THE Hertford Letter: CONTAINING Several Brief Observations On a late Printed Tryal, Concerning the MURDER OF Mrs. Sarah Stout.

LONDON, Printed, and Sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1699.

THE Hertford Letter.


I Am favoured with Yours of the 20th ult. whereby I perceive your pleasure is, That I should give you my Sentiments concerning Mrs. Sarah Stout's Death, the Trial, &c. In answer, I am very sensible of my own weakness, and how unfit I am to en­ter into a Controversie, wherein so many Doctors have been worried already: Nevertheless, in obedience to your reiterated Commands, though in doing it I may expose my own Ignorance, I shall give you my thoughts concerning the Natural Cause of Drowning, Floating of Dead Bodies afterwards, the various Sen­timents of the Doctors, the manner of her Death, the Letters produced in Court, her Melancholiness, why no mention was made of the Money, and lastly, con­cerning two publick Experiments, whereof one was made here, and the other in the River of Thames.

It is a common Observation of most People, not used to dive, that upon their Plunging themselves in the Water, whether it be voluntarily or involuntarily they find a great Confusion of their Spirits; so that it is morally impossible for them to regulate their Actions in this Surprize, by the Dictates of Reason; in this [Page 4] Consternation they lay hold on any thing that comes in their way, not considering whether it may contri­bute to their Sinking or Swiming.

In this hurry of the Spirits, occasioned partly from the noise their fall makes in the Water, and partly from its running into their Ears, Nostrills, &c. The whole Animal Oeconomy is brought into Disorder; in this Confusion it is no ways Suprising, that Water, wherein they are immersed, should insinuate it self into some Vacuities, no ways adapted for its reception; and it being obvious to all, That no Man doth or can live without Respiration, whatever Element soever he is in; if in the Air, he sucks that in which naturally flows into the Lungs; if in Water, what comes into the Mouth, as long as his Senses continue, he swallows that down the Gullet; as long as he doth not Breath, there is little danger of Drowning; but on the first Inspiration, if he is at the surface of the Water, 'tis much if he doth not swallow down the Wind-pipe, with the Air, some small quantity of Water; but if he is totally immersed in it, 'tis not improbable, that upon Inspiration, a far greater quantity of Water than Air will enter into the Cavity of the Lungs.

In every Expulsion of Air out of the Lungs, the Epi­glottis is lifted up, if the Mouth at the same time should be full of Water, 'tis impossible but some of it will pass down the Wind-pipe, as is observable in those that ac­cidentally Laugh while they are a drinking, if a drop falls into the Aspera arteria, it will cause a Coughing, which is a Convulsive Motion of the Lungs, &c. where­by Nature doth commonly throw up any thing that doth casually fall upon them; by this strugling of Nature, to expel the Water already slip'd down, the Epiglottis is lifted up, and instead of ejecting the Wa­ter [Page 5] just swallowed, the Mouth being full of it, a great deal more forceth it self down, by its natural gravity, which gravitates the more, by reason of the Cylinder or Cone of the Air, that continually presseth on its Superficies; as soon the Senses are gone, the Epiglottis is kept open by the force of the Stream that runs into the Wind-pipe, till the Bronchia, and all their Rami­fications, are filled; as long as the Senses continue, they swallow most of the Water that comes into their Mouths, into their Stomachs; but when they are near suffocated, the Water runs into those Ducts, where it meets with the least resistance.

So long as Life continues, there is a Convulsive Strugling of Nature, to expel out of the Lungs all those things that are noxious to them, especially Water, being never used to be Receptacles for any thing but Air, they use their utmost Efforts to eject it by a violent Contracting their Lobes nearer together; by these Ex­orbitant Contractions, the Water contained in the Ra­mifications of the Bronchia, &c. are sometimes forced in to the Cavity of the Thorax, either by dilating the Pores of the thin Membrane that invests the Lungs, as Quick-Silver is forced by the pressure of a Hand thro' a piece of Leather, or by the rupture of their Tunicle, or by some minute Vessels, not yet described by Anato­mists. If any Practitioner in Physick, &c. shall assert, that Anatomy is brought to a Ne plus ultra, and that all Ducts, through which the Juices of Animals are strained, are detected. I would desire them to tell me through what Vessels the Pus in an Empyema, where the matter lies on the Midriff, when there is no Ulcer of the Lungs, is expectorated, or through what pas­sages, when 'tis carried off by Urine, 'tis conveyed into the Kidneys, or how bitter Injections cast into the [Page 6] Thorax, can affect the Mouth with its taste, as the Observations of Physicians do demonstrate; or let them read a Treatise of Robert Boyle, Esq called, New Experi­ments Physico-Mechanical, touching the Spring of the Air; where, amongst many curious Observations about the Lungs, he asserts, That the diligent Wallaeus relates, that he divers times observed in the Dissection of Live Bodies, that the Membrane that invests the Lungs had Pores in it as big as the longer sort of Peas. p. 343.

