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The Newgate Calendar - JOHN CAULFIELD


Murder foretold by a Dream, in consequence of which the Murderer was apprehended, convicted, and executed at Waterford in 1751

ONE Adam Rogers, a creditable man, who kept a public-house at Portlaw, a small village nine or ten miles from Waterford, in Ireland, dreamed one night that he saw two men at a particular green spot on an adjacent mountain; one of them a sickly-looking man, the other remarkably strong and large. He then fancied that he saw the little man murder the other, and he awoke in great agitation. The circumstances of the dream were so distinct and forcible that he continued much affected by them. He related them to his wife and also to several neighbours next morning.

After some time he went out coursing with greyhounds, accompanied, amongst others, by one Mr Browne, the Roman Catholic priest of the parish. He soon stopped at the above-mentioned particular green spot on the mountain, and, calling to Mr Browne, pointed it out to him, and told him what had appeared in his dream. During the remainder of the day he thought little more about it. Next morning he was extremely startled at seeing two strangers enter his house about eleven o'clock in the forenoon. He immediately ran into an inner room, and desired his wife to take particular notice, for they were precisely the two men whom he had seen in his dream.

When they had consulted with one another, their apprehensions were alarmed for the little weakly man, though contrary to the appearance in the dream. After the strangers had taken some refreshment and were about to depart, in order to prosecute their journey, Rogers earnestly endeavoured to dissuade the little man from quitting his house and going on with his fellow-traveller. He assured him that if he would remain with him that day he would accompany him to Carrick next morning, that being the town to which the travellers were proceeding. He was unwilling and ashamed to tell the cause of his being so solicitous to separate him from his companion. But as he observed that Hickey, which was the name of the little man, seemed to be quiet and gentle in his deportment, and had money about him, and that the other had a ferocious bad countenance, the dream still recurred to him. He dreaded that something fatal would happen, and he wished, at all events, to keep them asunder. However, the humane precautions of Rogers proved ineffectual; for John Caulfield -- the other's name -- prevailed upon Hickey to continue with him on their way to Carrick, declaring that, as they had long travelled together, they should not part, but remain together until he should see Hickey safely arrive at the habitation of his friends. The wife of Rogers was much dissatisfied when she found they were gone, and blamed her husband exceedingly for not being absolutely peremptory in detaining Hickey.

About an hour after they left Portlaw, in a lonely part of the mountain, just near the place observed by Rogers in his dream, Caulfield took the opportunity of murdering his companion. It appeared afterwards, from his own account of the horrid transaction, that as they were getting over a ditch he struck Hickey on the back part of his head with a stone, and when he fell down into the trench, in consequence of the blow, Caulfield gave him several stabs with a knife, and cut his throat so deeply that the head was almost severed from the body. He then rifled Hickey's pockets of all the money in them, took part of his clothes, and everything else of value about him, and afterwards proceeded on his way to Carrick. He had not been long gone when the body, still warm, was discovered by some labourers who were returning to their work from dinner.

The report of the murder soon reached Portlaw. Rogers and his wife went to the place, and instantly knew the body of him whom they had in vain endeavoured to dissuade from going on with his treacherous companion. They at once spoke out their suspicions that the murder was perpetrated by the fellow-traveller of the deceased. An immediate search was made, and Caulfield was apprehended at Waterford the second day after. He was brought to trial at the ensuing assizes and convicted of the fact. It appeared on the trial, amongst other circumstances, that when he arrived at Carrick he hired a horse and a boy to conduct him, not by the usual road, but by that which runs on the north side of the River Suir, to Waterford, intending to take his passage in the first ship from thence to Newfoundland. The boy took notice of some blood on his shirt, and Caulfield gave him half-a-crown to promise not to speak of it. Rogers proved not only that Hickey was seen last in company with Caulfield, but that a pair of new shoes which Hickey wore had been found on the feet of Caulfield when he was apprehended; and that a pair of old shoes which he had on at Rogers's house were upon Hickey's feet when the body was found. He described with great exactness every article of their clothes. Caulfield, on cross-examination, shrewdly asked him from the dock whether it was not very extraordinary that he, who kept a public-house, should take such particular notice of the dress of a stranger accidentally calling there. Rogers, in his answer, said he had a very particular reason, but was ashamed to mention it. The Court and prisoner insisting on his declaring it, he gave a circumstantial narrative of his dream, called upon Mr Browne, the priest, who was then in the court, to corroborate his testimony, and said that his wife had severely reproached him for permitting Hickey to leave their house when he knew that in the short footway to Carrick they must necessarily pass by the green spot in the mountain which had appeared in his dream. A number of witnesses came forward; and the proofs were so strong that the jury, without hesitation, found the panel guilty. It was remarked as a singularity that he happened to be tried and sentenced by his namesake, Sir George Caulfield, at that time Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, which office he resigned in the summer of the year 1760.

After sentence Caulfield confessed the fact. It came out that Hickey had been in the West Indies two-and-twenty years, but falling into a bad state of health he was returning to his native country, Ireland, bringing with him some money his industry had acquired. The vessel on board which he took his passage was, by stress of weather, driven into Minch Head. He there met with Frederick Caulfield, an Irish sailor, who was poor, and much distressed for clothes and common necessaries. Hickey, compassionating his poverty, and finding he was his countryman, relieved his wants, and an intimacy commenced between them. They agreed to go to Ireland together. And it was remarked that on their passage Caulfield spoke contemptuously, and often said it was a pity such a puny fellow as Hickey should have money and he himself be without a shilling. They landed at Waterford, at which place they stayed some days, Caulfield being all the time supported by Hickey, who bought there some clothes for him.

Caulfield walked to the gallows with a firm step and undaunted countenance, being executed at Waterford in 1751.


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