This horrible murder, almost unparalleled in atrocity, was discovered on Saturday the 13th of August, 1831.
It would appear that on Friday the 12th of the month, two men named Maskell and Gillam, who were farm-labourers, were passing through a place called Rottingdean, near Preston, in the neighbourhood of Brighton, when, on their arriving at a particular nook, much frequented on account of its rustic beauty, called the Hole-in-the-Wall, they fancied that they perceived that the earth had been disturbed. They pushed away some of the mould with a stick, and observed a piece of red printed cotton protruding, but at the time they took no particular notice of the occurrence. On their return home, however, to their respective families, they mentioned what they had seen, and Gillam's wife remarked that it was possible that a child might be buried there,-- the offspring of some illicit connexion. The idea was adopted by Gillam, and on the following morning, at six o'clock, accompanied by his wife and some other persons, he again proceeded to the same spot, for the purpose of making a further search and investigation. He enlarged the opening he had made in the ground, and taking hold of the protruding cotton, he drew nearly a yard of it out of the earth, and his wife remarked that she was sure that it was the gown of a grown-tip person.
Upon this, it was determined to convey intelligence of the transaction to a constable, and Elphick, the officer of the village of Preston, was summoned to their assistance. On his arrival, he recommended that the search should be further prosecuted, and Gillam procured a spade, for the purpose of digging round the spot. As every spadeful of earth was removed, the suspicions of the persons assembled were more strongly confirmed, and at length, at a distance of about eighteen inches only from the surface, a human thigh was found,-- immediately afterwards another thigh was dug up; and then a large bundle, wrapped in a dress made of the same description of cotton as that first seen, was produced. The horror-stricken crowd which by this time had assembled was scarcely surprised, on this bundle being opened, to find that it contained the trunk of a human body; but they were still further alarmed at perceiving that the head and arms were wanting. The body was still clothed in the stays, chemise, and petticoats; and the gown, which had first attracted attention, appeared to have been loosely wrapped over it, and an effort had been made to tie it round with a cord, which presented the appearance of a petticoat-string.
The fact of this dreadful discovery spread like wildfire through the neighbouring village, and soon found its way to Brighton; and crowds of persons thronged to the spot, induced as well by feelings of curiosity, as a desire to ascertain whether they were able to identify the remains as those of any person who might be known to them. Amongst others who were thus impelled to the spot, was a Mrs. Bishop, the wife of a labourer at Brighton, who speedily declared her belief that the body was that of her sister; and the comparison of the gown with a piece of cotton sewn into her patch-work quilt, which had been given to her by her sister, and with which it corresponded in pattern in every particular, convinced her that she was not mistaken in her belief.
An investigation was now immediately set on foot with a view to the discovery of the means by which the body had been placed in the position in which it had been found, which resulted in a conviction that the husband of the deceased, John Holloway, a labourer employed on the Chain Pier at Brighton, had murdered her, and had thus disposed of her remains, in order to conceal the circumstance of her death. From the inquiries which were made, it was elicited that the unhappy deceased was a native of Ardingley in Sussex, and at an early period of her life had quitted her native village for the purpose of procuring service. At the age of twenty-five she filled a situation as household servant in a public-house at Brighton, and there unfortunately she formed an acquaintance with Holloway, then only nineteen years of age, which terminated in an illicit connexion and her pregnancy. While in this condition, the unfortunate young woman was compelled to quit her situation, and, being driven to a state of destitution and want, she applied to the parish-officers for relief. The result of her application was, that Holloway was taken into custody upon a bastardy warrant, and, at the instigation of the parish-officers, was compelled to marry Celia Bashford, the unfortunate object of his seduction. Holloway, it appears, was the son of a driver in the Royal Engineers, and had exhibited considerable waywardness of disposition in his youth. He had successively filled the occupations of a butcher's boy, a baker's boy, and a bricklayer's labourer; and now, upon his marriage, he enlisted in the Blockade Service. A union founded upon such a connexion was not likely to produce much happiness to either of the contracting parties: and the difference of age and habits tended still further to produce an estrangement between Holloway and his wife. During the six years which intervened between the marriage and the death of the unfortunate woman, they scarcely lived together for two consecutive months; and at length Holloway, having quitted the Preventive Service in the year 1829, obtained employment on the Chain Pier, which was then in the course of construction, and took a woman named Ann Kennard to live with him as his wife, Celia Holloway then residing with her friends. Shortly after this, Holloway was again taken into custody by the parish-officers, in consequence of his leaving his wife chargeable upon the poor-rates; and at this time an order was made by the magistrates, that he should make a weekly allowance to her of 2s. Kennard, it appears, was usually employed to convey this pittance to Mrs. Holloway, and frequent quarrels took place between them; but Holloway also occasionally visited his wife, and she once or twice staid with him for a few days, during Kennard's absence. This state of things continued until about five weeks before the discovery of the murder, at which time Mrs. Holloway was living with a Mrs. Symonds, at No.4, Cavendish-place North, Brighton, expecting in about a month to be put to bed of her third child by her husband, those which had before been born being both dead. The unhappy woman had made the usual preparations on such occasions, and Mrs. Symonds and her daughter had assisted her in making and washing such baby-linen as she would require.
