the colmer murder trial

the colmer murder trial

As reported in full in the Western Gazette

 

 

ONE OF THE ACCUSED BEFORE THE MAGISTRATES AT YEOVIL

The Western Gazette, Friday 16 April 1880

Robert Slade Colmer was brought up in custody on Thursday at 1 o'clock, before the Mayor (Mr Edward Raymond) and Messrs HB Phelps, James Curtis and John Curtis. Although it was anticipated that proceedings would be merely formal, the court was crowded.

The Deputy Chief Constable, addressing the Bench, said -- I appear by the direction of the Chief Constable to prosecute in this case. The charge against Robert Slade Colmer is one of the wilful murder of Mary Budge, as we allege on 19 March last, and his wife, Jane Colmer, is also charged with the same offence. With respect to Jane Colmer, a medical certificate is produced from Dr Aldridge to the effect that she is unable to appear here today, and what I propose to do is to ask the magistrates to remand both prisoners until Wednesday next. In the meantime, I shall be able to get up the evidence, and I propose to proceed with the case on Wednesday, provided Madame Colmer is in a fit condition to be removed here. The accused are already detained by us under the Coroner's warrant, which I produce, on the charge of wilful murder. This application for remand is in accordance, I believe, with the wishes of the gentleman who defends the accused. I simply ask for remand till Wednesday next.

Mr Trevor Davies -- I appear for both prisoners, and I entirely agree with the application made by the Deputy Chief Constable for remand. I trust the remand will be granted, and that's no evidence will be tendered. Now, for it would be a pity to cut up the evidence.

The Mayor (to the prisoner in the dock) -- We remand you and your wife until Wednesday next, at 11 o'clock, and if Mrs Colmer is not able to be present then, we must further remand you.

The Deputy Chief Constable -- I must ask the magistrates to bind over verbally two witnesses to appear here on Wednesday.

John Haddy Forster, clerk at Stuckey's Bank, Crewkerne, then entered into his recognizance in the sum of £50 to appear as a witness.

Mark Cheney, the father of Ellen Cheney, servant to Madame Colmer, was called in to be bound for the appearance of the girl. He did not understand the proceedings, and said he could not find £50. He was bound over in the sum named.

Prisoner was taken to the Police court and back to the Police station in a closed fly. He shook hands with one of his sons and several other persons in Court, and to did not manifest the least uneasiness.

 

 

THE CHARGE OF MURDER AGAINST YEOVIL HERBALISTS
THE ACCUSED BEFORE THE MAGISTRATES

The Western Gazette, Friday 23 April 1880

Not since the trial of the persons implicated in the murder of PC Cox has such a scene of excitement been witnessed in and around the Yeovil Police Court as was seen on Wednesday, when Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer (his wife) were charged before the Mayor (Mr E Raymond), and Messrs James Curtis, John Curtis, HB Phelps, and JC Moore, with the wilful murder of Mary Budge (widow of Mr E Budge, solicitor, of Crewkerne), on March 19. The Marketplace and the approaches to the court were crowded, and as the clock struck eleven, and the doors were opened, there was a rush to secure places, which only careful arrangements, enforced by a strong body of police, could regulate. The persons in the body of the court were of the more respectable class, discretion having been wisely exercised in refusing admission to the rougher element. Many persons must have been disappointed, for the space at the disposal of the public is limited.

The magistrates took their seats punctually, but at quarter-past eleven the prisoners had not appeared, and the Clerk (Mr Batten), sent a constable to seek Superintendent Smith, and explained that the Bench were waiting. The policeman returned with the message that they were "waiting for Mrs Colmer." At 11:30 PS Holwill informed the Mayor that the prisoners would be present in about ten minutes. Mr Watts explained that the delay was due to no fault of the police. The Chief Constable was anxious that the proceedings should not commence till both prisoners were present. Soon afterwards the Chief Constable and the Deputy-Chief Constable entered the court, and the Deputy explained that they had experienced difficulty in getting Mrs Colmer ready. It was nearly a 11:45 when the male prisoner was placed in the dock. He was looking well, and did not appear in the least agitated. After the lapse of ten minutes, the Mayor complained of the delay, and Mr Trevor Davies explained that he could not help it. He had done all he could. Mr Superintendent Smith was in charge of Mrs Colmer. He (Mr Davies) believed that when she did appear, her condition would not allow the case proceeding far. Just before twelve two policeman carried Mrs Colmer into the dock in a chair. She appeared utterly helpless, and was attended in the dock by Mrs Crocker and the two Misses Colmer (her three daughters). Quite prostrate, Mrs Colmer leaned on the shoulder of Mrs Crocker.

The Mayor asked if the prosecution had a certificate that the female prisoner was in a fit condition to be present. The Chief Constable handed in a certificate from Dr Turner, of Sherborne. Mr Watts explained that it was thought best to get a certificate from a medical man not residing in the town. The Mayor thought they ought to have had a certificate of the condition of the woman that morning. This certificate was dated the day before. A doctor ought to have seen her that morning. The Clerk thought the Bench would not be justified in acting upon the certificate produced.

The Mayor -- Looking at the woman now, I don't think we are.
The Chief Constable -- I have no desire to hurry on the case. If the magistrates think we ought to adjourn for a week, I have no objection.

Mr Watts said he had no objection to an examination of Mrs Colmer now by a medical man, to see if she was in a fit condition to remain during the hearing. He was quite willing for any medical man in the town, except her son, to give an opinion upon her condition. Would Mr Davies allowed Dr Wybrants, the coroner (who was in court), to examine her and certify?
Mr Davies -- No.
Mr Watts -- Dr Wills?
Mr Davis -- No.
Mr Watts -- Under any circumstances we are bound to be here today.
The Mayor -- Quite so. As far as I am concerned, I should object to go on with the examination unless a certificate were produced this morning. I think a doctor should have seen her one or two hours before she was bought here. (Applause in Court.)
Mr Watts -- That was why every precaution was taken. Mr Turner was consulted for the very purpose that a certificate should be presented today.
The Mayor -- A person might be comparatively well yesterday, but very ill today.
Mr Davis -- I think it only fair to state that Mrs Colmer has expressed a wish to be here today, if possible. She was most anxious to come. I can vouch for that.
The Mayor -- We cannot go on in the presence of a dead woman.
Mr Davies said he should like to make this further observation, that there was no necessity to bring Mrs Colmer there to remand her. Any magistrate could remand her.
Mr Watts said of course the Chief Constable had no desire, one way or the other. He suggested that the case should be adjourned for another week.

Mr Moore said that in the presence of the certificate produced and after what Mr Davies had stated, speaking individually, he was not in favour of an adjournment. If a certificate were produced from a medical man who might have seen Mrs Colmer that morning, to the effect that she was fit to be present, he was in favour of the case being proceeded with. After what they had before them, he was not in favour of an adjournment unless another certificate were produced. Mr Davies said he apprehended that, although a medical man might say that Mrs Colmer was not in danger of her life through being brought there, another question would arise - was she in a fit state to instruct him (Mr Davies)? He said she was not. The Clerk said they must find that out. The Chief Constable remarked that the examination would probably last five or six hours. Mr Davies said that in face of what he had seen that morning, and from what he had been told by Mrs Colmer's daughter, he must say that he did not think it would be fair to his client to go on with the examination. The Mayor said the question was - how long should they adjourn for? Mr Davies said he did not think eight days would be too long. It was then decided to remand the case until Wednesday next, at 11 o'clock.


 

 

THE CHARGE OF MURDER AGAINST THE COLMERS
MAGIST
ERIAL EXAMINATION
COMMITTAL FOR TRIAL

The Western Gazette, Friday 30 April 1880

The examination of Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer, for the murder of Mary Budge, widow of Mr Edward Budge, solicitor, of Crewkerne, on 19 March, took place at the Town Hall, Yeovil, on Wednesday. The Mayor and ex-Mayor, and Messrs HB Phelps, John Curtis, and JC Moore took their seats punctually at 11 o'clock. The male prisoner was then placed in the dock, and shortly afterwards Mrs Colmer was carried into the court by two constables. She appeared almost helpless, and was attended by a female in the dock. The court was crowded to suffocation, but still there was a great crush for admission, which had to be stopped by the police. Mr S Watts, of Yeovil, appeared to prosecute, and Mr Trevor Davies, of Sherborne, defended the accused. Deputy-Chief Constable Bigood was present. In reply to the Mayor, Dr Turner, of Sherborne, said Mrs Colmer was in a fit condition to be present today.

Mr Watts said in this case he was instructed by the Treasury to prefer against the prisoners the most serious charge known to the law of England - it was that they, by the use of instruments on the person of Mary Budge, with intent to procure abortion, caused her death. That, in law, amounted to nothing short of wilful murder. The facts were very simple and short, and perhaps it would be as well that he should very briefly run through them, so that the magistrates would be better able to judge of the evidence. He believed that the prisoners were herbalists, the female residing in that town, while the male prisoner came they are only on Fridays. It seems that last month Mrs Budge, who had been a widow about two years, resided at Crewkerne. She got into trouble and he believed she was enciente. On March 17, about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, the deceased drove from Crewkerne to Yeovil in company with a Mr Forster, a lodger at her house, whom he would call as a witness. Mr Davies, interposing, asks that all witnesses should be out of court. Mr Watts replied they are. That precaution has been taken. The Deputy-Chief Constable ordered any witnesses present to leave.

Mr Watts, resuming, said he would prove by Mr Forster that on arriving at Yeovil shortly after 5 o'clock, on March 17, he walked with the deceased from the Choughs Hotel up South Street and across Union Street, where he left her and saw her enter the prisoner's shop [see photograph below]. Mr Forster waited for her in Union Street, and she returned in ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. What took place in the shop of course he could not tell, nor the conversation which passed between the deceased and Mr Forster; he would produce no evidence which was not exactly legal. There had been a coroner's enquiry into the lady's death. Much of the evidence they produced was inadmissible here, but while they would leave out much of that evidence, they were in a position to bring before the Bench now very material and important evidence, which the Coroner never had before him.

After the deceased rejoined Mr Forster in Union Street, she went back again to the prisoner's about 6:30, and was absent about two hours. What took place again could not be told. At any rate, at 8:30 she came back to the Choughs and they drove home together to Crewkerne, the deceased being then in perfect health. Up to that time nothing very important was known. Next day, March 18, Mrs Budge wrote a letter to the female prisoner, and it was addressed outside by the witness Forster "Dr Jane Colmer, Middle Street, Yeovil" and posted by him at the Crewkerne Post Office, on the Thursday afternoon. He had given notice to the other side to produce that letter, but did not know whether his friend would do so. The contents of the letter which he asked for were as follows ---

Mr Davies objected to going into the contents of the letter now. They had much better argue the point when Mr Forster produced it. Mr Watts replied, Well, at any rate, a letter was written by the deceased, and sent to the female prisoner. It was addressed by Forster, and posted to Mrs Colmer, next day - March 19. Mrs Budge (deceased) left Crewkerne in perfect health. She was then in the family way. He should prove, by the evidence of the stationmaster at Crewkerne, that she took a ticket for Yeovil. She was seen by the stationmaster at Yeovil to get out. She got into the Mermaid omnibus, and was put down by the conductor near the residence of Mrs Colmer. He should prove by witnesses that she was seen to enter Mrs Colmer's shop about 12:15 o'clock. A short time after that a servant girl, Ellen Cheney, was sent by the female prisoner in search of the male prisoner, who was at that time at his son-in-law's (Mr Crocker) house. The message was to this effect "Tell your master he is wanted; to come as soon as he can." Previous to this, Ellen Cheney had seen the deceased in the sitting room at Mrs Colmer's shop, sitting on the sofa. When the male prisoner left Mr Crocker's house, he followed the witness Cheney up the street. She went into the kitchen by a side door, and the male prisoner went into the shop. What followed? About 3 o'clock this girl (Cheney) where into the kitchen. She heard the male prisoner shout out in a very loud voice "Mrs Colmer! Mrs Colmer! Come, she has fainted!" Mrs Colmer did come. She was then in the shop. She carried the male prisoner a towel, and then unlocked the door that separated the dining room from the kitchen. The servant girl was out of the house all the afternoon running on errands; but what she knew more was this - that about 7 o'clock in the evening the door which he (Mr Watts) told that was previously locked and was now unlocked; and as she (Cheney) passed that door, to go to the Mermaid for the 'bus, she saw the deceased sitting on the sofa, the female prisoner supporting her. She appeared to be very ill, very weak, and very much distressed. Now in this dining room were two windows. One looked into the shop, and the other into the yard. He should prove that on the day in question the blinds of those windows were drawn down. The door leading from the dining room to the kitchen was locked. Over that door were clear glass panels, and paper was put over them. He would prove that about 3 o'clock a person - a perfect stranger - entered the shop. Groans were heard. The female prisoner went to the dining room door and made a noise with it. The screams then ceased.

About 4 o'clock, Mr Godfrey, who lived next door to the prisoner, went into the shop to speak to him about some alterations to the premises; but he was told by the female prisoner that he could not go into the room, as there was some person in there. A little before 8 o'clock in the evening, deceased was seen to get into the Mermaid omnibus and go down the street. He should prove that when the deceased arrived at Crewkerne - where she left in the morning in perfect health - she was in a terrible state. She expired the next afternoon. What was the cause of her death? It would be clearly proved in fact, to use the words of the doctor, the cause of death was "exhaustion, arising from loss of blood; that the place or organ whence the haemorrhage proceeded was the uterus; and that the cause of such haemorrhage was injury to the internal structure of the uterus by some unnatural and unskillful interference." This was the evidence he should have to adduce.

Now, in this case, he could not call any person who actually saw the act done by the prisoners on the deceased. In all these cases it was difficult to prove cases direct, for this reason - that when a person attempted to procure abortion, they might rest assured that the act would be done when no other person was looking on. But what had they? They had something more important than this; they had a chain composed of links, not one of which was missing. They had evidence to show that the woman left home in the morning in perfect health; they should prove that she went into Colmer's shop; that the blinds were drawn down; that the door was locked; that deceased was at the house that afternoon; that she was seen at 7 o'clock by the servant girl; and how she saying? In a very weak and delicate state. There was another point in this case - that on the day in question the family, who invariably dined in the dining room, did not take their meals in that room; the dinner was laid in the kitchen. These were the principal facts which he should have to lay before them.

Now they knew very well that the prisoners were not on their trial today. It was not for the Bench to say whether the prisoners were or were not guilty of the charge made against them; all they had to do was to satisfy themselves that the evidence was sufficient to put the prisoners on their trial; that there was prima facie evidence to show that they were connected with the death of the deceased that a great crime had been committed there could be no doubt. The grand question was - who caused the death? The magistrates were not asked to state who caused the death; all he (Mr Watts) asked them to do was to say whether the evidence he should produce before them was not sufficiently strong to justify them in committing them for trial at the Assizes. Of course, if they could produce evidence on another occasion, the better it would be for them; the responsibility of returning a verdict would rest with the jury. Mr Watts concluded by remarking that he confidently left the case in the hands of the magistrates.

John Haddy Forster -- in March last I was a clerk in Stuckey's Bank at Crewkerne. I lodged with the deceased, Mary Budge, and had done so since September 1878. On Wednesday, March 17, I accompanied her to Yeovil. I drove her in a pony trap, and we arrived there at about 4:45. She was then very well indeed. I walked through South Street to the top of Union Street, and she went to Madame Colmer's. I saw her go in at the shop door. I saw her ten minutes afterwards in Union Street. We went back to the Choughs, and at 6:30 I went in company of the deceased to Mrs Colmer's. I only went to Union Street with her - left her at the bottom of the street. That is about 50 yards from Mrs Colmer's house. I met deceased again about 8:15 in Union Street by appointment. We went to the Choughs, and then drove home. On the next day - Thursday - deceased wrote a letter to Madame Colmer. I saw that letter, and directed it myself. The address was "Dr Jane Colmer, Middle Street, Yeovil." I posted it myself between four and five o'clock in the afternoon. I read the letter.

Mr Watts asked for the letter.
Mr Davies -- I can't produce it, because we never received any such letter at all. I will prove it just now.
Mr Watts -- just tell the bench as clearly as you can what were the contents.

Mr Davies told the witness not to answer the question. He objected in toto to any such question, because it at once raise the question of receiving secondary evidence of a document not before them. Perhaps that question of law was so abstruse that the magistrates would find some difficulty in coming to a proper conclusion on it. In the authorities it was perfectly clear that before they could give secondary evidence of an alleged document they must prove first that such a document existed, and go further to prove that it had been recently in the hands of the persons who were expected to produce it. It would be absurd to allow the prosecution to say a man must produce this or that document without any proof that it ever came into his possession. The prisoner denied ever having the document, and it was not sufficient, simply on serving a notice to produce an alleged document, that the prosecution should use the most damning literary evidence to connect the prisoners with the crime of murder. It was laid down that there must be some reasonable evidence that the document came into the hands of a prisoner, but the evidence just given was not prima facie evidence given in a civil action to bring the letter home to the prisoners. Where the Legislature thought such evidence should be sufficient clause was invariably inserted in the statute to that effect. Having quoted from Roscoe's "Law of Criminal Evidence" he again urged that before the prosecution were entitled to proceed with secondary evidence they must reasonably trace the document to the custody of the prisoners. In a crime of this nature the prisoners were asked to produce a document, adverse to them, with not a tittle of evidence that it was ever in their custody. The very gist of the whole thing was that the document should have been reasonably traced to their possession or control, and the notice to produce was not worth the paper it was written on a less most cogent evidence to that effect was given in such a case. Until that had been done, his friend had no right to call on them for a document which, as far as he knew, might be imaginary - it might never have been written, posted, or delivered; it might have been lost in the Post Office or fallen into other hands.

Mr Watts, in reply, said the same rule existed in criminal as in civil cases, and there was no distinction whatever. Mr Davies had talked about the imagination of the witness, but Mr Forster, who was on his oath, swore that the letter was written by the deceased, directed and posted by himself. That theory fell to the ground, because they had the best evidence in the world that the letter was written and posted. He had complied with the rules before producing secondary evidence by raising at least a reasonable presumption that the original was in the hands of the adverse party. The magistrates, after consulting with their clerk, decided against the reception of the letter.

Forster's examination (continued) -- On Friday, March 19, in the morning, about 9 o'clock, I saw the deceased and she appeared to be very well. In consequence of what she said I met her at Crewkerne railway station in the evening. I was at the station before the train arrived, and saw her get out of the carriage. She was then very ill - very different to what she was in the morning. I assisted her out. Miss Edith Budge was at the station. She came by the same train, but not in the same carriage. I accompanied deceased in the omnibus to her house. I assisted her out. I did not see her again that night after she went into the house. I did not see her next morning. I did not see her again. The photograph produced is one of the deceased. Her age was 36 or 37.

Cross-examined -- I made two separate statements to the Coroner. The first was on Tuesday, 30 March.
Q. And your evidence was completed and signed by you?
A. It was not read over, but I signed it. I made a further statement to the Coroner at the next inquiry.
Q. On the first inquiry you were represented by Mr Jolliffe?
A. He was there on my behalf. On the second inquiry I supplemented the evidence given at the first inquiry. Mr Watts was then present. That statement was given of my own free will. No promise of threat was held out to me. What I stated at the second inquiry was within my knowledge when I gave my first evidence.
Q. Did you tell anybody you were going to give that second evidence?
A. I asked Mr Watts opinion upon it. Nobody on behalf of the police came to me about it. I have never spoken to anybody connected with the police about it. I and Mr Watts were the only persons who talked about it.

Martha Brook -- I live in Middle Street, Yeovil. I knew the deceased by sight. I last saw her on Wednesday, 17 March, in Middle Street, Yeovil. She came out of Mrs Colmer's door - the shop door. This was about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. My sister, Mrs Custard, was with me. Deceased spoke to my sister.
Q. What did she say?
A. She asked her not to tell.
Mr Davies -- Oh, no, no. I was hardly expecting that. (Question not repeated).
Witness (continuing) -- I saw Mr Forster that day in Union Street, about 5 o'clock. After deceased came out of Mrs Colmer's, I did not see deceased in company with him. Mrs Budge was dressed in black.
Cross-examined -- I saw deceased come out of the shop door.
Re-examined -- When Mrs Budge came out of the shop door, she went in the direction of Union Street.

Emily Sarah Custard, wife of George Custard, living in Princes Street, Yeovil, said -- I knew the deceased slightly, and saw her on Wednesday, March 17, in Middle Street, coming out of the prisoners shop, about 4:55 in the afternoon. I was with my sister, the last witness. I spoke to the deceased, and in consequence of what she said -
Mr Davies protested against this implied hint of what was said. The Lord Chief Justice had ruled that a policeman was not entitled to say "from information received."
Mr Watts -- But this witness is not a policeman. (Laughter).
Witness (continuing) -- I did not have any conversation with Miss Edith Budge in consequence of what took place. When deceased came out of the shop door, she appeared in good health. She tried to avoid me.
Mr Davis -- I object to that.
Witness -- When she came out of the shop door, she took the direction of Union Street. She was alone. She met Mr Forster in Union Street. He was standing in the street. I saw them meet, and Forster took something from her hand. I don't know where they went.
Mr Davies -- I have no question to ask you.

Frederick Mackland said -- I am the postmaster in this town. Witness was questioned as to whether, on Wednesday, 27 March, he received or sent off a telegram. He called the attention of the Bench to the 20th Section of the Telegraph Act 1878. The Act was then sent for, and the witness withdrew.

Alfred Ernest Falkner -- I am booking clerk at the Crewkerne railway station. I knew the deceased. On Friday 19th of March, at 11:45, the deceased took a third-class ticket to Yeovil. I gave it her. I did not notice what state of health she was in. She was dressed in black. The photograph produced is that of Mrs Budge. She (deceased) had no other person with her. I next saw her in the evening, on the arrival of the last down train. I don't know what class carriage she arrived in. The ticket was not given up, as the lady appeared ill, and she was allowed to pass. I did not see her get out of the train. When she went through the office, Mr Forster was with her. Deceased look very ill. She could not walk without assistance. Mr Forster helped her. The ticket was given up on Monday. Witness was further questioned respecting the ticket, when Mr Davies objected. He said the ticket was a written document, and notice also being given. Mr Watts did not press the question.

Mr Wills, surgeon, Crewkerne, then entered the Court, and Mr Watts called attention to the fact, but said he did not objected to his being present. Mr Davies said Mr Wills was in rather an invidious position. Mr Moore said he thought Mr Wills ought to leave the court, as other witnesses had done. (Slight applause).

Frederick Maunder -- I am the station master at the London and SW Railway Station at Yeovil. I saw Mrs Budge on Friday, March 19, at Yeovil Junction by the up-train due at Yeovil at 12:25. I afterwards saw her in the middle platform at Yeovil station. I do not know where she went. She simply crossed the platform in the direction of the town. She wore a black cloth mantle, fitting the figure. She was in mourning. I have not seen her since.
Mr Davies -- I have nothing to ask you.

At this point the Telegraph Act was produced, and legal discussion took place respecting the admission of some of Mr Mackland's evidence. Mr Davies said that until the telegram was produced nothing could be said about it.
Mr Watts -- Was any telegram sent from Mrs Colmer on 17 March?
Mr Mackland -- I have been subpoenaed to produce the telegrams, and I do so; but I think I am precluded by the Act from giving evidence respecting them. I will leave it to the Bench. The bench decided to receive the telegrams, and several were handed in and examined. Mr Davies did not object to their going in, but there was no evidence yet as to who wrote them or anything of the kind.
Mr Watts -- There are three distinct telegrams, one from Yeovil and two from Bristol. We can prove the delivery at the house. My object is to prove that the male prisoner was not at Yeovil, and was telegraphed for.

