The Case of John Richmond Seymour, 1827–29

Friday 3 August 1827

THE KING v. JOHN RICHMOND SEYMOUR AND CHARLES MACKLIN. – This was an indictment against the first prisoner for the commission of an unnatural offence, and against the second for consenting to the same. The prosecution had excited the greatest interest throughout the county, on account of Mr. Seymour being the representative of an ancient and honourable family in it. – Mr. C, who stated the case for the prosecution, alluded to that circumstance, and also to the fact of his being a married man and a father. The case depended entirely, as to the charge itself, upon the evidence of Mr. Seymour’s servants, two of whom were examined and cross-examined at most tremendous length.
          The Counsel for the prosecution, at the close of the second witness’s testimony, acknowledged that the evidence was too weak for him to call on the Jury for a verdict on the capital charge, and the prisoners were therefore Acquitted.
          There was another indictment against them for a misdemeanour, which it was understood was to be forwarded into the King’s Bench by certiorari, and brought down here the next Assizes, when it will be tried at the same time with an indictment preferred by Mr. Seymour against his servants for a conspiracy, which indictment our readers will recollect was postponed a day or two since. (Morning Chronicle)

Sunday, 5 August 1827

SALISBURY, AUG. 1. – . . . John R. Seymour, Esq. of CroWe Park, near Ramsbury, a gentleman of fortune and consideration, and Charles Macklin, his servant, were indicted capitally for an unnatural crime. The trial excited intense interest. After two witnesses had been examined, such was the effect produced by their cross-examination, that the prosecution was abandoned. An indictment for misdemeanour remains however to be tried at a future time, as well as an indictment preferred by Mr. Seymour against the hostile witnesses for a conspiracy. (The Examiner)

Saturday 11 August 1827

An intense degree of interest was excited at these assizes by the trial of John Richmond Seymour, Esq. of Crowood, in the parish of Ramsbury, who was arraigned on Wednesday before Lord Chief Justice Best, upon a charge of having, in the month of July 1826, committed an offence that cannot be named, with a young man (his footman) named Charles Macklin, who was placed at the bar with him. Two witnesses for the prosecution (servants of Mr. Seymour, viz. Phœbe Hopkins, housemaid, and David Bevan, coachman) were examined at great length, when Chief Justice Best informed the Jury, that the Counsel for the prosecution, being convinced, from the evidence of these witnesses, that the charge for the capital offence could to be sustained, that charge would be abandoned. The learned Judge, therefore deemed it unnecessary to call upon the prisoners for their defence, and directed the Jury to acquit them on the capital charge, which the Jury did accordingly. The prisoners were not tried on the minor charge, that being traversed till next session. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette)

Thursday 13 March 1828

It being generally understood,either that the indictment against John Richmond Seymour, of Crowood, in this county, esq., for a misdemeanour of a nameless nature; or that the indictment against Phœbe Hopkins, and another, for conspiring falsely to charge the said John Richard Seymour with a nameless offence, would be brought on the first thing this morning, the Court was crowded to excess long before the learned Judge took his seat. Our readers will recollect that Mr. Seymour and his servant surrendered themselves to take their trial on the capital charge at our last assizes, and were acquitted without the defence being entered it. At about nine this morning Mr. Serjeant Wylde (who is leading Counsel for Mr. Seymour,) made an application to the Court, that notwithstanding the charge for the conspiracy stood first on the paper, that the charge against Mr. Seymour be first tried: submitting that it was analagous to the case of a malicious prosecution, where the original charge must of necessity be tried first. Mr. Coleridge, for the prosecution against Mr. Seymour, submitted that the Conspiracy should be tried first. A long argument followed; after which Mr. Justice Gaselee left the Court for the purpose of consulting with Mr. Justice Littledale. On his return, he said, that they both agreed with the leaned Judge at the last Assize, that common sense and common justice required that the principal charge should be first tried; and concurred that it was analagous to the case of a malicious prosecution.
          Mr. Coleridge, after consulting with his attorney said, that they were so ipressed with the importance that the conspiracy should be first tried, that they withdrew the record in the cause of The King v. Seymour.
          Mr. Serjt. Wilde, after an affidavit had been prepared, now applied to have the trial for the conspiracy put off until the next assizes. Mr. Coleridge opposed it; and another long argument followed. Mr. Justice Gaselee again consulted with Mr. Justice Littledale; and on coming into Court, stated that it was their joint opinion that the cause might be postponed.
          Rather than such a charge should be hanging over the heads of two humble individuals for so long a period, Mr. Coleridge said, he would prefer being placed in the situation in which he previously stood, and try the misdemeanour first. The learned Judge assented; and the trial of Mr. Seymour was fixed for to-morrow morning at 9 o’clock. (Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette)

Monday 17 March 1828

On Wednesday the Court was crowded to excess at an early hour, in consequence of the expected trial of The King v. John Richmond Seymour, Esq. of Crowood, in this country, for an offence of a nameless description. The indictment having been removed into the King’s Bench, by certiori, the defendant was not required to appear in Court. The opening speech of Mr. Coleridge occupied nearly an hour, and Phœbe Hopkins, the principal witness against Mr. Seymour, underwent an examination from a quarter before 11 until half past four o’clock. The examination of the man servant terminated at nine o’clock, when the Court adjourned to eight o’clock the following morning (Thursday), when further evidence was examined for the prosecution, and Mr. Sergeant Wilde commenced the defence, and examined two witnesses; and, at ten o’clock at night, the further proceedings were adjourned until the next day. Mr. Serjeant Wilde was so affected at the commencement of his address, that he could scarcely proceed. (Hampshire Telegraph)