Holloway at this time commenced his diabolical scheme for her murder. Calling upon her, he expressed a wish that their former animosities should be forgotten, and that they should again live together as they had done when they were first married. The foolish woman, who had throughout expressed and exhibited the fondest affection for him, listened to his proposals, and it was arranged that he should fetch her on a certain day, to conduct her to lodgings which he had taken for her, the locality of which, however, he did not describe. On Thursday the 14th of July, Holloway called for his wife at Mrs. Symonds'; but he first took away her boxes, in which she had previously packed her own clothes and her baby-linen. Mrs. Holloway expressed some apprehension that he would not go back; but he kept his promise, and returned for her in about an hour, and took her away, attired in a gown similar in pattern to that in which her body was subsequently found wrapped. From this time she was never again seen alive. We have already stated, that it was on the 13th of August that the body of Mrs. Holloway, and the circumstance of the murder, were discovered. We shall now proceed to detail the occurrences which subsequently took place.
No sooner were the mutilated remains of the unfortunate deceased dug from the ground, than an instant search was set on foot by those present, with a view to the discovery of the remaining members of her body. This, however, proved unavailing; but in a ditch close by, and in an adjoining field, some portions of a box were found, bearing the marks of bloody fingers, and also of coagulated blood, which appeared to have oozed upon its inner surface. These portions of the box, like the gown, were soon recognised as having belonged to Mrs. Holloway, and steps were in consequence at once taken to secure her husband and his paramour, Mrs. Kennard. The latter was first found, residing at a house No.23, High-street, Brighton, and was immediately taken into custody; and Holloway, on the same evening, learning that inquiries had been made for him, surrendered himself into custody.
In the mean time, the remains of the deceased woman had been conveyed to the barn of a farm at Preston, there to await a coroner's inquest, and surgical assistance had been called in, in order that a minute examination of the body might be made. Mr. Hargreave and Mr. Richardson, surgeons of Brighton, were selected to perform this duty, and their evidence was taken at the inquest which was held on the following day (Sunday) at the Crown and Anchor, Preston. They stated, that the body was in a state of considerable decomposition, and that they were unable to ascertain, from any appearances which it presented, what had been the cause of death. The legs, arms, and head appeared to have been removed from the body with considerable nicety and skill; and, from the aspect of the points at which the severance had been made, they were inclined to believe that a butcher or a surgeon had performed the operation. They were not cut off as if a saw had been employed to divide the bone, but they had been cut from the sockets of the various bones with great precision. They had subsequently made an internal examination of the body of the deceased, and, from the appearances which they observed, they believed that the deceased had arrived at a period of her pregnancy within a short time of its completion. They were inclined to believe that parturition had actually commenced, brought on no doubt by alarm or over exertion, when the death of the mother terminated the life of the child. The head of the deceased woman, it was added, was taken off at the sixth cervical vertebra.
