Ex-Classics Home Page

The Newgate Calendar - ANTONIO CARDOZA,

Executed for the Murder of Thomas Davis

            THIS malefactor was a sailor, and a native of Portugal. He was indicted at the Old Bailey, January 11, 1811, along with Sarah Brown, alias Gott:, a Jewess, and Mary Rogers, both women of the town, for the wilful murder of Thomas Davis, a British seaman, in Nightingale Lane, on the night of the 12th of December, 1810.

            The facts of the case were these:-- The deceased, somewhat tipsy, was on his way home, in company with his brother, James Davis, when, passing these girls in the street, be put his arm round the waist of Brown, which she resented by striking him several times on the head with her patten, which she held in her hand. James Davis desired her not to be angry, as his brother was tipsy, and that he would give her something to drink; upon which the other woman struck him in the face with her umbrella. A squabble ensued; Davis flung the umbrella into a green-grocer's shop, and in the struggle both fell to the ground, upon which the girl got up first, and, holding him down, called out Antonio! Antonio! why don't you fetch Antonio?' addressing the other girl, Rogers, who immediately ran to a public house, and called Antonio, when Cordoza, and three other Portuguese sailors, rushed out and attacked the two brothers.

            James Davis succeeded in repelling the ruffians, and was on the point of getting away, when, looking round, he saw the deceased knocked down by Cardoza, and, while he was down, the vindictive Portuguese took from his sleeve a knife, and stabbed his victim in the back, the infamous woman, Brown, all the time crying out to Antonio, 'Kill the b--r! don't leave a bit of life in him! it's the way all English b--rs should be served.'

            The wounded man exclaimed, 'Brother, I'm killed!' and on being removed to the shop of Mr. King, a surgeon in the neighbourhood, he died in two minutes. These facts were substantiated by several witnesses who saw the transaction; and Cardoza was immediately found guilty of murder; but Mary Brown only of manslaughter, as there had been a quarrel between her and the deceased; whereas Cardoza, without any personal provocation, inflicted the deadly wound. Rogers vas acquitted, as there was no evidence affecting her, except that of standing by.

            Sentence was immediately passed on this desperate foreigner, and he was ordered for execution on the Monday morning following, January 14, 1811, which was accordingly carried into effect opposite Newgate.

            From the time of his trial to the last moment of his existence he persisted in his assertion of innocence, and was heard to say that, during his trial, the man who actually committed the murder was in court. If he was innocent, which we by no means take upon ourselves to advocate, his fate inculcates as important lesson on the evil of keeping bad company; and, if not actually guilty of the murder, his conduct was little less criminal for joining with those that did it, in defence of prostitutes, for whom be must have been a bully, as they called individually on him by name when insulted by the deceased.

            Previous to his being brought from the Press-yard he cried bitterly; but on mounting the scaffold he acted with becoming fortitude. He was attended by a Portuguese clergyman, with whom he joined in fervent prayer, and a few minutes after eight o'clock he was launched into eternity. The concourse of spectators was immense, and among the crowd were several of his countrymen, who seemed much affected at the melancholy scene. After being suspended for the usual time, his body was cut down, and conveyed to Bartholomew's Hospital for dissection, where it was exposed to public view during the day.

            Some doubts were entertained by the public as to the power vested in the judges of ordering the execution of this man during the indisposition of his majesty, George III. and the consequent deficiency in the executive power, as the regent was not then appointed, from a feeling that it would be unjust to deprive a human being of life, however enormous his crime, while the fountain of mercy was closed. Mr. Sheridan mentioned this case in the House of Commons the Thursday after the execution, and was answered by the secretary of state for the home department that, amen to the statute respecting conviction for murder, it is asserted that the judge before whom a murderer is convicted, shall, in passing sentence, direct him to be executed the next day hut one after his being found guilty, (unless the same shall be Sunday, and then on the Monday following,) and that his body be delivered to the surgeons to be dissected and anatomized. The judge may likewise direct his body to be afterwards hung in chains, but in no wise to be buried without dissection. In the case of this malefactor, the secretary stated that the judges who tried him had no doubt of his guilt; and that, as no application came from the unfortunate man himself, it was deemed advisable to let the law take its course, otherwise he would have been respited.

            Our readers will please to recollect that we have already stated the law upon this head, by which they will see that in all cases of capital conviction, within the city of London, it is necessary that a regular report of the prisoners should be made to his majesty, or, in the event of his indisposition, as in the present case, to his representative, of the respective cases, and his sanction must be obtained before execution can take place. This rule, however, only applies to the city of London, as the judges going circuit act under a special commission, which empowers them to pass sentence of death, and to direct its execution in all cases, as well as to respite it, and relax the other restraints upon sufficient cause, without the direct authority of the king.


Previous Next