Monday 17 March 1828

The interest which had been excited by the trial of Mr. Seymour, which was fixed for Wednesday, at Salisbury, brought together, at a very early hour, a large concourse of people of all degrees, by whom the Court was filled as soon as it was opened. Lord Ashborok, Major-Gen. Dundas, M.P., and a grat number of the gentry of the surrounding country were upon the Bench.
          The indictment stated, that Richmond Seymour, esq., and Charles Macklin, were charged with having attempted to commit an unnatural offence.
          Mr. COLERIDGE, who stated the case, observed, that Mr. Seymour was known to the Jury and the county as a Gentleman of rank, fortune, and education. He was a mrried man, and peculiarly blessed in his family. His lady, who was his ornament abroad, and his felicity at home, had borne him a numerous fmaily, having been, in 1825, the mother of five children. The other defendant had been also a married man, and was, at the time in question, a footman in Mr. Seymour’s family.
          Phœbe Hopkins was the first witness examined: She said, that in July, 1825, she was in Mr. Seymour’s service, as lady’s-maid; in consequence of something which had been communicated to her on Sunday, the 31 July, it was agreed between the servants to watch the parties on the Tuesday following, as on that day Boucher, the valet, usually went to Ramsbury, about a mile and a half from Mr. Seymour’s house, and when Boucher was absent, Macklin used to wait upon Mr. Seymour; on the Tuesday, whilst they were watching, they saw Mr. Seymour and Macklin in Mr. Seymour’s dressing-room, and in a situation which cannot be here described; they were enabled to see what took place, by looking udner the door; the same night, a communication was made by the servants to Mrs. Seymour, and the next morning Mr. Seymour asked the witness what they had been telling their mistress respecting Macklin, and she said he had better ask the men; the next morning, Macklin was dismissed. Some time after this, witness wished to leave his service, and he begged she would not do so; he said he had intended to take the whole family to Worthing, & they should leave their situations one at a time – that he would give them good characters, and get them good places. On leaving the room, Mr. Seymour said to Anne Bailey, “As for you, Bailey, you saw nothing;” Bailey replied, “What I have seen would hang any two men in England.” The family soon after went to Worthing, but Mr. S. said he was obliged to return, in consequence of the affair having been so universally talked of; a few days afterwards the witness and the other servans were induced to sign a paper, at the request of Mr. Seymour, as he said it would save his house from being burnt down, and his family from ruin; whilst they signed the paper, a blank paper was thrown over it. Soon afteer she saw an advertisement in a newspaper with her name attached to it, but the contents of it were different from what she thought she had signed; she proposed to Mr. Seymour to change it, but he entreated her not to do so. – The witness was cross-examined at great length, when she stated that she never saw the offence committed between the parties but once; she attended several gentlemen, at the request of General Dundas, to examine the room; and although the furniture was in the same state as when the offence was committed, she found, when she place dherself where she had been on the 5th July, that she could not see two persons in the place which had been occupied by Mr. Seymour and Macklin; she complained that some alteration had been made, but she could not tell where; when she left Mr. Seymour’s service, she claimed of Mr. S. a guinea a-year more than she had had the first year, but he said that he could only pay her according to the paper he had received from Mrs. Seymour; when Macklin left the house, he said they had got him out of the house at last; not one of the servants ever gave to Macklin, before he left the hosue, the slightest intimation of the charge against him. The witness was then questioned respecting certain assertions she had made regarding this transaction, and which were calculated to thrown discredit on her testimony, but she denied having made such observations.
          Bevan, the coachman, deposed in express words, that he had seen the occurrences of the 5th July, by looking udner the door with the last witness; he said, that when Mr. Seymour knew that the servants were aware of the circumstance, he wept copiously, and said he was a ruined man, and asked witness to blow out his (Seymour’s) brains. The witness also detailed a variety of conversations and occurrences intended to establish the defendant’s guilt, either by his own admission, or the testimony which had been given on several occasions by the women and other persons in the family, who had determined to watch him and Macklin.
          On his cross-examination he admitted, that when Macklin charged the servants altogether with having conspired to have him turned out of the house, not a word was said by any of them.
          Henry Boucher, who was butler and valet to Mr. Seymour, said, that on returning from Church, on the 31 July, a communication was made to him, not by any of the servants who had gone with him to Church, but by Phœbe Hopkins. On htis return from Ramsbury, on the 5th, a communication was made to him by Hopkins and two other servants, named May and Morpby, in consequence of which he left the house immediately. He returned to Mr. Seymour’s house the next day, when Mr. Seymour said to him, “Do you think, Boucher, I am guilty, with respect to the act of that worst of all crimes?” Witness made no answer. Mr. Seymour repeated the question, and witness then said, “He could not think him otherwise, when the servants below were ready to swear that they saw the act.” He said, “There are two ways of committing it.” He knelt down and cried, and said that he was not guilty of the act. In the course of the day he communicated to Mr. Seymour what Bevan had told him; and Mr. Seymour acknowledged that he had been leaning over Macklin, with one hand upon his shoulder, looking at a book of accounts.
          The Rev. Mr. Meyrick, Vicar of Ramsbury, said that he called upon Mr. Seymour, in consequence of the reports that were prevalent in the neighbourhood, and advised him to call the Gentlemen of the county together, and explain the circumstance. Mr. Seymour said, ,that instead of being in the situation described by his servans, he was merely looking over Macklin’s shoulder ot examine an account with him. He added, that there was a vile conspiracy against him by his servants, and that they had been base enough to accuse Mrs. Seymour herself. He declined calling the Gentlemen of the county together.
          Cuthbert Johnson, Esq. of Wallington, gave similar testimony. Mr. Seymour informed him, that if he called the Gentlemen of the county together they could not understand the case. He clasped his hands together, and said he would leave the country; and swore solemnly that he was not guilty of the offence. In a conversation which he (Mr. Johnson) had with Macklin upon the suject, Macklin admitted Mr. Seymour had taken liberties with his person, but he had not received any presents from him.
          The Rev. Walter Kitson gave similar testimony as Mr. Merrick, and said, that Mr. Seymour protested most solemnly, that he had never committed the offence with which he was charged.
          The Editor of the Reading Newspaper produced the manuscript copy of an advertisement which had been inserted in his Paper, by Mr. Seymour’s direction, on the 22d August 1825; it was signed by Bailey, May, Hopkins, Bevan, and Murphy. It expressed the contrition of the parties for the offence of which they had been guilty in circulating the reports of Mr. Seymour, and retracted their expressions and assertions, as false and scandalous. – This was the case for the prosecution.
          Mr. Serjeant WILDE then addressed the Jury for the defendant, Mr. Seymour. He contended, that there was a total absence of all the circumstances by which cases were usually marked, and that if Mr. Seymour was convicted upon the evidence, there was an end to all security for character for life. His prosecutors were an abominable asociation of men an women, conspiring to watch the secret motions of their master, and gloat by turns upon a scene from which human nature wuld recoil in abhorrence and disgust. He pledged himself to disprove or explain every evidence adduced upon the part of the prosecution.
          It is impossible for us to give scarcely a mere outline of the Learned Gentleman’s address: it, however, exceeded all the previous efforts of his professional life. The force, eloquence, judgment, and feeling, which were displayed in the address, have not often been surpassed. The speech occupied four hours in delivering, & was not only heard with the most profound attention, but drew plentiful and unconcealed streams of tears from several of the members of the profession, as well as of the audience.
          Mr. ERSKINE briefly addressed the Jury for Macklin.
          Mr. Boswell Lee was then examined, and proved that, in January, 1827, when Phœbe Hopkins was taken into Mr. Seymour’s dressing-room, to point out the place where she said the offence was committed, she was unable to do so. She was then directed to look under the door, but she was unable to see persons standing in the manner she had described the defendants.
          At half-past eleven on Thursday night, after a trial of forty-one hours, the Jury returned a verdict of Guilty against both the prisoners.
          It is reported that Mr. Seymour has absconded. (Morning Chronicle)