This evidence, together with proof of the circumstance of the deceased having quitted her lodgings in the manner which we have described, wearing the gown in which her body was found wrapped, and carrying the box, the fragments of which had been discovered, and of Holloway's frequent expressions of ill-will towards her, constituted the whole of the testimony produced before the coroner's jury; and upon that a verdict of "Wilful Murder against John Holloway" was returned, and he was committed to Horsham jail to await his trial at the Assizes.
The woman Mrs. Kennard, however, as we have already stated, had been taken into custody; and it became the duty of the magistrates to proceed further with the investigation of the circumstances of this atrocious case affecting her. She was brought up before the Brighton bench of magistrates on the Monday, for the purpose of being examined; but before any evidence was adduced, she begged to be allowed to make a statement. She then said that she had been married to the prisoner Holloway under the name of Goldsmith, (his mother's maiden name,) on the 16th of March, 1830, at Rye; and she assured the magistrates of her perfect innocence of all participation in the crime charged against her. The evidence which had been taken before the coroner was then again produced; and other witnesses were called, whose testimony more particularly affected the prisoner. These persons deposed, that for about three months before the period at which the murder was supposed to have been committed, Mr. and Mrs. Goldsmith (as the prisoner and Holloway were called) lodged at the house No.7, Margaret-street, Brighton. About the time of the murder, from Thursday the 14th to Sunday the 17th of July, they were observed to be rather irregular, and Holloway, on the Saturday night, was out until a very late hour. On the Friday the prisoner called at the house of Mrs. Leaver, a neighbour, and requested that she would lend her a wheelbarrow, but this request was not granted until the following day, in consequence of the absence of the husband of the woman from home. On the Saturday, however, Holloway went for the barrow himself; and on the same night, after Mrs. Leaver had retired to bed, and at a late hour, she heard it return to the yard at the back of her house. Subsequently to the apprehension of the prisoner, an examination of the apartment which she and Holloway had occupied in High-street was made, and many articles, recognized by Mrs. Symonds as having belonged to the deceased, were found concealed behind the drawers; while the landlady of the house, Mrs. Thomas, stated that she had purchased various articles of baby-linen from the prisoner, which were also identified as those which had been prepared by the murdered woman.
This was the whole of the evidence which was produced upon this examination; but on the next day a discovery was made of a most important character to the case. The high constable of Brighton had displayed the most unremitting anxiety in his exertions to discover the head and arms of the deceased woman. Every inch of the ground in the neighbourhood of Rottingdean had been minutely examined, under the apprehension that they might be concealed there, but without effect; and on Tuesday night, Mr. Folkard, as a last resource, directed that the privies of the houses in Margaret-street should be searched. The men had proceeded in their investigation for several hours; but when almost all hope was destroyed, they declared that they found their progress impeded by a solid substance, which turned out to be a human leg with the stocking on. This discovery was immediately succeeded by the production of the other leg similarly clothed; of the two arms, covered with the remains of the gown found at Rottingdean on the body, and lastly of a bed-tick containing the head of the unfortunate woman, from which almost all the hair had been removed.
This new and important feature in the case was immediately communicated to the magistrates, by whose directions Messrs. Hargreave and Richardson proceeded to examine the newly-discovered remains; and the result of their inquiry was an expression of the certainty of their being portions of the same frame with the body which had been found near Preston.
The police during the week used every possible exertion to procure fresh evidence, and many new and important disclosures were made; but, on the following Saturday, all doubts which might have been entertained of the guilt of Holloway were set at rest, by his confession of his having committed the murder. It had been already discovered that, a few days before the murder, he had taken a house. No.11, North Steyne-row, or, as it was more familiarly called. Donkey-row, in which it was supposed the murder had been committed; and the statement which he now made of his guilt confirmed the suspicions which had been entertained. He informed the magistrates, in whose presence he detailed the circumstances of his crime, that he had long contemplated depriving his wife of life; but for three months had been unable to induce her to accompany him out at night. At last he persuaded her that he had taken lodgings, at which they were again to live together; and having first removed her box and bedding, conducted her to a little house in Donkey-row. Having arrived at the intended scene of slaughter, he shut the door, and knocked her down; she resisted with all her strength, but he threw himself upon her, and succeeded in strangling her. She screamed out, but he stifled her cries; and finding her cease to struggle, he took out his pocket-knife, and cut her throat in two places, so as to make his bloody scheme more secure. He then considered how he should dispose of the body, and determined upon removing it piecemeal. With this view he separated her head from her body, and afterwards divided her, limb from limb, at the joints. The head, arms, and legs he disposed of in the privy, where they were found; and the trunk and thighs he resolved to inter in Lover's-walk, a retired place which he had before marked. For this purpose he emptied her clothes from her box, and in their room deposited the dreadful and, as it turned out, the first evidence of his enormous guilt. This box he conveyed in a barrow to the place already described, where he dug a hole, and, as he thought, effectually disguised every sign of his atrocious cruelty. Fortunately, he omitted completely to cover the whole of the gown in which the trunk was tied up; and thus his guilt was discovered. The box he broke to pieces, and scattered about. In conclusion, he expressed an anxious wish that Kennard should suffer no punishment for her supposed implication in a crime of which, he declared, she was wholly innocent.
