The latter escaped for a time her punishment, under the plea of pregnancy. This is a plea, granted by a very old statute, to females convicted of felony, in arrest of judgment; in order that the living fruit of the womb should not perish for the mother's sins. In such cases a jury of women, called by the law, Matrons, that is, females who have themselves borne children, are sworn, who, upon their several and respective oaths, swear, after personal examination, whether the condemned female is "quick with child."
In the instance of Mary Mallet, the jury of matrons were impanelled, and brought in their verdict in confirmation of her plea, in consequence whereof her sentence was respited until the next assizes. This woman, along with Charles Talmage, were convicted at the Lent assizes held in the city of Winchester, 1794, for burglariously entering the house of Elizabeth Imber, of that city, and stealing thereout a large amount in cash, a considerable quantity of plate, and other valuable effects.
On the 22d of March, in pursuance of his sentence, Charles Talmage was conveyed in a cart to the usual place of execution. He manifested, throughout the whole of this trying scene, a great degree of firmness; acknowledged that he had committed many offences; but solemnly protested his innocence of the crime for which he suffered. A label, containing the following words, was affixed to his breast;—"Be thou my Judge, O Lord, for I am innocently betrayed." Talmage was a well-looking young man, aged twenty-seven, a native of Winchester, where he left a father, mother, and other relations.