Thursday 20 March 1828

A trial for a misdemeanour took place at these assizes [Salisbury] before Mr. Justice Gazelee and a Jury consisting of gentlemen of the highest respectability. John Richmond Seymour, esq; of Crowood, in the parish of Ramsbury, and his footman, a young man named Chas. Macklin, were charged with an offence of an abhorrent nature. – The Counsel for the prosecution were, Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Halcomb, and Mr. Follett: for the defence were Sergeant Wilde, Mr. Chas. Fred. Williams, (King’s counsel), the Hon. Thos. Erskin (King’s counsel), Sergeant Merewether, and Mr. Awdry. – The trial excited a most extraordinary degree of interest; it commenced on Wednesay morning and was not terminated until friday night; the length of time it engaged the Court was owing to the number of witnesses, and the extreme pains and labour with which they were examined by the learned Counsel. – Mr. Justice Gazelee occupied five hours and a quarter in summing up the evidence and charging the Jury; the latter immediately retired to consider of their verdict, and in about an hour and a half they returned a verdict of guilty against John Richmond Seymour and Chas. Macklin. – The parties will receive judgment in the Court of King’s Bench.
          It is reported that Mr. Seymour has absconded. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Thursday 20 March 1828

. . . Mr Seargeant Wilde addressed the Jury for the defendant, Mr. Seymour. The learned gentleman’s address, exceeded all the previous efforts of his professional life. The force, eloquence, judgment, and feeling, which were displayed, have not often been surpassed. The speech occupied four hours in delivering, and was not only heard with the most profound attention, but drew plentiful and unconcealed streams of tears from several of the members of the profession, as well as of the audience. . . . (Exeter Flying Post)

Thursday 20 March 1828

THE KING V. SEYMOUR AND MACKLIN. This trial, which commenced before Mr. Justice Gazelee at Nisi Prius on Wednesday morning, did not terminate until midnight on Friday. Phoebe Hopkins and Bevan were the only two witnesses examined on the first day. Bowsher, the late butler, a strong, health-looking man, was placed in the box on Thursday morning; but before his examination was concluded, he became so much affected, that he was quite unable to stand or speak. Salts and cold water were applied to restore him, but it became at last necessary to carry him out of court. The Rev. E. G. Meyrick, Cuthbert Johnson, esq., and the Rev. Walter Kitson, were then examined for the prosecution. When Mr. Kitson had retired, a surgeon was put into the box, who deposed that he had attended Bowsher since his examination; that he had had an apoplectic attack, and was in extreme danger. To subject him now to any considerable degree of mental excitement, would be followed, in all probability, by a more severe attack than that which the witness had already experienced.
          At three o’clock on Thursday, Mr. Sergt. Wylde commenced addressing the Jury for the defence; and it is stated that all the previous efforts of the learned gentleman’s professional life were altogether exceeded by this address. The force, eloquence, judgment, and feeling, which he displayed, have not often been surpassed. The speech occupied four hours in the delivery, and was not only heard with the most profound attention, but drew down plentiful and unconcealed streams of weeping from several of the members of the profession, as well as of the audience. On the following day, Mr. Coleridge (in his reply) said, that in the presence of the representative of one of the greatest men that had ever adorned the English bar, (Mr. Erskine sat near Mr. Coleridge) he did not hesitate to affirm, that the splendid address which had been made by Mr. Sergt. Wylde, combining as it did all the qualities and characteristics of genuine eloquence, deserved to be bound up in the same volume with the orations of the illustrious man to whom he had alluded.
          The learned Sergt. commenced by saying, that a case of this description was peculiarly calculated to oppress the individual who stood in the situation which he then filled, as advocate for the defendant. It was the first case of the kind in which he had ever been concerned, and he hoped it would be the last. There are, said the learned gentleman, some charges against which human nature cannot stand. These are crimes which are no sooner imputed to a man, than his reason falls prostrate before the terrible accusation. He becomes a maniac as soon as he is called a criminal, and every act which results from hsi anguish and desperationn is adduced as an evidence of his guilt. It other cases how a man acts under trying circumstances will be the result of the constitution of his mind and of his nerves, but in all cases of this crime the conduct of the party accused only showed the extent of his confusion, and the distress and vacillation of his mind. – Those who had the misery to lie under imputations so horrible were deprived of all the resources which remained to criinals of other classes. Whatever their friends may feel at the first opening of the charge, they cannot stand it out. After a certain time, the eye of his nearest friend does not rest on a man who lies under the blasting influence of so horrible an imputation. You have all heard the rumours that have been so long diffused respecting Mr. Seymour through the county where you reside. They have been circulated industriously and confidently; and I therefore am bound to state, that the prisoner now, two years after the fact, comes to trial before you under tremendous disadvantages.
          The greater part of Friday was occupied in examining witnesses for the defence, some of whom directly contradicted Phoebe Hopkins, the principal witness for the prosecution. Mr. Millington, Professor of Optics, and Mr. Newton, a surveyor and civil engineer, were also examined, for the purpose of shewing that a part of Hopkins’s testimony could not be correct.
          At five o’clock on Friday evening, Mr. Justice Gaselee commenced summing up. His Lordship stated this to be one of the most extraordinary cases which he had ever met with, and to be distinguished by some circumstances which he believed to be without parallel. The first thing his Lordship referred to, was the length of time which had elapsed between the prosecution and the alleged commission of the offence. The charge had been completely asleep from December 1825, to January 1827; and it was to be recollected that the present prosecution had not been commenced until the defendant had preferred against the prosecutors an indictment for a conspiracy. The summing up occupied more than five hours. His lordship left the whole question in the hands of the jury, who retired a little after ten o’clock.
          The Court having then adjourned to the Judge’s lodgings, the Jury proceeded thither about midnight, and returned a verdict of Guilty against both defendants.
          Mr. Serjt. Wilde has, we understand, expressed the strongest hope of being able to set the verdict aside in the King’s Bench, whence the record has been sent down for trial.
          The following is a list of the Special Jury. – Sir Henry Onslow, Thos. Tugwell, esq. George Forder, esq. William Chaffin Grove, esq. Edward Dyke Poore, esq. John Wansborough, esq. Charles Ashe A’Court, esq. Worthy Beaven, esq. William Ody, esq. James Wapshare, esq. and John Candy and John Reeves, gents.
          (At the conclusion of the Assizes, Mr. Justice Gaselee sent for, and pesonally thanked Mr. Tugwell, the Under Sheriff, for his great attention to the convenience of the Judges, and for his general excellent arrangement.) (Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette)