A gentleman who was present at the confession, describes the scene in the following terms:--"I may truly say, that of all the awful and distressing scenes I ever witnessed (and it has been my lot to witness many), the confession of this wretched man far exceeded them. That he began his statement with an air of calmness it is true, but it was what no one who looked on him could mistake for that of indifference. Such, indeed, as it was, it continued only through the relation of his first acquaintance with the murdered woman, his subsequent marriage to her, and his quarrels with her friends. When his remarks approached the scene of the murder, his firmness altogether deserted him; long, long was it before he could pronounce the dreadful words which recorded his guilt; and, in the meantime, his cries, yea, almost his shrieks, for the mercy of God upon his soul, were most horrible, most appalling. One of the magistrates was so overcome as to be obliged to leave the room; and if the prisoner had not been supplied with a glass of water, he would, apparently, have fainted. We have read of the agonies of the rack, but who shall describe the agonies of remorse? I witnessed them then, and never, never shall I forget them -- those agonies which, I may literally say, amidst weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, drove the wretched culprit to sign his own death-warrant, by unburdening a conscience which would not let him rest day or night."
On Monday, 22nd of August, Mrs. Kennard was again examined before the magistrates. The discovery of the head, &c. was then proved in evidence, and some witnesses were called with a view of showing the prisoner's implication in the transaction of their concealment. These persons stated that, at about the time of the murder, they saw Holloway going to his house in Margaret-street, carrying a large bundle in a sack, and followed by the prisoner, who appeared to be anxiously watching the load: and that, at about the same time, but on another occasion, they had also seen them together, Holloway carrying a small tick bag, similar to that which had been found in the privy. Other persons proved that Holloway had rented the house in Donkey-row at 2s. 6d. per week, and that Mrs. Kennard had been seen there with him; while a witness, named Mary Marchant, who lived in the house next to that occupied by Holloway in that Row, gave very remarkable testimony. She proved that, on the night in which Holloway first went to the house, she heard some one, after she had been in bed for some time, cough and groan in an extraordinary manner. She remarked the circumstance to her husband, who also heard the noise, and observed, "That poor woman must be very ill." They, however, heard no more. On the next day the shutters of the house were not taken down; but on Saturday she observed Holloway and the prisoner go away from the house with a wheel-barrow, containing a box made of wood, similar to the pieces which had been found near Rottingdean.
The prisoner betrayed much anxiety while this witness was being examined; and, notwithstanding the repeated advice of the magistrate to be silent, she persisted in making a statement which surprised every one who heard it. She declared, in the most solemn manner, that she was not with the prisoner on the Thursday night (the night when the deceased was inveigled from her lodgings) or on the Saturday night (the time when it was supposed Holloway and the prisoner removed the body to Preston from Donkey-row, in a box upon a wheel-barrow), for she was quite positive she never stirred from her lodgings at Mr. Leaver's, in Margaret-street, on those nights. She remembered (she said) that Holloway went out with the barrow which he had borrowed, and he came home to her before ten o'clock, and said he was going a-smuggling. He asked her to let him have her gown, shawl, and bonnet, to disguise himself; and after endeavouring to prevail upon him not to do that which was so dangerous, she let him have the things. She then went to bed, as she had no others to wear. He was out till twelve o'clock that night, and at six o'clock the next morning she found the gown, shawl, and bonnet, in the room below.
