Appendix 1: Sources for the Hayes Murder

A. The Newspapers of 1726

Thursday, March 3

Daily Post, p. 1: Yesterday Morning early a Man's Head, that by the Freshness of it seeem'd to have been newly cut off from the Body, having its own Hair on, was found by the River's Side near Mill-Bank, Westminster, and was afterwards exposed to publick View in St. Margaret's Church-yard, where Thousands of People have seen it; but none could tell who the unhappy Person was, much less who committed such a horrid and barbarous Action; nor is the Body, as we hear, yet found, being supposed to have been thrown into the Thames. The Head was much hack'd and mangled on each Side of the Chin in the Cutting off; there are various Conjectures relating to the Deceased; but there being nothing certain, we omit inserting them.

Friday, March 4

Parker's Penny Post, p. 4: [Parker's repeats the Daily Post account almost verbatim, but adds that the victim's hair was "brown curl'd" and specifies that the head was discovered "in the Dock before Mr. Paul's Brewhouse, near the Horse Ferry at Westminster." In addition, Parker's omits the speculation that the body may have been disposed of in the Thames, and instead reports the following information: "Several Houses in Tuttle Fields, and about Westminster, have been search'd for the Body, but to no purpose."]

Daily Journal, p. 1: The Man's Head found at the Water-side, near the Horse-Ferry at Westminster, was Yesterday again expos'd in St. Margaret's Church-Yard; but we do not hear of any one that knows it, neither have they as yet discover'd the Body.

Saturday, March 5

Weekly Journal, p. 3: Last Wednesday Morning at Day-light there was found in the Dock before Mr. Paul's Brew-house, near the Horse-Ferry at Westminster, the Head of a Man, with brown curl'd Hair, the Scull broke in two Places, and a large Cut on each Cheek; judg'd to be upwards of 30, and by all Circumstances, appearing to have been newly cut from off a living Body; but by whom, or on what Account, is yet a Secret. There was found near it, a bloody Pail; and some Bargemen have since affirmed, that they saw two Ruffian-like Fellows bring that Pail to the Water-side, and throw the Head into the Dock, and then run away. The Head was the same Day set up, and expos'd to publick View in St. Margaret's Church Yard; to the End, that any one knowing the Features, might give some Account of the Person. Several Houses in Tuttle Fields, and about Westminster, have likewise been searched for the Body. 'Tis a general Opinion, that this miserable Creature belonged to the Gang of Street Robbers, and was murder'd by them to prevent his making a Discovery, or for other Reasons amongst themselves.

London Journal, p. 1: On Wednesday Morning about Five a Clock, a Bargeman, being in his Barge above the Horse-Ferry, heard something thrown into the Water; but could not distinguish what it was. But at Day-light, when the Tide went out, he saw a Man's Head, fresh cut from the Body, the Scull broke, and the Face sadly mangled. He took it up; and it was exposed all that Day upon the Watch-House by Westminster-Abbey, in order to have it known: and upon the above Information, the proper Officers were immediately in Search after the inhumane Murtherers.

Daily Post, p. 1: A Report spread yesterday throughout the Town, that the Man's Head exposed to publick View in St. Margaret's Church-Yard, was a Welch Porter's Head that ply'd some Time since at the Queen's Head Tavern in Holborn, at Gray's-Inn Gate, and that it was cut off on St. David's Day, and there appearing a great deal of Likeness in the Physiognomy, and he having been absent for some Time, those of his own Acquaintance believed it; so that many Hundreds of People went to that Tavern to enquire into the Truth thereof, but in the Evening, the Porter having heard on't, came and presented himself at the Bar of the said Tavern, and effectually confuted that Story without using any other Arguments.

Daily Journal, p. 1: It was believed, that the Man's Head found in Westminster resembled very much a Porter at the Queen's-Head Tavern in Holbourn, who was said to be missing; but, upon Enquiry, it was not the Person; wherefore the Head (which had been taken down on that Report) was again put up to View, by Order of the Justices; and we hear it will continue to be expos'd for several Days longer.

Saturday, March 12

Mist's Weekly Journal, p. 2: The Head found at Westminster, said to have belong'd to a Porter, was disown'd by the Porter himself; but on Thursday a poor Woman from Kingsland, whose Husband has been missing ever since the Day before the Head was taken up, came to the Surgeon's where it lies, in great Grief, and found the Head to be her Husband's, but knows nothing how he came to be murther'd.

Weekly Journal, p. 3: The Man's Head found in Westminster, is put into Spirits, and lodg'd at the House of Mr. Westbrook, a Surgeon, by Order of the Justices. 'Tis said that John Gillingham the Street-Robber now in Newgate, hath offer'd to discover something relating to that Affair.

Thursday, March 24

Evening Post, p. 1: This Morning was found in a Ditch, near St. Mary le Bone, alias Marybone, the Trunk of a Man's Body, with a large Wound in the Belly, it was wrapp'd up by it self in a Blanket, the Arms, Legs, and Thighs, were loose by it, in the Water, in the same Ditch, but no Head.

Friday, March 25

Daily Post, p. 1: On Wednesday last the Arms, Thighs, and Legs of a Man cut asunder, as if done with a Butcher's Cleaver, were accidentally found in a Pond near Marybone, and yesterday they drag'd the Pond and took out the Trunk of the Body wrapt up in a Blanket, but finding no Head, 'tis suppos'd that which was exposed to publick View at Westminster in St. Margaret's Church-Yard, belonged thereto.