Water is as frequently found in the Cavity of the Abdomen as of the Thorax; but by what Ducts or Passages, when there is no visible Rupture of the Coates of the Stomach nor Guts, they are carried there, I leave it to the Microscoptical Anatomist to determine: I conceive it enough for me at present to tell you, that it is Fact. I am conscious you are not ignorant, that there are many things that happen in the Animal Oeconomy, that cannot be proved a Priori; yet when they are a Posteriori, they are admitted by the Schools, as undeniable Arguments; if any are so Sceptical as to deny what is not capable to be proved a Priori, they would be put to it to prove the Circu­lation of the Blood, Motion of the Animal Spirits, or where or how the Chile is Transcolated through the Coats of the Guts.

As soon as the Lungs, Stomach, &c. are full of Water, the Body naturally sinks, and rises no more till there is a Putrefaction in the inward parts, which in cold Countries is longer than in hotter Regions; but the sooner Putrifaction is begun, the sooner the Corps float, whereof no certain Calculation can be made, the time of their rising differing, with respect to the Region, and in the same Climates with respect [Page 7] to the Seasons of the Year; in these parts, according to the common reckoning, they float in Nine or Ten Days.

The common Cause assigned for Floating of Bodies drown'd, is, the breaking of the Gall, which you know is a vulgar Error; so that I need say nothing in op­position to it; The cause assigned by the Moderns, is Putrifaction, but how this Putrifaction renders the Body more boyant than 'twas before, is not obvious to every Eye, therefore I shall give you my thoughts concerning its Modus agendi, Putrifaction is a species of Fermentation; by Fermentation the Air contained in the Cavity of the Breast, Body, Stomach, &c. tho' seemingly full of Water, yet they contain, great quan­tities of Air, which is rarified with the other Juices, proportionable to the Degrees of Putrifaction; and this insensible dilatation of the Body increases gradu­ally, till the Corruption hath made a passage through the Skin; so that a Person that is not above 20 Inches in Circuit when first drowned, after he hath lain some Weeks in the Water, will be at least 30 or 40 Inches in Circumference; this gradual dilatation of the Body, I conceive is the sole cause of its rising to the Surface of the Water, after some certain time, and also of its more or less boyantness afterwards.

Having given you my thoughts concerning the cause of drowning, of the Floating of their Corps afterwards; I shall now acquaint you with my Notions why Bo­dies thrown Dead into the Water do not sink, and why some are more boyant than others.

It is observable, that Humane Bodies after Death admit no Water, especially Suffocated, as the Ex­periment made some Weeks since, doth evidently Demonstrate; because, as soon as Death seizes a [Page 8] Man, the Sphincter Muscles in all parts do natu­rally contract themselves, for which reason, it is not so easie to inject any Liquids into the parts that have them, as before; by this Seclusion of Water, the Vacuities (which in drowned Creatures are full of Water) are in those that come by their Death some other way, full of Air, which by natural Experi­ments, is proved to be as Thousand Times lighter than Water; and by the same sort of Experiments, solid Flesh is observed to be but a little heavier than Water; if you grant this, which is easily de­monstrated, it will be no hard matter for any con­siderate Man to believe that Flesh (which hath many large Cavities in it, filled with Air) may Float: If you doubt the immediate Floating of Hu­mane Bodies, thrown Dead into the Water, you may, for your Satisfaction, consult the Opinion of Sea-men, who have been the last War in several Ingagements with the French, or those that have been a Guiny Voyage; where, when they throw the Dead Negroes over-Board, they never lay any weight to their Feet to sink them, as they do to white Men; it is certain that all those Negroes do immediatly Float, I have spoken with several, lately come from thence, that if occasion were, would attest it with an Oath.

Bodies are more or less boyant, either in respect to themselves. or in respect to the Medium wherein they Float.

If the Person Died in the very act of Inspiration, the Lungs will be full of Air, by which the Breast will be sensibly dilated; that the filling of the Tho­rax with Air, may be a cause of Floating, is evident from those that can lye on their Backs without stir­ring [Page 9] hand or foot, it being observable that those do fill themselves as full of Air as they can, and that as long as they can hold their Breath they Float, but on the very instant of Breathing they Sink: If they have a large Chest, or are very Lean, they will Float the loftier.

If they are cast into Salt Water, they will be more boyant than in fresh, it being experimented that Ships will Sink some Inches lower under Water in the Thames, than when they were at Sea; if into deep Water, all Men observing they can Swim more easily in deep than in shallow Water.

