Few actions can degrade the dignity of man more than that of striking a woman; and fewer still are more debasing to human nature than that of a husband striking his wife -- one whom, before the altar, he had promised to love, cherish, and protect. The frequency of such deeds, however, have diminished their vileness and atrocity, in the common estimation of the world; but the brave and the virtuous still regard them with detestation and horror. Those who are dead to the feelings of manhood, and wanting in the Christian duties of life, may, however, be intimidated from such a practice by the following particulars of a man, who, perhaps, thought, like them, that he might with impunity wreak his passion on his defenceless companion, whose soothing exclamations of tenderness were poor protection against the brutal force of her inhuman husband, whose blows were followed by death, and for which he died upon the GALLOWS.
James Fallen bore, without deserving it, the name of soldier. He was a corporal in the guards, from which service he obtained his discharge, in consequence of a liver complaint, and was admitted a pensioner at Chelsea Hospital on the 8th of February, 1811, and took up his abode in a cellar in the Marketplace. The very next day, two of his comrades, also pensioners, with two servant-women, came to see him, and they drank pretty freely, until they had finished all the spirits then in the cellar. Fallan then desired his wife to go out for more; but she, perhaps, thinking that they had already drank enough, or that her pocket could not afford any more, refused, or, at least, did not obey; upon which the friends departed. Fallan then demanded of his wife why she did not do as he had desired her, upon which an altercation ensued, and the wife, by no means inclined to silence, bestowed upon her husband some abusive terms, when he struck her upon the face, which he repeated, knocking her down several times, though she cried out 'Dear Jemmy, don't murder me!' He, however, continued beating her with such violence, that a woman named Sarah Llewellyn, who lodged in the same cellar with him, attempted to interfere, when he threatened to serve her in the same manner, and then returned, with renewed violence, to beat his unfortunate wife, who by this time had sat or fallen down on the bed. Llewellyn now attempted to get out, but he prevented her. As his fury had not been yet exhausted, he returned to renew his blows on his wife; and the woman availed herself of the opportunity to run out for assistance. She found three women listening at the cellar door, who went with her up stairs to request a man to come down; but he refused, and on their return they distinctly heard the continuance of the blows, the poor woman all the time crying out, 'Oh! dear Jemmy, don't kill me!' till her groans grew fainter and fainter.
Llewellyn, afraid to venture down, remained on the stairs all night, and next morning she found Fallan and his wife in bed together, upon which she expressed her satisfaction. The unfortunate woman appeared shockingly bruised, and complained very much of a pain in her side.
'Cut my head, and then give me a plaster,' is very applicable to the conduct of such husbands as Fallan. He now sent for a surgeon, and had some blood taken from his wife, who did not appear to get better on that account. On Tuesday morning Fallan went out for the avowed purpose of procuring another lodging, but did not return until the Saturday following, when he saw his wife, and then went away again. The unfortunate woman languished till next day, Sunday, when she died, in consequence of which her brutal husband was taken into custody.
His trial came on at the Old Bailey, April the 5th, when, in addition to these facts, it was proved by a surgeon, who opened the body of the deceased, that she came by her death in consequence of the four false ribs, on the left aide, being broken, two of which were forced into the pleura, and had wounded several of the vessels, and occasioned a great effusion of blood, which was the immediate cause of her death.
Fallan, in his defence, produced a long written statement, imputing the quarrel to the ill temper of the deceased, and alleged that he had only struck her with his open hand and the whalebone of a woman's stays; and that, if her ribs were broken, it must have been in consequence of her falling over a deal box in the cellar. He concluded by saying, so far from having any malice towards his wife, he loved her tenderly.
Lord Ellenborough summed up the evidence, and the jury, after a short consultation, found him Guilty, when the recorder proceeded to pass on him the awful sentence of execution and dissection on the Monday following.
Accordingly, on Monday, April 8th, 1811, he was executed in front of Newgate. He was only twenty-nine years of age, and had seen much service. He was attended by a Roman-Catholic priest; but appeared quite indifferent to his fate, and kicked off his shoes when he got upon the platform. After hanging the usual time, his body was taken to Bartholomew Hospital for dissection.