannot be accessory to a crime which was never committed.'
After an absence of an hour and twenty minutes, the jury returned with a verdict that the prisoners were Not Guilty.
This singular affair was tried at Kingston, in Surrey, on the 20th of March, 1768.
Our readers will not be displeased with a few remarks on this very extraordinary transaction -- The meanness of Lord Baltimore, and the unreasonable terror and ignorance of Miss Woodcock, will appear to be equal objects of astonishment. His lordship's devices to obtain possession of this woman were beneath the dignity of a nobleman, or, indeed, of any man; and her tame submission to the insult is a proof that she had little idea of the sacred protection which the laws of her country would have afforded her; for Lord Baltimore's house (at the bottom of Southampton Row, Bloomsbury) was not so obscurely situated but that she might have made application to many a passenger.
Something, indeed, must be allowed to feminine fear on such an occasion, after she once found herself in the actual possession of a man from whom she thought it would be dangerous even to attempt an escape.
Miss Woodcock's ignorance of Lord Mansfield's power will appear very extraordinary; but surely not more so than that of a man, who, being an evidence before Sir John Fielding, addressed him successively by the titles of sir! your honour! your worship! your lordship! your grace! and your majesty! These appellations were repeatedly heard to be given within half an hour by the writer of this narrative; and be presumes the circumstance may be considered as an apology for the superlative ignorance of Miss Woodcock.
On the whole, however, this case is of the melancholy kind. What shall we think of a man, of Lord Baltimore's rank and fortune, who could debase himself beneath all rank and distinction, and, by the wish to gratify his irregular passions, submit to degrade him self in the opinion of his own servants and other domestics?
Addison has a fine sentiment, by which our nobility ought to be influenced:--
'Honour 's a sacred tie; the law of kings;
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection:
It aids and strengthens Virtue where it meets her,
And imitates her actions where she is not:
It is not to be sported with.'--