On the contrary, if the Person died in Expiration had a small Chest, was Fat and Fleshy, or was thrown into fresh or shallow Waters, he will Swim the more under Water.

I do not perceive so great a discordancy between the Doctors that were Evidences for the King, and their Opposites, as some seem to insinuate. The Wit­nesses for the King deposed, That it was their Opini­on, that no Person ever was, or posibly could be drowned, that had no Water in their Lungs, Sto­mach, &c. and that as far as they had made any observations on drowned Persons, they always found great quantities of Water in the inward parts of drowned Persons; part thereof, usually in lifting them out of the Water, runs out of their Nose or Mouth, that upon their dissection, they had found considerable quantities of it in the Cavities of their Bodies; and that it was their Judgment, that the inward parts of drowned Persons would putrifie in less than six Weeks time: Whether these are not undeniable Truths, I leave it to the determina­tion of your self, and all unbiassed People that have [Page 10] made any real (not notional) Observations on drown­ed Bodies.

Their Learned Antagonists, whose sole endeavour and business, as far as I could perceive, was to render it a mute Case, by their strenuously urging, That 2 or 3 Ounces of Water was sufficient to Drown a Person, not from any Observations on Humane Bodies, but from a private Experiment on a Dog or two that was half hanged, as I am told, and I am apt to think there was some Artifice used, seeing the Experiment did not succeed, when made publickly in the River of Thames, by the same Person.

Dr. Sloane saith, that Cases of this kind are very un­common (viz. for Mrs. Stout to be drowned without any Water in her) and none of them have fallen directly under my Knowledge; nor as I verily believe, under any other Persons, since the Creation of Man: Then he tells you that Water swallowed by the Gullet, into the Sto­mach, will not drown the Person (Who said the contrary?) But it is that which goes into the Wind-pipe and Lungs that Suffocates; and confirms it with an Observation, saying, I have observ'd Some Spoonfuls (if it went the wrong way) to have choaked or suffocated the Person. Note, he doth not say drowned, neither do I think any Person can pro­perly be said to be drowned, that hath not swallow­ed above 2 or 3 Ounces of Water, but rather such are (as the Doctor saith) choaked or suffocated; in the same Paragraph he tells you, that Whether a Person comes Dead or a-live into the Water, he believes some quantity will go into the Wind-pipe: Then Water in the Wind-pipe is no certain Sign of a drowned Person, I am of another Opinion, which our Experiment doth seem undeniably to prove.

[Page 11]Being asked by the Judge, Whether the parts would not putrifie in less than six Weeks, if there had been Water? His Answer was, My Lord, I am apt to think it would have putrified the Stomach less than the Lungs: How direct and satisfactory this answer was to the Question, you may determine. I observe a general Question, for what intention I cannot Divine; which was, Whether any Water would go into the Thorax? If it did, or did not, I cannot conceive what benefit or prejudice it would be to this Case, though I am apt to think the Membrane that invests the Lungs, may easily be torn by violent Coughing, which is observed in all Persons when any thing falls into the Wind-pipe.

Near the foot of his Discourse, he saith, I am apt to think if there was any quantity (of Water) in the Lungs, the Sponginess of the part would suck up some part of it; Who said the contrary? But Doctor, If they had suck'd up any part, would not her Lungs have been moister, than if they had suck'd up none; but Mrs. Stout's were rather dryer than usually they are in dead Persons; therefore — As to the Stomach I have not know it tryed, Have you known it tryed as to the Lungs? If not, we are as much in the dark as before, unless we take your I am apt to think for Demonstration.

This Doctor closes his Sentiments with If there was a great Fermentation, a great deal of it (Water) would rise up in Vapours or Steams, and go off that way: Here he terminates all with an If: Suppose I should grant him there was a great Fermentation, to be as true, as I am confident 'tis false; his inference I doubt would not follow, viz. that a great deal of it would rise up in Vapours or Steams, and go off that way; if it should [Page 12] rise into Vapours in the Stomach, I am subject to be­lieve that the coldness of the parts through which they must pass, would condence them again, before they could get out of the Body; what way he means by That Way, I cannot imagine; if 'tis through the Gul­let, the contraction of the Mouth of the Stomach, Gullet (which is as Dr. Gath says) contracted or pursed up by a Muscle in the nature of a Sphincter, and the closure of the Lips, &c. would either keep them in the Stomach, or else the coldness of the part through which they must of necessity pass, would con­dense them in their passage out of the Body; if through the Guts, the Pylorus, the coldness of the Guts or the Sphincterani, would obstruct their pas­sage, if it could be imagined that the Subtleness of these Vapours could get throw the Coats of the Sto­mach; I conceive the coldness of the Omentum Perito­naeum, and the thickness of the Muscles, Fat, &c. of the Abdomen, would impede their Exit out of the Bo­dy: In fine, it seems very probable to me, that if there had been any fumes raised in the Stomach, by Fermentation, that they could never get an Exit through so many impediments.