Other witnesses were examined, whose testimony was not very material, except as corroboratory of that which had been already received; but a pawnbroker produced a shawl, which had been pledged with him for 1s. 6d. on the 15th of July, by the prisoner, who gave her own name and address, and which was identified as having been worn by the deceased on the day of her quitting Mrs. Symonds's house.
This was all the evidence produced on this day; but on the following Thursday a new discovery was made, which also excited considerable observation. On the day in question a workman named Allen, who was employed in an unfinished house in Trafalgar-street, on proceeding to his work, found that a chemise, deeply stained with blood, had been thrown into the building since he had left work on the preceding night. The shift, on being examined, was found to bear clear and distinct marks of blood having flowed down its centre from the top nearly to the bottom, but there it appeared to have met with some obstruction, and, diverging to the right and left, it had stained a spot on each side nearly six inches wide, and had then again met below, but had then ceased to flow any further. The garment was exhibited to Mrs. Symonds, who had no hesitation in declaring her positive conviction that it had belonged to the deceased; and the impossibility of either of the prisoners having thrown it in the place where it was found, tended to a conclusion that other persons had been engaged with them in the murder.
In consequence of the suspicions raised by this circumstance, two men, named White, (alias Jenkins), and Thomas Carver, were taken into custody. They were proved to have occupied the house in Donkey-row after Holloway had left it, but no other circumstance could be elicited against them. They, however, with Mrs. Kennard, were remanded for farther examination.
At the next inquiry before the magistrates, only one new fact was produced in evidence against the female prisoner, which was highly important, as it traced her to the vicinity of Lover's-walk on the night on which the body was buried, and she was committed for trial; but the other prisoners, White and Carver, were discharged.
In the course of the time which intervened between her committal and the trial, Holloway made a new confession, going more into detail upon the subject of the circumstances of the murder. As some of the facts stated by him affected his fellow-prisoner, it was deemed advisable that she should be present while he made his statement. The following comprises the main details contained in this declaration:--
When, at four o'clock in the afternoon of Thursday, the 14th of July, Holloway took his wife from her lodgings, they went straight to the house, No.11, Donkey-row, which he had hired expressly for the commission of the murder; and to which he had, just before, taken her things. On Holloway opening the street-door, his wife first entered, and was going up stairs (which were immediately opposite to, and very near the door), when he called out to her to stop a moment, on which she sat down upon one of the stairs a little way up. She was in this situation when, without fastening the door, he approached her, as though he was going to kiss her, and, suddenly tying a cord about her neck, threw himself upon her body, and exerted all his force to strangle her. The poor creature, in resisting, fell to the bottom of the stairs, where she continued struggling; Holloway, with an end of the cord in each hand, stretching it, with fiend-like energy, to extinguish life. Feeling unequal to, or wishing to make a quicker work of the murderous task, he demanded aid. It was then that the resistance of the victim was speedily overcome, and her destruction, together with that of the infant in her womb, was effectually accomplished!
The only blood which came from the deceased before her death, was from her nose; it fell upon the stairs, and Holloway scraped part of it away with a knife.
After having committed the murder, the next question was, what was to be done with the body? Holloway's first idea was, to cut it up at once, and then remove it piecemeal. This design was, however, postponed, to allow the blood to congeal! He then dragged the body by the cord, with which he had effected the strangulation, to a closet beneath the stairs, where he hung it on a nail for the night. [The high constable subsequently examined the closet, and discovered the nail and several stains of blood.] And the clothes of the deceased -- which had been sorted before her arrival, the articles fit for the pawnbroker's shop being separated from those which were not -- were carried home, the same evening, to his lodgings.
The next day Holloway went to the house, and, having taken down the body and laid it on the floor, cut off the head (the blood appearing like a jelly), then the legs, and afterwards (for the convenience of packing the trunk in the box) the arms and thighs. He then emptied the chaff out of the ticking, and put the head, arms, and legs, into it, so that it formed a bag. It was then arranged that he should go first with his bag to the privy in Margaret-street, Kennard following, to see if any blood oozed out. The first attempt, he said, failed. They returned to Donkey-row, and put the head and limbs into a small box, and then into the ticking, and he carried them away, Kennard following him.
