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The Newgate Calendar - WILLIAM JOHN MARCHANT


A young Footman, who was hanged for murdering a Housemaid in a Magistrate's Drawing-Room

   THE criminal in this case held the situation of footman to Mr Henry Edgell, a magistrate, resident at No. 21 Cadogan Place, Chelsea, and the victim of his crime was a young woman, named Elizabeth Paynton, who lived as under-housemaid in the same family.

   On Friday, the 17th of May, 1839, Mr Edgell and his family quitted the house in Cadogan Place in their carriage, for the purpose of proceeding to Foot's Cray, in Kent, leaving Marchant, the deceased, the cook and the upper housemaid, at home. The two latter individuals also went out, and thus Marchant and the girl Paynton were left alone in the house. On their return they were unable to obtain admittance; and the coachman and upper-footman having come back from Foot's Cray, they went to the stables and procured their aid. Middleton, the coachman, scaled the garden wall, and with some difficulty burst open the back-kitchen door. He let in the other servants, and they all proceeded to examine the house. When they reached the drawing-room they saw the deceased lying on the floor, and it was at first supposed that she and Marchant were lying there together. This idea, however, was immediately dispelled by the discovery of a pool of blood near the head of the unfortunate young woman, whose throat was observed to be dreadfully cut. A razor lay by her side, which was evidently the weapon with which she had been killed. When it was ascertained that Marchant had absconded, suspicion at once attached to him.

   On the Sunday after the murder, Marchant surrendered himself into the custody of a police officer at Hounslow, to whom he at once confessed the murder, without, however, assigning any reason for its commission. He appeared to be terrified at what he had done; and as he walked into town he frequently looked behind him, declaring that he fancied he heard the murdered woman at his back.

   On Friday, the 21st of June, the prisoner pleaded guilty to the indictment for the murder which had been found against him at the Central Criminal Court, and sentence of death was immediately passed upon him. On Monday, the 8th of July, the wretched culprit, who was only eighteen years old, was executed. He met his death with much firmness, and was apparently sincerely penitent.

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