Sunday 23 March 1828

SALISBURY. – A trial which occupied three days last week, excited intense interest in Wiltshire. It was an indictment agianst Richard Seymour, Esq., a gentleman of fortune, residing at Crowood, and Charles Macklin, his footman, for an attempt to commit an unnatural offence. Both defendants are married men. Mr Seymour has five children: his lady and himself were much respected and beloved in the county, and looked upon as peculiarly happy in their union. – The case for the prosecutionw as supported by the evidence of Phoebe Hopkins, lady’s maid, and Henry Boucher, butler in the family, who swore positively that, by peeping under the door of a room, they once saw the defendants commit the ofence in question. It was elicited on coss-examination, that these witnesses had been examined some time before by General Dundas and other gentlemen, who made an enquiry into the truth of the horrible reports respecting Mr Seymour; and that, on being taken into the room, and all things being placed as they were at the time of the alleged crime, they (the witnesses) could not from the door see persons placed in the situations which they had sworn that the defendants had occupied. This cross-examination decidedly weakened the case for the prosecution, and gave some colour to the charge of conspiracy made by Mr Seymour against his servants, who, it further appeared, had received in silence the upbraidings of the defendant Macklin, when he accused them of a conspiracy to turn him out of the house. On the other hand it was proved, that Mr Seymour had often exhibited to his servants excessive terror and weaknes regarding the disgusting reports in circulation – had often shed tears when appealng to their commiseration – and had induced them to sign a paper, by covering over the writing on it, which turned out to be a disclaimer of the dreadful charge, and which was advertised in a Reading papere as a voluntary declaration of the signing parties. – Mr Sergeant WILDE, in a speech of uncommon eloquence and force, enlarged upon the disgusting conduct of the witnesses for the prosecution – the direct contradiction given to their evidence by the proof of the position of things in the room – and the utter improbability of the committal of such an offence by a gentleman of Mr Seyumour’s domestic and general character. After a trial of forty-one hours, the Jury returned a verdict of Guilty against both defendants. – It is reported that Mr Seymour has absconded. (The Examiner)

Saturday 29 March 1828

SALISBURY. – John Richmond Seymour, Esq. of Croxwood, and his footman, a young man named Charles Macklin, were charged with an offence of an abhorrent nature. The trial excited a most extraordinary degree of interest. It commenced on Wednesday morning and was not terminated until Friday night. Mr. Justice Gazelee occupied five yours and a quarter in summing up. The Jury, in about an hour and a half, returned a verdict of guilty against John Richmond Seymour and Charles Macklin. The parties will receive judgment in the Court of King’s Bench. It is reported that Mr. S. has absconded. (Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette)

Monday 21 April 1828

BIRTH – On Tuesday the 15th inst. at Crowood, in this county, the lady of John Richmond Seymour, Esq. of a daughter. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Annual Register Review of the Year