Dr. Gath tells you, that It is impossible that the Body (of Mrs. Stout) should have Floated, unless it had rest­ed, or been intangled amongst the Stakes: This is a certain Truth, if she had been drowned, but if she was thrown in Dead, there is nothing more common than for it to Float; and this my Assertion, is con­sentaneous to the Universal Experience of those Sea­men that use the Negro-Trade; for when any of their Slaves dye, they throw them over-Board, with­out any weight to their Feet, and these Float im­mediately.

[Page 13]That she was found Sideling in the Water, is a mighty Argument with this Doctor that she did not Float; but grant she was intangled (which is denied by several) between the Stakes, as 'tis as­serted, I think it no greater wonder, than for a Deal Board 12 Inches broad (which should accidentally get edgwise between two Stakes not above 9 Inches distant one from the other) to Float edgeling, as long as 'tis intangled between them: Nay, on the contrary, I think it morally impossible for any Body that is much broader, than 'tis thick, if it casually gets edgewise between to Stakes, whose distance will not let it lye flat, but it must continue more or less edgeling, till 'tis dis-intangled.

I observe the Judge asked this Gentleman, Whe­ther Water in the Body would putrifie it? He an­swered, I say not, for in some places they keep Flesh-Meat from corrupting, by preserving it in Water: If he means Water in a deep Well will keep it a day or two in hot Countries, I may admit it; but that it will keep it six Weeks or more, I utterly deny it; if it will not keep Flesh from Putrifaction 46 Days, it hath little Analogy with the Case under Debate.

This Doctor tells you, He must differ from him (Mr. Coatsworth) where he infers, She was murthered, because he found no great quantity of Water in her: This is a Mistake, for neither he, nor any of the other Doctors, or Surgeons, that were present at her Dissection, inferr'd she was murdered, because she had no great quantity of Water in her; but, because she had none at all in her.

[Page 14]Dr. Morley saith, that These which seem to be the Questions of greatest Moment, are, Whether there was a necessity for this Body (if drowned) to have a great quantity of Water in it; and whether Bodies thrown Dead into the Water Float? To the first I answer po­sitively, That there is no absolute necessity that she should have a great quantity of Water in her: With submis­sion, Doctor, pray tell which of your Opposites said there was an absolute necessity for Mrs. Stout to have a great quantity of Water in her; they said, they could not conceive that she was drowned, that had not one drop of Water in her; if you would have contradicted them, you should have demonstrated to the Jury, either by Reason or Experiments, how a Person might be drowned without any Water in them; if you could have done this, you had answer­ed the Question of greatest Moment.

This Doctors difference between Persons drown­ed by Accident or Design, I would flatter my self, was rather a lapsus linguae, than his real Judgment; for it is certain, with whatsomever design a Man may go into the Water, before he is half Dead he is deprived of his Senses, and how he governs himself then, you may Judge: To The 2d Question, he saith, I think if Bodies new killed Float, 'tis by Accident: It is as accidental for Bodies new killed, when thrown into the Water, to Sink, as 'tis for Persons just drowned to Swim.

Dr. Woolaston being asked his Opinion, If a Per­son be drowned, Whether it can be discovered six Weeks after? His answer was, I think it impossible to be known: I am apt to be of his Opinion, that 'tis impossible precisely to determine what, and how many Injuries her Viscera had received, or what Ac­cidents [Page 15] had happened unto them 46 days after any Person is drowned; for naturally they would have been putrified in half that time; and when the Bow­els are reduced into a Putrilaginous Mucilage, who can give a rational judgment concerning their former Figure, Position, or how they had been affected? This is what naturally happens to a drowned Per­son; but there was nothing of this in Mrs. Stout, which is no small Argument with me, that she was not drowned; I shall take little notice how he con­tradicts his Brothers, by his affirming, That in drown­ed Persons, the Water lyes only in the Stomach and Guts: As to his Experience, I doubt he is not can­did; for I believe I have heard the same Story, which was thus, Two Man quarrelling in a Wherry, one of them took up the Stretcher, and knock'd the other down; in his falling, he accidentally caught hold of his Adversary, and they both fell into the Water together; he that was knock'd down was not swell'd, but the other was exceedingly.

Mr. Cowper affirms, That it is not reasonable (in Mrs. Stout, though drowned) to expect any thing but Froath: What, will all the Water turn to Froath, that a dying Person receives before he is drowned? 'Tis a Paradox to me: How contrary this Surgeon's Sen­timents are to the Universal Experience of the Learned and Unlearned part of Mankind, let the unbiass'd judge? If he had consulted Ambrose Parey, and had thought him a reasonable Man, doubtless he would have been of another Opinion, who saith, The Belly of him that was thrown in a-live, will be swollen or puffed up by reason of the Water that is contained therein.

