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The Newgate Calendar - MICHAEL SHIPMAN


Tried and convicted for administering drugs to a young lady, for an infamous purpose, 1818

   AT the Leicestershire assizes, in 1818, Michael Shipman, a dissenter, a man of property, resident in Hinchley, within thirteeen miles of Leicester, was brought to trial on the complaint of a beautiful girl, named Emma Dalton. He took his seat at the table opposite the witness's box, and had frequent communications with his solicitor during the trial, which lasted seven hours.

   The indictment charged him with having assaulted Miss Dalton, and administered laudanum, or some other exciting drug, for the purpose of producing unconsciousness, insensibility, or excitement, in that young lady, with the view of rendering her subservient to his passions. There were other Counts in the indictment, one of which charged him with a common assault.

   Mr Clarke opened the case, which he said was the most aggravated one he had ever heard. He made no other comment upon it than that the evidence would be found incontrovertible; that it would disclose a system of villainy the most depraved; and that the honour of the sex and common humanity, demanded an attention from the jury incapable of being prejudiced by an address to their feelings, unsupported by powerful testimony.

   He then called the prosecutrix, who, upon getting into the box, trembled exceedingly. It would be difficult to describe the effect produced by her appearance; in her countenance, which wore the marks of thought and sorrow, could be traced the evidences of former happiness. The spectators turned with horror to her abuser, who presented a hidous contrast. His head was covered with lank red hair; he now and then "grinned horribly a ghastly smile," especially when his counsel was proceeding to draw inferences from the evidence which led him to entertain a vain hope.

   The following is the substance of Miss Dalton's evidence:- I am twenty-one years of age. My father was a merchant, and resided at Birmingham; but, from the embarrassed state of his circumstances, found it necessary some time ago to leave the country. My sisters and I, to whom he had given a good education, remained at home. Early in September, I went into the family of Mr Shipman, as governess to his three daughters, the eldest of whom is nearly fourteen, the second ten, and the third seven. On Friday, the 19th of December, I was violently ill with a pain in the chest, and a heaviness, and I retired to my room about seven o'clock. Between eleven and twelve, the servant, Clara Johnson, came to ask me how I was. Having experienced no abatement of pain, I told her I was exceedingly ill, and begged that she would ask whether I should bathe my feet in warm water. On her return the girl told me that her mistress had sent to her master, and he would be up directly. Before I had time to express my disapprobation of so extraordinary an intention on the part of Mr Shipman, he entered the room. Having covered my head with the bed-clothes, and made no reply to his inquiry how I was, he pulled down the clothes, took both my hands, and placed me by force on my back, desiring me to look at him full in the face. Again he asked me what was the matter with me? I said I had a violent pain in my chest. He asked where my chest was; and I said he must know; and that he was trifling with me. When Clara left the room, he put his hand over the upper part of my person, and told me the pain was not in my chest, but in my stomach. My endeavour to remove his hand was quite fruitless, for I was extremely weak, and my breath was so violently affected as to render me wholly incapable of remonstrating with him. The first words I addressed to him when he entered the room were, that I had not sent for him, but for Mrs Shipman. When the girl returned with the brandy, he removed his hand from my bosom, and obliged me to take some brandy, after which I entreated him to leave the room, which he at first refused, but afterwards consented to do, declaring, however, that Clara should go, and that no one should stay with me, whether I was well or ill. Both went away together. About five o'clock in the morning I awoke in great pain, and was quite hysterical; my cries awoke Mr Shipman's eldest daughter, who jumped out of bed and ran to her parents' room. Mr Shipman came in a few moments after his daughter had left the room, but said nothing, and went away immediately. Clara then came, and said her master had ordered her to dress and take me down. I refused to go, saying to the girl that the bed was better for me, as I was ill. He called repeatedly to know whether I was coming down; and I, finding objections useless, told the girl she might dress me and take me down. He was at the bottom of the stairs with a candle in his hand; he had on a night-cap and a waistcoat, but no coat, and he assisted the girl in bringing me into the room, where, before a large fire, there was a sofa, on which he placed me. I complained of the excessive heat, on which he sent Clara for the tea-things, and said the fire was not hotter than I could bear it. My breath grew worse, and I felt dreadfully ill. At that moment the girl entered with the tea-things. He insisted on my taking tea, and raised me up for the purpose of doing so. Upon compulsion I took two cups, and he said I should have a third. There is a cupboard in the room, where different kinds of drugs are kept, amongst which is laudanum. Before he brought the third cup, he went to that cupboard and filled it there. I refused to take it. He said I should, and raised me up, and presented the cup to my mouth. I perceived the smell was nauseous, and again refused. He declared that I should, or he would drench me with it: at the same time he took hold of me by the nose, forced it down my throat most violently, and threw me down on the sofa. He sat on the sofa. One of my teeth was broken, but whether it was at that time or not, I don't know. Clara came in while he was drenching me with the tea, and he desired her to take the bone out of my stays. I was in violent agony, and I motioned her not to do it while he was in the room. He went out. I thought I was expiring. Clara, on removing the bone, retired. He came and sat at the foot of the sofa, and gave his hand more unrestrained liberties than before upon my person. The servant came in, and he removed his hands, with one of which he had held both of mine, in answer to his inquiry, she said she had come to prepare the room for the family. He desired her to remove me on the sofa into the kitchen. As well as I could I told her to carry me to bed, but he said it was useless, for I should not go, and he removed me into the back kitchen on the sofa, near the fire, and put the shutters up; Clara went about her business, and he sat beside me, and repeated the liberties I alluded to. At that moment Clara came in. There was a nauseous taste in the last cup of tea I took, which was not in either of the other cups. I have since smelt laudanum in tea, and it is my firm belief that laudanum was mixed in the third cup. My illness increased, and Clara, by his order, put me to bed, where I grew worse. Mrs Shipman came in on hearing me scream, and Mr Shipman made me take castor oil. What occurred from that time till four in the afternoon, I was wholly unconscious of. On Sunday I felt better, and contrived to sit up to dinner, after which Mrs Shipman proposed to her husband to go to chapel. I went up to my own room, Mrs Shipman went to chapel and Mr Shipman came to me while I was lying on the bed, and insisted on my going down. I told him I would cry Murder if he persisted in removing me, for I was dreadfully ill. He used all the persuasive arguments he could to induce me to go down; said he had not gone to chapel on my account, and all the rest were out. I said he was a bad man, and supplicated him to leave me. Finding that I was bent upon not going down, he brought up a large goblet full of brandy and water. I said it was not brandy, and refused to take any. He threatened to drench me with it, and stood over me till I drank it every drop. I was then in hysterics, had dreadful fits of crying, and lost all recollection of what occurred. On the following morning I was awoke by Mr Shipman's kisses. He told me how much his wife and children loved me, and that he loved me more ten times. I complained of the insult he had offered me, and said I should inform Mrs Shipman of his vile conduct. I informed Mrs Shipman of it. My illness continued with unabated violence; and though I expressed a wish to see Mr Power, the surgeon, and another medical man, I was denied by Mr and Mrs Shipman. At length I saw Mr Power, on Tuesday: told him they had given me different kinds of medicine; that I had requested to see him, but had been refused; that I was very unhappy; had been used very ill, but had neither time nor power to tell him more. I continued delirious for a fortnight; the last thing I remembered was Mr Power's coming. From Mr Shipman's I was removed to the vicarage in a sedan, until I got better. In my bed-room there was no bell. There was, I believe, a key in the door, but Mrs Shipman begged I would never lock the door, through fear of fire or the illness of the children. I stayed a week at the vicarage, from whence I went to my aunt's, at Birmingham. Before the Friday I had taken salts and calomel and other drugs, for a cold, by desire of the prisoner.

