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The Newgate Calendar - JOHN BOLTON


Convicted of murdering a girl he had seduced and made pregnant, but cheated justice by committing suicide, 29th March, 1775

This unhappy man was reputably descended, and well educated. He served for some time in the army during the late war, and was distinguished by his gallant behaviour; but was dismissed from the military line of life in consequence of the peace of 1763.

While he was in the army, and on a recruiting party in Yorkshire, he became acquainted with a young lady, who possessing a moderate estate in her own right, he married her after he quitted the service, and turned farmer.

By this marriage he had six children, some of whom were living at the time of his death. In this station he continued happily for about ten years, when the event took place which ended in his destruction.

Near Mr. Bolton's place of residence was the village of Ackworth, in which was a house where the poor of several parishes were maintained by contract. From this house, in the year 1768, he took, as apprentices, a boy, named Emanuel Bowes, and a girl of ten years old, called Elizabeth Rainbow. The girl grew up in his service, and was remarkable for her beauty; a circumstance very unfortunate for herself, as it induced Mr. Bolton to seduce her, the consequence of which was that her pregnancy ensued.

When Bolton was assured that the girl was with child, he went to York, and purchased a medicine, in order to procure an abortion; which medicine being administered to the young woman, she was thrown into violent convulsions; but, the strength of her constitution effectually combating the potion, she advanced in her pregnancy without any appearance of having received the least injury.

Bolton, alarmed lest his intercourse with the girl should be known to his wife and family, formed the shocking resolution of murdering her who had fallen a victim to his seductive artifices; but no opportunity offered of perpetrating the horrid deed till Sunday, the 21st of August, 1774.

On this day Mrs. Bolton took one of her children on a visit to a lady who lived at two miles distance; and there being no persons in the house but Emanuel Bowes, the young girl who had been seduced, and a child of six years old, who was sick in bed, Bolton considered this as the proper time for perpetrating the crime on which he had previously resolved. He therefore sent the boy to fetch a cow-doctor, to look at a beast that was presumed to be disordered. The boy returning in about two hours, and finding the door fast, went to an adjoining field, and put a horse to grass; after which he knocked at the door, and his master, letting him in, told him that 'Elizabeth Rainbow had run away, and left most of her clothes behind her.'

The boy was surprised at this intelligence, and some near neighbours said that the girl had not left the house that day; and a woman, who had been to the house to pay for milk, declared that she had given the money to Rainbow, on account of the absence of her mistress.

Mrs. Bolton, returning at seven at night, observed that her husband appeared to be very uneasy, and inquired into the cause of it; to which he only answered that the girl had gone away, and left her clothes on the table in the dining-room. Whether Mrs. Bolton was, or was not, suspicions of her husband's criminal connexion with Rainbow, is a matter of doubt; but it seems probable that she was, as a violent quarrel ensued on this occasion.

About ten days after this affair happened, the neighbours being suspicious that murder had been committed, one of them, who was a constable, went to a magistrate, who granted a warrant for the apprehension of Bolton. The latter, having heard that a warrant was issued, went to the justice, and told him that the report intended to prejudice him was circulated with a malicious view to injure his character. On this the justice told Bolton to attend him in the afternoon, when the constable would be present; instead of which Bolton went home, and, packing up some plate, set off for York, whither he was followed by the constable, who apprehended him, and, carrying him before a justice of the peace, he was lodged in prison.

On the trial, which came on at the ensuing assizes, the following circumstances were discovered, viz. when Bolton had sent the boy for the cow-doctor, he took the girl into the cellar, and strangled her with a cord which he drew round her neck, placing a fife within the cord, so as to twist it to a proper tightness.

On the Monday after this affair he directed Emanuel Bowes to wheel several barrows filled with rubbish into the cellar, as it had been overflowed with water, which furnished him with a very plausible pretence for the concealment of his guilt, which he presumed would now remain undiscovered.

At length the body of the deceased was found under the rubbish in the cellar; and the coroner's inquest, being summoned on the occasion, gave a verdict of wilful murder; on which Mr. Bolton was committed to the castle of York.

The evidence on his trial was deemed so conclusive, that the jury did not hesitate to find him guilty, in consequence of which he received sentence of death. During his trial he behaved with uncommon effrontery; and, when the judge had passed sentence on him, be turned to the Court, and declared his innocence.

On the following day a clergyman went to him, with a charitable view to prepare his mind to enable him to support himself with decency in the arduous trial be had to undergo, and to fortify it for the awful event that was so soon to await him.

Still, however, he persisted that he was innocent of the alleged crime; and, when the officers of justice went the next morning to convey him to the place of execution, they found that, by hanging himself, he had put a period to his existence.

This event of self-murder happened in the castle of York, on the 29th of March, 1775.

There is no language in which to express our proper sense of the crimes of this unhappy man. He was first guilty of seducing a young woman from the path of virtue; he then murdered her in the fear of detection; and at length laid violent bands on himself. Such a complication of guilt must make the heart shudder; and, we trust, it cannot be necessary to write a single word to deter our readers from the commission of any of these offences.

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