Holloway said, that when he took away the box containing the trunk and thighs on the Saturday night, Kennard followed the barrow with a pick-axe and shovel, done up as a parcel, under her arm. On reaching the Hare and Hounds, they turned to the left, leading to New England Farm, and went across the field to the copse, on arriving at which it was so dark that he could not see to dig the grave; so that they hid the box, and the pick-axe and shovel, in the bushes, and returned home with the empty barrow. By daylight on the following morning (the Sabbath day!) they were again at the spot. He had great difficulty in penetrating the earth, by reason of the roots of trees, which spread beneath the surface in all directions. Time rapidly advanced, and he had made but little progress.
After an hour's labour, he had not dug a hole half large enough to admit the box. He threw down the implements in despair, uncorded the box, took out the body and the thighs, and deposited them in the ground the best way he could. He broke the box into pieces, concealing them in different places near the spot; and, with Kennard, got back to his lodgings before anybody was stirring.
Holloway, while making his confession, was frequently interrupted by Kennard. "Whenever he introduced her name at critical periods of the dreadful tale, she threw herself into paroxysms of rage, and loaded him with execrations. "The Devil's at your elbow;" "The Devil's in your eyes;" were expressions which she frequently used. Her violence did not incense Holloway, who looked upon her only with an eye of pity. There was a seriousness of manner and of tone in the man, which, united with the fearful import of his language, inspired those present (Kennard alone excepted) with feelings bordering on awe. It was a scene in real life, compared with which, the most finished dramatic exhibition would sink into insipidity.
During the subsequent period of his confinement, previously to his trial, Holloway conducted himself in jail with a degree of hardihood and even ferocity, which was surprising, after the confessions which he had made. He endeavoured to excite some of his fellow-prisoners to murder the governor of the jail, in order that they might effect their escape, and otherwise behaved in a most outrageous manner.
At his trial, which took place at Lewes, on Wednesday, the 14th of December, 1831, he was even more remarkable for the brutality of his demeanour, than he had been during his imprisonment. Upon his being arraigned, his manner was such as to be fully in accordance with the atrocious nature of his crime. The court was excessively crowded, and upon the names of the prisoners being called by the Clerk of the Arraigns, a thrill of horror ran through the assembled crowd, which was audibly expressed, in a murmur which gave much solemnity to the scene. Kennard, upon her name being called, burst into tears and fainted; but Holloway stood boldly forward, and seemed to beard the court with a look of defiance.
Upon the indictment being read, Holloway appeared confounded by the verbose and technical forms of expression. He at length exclaimed, "Read all that again, I don't understand a word of it."
The indictment was again read. At another point he exclaimed, with evident surprise, "What! does that mean me?"
On the prisoner being asked whether he was "Guilty?" he fiercely exclaimed, "I am not guilty of all that that paper charges me with."
By the Court: Do you plead "Guilty," or "Not guilty?"
Holloway (with the utmost ferocity): "By the laws of my country I am not guilty till you can prove me so."
By the Court: Well, you plead "Not guilty." Remove the prisoners from the bar.
The female Kennard was almost lifted from the bar. She seemed unable to stand. Holloway again looked ferociously round the court, and retired with a firm bold step.
Upon the prisoners being again brought up, their demeanour was scarcely altered. Mr. Justice Patterson presided on the bench.
