The Penge Case.
London, Sept. 23. This week has witnessed.t he conclusion of another legal drama at the Old Bailey, which has exceeded ia interest even that famous one of the autumn of 1875, in wnich' Henry Wainwright was convicted of the murder of his mistress, Harriet Lane. The facts of the case which has Just been tried are briefly as follows. In June, -l$?-§r. Atiss Harriet Richardson, aged 34 — a l&tiifof weofc intellect w$ no >■- ■ r ■ ■•. .■■ ■ '■■" '•■■ ..'. ■ -. ; i. ■■ . -■ *■■'.■ •--■... . ■■■•-.
great personal beauty, but possessed oi about £2000, and entitled in reversion. to about £2000 more on the death of an old lady— was married to Louis Staunton, aged 34, nn auctioneer, living at Longborough Road, in the south of London. In March,- 1876, .Mrs Louis Slaunton presented ber buaband with a son, and about tbo same time a girl named Alice Rhodes presented him with a mistress. In August, 1876, Harriett Stauuton (nee Bichardson) was sent to reside at Frith Cottage, in a lonely spot about a mile from the village of Cudham, Kent. She was there the guest Tor rather lodger, for her husband paid £la week on her behalf) of Patrick Staunton, the brother of Louis Staunton, and Mrs Patrick Staunton, the sister of Alice Bhodes. By the end of October, 1876, Louis Staunton, with the ostensible concurrence of his wife, bad sold ber reversionary £2000 for £1.100, and. had so possessed himself of the last farthing of her property. With the money he so obtained, he opened a ; house at Gray's Earms, a mile or two from Frith Cottage, where his wife was living. He was fond of his brother Patrick, and Alice Ehodes was fond of her sister Mrs Patrick"; it was pleasant, therefore, that boLh he and she should reside near Frith Cottage. They did reside together at Gray's Farm, and passed themselves off as man and wife. It might have been supposed that Harriett Staunton, the real wife, would soon have published abroad the true relationship of her husband and Alice Ehodes, for waa she not living within a mile of them? Not bo, however. Harriett Staunton had ceased to live in any active, sense, and was now confined almost exclusively to one room. From the time her husband received her last shilling she had no communication with the outer world. Broken spirited by insufficiency of food, oi warmth and of air, and of her husband'e cruel neglect, she was at last confined to a wretched bedroom not 13 feet square, where there was but one fire for one day only through the whole winter, where there was hardly any furniture, and where there was no provision of any kind for washing. This miserable retreat was at night shared by the poor lady's one baby, and by the servant girl and one of Mrs Patrick's small children. On the Bth of April, 1877, Little Tommy, the dying lady's baby, was taken from her to Guy's Hospital, where he was entered under a false name, and entered just in time, for he died the next morning. On the mQrning of April the 12th, Mr Louis Staunton took lodgings^at Penge for an invalid lady (one of whose symptoms was a repugnance to food !), whom he intended to bring up from the country for the benefit of fresh medical advice. On the evening of the same day, Harriet Staunton, accompanied by her husband, Mr and Mrs Patrick Staunton, and Alice Ehodes, arrived at the lodgings. She waa put to bed, and a nurse was sent fop and one doctor. The doctor waa out at a dance, and, though he was sent for repeatedly, no effort was made to find any other to take his place. The next morning Harriet Staunton died. The filthy state of her hody, her emaciated condition, and other circumstances, having aroused euspicipD, an inquest was held: Four doctors examined the body, an 4 pronounced that death had besn caused by starvation. The post mortem was attended by a surgeon on behalf of the sorrowing widower and. his relations, and at the trial that surgeon, w^s not called as ft witness fa? the defence. The two brothers Staunton, and the two sisters, Mrs Patrick Staunton and Alice Ehodes, were put upon their trial for murder at the Central Criminal Court yesterday week. From half-na.st ten yesterday morning till nearly ten at night, with only two short intervals for refreshment, Mr Justice Hawkins was summing up the evidence. Bather before midnight the jury returned to give their verdict. Judge and prisoners were sent for, the chatter which to that moment had prevailed in Court was now quickly hushed, and a dead Bilence, broken only by the hoarse cries of the great mob ou^sid.e, wa.s kept while the Clerg o,f Arrajgna read over the namGa of the prisoners, one by on£, and lo each name the verdict of "Guilty" was returned, Then the Judge put on the black, cap, and pronou^ed sentence of death. With unnecessary barbarity Mr Justice Hawkins thought fit to dilate, in the severest terms that language could supply, upon the enormity of the offence for which the prisoners were to die : and he even went further, and expressed his own conviction that they bad been gijilty/ also offche murder of Jifrs Harriet Isitaunton's baby, for which they had not been tried. When he referred to the recommeudation to mercy, which had been given on behalf of the two':" female prisoners, AJiee Rhodes fainted, and Mrs Patrick Staunton was supported in a like condition to the back of the dock. Then came the sentence itself, couched in the old pedantic form of stilted language, cold, lengthy, and, terrible. Whilst it was hjjag delivered Patrick S t ta.u 4 ntei(i "'"■twitched., convulsively t»nd aeeme'd/ Hkely to fal), while Louis stared fixedly in front of him, appearing completely dazed by the terror of bis position! . The gla.d tidings of hanging and misery soon reached the streets, and as the wretched prisoners were led down from the dock loud cheers which their fate evoked from outside struck upon their ears. It is observable that the proceedings during this memorable trial were decorated by the presence of a large number of fashionably dressed ladies, for whom, seats, were, reserved on the Bench and elsewhere. "With that delicacy of feeling which so well becomes the wives of City magnates, whose purses are much |ocger their pedigrees^ thoß©
r . gorgeous females amused themselves in i Court by scrutinising the prisoners through their opera glasses, reading the , last number of ' Punch,' acd offering other signs of their tender compassion for the miserable victims of sin, who formed the centre of the day's sport. When Mrs Patrick Staunton, on the i morning of the fifth day, went into hysterics, and Alice Rhodes made the old Court echo with her convulsive sobs, the ; City ladies shuddered becomingly; and when luncheon time arrived they sharpened the edges of their fine appetites and , fortified their nerves with bumpers of champagne, which they consumed in open Court. What a chronicle 1 What a tale of first fruits for the culture, enlightenment, and opulence of the City of London ! .'•„,'
Permanent link to this item
The Penge Case., Bruce Herald, Volume X, Issue 962, 30 November 1877
The Penge Case. Bruce Herald, Volume X, Issue 962, 30 November 1877
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.