The King v. Seymour.
John Richmond Seymour, Esq., and Charles Macklin, were charged with having attempted to commit an unnatural offence.
          Mr. Coleridge stated the case for the prosecution. Mr. Seymour, he said, was a gentleman of rank, fortune, and education. He was a married man, and peculiarly blessed in his family. His lady had borne him a numerous family, and was, in 1825, the mother of five children. The other defendant had been also a married man, and was, at the time in question, in the situation of footman in Mr. Seymour’s family; and the question for the consideration of the jury was, whether, upon a certain day, these defendants had met in a room in Mr. Seymour’s house for the purpose of committing an abominable offence, and whether they had made any progress towards the commission of the crime.
          Phœbe Hopkins was the first witness. She seemed so much affected, as scarcely to be able to stand, and at the request of Mr. Coleridge, who said that her examination would occupy a very considerable time, she was allowed by the judge to sit down. She deposed as follows:–
          “In July, 1825,, I was in the service of Mr. Seymour, at Crowood, as lady’s-maid, and assisting in the household work. Mr. Seymour is a married man, and has several young children. I was single at the time; I had been in Mr. Seymour’s service two years. In the beginning of July, 1825, Mr. Seymour’s establishment consisted of David Bevan, the coachman; Henry Boucher,, the butler and valet; and Charles Macklin, the footman. The females in the kitchen were the cook and kitchen-maid. The head nurse was Maria May. There were two under nursery-maids, Ann Macklin and Hannah Watts; Ann Macklin was the sister of Charles. Hannah Watts and Ann Macklin were young and unmarried, and Maria May a married woman. In consequence of someething relating to Mr. Seymour and Charles Macklin, which had been communicated to me on Sunday, the 3rd of July, it was agreed between the servants to watch the parties on the Tuesday following, because on that day Boucher, the valet, usually went to the village of Ramsbury, about a mile and a half from Crowood, and, when Boucher was absent, Charles Macklin used to wait upon Mr. Seyumour. The house at Crowood was then under repair, and Mr. Seymour’s dressing-room was changed. The room, which he then used, was on the drawing-room floor; the room had two doors; on one side it opened into the bed-room of the kitchen-maid and Ann Macklin, and on the other side, into the passage leading to the principal apartments of the house. There were three steps leading down from Mr. Seymour’s room into the servants’ room. On Tuesday, the 5th of July, I saw Mr. Seymour and Charles Macklin, between twelve and one o’clock, in Mr. Seymour’s dressing room. I had not at that time gone for the purpose of watching, but saw Hannah Watts kneeling on the steps and looking under the door. She spoke to me, and I went to the door, and looked under. I saw Macklin leaning on the bed, and Mr. Seymour behind him.”
          The witness here described, in the most explicit terms, what cannot be repeated.
          “While I was at the door, Bevan [p.323] the coachman came, and I left it. On going from the room, I left, I think, Leah Murphy in the room. I had seen in the same morning Hannah Watts, Ann Bailey, and Leah Murphy in the room – a little after one Boucher came home. Mr. Seymour dined that day at Mr. Ashley’s, at Sheppard; Bevan went wth him. Mr. Seymour’s mother and two other ladies dined with Mrs. Seymour, and slept at the house that night. When Boucher was informed of what had taken place, he left the house immediately. On that night a communication was made by me, Ann Bailey, Maria May, and Leah Murphy, to Mrs. Seymour. Next morning I met Mr. Seymour at his bed-room door. He asked me what we had been telling our mistress respecting Macklin. I said he had better ask the men. Macklin was discharged from Mr. Seymour’s on the 6th of July (the day following). Boucher returned on the night of the day on which he went away. Some time after, I told Mr. Seymour I wished to leave his service. He begged that I would not do so. He said he hoped I would not go, for the sake of mrs. Seymour and the family. He said that he had some notion of taking the family to Worthing. He said, ‘I wish you all (the servants) to go with me. You shall leave me one at a time, and I shall give you all good characters, and get you good places.’ I don’t recollect that there was any one present at this time. On another occasion Ann Bailey, Leah Murphy, and myself, told Mr. Seymour, that we did not wish to go with him, as we could not think of staying in his family after what had happened. On leaving the room, Mr. Seymour said to Ann Bailey, ‘As for you, Bailey, you saw nothing.’ Bailey replied, ‘What I have seen would hang any two men in England.’ Mr. Seymour said, ‘I have not had a very good character with you, Bailey, but, notwithstanding, I shall give you a good one.’ The family soon after went to Worthing. After we got there, I had a conversation with Mr. Seymour about the occurrence at Crowood. He said that he was going back there for some time to shoot. He returned from Crowood in a day or two, and said that the affair between him and Macklin was so universally talked of in the neighbourhood of Crowood, that he was obliged to return. He said, that Mr. Ritson, Mr. Johnson, and a few other friends, had drawn up a paper, which, if we (the servants) would sign, it would save his house from being burnt down, and his family from ruin. We refused to sign the paper. He said it was a very simple paper, and that he was sure we would not refuse him so small a request, which would do us no harm, and save him from so much misery. We still, however, declined to sign it. Next morning May, Bevan, Murphy, and myself, saw Mr. Seymour in his dressing-room, when he said, he hoped we had agreed to sign the paper which he had read to us the day before. He said that he had spoken to two tradesmen of Worthing who would be present while we signed the paper. I signed the paper in presence of only Mr. Seymour and the two witnesses. While I was signing the paper, a blank paper was thrown over the writing, and I was not able to read what I signed, nor did Mr. Seymour read it to me. When I had signed the paper, Mr. Seymou gave me another, which he had signed himself, [p.324] and which was to protect me against any consequences of having signed the former paper. Soon after I received a letter from Boucher, enclosing a copy of an advertisement which had been inserted in a newspaper, and to which my signature was attached, but the contents of the advdrtisement were different from what I thought I had signed. I proposed to Mr. Seymour to alter it; but he entreated me not to do so. After this, the family returned to Crowood; and May, Murphy, Bevan, and myself, accompanied them. Upn one occasion two gentlemen, of whom one was Mr. Johnson, came to Crowood, and Mr. Seymour, told us, that he had brought us to Crowood to tell the gentlemen that we had signed our names to the paper which had been made public. We said, that he had treated us extremely ill, and that we should immediately go for some advice. He entreated us not to do so, and that he would give us all good charactes. however, next day we all left, May, Murphy, myself, Bevan, and Boucher.” – The witness, in continuation, replied to a vast variety of questions, which seemed to have bene put to her in anticipation of some attacks which would be made upon her veracity, or with a view to the next cause in which she was herself indicted, with others, for a conspiracy, to procure the conviction of Mr. Seymour.
          . . . [p.325]
. . . [p.326]
. . . “I had given warning about six weeks before I left. On the 5th of July the servants were all in the kitchen at dinner-time; the dinner was served up as usual, but I believe that no one ate any thing. Macklin was there, and went to church with me. After supper Mrs. Seymour had requested of us not to say any thing to Macklin for that night. . . . Macklin was discharged next morning, the 6th of July, about eleven o’clock. He said to me on going, that we had got him out of the hosue at last. Not one of the servants ever gave to Macklin, before he left the house, the slightest intimation of the charge against him.”
          Bevan, the coachman, deposed in express words that he had seen the occurrence of the 5th of July, by looking under the door with the last witness. He added some circumstances of a more disgusting nature than had been stated by Hopkins. He said, that Mr. Seymour on one occasion reqeusted him (witness) to go after Boucher, the valet, who had left on hearing what had happened on the 5th; that, at the time when Mr. Seymour made the request, he wept copiously; and that upon another occasion Mr. Seymour said, he was a ruined man, and asked witness to blow out his (Seymour’s) brains. The witness also detailed a variety of conversations and occurrences intended to estabilsh the defendant’s guilt, eithe rby his own admissions, or by the statements which had been made on several occasions by the women and other persons in his family, who had determined on the 3rd of July towatch him and Macklin. . . .
          Henry Boucher deposed as follows:– I am butler and valet to Mr. Tuffnall, M.P. In July, [p.327] 1825, I filled a similar situation in the family of Mr. Seymour, and had been there from 1821. . . . On the day after my return, I was with Mr. Seymour in his dressing-room. He said to me, “Do you think, Boucher, I am guilty with respect to the act of that worst of all crimes?” I made no answer. He repeated the question; and I then said I could not think him othewise, when the servants below were ready to swear that they saw the act. He said, “There are two ways of committing sin.” He knelt down and cried, and said that he was not guilty of the act. . . . [p.328]