Mr. Long and Mr. Dowling conducted the case for the, prosecution and the trial then proceeded. The whole of the evidence having been gone through, the learned judge expressed an opinion, that the female prisoner was not sufficiently affected to be liable as a principal, and she was directed to be acquitted, and the confession of Holloway was then put in and read, in the following terms. Such portions of it as affected Kennard could not, of course, be received as evidence against her:--
"Anne Kennard knew nothing of this circumstance going to happen until I had got the whole of Celia's clothes in that house. I went home and had her down to the house, and then I acquainted her with what I was going to do; she said I had better not do it for fear of being discovered; I told her I would trust to that if she would assist me; she said 'Yes, she would,' and then, as I had got the clothes, we knew not at first hardly how to dispose of them. I said we would pledge some and burn what would not pledge, and we immediately lotted out what would pledge, and Kennard took them, and I believe pledged them, and I then went and fetched Celia. Celia came with me to the south end of North Steyne-row; I left Celia there, and told her to wait till I came for her, or called her. I went into this house in North Steyne-row. I told Anne she was just by there, and it was agreed that she should conceal herself in the cupboard. She did conceal herself in the cupboard; I then went and called Celia; when she was in the house I shut the door; I told her I wanted to wait a little while, because my partner lived up stairs, and he was in bed, and I must wait until he got up; and with that pretence I kept her in conversation for some time, and at last I asked her to sit down on the stairs, and then, on a pretence of kissing her, I passed a line round her neck and strangled her. As soon as I passed the line round her neck, I found it was rather more than I could manage myself, and I called Anne, and God knows she assisted me, by taking hold of each end of the rope with me, and she held the rope with me until the poor girl dropped, and then I held the cord for a time myself; and Anne made use of this expression -- 'Do not let your heart fail you.' When I thought she was dead, or nearly dead, I dragged her into a cupboard or coal-hole under the stairs, and under the stairs there is some nails. I did not remove the cord, but took an over-handed knot, and I made the ends fast to the nails, so that she was then hanging by the neck; I proposed then cutting her. Anne Kennard told me to wait until the blood was settled; then, I believe, the next thing we did was to burn the things, the bonnets particularly; the people who went into the house after we left must have seen the wire in the grate, which I took notice of being there, either that or the next night, I cannot call to mind which, that we proceeded to cut the body. I emptied the chaff out of the bed, to have the tick to carry part of the body away in, and then I cut off the head first, and I think the arms I carried with the head. Anne Kennard was present; I never went to the house to do anything with the body, but what I took Anne Kennard with me, and the day that I brought the head and the other part away, she was to walk behind me to see if any blood came through; the first attempt we made would not answer, because the blood came through the tick. Anne told me of it, and we went back and put it into a little box, and then into the tick; that night after dark Anne came down with me, and we brought a small tub with us; I went and got a light, and then some water in the tub, and after we had placed the body in the box, Anne washed the kitchen to clear it of the blood, and the next day I borrowed a wheel-barrow, and took it down to the house, and then I borrowed a pick and shovel, and that night Anne and me went down to the house, and we took the box the body was in (I did) on the wheel-barrow. I wheeled the barrow, and Anne Kennard was to follow me with a pick and shovel. She did not know where I was going to. She kept at a small distance from me until we got near the Hare and Hounds. We turned up the hill and then down the footpath, that leads to where the body was found. I made an attempt to dig a hole that night, but I found it too dark; we just put the box under some bushes near the spot, and also the pick-axe and shovel; Anne Kennard was with me all the time. We then took the wheelbarrow home. We went down again in the morning as soon as it was light, and I dug a hole with an intent to bury the box and all; but I found that would take up too much of my time, because of the roots of the trees. I took the body out, and threw it into the hole. I healed the body up, and then broke the box up, and hid away the pick and shovel, and Anne Kennard and me went and fetched them away the next night; I had been round once since the body had been buried, to see if everything was right, and I sent Anne Kennard twice, and she told me she went; I think the people where we lodged must well remember she went away with me when I went away with the wheel-barrow. She did not go the same road as I did; she went one road, and I went another; and I think the people must remember Anne went out early the next morning; we both went out early, but returned early, before the people, Leavers, were up. A man of the name of Watts, in North Steyne-row, must remember Anne Kennard being there several times with me, and one time in particular, when we were going away, and Anne had then got a bundle of some kind to take away from the house; and a woman that was talking to either Master Watts or his wife abused me very much, told me that was not my wife that I was with, and said that she had got a bundle then to pawn (meaning the bundle she had got with her). I forget the person's name that I spoke of, but her husband is a bricklayer. I declare I do not disclose this out of any envy or malice, and I have done the best I could ever since I have been confined to conceal it, but I find it impossible; I simply do it to convince the world at large who are the guilty and who are the innocent. I likewise declare before God and you, gentlemen, that I feel, if it was my own father, it is out of my own power to conceal it.
