Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 9.djvu/25

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iis.,ix.jAN.3,.u4.] JS T OTES AND QUERIES.


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We cannot . consider that Bulwer's opinion and that of the unnamed lawyers he refers to (formed seventy-two years after the trial) are of ^nuch value, as we do not know what materials ihey had before them when they formed their opinion on the case.

Mr. Watson has given in Appendix T. a list of the " Original Documents in the Record Office in the matter of II. v. Aram, Houseman, and Terry," and in Appendix II. " Extracts from the Contemporary Press, 1744-5 [the date of the murder] to 1759," and we cannot speak too highly of his industry and research. Having carefully read this book, we are satisfied that Mr. Watson has covered the whole ground, and that it is impossible to add to the materials which he has with so much labour collected.

We may state at once that we concur entirely in the conclusion to which Mr. Watson has come, namely, that Eugene Aram was fairly tried according to the law as it existed in 1759, that the evidence clearly established his guilt, and that it is idle for any one now to say that he was innocent of the murder.

In 1744 there lived at Knaresborough Eugene Aram and Richard Houseman. Houseman was a flax-dresser, described as a big, broad-shouldered, square man. They were about forty years of age. There also lived there Daniel Clark, a shoemaker, about twenty-three years of age, who was a thin, pale-looking" man, and was about 5 ft. 6 in. or 5ft. 8 in. high. Clark was generally deemed to be a person who had obtained a considerable quantity of plate and jewellery from various tradespeople dishonestly, and he was also in possession of a large sum of money. These three persons were intimate friends. Clark left Aram's house with Aram and Houseman, and a strange man, about 11 P.M. on the night of 7 Feb., 1744/5. Tuton or Tutin, a mason, saw Clark join Aram and Houseman about 2 or 3 A.M. on the morning of 8 Feb., when he lost sight of them. These three persons Aram, Houseman, and Clark went to a cave, known as " St. Robert's Cave," a little way out of Knares- borough. At that cave Clark was robbed and murdered, his clothes were taken away and destroyed to prevent the identification of the body in case it should be found, and there the body remained buried until August, 1758.

On 8 Feb., when Clark was missing, every effort was made to trace him, but in vain. Aram, who had been in needy circumstances before the murder, was after the murder in possession of n considerable sum of money about 105?. and part of Clark's property was found buried in his garden.

A skeleton was dug up near Knaresborough in August, 1758, and it was at once assumed that it was Clark's skeleton. A coroner's inquest was held, and the jury so found. Houseman, how- ever, appears to have imprudently stated, when requested to take up one of the bones : " This is no more Dan Clark's bone than it is mine."

On 15 or 1(5 Aug. Houseman said something which led to the belief that the body of Clark might be found in St. Robert's Cave, and on 17 Aug. search was made, and it was there found. He was arrested for the murder, and Aram was subsequently arrested at Lynn, in Norfolk, where he was an usher in a school. His wife and children remained at Knaresborough, where he had left them without means of support. A


fresh inquest was held on Clark's body, and a verdict of wilful murder returned against House- man and Aram. Aram on his arrest at first asserted that he did not know Knaresborough , and that he did not know Clark, but he after- wards admitted that these were lies. Still, many- innocent men lie on being arrested.

Mr. Watson points out that Aram's own admission brings him to the cave on the fatal night. " He can't tell what to say, whether Clark was murdered or not " (a singular frame of rnind), only he was told that Clark had gone off.

The trial of Eugene Aram, Houseman, and Terry (the third was also in custody, charged with the murder) ought to have taken place in the- ordinary course at the Spring Assizes of 1759, but at the instance of the Crown the trial was- postponed to the next assizes, to be held ia August. In June Houseman, in order to save- his neck, offered to give evidence against Aram, which offer was accepted by the Crown, and the following is what took place at the cave, accord- ing to his statement to the magistrate :-

" He [Houseman] went with them [Eugene Aram and Daniel Clark] to a place called Saint Robert's Cave, near Grimble Bridge, where Aram and Clark stopt a little, and in their way thither stopt a while at the Grimble Bridge, and there he saw Aram stricke him several times over the breast and head, saw him fall as if he was dead, and he, this examinant, came away and left them together, but wether [sic] Aram used any weapon or not to kill him with he can't tell, nor does he know what he did with the body afterwards, but believes Aram left it at the cave's mouth, for this examinant seeing Aram do this, to which he declares he was in no way abetting or privy to, nor knew of his design to kill him at all ; [then ?] did this examinant make the best of his way from him least [sic] he might share the same fate, and got to the Bridge end, and then lookt back, and saw him coming from the cave side, which is in a private rock adjoining the river, and he could discern some bundle in his hand, but does not know what it was : On which this informant [sic] made the best of his way to the town without joining Aram again or seeing him again till next day, and from, that time till this he never had any private dis- course with him."

At the Assizes in August no evidence was offered against Houseman, and he was acquitted, and he thereupon gave his evidence against Aram. Again, to quote from Mr. Watson's book, " we have no very full account of the flax- dresser's [Houseman's] evidence, but of the manner in which he gave it there is a most complete- concurrence of contemporary opinion." " House- 1 man's evidence," says the press of that day, " was delivered with all the anxiety, diffidence, and embarrassment of conscious guilt, solicitous to accuse the partner of his iniquity no farther than consisted with keeping the curtain drawn between the Court and him."

Clark's skull was produced in court, so that the jury coiild sec the fracture at the back of it. Aram's defence, which he had nearly a year to prepare, comes to nothing, if Houseman was believed by the jury, nearly the whole of it conr sisting of a number of instances where skeletons have been found in strange places, and in which there was no suggestion of foul play, and he-