Ernest Arnold Durbin, telegraph messenger at Yeovil Post Office -- On 17 March last I was at the post office. I have no recollection of delivering a telegram at Mrs Colmer's. There is another messenger at the office named Stephens. My number is on the telegram produced, and that shows I took it out.
Mr Watts wished to explain why the evidence was confused.
Mr Davies -- I object. Go on with the case. Why should we have a speech about your being confused? We may get speeches all day. (Laughter)
Witness -- I delivered two of the messages (produced) to some person in Mrs Colmer's shop.
The Clerk then read the two messages. They were from "R S Colmer, 77½ Old Market Street, Bristol, to Mrs Jane Colmer, Yeovil." The first was as follows :- "Important business detains me tonight; Will come first train in the morning, Arriving at Yeovil at 9 o'clock certain." The second ran: "I have lost the train. Will come this afternoon, if that will do. If it will not do, please Telegraph."

Richard Sweet -- I am 'bus driver in the employ of the proprietor of the Mermaid, Yeovil. On Friday, March 19, I took a lady from the 12:25 up-train at Yeovil. I did not notice how she was dressed, and do not know about what age she was. She had no luggage. She got out of the 'bus opposite Mrs Colmer's.
Q. Did you get off the box before you stopped?
A. Not before I stopped, you know, sir. (Laughter)
Q. What induced you to stop just opposite Mrs Colmer's?
Mr Davies objected. Nobody could know what was the inducement.
Mr Watts -- We can't have model witnesses any more than we can have model lawyers.
Mr Watts again put the question, and Mr Davies objected.
Mr Watts (to witness) -- Did she make any communication to you after the omnibus started?
A. No.
The Mayor -- It would be curious to know for what reason the omnibus stopped opposite Mrs Colmer's.
Mr Davies -- It might be curious, but the evidence must be elicited in a legal manner.
Witness (continuing) -- I do not know that I saw the same person again. I drove the bus to the 8:15 train. Wills was also in the bus. I took up a lady against the Castle - the middle part. It was five or six yards from the spot where I put one down in the morning. The reason I stopped the omnibus in the evening was that the lady hailed me. I did not observe the lady until she called me. I did not notice how she was dressed, as it was dark. (A photograph was handed to the witness, but he said he did not recognise it.)
The Mayor -- Had the lady a veil on?
Witness -- I did not notice.
Cross-examination continued -- The lady had no luggage. I did not notice whether she appeared to be in good health; I took no particular notice of her.

A plan of Colmer's premises were here produced.
Frederick Cox -- I am a surveyor living in Yeovil. I made the plan produced. It is a correct plan, so far as it goes.
Mr Watts explained that it was a plan of the ground floor; it did not contain sections.

At this point, the Court adjourned, the Mayor remarking that, when they returned, the doctor would be able to state whether or not Mrs Colmer would be able to undergo a further examination.

On the court re-assembling, Ellen Cheney was called. She said -- in March last I was servant to Mrs Colmer. Mr Colmer did not live in the house. He visited the house once a week - on Fridays. I have lived with Mrs Colmer 11 months. I do not live with her now. I left her on Wednesday week. I left because my father would not allow me to stay there. I remember Wednesday, 17 March. I left on good terms with Mrs Colmer. On 17 March, in the afternoon, I saw a lady enter the house. I saw a lady there about 7 o'clock. I should know the lady if I saw her again. (Photograph was handed to the witness.) That was the lady I saw on that day. I should think she was about 33 or 34 years of age. The lady was in the backyard with Mrs Colmer. I saw her on the following Friday in the dining room at Mrs Colmer's. This was about 1 o'clock. She was sitting on the sofa. She was dressed in mourning, the same as she was on the Wednesday. When I saw her on the Friday, she appeared to be in good health. During the afternoon Mrs Colmer sent me down to Mr Crocker's for Mr Colmer. The words used were "Go and fetch Mr Colmer; someone wants to see him." I went to Mr Crocker's. Mr Crocker lives at the bottom of Middle Street. I went and delivered the message. Mr Colmer said he would come directly. I returned to Mrs Colmer's house. Mr Colmer came on behind me. This was about 2 o'clock. When I got back to Mrs Colmer's house, I went in by the front door; Mr Colmer went into the shop. The dining room is behind the shop. The sofa is right behind the door, I did not see Mr Colmer afterwards: but I heard him call. He was in the dining room. He called for Mrs Colmer. He said "Mrs Colmer. Mrs Colmer." two or three times; "Come in, bring a cloth, she is fainting!" He spoke in a loud voice. Mrs Colmer came out of the dining room into the kitchen. There is a door leading from the dining room to the kitchen. I am sure it was Mr Colmer's voice calling from the dining room to Mrs Colmer - I have no doubt about it. I was out of the house a good deal during that afternoon; Mrs Colmer sent me. I did not see Mr Colmer until the evening. I saw Mrs Colmer again about 7:30 in the dining room when I was going to order the Crewkerne train omnibus, as young Miss Colmer had told me to do.
Mr Watts -- What were the actual words Miss Colmer used?
Mr Davis -- I object to the actual words being given.
Mr Watts -- We will not go into it. If you keep on objecting, you won't get to Shaftesbury tomorrow, you know. (Laughter).
Witness (continued) -- I then saw Mrs Budge sitting on the dining room sofa with Mrs Colmer by her side. There was gas in the room, and I could distinctly see them. Mrs Budge, who was near the door, looked very ill. Mrs Colmer seem to have her arm around the waist of the deceased. Mrs Budge did not appear to be as well then as she was in the morning. There was a marked change. The door between the dining room and the kitchen was locked, but someone unlocked it, and I then saw Mrs Colmer, who came from the dining room into the kitchen, and went back again. There is a window in the dining room looking into the yard, and during that afternoon the blind was drawn down, so that no person could look in from the kitchen. Even if the blind was not down, a person in the kitchen could not see another sitting on the dining room sofa. The window between the shop and dining room had a blind, which is generally kept up. I don't know how it was then. Two daughters live in the house, and generally have meals in the dining room, but on this Friday they dined in the kitchen. This did not occur very often - only when the dining room was engaged. Her hat and mantle were on. She is the same lady I saw on the Wednesday talking with Mrs Colmer. In the door between the kitchen and dining room there are two clear glass panels on the top, but in the afternoon, a newspaper was put over it, so that no one could see through at all. I have known that done before when people have been in the room, but I cannot remember the time. The patients generally went into the dining room.
Q. On what occasion have you seen the paper over the glass?
A. When people have been in the room. But I can't tell when.
Mr Whitby -- When has she seen the paper over the window?
Witness -- When people have been in the room. I do not know any particular occasion.
Examination continued -- I do not know what became of the towel. I saw a towel in a basin of water. This was a passage outside the dining room. There is coconut matting in the dining room. I did not go into the dining room that night. I went in the next morning. I did not observe anything particular. There was some water or something wet on the matting near the sofa. When Mr Colmer comes, he usually has dinner in the dining room. He did not have any meals in the dining room that day. He slept in the house and went away next morning. I left Mrs Colmer on good terms.
Colmer here whispered something to his advocate.
Mr Whitby -- Cheney, can you give the exact words made use of when you ordered the 'bus?
Mr Davies objected, and the question was not pressed.
Cross-examined -- I left Mrs Colmer's since I gave evidence at the inquest. I gave considerable evidence then. Since then I've been staying with my father and mother.
Q. Have the police been to see you more than once since then?
A. Yes, sir, I expect they have, (laughter).
Q. I believe since you have been here you were taken by the policeman into the next room.
Mr Watts -- She has been in the next room with the other witnesses.
Mr Davis -- It is hardly fair to offer you two interrupts, Mr Watts: it is hardly fair of the Crown. This is not a County Court case: it is a case of life or death. (Slight applause).
Mr Watts -- You are irregular.
Mr Davies -- I am not irregular. (To the Bench) -- I think it is very unwise for my friend to quarrel or have words. If he (Mr Watts) will object to the bench, I dare say they will hear him.
Mr Watts -- I do object to the Bench.
Cross-examination continued -- When the Court adjourned for luncheon, I was taken by a policeman into the next room.
Mr Moore -- Are not all the witnesses kept there?
Mr Whitby -- I have seen that the police have done the same in every case.
Mr Davies did not impute anything to the police. He was asking for the facts.
The Mayor -- Have the police acted differently to this girl than to the other witnesses?
Mr Davies said he did not impute anything. The Mayor said he was rather surprised that Mr Davies put the question.
Mr Davies -- Perhaps, sir, you will not be so surprised when you have heard my cross-examination.
The Mayor -- Perhaps not.
Cross-examination continued -- The police have been to see me three or four times about the evidence since the inquiry. They have not been a dozen times. Nobody else but the police has been to see me about it. A door from Mrs Colmer's shop opens into the street anyone could see from the street into the dining room if both doors were open. The front door of the shop is into portions. When the shutter is down, the shop door is open. There is a window looking from the dining room into the shop. It is of clear glass. Another window in the dining room looks into the yard, and a window from the kitchen also looks into the yard. They also partly face the window in the dining room. (Plan of the premises shown to the witness).
The Mayor -- I do not see that you should say the window in the kitchen party faces the other window.
Mr Davis -- Don't you think, sir, the witness knows more about it than we do? The Mayor said he thought Mr Davies was scarcely drawing a fair conclusion. Mr Davies said the witness was there to speak for herself.
Mr Whitby -- Do you think she understands the meaning of the question?
Mr Davis -- I'm not supposed to know what the witness means. I think she is knowing enough to know the meaning of the word "face".
The Mayor -- I say they are not positively facing. You may be looking out of the window, but you cannot be facing the window.
Mr Davies -- It is a matter of opinion. My opinion will be at variance with that of your Worships.
Cross-examination continued:
Q. Doesn't the window the dining room partly face those in the kitchen?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. If you stand at the windows of the kitchen can you not see into the dining room?
A. Some part of it. If persons were standing against the fireplace in the dining room they could be seen from the kitchen windows.
Q. If anyone were standing at the kitchen window could they see the sofa?
A. No, sir.
Q. Have you tried it?
A. No; but I know you could not see it. You could not see a paper on the sofa because of the table. You could see part of the sofa if the table was away.
Q. If I held a paper above the sofa, could you see it from the kitchen window?
A. Yes.

A discussion took place between the solicitors as to the evidence, and Mr Davies said the Crown ought to be impartial.

Mr Davies, to Witness -- What makes you say such a lot more now than you did before the Coroner?
A. Because I remember things better.
Q. Do you recollect things better two years after than at the time they took place?
A. Yes. (Laughter).
Mr Davies -- You wish us to believe that, do you?
A. Yes. (Laughter).
Cross-examination (continued) -- I saw the lady in the dining room; I went in there for some purpose. I was only in their minute.
Q. Had the lady got a hat and veil on?
A. Yes.
Q. When did you see her next?
A. Not until the evening.
Q. Now what made you tell the Coroner that you didn't see her after 1 o'clock?
A. I did not remember.
Q. You were asked more than once whether you saw her more than once, and each day you said you had not seen her more than once?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you see the lady more than once? Are you going to think any more about it? Will you pledge yourself that you didn't see her more than twice?
A. I did not see her more than twice. About 2 o'clock I was sent on a message by Mrs Colmer. I fetched Mr Colmer.
Q. How long was it after you saw the lady? Was it before you was sent for Mr Colmer?
A. About three quarters of an hour.
Q. During that time you, I suppose, were about in many places?
A. Yes.
Q. And for all you know when you went for Mr Colmer, the lady might have gone out?
A. Yes.
Q. And I may take it further that when you came back with Mr Colmer the lady might have left the room and there might have been someone else there?
A. Yes.
Q. I believe you never saw Mr Colmer in the dining room?
A. No.
Q. You never saw Mr Colmer and this lady together in the dining room?
A. No.
Q. Do you remember my asking you this "Can you swear of your own knowledge that you saw her with the lady of that day?"
A. I do not remember what I said.
Q. Do you remember my asking you whether you saw Mrs Colmer with the lady at all that day?
A. I do not remember.
Q. You now say you saw Madame Colmer with her arm around the lady's waist?
A. Yes.
Q. Is that a common occurrence?
A. No.
Q. You say now that when you first saw the lady, at 1 o'clock, she did not appear ill?
A. Yes.
Q. Did she look a little pale?
A. No.
Mr Watts -- She did not say at Crewkerne that deceased looked pale.
Mr Davies -- I say she did.
Mr Davies -- On this Friday do you know if it was big market-day in Yeovil?
A. No.
Q. I take it that Mrs Colmer has a good many patients on market-days?
A. Yes.
Q. Mrs Colmer only has patients in the dining room?
A. Yes.
Q. And it is not an uncommon occurrence for them to dine in the kitchen?
A. No.
Q. If you stood at the passage door could you put your hand upon the dining room window?
A. Yes.
Q. If you open the passage door and got a foot or two into the yard you could see nearly all over the dining room, and could see the sofa?
A. Yes.
Q. There are two doors to the dining room, one from the dining room to the shop and the other from the dining room to the kitchen?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you tell the Coroner that?
A. No.
Q. How do you know it was locked?
A. I heard Mrs Colmer unlock it.
Q. Did you see her unlock it?
A. No.
Q. Are your ears so acute that you can tell whether the door was unlocked or only opened?
A. Yes; I could tell it was unlocked.
Q. Have you ever seen a key in the door?
A. Yes.
Q. Within the last month?
A. Yes.
Q. Would you be surprised if I told you that there has been no key to the door for a twelvemonth?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You won't say there is a bolt on the door?
A. No.
Q. You have told us that Mr Colmer slept in the house that night?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You are sure?
A. Yes.
Q. Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that he slept at Weymouth that night?
A. Yes.
Q. You pledge your oath on that?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you hear Mr Colmer say that evening that he had to go to attend the Weymouth County Court the next day?
A. Yes.
Q. You say that is, during the afternoon you were "in and out"?
A. Yes.
Q. And during part of that afternoon you heard Mr Colmer ask for a cloth?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you remember what you told the Coroner?
A. No.
Q. What did he say?
A. "Mrs Colmer, Mrs Colmer, come in; she has fainted!"
Q. You didn't say those words before the Coroner?
A. No.
Q. When you were before the Coroner you said you simply heard Mr Colmer call for a cloth?
A. Yes.
Q. You also, I believe, before the Coroner denied having used these words to Mrs Knight, "He was in the room for two hours, and I heard him say to Mrs Colmer she has gone off, bring some water?"
A. Yes.
Q. Madame Colmer took the cloth from the room. How do you know that?
A. She must have done so.
Mr Davies -- Never mind what you thought.
Q. The only reason for your saying that Madame Colmer fetched the cloth was because you've found it in the water the next morning?
A. Yes.
Q. When Mr Colmer called for the cloth you don't know who was in the room?
A. No.
Q. My friend has asked you whether you saw anything particular in the room. You told the Coroner, I think, that you did not. I suppose I may take it that a little water was anything particular?
A. No.
Q. Now you have been shown a photograph here today. I think the same photograph was showing you before the Coroner?
A. Yes.
Q. I believe when you were asked before the Coroner if you recognised the photograph you said you did not?
Mr Watts -- I beg your pardon.
Mr Davies -- Then we will look at our papers.
Mr Watts -- I have the depositions here. She said "The photograph produced is very much like the lady." (This was a photograph of the deceased.)
Q. You didn't state before the Coroner, as you do now, that it was the lady?
A. No.
Q. Was the lady dressed in black?
A. I cannot say how she was dressed; I only had a glimpse of her as I passed the door, and did not notice.
Q. Mrs Colmer has not, I think, been very well for some time before this enquiry. Sits a good deal on the sofa?
A. Yes.
Q. Are you prepared to swear positively, from that glimpse, that it was not Mrs Colmer's daughter you saw?
A. It was not Miss Colmer.

Re--examined -- The police sergeant served me with two summonses to attend this court as a witness. Sgt Holwill took me to Crewkerne before the Coroner; and once before this I was here as a witness. On neither of these occasions did the police say anything to me about my evidence. I have seen Mr Davies once. He try to get what he could out of me.
Q. He called on you?
Mr Davies -- Called!
Mr Watts -- He interviewed you?
Witness -- He saw me.
Mr Watts -- Mr Davies has said something to you about your saying more now than when before the Coroner. How was it that you did not say more before the Coroner?
Witness -- Because Miss Colmer told me....
Mr Davies objected to any conversation between the witness and Miss Colmer. It could only be elicited on cross-examination. It could not arise out of re-examination.
Mr Watts -- For once my friend has been caught in his own trap. This arises out of his own cross-examination, and I'm prepared to to stake my reputation upon the point.
Mr Davies -- I should not do that.
The advocates quoted in favour of their contentions.
The Bench decided not to allow the question to be put to the witness in the form proposed by Mr Watts.
Re-examination continued -- I was asked before the Coroner whether I saw the lady at Mrs Colmer's on the Wednesday. The blind was down on Friday afternoon, and I could not have seen the sofa through the window if I had wished to. Mrs Colmer's arm was round the lady.

Albert Edward Tanner, of Northover, Ilchester, said -- On Friday, March 19, I was in Yeovil about 2:30 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and I saw Mrs Colmer at her shop where I went to buy part of a pipe, and stood at the left-hand counter. A noise in the inner room attracted my attention. Someone called very loudly "Mrs Colmer" in a distressing manner and almost screaming. Mrs Colmer and immediately left me, tried the door, and, finding it fastened, kicked at it, and then came back to serve me.

Walter Fowler, hatter, of Middle Street, Yeovil, directly opposite the prisoner's shop said -- On March 19, I was in my shop and saw the omnibus stop at Colmer's door. A lady dressed in mourning got out, and entered the shop. She was wearing a veil over her face and I saw her speak to Mrs Colmer at the counter.

John Membury, hairdresser, of Middle Street, two doors below Madame Colmer's said -- On the evening of March 19 I was at my shop door and saw the Mermaid omnibus stop at the prisoner's side door, and a lady dressed in black got into the vehicle from the pavement. I did not see her come from the house. She wore a feather in her hat or bonnet.
By Mr Davies -- This was about 8 o'clock. Sweet was driving, and the omnibus was 20 or 30 yards away from me. If Sweet has said he stopped 5 yards away from the side door he is not quite right.

William Godfrey, ironmonger, living next door to Madame Colmer, said -- On March 19 I saw Mr Colmer a little before three in the afternoon. He came into my shop to complain about some alterations at the back of my premises and that a grate had been knocked about. At 4:30 I went into Colmer's shop and saw the female prisoner. Mrs Colmer said she had someone in the room then and that we could not go in.
By Mr Davies -- Colmer complained that I was encroaching on his premises at the back and said my workmen damaged his grate. He did not say he had been telegraphed for to Bristol, by Mrs Colmer, because I was pulling the place about, and encroaching on his premises. I won't swear whether the work was begun Wednesday or Thursday. I saw Colmer again at 4 o'clock in the garden, but did not speak to him.
Re-examined -- Mrs Colmer did not complain to me about the repairs on Wednesday or Thursday.

George Wills, dairy man, of Combe Farm, Crewkerne, said -- On Friday, March 19, I was at Yeovil, and returned by the last train to Crewkerne, being driven in the Mermaid omnibus by Sweet. The vehicle stopped near the Castle in Middle Street, next to Colmer's house, and a lady got in. She was pale, dressed in mourning, and aged about 25. Being shown the photograph, witness said that was the party, only she was paler then, and appeared poorly. She got out of the 'bus at the station, but I saw her again at Crewkerne, where she rode in the 'bus with Mr Forster and another lady. The omnibus stopped at the back of the market house and Mrs Budge got out near her own house.

Edith Cuming -- I live at Gillingham. On Friday 19th of March, I was at Yeovil. I saw the deceased at the L & SWR station door at Crewkerne. Mr Forster was with her. She appeared to be very ill. Before this her health was very good indeed. I had had no intimation of her illness. Mr Forster, Mr Wills, and deceased got into the omnibus. Deceased got out at her own house, near the market house. Deceased was dressed in mourning. She wore a hat. (Photograph handed to the witness). That photograph is a likeness of the deceased.

Elizabeth Herriman -- I live at Crewkerne. Deceased appeared to be as well as usual on the morning of Friday 19 March. Deceased left home that morning by the 11 o'clock train. She came back by the 9 o'clock train that night. She was very poorly indeed. She brought a bottle and some white powder with her. The bottle was filled up with sherry, by direction of the deceased. She went to bed as soon as she returned. I next saw her the following morning at 8 o'clock. She then appeared to be in a great deal of pain. I thought it was her bowels. She spoke, but made no noise. She did not scream out until she was seized with death. She waved her hands. I thought she was faint. I sent for Dr Wills after she screamed. It was proposed to send for a doctor before, but deceased would not allow it. She died at a 5:45.

Annie Elizabeth Budge -- I am daughter of the deceased. On 19 March last she was in good health, mother had breakfast with us, I did not see her after the morning until she came home, at 9:30. She brought home a bottle with her. She could not go to bed without assistance. I slept with mamma that night. She complained of being in pain. I don't think she slept much that night.

Eliza Barrett -- I am a widow, and live at Crewkerne. I knew deceased. I saw her on Saturday 20 March. I saw her clothes. (Witness described the state in which she found the clothes).

Elizabeth Taylor -- I was called in about an hour after deceased died. (Witness gave particulars as to the state of the clothing and the condition of the deceased.)

Dr Wills, of Crewkerne, was called, and gave evidence exactly similar to that tendered before the Coroner. It was to the effect that the cause of death was exhaustion, arising from loss of blood; that the place or organ whence the haemorrhage proceeded was the uterus; and that the cause of such haemorrhage was injury to the internal structure of the uterus by some unnatural and unskilful interference.
Mr Davies (to Dr Wills) -- I propose to leave your cross-examination to abler hands than my own.

Sgt Holwill -- I am a police sergeant stationed at Yeovil. I found the instrument produced in a drawer in Mrs Colmer's room, on 13 April.
Cross-examined -- Mrs Colmer has a son living in the town who was duly qualified. He might have lived in this house before he was duly qualified. I have not heard that there is a son now living in the house who is duly qualified. I have not asked to whom the instrument belongs.
The instrument was handed to Dr Wills, who, in reply to the Mayor, said its general use was to examine the uterus.

Mr Watts said that this was his case.

Mr Davies made no speech nor did he call witnesses.

The Bench retired at 20 minutes to seven, and returned into court five minutes later. Mr Davies having stated that the prisoners reserved their defence.

The Mayor said -- Jane Colmer and Robert Slade Colmer - it is my painful duty, in carrying out the conclusion which the bench have come to all the evidence given, to commit you for trial for wilful murder.

The prisoners were at once removed by the police. Large crowds congregated at the streets - especially outside the Town Hall and near Madame Colmer's residence, and there was considerable excitement. In the evening the office of the Western Gazette was literally besieged by persons who were anxious to obtain copies of the special issue of that paper, containing a report of the proceedings.

On Thursday morning, between eight and nine o'clock, the prisoners were driven from the Police Station to Shepton Mallet Gaol in a closed fly. Madame Colmer appeared to be much better than she has been for some time past. Sgt Holwell and PC Hamblin were in charge of the prisoners.


 

 

THE ALLEGED MURDER OF MRS BUDGE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION (SITTING IN BANCO AT WESTMINSTER)
THURSDAY (Before the Lord Chief Justice and Mr Justice Bowan)

The Western Gazette, Friday 9 July 1880

The Queen v. Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer.