[Page 16]The whole stress of this Gentleman's Arguments seem to depend on a supposed difference, that there is between Persons that Drown themselves, and those that are casually suffocated by Water; whereas I am apt to think there is little more difference, than between one that puts the Halter about his own Neck, and one that the Hang-man forceth it on; here is a parity of causes, why the effects in the same Species should extremely differ, is more than my weak intellect can comprehend; in both I conceive that in less than a Minute, their Rational Faculty is so egre­giously distorted, that nothing is done regularly or by its dictates.

The verity of his private Experiments I doubt, be­cause when he made a publick one, it infinitely con­tradicted his Clandestine ones; there is a vast diffe­rence in drowning a Creature in a Tub, and in a River, in sinking him with a weight tied to him, and permitting him to Sink by his own gravity; I am not of Opinion that 'tis ridiculous to expect Wa­ter in the Cavity of the Thorax, tho' the Lungs had not suffered an Impostumation, or the like, for Reasons formerly assigned.

Dr. Crell saith, He shall only insist upon what Am­brose Parey relates in his Chapter of Renunciations— He tells us, That the certain Sign of a Man's being drowned is an appearance of Froth about his Nostrills and Mouth, which could not be, as he declares, if the Person had been strangled, or otherwise killed before. For the Confirmation, or Confutation, of these posi­tive Assertions of this Learned Doctor, I shall give you the Verbal Expressions of Ambrose Parey, Who­somever, saith he, is found Dead in the Waters, you shall know whether they were thrown into the Water [Page 17] alive or dead, for all the Belly of him that was thrown in alive will be swell'd and puff'd up, by reason of the Water that is contained therein; certain clammy Ex­crements come out of his Mouth and Nostrils. In the foregoing Paragraph he gives you the Signs, whe­ther one is hanged Dead or Alive; his formal Ex­pressions are, If he was hang'd alive, there will be a Foam about his Mouth, and a Foamy and Filthy Mat­ter hanging out of his Nostrils. Observe this Author, whereon he only insists saith, There is a Foam and Filthy Matter about the Mouth and Nostrils of them that are hanged Alive. Now whether Froath at the Mouth and Nostrils is a certain Sign of a Man's being Drowned, or whether it is not incident to Persons that die of other Diseases, any Physitian can easily determine. If you will be pleased to read Paulus Zachaeus's Questiones Medico-Legales, on the same Subject, you may find that he agrees with Am­brose Parey, That an appearance of Foam about the Nostrils and Mouth, is no certain Sign of Drown­ing. By such positive Assertions of the Learned, how easily may the Ignorant be imposed on? By this you may evidently see the difference between a Wit­ness on his Parole, as this Gentleman was, and one upon his Oath, as the King's were.

Mr. Herriot being asked by Mr. Cooper, What Ob­servations he had made concerning this Matter? An­swered, When I was a Surgeon in the Fleet, I made it always my Observation, when we threw Men over-board that were killed, some of them Swam and some Sunk. Then being Interogated by the Judge, when a Bo­dy is thrown over-board, doth it Sink or Swim? His answer was, I always observed that it did sink. What Incoherence is here! First, I made it always [Page 18] my Observation, when we threw Men over-board, that were killed, some of them Swam, and some Sunk: And almost in the same Breath saith, I al­ways observed, That it (a Dead Body, thrown over-board) did Sink. I am apt to be of Mr. Herriot's Mind; as to his first Assertion, That Men killed in a Fight being thrown over-board, some of them Sunk, others Swam; those whose Breast and Belly are no ways injured Float, but those whose Breast and Belly are perforated, so that Water gets into their Cavities, through the Wound, I doubt not but they will Sink.

Mr. Bartlett tells you, He never saw any Body float, tho' he had been in several Engagements. It is very probable, he kept himself all that time in the Cock­pit, and it may be long after dressing the wounded Persons. The fittest Persons in this case to give their Observation, are Officers and Sea-Men, who are always upon Deck, and often obliged to look out, and not Surgeons, who are all the time of Engagements, secured in the Hold of the Ship.