(Signed) "John William Holloway.
"Saturday, Sept. 3, 1831."
The reading of this confession produced a terrific impression in the court; and the prisoner, notwithstanding his efforts to appear undisturbed, was evidently labouring under extreme mental excitement. Upon his being called upon for his defence, he declared that he had no wish to screen himself from the punishment of death, which he knew awaited him; but he urged that cases had occurred where, although the evidence had been more conclusive than in this, the persons charged had escaped.
The jury immediately returned a verdict of "Guilty," and the learned judge sentenced the prisoner to be executed on the following Friday, and directed his body to be given up to be anatomised. During the passing of the sentence the wretched man endeavoured again to assume a firm demeanour, but his manner was embarrassed; the blood forsook his cheeks; and although at the conclusion of the address of the learned judge he pronounced the word "Amen "pretty firmly, he was evidently sensibly affected.
On his return to his cell, he threw himself on his bed in an agony of pain; and his cries for pardon from the Almighty, and his petitions that he might be saved from everlasting damnation, were distinctly audible through the prison-yard. On the following day he was visited by a gentleman named Nate, who had formerly been his employer, and to whom he re-asserted the truth of the confession which he had made. He also stated that he had seduced several women, whom he had forsaken; and that he had attempted to violate two others. His account of one of these attempts was as follows:-- He had induced her to promise to accompany him in an excursion out to sea. "She was true to her appointment," he said. "The morning was foggy, but I took the boat right out, and I kept pulling as hard as I could long after we had lost sight of the shore. She became alarmed at last; and on my attempting to take advantage of her, I found out my mistake, for she told me boldly that before she would comply with my wishes she would leap overboard. Her determined spirit so confounded me, that I could not look her in the face, and I rowed her back and took leave of her."
On Friday morning he continued his devotions till nine o'clock, when he adverted, for the last time, to his forced marriage, and railed against the overseers of the parish of Ardingly. He had written, he said, an account of the whole affair, which he hoped would be a warning to overseers not to destroy the happiness of young persons as they had done his.
At twelve o'clock he mounted the scaffold with a firm step. There was a strong expression of disgust among the spectators. He fell on his knees and prayed for a short time, after which the rope was placed round his neck, and the cap drawn over his eyes. He then advanced to the front of the scaffold, and in a firm voice spoke as follows: --
"Now, my dear friends, I need not tell you that sin has brought me to this untimely end. As sin has brought me to this untimely end, I would entreat you to be aware that there is not one among you who, if he follows a life of sin and folly, may not be brought to the same condition: for when you trifle with sin, you know not where it will end. I know I suffer justly: I have spilt innocent blood; but, however deep my guilt, I hope in the mercy of that God who has said to the penitent, all your sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven you. Therefore turn from your sins, and the Lord will forgive you. After such a warning as this you now witness, you will have none to blame but yourselves if any of you should be overtaken in sin, and follow courses which lead to certain destruction. Consider seriously what I say, for in a short time the eye that now sees you will see you no more, and in a few years you will be in eternity. May the Lord bless you and keep you from sin, by which I am brought to this dreadful end; and may God Almighty, through the Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit!"
After he had finished his speech, he retired back on the platform, and the drop fell. The struggles of the culprit continued for some minutes.
At one o'clock the body was cut down, and having been placed in an oblong box, was delivered to a young surgeon connected with Brighton Infirmary, to which place it was instantly conveyed; where a public exhibition of the body of the murderer afterwards took place.
Holloway at the time of his execution was only 26 years of age, and was a remarkably small man, scarcely reaching five feet in height. Among his confessions in jail, was one also that he had robbed a. man of his watch in a barn some years before; and that he had been tried for the robbery, but acquitted.
His execution took place on Friday, the 16th of December 1831.
The woman Kennard was at the following assizes tried as an accessory to the murder of Mrs. Holloway, the previous determination of her case having been prevented by her being confined with a child, the offspring of her guilty paramour; but after a long and patient inquiry, a verdict of Not Guilty was returned.