Mr Bullen moved, in the case of the Queen v. Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer, for a rule nisi for a writ of certiorari to bring up a prosecution on the coroner's inquisition for trial at the Central Criminal Court, and also that any indictment or indictments which might be found against the two prisoners, who had been committed on the coroner's inquisition, might also be bought up to be tried at the Central Criminal Court. The two prisoners had been committed for trial for the wilful murder of Mary Budge, a widow, who lived at Crewkerne. It appeared (said Mr Bullen) that in the month of March last Mary Budge went from her home at Crewkerne to Yeovil, where the female prisoner was residing and carrying on the business of herbalist. She was there joined by the male prisoner from Bristol, where he carried on a branch business. Mary Budge underwent an operation in the female prisoner's house, which, according to the evidence, caused her death. It was an operation to procure abortion. She returned home on the same day, and died on 20th of March in the present year, and the two prisoners were committed for trial on 28th April.

The Lord Chief Justice -- What had the male prisoner to do with it? Was he a party to the operation?
Mr Bullen replied that according to what was alleged, the operation was performed by the husband at the wife's house. They were living apart, he at Bristol, and she at Yeovil, and he was sent for, and he came to Yeovil and performed the operation which caused the death of Mrs Budge. The application was made owing to the prejudice which prevailed against the prisoners, so that it was not likely they would be able to obtain a fair trial. They were committed for trial at Wells Assize, and the chief ground upon which the application was made was that owing to former proceedings against the male prisoner, he did not anticipate that justice would be done to him by any jury in that or the adjoining counties. In 1864 he was tried at Taunton for a similar offence, and was acquitted. There were 42 affidavits, all sworn by persons of Yeovil, but as they were all of very much the same tenor, he would read only one. This affidavit set forth that it was believed among the inhabitants of the said county that Robert Slade Colmer was sixteen years ago guilty of the manslaughter of a young girl by attempting to procure abortion, and that both prisoners had since been obtaining money by criminal practices, and that consequently, the inhabitants were eager for their conviction. The deponent further said that he had himself frequently heard strong epithets used and strong indignation expressed against them, that it would be expedient to the ends of justice that any indictment or indictments that may be found should be removed by certiorari to the Central Criminal Court, and that he believed they would not have a fair trial in Somersetshire or any of the adjoining counties, because among an ordinary panel twelve men could not be found unprejudiced against them. In fact, Mr Bullen went on to say, the excitement was so strong, that (and he said it with regret) even the Coroner, who had not the accused before him, but who went into the circumstances of the death of Mrs Budge, seemed almost to have lost his head, if he might use the expression, because he said to the jury that "There was scarcely a paper or a railway station where they did not see 'Madame Jane Colmer, curer of worms' but if destroyer of babies was put it was more likely to be true." That was the language of the coroner, addressing his own jury.

There were several other affidavits, among them that of the prisoner's solicitor, Mr Trevor Davies, Clerk to the Justices of Sherborne. He said that the two prisoners were now in Shepton Mallet Gaol awaiting their trial for the murder of Mary Budge, widow, aged 36, who resided at Crewkerne, and was well-known in and about the locality, having been bought before the public a good deal owing to the sudden death of her husband, a solicitor, two years ago. She was then left with five children, and much sympathy was expressed with her. Jane Colmer had for many years advertised herself as a herbalist and cure of worms, by means of the local newspapers and placards at the railway stations, and the rumour prevailed, and was generally believed in Somersetshire and the adjoining counties, that under the pretence of being a curer of worms she carried on illegal practices for the purpose of procuring abortion: and the Coroner at the inquest, in addition to the words quoted above, said "It is not the first time I have been obliged to investigate a painful case, and been obliged to send the husband for trial for the manslaughter of a young woman."

The Lord Chief Justice: take your rule nisi.
Rule nisi granted accordingly.


 

 

CROWN COURT, Monday
(Before Lord Chief Justice Coleridge)

The Western Gazette, Friday 30 July 1880

.... The other case to which he wished to refer was one which he learnt from the public papers was creating a good deal of excitement: but it was a case which, when they had found a bill against the prisoners, would be removed from the consideration of a jury of Somersetshire, on the ground that Somersetshire jury could not try the case fairly, although he did not know why they should be so. He referred to the case of Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer, who were indicted for the wilful murder of a person called Mary Budge, on 19 March, having so wounded her with instruments for the purpose of procuring abortion that she died.

The circumstances of the case were short and simple, and ought to present them no difficulty. It appeared that Mary Budge was a person of respectable position, a widow, and a young woman, comparatively speaking. She was with child, and it appeared that one of the witnesses in the case, whose name he need not mention, must have had something to do with it, although the direct question had not been put to him. This witness lodged in the house with the deceased, at Crewkerne, and some days before the fatal event he drove the deceased to Yeovil in a trap. He took her to the house of Jane Colmer, who was what was called a herbalist, and sold herbs, some innocuous, and some others of a very different character, and without going into the matter particularly they could easily conceive for what purposes some of those herbs were used. However, in the present case, there was but the slightest and faintest possible evidence that herbs were used improperly on the first occasion, when Jane Colmer alone was concerned. Some days afterwards the deceased went over there again, this time alone and by train. It was proved by several people that she was in perfect health when she started. Several telegrams would be put in which passed between the prisoners about this time, the male prisoner having been in Bristol. He was telegraphed to and asked to come home on the day before the deceased arrived at Jane Colmer's; and there was evidence of a letter which was directed for the deceased by the witness he had before mentioned making the appointment with Jane Colmer to come on the day mentioned. To Yeovil on that day the deceased went, and she was seen to go to the house of Jane Colmer.

The house was one with a parlour behind the shop, the parlour having a window opening into the shop, and also a window opening in the yard behind the parlour. On the day in question both these windows were closed, and a newspaper was placed over the one towards the shop, and the blind of the one towards the yard was drawn down. The deceased went in, and shortly afterwards one of the witnesses - a servant to Mrs Colmer - was sent down to another house to Mr Colmer, who came back with the witness. He went into the parlour. The door was locked, and shortly afterwards Mr Colmer came out. Very shortly after this Mrs Colmer was heard almost screaming, "Pray come, she has fainted." and Mr Colmer went back into the room. Nothing was seen of what took place in the room, but Mrs Colmer came out soon afterwards and went into the kitchen, where she took up two cloths, afterwards going back into the parlour. Nothing more was actually seen of anybody - except Mrs Colmer going out - tilt towards the evening, when Mrs Colmer and the deceased were seen sitting on the sofa together, Mrs Colmer supporting the deceased with her arm round her waist, and the deceased looking extremely ill and very miserable. However, she had strength to get to the station, and to go from Yeovil to Crewkerne. There she was met by the witness previously alluded to, taken across the station and put in an omnibus, and then taken to her own home. Her daughter was very much struck with the terrible alteration in the deceased's appearance. She was taken to her bed, where she was very ill, and a doctor was sent for, and it appeared that he hardly arrived before she died. There was an immediate examination. It is something which the deceased had in a bottle, of which she had partaken, there was found to be a mixture, the principal ingredient of which was sulphate of quinine, which was a perfectly harmless mixture, and had probably been given to her to support her, merely as a medicine.

There was a post-mortem examination, the details of which would be before them. The walls of the womb were found to be lacerated, and there was a great quantity of blood: in short, it was found that the deceased died unquestionably from haemorrhage, produced by improper tampering with the womb. Now the law on the matter was quite simple. If a person caused the death of a fellow creature in the course of procuring abortion, which was unlawful, then the law said - and very properly said - that it was murder. If they thought that the death was caused by the prisoners in an attempt to procure abortion - whether successful or otherwise - then undoubtedly those persons were guilty of murder. The person who performed the act, and the person who stood by and watched the operation, were equally guilty of murder. It was a simple case, and a short case. He would only tell them what the law was and what the facts were, and if they thought the facts were sufficiently clear against the prisoners, then it was their duty to find against them a bill for wilful murder, and send the matter for further investigation, where the case would be tried in London, and not there.


 

 

THE MURDER OF MRS BUDGE
TRIAL OF THE COLMERS AT THE CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT

VERDICT OF GUILTY AGAINST BOTH PRISONERS

SENTENCE OF DEATH

The Western Gazette, Friday 13 August 1880

LONDON, Friday

Robert Slade Colmer, herbalist, of Yeovil and Bristol, and Madame Jane Colmer, herbalist, of Yeovil, were today put upon their trial, at the Central Criminal Court, before Mr Justice Hawkins, charged with the wilful murder of Mary Budge, widow of Mr E Budge, solicitor, of Crewkerne, at Yeovil, March 19th.

Mr Poland, Mr Montagu Williams, and Mr Norris, instructed by Messrs Watts, of Yeovil, appeared for the prosecution: and the prisoners were defended by Mr E Clarke, QC, MP, Mr Bullen, and Mr Tickell, instructed by Mr Trevor Davies, of Sherborne.

The Court was very full, and there was a slight manifestation of excitement when the prisoners entered the dock. Mrs Colmer, who looked ill and haggard - in fact "all to pieces" - was allowed a seat. On being charged, the male prisoner pleaded "Not Guilty" to each of the four counts of the indictment in a firm voice, but at the same time nervously passing his hand over his face. His wife's voice was weak and faltering, and her answers of "Not Guilty" were barely audible, and had to be repeated by the Governor of Newgate, who sat near her in the dock.

Mr Poland opened the case for the prosecution. He said the prisoners at the bar are charged with the serious crime of wilful murder, with the murder of a lady of the name of Mary Budge, and the alleged murder is said to have taken place in Yeovil, in the County of Somerset. It was thought right that this case should be tried in London, and the indictment found at the Somerset Assizes had been bought to this Court. The case is undoubtedly one of very great importance, because the charges that in an endeavour to carry out - in fact in succeeding in procuring - abortion, they caused the death of this lady. Before stating the facts, I will state briefly who the prisoners are. They are, I believe, man and wife. The man has an establishment at Bristol - at 77½ Old Market Street - where he generally lives, and the name on the shop is "Anglo-American Institute of Eclectic and Progressive Medicine, &c, Eclectic and Botanical Dispensary. Advice Free." Then it is set forth that "Dr Colmer, MD (United States America)" may be consulted with regard to various diseases. The female prisoner does not live at the shop at Bristol. She lives at Yeovil, in Somersetshire, and when she was called before the Coroner at the inquest she described herself as an "herbalist" and further stated that she had an American diploma of "MD" of Pennsylvania, sent to her by an examination; and there is no doubt she had a doctor's shop in Yeovil, where she lived with her daughters and one servant, who will be a material witness in this case. Now, gentlemen, here is a plan of the premises at Yeovil, and I think it will be convenient that I should at once explain it to you. (The learned counsel then explained to the jury a ground-plan of Mrs Colmer's premises, and remarked that it would facilitate the enquiry if they bore in mind the relative positions of the shop, dining-room, and kitchen. He also explained that this ironmongery shop of Mr Godfrey was next door, and that the end of Union Street faced Mrs Colmer's.)

Having told you who the prisoners are (Mr Poland continued), I will now tell you who the deceased Mary Budge was. She was the widow of a solicitor who had been dead about two years, and she resided at Crewkerne, nine or ten miles from Yeovil. She was living there with her daughters, and I believe, too, her mother; and to help out her expenses - her means not being extensive - she took a lodger, a young man named Forster, about 23 or 24 years of age, who is a witness in this case. He was a clerk in a bank, and there is no doubt that, lodging in this house with this widowed lady - he being 23 and she 36 - a very great intimacy existed between them. And there is the fact, which is beyond all question, that in March, about the 16th or 17th, she was pregnant. Of course, living with her family, and being a widow, that was a state of things to her of a very alarming character, and she appears - whether with or without consultation with Mr Forster - to have determined to do that she would get rid of this fetus with which she was pregnant.

There is no doubt that the deceased lady entered into communication with Mrs Colmer, at Yeovil. On 17 March, in fact, Mr Forster drove over from Crewkerne - a distance of 9 miles. Whilst at Yeovil, she must have gone to Mrs Colmer's shop for the purpose of consulting her, and for making arrangements in reference to the state in which she was. The deceased was there for a considerable time on that day. The carriage was put up, and Mr Forster was left near to Mrs Colmer's shop. She was away from him about two hours, at the end of which she returned to Mr Forster at a place appointed. Now, I think you will find, from the evidence that it was intended that Mr Colmer should have been present at Yeovil that day. I would not now go into details; but it is a fact that about this time telegrams passed between Mr and Mrs Colmer. I shall tender evidence in regard to them; but until they are legally proved I would rather not read them. But, independently of telegrams and letters, I shall show that Mrs Budge expected to meet Mr Colmer at his wife's shop on that day. He did not, however, come from Bristol as arranged; and in the evening Mrs Budge was driven back to Crewkerne by Mr Forster. Her family, of course, were not aware that deceased had paid a visit to Mrs Colmer. Now, before the actual operation could be carried out, an arrangement would have to be made: but whether that arrangement was made on 17th March would be for the jury to say after they had heard the evidence. On the following day - the 18th March - a letter was written by Mrs Budge to Mrs Colmer, the envelope being addressed by Mr Forster. That letter was posted in due course, and there is very little doubt that it reached Mrs Colmer's shop in due course. The next day - the 19th March - Mrs Budge left her home between 10 and 11 o'clock in the morning. She was not driven over to Yeovil by Mr Forster, as in the first instance, but went by train; and I shall show you beyond all question that she went to the shop of Mrs Colmer.

Now on that day, Mr Colmer had arrived from Bristol. He was staying with his son-in-law, a Mr Crocker, at Yeovil. It seems that after the letter written by Mrs Budge, Mr Colmer was sent for; he came over, and was actually at the shop of his wife whilst the deceased was there. Of course, Mrs Budge could go into the shop without exciting any suspicion, and, having entered, she was shown into the dining room, where there was a sofa; and, according to the evidence of a servant - who, I think, is to be relied upon - an operation must have been performed in that room on this unfortunate lady, because, in the course of the afternoon Mr Colmer was heard to call out from the dining room, "She has fainted!" at the same time asking for a cloth. Mrs Colmer, who was in the shop, or at the back part of the premises, got a cloth and took it into the room where Mrs Budge and Mr Colmer were.

A newspaper, I think, had been put on the glass panels of that door; but on that door being opened a view could be obtained of the corner where the sofa was, and there is no doubt whatever as to the persons who were in that room. At a later period of the afternoon Mrs Colmer was in the room with this lady, and the lady, who had her bonnet on, remained there a considerable number of hours, from the time the train arrived in the morning from Crewkerne. She went direct from the station to this place, and we can trace her nowhere else. At that place the matters I have referred to occurred. When she left her home in the morning and went to the house of the prisoners, she was, as will be proved by evidence, in perfect health, nothing whatever being, apparently, the matter with her. When she left that house in the evening, somewhere about 8 o'clock, she was in a deplorable state. She returned from Yeovil to Crewkerne by train, and was met at the railway station at Crewkerne by Mr Forster, who assisted her into a conveyance. I think she arrived home late on the night of the day in question - Friday, the 19th of March - having been at Yeovil the greater part of the day.

Gentlemen, the state of her health on arriving home was apparent to all her family. One of her daughters slept with her that night. She was in great pain during that night, and would not allow any assistance to be procured. On the following day she was ill, and when she was clearly approaching her death - somewhere about 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the next day, Saturday, the 20th of March - Dr Wills, a medical practitioner, living at Crewkerne, was called in, but too late to do the poor lady any good, for she died within an hour of the doctor being summoned.

Gentlemen, the nurses and other persons will describe to you her state. I ought to mention that in the dining room, on the following day, there was found in a pile cloth used at the corners; and that her clothing is described, according to the expression of one of the witnesses, as "swamped with blood." A sheet was also found saturated with blood. It became evident, on the death of this lady taking place in this way, that an inquiry must be held, and accordingly the coroner was communicated with, and a post-mortem examination took place. That examination proves, beyond all question, the cause of death, for, in addition to the evidence of the doctors and surgeons present at the post-mortem examination, the uterus was afterwards examined by other scientific gentlemen, and you will have clear and direct proof that this lady was about three months advanced in pregnancy, and that a miscarriage had recently been procured by illicit means: because the ordinary miscarriage would not have presented the appearances presented at the post-mortem examination, but by the use, in all probability, of some hard instrument the injury to the membranes had taken place. The medical evidence will satisfy you, beyond all question, that there had been this miscarriage illicitly procured, and that from the loss of blood following and injuries received, this lady came to her death.

Now, gentlemen, the case is, of course, a very serious one, because, as you are probably aware, any attempts to procure miscarriage, in the earlier stages of pregnancy, are attended with danger: and it is because these attempts are attended with danger to life, that the Legislature has thought right to make the attempt to procure abortion a felony of a serious character. By the law of England, although persons so engaged may not intend to cause death, yet by engaging in that felonious act - which procuring, or attempting to procure, abortion undoubtedly is - they render themselves liable to a charge of wilful murder; and if their operations do cause the death of a fellow creature, I think it must be admitted to be consistent with good sense, as well as with the law, that it amounts to murder. Therefore persons who for profit, pay, and reward, perform an operation of so dangerous character, cannot escape from the penalties that attach to the crime of murder, if in performing that operation they caused the death of their patient.

Gentlemen, you will have seriously to consider the facts of this case. In a civilised country, of course, it is essential that the case should be tried carefully and patiently, and that every material fact should be bought before you. A crime of this kind, if crime it was, is not performed in the presence of witnesses. There is the unfortunate person who has the interest in the operation being successfully performed, and who probably does not know the danger. The operators do know or ought to know, the danger; and the operators do that for money. And it is certainly a deplorable thing that when this operation - if operation there was - had been performed, and had been attended, as was shown by the condition of the body, by the most serious results, it is a most deplorable thing that this lady was allowed to leave that house and go back nine or ten miles by train in the state in which she was, when it is obvious that her state of health required, for the safety of her life, that she should have had assistance at once. It is clear that she required careful and tender attention, nursing, and rest, whereas we find that she is allowed to leave the house, and does leave, and returns home in such an altered condition that her family were alarmed; and on the following day she grew from bad to worse, the doctor was called in, and death happens within an hour of that time.

Of course (I say it with no disrespect) the ordinary investigations of the police can hardly be expected at once to unravel a story of such a complicated character; but I must necessarily refer to what took place. Some of the first witnesses who were called were witnesses connected with this lady's family, and then the Coroner called in Mrs Colmer, who was in attendance, I think, on the first day of the second examination, and he asked her what she knew about the matter, and you will find from her statement that she denies that on the days in question anybody went into the back room. She says there was no one in the house but her own family. She says she served a woman in the shop on Friday, with 30 grains of quinine in a bottle, and she could not tell what sort of person she was, as there were five young men in the shop at the time. Then she says a person called on the following Wednesday, and ask for something for worms, but she could not say that it was the same person, and she again denies that there was any patient attended in the house. She says "I did not notice her, and could not say what kind of person she was. She did not take anything in the shop or in the house, and did not say what she was suffering from." Then in reply to Mr Davies she said, "She only came into the shop as an ordinary customer. She did not tell me she was in the family-way. I did not give her anything but 30 grains of quinine in a bottle. She was not at my house twice on the Wednesday. The bus did not stop at my house, to my knowledge, for the last train." With regard to this bottle, there is no doubt that on the Friday, when the matter is alleged to have occurred in the dining room, she did take home with her bottle containing quinine, which is a strengthening medicine, not harmful, but suitable for a person to take a required tonic medicine.

Now, gentlemen, the coroner's jury returned a verdict, as you might expect, of wilful murder against the two prisoners at the bar, and on that being done the arrest of Mrs Colmer took place first, and her house was searched. In a drawer in her bedroom there was found by the police constable who searched the house what is termed a speculum. That, as you are doubtless aware, is an instrument which is used for the purpose of examining the uterus. The identical instruments will be produced before you, and you will remember that this is a person who keeps a herbalist's shop. Of course, the instrument is one that can be properly used by medical men and those who know how to use it. It is not a puncturing instrument, such as a stiletto or a bougle, which are used for puncturing operations: but an actual stiletto for puncturing the uterus may be easily carried in the pocket; and I need hardly tell you that no such instrument was found in the male prisoner's house at Bristol, because the enquiry which had been going on before the Coroner showed that the case was a very serious one, and, moreover, his house was not searched until several days after he was taken into custody. However, any hard instruments could be used, and no doubt some instrument was used in Mrs Colmer's house for the purpose of procuring this miscarriage. I also wish to remind you of this, that whatever the operation was, she, being perfectly well on the morning of Friday, was very ill in the evening, and died on the following night; and therefore the operation must have been what is called by surgeons "heroic", that is, it must have been severe, to have caused the actual miscarriage within so short a time, because miscarriages are usually caused by an injury, and then inflamation sets up, and medicines are given. In point of fact, to cause such a rapid operation there must be instruments used, and used with severity; and I think you will be of opinion that severity was used in this case, because death so quickly supervened.

I do not propose to tell you all the facts of the case, and I have not attempted to read certain documents, about which question has been raised whether they are legally admissible. I trust I have given you such an outline of the case as will enable you to appreciate the evidence that will be laid before you; but before I conclude I wish to tell you, what I am sure you will be glad to know, that the two prisoners are defended by my learned friend Mr E Clarke, assisted by my learned friend Mr Bullen: and therefore you may be assured that in the investigation of this case you will have on behalf of the prisoners everything put before you that can be fairly cited for the purpose of explaining the facts which I am in a position to prove before you. At a later period I hope to have the pleasure of addressing you again. I shall now, without further comment, and with the assistance of my learned friend, proceed to call witnesses. Because, of course, it is not on the statements of counsel, upon one side or the other, but on the sworn evidence in the case, that your verdict will have to be returned.

Herbert Adams, clerk to Messrs Watts, solicitors for the prosecution, examined by Mr Norris, stated that he served notices on Mr Trevor Davies, the prisoners solicitor, to produce letters from the deceased to Jane Colmer, and telegrams.

Mr Frederick Cox, surveyor, Yeovil, examined by Mr Norris, proved that he prepared the plan produced of Middle Street and the neighbourhood of Mrs Colmer's shop.
By the Judge -- It was a correct plan.
Mr Clark admitted the plan.
Witness's next spoke to the preparation of the ground plan of the Colmer premises, and stated that the door of the dining room was hung on the left. When he made the plan, the day before the case was first before the magistrates, there was a sofa under the window.
The Judge -- That would be on 18 April.
Examination continued -- There was also a window looking into the courtyard exactly opposite the window of which he had just spoken. He saw notepaper upon either of the windows. Mr Godfrey's shop was on the right as one entered Mrs Colmer's shop.

Mr Frederick Mackland, postmaster at Yeovil, produced several telegrams material to the case.

Robert Newbury, messenger at the General Post Office, Bristol, said -- I was at the West Street office in March of the present year. I delivered a telegram to Mr Colmer, 77½ Old Market Street, but I cannot say to whom I handed the message. That telegram was delivered in March.

Ernest Arthur Durbin -- I am a telegraph clerk at Yeovil, and was there on 17 March this year. On that day I delivered two telegrams to Mrs Colmer, Middle Street, Yeovil. I cannot say to whom I gave the messages.

