Open main menu

NOBLE, RICHARD (1684–1713), criminal, son of a coffeehouse-keeper at Bath, was born in 1684, and received a good education. He was articled as clerk to an attorney, and entered the profession on reaching manhood. Of bad moral character, he soon began to use his professional position to cheat his clients. About 1708 Noble was applied to for legal assistance by John Sayer of Biddlesden in Buckinghamshire, owner of various properties worth 1,800l. a year. Sayer had married a woman of profligate disposition, named Mary, daughter of Admiral John Nevell [q. v.], and was on very bad terms with his wife. Noble soon became unduly intimate with the lady. In 1709 he was empowered to draw up a deed of separation between her and Sayer, and he harassed Sayer by various suits in chancery connected with his wife's separate estate. He was now living with Mrs. Sayer, who on 5 March 1711 bore him a son. Thereupon Sayer brought an action for criminal conversation against Noble, and in January 1713 he procured a warrant empowering him to arrest Mrs. Sayer, ‘as being gone from her husband, and living in a loose, dishonourable manner.’ On 29 Jan. Sayer, accompanied by two constables, proceeded to a house in George Street, the Mint, where Mrs. Sayer was then living with Noble and her mother, now Mrs. Salusbury. The visitors were admitted, but Noble no sooner saw Sayer than he drew his sword and ran him through the heart. Noble and the two women were arrested, were committed to the Marshalsea, and were arraigned at Kingston assizes. Noble pleaded self-defence, but was condemned to death, and was executed at Kingston on 29 March 1713. The two women were acquitted.

[See two anonymous pamphlets: (1) ‘A full Account of the Case of John Sayer, Esq., from the time of his unhappy Marriage with his Wife to his Death, including the whole Intrigue between Mrs. Sayer and Mr. Noble,’ London, 1713; (2) A Full and Faithful Account, &c., with additional details relating to the trial and to Noble's behaviour in the Marshalsea, and confession, London, 1713. The legal aspects of the murder are also treated in The Case of Mr. Richard Noble impartially considered, by a student of the Inner Temple, London, 1713.]

G. P. M-y.