          The Rev. Edward Graves Meyrick deposed – I am vicar of Ramsbury. Crowood is in my parish. In the summer of 1825, I, at the request of several gentlemen of the neighbourhood, called on Mr. Seymour to inform him of the reports which were in circulation about him. It was in August that I first saw him. I told him that reports were prevalent in the neighbourhood of a most disgraceful intimacy between him and his footman. He said, “Oh, you have heard that story have you? I will now tell it you for the last time, and dismiss it from my mind for ever.” He said, that an account had been brought in a second time which had been paid before by his father-in-law, general Reeve; that being anxious to ascertain this, he gave one of his account-books to Charles Macklin, whilst he looked over the other himself; that the book, which Charles Macklin was looking in, was placed upon the bed in the dressing-room; that Macklin, thinking he had found the name, called to his master; that he went in consequence, and leant over his shoulder; that his servants looked under the door while he was in that situation, and that from that circumstance the reports arose. I (the witness) replied, that it was in vain to treat this matter in a trifling way; and that he should immediately send for some of the gentlemen of the county, and have his seervants examined before them. He then became dreadfully agitated, shed tears, and said that he had the worst set of servants that any man ever had; that there was a vile conspiracy agaisnt him; that for the last twelve-months he had [p.328] neither been able to change a shirt, or make water, or do any thing whatever without being watched by these servants, and that they had even been base enough to accuse Mrs. Seymour herself. I urged him by every means in my power immediately to take the most decisive steps. . . .
          Cuthbert Johnson, Esq. – I reside at Wallington, in Berkshire, about seven miles from Crowood. I know Mr. Seymour very intimately. . . . I urged Mr. Seymour to institute immediately a prosecution against his servants. We went up to look at the dressing-room. I looked under the door. Mr. Seymour said to me that it was useless to look under the door, as, if any thing had happened, they might have seen it. I looked under the door, and could see very plainly about the room. I could see the end, but not the windows. While I was staying at Crowood, Mr. Seymour said, that a foul conspiracy existed against him, – that he had a set of very bad servants, – That Boucher was a snake in the grass, – that Bevan was a great villain; and that he himself was innocent. . . . The witness continued. When I looked under the door I was able to see consideraby higher than the bed part of the bed, and, if there had been two persons on it in the manner stated already, I could certainly have seen them. I had a conversation with Mr. Seymour in the hot-house at Crowood. He was excessivey agitated, and said that his life had been most unfortunate. A great deal of the conversation between us was strictly confidential.
          (Here Mr. Sergeant Wilde said, that, on the part of Mr. Seymour, he released the witness from any [p.329] honorary obligation to secrecy, which he might conceive himself to be under.)
          [Mr. Johnson continued:] Mr. Seymour then went on to say, that there was a distinction in the degrees of the offence, but that he did not think that the gentlemen of the country could understand it. He then clasped his hands together and said, that he would leave the country, and swore solemnly that he was not guilty of the capital offence. He said, that, in leaving the neighbourhood, he had little to regret, as the only person he cared about was himself. (Mr. Johnson here became much affected. He shed tears, and was for some time unable to proceed.) I told him that the servants were much dissatisfied at the advertisement which had been inserted in the Reading paper; and he replied, that it was the same which they had signed. Mr. Kitson and I went next day, by Mr. Seymour’s request, to call on Mr. Hippisley and some other gentlemen. We did not go to Mr. Hippisley’s, because, in going there, we had seen Charles Macklin, who had been staying with his father-in-law (Stone), within three miles of Crowood. Mr. Kitson, myself, Stone, and Macklin,, had a conversation. I said to Macklin that there were very unpleasant reports in circulation relative to him and Mr. Seymour, and that it was the anxious wish of every gentlemen in the country to do away with them; – that Mr. Kitson and myself were acting for Mr. Seymour, and wished to know the truth of every thing; – and that we hoped, if there was any thing in the reports, he, Macklin, would not conceal it from us, and we had Mr. Seymour’s interest at heart. He said there was nothing, – that the other servants were jealous of him, but he could not tell why. We asked, if he had been favoured by his master in any particular degree, or had received any presents from him, as clothes or money. He said he had received an old shirt or two, and some trifling things of that sort. I think he said he had received no watch. I urged him particularly to be candid, and asked him if he could appear before a jury of his own countrymen and assert his innocence. He said he could. I perceied that his manner was much embarrassed, and that he appeared uneasy. I said, “don’t deceive us, Macklin.” He then said, “then, gentlemen, I will tell you the truth, which I have never told any one before. Mr. Seymour put his hand here” (pointing to the lower part of his person). I, witness, asked him how he allowed Mr. Seymour to do so; he replied, that he was angry at it. I asked him, if Mr. Seymour’s hands had ever been in his, Macklin’s, small clothes; he said, “yes, and more than once.” I then turned to Mr. Kitson and Thomas Stone: they appeared to be greatly affected. I asked Mr. Kitson if he thought it would be necessary to proceed to Mr. Hippisley’s; he said he thought we had heard quite enough. After this, when Mr. Seymour heard what had taken place, he asked us what we had been doing with Macklin? adding, that we had been cutting his (Seymour’s) throat, – that we had, though with the best intentions, been altogether wrong in the course which we had pursued. He said he would go abroad, mentioned his family, and seemed greatly distressed. I told him that our interviews must cease [p.330] from that day, but that I should be happy to do any thing in my power in arranging his affairs. He asked me to take charge of some of his horses. He said he should leave the country without regret; and that, although he had been much upon the continent, he had not imbibed any of their bad habits, though he might, if he had chosen. I afterwards received a letter from Mr. And Mrs. Seymour, and went to meet them at Newbury. I went to Newbury, and waited near three hours, but Mr. Seymour did not come. I saw him afterwards at Tymparon. He asked me, if the gentlemen would meet him: and I answered no. He said that he was very sorry for it; and then mentioned that his wife was at Hungerford, and wished much to see me. I offered to walk with him to Hungerford, to meet Mrs. Seymour. He hesitated, and said he hoped I was not going to betray him. I said, that, if I should see his wife, it would be impossible for me to conceal any thing from her, if she questioned me. I think we parted at Tymparon.
          Cross-examined by Mr. Sergeant Wilde. – When I saw Mr. Seymour, after having communicated with Macklin, Mr. Seymour said to me, that, by the conversation which I had had with Macklin, I had cut his (Mr. Seymour’s) throat.
          The Rev. Walter Kitson detailed the conversation between him and Mr. Seymour in Mr. Meyrich’s presence. Some correspondence between Mr. Seymour and the witness was then put in. In one of the letters addressed to Mr. Kitson by Mr. Seymour, the latter gentleman protested, in the most solemn manner, that he never had committed, nor intended to commit, the offence of which he was charged, and no man living entertained a greater abhorrence of the crime than he did. This declaration concluded with the words, “so help me God.”
          When Mr. Kitson had retired, a surgeon was put into the box, who deposed that he had attended Boucher since his examination; that he had had an apoplectic attack, and was now in extreme danger. To subject him now to any considerable degree of mental excitement, would be followed, inall probability, by a severer attack than that which he had already experienced.
          (A witness was called to account for the absence of May, the nursery maid.)
          Mr. Sergeant Wilde addressed the jury for the defence. . . . Persons of rank, who had been charged with such offences, were usually detected either in places beneath them, or in company with low persons, with whom they [p. 331] could have had no business, or with people, or in places, or at times, whcih of themselves constituted a ground of suspicion, and required explanation. But what were the circumstances of this case? Mr. Seymour was in his own house, in his own dressing-rom, with his own valet, whose duty it was to attend him: he knew that all the members of his family knew where he was and who was with him; for, having rung his wife’s bell,, which was answered biy Phœbe Hopkins, she it was who was directed by Mr. seymour to order Macklin to wait upon his master with a lighted candle. Mr. Seymour was a married man, and blessed with a wife gifted with discretion, beauty, accomplishments, and every other attraction which could not only rivet the most delicate affections,, but also gratify the appetites which have been implanted in mankind for the wisest purposes. Had the union of Mr. Seymour with his amiable partner been cursed with an unfruitful bed? His wife had presented him five children, and, on the 5th of July, she had an infant at her breast. Was this circusmtance to afford a presumption of Mr. Seymour’s guilt, or did not human nature cry out from the recesses of every man’s heart, that it excited the most irresistible presumption of his innocence? But what was the state of the prosecutors? What were they? An abominable association of men and women, conspiring to watch the secret motions of their master, and gloat by turns upon a scene from which human nature recoiled inabhorrence and disgust. What must the men and women be, and upon what terms must they have lived together, who could have deliberately agreed to witness such scenes, and make them the subject of their conversation. . . .
[long testimony arguing that the bed in the dressing-room could not be seen by looking under the door] [p.332]
. . . [p.333]
. . . [p.334]
. . . [more cross-examination of servants who argued they could see under the door] [p.335]
. . . [attempts to discredit the testimony of Phœbe Hopkins] [p.336]

