Don’t You Ever Dare Write Like This (And Expect Me To Correct It)!

The Body Snatchers: A Recent Actual Occurrence in the Vicinity of New York City.

The Jurors for our Lord the King upon their oath present that John Bishop, late of the parish of St Matthew, Bethnal Green in the county of Middlesex, Labourer, Thomas Williams, late of the same, Labourer, and James May, late of the same, Labourer, being evil disposed persons and not having the fear of God before their eyes and being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil on the fourth day of November in the second year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord William the Fourth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King Defender of the Faith with force and arms at the parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid in and upon Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier in the peace of God and our said Lord the King then and there being feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforethought did make an assault – And that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May with a certain Wooden Staff of no value the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier then and there feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforethought did strike and beat – And that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May by such striking and beating the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier in and upon the back part of the neck of him the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier as aforesaid then and there feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforethought did give unto the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier divers mortal bruises and contusions in and upon the back part of the neck of him the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier of which said mortal bruises and contusions the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier did then and there instantly Die – And so the Jurors aforesaid upon their Oath aforesaid do say that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May the said Carlo Feriere otherwise called Charles Ferrier in manner and form aforesaid feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforthought did Kill and Murder against the peace of our said Lord the King his Crown and Dignity – And the Jurors aforesaid upon their Oath aforesaid do further present that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May not having the fear of God before their eyes but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil afterwards to wit on the same day and in the year aforesaid with force and Arms at the parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid in the peace of God and our own said Lord the King then and there being feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforethought did make an assault and that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May with a certain Wooden Staff of no value the said Male person whose name is unknown as aforesaid in and upon the back part of the neck of the said Male person whose name is unknown to the Jurors aforesaid in the peace of God and our sovereign Lord the King then and there did strike and beat – And that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May by such striking and beating the said Male person whose name is unknown as aforesaid then and there feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforethought did give unto the Male person whose name is unknown as aforesaid divers mortal bruises and contusions in and upon the back part of the neck of him the said Male person whose name is unknown as aforesaid did then and there instantly Die – And so the Jurors aforesaid upon their Oath aforesaid do say that the said John Bishop, Thomas Williams and James May the said Male person whose name is unknown as aforesaid in manner and form aforesaid feloniously, wilfully and of their Malice aforethought did Kill and Murder against the peace of our said Lord and King his Crown and Dignity.

Whoa! What a looong sentence! The Marx Brothers? Nope: the London Burkers’ indictment, to be found in the London Metropolitan Archives, Old Bailey Sessions Roll, OB/SR609/10, as it appears in Sarah Wise’s excellent study of murder and grave robbery in 1830s London, The Italian Boy.

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10.07.07. Humour.

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