JAMES MITCHELL was a native of Salisbury, where he first lived with a farmer in the capacity of ploughboy. He afterwards removed to Loudon, and became a gentleman's servant. While in this situation he got acquainted with Miss Mary Ann Welchman, to whom, for two years, he was in the habit of paying his addresses.
Miss Welshman was a ladies' dress-maker, and lived as forewoman with Miss Macey, who carried on that business in Mount Street. She was an elegant young women, about four-and-twenty years of age, and of a most amiable disposition. To her, in an evil hour, Mitchell paid his addresses, under the name of Smith, and represented himself as purser on board some ship. The credulous girl believed him worthy and honourable, and permitted him to visit her, at the house of her employer, where he was, for some time, treated with politeness and friendship. At length his own conduct betrayed his deceptions; he obtruded himself at improper hours, and more than once offended the young ladies in the workroom by the coarseness and indelicacy of his conversation. This coming to the knowledge of Miss Welchman's brother, he prevailed, with some difficulty, on his sister, to forego the acquaintance of Smith, alias Mitchell.
In accordance with her brother's advice, Miss Welchman had several interviews on the subject with Mitchell; but still he. continued coming to the house, notwithstanding her prohibition, and persevered in his visits, although she had repeatedly denied herself. On Friday, August the 5th, 1814, he called at Mount Street, and was ushered into the workroom, where Miss Welchman was sitting.
He continued in the room the whole of the evening, and was very abusive in his language. Miss Welchman desired him several times to leave the house; but he refused, unless a letter was returned to him, which Miss Welchman declared she had destroyed. He then wanted her to provide supper, which she refused; he next wished her to go out with him, which she also refused, and declined lending him some money which he requested of her.
About eleven o'clock Miss Macey and her work-people went down to supper. Miss Welchman followed, leaving Mitchell above, without any one with him; but, as if recollecting something, she returned, saying she wasted to be alone with him for about five minutes.
She had scarcely entered the room when a loud scream was beard, and presently the report of a pistol, which was instantly followed by another. The house sad neighbourhood became greatly alarmed. The assassin was seen descending from the first-floor window, and running, without a hat, down the middle of the street. The people of the house, on entering the room, saw the once lovely Miss Welchman a lifeless corpse, a pair of pistols lying on the floor, which on inspection bore evident marks of being the instruments with which the murder had been perpetrated. There was also found in the room the hat of Mitchell; and it appeared that, during the tune of Miss Welshman's absence, he had opened the window-shutters, as they had been previously closed, and could not have been opened in the interval between the firing of the pistols and the escape of the assassin.
On examination, it was found that Miss Welchman had been shot in the head; one bullet had entered her temple, and the other had been resisted by the substance of the forehead. She lived a few minutes, but was unable to speak. It was evident Mitchell was the assassin; for no other man had been in the house, and several persons proved that no one whatever went out through the hall from the time the report of the pistol had been heard till after the examination of the premises.
The apprehension of Mitchell was now desired by all. The officers of justice were dispatched in pursuit of him, but without effect; for, as he had been for a length of time out of place, a clue to his last residence was not easily found. At length word was brought to town that he was in custody at his native place, Salisbury, to which he had bent his steps, and where he had been recognised by his old master, the farmer, who, having heard of the murder, immediately had him secured.
On the 13th of August he was brought up to Bow Street, in the custody of Taunton, where he underwent an examination, after which he was fully committed to Newgate. Mitchell appeared very little affected at his situation, and preserved a sullen silence.
Friday, September the 16th, Mitchell was arraigned at the Old Bailey, for the murder of Miss Welchman. The evidence was circumstantial, but conclusive; and, when called on for his defence, he denied the crime with which he was charged, and said that it was not proved the pistols and hat were his. He called no witnesses, and the jury, having been charged, retired for a few minutes, and returned with a verdict of Guilty.
The Recorder, after silence hid been proclaimed, then pronounced the dreadful sentence of the law, which was heard by the prisoner without the least apparent emotion. 'Odious,' said the Recorder, 'as the crime of murder always was, in this instance it was attended by every possible circumstance of aggravation. He had, in the gratification of his blood-thirsty vengeance, taken away the life of an unoffending female, with whom he had proposed to connect himself in marriage. Where Nature had called aloud for kindness, he had exhibited cruelty; where he should have appeared in the character of a protector, he stood her murderer. In relation to an offence of such enormity, human laws concurred with the divine precept, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." The sentence of the law was, that he shall be taken back to prison, and on Monday morning taken to some place of execution, there to be hanged until dead, and his body delivered to the surgeons for dissection.'
As this malefactor suffered along with Hollings, we shall give his case next; after which we shall give the particulars of the execution of these two atrocious monsters.