. . . The Court having been, at ten o’clock, adjourned to the judge’s lodgings, the jury proceeded thither about midnight, and returned a verdict of Guilty against both the prisoners.

(SOURCE: Annual Register, Review of the Year 1828, Vol. 70, pp. 323–337)

Monday 9 February 1829

COURT OF KING'S BENCH, Feb. 3. – The King v. Seymour. – Mr. Coleridge prayed the judgment of the Court against the defendant in this case. The defendant, who is a person of very large fortune, was convicted at the last assizes at Salisbury of an assault with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime.
          Lord Tenterden said, that in the absence of Mr. Justice Bayley (who was in the Bail Court), the Court would not pass judgment; he, therefore, directed that the case should stand over untill a future day; and that in the mean time the defendant should be handed over to the custody of the Marshal.
          The defendant, who had been brought up in the custody of the jailor of a Wiltshire prison, was then taken into custody by the Marshal. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Monday 16 February 1829

COURT OF KING'S BENCH, Monday, Feb. 9.
This case having bene appointed for this morning, the defendant, who had been remanded to the custody of the Marshall, was brought up and placed on the floor of the court. It will be recollected, that at the last spring assizes at Salisbury, he was convicted on an indictment, charging him with attempting to commit an unnatural offence, with his servant, Charles Macklin, in July, 1825. An indictment against both parties for the cpaital offence had been preferred in the beginning of the year 1827, and it came on for trial at the summer assizes of 1827, when, after the examination of two witnesses, the counsel for the prosecution intimated that they did not expect to obtain a conviction with the evidence which they then had in court, and would therefore abandon further proceedings upon that indictment. Mr. Seymour, who had been out upon bail, and had surrendered to take his trial upon the capital charge, having been thus acquitted, soon afterwards preferred an indictment against two of his servants (who were the principal witnesses against him) for a conspiracy, and they then preferred another bill against him and Macklin for the attempt to commit the offence for which they had before indicted him capitally. The grand jury having found the bill, Mr. Seymour removed the indictment, as well as the indictment preferred by him for comspiracy, into this court by certiorari, and both records were sent down for trial at Salisbury at the assizes in March last. After considerable discussion as to which case should be taken first, the counsel for Mr. Seymour contending that the indictment aganst him should have the precedence, the Court determined to proceed upon that indictment. the case, which was tried by a special jury, occupied three days, and the defendants were found guilty.
          The report of the trial, as furnished by Mr. Justice Gaselee, was read by Mr. Justice James Parke. – The reading of the report occupied about three hours. The defendant, who appeared to listen to the detail of the evidence with much attention, became greatly agitated at that part of it which related to the conversations between him and his friens Mr. Johnson and Mr. Kitson.
          Mr. Sergeant WILDE said he had to pray, on the part of Mr. Seymour only, (Macklin having died within the last few days)
[my emphasis], that the Court would be pleased to review the evidence in this case, and permit him, as counsel for the accused, to suggest such observations as occurred to him, in order to show that justice had not been done. The facts developed by the report required to be calmly investigated; but he (the learned counsel) was not now appearing with all the advantages he would have possessed had he been instructed to make the application to their Lordships at an earlier period. But although his client had forborne to ask for a review of the evidence within the time presecribed for an application for a new trial, he was confident that their Lordships would not permit him to show that justice had not been done, and that judgment ought not to be, and could not be, safely passed upon the present verdict. He would, with the permission of their lordships, state why Mr. Seymour had not appeared earlier before them. In what situation did he find himself at the moment the verdict of guilty was pronounced agianst him? This dreadful charge had bene hanging over him for two years and a half; and here the learned sergeant would observe, that of all individuals presenting themselves to the attention of the Court, he was one who had a strong claim upon its indulgence. He was a married man, and the father of several young children, one of whom had been born since the trial of this indictment – he had found “his house” against him, but he had nevertheless surrendered to take his trial upon a charge affecting his life, and had also brought himself to trial a second time. He had stimulated the trial of this indictment by preferring an indictment against his servants for conspiracy, but when he found that a verdict of guilty had been passed against him, he knew that he was lost to that society in which he had before moved; and, influenced by feelings which nearly overwhelmed him at that time, he had fled his country, not from the fear of punishment, but from the dread of shame. He had faced death, but he could not face their lordships under a verdcit of guilty upon such a charge as this. Feeling that his ruin had been effected, he sought retirement, leaving his family behind. No notice had been given him that judgment would be moved for against him, and he now appeared voluntarily before their lordships. He had found that if he continued in seclusion, his property would be taken from him, and feeling that his famiy had claims upon him, he had at length determined to come before the Court, and endeavour to satisfy their lordships that the verdict against him ought not to stand, and that judgment could not be pronounced upon it. The learned serjeant was proceeding in a very eloquent speech to take a review of the circumstances which had occurred before and subsequently to the commission of the offence of which Mr. Seymour had been convicted, when
          Lord TENTERDEN observed, that they (the Court) had expressed their willingness to hear any suggestions of the learned serjeant on the facts appearing upon the report, but it was not usual to hear a lengthened speech in a case where the time for applying for a new trial had elapsed. If the learned serjeant would offer his observations in such a manner as that they might come rather as suggestions upon the evidence than as a speech on the case, the Court would be happy to hear him.
          Mr. Serjeant WILDE was aware of the rule to which his lordship had adverted, and he would endeavour to shape his observations in the form which his lordship had suggested. The case, however, was one of circumstances, and required some minuteness of detail. His object was to present to the court some important facts which had occurred upon the trial, and which he (Mr. Serjeant Wilde) had not haad an opportunity of commenting on at the time, as they had transpired after he had addressed the jury for the defendant. There were two or three circumstances hwich had tended to influence the verdict, but which ought to have had no weight whatever in the minds of the jury. One of them was this, – a question had been asked Mr. Johnson, the answer to which had affected Mr. Seymour's case most materially, and he should be able to satisfy the Court that the question was an improper one, and ought not to have been asked at all. Mr. Johnson had been asked what was his impression, or what was his understanding, of the expression used by Mr. Seymour to him in the course of their conversation in the greenhouse, and he had answered that hs impression was, that Mr. Seymour meant to say that he had been guilty of the capital offence. such evidence as that ought not to have been received.
          Mr. Justice BAYLEY. – Did you object to it at the time?
          Mr. Serjeant WILDE. – No, my lord; I objected to nothing, and I durst not. It was evident from the questions which were afterwards put to Mr. Johnson by the jury, that his evidence made a great impression upon them.
          Lord TENTERDEN. – The question seems to have beeen a very unnecessary one; but I think no two persons could have doubted as to the effect of the answer given to it.
          Mr. Serjeant WILDE. – Mr. Johnson's opinion given at the trial ought to have been judged of by his conduct previously. He had formed the opinion which he gave at the trial from facts which were the result of modern prejudice. This was a case in which prejudice was particularly strong, and surely if the Court would not allow a witness to state his impressions and opinions in a civil action, it would not receive such evidence in a criminal case of this nature. Another circumstance to which he begged to call the attention of their lordships was, that at the beginning of the trial it had been agreed that all the witnesses should go out of court. When two witnesses (General Dundas and Mr. Coverdale) were called to give evidence for Mr. Seymour, it was found that they had not gone out with the other witnesses, and the jury therefore said they could not hear their evidence. It turned out, however, that Mr. Johnson, who had given such rash evidence against Mr. Seymour, ahd also been present in court; but this was not known until after he had been examined and his testimony was received, and no doubt had great influence with the jury. Boucher, also, before his examination in chief had been finished, swooned, and was taken out of court. This was most unfortunate for Mr. Seymour; for he (Mr. Serjeant Wilde) had affidavits which stated that the cross-examination of Boucher would have been most material. He had also an affidavit which stated that great prejudice had existed in Salisbury and its neighbourhood as to the affair, which was talked of by every body. Another circumstance which the learned serjeant wished to press upon the attention of the Court was this:– In the conversation in which Mr. Kitson and Mr. Johnson had had with Macklin, it was stated that Macklin had admitted that Mr. Seymour was guilty, but that he (Macklin) was innocent.
          Mr. Justice BAYLEY. – That does not rest alone upon what passed between these two gentlemen and Macklin; it appears that there was a conversation afterwards with Mr. Seymour, in which what Macklin had stated was mentioned, and Mr. Seymour did not deny the truth of what Macklin had stated.
          Lord TENTERDEN. – that was receivable evidence.
          Mr. Serjeant WILDE. – It might be so; but their lordships would observe, that Macklin had been applied to to state facts respecting his master, and he had then in effect said, “My master is guilty, but I am innocent.”
          Mr. Justice BAYLEY. – No; he was asked what had occurred between his master and himself.
          Mr. Serjeant WILDE. – But it was with reference to Mr. Seymour's conduct exclusively, and not his own as connected with Mr. Seymour's, and he never understood that his own conduct was to be impugned. But he (the learned serjeant) would proceed to another part of the case. Hannah Watts had been called as a witness on the part of Mr. Seymour, and she had stated that she had been called upon by Phœbe Hopkins to say, that at the time she looked under the door she saw Mr. Seymour’s person exposed.she had denied that she had seen it, but she stated that Hopkins had told her that unless she had, she and all the other servants would be transported. She had been asked, “Did you not, in the presence of Phœbe Hopkins and Mr. Butler, say, that you had seen Mr. Seymour’s person?” and she replied that she had, adding, that she was terrified by Hopkins. Now, why did Hopkins allow her to state, in the presence of herself and Mr. Butler, that she had seen Mr. Seymour’s person? If their lordships would only consider this circumstance, they would find that it strengthened the testimony given by Watts, and destroyed the evidence of Hopkins. there were also other contradictions to Hopkins’s testimony. She had been asked, in her cross-examination, whether she had not told a pereson of the name of Smith, that she saw the transacton once on Sunday, the 3d of July, and twice on theTeusday, and she said she had not; but the witness Smith contradited her in that respect, and she was contradicted in other parts of her testimony. The first trial – that upon the capital charge – had afforded her a good rehearsal for the second; and on that occasion, she had come prepared to reconcile the contradictions and discrepancies which appeared in her evidence on the first trial. She had been asked, on both occasions, whether Macklin did not sup with her and the other servants on the night of the transations in question, and she admitted that he did. She gave no reason for it the first time, and the learned Judge made an observation upon it. In consequence of that observation, she had come prepared on the second triasl, and said that Mrs. Seymour had requested the servant snot to say any thing to Macklin about what had occurred that night. After the learned counsel had proceeded with a few other remarks,
          Lord TENTERDEN said the Court could go no furthe with the case to-day. They would hear the learned counsel against to-morrow.
Mr. Serjeant WILDE resumed his observations in this case, and after commenting at great length on the discrepancies and contradictions in the evidence of several of the witnesses for the prosecution, and particularly of Phœbe Hopkins and David Bevan, called the attention of the Court to the evidence of Professor Millington and other witnesses for the defendant, who had examined the situation of the dressing-room at Crowood, and made expeeriments, with a view to shew that the transaction sworn to have taken place between Mr. Seymour and Macklin, could not be seen from the place where Hopkins and Bevan had stated that they witnesses it. In adverting to another part of the case, the learned serjeant said it had been observed – and he always felt the force of the observation – that there was a total absence of all motive on the part of the servants for bringing forward this charge, supposing it to be a false one, against Mr. Seymour. His answer to the observation, however, was, tht the parties never contemplated that upon the statements which they had made, Mr. Seymour would be brought to trial for his life. they had not originally foreseen the extent to which the affair would be carried; but having been stimulated by the proceedings which Mr. Seymour had himself commenced against them, their original motive, whatever it might have been – and he confessed he could not assign a distinct adequate motive
[my emphasis] – had been extended, and the parties had pursued their object until they had produced those consequences, which, at the time they first propagated the charge, they never dreamt would take place. The learned serjeant then urged with great force, that the defendant having been acauitted on the indictment charging him with the commission of the capiutal offence, on the ground that the evidence in support of such charge was not sufficient to establish it, he ought to have been acquitted of the misdemeanour also. The Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, before whom the first indictment had come on for trial, intimated his opinion that if the evidence were true, the capital charge had been fully established; but the counsel for the prosecution had thought it right to give up the case after the examination of Phœbe Hopkins and another witness. Those witnesses had spoken positively to the commission of the capital offence, and if their eivdnce was not to be believed at that time, it ought not on the trial for the misdemeanour to have been thought worthy of credit, and the defendant ought to have been acquitted. the learned serjeant lamented that his client had acted so injudiciously as not to allow his learned friend Sir James Scarlett to conduct the case before their Lordships upon this occaions, and concluded his observations (which occupied three hours) by submitting to the Court that they could not safely pronounce judgment on the present verdict.
          Lord TENTERDEN, after cnsulting with the other Judges, said, that in a case of so much importance as this, the Court thought it right, before giving its decision upon the present application, that each of the Judges should have an opportunity of reading the evidence as it appeared upon the report of the learned Judge before whom the case was tried. When they had done so, the Court would intimate its opinion to the learned seerjeant, and if they should decide that there ought to be a rule nisi for a new trial, the rule might be drawn up as of the present term. The defendant must in the mean time be remanded to the custody of the Marshal.
          Soon after the defendant had been removed,
          Lord TENTERDEN, addressing Sir James Scarlett, said, that it had been just intimated to the Court, on the part of the defendant, that it would be more convenient to him to be removed to the gaol in the county from whence he had been brought. The Court would, therefore, allow him to go down, but he must do so, and appear again, if necessary, at his own expense. (Reading Mercury)