Mr. Camlin saith, There were more and greater Signs of the Stagnation of Blood on the Body of this Child, than on the Body of Mrs. Stout. But on what parts these more and greater Signs were, whether on the Breast, Belly, &c. not one word. The Mother of the Child asserts, there was not the least Sign of any Stagnation of Blood on any part of her Child: She having lately had the Small-Pox, her Face where the Small-Pox had fluxed, was somewhat discoloured; but it was no more discoloured, after her Drown­ing, than it used to be (when she was cold) before her Death; the Soil of the Water doth generally alter the Faces of People: So Mrs. Stout was [Page 19] not known by her Neigbours, till that was wiped off. The Settlements of Blood on Mrs. Stout were dispersedly on her Ear, both sides of her Neck, Breast, Arm, but on what part of the Child's Body these more and greater Signs of Stagnation were, he doth not specifie, because had he assigned any particular place, there were several present that would have contra­dicted him: General Terms are the fittest covers for Falshood.

If this Gentlewoman was not Drowned, as the Doctors and Surgeons for the Prisoners seem to insi­nuate, the Query then will be, How she came to her End? With submission to better Judgments, I shall here offer my private Sentiments concerning it: I am induced to believe, she was knocked down with a Blow on her left Ear, from the large Settlement of Blood there, which, as Mrs. Kimpson Swears, was as much as her Hand could cover, and more; after she was fell'd to the Ground by the Blow, it is pro­bable, with the Gripe of a strong Hand, she was Throtled; from the Stagnation of Blood on both sides of her Neck, under her Ears, which Mr. John Dimsdall, Jun. Swears there was; and from the Set­tlement of Blood on her Breast, I am inclined to believe, That the Person that Throtled her, to sup­port his Hand, that he might Gripe the stronger, rested his Arm on her Breast, which occasioned the Stagnation there.

The Circumstances that induce me to think she was not accessary to her own Death, are these fol­lowing: Her being found without her Gown (which probably was torn in the Scuffle) and Nightrail; her Gown could not be found, though the River was diligently raked several times, till about a Week be­fore [Page 20] the Trial, it was found hanging on a Stake, which the Miller had cleansed from the Trash that hung on it about half one hour before, and he will depose that it was not there then; it was torn to Raggs, without one of its Sleeves, some parts of it were as rotten as dirt, others firm; you might tear it (which was made of a sort of Norwich-Stuff) and the Lining (which was a Silk Damask) with your Fingers, as I did: Query, Whether Stuff or Silk will naturally Rot so soon under Water? Here is no news of her Nightrail yet. 2. From her Floating; whereof I make no doubt, because it is Sworn by several Witnesses. 3. Because her Belly was not swollen. 4. Because no Water came out of her when lifted out of the River, nor purged out of her afterwards. 5. Because her inward parts were not pu­trified, though her outward, that had been injured, were; which I suppose was impossible they should have continued so 46 days after her Death, had there been any Water in them. 6. From the seve­ral distinct Setlings of Blood, which is unusual in Drowned Persons; if it had been occasioned (as some may think) from a Blow, which she received when she threw her self in, I am subject to believe, that the coldness of the Water, in the Month of March, would have hindered its Settlement in the Cutaneous parts of the Body, as it is generally ob­served to do; for what is more common than to dip a Linnen Rag, or a piece of Brown Paper, in cold Water, and apply it to a bruised part, to hin­der the Blood from setling there? 7. From the con­tinual disturbance that Mrs. Gurrey was under, both in Mind and Body: Nevertheless she would not discover it till she was almost frighted out of her [Page 21] Senses, by the Voice, as she thought of Mrs. Stout, which uttered these words, Divulge, Conceal Nothing. 8. From what is Sworn by the Gurrey's against their Lodgers at the Trial, viz. Mr. Marson was hot, and put by his Wigg; I see his Head was wet — they came in about 11 and 12 a Clock — she turned me off, but a Friend of mine will be even with her by this time — Her business was done — He would pass his Word, Mrs. Sarah Stout's Courting-Days were over—The Ʋse-Money is paid to Night — You have Forty or Fifty Pounds for your share — Asked him, Whether the business was done? And he answered, He believed it was; but if it was not done, it would be done to Night— Pulled a Handful of Money out of his Pocket, and Swore, he would spend it all for Joy, the business was done. 9. From the Sentiments of the Grand-Jury, who, after a nice Examination, were of an Opinion, That she was Murdered; as were seve­ral of, the Petty-Jury, but by whom they did not know—