John Haddy Forster, examined by Mr M Williams, said -- in the month of March last I was clerk in Stuckey's Bank, Crewkerne, and I lodged at the house of Mary Budge, the deceased lady, in the Market Square, Crewkerne. I went there in September 1878. I continued to lodge there until March of the present year. The deceased was a widow, and her mother and five of her own children resided with her. I remember Wednesday 17th of March. On that day I went with the deceased to Yeovil. We went in a trap. The distance is nine miles. I was first made acquainted with her intention to go to Yeovil on the previous Saturday, that is to say, I knew on Saturday the 13th, and we went on Wednesday the 17th. Previous to our departure, I had seen and read a letter written by the deceased on the 13th. I saw it put in an envelope, which I directed myself. I put the letter in the envelope, and gave it to the deceased. That occurred in my own sitting room. At that time, it was not stamped. The deceased put it into her pocket. She left the house, but I did not go out with her, and don't know what she subsequently did with the letter. I never saw it again. At that time I knew she was enciente. I have known the name of Colmer, and the shop kept by prisoner, all my lifetime. On the 17th inst. when we drove over to Yeovil, we took the pony and trap to the Three Choughs Hotel. I drove. We were alone. At Yeovil I went to South Street. At the bottom of Union Street I left the deceased. The prisoners lived nearly opposite, and to the shop I saw the deceased go. I lost sight of her for about 10 minutes. When she left me at the bottom of Union Street, which would be just before 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I knew where she was going. I waited for 10 minutes, and she returned. We then went back to the Three Choughs, and at 6:30 she again went to the Colmer's. She remained there till 8:30, at which time I met her by appointment in Union Street. I did not see her either enter or leave Colmer's on the second occasion. After I met her, we drove home together to Crewkerne. Colmer's shop in Yeovil is that of a chemist, tobacconist, and herbalist. In the one window there are pipes and tobacco, but I cannot say what was in the other. I never in my life had any conversation with either Colmer or his wife. On the day following that of our visit to Yeovil, I saw the deceased at Crewkerne. On 18 March another letter was written by the deceased, and directed by me to Dr Jane Colmer, Yeovil.

Mr Clarke -- I must take your Lordship's opinion on this matter. Notice to produce has been given with respect to certain letters. Your Lordship is aware that the prisoners have been in custody for a considerable time. This notice to produce was not given until Monday, at Yeovil, and three days previously - that is the Friday previous - the prisoners were conveyed to London under a writ of certiorari, removing the venue of the trial to London. That being so, I submit the notice is not sufficient.

Mr Poland -- The notice was given on Monday, and this is Friday, and I must say I think that is reasonable notice, indeed, I think it is more than sufficient. We don't want a cartload of documents; we only want one. What more notice you want?

Mr Justice Hawkins -- Supposing notice had been given now to produce certain documents, they could be ordered to be produced tomorrow. I remember myself distinctly of calling for the production of some documents on the spot. However, it seems to me that I cannot disallow this evidence as to the address being tendered in the meantime. When Mr Williams proposes to go into the contents of the letter, you can then take objection to the shortness of the notice to produce.

Examination continued -- I posted that letter.
Mr Williams -- I formally called for that letter.
Mr E Clarke -- We will not produce it.
Mr Williams (to witness) -- Can you tell me the contents of that letter?
Mr Clarke -- I must object to that now, my Lord, and plead that we have not had to notice sufficient to produce that letter.
Mr Justice Hawkins -- The notice is certainly close, but it is reasonable.
Mr Clarke -- But there was plenty of time to give us notice, seeing that the prisoners were committed in March.
Mr Justice Hawkins -- Yes, I know. I do not know that I should tell you what is passing in my mind, but with respect to documents of this kind, I would say notice might be given to produce them directly. It seems to me that the notice in this case has, upon the whole, been sufficient, and, therefore, the objection is disallowed.
Examination resumed - Mr Williams -- What were the contents of the letter, as near as you can recollect? -- "Madam, I have made excuses to get away, and will be at your home between 12:30 and 1 o'clock on Friday. I should be glad to get back by the next train if possible. I have procured the £18." It was signed "M Budge."
Was it in her handwriting? -- Yes.
The Judge: The whole letter? -- Yes.
Mr Williams: Did she show you the £18 - any money? -- No, she did not.
Did you see her the next day (Friday) about 9 o'clock in the morning? -- I did.
Did she appear quite well at that time? -- She did.
Where did you see her? -- She came into my sitting room.
Did you go out with her? -- No.
Did you make an appointment to meet her in the evening? -- I did; at Crewkerne railway station: either to meet the 4 o'clock or the 9:15 train from Yeovil. I, however, got home too late to meet the 4 o'clock train; and then I knew that she would not be back till the 9 o'clock train.
Did you meet that train? -- I did. I went to the carriage door and helped her out.
What state did she appear to you to be in then? -- Very weak and ill.
Did you notice the colour of her face? -- Very white.
Does an omnibus meet the train? -- It does. I assisted her to walk from the platform to the omnibus.
Did she lean on you? -- She did.
How long does the omnibus take to get to the house? -- About 10 minutes.
Did you assist her out of the omnibus? -- No, she got out by herself.
Did she go into the house? -- Yes. I went in too, to my own room; she went into her own sitting room.
What state did she appear to be in then? -- The same as when we got out of the train.
Did you see her again that night? -- No.
Did you ever see her again? -- No. I went out again and returned about 11.
When did she die? -- The next day: the Saturday, between 5:30 and six in the evening.
What is your age? -- 23 last month.
What was her age? -- 36 or 37.
(Photograph handed to witness.)
Is that her photograph? -- It is.
Mr Clarke: what employment are you in now? -- None at all, at present.
When did you leave Stuckey's Bank? -- I sent in my resignation on 7 June.
Were you told to send in your resignation? -- I was desired to do so.
How long had you been at the bank? -- About six years.
Had you lived at Crewkerne during six years? -- Just over five.
I understand you had lived with Mrs Budge since the latter part of 1878? -- Yes.
Where did you live immediately before? -- With Mr and Mrs Rugg.
Had you known Mrs Budge before? -- No.
For some time before March last had you been on terms of intimacy with Mrs Budge? -- I had known her.
Mr Clarke -- You know what I mean.
The Judge -- Were you on terms of intimacy with her? -- Yes, a month before she died.
Mr Clarke -- Do you mean by that answer that you have not been intimate with her till a month before she died? -- Yes.
How soon did you know she was in the family way? -- About a week before she went to Yeovil.
Was she in the habit of bringing you your breakfast into your room in the morning? -- Yes.
Did you understand she was in the family way by you? -- I did not understand so.
Question repeated. -- Well, I did understand so. (Sensation.)
I believe you are a native of Yeovil? -- Yes, my parents live at Yeovil.
Occupying a respectable position they are, I suppose? -- I believe so.
Your father for many years was in responsible employment on the Great Western Railway? -- Yes.
Have you brothers and sisters? -- I have brothers; two older and one younger than myself.
What was your salary at the bank? -- £90.
And it began at what? -- £40.
You say on Wednesday you saw Mrs Budge go into Mrs Colmer's shop? -- I did.
When examined the first time before the coroner were you asked questions by the jury, and did you, in answer to one of those questions say, "Mrs Budge went that way, but I did not see if she went to Mrs Colmer's"? -- I did.
You were a examined a second time, and then swore, as you have sworn today, that you did see her go into Mrs Colmer's?-- Yes.
Which of the statements is false? -- The first one. Then you did not tell the truth to the jury on the first occasion? -- Not to some of the questions.
You told the jury you did not know deceased went to consult Mrs Colmer. Was that true? -- No.
You told us you knew she was in the family way for a week before she died. Did you tell the jury she did not tell you what was amiss with her? -- I did.
Which of these statements is the false one? -- The first.
Now on the Wednesday did she ask you to drive her to Yeovil, or did you propose it? -- She proposed it herself.
Did you tell the jury that you proposed it? -- That was a mistake.
Was it a falsehood? -- No, it was unintentional.
But when you said she did not tell you what was amiss with her you meant to deceive the jury? -- Yes.
For what purpose? -- I meant to screen the deceased as much as I could.
What! You meant to screen the deceased? Why? -- I wished to screen her.
Did you know that doctors were to be called at the inquest to prove the cause of her death? -- I never thought of the seriousness of the case.
Let us see if you are deceiving the jury now. Do you mean to say that you, having had intimacy with her about a month before her death, and having a knowledge of that letter, and knowing that she was enceinte, you did not think of the seriousness of the case? -- I did not.
Do you tell the jury now that you did not know, and that you spoke light and careless untruths at the inquest? -- Yes.
Did you know what the letter you addressed to Mrs Colmer meant? -- I did.
You have given a statement of the contents of that letter written in March. Did you make any copy of that letter? -- No.
When did you first take note of its contents? -- Today.
For the first time? -- Yes.
Where was that copy written? -- Outside this court, between 10:30 and 11 o'clock this morning.
Who was with you at the time? -- Nobody.
Have you never been asked to write down the contents of this letter before? -- No.
Re-examined by Mr Montagu Williams -- At the inquest I gave a statement to the Coroner about the £18. Subsequently I had a conversation with Mr Watts, the solicitor to the Treasury, and was asked by him to write down the contents of the letter, which I did.
By the Judge -- There is one thing I should like to ask you. When was the occasion on which you were first intimate with Mrs Budge? -- Perhaps six weeks before her death.
Are you sure it was not further back? -- Well, it was perhaps two months.
You cannot go beyond that? -- No.
Can you say positively whether it was not further back than two months? -- I will not say.
Can't you refresh your memory? -- Well, I cannot make it more than two months previous to her death.

Martha Brook, examined by Mr Norris -- I live in Middle Street, Yeovil. I knew the deceased by sight. I remember seeing her at Yeovil on Wednesday 17th of March, about 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
Where? -- I saw her come out of Mrs Colmer's shop.
From which door? -- The shop door.
Was anyone with you? -- Yes, my sister, Mrs Custard.
Did your sister speak to deceased? -- Yes.
Did you know Mr Forster by site? -- Yes.
Did you see him on the same afternoon? -- Yes, about the same time; he was standing in Union Street.
How was Mrs Budge dressed? -- In black.
Mr Clarke: did you see who was in a Mrs Colmer's shop? -- No.

Emily Sarah Custard -- I am the wife of George Custard, and I live in Princes Street, Yeovil. I knew the deceased slightly. On Wednesday, 17 March, I was in Middle Street, about five in the afternoon. I saw deceased coming out of Mrs Colmer's shop.
When you saw Mrs Budge come out of the shop did you notice anything in her manner? -- She seemed very agitated. I spoke to her. We were accustomed to do so when we met. That day however, she tried to avoid me at first.
Which way did she go? -- Towards Union Street. She was alone at that time; but in Union Street she met Mr Forster, who was standing there.
Did you see what she did when she met him? -- Mr Forster took something from her hand. She appeared at that time to be in her usual state of health.

Alfred Ernest Falkner -- I am booking clerk at Crewkerne station. On Friday, 19 March, I saw Mrs Budge at the station, at 11:45. She left by train for Yeovil, to which place she had taken a ticket. She was alone, and dressed in black.
Was she in her usual health? -- She looked all right.
Did you see her again? -- Yes, when she returned at 9:15 in the evening. She was then looking very ill, and, in consequence, I allowed her to pass without giving up a ticket, which was afterwards sent back. Mr Forster supported her through the office.

Frederick Maunder, stationmaster on the South Western Railway at Yeovil, proved seeing the deceased at Yeovil, and her leaving the station in the direction of the town.

Richard Sweet --: I am the driver of the Mermaid omnibus which meets the trains at Yeovil. I know the 12:35 train. I met it at Yeovil on 19 March, with my omnibus. I remember a lady arriving by that strain. She entered my omnibus, and I put her down opposite Colmer's door. I left Yeovil with my omnibus to catch the 8:15 train the same night. Mr Wills, a dairy man, was a passenger, and a lady, whom I picked up near the Castle, was also a passenger. The Castle is next door to Mrs Colmer's. I did not notice where she came from. She had no luggage. I could not swear whether she was the same lady as I had conveyed in the morning.
Cross-examined -- She stopped me from the pavement, holding up her hands to attract my attention.

Ellen Cheney -- I was a servant to Mrs Jane Colmer, but I cannot say when I entered her service. I think I was there about 11 months. Mr Colmer generally came to the house of Mrs Colmer on Fridays. On Wednesday 17 March I saw a lady in the house. That would be about 7 o'clock in the evening.
Where was she? -- In the backyard, with Mrs Colmer.
You have to go through the shop to get there? -- Yes.
(Shown in the photograph of Mrs Budge) I identify that is the lady whom I saw with Mrs Colmer, on 17 March. She was dressed in mourning. I do not know when she left that night. Saw her again on the following Friday about 1 o'clock. At that time she was sitting on the sofa, in the dining room. She appeared then to be in delicate health. On that afternoon Mrs Colmer told me to go and fetch Mr Colmer from Mr Crocker's. Mr Crocker is their son-in-law. "Go down to Mr Crocker's and fetch Mr Colmer; he is wanted." That is what I was told to do. I saw Mr Colmer, and I gave in the message. He said he would come directly. I went back to Mrs Colmer's and went into the kitchen. I said nothing to Mrs Colmer when I returned, because Mr Colmer came up behind me. I went in by the front door. It would then be about 2 o'clock. Mr Colmer entered by the shop door. I did not see Mr Colmer again until the evening, but I heard him in the afternoon calling "Mrs Colmer, Mrs Colmer," two or three times; and then he shouted, "Come in! Bring a cloth! She is fainting!" I was in the kitchen at that time. The sound seemed to come from the dining room. That would be about 3 o'clock. After that the dining room was unlocked and Mrs Colmer came into the kitchen. She took a tablecloth and tea cloth off the kitchen table and went into the dining room. There is a window in that apartment. It looks into the yard. There is a blind to that window, and I noticed it was down that afternoon. If the blind was up a person could see in from the kitchen. That afternoon I could not see in. Mrs Colmer's two daughters lived with her. On the afternoon in question they dined in the kitchen, although they usually do not dine in the kitchen. I have known them dine there before, but not often. All that afternoon Miss Colmer sent me out several times on errands, but I cannot say to where. About 7 o'clock in the evening I saw Mrs Budge sitting on the sofa in the dining room. I was then going to order the 'bus. Miss Colmer sent me to do that, and I had to pass through the passage. I could then see Mrs Colmer sitting with Mrs Budge on the sofa. Mrs Colmer had her arm around Mrs Budge's waist. The gas was then lighted very brightly. Mrs Budge had neither bonnet nor jacket on. Mrs Budge was in a sitting position. She looked very ill. There are two glass panels in the door leading from the dining room to the kitchen. Previously they were quite clear; they were clear on the morning of the day I speak of; but in the evening newspaper was put over the glass to prevent any person from seeing in. At tea time I saw the tablecloth and the tea cloth and a basin of water in the trough under the tap. That was in the evening. There was a towel in the basin, and the basin was full of water. It had not been there before that day. On sweeping the dining room by the sofa next morning I observed that some water had been spilt on the coconut matting. I saw Mrs Colmer take her dinner between one and 2 o'clock on the previous day, in the kitchen. Mr Colmer did not stay in the house that night. My father took me away from Mrs Colmer's service the day after the Coroner's inquest. I had never had any quarrel with Mrs Colmer. She always treated me very kindly.

Cross-examined by Mr Clarke -- The Friday in question being market day a large number of people came into the shop for tobacco and various things. Besides, a large number of her patients called that day. It is not uncommon for the family to dine in the kitchen on market days - that is on Fridays. They go to the kitchen because there is a probability of the dining room being wanted on that day for patients. It was the dining room to which Mrs Colmer generally took her patients. The blind of the dining room was up in the morning, but down in the afternoon. It was later than 3 o'clock, but how much later I cannot say. It was drawn up about 5 o'clock. What particular time it was put down, and how long it remained down, I cannot say. I did not light the gas that day; but it had not been long lighted when I saw Mrs Colmer and Mrs Budge on the sofa.
Had Mrs Colmer been in bad health a little before the time? -- She had not been well.
And was she in the habit of sitting on the sofa in the dining room a great deal? - Yes.
Which Miss Colmer sent you for the omnibus? -- The youngest, 'Brinny' they always call her.
You feel sure it was she who gave you the order? -- Yes.
Where were you? -- In the kitchen. She came from the dining room into the kitchen. I put on my hat to go out. I did not have to go upstairs at all. I went out from the kitchen straight down the passage.
I must ask you these questions. Did you mean to say that passing along the passage and by the stairs to the front door, without turning to go upstairs, you could see through that door anyone sitting in the dining room? -- Yes, sir, on the sofa.
Did you go out as quickly as you could to fetch the omnibus? -- Yes.
You popped on your hat and went out? -- Yes; I turned my head and saw the lady sitting on the sofa.
You saw a lady in mourning sitting on the sofa? -- I won't say she was in mourning then; but she looked very ill indeed.
Did you not distinctly swear before the Coroner when that photograph was produced to you, that it was like a lady you had seen at Mrs Colmer's, that you only saw the lady once? -- Yes sir, I did.
How came you to say that? -- Because I was told not to say anything at all about what I knew.
Were you examine once or twice before the Coroner? -- Once. I was afterwards examined before the magistrates.
Did you in some respects tell a different story before them from that you told before the Coroner?....
Mr Poland -- That is rather vague. Surely you should call her attention to something she did say.
Mr Clarke -- I will call her attention to a dozen, if you like. Did you say before the coroner that it was Madame Colmer who said you for the omnibus? -- I don't remember whether I said Madame or Miss Colmer.
Then at all events you had not been told to say that Miss Colmer sent you for the omnibus? -- No sir.
Nor had anyone told you not to say that you had been sent? -- No.
It was before Madame Colmer had had dinner that you first saw the lady on the day you refer to? -- Yes.
Had the fire been lighted, or did you simply go into the room to make it up?-- To make it up.
Did you know the lady you saw sitting on the sofa? -- No, I did not.
Did you recognise her as anyone you had seen before? -- I saw her on the Wednesday.
You were only in the room for a few minutes, I suppose? -- Only a few minutes.
Where was Mrs Colmer at that time? -- In the shop.
Whether customers in the shop? -- Yes.
Before the Coroner did you say you never before saw the person you saw there on Friday? -- I don't know sir, I don't remember.
You never saw the lady again unless she was the person you say you saw at seven in the evening? -- No, sir.
And you don't know what became of her - whether she went away or stayed there? -- No, I don't.
Whilst Madame Colmer was having dinner in the kitchen where were you? -- In the back kitchen.
Who was minding the shop? -- I don't know.
When did you next see Mr Colmer after the time he followed you from Mr Crocker's? -- I saw him in the evening, going down the yard. That was before I went to fetch the omnibus.
Did you say before the Coroner that you did not see her take the cloth from the kitchen table? -- Yes, sir, I did.
The Judge -- Do you remember what you said before the Coroner? -- No, I do not.
Mr Clarke -- Did you say that Mrs Colmer took the cloth from the room in which she was? -- That was the cloth which I found in the basin. Mrs Colmer took two cloths - a tablecloth and tea cloth - but they were not used.
The Judge -- What do you say about the other cloth; what was that? -- A towel I found in the basin.
Who had that? -- Mrs Colmer, I suppose.
Mr Clarke -- You say that that evening you found a towel in the sink. How long it had been there you don't know? -- No.
Mr Williams -- You said just now "she" told you not to say what you know. Whom do you mean by "she"? -- The Misses Colmer.
When did they say that - before you went to the Coroner's inquest? -- Yes.
Give me as near as you can the exact words used to you, when you were told to order the 'bus? -- Go and order the bus for the 8:15 Crewkerne train.
Is there a closet in Colmer's yard? -- Yes.

George Lucas, examined by Mr Norris, said -- I am a carpenter and joiner. On the 19th I was working at Mr Godfrey's shop, next to Mrs Colmer's. That afternoon, between two and three, Mr Colmer came into Mr Godfrey's shop. I afterwards saw him in his own garden between three and four.
Witness was not cross-examined.

George Martin, labourer, Yeovil, said -- On the 19th March last I was in the employment of Mr Godfrey, and I remembered seeing Mr Colmer in his back garden on the afternoon of that day.

William Godfrey -- I reside at Middle Street, Yeovil. Shortly before 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the 19th of March Mr Colmer came into my place, and I subsequently went into Madame Colmer's shop. Our conversation referred to a grate. I think it would be about 4:30 when I went into Colmer's shop. Madame Colmer told me the grate had been put right, and that I could not get into the dining room as there was some person in there. I had been making some alterations in the grate on the Thursday, and it was on the Friday that I went into the shop and was told I could not get in to see it.

Albert Edward Tanner, miller, Ilchester -- I was in Yeovil on the19th of March last, and went into Madame Coleman's shop between 2:30 and 3 o'clock, on the afternoon of that day. I went in to buy the stem of a pipe. While in the shop I heard someone calling - twice or three times - "Mrs Colmer, Mrs Colmer." Mrs Colmer went to the dining room door immediately, but it appeared to be locked. She kicked it with her foot, but failed to open it.

John Membury, hairdresser, residing in Middle Street -- I was at home on the night of the 19th of March. I remember seeing the Mermaid omnibus stopping opposite the side door of Madame Colmer's, between seven and 9 o'clock. A lady came out of Mrs Colmer's and got into the omnibus. She was attired in dark clothing. I don't remember how she got in, but after she got in the omnibus drove off. Sweet was the driver.

Elizabeth Herrington said -- The deceased Mrs Budge was my daughter. I remember my daughter leaving home on the 19th of March. I was not at the station when she returned. She bought with her a bottle of powder, and the daughter of the deceased put some in a glass and filled it up with sherry. She went to bed shortly after she arrived home. During the night she said she suffered great pain. I saw her the next morning at 8 o'clock, and remained with her all day. She would not allow Dr Wills to be sent for either in the morning or in the afternoon, until she was seized for the death. She died about a 5:45 in the evening. There were marks of blood on the sheets.
Mr Bullen -- Did you see your daughter take anything from a bottle that had been filled up with sugar? -- Yes, before she went to bed she took a dose.

Miss Annie Elizabeth Budge said she was the eldest daughter of the late Mrs Mary Budge, and there were four other children. Her father was a solicitor.
By the Judge -- I have two sisters and two brothers.
By Mr Poland -- On Friday, the 19th of March, when my mother went out I was at school. She was very well when I went away to school. She returned home between 9 and 9:30, and she then appeared in her ordinary dress as if she had just come in. She bought in a bottle of liquid with her, and also a bottle with some white powder. I put some sherry into the bottle with the powder at the request of my mother, and after that she took two tablespoonfuls. I slept with my mother that night; I did not usually sleep with her. I did so because grandmamma wished it. During the night my mother was very restless and had no sleep, although she did not complain, but I could see that she was in a great deal of pain. She slept very little during the night.
By the Judge -- I don't think she slept at all during the night.
By Mr Poland -- I got up about eight in the morning, and left her in bed. I did not go to school that morning because I was asked to remain at home by my grandmother. My mother never again got out of bed, but she remained there until she died. My mother seemed to be in considerable pain.
Cross-examined by Mr Bullen -- There were two flights of stairs - about 33 stairs - to get to the room. I was downstairs when my mother got into her bedroom. I did not see her there before she was undressed. I saw no blood either in the room or on the stairs. I gave my mother two tablespoonfuls of the sherry and white powder during the night.

Eliza Barrett, widow, of Crewkerne, said she was called to the house of the deceased on 20 March.
The Judge -- Was she then dead? -- She was, my lord. I saw her clothes, which were then in a very bad condition. There was a great deal of blood about her chemise and nightdress. Mrs Taylor also showed me a sheet. It was not so dirty as the underclothes, but was stained with blood, and was folded over four times. The blood on all the articles seemed fresh.
By the Judge -- It was not very dry.
By Mr Bullen -- It was not dry.
By the Judge -- It was not dry on any of the garments.

Louisa Taylor, examined by Mr Poland -- I am a nurse living at Crewkerne, and knew the deceased. Shortly after she died I was called in. I got there about six, and saw her dead. I saw her underclothing, which was in a very bad state with blood. The blood was quite fresh, and not dry.
By the Judge -- I took the nightdress, chemise, &c. off the body.
Examination continued -- There was also blood on the sheet, and a quantity of blood in the slop-pail. I laid out the body. There were no external marks or bruises.
By the Judge -- I washed the body, and saw whence the blood proceeded.