Monday 13 April 1829

John Richmond Seymour, Esq. convicted of a misdemeanour at the last Wiltshire Summer Assizes, who was remanded to be brought up for judgment at Hilary-term, was again committed to Fisherton Gaol to await the event of a motion for a new trial, which was refused, has been bailed to await his judgment, himself in 4000l. and two sureties in 1000l. each. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Monday 20 April 1829

We are informed, by authority on which we can rely, that the article in our last paper referring to the case of J. J. Seymour, Esq. (in which we stated that his application for a new trial had been refused), is incorrect. That application has not been refused, but is now under the consideration of the Judges, whose opinions will probably be delivered early next Term. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Monday 13 July 1829

COURT OF KING’S BENCH, July 7. The King v. J. R. Seymour, Esq. – the defendant in this case, it will be recollected, had been convicted at the Salisbury assaizes of a criminal attempt with his servant. In Hilary Term last, Mr. Sergeant Wilde applied for a rule for a new trial. The Court having taken time to consider the case, Lord Tenterden not intimated that their Lordships had determined to grant a rule nisi, which might therefore be drawn up forthwith. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Monday 2 August 1830

It is understood that the case of Mr. SEYMOUR will come on pro forma at the next Assizes, and that a verdict of acquittal must be returned upon the indictment, as there will be no prosecution. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given. (Many reports were repeated verbatim across several newspapers, but I have not included them all.)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Case of John Richmond Seymour, 1827–29", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 10 February 2015, expanded 13 February 2015 <>.

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