An Epileptic, who was executed at Stafford, 30th of March, 1807, for the Murder of his Three Children
INSANITY probably caused the horrid deed to be committed which we are now going to relate. It appeared in evidence on the trial that George Allen had previously thereto been subject to epileptic fits, but that on the Sunday preceding the day whereon he committed the murder he was considerably better. Though a jury found him guilty of premeditated murder, we must, in charity to the failings of human nature, suppose that one of these mental derangements, epilepsy, again seized him at the time he committed this strange, cruel, and most unnatural murder. His examination before the coroner also seems to favour this opinion.
At eight o'clock on the evening of the 12th of January, 1807, he retired to rest, and when his wife followed him, in the course of an hour, she found him sitting upright in bed, smoking his pipe, which was his usual custom. In another bed, in the same room, lay three of his infant children asleep, the eldest boy, about ten years old, the second a girl about six, and another boy about three. When his wife got into bed, with an infant at her breast, he asked her what other man she had in the house with her. To which she replied that no man had been, there but himself. He insisted to the contrary, and his wife continued to assert her innocence. He then jumped out of bed and went downstairs, and she, from an impulse of fear, followed him. She met him on the stairs and asked him what he had been doing in such a hurry. In answer he ordered her to get upstairs again. He then went to the bed where his children were and turned down the clothes. On her endeavouring to hold him he told her to let him alone, or he would serve her with the same sauce, and immediately attempted to cut her throat, in which he partly succeeded, and also wounded her right breast; but a handkerchief she wore about her head and neck prevented the wound from being fatal. She then extricated herself (having the babe in her arms all the time, which she preserved unhurt), and jumped, or rather fell, downstairs. Before she had well got up, one of the children (the girl) fell at her feet, with her head almost cut off, which he had murdered and thrown after her. The woman opened the door and screamed out that her husband was cutting off their children's heads. A neighbour soon came to her assistance, and when a light was procured the monster was found standing in the middle of the house-place with a razor in his hand. When asked what he had been doing, he replied coolly: "Nothing yet: I have only killed three of them!" On their going upstairs a most dreadful spectacle presented itself: the head of one of the boys was very nearly severed from his body, and the bellies of both were partly cut and partly ripped open, and the bowels torn completely out and thrown on the floor. Allen made no attempt to escape, and was taken without resistance. He said that it was his intention to have murdered his wife and all her children, and then to have put an end to himself. He professed his intention also to have murdered an old woman who lay bedridden in the same house. An inquest was held on the bodies of the three children, before Mr Hand, coroner of Uttoxeter, when he confessed his guilt, but without expressing any contrition. In answer to other interrogations he promised to confess something that had lain heavy on his mind; and Mr Hand, supposing it might relate to a crime he had heretofore committed, caused him to be examined in the presence of other gentlemen, when he told an incoherent story of a ghost, in the shape of a horse, having, about four years ago, enticed him into a stable, where it drew blood from him, and then flew into the sky. With respect to the murder of his children, he observed to the coroner, with apparent unconcern, that he supposed it was as bad a case as ever he had heard of.
The horrid circumstances of these murders were fully proved, and he was convicted, and suffered the final sentence of the law.