John Bailey, inspector of Bristol police, examined by Mr Norris -- on the13th of April, in consequence of a communication from the Chief Constable of Somerset, I went to the male prisoner's shop at 77½ Old Market Street, Bristol, about 8 o'clock in the evening. I took the prisoner to St Phillips police station. I said "Robert Slade Colmer, we have received a telegraphic message from Mr Gould, Chief Constable of Somerset, stating that Robert Slade Colmer was wanted for murder; that he resided with Miss Dawes, or Davies, in Old Market Street." He said, "All right; I know all about it." I detained him till half past two the next day, when I handed him over to the Somerset police. I know the prisoner's shop; the inscription produced was over the door.
By Mr Bullen -- He made some remark that another policeman had been to his house, and when he said, "All right, I know all about it," I don't think he said that he knew all about it from the other policeman.
The question was repeated and pressed, and witness at last said he would not swear that Colmer did not say that the other policeman told him all about it.
Examination continued -- He did not tell me that he had already gone to the chief police officer in Bristol. He said he intended to do so, but he did not say why.
By Mr Poland -- I know nothing of the case.
By the Judge -- I did not make a memorandum at the time of what the prisoner said, but I expected to be called as a witness, and therefore I remembered it.

Joseph Holwill, sergeant of police, Yeovil, examined by Mr Poland, said --: I took Mrs Colmer into custody on the 13th of April, after the Coroner's inquest. She was then ill in bed, and I left a constable in charge of her. In one of the drawers in the bedroom I found the instrument produced (a speculum). It was not wrapped up. I took possession of it. I found no other instrument in the house. I have seen the male prisoner write many times at the police station, and the two telegrams produced are in his handwriting. (Marked 23 and 79.) The male prisoner was at the police station from the 14th until the 29th of April, and he was writing every day.
By Mr Norris -- I feel confident these telegrams are in his writing, although I did not know his handwriting until he was in custody. He generally wrote to a woman called Williams, at Bristol, with whom he lived, and sometimes I read the letters and sometimes the Superintendent read them. I found some dentist's instruments in the prisoner's house, and I handed them back.

Mr Poland then tendered in evidence the two telegrams identified by the last witness.
Mr Bullen (in the absence of Mr Clarke) said he would simply take his Lordship's opinion as to whether the telegrams had been sufficiently proved.
The Judge -- Oh, clearly.
Telegrams read from R S Colmer, Bristol, to Mrs Colmer, Yeovil, March 17th: first telegram -- "Have lost the train; will come this afternoon if that will do. If it will not do, please telegraph." Second telegram -- "Important business detained me tonight. Will come with first training in the morning, arriving at Yeovil at 9 o'clock certain."
The Judge -- Is that all you have?
Mr Bullen -- There are three telegrams.
Mr Poland -- I cannot put in the third, because I have not proved the handwriting, but if you wish it put in I shall be very happy to assist you.
The Court then adjourned.

 

LONDON, Saturday.

The trial was resumed this morning.

Mr George Frederick Wills -- I live at Crewkerne, and am a registered medical practitioner. I have practised at that place for several years. I had known Mrs Budge since she lived at Crewkerne - 12 or 14 years. I had attended her. She generally enjoyed good health. I had not seen her for six weeks before she died. On the 20th of March I was sent for to her house. Her mother and daughter were with her. She appeared to be dying. I tried to rally her by administering some brandy and water. The heart was very feeble, the pulse high, and the fingers blue. I think deceased recognised me, but she could not speak. I applied hot water and flannels, but the deceased died within an hour of my getting into the room. I never left her.
In consequence of what you heard did you examine her body immediately after her death? -- I did.
Were there no marks of violence? -- None.
What was the condition of the body - the colour? -- A peculiar yellow.
Was there any blood? -- Yes, a little on the sheet, and some on the body.
Was the body fairly nourished? -- Yes; she was a thin person.
Her age was about 36? -- I believe so.
The following day you made a post-mortem examination? -- I did.
Was Mr Alford, surgeon, of Crewkerne, present? -- Yes.
State the condition in which you found the body. Was it decomposed at all? -- Yes, very much, considering the short time since death.
Were the lungs and heart healthy? -- Yes, all the organs of the body were healthy, except the uterus.
No trace of disease at all? - None at all.
No trace of worms? - None.
What was the state of the uterus? -- The uterus was of a very uneven thickness; upon the upper part there was a dark spot, which could be seen before the uterus was removed.
What was the spot? -- It was an ash-coloured spot, and there was another just below on the anterior part. I then removed the uterus, opening it at the posterior part, for the purpose of examination. Corresponding with the ash-coloured spot there was a considerable loss of substance, reducing the thickness of the wall of the uterus in one place to about the sixteenth of an inch. The abrasion as well as the loss of substance was about the size of a fourpenny-piece.
What is the ordinary thickness of the uterus? -- Three-eighths or half an inch, in most cases. Close by the spot, was a very dark patch of suffused blood, under the mucous membrane. The lower patch where there was a loss of substance on the front surface of the uterus was not quite so large. The membrane was jagged and appeared torn in two or three places between these patches, the whole surface being injected and red.
Explain what you mean by injected? -- There was an unusual quantity of blood in the vessel of the mucous membrane. There was also a substance connected with a clot of blood slightly attached to the lining of the membrane of the uterus, which I removed for examination. I found it to be part of a placenta. I formed an opinion that she had been pregnant, and that the fetus had been removed. I found no trace of the fetus, although the placenta showed that it must have been there. I formed an opinion that the deceased had been pregnant for about three months, although, of course, it is difficult to speak definitely.
Did you form any opinion that the fetus had been removed by violence? -- I think from the condition of the membranes there can be no doubt that violence had been used.
In your judgement, was the violence such as might have been caused by the forcible removal of the fetus by an instrument? -- The appearance would be compatible with the use of an instrument. It would not be compatible with the fetus having come away without violence. The appearance showed that violence had been used in the removal of the fetus a few hours previously. The body had a yellow appearance, probably owing to decomposition, following on the poisoning of the blood. From the general state of the body there had been much loss of blood.
In your judgement what was the cause of death? -- Haemorrhage.
From what part? -- The uterus.
Is it, in the early stages of pregnancy, dangerous, by the use of an instrument, to attempt to procure abortion? -- I should say it was highly dangerous.
Dangerous to life? -- Yes, highly dangerous, the instrument produced is a variety of the speculum which is commonly used for enlarging the approaches to the uterus. Supposing it to be used for the purpose of procuring abortion it would not be used by itself. The use of this instrument would expose the mouth of the uterus so that another instrument might be the more readily passed into the uterus. Almost any hard substance that was long enough to reach might have been employed to cause the injuries I saw, and to bring away the fetus. Considerable violence might or might not have been used to bring it away. After an operation such as this, the person who underwent it would require to be treated with very great care. It would add very much to the danger if a woman after such an operation were allowed to walk out, to take an omnibus, and then go 10 or 11 miles in a train. I have no doubt of the substance I have mentioned being part of the afterbirth. I took away almost the whole of the uterus at the time of the post-mortem, and sealed it up, placing it in a jar. After attaching my seal, I sent it to Dr Hicks, Guy's Hospital. In the deceased lady's room I saw a bottle, which I found on making enquiries after her death. It was behind the dressing glass on the dressing table. I saw it contained a fluid with a white sediment. I sealed that up without testing it, and gave it to the Sergeant of Police to take to Mr Stoddart, the county analyst, who has since died. I tasted the white precipitate, and it had a taste which resembles that of quinine. It might have been quinine and sherry. Quinine is a strengthening medicine. I did not see any other bottle. I took the contents of the stomach, the duodenum, and the placenta, and I sent them under seal to Mr Stoddart.
Cross-examined by Mr Clarke -- I have heard of the female prisoner as having lived in Yeovil for many years. I know she has one son who is a medical man.
Is it within your knowledge that there are many diseases of women which they would rather have examined by women than men? -- I am not aware of such a case.
The instrument you have seen would be used for any purpose of inspection - in cases of inflammation, &c. -- Yes. The effectual use of such an instrument on a person three months advanced in pregnancy would necessitate the employment of considerable violence, which would cause laceration, and, probably, very considerable haemorrhage. Supposing a small instrument had been used to open or widened the uterus, it would not have been necessary to use the speculum to open the vagina.
At the time you saw this lady she was dying from collapse caused by haemorrhage? -- Yes. Haemorrhage on the previous day might have so severe that a slight relapse would carry her off. There were not indications of considerable recent haemorrhage.
You have said that in your opinion death was caused by abortion, that is, loss of the fetus. Whether that loss were caused by an operation or naturally, you would, as a medical man, regard it as an abortion? -- Yes.
You judged from the appearance that the abortion was recent? -- Yes, it must have been within 24 hours, or inflammation would have been set up. There was commencement of inflammation of the inner surface of the uterus; there was no peritonitis. There was a jagged surface which indicated laceration. There was an appearance of jagged mess in several places, from which the loss of blood had occurred. It indicated the use of considerable violence. The use of an instrument would not necessarily leave traces on the surface of the neck of the uterus. In removing the uterus I left the neck in situ. Supposing the removal of the fetus and the laceration of the inner surface of the uterus to have taken place at the same time, there would be a great deal of haemorrhage, sufficient to cause weakness and exhaustion.
Would a woman under those circumstances be able to walk about the streets and go by train? -- There was not much walking about the streets in this case.
The Judge -- She only walked across the pavement to the omnibus.
Mr Clarke -- But would it be possible for a woman, under those circumstances, to travel by omnibus and train? -- Quite possible.
Surely not immediately? -- Immediately.
The Judge -- What kind of instrument do you say might have been used? -- Some hard instrument.
No particular instrument, but any hard substance you say might have been employed? -- Yes, but it must have had rather a hard edge. With reference to the last question of Mr Clarke, respecting the ability of a woman to walk after the prostration and haemorrhage resulting from the removal of the fetus, I may say that it is not an uncommon thing among the lower orders in the country for a woman after giving birth to a child downstairs, immediately to walk upstairs to bed.
Mr Clarke -- But the woman would not then be in a condition of weakness amounting to prostration. -- Oh yes she would.

Mr Charles Edward Alford -- I am a registered medical practitioner, practising at Crewkerne. On 21 March, I assisted Mr Wills in the post-mortem examination of the deceased lady. I heard his evidence as to the condition of the body and the cause of death, and quite agree with it.

James Wright Gatehouse -- I am the public analyst for the City and Borough of Bath. On the 27th of March, I received, for the purpose of analysis, some parcels. They were packed and sealed with the initials "G. F. W." (Mr Wills's initials). The first was a bottle labelled "medicine" which contained a yellow liquid with a white sediment. It consisted of an alcoholic liquid, probably sherry and sulphate of quinine in solution, and also sulphate of quinine as a solid, which, when dry, would be a white powder. It was an 8 ounce bottle, containing 3 ounces, 9 drachms of fluid. In each ounce there were five grains of quinine sulphate and three grains of solid quinine sulphate. There was another bottle labelled "contents of stomach". There was nothing material in that. A third bottle, labelled "duodenum", contained a yellow semihard-fluid. There was the slightest trace of oily and resinous matter. By distillation, I obtained a turbid fluid, and most minute quantity of oil and resin, but I'm not in a position to state what the oil and resin were. It is possible they might have proceeded from savin; but there was not sufficient to enable me to swear to it. There was another bottle which I opened, but, finding that labelled "uterus" I re-corked and sealed it, and forwarded it to Dr Galobin.
Mr Clarke -- I have no question to ask.

Dr Alford Lewis Galobin, of St Thomas's Street, Borough, examined by Mr Poland, read his notes of an examination of the contents of the bottle forwarded him by the last witness. The size of the uterus was considerably increased and extended in somewhat globular form. An incision had been made through the lower two thirds of the posterior wall. On the interior wall, not far from the summit and towards the right side was a spot about half an inch in diameter, where a distinct breach of the tissue seemed to have taken place.
Mr Poland -- Was it a distinct breach of the tissue such as would be caused by a hard instrument being used to procure abortion? -- It was.
It presented such appearances as you would expect to find if some hard instrument had been used to procure abortion? -- Yes.
Was there any disease of the womb? -- Microscopic examination showed that there had been slight information, which might have been produced within a few hours.
With that exception there was no other disease? -- No, none. I should say that the violence from which death resulted had been used about a couple of days before death. The substance taken from the uterus showed that the person from whom it was taken had been some time in the third month of pregnancy - probably not quite three, but certainly more than two months. The evidence given shows that the quinine found in the stomach contained eight grains to the ounce. Two grains to the ounce is the usual dose. In such quantities as eight grains, quinine would tend to produce contraction of the womb.
Do you agree with Dr Wills that an instrument could be used for the purpose of procuring abortion without injuring the neck of the uterus? -- Yes, certainly. Witness was not cross-examined.

Dr Jonathan Wybrants -- I am one of the Coroners for the County of Somerset. I held an examination, beginning on 22 March, on the body of Mrs Budge. The prisoner Jane Colmer was examined as a witness before me in the course of the inquiry. Previous to her examination we had examined Mrs Harrington, Elizabeth Budge, and Sarah Ann Budge. These were all examined on the first day, Forster was the first witness on the second day.
Mrs Colmer's statement before the Coroner was put in, and the Clerk of Arraigns was asked to read it.
The Judge -- The witness had better read his own writing. I have tried to do so, and can't. (A laugh.)
A copy of the statement was then read by Mr Norris, and checked with the original by the witness.

George Wills, dairyman, of Crewkerne -- On the evening of 19 March I returned from Yeovil to Crewkerne. I rode in the Mermaid omnibus, driven by Sweet, to Yeovil station. The 'bus stopped in Middle Street, opposite Colmer's shop, and a lady got in. She looked very ill. (Photograph produced). That is a photograph of the lady I saw get into the 'bus. She went by train to Crewkerne, as I did, and I next saw her get into the Crewkerne bus. Mr Forster helped her in.
Witness was not cross-examined.

Mr John Bisgood, Deputy Chief Constable of Somerset, was called to supply the information required by the judge as to railway communication between Bristol and Yeovil. He said -- There are two routes, one via Durston, and the other via Evercreech and Templecombe. I know the times given in the table produced to be correct.
The Judge -- I see it takes between two and three hours. -- Yes, the most direct way is via Durston; the other is rather roundabout.

Mr Poland -- That, my Lord, is the case for the Crown.
Mr Clarke -- I do not call witnesses.
Mr Poland then summed up the case for the prosecution. He said -- May it please your Lordship, gentlemen of the jury, my learned friend Mr Clarke has just announced his intention not to call any witnesses in this case, and therefore your verdict will have to be given upon the sworn evidence which is now before you, and it becomes my duty to address you upon that evidence, and to point out in what way it appears to me to bear upon the charge. The case is certainly a very melancholy one indeed, when we consider the position of this lady. Here is a lady 36 or 37 years of age, with daughters - one approaching womanhood - living in a place where she had been known and respected, and where her husband, as a solicitor, had been known and respected before her; a widow lady living there, and in the middle of March she finds that she is undoubtedly pregnant. Now, gentlemen, we need not trouble ourselves with the history of pregnancy, because we know that she was pregnant and had been pregnant for two or three months - probably in the third month - and finding herself in that condition, for her own reputation and for the sake of her children, she seems to have determined that the knowledge of it must be concealed from her mother and from her relations living at Crewkerne. This young man Forster, whose evidence I shall have to comment upon presently - and you will say whether, having regard to the painful position in which he is placed, whatever might be his sins, whether he is not given his evidence in that way as a witness to redound to his credit. It is not for us to judge of his conduct, except in so far as to come to a right conclusion. One cannot help remembering that he is a young man 23 years of age, and that the deceased, the mother of five children, was 36 years of age, and that she was a person in a condition to protect herself. The first date of importance with reference to this case is the 13th of March, and on that day Mr Forster tells us that she wrote a letter, and that he directed it so that it would reach Mrs Colmer at Yeovil on the 14th of March, dressed in a man's handwriting. What that letter contained we do not know, because, according to the strict rules of evidence, we are not able to show you the contents of that letter unless we can prove that the letter reached the hands of the person to whom it is addressed. I believe there is evidence to show that the letter was written by the deceased lady. On 16 March, a telegram, the contents of which I am not able to lay before you, was delivered at the house of the male prisoner, who is carrying on his business at Bristol. On 17 March we have telegrams from the male prisoner at Bristol to the female prisoner at Yeovil which have been read before you. The first one is to the effect that he had lost his train and would come in the afternoon, if that would do; if it would not do, he asked his wife to telegraph him to that effect. There was a second message on that day to Mrs Colmer to the effect that important business detained him at Bristol, and that he would come by the first train in the morning of 17 March, arriving at Yeovil at 9 o'clock. So that on the 17th there were communications passing from Mr Colmer to Mrs Colmer. What takes place on the Wednesday, 16 March - the young man Forster drove the deceased from Crewkerne to Yeovil. He left there, and on that day she went to Mrs Colmer shop, and saw her there. She went again, the second time, at 6:30 in the evening, and when she comes out of Mrs Colmer's shop she meets a lady, Mrs Custard, whom she tries to avoid. Mrs Custard, however, spoke to her and Mrs Budge then goes to join that young man in Union Street - a short distance from Mrs Jane Colmer's shop - and she appeared to give something to Mr Forster. They returned to Crewkerne that day, Forster driving her all the way from Yeovil. Now, gentlemen, can you therefore doubt that all that time Mrs Budge was making arrangements with Mrs Colmer for the purpose of procuring abortion, and can you doubt that Mrs Colmer was at that time in communication with her husband, that he should come to Yeovil for the purpose of doing what Mrs Budge required should be done. Gentlemen, when persons lend themselves to a dangerous operation of this kind, it is not done for love; it is done for money; and arrangements having to be made, you then find that on the 18th, which is the next day, there had been communications between Mrs Colmer and Mrs Budge. This letter is written by Mrs Budge to Mrs Colmer, and it is directed after it is written by Mr Forster, and posted by him. Gentlemen, my learning friend would think you were wanting in the ordinary good sense which is bought into the jury box when he tries to make out to you that this letter written by the lady and directed by Mr Forster and posted to Mrs Colmer was not also sent to her. But I shall just read the important letter, I care not for the other, it is as follows :-

"Madame, - I have made excuses to get away, and will be at your house between 12:30 and 1 o'clock on Friday. I should be glad to get back by the next train if possible. I have procured the £18.
(Signed) M. Budge"

[Note: £18 in 1880 would be about £1,500 at 2017's value.]

Now, gentlemen, is that not perfectly conclusive that arrangements had been made between Mrs Budge and Mrs Colmer that she should come a subsequent day and have that done which I shall ask you to believe was done; that the husband should be ready for the purpose; and that she should make excuses for being away from home for the time necessary for the performance of the operation; and that she was to bring with her the payment, the reward, for the operation, which I shall ask you to say was performed on that day in the dining room. "I have made excuses to get away." That is what she says. Of course, to her mother and her family she had to make excuses why she went to Yeovil, and why she was to be there the whole day; and notwithstanding this excuse she says "I shall be glad to get away by the next train. I have got the £18." Well, now, did she in pursuance of that letter go to Yeovil the next day? We know that she did. Mr Forster did not accompany her as before in a dogcart or whatever it might be, because after an operation such as that was I suggest to you was performed, a drive of nine miles would be a too serious matter. So Mrs Budge takes the railway train from Crewkerne to Yeovil, and you find her arriving at the latter place about the time mentioned in the letter. There she was in Mrs Colmer's house from about 1 o'clock, or whatever the exact time was, until a 7:45 in the evening, when she is seen leaving the shop to get into the omnibus for the purpose of returning to Crewkerne. Thus we have this taking place at Yeovil: Mrs Colmer is there; Mr Colmer is there. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the servant girl is sent to Mr Crocker's - the son-in-law of the male prisoner - is sent by her mistress to fetch him. If that is not true, Crocker could not have been called to prove it. The the instruction to the servant was, "Go down to Mr Crocker's and tell Mr Colmer he is wanted," and accordingly the male prisoner followed the girl back to his wife's shop. He was seen upon the premises from time to time during the day whilst the unfortunate lady Mrs Budge was in the dining room. We know what takes place next. About 3 o'clock there was a cry from the dining room "Mrs Colmer! Mrs Colmer! She is fainting! Bring a cloth!" What could speak with greater force than that? You, gentlemen, have seen the demeanour of the young girl, Mrs Colmer's servants, in the witness box. No doubt my friend Mr Clarke is entitled to say that when she was first examined before the Coroner, previous to her mistress being taken into custody, and in consequence of something said to her by members of the family, the witness did not tell the whole truth, or said that which was not the truth in regard to some matters. But on the second occasion, and knowing then the importance of the case, and that the whole truth should be told, she gave a complete statement of what she knew. You, however, have seen the girl, and must be the judges of her demeanour: but I would put it to you whether there is the slightest reason to doubt that she is now the witness of truth! "Mrs Colmer! Mrs Colmer! She has fainted - bring a cloth!" What does that mean? Do you believe any operation had been performed at that time? Why should the unfortunate lady faint? She had gone to that house in perfectly good health. But there is a cry that she had fainted, and a cloth is obtained. And what do you find afterwards? Over the glass panel in the door leading from the dining room a newspaper is placed, so that no person could see in; whilst there was a blind to the window. There is a couch in the room; and you will find, in reference to what I suggest took place, that although the tablecloth which was fetched was not used, there was found towel in a pail standing under the tap. Certainly, there were no marks of blood upon it; but it is easy to suppose that it might have been rinsed. Well, then, we have it that Mr Colmer is seen shouting that dining room with a lady. He is seen going into the backyard where there is a closet, into which anything which came of the operation might have been thrown, and so never be again seen by human eye. What further took place? Why, we have the evidence of Mr Tanner as to her kicking at the door about 2:30, when she was not able to get in. You remember his evidence as to what he heard in that room. You remember, too, that about 4:30, Mr Godfrey came from next door for the purpose of seeing the injury to a grate caused by the alterations going on next door. What was he told; "You can't go in - there is someone there." Now, Mr Colmer, we say, performed this operation a little after 2 o'clock. He would have to wait some time to see if anything came away from the unfortunate lady, and he would have to go from time to time to look at her. You must see how that fact bears upon the evidence that the door was locked, and that Mr Colmer was seen to go into the yard. Could they doubt that the woman fainted? After that, she had to be revived so as to enable her to get away by train; and when the time comes for that, the young servant is sent to order the omnibus. Can you have any doubts as to who was the lady who came out of Mrs Colmer's shop and got into that omnibus? Little things enable us to judge of that. Were there two ladies in the house that day? Only one at any rate has been identified. We know that it was Mrs Budge who came to the shop at 2 o'clock, before Mr Colmer was fetched, and we know that the deceased was there again at seven in the evening; that the servant in going down the passage on the way to all the omnibus saw her sitting on the sofa, without her bonnet and without her mantle. Mrs Colmer was sitting by her, with her arm around her waist, not in the way of affection, but for the purpose of supporting her. Can you doubt that that was so! The next thing we find is that the Mermaid 'bus is ordered for a lady who wants to go back to Crewkerne. The 'bus stopped outside Mrs Colmer's shop, and a lady comes, not out of the shop, but down the passage, and out of the side door. She gets into the omnibus and proceeds by train to Crewkerne. On alighting there she has to be assisted into the Crewkerne omnibus, although she had left that town perfectly well during the day. Let me pass over this as rapidly as I can. My learned friend asks one of the medical witnesses this morning "Do you think that if the operation had been performed upon this lady she would not have been very weak?" and he also used the word "prostrate." But, gentlemen, persons differ in constitution, and although she might be very weak, and unable to ride nine or ten miles in a jolting dogcart across country, she might be able to get home by 'bus and train. What was her condition when she got home? Mr Forster was to have met her by the 4 o'clock train, but apparently she was unable to go back by that train. After the operation was over she had fainted, but by a 8:15 she was in a condition physically, but not safely, to go back. What then was the change which are passed upon her? I won't say a hail woman, but a woman in ordinary health, returns to her own house a wreck. At the station she is so ill that they do not trouble her for her ticket. She is assisted into the omnibus, and when she gets home she is assisted upstairs by her mother. She takes to her bed, and she never leaves that bed alive. Her daughter, who slept with her, said she had little sleep, and was in pain. She had the quinine and sherry, which might have been a tonic, or might have been a medicine intended to act upon the uterus as to get rid of the placenta. Next day she is fearfully ill. None of her relations know where she has been. She refuses to have the doctor, but at last, when the hour of death is approaching, the doctor is sent for and comes about 5 o'clock, and within the hour the lady is dead. What are the appearances afterwards? Blood on the clothes, on the sheet, and a pail containing a quantity of blood or blood and water; and she is dead from the loss of blood which had proceeded from the uterus. No fetus is found: the fetus is gone, but a portion of the placenta remains, as you find from the examination of the medical man; and it is your good fortune in this case to have a man so experienced and clearheaded as Dr Wells. He performs the post-mortem, the details of which you have heard; and Mr Alford, who was present, agrees with all Dr Wilson said. But in order that there should be no doubt in a case of this great importance - whether or not on the suggestion of the medical coroner - an examination of the uterus is made by Dr Galobin, whose evidence is thoroughly confirmatory in every way. Dr Galobin, as well as the other medical witnesses, finds laceration, caused by the use of a hard instrument, and says the abortion was caused by violence and not by disease, because there was no disease, and every organ was healthy. You have them all agreed that death resulted from the loss of blood. I do not think I ought to trouble you at greater length, but I may refer to the course of the inquiry. Evidence was given before the Coroner as to the finding of the quinine in the bottle, and Mrs Colmer is present at the inquest, but probably does not realise how, when such an inquiry progresses step-by-step, until all the facts are ascertained, and the whole truth is exposed to view. After several witnesses have been examined, Mrs Colmer is called. She makes no suggestion as to what was done to this lady: she denies the whole thing. She says she never saw the deceased woman. Is not that a deliberate falsehood? She gives no explanation. My learned friend says "Does she not see patients in the dining room on market days and don't some women like to be examined by a woman instead of a man?" Gentlemen, if this woman went there she went for some purpose. Mrs Colmer says she was not there at all; so that if she was there it was not for lawful purpose, or Mrs Colmer would have stated it before the Coroner. I don't wish to press it unduly, but she denies ever having seen the deceased. She says that a lady came on the Friday who had been there on the Wednesday, and she wanted something for worms, and she only came as an ordinary customer. As applied to this lady, that statement is wholly untrue, because she had no traces of worms - care was taken to ascertain that.