   In her cross-examination by Mr Denman, Miss Dalton merely repeated her former statement. The object of the learned Counsel was to obtain some admissions which might leave an impression that the prisoner's conduct was dictated by a feeling of compassion, which was mistaken for love. The witness again stated, that all resistance was impossible; her breath, as well as strength, having been affected, and an unnatural sensation having, in consequence of the drugs, pervaded her.

   Clara Johnson deposed, that she lived as servant to Mr Shipman, and gave an account of the conduct of her master perfectly confirmatory, as far as it went, of that given by Miss Dalton. She described the state of health of the young lady as most deplorable, and remembered that when she told her master how ill she was, he said that was just what he wanted. She added, that when her mistress went to chapel on Sunday, her master came to her and sent her out with the child before she had time to clean herself; and that when Mr Power came to see Miss Dalton, Mr Shipman flung down his hat in a great rage, and said he was undone.

   In her cross-examination she but increased the evidence against the prisoner. She heard Miss Dalton say in her delirium, that her master had broken her tooth; and while she was deprived of her senses, Mr Shipman put his hand upon her person.

   Martha Hey, the nurse who attended Miss Dalton on Wednesday night, deposed, that she was quite delirious, and that Shipman had acted while she was so in the manner described. Again he came, and asked whether Miss Dalton had asked for him? to which witness replied, that she had, in her delirium. "Ah, poor girl," said he, "she always asks for me."

   Mr Power, surgeon, of Hinckley, said he visited Miss Dalton on Tuesday the 23rd of December, when he found her very faint. She had a small and frequent pulse, and complained of a pain in the head, and coldness in the feet, and looked excessively ill. She made the communication to him which she had stated to the Court. On Wednesday morning she was much worse: she had spent a delirious night, her pulse had increased in action, and the witness recommended another opinion to be taken. She was very delirious, but her complaint was attended with lucid intervals. Witness was not prepared to say that laudanum would produce libidinousness -- a small dose would produce excitement -- a large one stupor.

   Mr Denman for the defence, attempted to show that Miss Dalton must have construed the wish to render medical assistance into nothing else than love, and the application of the necessary medicines for the correction of a natural disorder into the administering of philters and the force of mighty magic. He showed how dangerous it was to allow the child to be separated at so perilous an age from her natural protectors, and attributed the madness of the girl to the impetuous current of her passions.

   The Judge summed up the evidence, and quickly laid before the jury the several iniquities which there had been such abundant proof. He particularly dwelt upon the example to a wife and children in the complicated baseness of Shipman's conduct to an helpless and unprotected female.

   The Jury returned a verdict of -- Guilty, and the Judge immediately passed sentence to the delight of the whole court. The unnatural villain was adjudged to pay a fine of £100, and to be imprisoned for twelve calendar months.

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