As to the Letters produced in Court, my thoughts are, they are not of a Legitimate, but of a Spurious Production. 1. Because the Stile doth no way suit her Character. 2. Because her Mother doth affirm, The Letter shown her in Court was of a smaller Character than ever she observed her Daugher to Write; neither doth her Brother think them to be genuine. 3. Because there was no mention made of these Letters, till the common Report of her being with Child (which had been industriously spread abroad by several, but by none more Zealously, than by a Nominal Quaker, her Quondam Admirer) was proved to be utterly False, by the Oath of several [Page 22] Doctors and Surgeons that had opened her Body. 4. Because Mr. Mason and Mr. Archer, on the Trial, Sware (and several of the Coroners-Inquest were ready to Swear) That Mr. Cowper, before the Coroners-Inquest, being on his Oath, deposed, That Mrs. Stout was a modest Person, that he did not know of any thing that was the cause of it (viz. her Death) That he did not know any Person she was in Love with, but of one, whose name was Marshall; and Mr. Mar­shall told him, That he was always Repulsed by her. Whether this Oath is not Diametrically Opposite to his Pleadings on the Trial, you may determine. 4. Because they did not insist on these Letters, when Mr. Jones said, Indeed they have produced some Letters without a Name; but if they insist upon any thing a­gainst her Reputation, we must call our Witnesses. If the Witnesses then present in Court (who were some of the most reputable in that Town) had been called, to speak to her Reputation, a great deal of that Dirt, that is now cast upon her, would have been wiped off. I cannot but take notice here how seemingly unwilling he was to expose the weakness of this Gentlewoman, or to meddle with her Let­ters, had he not those Innocent Gentlemen to defend; when before her Death he had shewn them to Mr. Marshall, a Repulsed Lover, and his Brother, and af­ter the Trial, the Printers, who at the Trial did not take them in Short-hand, were favoured with them to be exposed to the whole World.

What concerns her Melancholly, I am induced to believe, that she was no more than is incident to all People that are Sickly, or much troubled with the Head-ach; from what her Maid Swears, That she was ill sometimes, and I imputed it (Melancholly) [Page 23] to her Illness; and I know no other cause. And Mrs. Walker doth assert, That Mr. Cowper told the Coro­ners-Inquest, That he did not observe her any ways Melancholly, that he should have taken notice of, had not such an accident happened; only now he remembers, That she was not so free in Discourse at Dinner as sometimes she used to be; and that the Discourse then was chiefly between him and her Mother. Her Mother and Brother do affirm they never observed her Melancholly, and all her intimate Companions do assert the same: It is much that none but this Gentleman's Sister, and Two or Three others, devoted to a Party, should observe any such thing.

Mr. Firmin, his Wife, and several others that were in her Company, with Mr. Taylor, do affirm, that she did not say her Head-cloths would serve her time, or any thing like it, and that they esteem­ed his Discourse with her pure Banter; that she was in her Night-dress, and presently went home and put on clean Linnen: I am apt to think there are many Relations and Friends, bigotted to a Party, that will not boggle to tell a Lie, to save a Friend, or near Relation from —

The afternoon before her Death, she was ob­served to stand, to see the Judges make their En­trance, with her Friends, as Brisk and Airy as any there; about 4 hours before her Death, as I am told, she was in Company with a Knight of that County, and several others, who obser­ved her to be as Merry and Pleasant as any a­mongst them: At nine at Night, she earnestly im­portuned a young Gentlewoman of that Town, to tarry and lye with her that Night, as she had for­merly [Page 24] done several times; which she refused then, for some particular Reasons: When Mrs. Stout, per­ceived she would not tarry all Night, she invited her to Dinner next day, and told her what she had provided, and that she should be glad of her Com­pany; not intending to go out of Doors the next day.

I am apt to think that if she had been such a furious Lover as is pretended, or had any Intention that Night to destroy her self, that she would not have fallen out with any Body about the payment of Money; much less have refused to Sign a Receit for six Pounds, which her D—st had prepared when he paid her the Interest-Money; what was the true cause why she refused to Sign this Receit, is a Riddle to most.

If she had had so great a kindness for some Years for this Joseph, as is insinuated, certainly his Wife would have observed something of it; and then she would not be importuning her every Month, by her Letters, to come to London, that she might injoy her sweet Company: Neither would she in all pro­bability (if she had been so desperately in love with him) have lived here several Months together, with­out his Company, even when importuned by his Wife; but would, as we may reasonably conjecture, have resided in your City, where she might the oftner, and more privately have injoyed his Compa­ny: And, as for her going out at the Window, it is morally impossible, the Bars being so close toge­ther, that a Child of a Year old cannot get out between them; neither was there any occasion for it, the Keys being always left in the Doors.

[Page 25]Because there is no mention made on the Trial, of the missing of any of her Money; several are apt to report that her Relations want none of it, which is a grand Mistake; for they want, as they compute it, at least a Thousand Pounds of her Ori­ginal Fortune, besides the Improvements she had made thereon, which were considerable; they made little mention of it there (that was taken notice of) because their Evidences that could speak mate­rially to that point, were Quakers, whose Affir­mation will not be taken in Criminal Cases.