Now, gentlemen, the facts of the case before you. If you had no medical evidence in the case, but simply the descriptions by ordinary observers of this lady's condition when she left home in the morning, and again when she returned home at night, would you not be driven to the conclusion that whilst she was away on that day at Yeovil the fetus had been removed, and the injury done to the uterus, from which the lady died? With no medical evidence, but with good plain commonsense, applying your minds as men of the world to the plain facts as proved by witnesses, would you not come to the conclusion that, on that day at Yeovil, injuries were inflicted which resulted in death? My learned friend cross-examined the servant for the purpose of testing her evidence, and she said, no doubt, that before the Coroner she did not tell the whole truth, but told certain untruths. The same observation applies to Mr Forster. He said that he did tell a deliberate falsehood - a falsehood on his oath - he perjured himself undoubtedly; but, gentlemen, you saw his manner and demeanour in the witness box, and what was his explanation? "No doubt I did: I did know that I was telling an untruth. Why did I do it? I did it to protect the deceased as much as I could." Gentlemen, considering the relationship that existed between himself and Mrs Budge, is it unnatural that a man should be in the first instance to have endeavoured to prevent the terrible injury to her memory and the irreparable injury to her family, by having all these facts disclosed to the public? And therefore he says "I did at first tell untruths to protect the deceased as much as I could," and he added, "I did not think at that time it was so serious." You will observe that he gave additional evidence when he was examined a second time before the Coroner, and from step to step, almost from hour to hour, the evidence of that young man Forster is confirmed by independent witnesses, and if that is so, you will see from his manner and demeanour whether you do not believe that now he is telling you the truth, and that you may safely rely upon his evidence.

We know that an operation of this kind would not be performed without preparations being made, and that the risk would not be run except for valuable consideration. When you consider all the circumstances, it will be for you to say whether you have the remotest doubt that these two persons are in league together - Mrs Colmer making the appointment and preparing the way for her husband, and that he afterwards was sent for from Bristol, or, if you like, he came according to his custom on the ordinary market day to Yeovil for the purpose of seeing patients in this house, and that he while there, in league with his wife, did perform this operation, which they must have known was an operation dangerous to life, and which resulted in this lady's death. The case is undoubtedly one of great importance. You are not trying them for unsuccessfully treating a patient, nor for having without proper knowledge a speculum in the house, to the use of which in ordinary surgical cases no penalty was attached. We have nothing to do with that. These persons before you today are in the same position as if they were ordinary legally qualified medical men, and if that lady went to them and paid them to perform this operation, and it was performed, and death resulted from it; I know my lord will tell you, because it is the law, that they are responsible for the crime of murder in having caused the death of that lady.

Gentlemen, I leave the matter in your hands. The prisoners have the great advantage - and I have no doubt it is a great advantage to you - that they are defended by my learned friend, Mr Clarke. When he addresses you, you will bear in mind that it is upon the sworn testimony in this case that the verdict has to be given, though, no doubt, he will assist you by comment upon the evidence. But I submit that upon the sworn evidence we have it proved almost to demonstration, if not to demonstration, and beyond all reasonable doubt, that these two persons did commit the crime with which they stand charged in this indictment. If you do believe that, it is necessary, in the interests of society and for the protection of us all, that you should perform your duty with firmness.

Mr Edward Clarke, QC, MP, then rose to address the jury on behalf of the prisoners. The learned counsel said -- I hope that it was not really necessary for my learned friend in the concluding observations of that speech to caution you that you should remember while I was addressing you that it is solely upon the evidence that you have to decide this case. I would not wear this gown if it imposed upon me the duty of asking a jury to disregard the evidence that was put before them, or if it imposed upon me the duty of endeavouring, before those upon whom so greater responsibility rests as falls upon you today, to disturb your minds and draw them away from those matters which are essential to the discharge of your duty. Let me join in the caution, and I join in it with all my heart. Do not be guided or governed in this case by the mode in which I address or by the observations, apart from the evidence, that I may make in this case. I agree in the exhortation, but I agree in it with one important qualification, which it seems to me my learned friend forgot when twice in his speech he stated it was your duty to find a verdict upon the sworn testimony before you. Your duty is to find a verdict upon the sworn evidence so far as you believe it to be trustworthy. And, gentlemen, that is an important qualification. That I did not call witnesses to contradict matters with regard to which witnesses might have been called is not an admission of statements with regard to which no witnesses could have been called. I did not contradict - I could not contradict - the evidence of that man Sweet, just to take one witness for instance, whose name comes to my mind in illustration, who tells you that on the evening of Friday he was hailed from the pavement on the side of that street, by a lady, who got into his omnibus, and whom he drove to the station, and who he tells you was Mrs Budge. I did not contradict that evidence, and I did not cross-examine, and by not cross-examining him I admit, so far as admission can go in a criminal case, that that statement must be taken as one of the facts with which you have to deal. And if I refrain from cross-examining with regard to a particular statement, I am not entitled afterwards to challenge that statement in my address, or to use observations to discredit a piece of evidence which I have not ventured to challenge, and which might have been re-enforced. To that extent then I am bound by the evidence which has been given. But do you think, or would anybody suggest that in reason - I say nothing about law - that in reason, or even in law, I am bound to accept the evidence of that young man Forster with regard to this letter the contents of which he never wrote down until this case had actually begun, or was within half an hour of beginning in this court? There is an important difference here. I quite agree that if you are prepared to accept Forster's evidence as a whole, and believe that you can absolutely and implicitly rely upon it, my friend is entitled to make the observations he did with regard to the importance of that testimony. But, gentlemen, there are two things to be considered with regard to every piece of evidence that comes before you in this case, and it is your duty, and I'm sure that under the guidance of my lord that duty will be steadily, and, I was going to say, severely discharged, in testing every piece of evidence put before you with respect to these two matters. The first is - is it true, and the second is is it relevant? There may be true evidence which is really not relevant to the issue before the jury. There may be relevant evidence with regard to which the jury shall have, as I shall submit to you, the greatest reason for doubting whether that evidence is truly given in the case before you. Let me say one or two words upon matters which, it appears to be, with submission to your judgement, you ought practically to dismiss from your consideration in dealing with this case.

My learned friend has certainly not dealt with the case as if it were one of strong, and cogent, and conclusive evidence. He has gone to the very verge of the limit of regularity in his allusion to documents, which have been very properly, by the rules of evidence, excluded from consideration, and with regard to which, therefore, he is no more entitled to make a statement on the one side, than I should be on the other. He has asked you with respect to a document seen by the witness Forster, on 13 March, he has asked you although no evidence of that document could be given before you, first to guess to whom it was addressed; next to form an opinion as to what its contents were; thirdly to come to a conclusion regarding its supposed destination; and next to that, in consequence of this document (supposed to have reached the destination to which he imagines it was to have been sent) something was done and that a telegram was sent which was put in evidence before you. I confess I do think it is a somewhat strange course to have taken in a case where the admissible and legal evidence, whatever may be its effect when examined, is not deficient in quantity. It seems to me, I say, a strange thing that counsel with the responsibility of my learned friend (Mr Poland) should have taken that course. Because, gentlemen, neither you nor I can forget at this moment what it is that is depending upon your verdict - what's the issue is that you have here to try. I could have understood - I could have appreciated - I could have sympathised with what my learned friend said in terms of pathos with regard to the unhappy lady who came to her death upon 20 March last, and even with regard to that young man who was called into the witness box and gave evidence upon this matter, if it had been an ordinary civil case we were trying; if it had been a case involving either no very important issues or matter of simply historical evidence, I could have sympathised with that pathos that he threw into his words. But I have no room in my mind at this moment for thoughts of pathos or of sympathy, except with respect to the two persons whose lives may depend upon your judgement: and I do hope that, while I shall take care for my own part to endeavour to exclude from the observations I addressed to you anything which might be intended to guide you away from the truth and away from the real issue before you; You, as in solemn responsibility, will take care to exclude from your minds and from the government of your decision any idea of sympathy with the poor woman who has died, or of compassion for the youth who was examined in the witness box here.

Gentlemen, there are two or three matters which it seems to me all to be got rid of in this case. They have been introduced as matters of suspicion; and, of course, if one is accidentally betrayed into what looks like an expression of opinion it is purely accidental, for this matter is one for your decision, and I am anxious to avoid the expression of any opinion. But I submit to you that the matters I am going to refer to were introduced as elements of suspicion have actually disappeared from any man's consideration. Let me take two or three in order. Let me, for instance, take that instrument, the speculum. When my learned friend opened this case, he said that in a drawer belonging to the prisoner there was found an instrument. There was found an instrument: and I have no doubt there came into your mind at the moment the idea that the instrument was one by which an operation of this kind had been performed: and that therefore the evidence was completed. It may be that the operation must be performed by one of many instruments, in common use, but the instrument found had no more necessarily to do with that operation than if they had found any article of household furniture, or of medical equipment upon those premises. The doctor says it would be impossible to put the instrument into the uterus where the mischief was done. When I say it would be impossible for it to be rammed into any portion of the human body -  it would be impossible to do so without tearing and destroying the parts adjacent. The instrument was one used for common and ordinary purposes, and probably there is no doctor who is much in practice, and though doctors do not like to admit that women are reluctant to consult them about mischiefs and inconveniences which affect certain private parts, I suppose it is common knowledge that there is a good deal of hesitation and reluctance on the part of women to speak to a man on matters of this kind. The doctors admitted that such an instrument might be used by medical men on or by anyone consulted about affections of the private parts of a woman, but it would not be necessary to use it in performing an operation such as was suggested to have been performed in the case they were investigating. The instrument in question was found two or three weeks after the first inquest was held. It was an instrument used ordinarily by medical practitioners for perfectly reasonable and practical purposes, and is an instrument which could not have been used to affect the mischief which was alleged to have been affected upon that woman's person. That then has disappeared from the case practically, and I do not suppose that any one of you will attach any importance to the findings of that instrument, but you would attach a good deal of importance to the fact that no instrument of any other kind appears to have been either in Mrs Colmer's house at Yeovil, or at Bristol, where the male prisoner lives, suitable for such uses. My Lord has had painful experience in the course of his judicial duties in trying cases of this kind, and he asked one witness with regard to the sort of instrument likely to have been used, and was answered that it must have been a cutting instrument which produced the injuries that he had found in the interior of the uterus. Gentlemen, there is no such instrument found at the house of either of the prisoners, and the instrument found had nothing therefore to do with the case.

A great deal of evidence has been given with regard to the contents of the stomach found at the post-mortem examination, which was of no consequence at all. The witness comes and says I found a small quantity of something, it might have been so and so: but it is too little for me to say whether it is or is not. That sort of evidence is not of any real value to a jury, with life and death to decide, but ought to be rigourously excluded from their consideration, and not even given unless such evidence amounted to something more than a suspicion.

There is another part of the case which I think is a very remarkable portion of the case indeed. My learned friend spoke in a way of which I have complained, and of which I have great reason to complain, with regard to a document which Mr Forster says he saw on 18 March, and my learned friend then speaks about certain telegrams received from Mr Colmer on 17 March. There are two telegrams which bear that date, and bear the respective times of 2pm and 7:50pm, and my learned friend's way of dealing with the cases this: he suggests that Mr Colmer had been summoned to go to Yeovil upon Wednesday the 17th for the performance of that operation which he asks you to infer did take place on the afternoon of the 19th. He asks you to say that on the 17th he could not get there in the morning, that he telegraphed important business detained him that night, and that he would come by the first train in the morning to Yeovil.
Mr Justice Hawkins -- It may be well if you are taking this in hand for me to remind you that the white telegram is the one taken into the office. The white telegram was sent away at 12, and the pink one intimates the hour at which is sent out for delivery at Yeovil. So that it would appear to have been sent away from the office where it was received at 12 and sent out again for delivery from the office to which it was sent at 1:47.
Mr Clarke --The point is this, that the 12 telegram is the one "have lost train".
Mr Justice Hawkins -- That is so.
Mr Clarke, continuing -- at 1 o'clock, on the 17th, Colmer telegraphs from Bristol "Have lost train; will come this afternoon, if that will do; if it will not, please telegraph." And later in the day he says, "important business has detained me tonight; will come my first train in the morning, arriving at Yeovil at 9 o'clock, certain." My learned friend suggests that Mrs Budge was waiting at Yeovil for the purpose of having this operation performed and it was only because Mr Colmer could not come on that day that it was necessary for her to go on the Friday. Gentleman, do you remember the strong remarks made by my learned friend to the effect that Forster did not arrange to drive on the Friday back to Crewkerne, because the drive back in a dog cart was too serious a matter - that the contemplated operation was really of too dangerous a nature to permit such an undertaking? This is the reason he gives for the deceased returning by train. On the Wednesday it was arranged for Mr Forster to drive her back, and if the operation was to be attempted why should a journey have been contemplated on the Wednesday. It was, therefore, impossible to suppose that on that day, at any rate, an operation was contemplated. Mr Forster's story is that, on the Thursday she is writing for the first time to say she is getting the money, and is prepared to pay for the operation that is to be performed. If Forster's story be true - and I beg you to notice that I'm not admitting it - if Forster's story is true, it was not till the Friday that Mrs Colmer could have known that the woman had the money to pay for the operation. The telegram is received on the Wednesday, announcing that Mr Colmer will come at 9 o'clock on the Thursday morning. If Mrs Budge had arranged with Mrs Colmer on Wednesday to come again on the Friday, why then was Mr Colmer to come for the purpose on Thursday? Would not there have been some telegram to stop his coming? There was no telegram, however, to show this. The second telegram would probably have been received by Mrs Colmer before the time it is suggested Mrs Budge left the house on the evening of Wednesday, because Mr Forster states that she came to him at 8:15 o'clock that night. The telegram stated that Mr Colmer was coming by the first train, and yet Mrs Budge did not come over the next day to meet him. I therefore submit to you with regard to these telegrams that they did not bear out the suggestion of my learned friend, but actually negative it. I ask you to deal with these parts of the case, as with the instrument found, as being unconnected with the real and substantial part of the case, and which you ought not to be biased by in a case of this kind. The trial of a case of this description, so serious in its character and so enormously important in results is not a time for inventing explanations of theories, and if they did so they would be attributing to irrelevant facts a connection which they do not possess. On the Wednesday, there was a matter taking place which would explain Mr Colmer is being sent for. There was work being done next door to Mrs Colmer's house, about which he strongly complained to Mr Godfrey. It might be, with regard to any matter incidental to his daily life, or to the practice of his profession, that Mr Colmer was to be fetched over on Wednesday, but he submitted that it could not have been on account of an intention to perform an operation on Mrs Budge.

Well, gentlemen (continued Mr Clarke), if that is so, we are limited very much to Friday, 19th, and to what took place on that day; but, before I speak of that, I am bound to say a word or two with regard to Mr Forster, who has been put in the witness box, and with regard to whom my learned friend has said some compassionate things. One does not to desire to be too hard upon a young fellow like that, who has probably been more the led than the leader, in the connection which existed between him and the deceased woman. But it is impossible to disguise from oneself this fact, that it was of enormous importance to Mr Forster that the deceased woman should get rid of the evidence of her pregnancy. He had been for five or six years in one of the best banks in the West of England, a bank in which a situation is an object of considerable anxiety to young fellows who desire that sort of occupation. He had risen from £40 or £50 a year, which he received when he first entered the bank, to £90, which he was getting at the time this happened, and if he had continued in this situation, employment was practically provided for him for life. But, you know that he had to leave it. He was virtually dismissed. Well, now, we have it in evidence that Forster and Mrs Budge did go together from Crewkerne to Yeovil, indeed, it was of the highest importance to Forster that the evidence of her pregnancy should be got rid of; and, according to his own account, he was an accomplice to the steps she took for that purpose. According to his own account, he is as morally guilty - aye as legally guilty, for he was an accessory before the fact - of the crime here charged, as the two prisoners standing in the dock. According to his own account he and the deceased arranged together the plan by which the operation was to be performed; and I say that he is a criminal, in the same sense and in the same degree, as the prisoners at the bar - that is, if crime has been committed. Well, when you get a man in that position, you are bound to look at his evidence with very great care. Although the law allows the evidence of an accomplice to be given, it is never allowed to stand alone on any material point without the judge warning the jury that it is evidence which should be looked upon with suspicion. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you should see if there is any material point upon which Forster's evidence stands alone. The whole strength of this case, according to the theory of the prosecution, rests absolutely and entirely upon Forster's evidence. That letter of the 18th, which was written after the Wednesday visit, is the keystone of the prosecution. The mention of the £18 is relied upon, I suppose, as showing that an arrangement had been made - that there was concerted action between the parties. But this important part of the evidence rests entirely and absolutely upon the evidence of Forster. There is no support or explanation of it at all. If Forster found the money he could have told us whence he got it from, or if he did not, very likely he could have given some information as to where it was obtained. But we have no evidence on this point, beyond Forster's own testimony, which stands alone entirely uncorroborated. Forster, let me again remind you, is the person most interested in the matter - he is the accomplice to the crime; yet on the point where corroboration is perfectly possible and reasonable, if his story be true, we have absolutely no corroboration at all and you have to remember this is regard to Forster. I do not want to be hard upon him. I want to make all reasonable and proper allowance for him in regard to his position at the time of the inquest; but I dare not make allowance for him, I dare not express compassion for him, in a sense which might, perhaps, be interpreted to the injury of my clients. My duty is with them, and I am bound to point out to you that whatever may be my feelings towards him I have to deal with this fact, that he was the accomplice in the murder, if murder there was, and that he was a perjurer in the evidence he gave before the Coroner in the first instance. It is all very well for him to say that in giving that evidence he was actuated by a desire to shield the reputation of the deceased woman. Shield the reputation of the woman! Why was she dead, and he knew that she had died under circumstances which would lead to medical science being called in to discover, with its unerring instinct, the cause of death. He knew, too, that in open court the story of the disgrace which had fallen upon her, and which he had helped to bring about, would have to be told. Well, his excuse for not telling the truth, was that he did not then realise it was so serious a matter. Do you believe that? I asked him here yesterday, when he stated that "Do you mean to say that knowing what you did know you carelessly swore this?" His answer was "Yes, I did." "I ask you again, do you believe that?" Why according to his own account he had been arranging for this crime. At all events, he was cognizant of the money by which the crime was to be purchased; and he was to profit by the crime, for he would then have kept his situation, and he would have saved himself and his family the disgrace which would follow on the pregnancy of the deceased becoming known. He not only arranged for the crime, but he took the unfortunate woman to the place where it was to be perpetrated. Thus you have these three things decided: first, that one of the main portions of this case rests upon the uncorroborated testimony of a man who was an accomplice to the crime; secondly, that he committed perjury before the Coroner's jury; and thirdly, that he has given evidence before you which I submit you cannot accept is the evidence of honesty and truth.

