Newgate Calendar - WILLIAM MEYER, ESQ.


Executed at York, April, 6 1781, for Murder

            Whether to condemn most the act of madness, which prompted this man to call for his pistols, or the woman who brought them to him, we leave to the determination of the reader. Men, who by imprudence throw themselves in the jaws of bailiffs, are seldom in a calm or settled state of mind, and little fit to be aggravated or given the means of doing mischief.

            It appeared on the trial of Mr. Meyer, who was of a most respectable family in Yorkshire, that he had been arrested for debt, by an officer of the sheriff named Joseph Spinke, in whose custody he remained till the morning after the caption was made, when the officer, by Mr. Meyer's request, was to go to Kirkhammerton, the seat of his father, for bail or money to pay the debt. About ten at night, after the prisoner and his wife had whispered together, she went out and brought in a pair of pistols under her apron, and gave them to her husband, saying, "There are your pistols, to fulfil your foolish humour." He ordered them to leave the room; which they refusing to do he fired and shot Spinke in the neck, the ball went through the windpipe. Thomas Meyer instantly said, "Now, Mr. Meyer, you have done for yourself." The servant-maid, on hearing the pistol, ran upstairs, and met hr: mistress, who exclaimed, "By the Lord God, here is a man killed." Meyer was secured: Spinke died in a few hours, forgave the prisoner and his wife, but laid his death to their charge.

            They were both tried for this fact at York assizes, March 20, 1781, when William Meyer, Esq. was sentenced to die for the same on the 22d of the same month; but afterwards obtained a respite, which did not avail him long, being hanged on the 6th of April.

            His behaviour to the last was very unsuitable to his awful situation: he severely accused his wife, and thought his sentence hard: nor had he such an affecting sense of his crime as to repent of it as became him, but wasted his few remaining moments in a light and trifling manner.


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