The last Assizes, here was a Man hanged, after he was Dead, was cut down, and buried without a Coffin, the Grave filled up, and the Earth well trod down; in the Evening he was digg'd up again, be­ing pressed almost flat by the weight of the Earth, was privately cast into the River, and when it was observed that the Corps would Sink, it was expo­sed to publick view, and an Advertisement of it was printed in the Post-Man 25th of July last, with a great shew of Exaltation, by their saying, Many Hun­dreds having seen this Experiment with their own Eyes, the Opinions of the Surgeons produced on the part of the King, is thereby destroyed and exploded, and all Per­sons convinced of the contrary: What influence this Experiment may have on you, I know not; but when all the Circumstances attending it are duly consi­dered, I am of Opinion, it will make more against them, than their Opposites: If they had been certain of Success, what need of so much Art; Why did they not insert in their Advertisement, how the Body had been managed before 'twas thrown into the Water, how they opened it afterwards, and how they made a strict Scrutiny after Water, yet could [Page 26] not find a drop in it? Not one word of this. Me­thinks this partial Relation is calculated on purpose to magnifie their own Evidences, and put a slur on the King's.

I doubt not but the ingenious Contrivers of this Experiment did not only expect it would Sink, but that it would have some Water in it also; I am apt to think it reasonable, to expect that the weight of the Earth would have driven out the Wind con­tained in the Cavity of the Breast through the Wind-pipe, which is impossible to be done without lifting up of the Epiglottis, which continually closes the Mouth of the Aspera Arteria, but in Expiration, this being once forcibly removed out of its natu­ral Scituation, 'twas very likely that it would not cover it again so nicely, but that some small quantity of Water might insinuate it self through the small passa­ges, which the violent forcing out of the Air had made; if this had succeeded, What a Triumph there would have been, you may easily determine?

Some Weeks since, a Surgeon, that had been an Evidence at the Trial at Hertford, going into a Book­seller's Shop, meeting some acquaintance there, he fell into Discourse about Mrs. Stout, and asserted there, what he had affirmed at the Trial, viz. That Two or Three Ounces of Water will Drown a Dog: One of the Company told him he could not conceive that so small a quantity would do the business: He replyed, Sir, I will lay a Guinea, that I will Drown a Dog in the River of Thames, and he shall not have above Three Ounces of Water in him: The proffer was no sooner made, than accepted, Time appointed, Dog brought, and with a weight tyed to his hinder Feet, flung into the River, sometime after was taken out, [Page 27] and dissected; where instead of Three Ounces, there was about Thirty Three; whereby he not only lost his Wager, but in a great measure his Reputation, as to what he had so confidently asserted to the con­trary on the Trial.

Having in some measure answered your Com­mands, tho' by it, I have, I am afraid, a little too much trespassed on your Patience, shall take little notice now, what Omissions and Alterations there are in the Printed Trial; how Mr. Stevens was taken with a strange sort of a Fit, (just after the Petty-Jury went out) which disturbed the whole Court; or how a Wine-Cooper in Southwark (who came down as an Evidence for the Prisoners) fell into a sort of Distraction; and all the time of the Trial was mightily discomposed in his Mind, so that he was fain to be tyed in Bed, yet would often ask how the Trial went, and whether they were like to be cleared, and would often tell the People about him, that he had done a very bad thing, but would not confess what, though often urged to it: But shall conclude, desiring that the Authors of this Horrid Murder may be detected, and brought to con­dign Punishment; but that the Innocent may be cleared from all Aspersions thrown undeservedly on them, which I doubt not, but that the Great Je­hovah, in his own time, will bring to pass: And that it may be so, shall be the dayly Prayers of

Your Humble Servant, P. D.


I Doubt not but you have heard, that the Gentle­men that opened Mrs. Sarah Stout's Body, did depose, that she was a Virgin; for your Informati­on; I will post you a true Copy of their Certificate, which is as followeth,

WE whose Names are here under-written, having examined the Body of Mrs. Sarah Stout, Deceased; do find the Uterus perfectly Free and Empty, and of the natural Figure and Magnitude, as usually in Virgins. We found no Water in the Stomach, Intestines, Abdomen, Lungs or Cavity of the Thorax,

  • John Dimsdale, Sen.
  • Robert Dimsdale,
  • John Dimsdale, Jun.
  • William Coatsworth,
  • Samuel Camlin,
  • Daniel Phillips.

After this Certificate was delivered to the Relations, they desired the Gentlemen that had Signed it, to give their Opi­nions, whether they thought She was drowned or no, all of them were unanimous that she was not drowned, except Mr. Camlin, who was unwilling to giue his Opinion, either pro or con; but when asked, would only say, There were very odd Circumstances ▪ Yet at last, when he was asked. Whether he did conceive any Person could be drowned, that had no Wa­ter in their Stomach, Intestines, Abdomen, Lungs or Cavity of the Thorax ▪ He replyed, No, which the other, thought vir­tually to include, as much as they had said.


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