Now let me say a word or two about the servant girl. I think I shall be able to show you that her evidence practically comes to nothing. She says that Miss Colmer told her something about not telling all she knew before the Coroner's Court, and that in consequence of that she did not at the first hearing give a full and accurate account of what she knew. Well, there is a very serious aspect to that statement of hers. You cannot believe upon such a suggestion that the prisoner's daughter, who is not before you, was a party to that conspiracy to commit this crime. Nor is the mother responsible for any foolish thing that the daughter may have said to the witness before she was examined by the Coroner. The witness's evidence is consistent with the daughter having said something to the girl - what it was we do not know; but it is inconsistent with the assertion that either of the prisoners had any desire to conceal anything all wished to get the girl to conceal anything, or that there was, in fact, anything to conceal. Now a very curious observation arises on her statement. The statement would suggest that whereas in her first evidence before the Coroner she was saying as little as she could against Mrs Colmer for the reason that she had been told to do so; now, before you, as before the magistrates, she was telling the whole truth. If that be so, the remarkable thing is that the whole truth which she is telling you is in many respects more favourable to Mrs Colmer than the statement she made before the Coroner's jury. When before the Coroner she said that the family occasionally dined in the kitchen. Here she says that the patients came mostly on Fridays, market day, and that the dining room being set apart for them, the family on those occasions dined in the kitchen. So that we have it that the dining of Mrs Colmer in the kitchen on the Friday on which Mrs Budge was said to have been at her house would have been only a usual thing done for the accommodation of the patients who came on market day. But there is another remarkable thing. It is supposed the servant girl was told to say nothing against Mrs Colmer. Before the Coroner's Jury she said it was her mistress who sent her to order the omnibus. That was a serious part of her evidence no doubt; but here in this court, where she is set free from all improper influence, and where she is able to tell you what exactly happened, she says that it was Miss Colmer who told her to fetch the omnibus. Again a comparison of her evidence given before the Coroner and her evidence given here in reference to the cloth is taken out of the kitchen by Mrs Colmer seems to show simply this - that a tablecloth and tea cloth were returned to the kitchen, and that she knows nothing about the towel found in the pail of water, nor has any notion for the purpose for which it was used. There is still two other matters in her evidence which I ask you carefully to consider. The first is, that she says that on the day which she went into the dining room to make up the fire she saw Mrs Budge sitting on the sofa; the second is, that at 7 o'clock in the evening, when she was going for the omnibus, she saw deceased still sitting on the sofa, supported by Mrs Colmer. The important consideration is this - supposing this girl's evidence to be true, that Mrs Budge was seen in the room at 1 o'clock and again at 7 o'clock, what evidence was there to show that she was there the whole time? What evidence was there to show that she was there five minutes, or 10 minutes, or half an hour? Where she was in the course of the afternoon we do not know. Whether she stayed with Mrs Colmer all went away is all left to inference and guess. Again, there is no evidence that Mr Colmer was in company with Mrs Budge on the day in question, except so far as you by inference can satisfy yourselves that deceased was in the room went he went in. The only evidence of Mrs Budge being in the house was the servant's testimony. Now let us test her evidence by the same tests which the prosecution have applied. The prosecution have put in a plan, which I believe to be absolutely correct. Now, gentlemen, you can test a statement of this kind. Here (showing the plan) is the kitchen from which the servant girl was bought to fetch the omnibus. She had to put on her hat and then go straight from the kitchen and along the passage to get into the street. I asked her "Did you turn aside to go upstairs?" and she said "No." "Did you turn aside at all?" -- "No. But as I stopped I turned my head and I saw a woman on the sofa." That is what the servant girl says. Now, gentlemen, you will be able, when you take the plan, to consider this; and what I was suggesting is that you should take the edge from that corner where the girl said she first began to look into the room and draw a line across, and if you do that you will find that as she passed it was physically impossible for her to have seen any person who was sitting on that sofa. Supposing it were so, what reliance do you place on the hasty glance of a woman who had no reason whatever for looking in, who did not stop, who did not even pause, and although she ventures to say the person she saw was the same person she had seen once in her life before, and although she ventures to say that the person looked ill, she could not tell whether the person she saw was dressed in mourning or not. It was a hasty look, an imperfect observation at the best, an observation which I submit could not have been made from the position in which she was placed. Supposing you are not satisfied that it was Mrs Budge who was seen on the sofa at 7 o'clock that evening, where has this case gone? At 1 o'clock Mrs Budge went to the house. Does this not occur to you as being very curious that Mrs Colmer at 1:30, half an hour after Mrs Budge goes there, goes into the kitchen to dinner. No sort of refreshment is given at any time during the day to Mrs Budge - if she was there. Now this is very curious - it is indeed almost inconceivable - if that woman had come from Crewkerne at that time of day and got their just when Mrs Colmer was going to have her meal, that she had not some refreshment given to her. It is not inconceivable that the story of the prosecution should be true; that she stayed there from 1 o'clock in the day till 8 o'clock in the evening, that she underwent this operation, that she was suffering in mind and body, and that yet no refreshment was given her? These things are of the greatest importance. Nobody saw her between one and 8 o'clock, and you are asked to act upon suspicion and guess, founded upon her having been seen there at 1 o'clock afterwards. According to the suggestion of the prosecution, it had been arranged that she was to go on the Friday to have the operation performed - and operation which she was very anxious to have performed immediately, because she says in her letter "I will come between 12:30 and 1 o'clock" and it is in evidence that Mr Forster went to meet the next train.
Mr Justice Hawkins -- He could not go.
Mr Clarke -- I beg your Lordship's pardon - he was to have gone. There was on his part and the expectation on hers that he was to go. She goes to Colmer's house at 1 o'clock, and Mr Colmer is not sent for for an hour afterwards. The person who went to the shop at 1 o'clock could not surely be the same person for whom he was wanted "at once" an hour later. If Mrs Budge was to go to the shop by arrangement, both Mr and Mrs Colmer would know that some time might be taken, would be taken, must be taken in the performance of this operation. The woman was not so far advanced in pregnancy that her shame had become visible, so that some time would be required before any operation could be performed to produce the desired result. If this story of the prosecution be true Mr Colmer could have been fetched immediately on his arrival of the woman after the preparations had been made for the performance of the operation. But what do we find? We find that the person for whom Mr Colmer is fetched is, as I say, not a person who has come by appointment at 1 o'clock anxious to have something done, and anxious to go away by the earliest possible train, but is someone for whom he is fetched at 2 o'clock, after an hour had elapsed, without any suggestion or reason for that delay. In the interval Mrs Colmer goes into the kitchen and takes her dinner, a fact which makes this story all the more inconceivable.

I am not going to trouble myself with regard to the question of the drawing down of the blinds, because the blind would be drawn down in cases where a moments examination or inspection might be required. But there is one extraordinary thing you have to deal with, and it is this: you have to deal with the suggestion of these people carefully arranging to commit the most grave and serious offence on a woman in the early stages of pregnancy (which might make it all the more difficult to get at the person so as to produce the effects desired), committing it, if you are to believe the evidence, in a barbarous way, not by the setting up of inflammation of the womb, which in the course of a few hours would bring on what might be mistaken for premature labour, but in a horrible and barbarous way by putting a sharp instrument into the person, scraping away the fetus, and removing it by violence. All this has to be done, and yet you have this extraordinary fact that the prisoners choose for this operation the market today, the day on which the shop will be most frequented by customers, and when many persons would want to go into that dining room. The closing of the dining room to the general visitors on such a day would infallibly have directed attention. They choose the dining room off the shop for the operation - a shop with 20 feet of glass frontage, and the relative depth as compared with the length of which makes it an absolutely well lighted shop. Opening off the shop is the dining room, a small place 11 feet x 17 feet, which is observed from the back as well as from the front. The blind is drawn down, and there immediately arises a suspicion. But the blind was not down, the servant girl says, until after 3 o'clock, and before 5 o'clock she tells us it was up. How long it was down - whether for five or ten minutes - she does not know, though it seems clear that for the greater part of that afternoon the blind was up, and any person could have seen and recognised any person in the dining room. The servant girl is about the house in the ordinary discharge of her daily duties, and yet she never, as I suggest to you, saw Mrs Budge in that house after 1 o'clock on that day. But is there not more extraordinary thing still? Supposing these people had arranged that this operation should be performed, that all this horrible risk should be run, which might at any moment result in screaming, or convulsions, or fainting, is it likely they would have selected the dining room for the purpose - the dining room being the place where, especially on a market day, when many people were about, the day on which they would have been most easily discovered? Have you any idea how this is to be explained? Why did they not take her upstairs? There were plenty of bedrooms in the house to which she might have been taken. If the story of the prosecution is true, then the prisoners courted detection, and invited the punishment which must fall upon them, if found out, by keeping that woman in the dining room, her presence in which, and her occupation of which, was necessarily a source of suspicion and inconvenience to persons coming to that house. No doubt, on the day in question, somebody was in that dining room. Probably there has not been a market day for many years when a patient was not in the dining room. But that on this particular day the patient was Mrs Budge is left to doubt, to inference, and to suspicion. There is not the smallest shred of evidence to prove she was there, but there is a very striking evidence against it. My learned friend said - and I think it a remarkable thing for him to say - he said that if no medical evidence had been called in this case there would have been a strong case for you to deal with - a case on which, with adroit - I do not mean any imputation - but with useful flattery he said your strong common sense would enable you to deal. I quite agree with him, but I make the observation in a different sense. His idea was that the medical testimony strengthened the case and made that conclusive and irresistible which, without it, might have been a matter of inference and doubt. What I suggest to you is this, that the medical evidence, I won't say destroys, but so importantly weakens the case as to make it one upon which no jury could safely convicted. And I will tell you why. The medical evidence, as my learned friend suggested it, and as it has been given in the witness box - and I may say parenthetically, I have no reason to dispute the complimentary terms in which my learned friend spoke of Mr Wills, who gave his evidence fairly and well - shows that this unfortunate lady went to that home, that in the course of the afternoon this operation was performed upon her, and performed in its most barbarous and horrible way by a cutting and tearing instrument, the insertion of which lacerated no fewer than four portions of the anterior of the uterus, and the effect was that at the time they were able to bring away from that woman the fetus with which she was pregnant. That is so, for there is no evidence that, after she got home, any fetus had come away from her body. In these circumstances, if that woman went back home by train in a state of terrible weakness - almost amounting to prostration, through loss of blood - was it possible to explain how no stain or spot of blood of any kind - no trace of this horrible thing having been done in this house - was ever at any moment discovered? There was not a spot of blood on the sofa or on the floor - not a spot of blood soiling a towel or napkin, or sustaining the contents of any water vessel found in the house.

But there is another important aspect. If that man were engaged with this poor woman in performing that operation, is it possible to imagine that he would have left it, knowing what that operation was, and what the consequences would be, to Mrs Colmer to bring a tea cloth and a tablecloth from the kitchen to dry up a copious supply of blood that would inevitably result from this horrible and barbarous operation? It is impossible to imagine that if it were so, and if he had left the matter over till then, that these cloths should have been taken back to the kitchen clean, without any marks being left on the floor of the house. Gentlemen, my learned friend tries to eke out this case by bringing out that at 6 o'clock on the evening of the day in question, Mr Colmer was in the yard at the back of his house: but if he had asked the same question of any other person living in the street, the same answer might have been given. This servant girl does not say that when she went into the yard. Mr Colmer was carrying anything. If he had carried anything, it must have been in some cloth or vessel. But there was nothing seen in his hand, and there was nothing in his manner to direct anybody's attention; and yet, in the face of that, we have the wild suggestion that because Mr Colmer went into the yard. He had the fetus with him, thrust away where no human eye could see it. It is going too far in suggestion to put that matter before you; and if that sort of interference is put out of the way, I say again, what case have you left?

Ask yourselves just these questions. These two persons are charged with murder. You have to ask with regard to each of them - am I satisfied in my conscience, by evidence which I feel I can trust and believe and act upon safely, without doubt, am I satisfied that he or she was guilty of the murder? And you are bound to ask the question with regard to both of them. How can you answer the question in the affirmative. With regard to him? He was never seen with this woman at all. There is no evidence of any connection of any kind made by Mrs Budge to Mr Colmer before the Friday. There is no evidence that Mrs Budge and Mr Colmer ever came face-to-face upon that Friday at all. If that is so, how can you answer the question in the affirmative. With regard to him? Can you answer the question in the affirmative with regard to her? There may be matters of suspicion and of inference, and my learned friend has suggested this calling out about a woman fainting and the like. They happened while Mrs Colmer was not in the room at all, and though my lord will of course lay down to you, and correctly lay down, the law that if these two persons were engaged in it, and were practically occupied in it, the fact that one was in the room and the other outside makes no difference at all, still you are bound, for the sake of your own consciences, and the honesty, aye, and the justice of your verdict, to ask yourselves these questions with regard to each of these persons.

Now, I hope, not for my own sake, because it is a small matter what you may think of any address of mine, but for the sake of justice, and the sake of those interested in justice in this court, that I have redeemed my promise to you that I would deal with the evidence, and that I would deal with it straightforwardly and candidly, and not attempt to pass over doubtful dangerous parts of the evidence by resorting to rhetorical artifice. I will resort to none now. There is no rhetoric of which I am master that could stir your hearts or bind you more solemnly to the discharge, and the rightful discharge of your duty, than the recollection of your oath that you have taken, and the sight of the two persons whose lives probably depend upon the result of your deliberations. Don't be alarmed by that result. Don't be frightened with regard to the verdict, which you have to give, but do remember, because it is your duty to remember, that the decision which you have to give is an irrevocable decision, that is one which imposes upon my lord the inevitable and the dreadful duty of sentencing two persons to death; and not alarmed by that, not deterred for a moment from the fair and courageous discharge of your duty, at all events, remember that that duty implies in it the diligent giving of your minds and thoughts to the consideration of the facts that are proved before you - the steadfast refusal to allow yourselves to be led by suspicion, which may be groundless, or by inference, which may be mistaken - and the resolve that before you give a verdict in such a case as this you will be so satisfied, that no afterthought may mar the consciousness that you have done your duty.

The Court then adjourned for luncheon, and reassembled after a short interval.

Mr Justice Hawkins proceeded to sum up to the jury. His Lordship said -- Gentlemen of the jury, the prisoners at the bar are indicted for the wilful murder of a lady whose name has been so often mentioned in the course of this Inquiry - Mrs Budge - and they are indicted for the murder under those circumstances. It is not alleged that they murdered her actuated or were influenced by any malicious motive, but it is alleged that they were guilty of murder in performing upon her a very cruel and barbarous operation, which in itself is a felony in law, and the law is that, if, in the course of commission of a felony, which is itself dangerous to human life, death ensues, the result of that felonious act is the crime of murder. Now, the law upon the subject of endeavouring to procure abortion, is that "whosoever, with the intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or not be with child, should unlawfully administer to her, or cause to be taken by her, any poison or other obnoxious thing, or shall unlawfully use any instrument or other means whatsoever with a like intent" (that is, with the intent of procuring miscarriage), "shall be guilty of felony, and on being convicted, shall be liable to be sentenced to penal servitude as directed." So that you will say whether these two prisoners, or either of them, are shown to be guilty of the offence, which is forbidden by the statute, to which I have called your attention, and if you find that they were guilty of that offence, or either of them, then both or either of them are, or is guilty of the crime of murder. There is no mistake in the law in this case, and it is very clear. Where an attempt is made to procure a miscarriage and where instruments or other means are used to procure miscarriage, and death is occasioned by such operation, that is murder, and nothing short of it. You have been addressed, and addressed very ably, by Mr Clarke on behalf of the prisoners, and he has directed your attention to the very striking features of the case, which he very wisely submits ought to make you pause before you give your verdict. He has told you very truly, that he does not desire to deter you from the discharge of your duty by putting before you what may be the consequences of an adverse verdict. He also tells you truly that in that case, a very painful duty devolves upon me. Many juries have had to discharge equally painful verdicts, and I am quite sure that whatever may be the consequences of your verdict, no juryman - no honest juryman at least - will shrink from his duty of dictating his verdict according to his conscience. What I advise you is this - keep your minds steady upon the facts which you have, to determine, regardless of all consequences - apply your minds to the facts with a determination to arrive at an honest conclusion. Now the unhappy woman whose death. We are now enquiring into was the widow of a gentleman of considerable respectability, residing at Crewkerne, and her age was 36 years. And as far as we know in the month of March in this year her health was very good. She had not been afflicted with any complaint or disease, and she lived with her mother in the Market Square, Crewkerne. In 1878, a young man named Forster - whose evidence, I shall have to call your attention to hereafter - lodged with her, and sometime in the month of March - if you may accept his evidence - Mrs Budge found herself enceinte. There can be no doubt at all, and from the evidence you have heard, I suppose nobody would entertain a doubt, that he himself was the author of that mischief, because it did not appear that anybody else had the same relations with her. The whole facts of the case, lie within the small compass of three days, from the 17th to the 20th March. The male prisoner is described as an "Anglo-American doctor" at his shop in Old Market Street, Bristol. His wife calls herself "Dr Jane Colmer," and has a shop at Yeovil, which is described as a herbalist's and tobacconist's. It does not appear that she was known to Mrs Budge until 17 March. Young Forster, however, who was born and lived for some time in Yeovil, seems to have known, at any rate, by name, the Colmer's shop, and on 17 March, having been told by Mrs Budge that she was in the family way, he says he drove over to Yeovil. There had been a previous appointment, and a proposal to go on the Saturday previous, and there is a letter, which is certainly not evidence. Forster professes to have seen it, but it has not been traced, and we cannot have its contents, and therefore all I would say with regard to that particular document is dismiss it from your minds. I have no rights to speculate upon it; it cannot be used as evidence, and my advice to you, therefore, is to consider it really as though it never existed, and to confine yourself to occurrences between Wednesday, the 17th, and Saturday, the 20th, in which you will find all that is necessary to enable you to form a satisfactory judgement upon the case.

Now, I take the story given by Forster, and invite your consideration of that testimony, not only because it is said that Forster has given an account before the coroner, which was not true, but I ask you to look carefully at his testimony, with a view to see how far, now you have heard it, and seen him in the box,- now you have heard his statement on oath, and seen him subjected to cross-examination by the learned counsel who has so ably defended the prisoners - how far you are disposed to put credence in his story. "It is true" he says "that I have all previous occasions given a different account. My reason was my desire to screen the unfortunate woman who had come to trouble in consequence of my intimacy with her." It is not for me to say that explanation is or is not satisfactory. It is for you to say whether you can rely upon his testimony as that of a man who is honestly desirous now or giving you the truth to the best of his belief. He says that he drove the deceased to Yeovil on the 17th, and that she went to Mrs Colmer's, but it seems clear that on that Wednesday nothing was actually done, at any rate, we find no trace of it at all, and as to why it was that nothing was done. You may be able to draw some light from the other circumstances to which I will call your attention. On the 17th, about 1 o'clock in the day, the male prisoner, who was at that time in Bristol, and whose custom. It was to come to Yeovil on the Friday only, that's being the market day, delivered at the Bristol Post Office telegram to his wife at Yeovil, stating that he had missed the train. You will find that a train from Bristol, was due at Yeovil at 5:08. Forster said it was a little after five when Mrs Budge and he arrived at Yeovil, and she went to Mrs Colmer's, but did not remain above two minutes. She went back again to the shop about 6:30 and seems to have remained for an hour and half, but there is no proof at all, who she saw there at that time; but it is certain that Colmer could not have been present. That evening, because we have this further telegram sent by him to Mrs Colmer at 7:34 "Important business detains me tonight; will come first train in the morning." The servant girl says she saw Mrs Budge there that evening, but there is no proof that anything was done. However, Mrs Budge had come over to Mrs Colmer is for some purpose, or rather that afternoon, and her business was of such a character as induced her to make two visits, which occupied respectively 10 minutes and an hour and a half, and it is certain she was in the company of Mrs Colmer during that time. There is no doubt of her having been there. That is sworn to by Miss Brook and Mrs Custard, who saw her come out of Mrs Colmer's shop about 5 o'clock, and who saw Mr Forster meet her. Mrs Custard said "She seemed agitated and nervous, and tried to avoid me." And she went into the street and met Forster, who accompanied her home, and who says she got home, apparently in as good health as usual. As to the letter, Forster says he read it and posted it, and the prosecution says it was acted upon; but the point that Mr Clarke relies upon is that it is not been proved. Forster was asked "Did you keep a copy of it?" You must ask yourselves whether it would be a likely or probable thing for a man to keep a letter of that description. Then he was asked why he did not mention it before the Coroner, and his reply was that he was never asked about it, but he pledges his oath that he put it into the post. He tells you the letter said, "I have made excuses to get away." You have to consider whether it is a letter that is likely to be written.

Here is a woman with a family, who is not in a condition at all hours of the day to absent herself from her home. On the morning of Friday, Forster says Mrs Budge was perfectly well, but when he met her at the train in the evening. The change in her condition was something too shocking and dreadful to contemplate. Of that there can be no doubt, because the poor woman was noticed by all who saw her, and she was in such a dreadful condition that the officials at the station did not trouble her for her ticket. She was helped into the omnibus, went home to bed, was ill all night, and never seems to have rallied at all, and next day she died of the malady. The cause of which you will have to determine. That she got started from Crewkerne in good health is proved not only by Mr Forster, but by other witnesses who saw her go, and the station master at Yeovil says she was in good health on her arrival there. That she was at Colmer's during that Friday, there can be no doubt, and we have an account of her given by the girl, Cheney, upon whose character, again, imputations are raised. It is said she is an unreliable witness, because she has given different accounts, but, if she is to be believed, she certainly saw the woman in the house, and was sent to fetch the bus for her. Certain it is that the 'bus did come, and you have the evidence of Sweet, who says he took the lady up where he put down, and Wills, who rode in the 'bus with her. The prosecution say this affords strong corroboration that she was in Colmer's house during the day. The bus put her down at 12 and took her away between eight and nine, and no human being is called who saw her out of the house of the Colmer's house during that day. If the witnesses are to be believed, she came out of the house in such a condition as to be unable to get into the Crewkerne 'bus without assistance, and never again was she otherwise than in a sinking condition.

Let us first take the testimony of the girl, Cheney. She says "I heard him - meaning Mr Colmer - call 'Mrs Colmer, Mrs Colmer, bring a cloth, she is fainting'." And she further tells us that the voice appeared to come from the dining room. Now it is not disputed that Mr Colmer had come into the shop, and it is not disputed that she knew the sound of his voice, and that she was well acquainted with every part of the house. Now if it was not Colmer's voice she heard has there been a suggestion that it was the voice of anybody else? Who was it that should call Mrs Colmer, Mrs Colmer, and who was it that was fainting? It could not have been Mrs Colmer. Was it some of the family? If so, what member of the family? It is suggested, on the part of the prosecution, that it was Mrs Budge, who was there, and it is suggested that she remained there during the afternoon, and that it was during that afternoon that the operation was performed. It is my bounden duty to point out to you as a matter of grave importance for your serious consideration. The servant girl tells us that in passing out to order the omnibus she saw some person on the sofa, whom she did not know. She tells us further that the glass panels on the door, which were clear in the morning, were covered up with paper on the afternoon of that day. But, with regard to marks or traces of blood, the matter is left entirely blank. The girl says she saw Colmer go down the yard at 6 o'clock - some hours after the lady had gone to the house - and she is asked a good deal, with reference to herself, and she says "I did say before the coroner that the person I saw was like the lady in the photograph, and that I only saw her once." Moreover, she says "I said that because I was told not to say anything about it beyond what I knew." It was, she says, Miss Colmer, who told her not to say anything about the matter. Then, with regard to the ordering of the omnibus, it was the youngest Miss Colmer that sent her the message, and Miss Colmer has not been brought forward to deny or affirm the statement. Now, gentlemen, you will ask yourselves, having heard the statements, whether this girl has any motive in deceiving you. It is for you to judge of her credibility. I have no right to say I believe or I disbelieve any of the witnesses. It is for you to determine that, having regard to the corroborating circumstances by which the evidence is supported. And in asking whether you believe a witness is speaking the truth. It is always important to consider the motive witness has to speak an untruth. If you find a witness who is actuated by animosity, by ill feeling, or by revenge, then you are bound to look upon the evidence of a witness of that character with suspicion. But with regard to this girl, it is fair for you to consider whether there is any proof of ill will on her part towards the prisoners. On that point I will simply observe that, so far as I can make out the female prisoner treated the girl kindly, and not a word of anger ever passed between them.

Now, gentlemen, it does become very important in view of the consideration whether she is speaking the truth or not - it does become of vital importance to look at the corresponding surrounding circumstances; and it is with that view, that I think a good deal of the testimony offered yesterday that did not strike your attention very much at the time becomes now of the most vital importance. We know very well that Mrs Budge was in Yeovil on Friday; we have that fact from a variety of persons. We have the testimony of Sweet, who says she was the only passenger by the 12 o'clock train, and that he conveyed her to the town, setting her down opposite Mrs Colemer's door. We have the evidence of the girl, Cheney, who swears to her presence; of Membury, who remembers the omnibus stopping and picking up a lady who was standing on the pavement; and of Mr George Wills, who was a passenger by the Mermaid omnibus, and who remembers stopping near the Castle, and a lady who looked very ill, getting in. On being shown the photograph of Mrs Budge, Wills recognised her, and further stated that he saw her at Crewkerne station the same evening, where she was met and assisted into the 'bus by Forster. That being so, gentlemen, there cannot be any doubt that Mrs Budge was in Yeovil on that day; and, according to the evidence of the witnesses, she was picked up by the omnibus at Mrs Colmer's door. Now, gentlemen, you have to come to the question, whether she was there or not, during the afternoon of that day. The servant girl says she was there, and that she heard an observation made to bring a cloth because Mrs Budge was fainting. You have Mr Tanner, who says he was in Mrs Colmer's between 2:30 and 3 o'clock, and that he heard a voice calling, "Mrs Colmer, Mrs Colmer" twice or three times. You have another witness, Mr Godfrey, who had occasion to call about some grate which Mrs Colmer told him he could not then see in consequence of some person being in the dining room. That is the evidence you have, and it is for you to say whether you are satisfied on this testimony that Mrs Budge did go there on the middle of the day of that Friday, that she remained there during the afternoon, and left there a little before 8 o'clock in order to return with the evening train.

Now, Mrs Colmer gives evidence before the Coroner, and her evidence is of a very remarkable character. She says "To my knowledge, I never saw the deceased." Now, gentlemen, unless you disbelieve those who saw her, that must be untrue. Then Mrs Colmer proceeds to say "On last Friday week, there was no one in the house except my own family - two daughters, a son, and a grandson, together with the servant girl. No one was taken ill and obliged to remain. I gave 30 grains of quinine to a patient. She asked for a bottle, and I gave her one." Speaking generally, gentlemen, Mrs Colmer's evidence went to this extent - that she had never known or seen Mrs Budge; and she denies in substance the statement on which the girl gave pronounced evidence, that Mrs Budge ever was in her parlour at all. It is impossible that the girl can fancy she saw someone on the sofa, fancy she heard someone cry, fancy she was sent for the omnibus; and therefore it seems to me difficult to see what other conclusion you can come to than that there has been on the part of Mrs Colmer, very deliberate perjury. The evidence is quite clear that the deceased was taken up at Mrs Colmer's door and conveyed in the omnibus to the train at the time I have already mentioned. Now, gentlemen, if this evidence could have been contradicted it could have been done by its being shown that another person was in the house on that night, and that the omnibus was ordered to convey her away. You have not had the benefit of any evidence for the defence on that point, and, therefore, you must judge on the evidence you have, with such corroboration, as is afforded.

Now, gentlemen, one naturally asks oneself the very serious question which must occur to every person of common sense. If you believe Mr Wills, as you cannot fail to believe - I say cannot fail to believe him, because Mr Clark, very clearly said he deserved all that was said of and for him - if you believe Mr Wills, then from his account of the examination after the post mortem very serious injury indeed had been afflicted upon Mrs Budge by the use of some instrument or instruments for the purpose of procuring abortion. He said the poor woman suffered greatly, that great haemorrhage set in, and that the haemorrhage was likely to have been produced by an instrument used for the purpose of removing matter which it was desired should be taken away. When and where was that injury inflicted upon her? As I have said, you cannot doubt, if you believe Dr Wills, that the injury was inflicted and that it caused her death. When was that injury inflicted and by whom? She was well in the morning; nobody disputes that. The next time she was seen, in the evening, she was in a prostrate condition, and, according to the evidence, she was never lost sight of from that time until the hour of her death. She went in an exhausted condition to her room, and nobody suggests that anything was done there. She slept that night with her own child, and nobody suggests that anything was done to her then. She was sinking during the day on the afternoon of which she died. When was this injury inflicted? It was impossible it could have been inflicted before 12 o'clock. It is impossible it could have been inflicted afterwards, if you are to believe the witnesses who met at the train. Where did she receive the injuries, and when? The prosecution suggests to you that she must have receive them at the house and the prisoners. First of all, it is stated that Mr Forster posted a letter making an appointment, that she went to Yeovil, and that the girl saw her in the house. Nobody saw the actual operation performed, it is true, but the woman it is known went in well and she came out in the condition, which has been spoken to. The question is, when was the mischief done, and by whom? Let your own common sense and justice decide that. The case is in your hands, and not in mine, and I am thankful for it. You have heard the witnesses, and you have to say whether you do or do not believe that this woman came to her death in consequence of the operation performed upon her for the purpose of procuring abortion, and, if you do, do you find from the evidence before you that the two prisoners or either of them bought that result about? I need hardly say that both of the prisoners could not actually commit or perform the operation, which would be performed by one person, but I must tell you that if two persons are conjointly engaged in an illegal act, each taking his or her share in the act, each is equally guilty. The question to be decided is, I am glad to say, one for you. You have listened patiently to it, and, bearing in mind the importance of the case and the responsibility which attaches to you, you will have to say whether you are convinced that the case is brought home to the prisoners or either of them. I am quite satisfied that you will determine this case, without any consideration as to the subject of your verdict or to the consequences thereof, that you will strictly fulfill the duty which is cast upon you to the best of your ability - and will declare that which you believe to be right.

The jury retired to consider their verdict at 17 minutes to four o'clock, and returned at 25 minutes past four. Their names, having been called over, and each having answered.

The Clerk of Arraigns said -- Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon your verdict?
The Foreman -- We have.
The Clerk -- Do you find the prisoner, Robert Slade Colmer, guilty or not guilty?
The Foreman (exhibiting a piece of blue paper) -- I have the verdict here on paper. Shall I read it?
The Judge -- Give it to me.
The paper was handed to His Lordship in accordance with his request, and a brief consultation having taken place between the Judge and the Clerk respecting it, the Clerk retained possession of the document.
The Clerk -- You must deliver your verdict, gentlemen. Is Robert Slade Colmer, guilty or not guilty of the crimes of felony and murder?
The Foreman -- Guilty.
The Clerk -- Is Jane Colmer guilty or not guilty of the crimes of felony and murder?
The Foreman -- Guilty.
The Clerk -- You say they are both guilty, and that is the verdict of you all?
The Foreman -- It is.
The Clerk -- Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer, you stand convicted of the wilful murder of Mary Budge - have you or either of you anything to say why the Court should not deliver judgement?
The prisoners made no response, and the Usher in the usual form demanded silence in Court while sentence of death was passed on the prisoners at the bar.
The Judge, having assumed the black cap, said -- Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer, you have been....
The Chief Warder -- My Lord, the prisoners desire to speak.
Robert Colmer, speaking in a tremulous voice, said -- My Lord, I can assure you that I am innocent of this crime. (a pause.)
The Judge -- Do you wish to say anything more?
Robert Colmer -- I do not believe, My Lord, that Mrs Colmer is guilty of the crime.
Mrs Colmer -- I never had any instrument in my hand in my life like that (pointing to the speculum). I never attempted any such thing; never had such an instrument, and do not know what such an instrument is used for.
The Judge -- The jury have very patiently considered the evidence offered against you, and they have found each of you guilty of the crime of wilful murder. In that verdict I most entirely concur. You were engaged on the afternoon of 19th of March in a most barbarous operation on a poor woman who has now gone to her rest. The law of this country forbids the procurement of abortion by any means, and by the law of this country if, in endeavouring to procure abortion death is occasioned, those who so occasioned death are guilty of the crime of wilful murder. That is the law as it is now: that is the law as in all probability it will exist in times to come. You say you are not guilty.
Mrs Colmer -- I am not guilty.
The Judge -- I wish I could in the least degree give credit to what you say. But I cannot.
Mrs Colmer -- I never did it.
The Judge -- That this poor woman went a sound, healthy woman into your house at mid-day on the 19th March nobody who has heard the evidence can doubt. That she left your house, but to go home to die is equally beyond the shadow of a doubt. The mischief that was done to her was done in your house, and the object of that mischief was to procure abortion.
Mrs Colmer -- My Lord, I never did anything of the kind.
The Judge -- The law of this country knows but one sentence for the crime of murder, and that sentence is death. I won't harrow up the feelings of either of you by commenting more at length on the crime of which you have been found guilty, but I will proceed at once to pass upon you that sentence which the law imperatively demands. The sentence of the court is that you be taken from hence and be removed to the gaol of the county of Somerset, that being the county in which the offence of which you stand convicted was committed, and that you be each of you taken thence to a lawful place of execution and be there hanged by the neck until you are severally dead, and that your bodies be afterwards buried within the walls of the prison in which you shall have last been confined after your conviction. And may God have mercy on your souls!

The officers of the Court and several of those present here exclaimed "Amen!"
The Judge -- I shall grant a warrant to the Sheriffs of the County of Somerset for the execution of the sentence which I have just passed.

The male prisoner was then removed to Newgate Prison.

The Clerk of Arraigns (to the female prisoner) -- Jane Colmer, you stand convicted of the crime of wilful murder; have you anything to say why the execution of the judgement should be stayed?
Mrs Colmer made no audible reply.
The Chief Warder -- She says "No." My Lord.

The female convict was then assisted to the cells by one female and two male warders.

- - - - - - - - - -

The following is a copy of the document (which was not read in court) handed by the Foreman of the jury to the Judge -- "We find the male prisoner 'Guilty' and the female prisoner 'Guilty' as an accomplice. We strongly recommend them both to mercy on the ground of their age, and also on the ground that death was accelerated by the journey by train and by the deceased, having to send three flights of stairs on her return home." 


 

 

THE SCENE IN COURT
(From our London Correspondent)

The Western Gazette, Friday 13 August 1880

The atmosphere of the Old Bailey is never very salubrious, and it gets awfully thick when a sensational case is being tried in one of those two poky little rooms, which furnish the only accommodation available for the busiest criminal court in the world. The aldermen who sits under the "sword of justice" as the representative of law and order in the city, and the judge beside him, with the red band across his black robe, which denotes his commission to try cases within the civic boundaries, have plenty of elbow room at their little desks. So also have the prisoners in the dock, unless they should happen to be an unusual number indicted in company. But the jury, and the council, solicitors, reporters, and general public are packed and wedged in anyhow and anywhere, like herrings in a box, and with utter disregard of sanitary conditions which is a scandal and a disgrace to the metropolis and its local government.

The witnesses, who justly complain of having to wait for hours and even days on the pavement outside, may choose between braving the rheumatism in the rain, and semi-suffocation in the murky, sweltering crowd that is packed into this den of justice; but those who have work to do in court can only gasp for the fresh air, and wonder why legal processes should be made so unpleasant to the innocent, as well as to the guilty.

It was under these conditions that the trial of the Colmers took place on Friday and Saturday before Mr Justice Hawkins, whose severity is so well-known that he has earned himself the soubriquet of "the hanging judge."

Both prisoners evidentially expected that things would go hardly with them. Mr Colmer was shaky and nervous, and had a helpless look. He stood in a right hand corner of the dock, at some little distance from his wife. They parted in 1870, under a deed of separation, and have since, I understand, only kept up a sort of intermittent business connection. She carried on the herbalist's shop at Yeovil, which I fancy used to be called an "eclectic dispensary" whilst he established himself at Weymouth, and from thence removed to Bristol, as the "Anglo-American doctor". The male prisoners mode of life was too well known to lead one to expect any demonstration of regard between him and his wife, but they understood each other; and the one thing that redeemed them - even in the eyes of unsympathising spectators - from the reproach of utter heartlessness, and absence of all human feeling, was the way in which they welcomed their eldest son's expression of sympathy. Dr Colmer, of Yeovil, was in the court, the greater part of both days, and jointly with his brother, who I understand is a surgeon at Weymouth, furnished funds for the defence. I am told that he promised Mr Trevor Davies £500 if he could get his mother off, although he must have known that no such inducement was required to spur the energies of that indefatigable lawyer.

Well, I noticed that when Dr Colmer came into Court on Saturday morning. He shook hands with his father and mother in the dock; and I admired him for it. The filial feeling which he displayed was the one pleasant gleam of light in a very black and gloomy business, and I honour the young doctor who has fought such an uphill fight at Yeovil, for his display of manly feeling. When the male prisoner spoke to the poor haggard woman sitting in the dock, and she was lifted up in order that she might touch the hand of her son standing underneath, the most hardhearted amongst the spectators must have felt a thrill of mingled pity and respect for her and for him, meeting each other in such a place and under such awful circumstances. There she was, a broken-down, terrified prisoner; but she had been good to her children, and they had not forgotten it. They were all present, men and women now, but still remembering the time of their youth, and who it was that bought them up and gave them that education which, in one instance at least, has been the basis of a prosperous life. "One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin" and it is easier to linger over this point of sympathy than to turn to the grim details of the case. Even the stern old coroner, Dr Wybrants, being, as everybody knows, soft-hearted at a pinch like this, and an Irishman to boot, could not witness the scene unmoved and I verily believe he forgot for the moment all the wrath against the Colmers, which has for years been accumulating in his professional bosom. I think I saw a tear in his eye when I spoke to him in the courtyard of Newgate, near that horrible shed that always attracts one's attention so uncomfortably. Counsel informs me that the doctor's strong remarks at the inquest have been submitted to the Lord Chief Justice in a formal complaint - so that both your county court judge and your coroner are being "carpeted" but I don't think the deputy coroner, who was so conspicuous in the court as a "squire of dames", need expect to step into Dr Wybrants's shoes yet awhile.

Your full report will relieve me from the necessity of following the details of the case. It was dead against the prisoners from the beginning, and counsel for the defence knew they had a hopeless job. Mr Poland, the "Treasury ferret", opened the case in his usual jerky and apparently inconsequent way, scorning what Mr Clarke calls rhetorical artifice, but placing the main facts clearly enough before the jury. Then came the evidence and some painful incidents. Mrs Herrington, mother of the deceased Mrs Budge, gave her evidence with great difficulty, being so weak and ill that the examining council had to stand on the steps of the witness box in order to hear and repeat her answers. She was dressed in deep black, and that is all I saw of her. I did not hear young Forster's examination, but I'm told that he gained the sympathy of many by his avowal that he perjured himself to screen the memory of the dead woman. Mr Clarke tackled him pretty sharply, but could not shake his evidence, and the same may be said of the girl, Cheney, who certainly was a capital witness. The kindly station master, Mr Maunder, was there to furnish a link in the chain of evidence with regard to his ill-fated passenger, and to keep a paternal eye on the son of his friend and neighbour. Also in attendance were the medical and police witnesses, and divers others whose testimony was required to complete the damning record.

No time was wasted in the process, but owing to beginning late on Friday, the case for the prosecution ran over into the second day, when the medical evidence was taken. Perhaps I ought to mention that the production of the speculum by Sgt Holwill caused some sensation in court, and many curious glances were cast at that strange-looking instrument, the use of which was simply and shortly explained by Dr Wills of Crewkerne. This gentleman was the leading professional witness, and his statement was so clear that Mr Poland cut the others as short as possible, and took occasion afterwards to congratulate the jury upon having the medical facts so ably put before them.

The telegrams from the male prisoner to his wife, having been admitted as evidence, whilst the letter from the deceased to Mrs Colmer about the £18, although not legally proved, was as good as proved, by young Forster's statement, everyone felt that the case was complete; and Mr Sidney Watts, as solicitor for the prosecution, had the satisfaction of knowing that he had left no stone unturned in getting up his proofs in furtherance of the ends of justice.

Mr Clarke intimated that he did not intend to call any witnesses for the defence. This was rather a surprise to many in Court, and I was informed that the prisoners' friends strongly wished to have certain witnesses called; but after an anxious consultation their counsel decided that it would be useless to do so. Some of the number, I am told, were prepared to swear that the deceased was not in the house at all, but as they were admittedly absent from the shop at the time Mrs Budge called, their evidence would not have gone for much against that of the girl Cheney and others who tendered overwhelming proof. The fact was that the prisoners' advocates were practically powerless; the case, as one eminent counsel remarked, was one of the strongest he ever heard, and they had nothing to meet it - not even a theory, much less an alibi. That this was so was shown by most of the Crown witnesses being set free of cross-examination. What would have been the use to cross-examine Dr Wybrants , for instance? It would simply have stirred the mud deeper, and put before the court the story of 16 or 17 years ago. So the counsel for the defence, good men as they are, were face-to-face with the problem of making bricks without straw, and neither Mr Clarke nor Mr Bullen could solve it. The learned member for Plymouth addressed the jury in one of those brilliant speeches which have made his reputation, and successively led him from the reporters' gallery to the floor of the House of Commons, and from obscurity as a lawyer to a large share of the best business of the Bar. His speech was brilliant, not in declamation, nor even in argument, but in a masterly sifting out of every particle of doubt that could be discovered in the prisoners' favour. Beginning with clever diversion on the law of evidence, and ending with a solemn reminder to the jury of their awful responsibility, it evoked as much of sympathy for the prisoners as could be reasonably expected, and that was not a great deal.

Then came the Judge's summing up, which was marked by Mr Justin's Hawkins' usual ability, and brought to light one or two points which even Mr Poland had missed - for instance, the coincidence between the hours of Mrs Budge's calls previous to the operation and the arrival of trains from Bristol. The jury were dismissed to their room to consider their verdict, and the prisoners were removed from the dock, whilst of the Guy's Hospital nurse was bought up for sentence. She got off very cheaply, I think, with three months hard labour. It was stated that she was the daughter of a surgeon; so that all together. We heard a great deal of the medical profession during the day. The jury returned into court with a written verdict, which the Judge read in consultation with the Clerk of Arraigns, and some moments of anxious suspense were passed. The prisoners, on again being placed in the dock, seemed much affected by their position. Colmer trembled visibly, and his wife was in an almost prostrate condition. The Clerk of Arraigns called upon the foreman of the jury for a direct answer as to the verdict, and it was given - "guilty". The remainder of the scene was very painful. Colmer feebly protested his innocence, and made a gesture as though he would put his hands in the attitude of prayer, but dropped them in fear before the calm gaze of the Judge, as he put on the fatal black cap. The female prisoner declared in a faint voice that she knew nothing about it; and both, while sentence was being pronounced, interrupted the Judge with some feeble exclamations. When the death sentence was finished, with the solemn words "the Lord have mercy on your souls" the Usher said "Amen" and the word was earnestly repeated by a number of persons in Court. The male prisoner having been removed, the usual question was put to Mrs Colmer as to whether she had anything to say in stay of execution, to which she answered "No"; and one could not help thinking that this needless formality with elderly women might be dispensed with. She was half-led and half-carried out of the dock to the cells in Newgate, where I understand she was immediately visited by Dr Colmer.

It was not until the judge was leaving the bench that the contents of the written paper handed up by the jury were discovered. Acting on information by a juryman, Mr Bullen asked his Lordship for the paper, and on receiving it at once communicated its contents to the Press. The documents turned out to be a recommendation to mercy, which the judge, adopting an unusual course, altogether ignored. Perhaps he would not read it because he felt he could not support the recommendation. However, we shall see whether anything comes of it. Meanwhile, the prisoners have been removed to Taunton Gaol.

--------------

The prisoners arrived at Taunton on Monday, by the express train due at 1:20. The platform was crowded with passengers waiting for the Minehead excursion, and by a number of Volunteers just arrived from the Chard branch to take part in the annual inspection. It was not generally known that the Colmers would arrive by that train, but the appearance on the platform of the chief warder at Taunton Prison suggested that they were expected, and as soon as the express drew up there was a rush to see the wretched culprits. They had travelled in a compartment near the end of the train, accompanied by a male and female warder. The Taunton prison official then led the way, and the prisoners were conducted through a crowded platform of holiday-makers to the omnibus in which they were to be driven to the prison. The male prisoner was handcuffed, a stalwart warder walking close by his side; the woman seemed utterly prostrated and miserable, and could scarcely walk, although strongly supported by the seemingly sympathetic female warder who had accompanied her. Close to the exit through which the prisoners passed from the station  there is still displayed the advertisement "Dr Jane Colmer, Eclectic and Botanical Practitioner".


 

 

THE YEOVIL MURDER
RESPITE OF THE COLMERS

The Western Gazette, Friday 20 August 1880

On Saturday morning, a communication was received at Taunton Gaol from the Secretary of State for the Home Department commuting the sentence passed upon Robert Slade Colmer and Jane Colmer, his wife, then lying at that prison under sentences of death for the wilful murder of Mrs Budge, of Crewkerne, into a sentence of penal servitude for life. The communication came by post, and was delivered at the gaol shortly after 8 o'clock. Its welcome contents were at once conveyed to the convicts by the deputy governor, Mr Kitely - Mr Oakley's successor, not having yet been appointed - and it was, it need hardly be said, received by them with a feeling of thankfulness and relief.

Since the trial, the prisoners have occupied separate cells in the gaol, and, as is the case with condemned convicts, have been watched night and day by waters of the prison. These rigid regulations will now be relaxed, and the Colmers will be treated like other prisoners. They will probably be detained at Taunton a few weeks longer, and they will be removed to one of the Government convict establishments. Since their conviction they have been regularly visited by the chaplain of the gaol, the Rev W House, and have seemed submissive and amenable to religious influences. It has been with great difficulty that even the slightest information as to their treatment and conduct has been obtained, the officers, under the amended prison regulations and since the Government has assumed the control of the county prisons, being strictly forbidden to give any particulars with reference to what goes on inside the gaol.

Our correspondent was however able on Saturday morning to gather that shortly after the receipt of the respite, the prisoners were separately seen by Lt Col Patton, a magistrate of the Taunton Petty Sessional division and a visiting justice. He found Mrs Colmer very much depressed and physically prostrated, the results, no doubt, of the terrible period of suspense, through which she has passed. Mr Colmer has borne up much better, and seems never to have entirely lost hope that the extreme sentence of the law would be commuted. On Saturday morning, copies of a petition, praying for a reprieve, prepared by Dr Colmer of Yeovil, son of the unhappy prisoners, were in circulation for signature in Taunton. Similar petitions, we are told, had been forwarded to other towns in the county. It would appear, therefore, that as they could not have been forwarded to London the Home Secretary has acted entirely upon the recommendation to mercy handed in by the jury at the close of the trial at the Central Criminal Court. From the first it has been regarded as extremely improbable that the supreme penalty of the law would be carried out, and especially was this opinion entertained with regard to the case of Mrs Colmer. It will be remembered that two days before the Colmer's were convicted an unqualified medical practitioner named Hayward was sentenced to death at Warwick Assizes for a crime similar in every essential respect to that of which the Colmers have been found guilty. In his case the verdict of the jury was accompanied with a strong recommendation to mercy, and in his case, too, the Home Secretary has extended the clemency of the Crown to the conflict. People naturally inferred that after this the Home Secretary could not well disregard the representations of the jury. It was also felt that while there was no direct evidence of the female prisoner's actual participation in the crime, it might justly be held that she was acting under the control and influence of her husband, and would not therefore be held so fully responsible for the part she took in the matter. The reprieve was, however, not expected so soon and it is felt, as adding to the grace of mercy, that the Home Secretary has kept the prisoners in suspense no longer than was absolutely necessary to make the required enquiries and to consult with the judge who heard the case. It is unusual to allow condemned murderers three clear Sundays after sentence, so that it is probable the execution, if it took place at all, would have been carried out on Monday next. The announcement of the reprieve was at once telegraphed to Yeovil and other towns in the county, where it was received with a feeling of relief. It was the general topic of conversation in the Taunton market on Saturday, and everyone seemed to admit that the justice of the case will be met by the still terrible punishment which the prisoners have to undergo. It is expected that they will shortly be removed from Taunton Gaol - one to Pentonville and the other to Millbank.

In the Yeovil district alone, more than 4,000 signatures were obtained. At Crewkerne between 500 and 600 persons signed the Memorial, and in other towns, also, steps were taken for securing signatures. Another petition is now being prepared, praying for a further reduction of the sentence in the case of Madame Colmer. It is understood that one of the MPs for a Dorset Borough, as well as the local governing body of the same town, are moving in the matter.

 


 

 

 

Footnote:

In the 1881 census Robert Colmer, aged 66, was listed as a convicted felon in Pentonville prison, London. Jane was serving her sentence at Millbank prison, London.

Robert Slade Colmer died in prison at the age of 73 in the winter of 1889. This was most likely at Rochester prison, originally built in 1874 on a former military site above the Medway River. Jane, however, was somewhat luckier than her husband and was released from prison. In the 1891 census she was 'living on her own means' at 5 Peter Street with her herbalist daughter, Cleopatra. Jane died later that year, aged 76.

 

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This sepia-toned photograph looking east along Middle Street dates to about 1875 and is probably one of the earliest photographs of the Castle Inn, seen at left. The Colmer's house and herbal shop, where the murder took place and is frequently referred to in the trial, was the three-storey building next to it. The narrow entrance to Union Street, where John Forster waited for Mary Budge, is directly opposite.

 

The death sentence imposed at the Old Bailey on both Robert and Jane Colmer in 1880.

 

 

 

Pentonville Prison