Saturday, March 26

Daily Post, p. 1: After the finding several Parts of a human Body in a Pond near Marybone, all cut asunder, as said in our last, one Katharine Hayes living in Tyburn Road, was on Thursday Night last committed to Newgate on a violent Suspicion of murthering her Husband, who is missing; and one Springate, a Woman her Companion, was at the same Time committed to the Gatehouse; another Woman and a Man were committed to New Prison on the same Account, in order to a further Examination into that horrid Affair.

Mist's Weekly Journal, p. 2: The Body of a Man has been found without a Head near Tottenham-Court-Road, much mangled and bruised; which, by the Time of lying, is supposed to have belonged to the Head lately found at Westminster. — The Wife and her Gallant are taken, on violent Suspicion of the said Murder, together with another Woman, and committed to several Prisons. His name was John Hays.

Monday, March 28

Daily Post, p. 2: The Man's Head found near Millbank, and the Parts of a human Body found in a Pond, near Marybone, being plac'd together, does exactly quadrate and appear to be the Body of Mr. John Hayes, that liv'd in Tyburn Road, whose Wife is committed to Newgate.

On Saturday last she was re-examin'd by six or seven Justices of the Peace, and remanded back to Newgate.

Yesterday another Man, a Companion of hers, was taken up on Suspicion of that horrid Murther, and committed to Tothil-Fields Bridewel; there are now two Men and two Women in Custody for it in four several Prisons, so that tis hoped the Truth will be found out.

Parker's Penny Post, p. 4: [Parker's repeats the March 25 Daily Post story concerning the discovery of the body in a Marybone pond, then indentifies the central figures in the case as Margaret and James Hayes. The report then adds the following information about the murder victim: "It seems, the deceased kept a little House in Tyburn Road, lending out small Sums of Money on Pledges; which, with an Estate of about 30l. per Annum, were the means by which he supported his Family." About Catherine, the report commented: "She at first refused to be examined, pretending to be sick in Bed; wherefore the Magistrates went to the House; where the Head being shewn her, she did not deny but that it was her Husband's; but shewed no manner of Concern at the Misfortune: She at last pretended, that he, having a Quarrel with a Man, set out for Warwick the 1st of this instant March, and that she had not since heard of him; and prevaricated most notoriously with the Justices. Two Men, her Lodgers, being also examined, were committed to New Prison, and one Springate, a Woman her Companion, was at the same Time committed to the Gatehouse, Westminster."]

Daily Journal, p. 1: We hear, that Margaret Hayes, mentioned in our last, hath, after several Examinations and Interrogatories, confess'd the Murder of her Husband; and that yesterday a Butcher was apprehended and committed, he being the Person that acted the cruel Scene, while the Wife was aiding and abetting; and that he had the Deceased's Coat and Waistcoat on, when he was taken.

Tuesday, March 29

Evening Post, p. 2: One Wood, a Butcher, the Person that cut the Body to Pieces, by the Directions of Margaret Hayes, is, at present in the Gate-House, he having confess'd the Fact.

Daily Post, p. 1: On Sunday last one Wood, formerly a Servant at Ganford, near Harrow, was apprehended and committed to Tothil-Fields Bridewell, for the Murther of John Hayes in Tyburn Road; in the Evening three of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace went thither to examine him, to whom he made an ingenuous Confession of that horrid Fact, and what Part every one now in Custody for it, acted therein, viz. That they first made him drunk with Wine, (the Good Wife having furnish'd Money for that Purpose) that then upon his falling asleep, he struck him on the back Side of his Head with an Ax, and knock'd out his Brains, which causing a great Effusion of Blood, the good Woman advis'd to cut the Head off, which was done accordingly; she afterwards brought them a Box to put the Body in, but not being sufficient to receive it, they quarter'd the same, and carry'd it out as formerly mention'd. — Yesterday Belings, a Taylor, said to be her Gallant, was removed from New Prison to Newgate; as also was Wood from Bridewell to the said Goal [sic]. We hear the Wife gave the Murtherer her Husband's Hat, Coat, and some Silver, and assured him he should not want; and that last Sunday he came to Town for more Money, and calling at her Lodging, the Landlord said she was removed to the next Street; and so carry'd him to a Friend of the Deceased, where he was secured. Wood upon his Confession of having quarter'd the deceas'd, being ask'd if he was not a Butcher by Trade, said, he was not, but could kill and cut up a Beast as well as any Butcher at all.

Daily Journal, pp. 1-2: Margaret Hayes, who stands committed to Newgate for Petty-Treason, for being concerned in the most inhumane and unheard of Murder of her Husband John Hayes, (whose Head was found in Westminster on the 2d Instant) hath confess'd, That she hath had several Children by her said Husband, That having Criminal Conversation1 with Thomas Wood, a Butcher, and Thomas Billins, a Taylor, both Worcestershire Men, they put her upon complying with the execrable Deed, that they might get into the Possession of her Husband's Substance, and keep her Company without Molestation; That when her Husband was murdered, they took out of his Pocket 26 Guineas, 9 King George's Shillings, and 6 Sixpences, 11 Guineas whereof they return'd her, and kept the rest themselves.

And yesterday the said Thomas Billins was removed from New-Prison to Newgate, by Justice Lambert's Warrant, and loaded with Irons.

Also yesterday in the Evening, the abovesaid Thomas Wood was brought to Newgate in a Coach, guarded by a Serjeant and two Files of Musqueteers and several Constables; the Mob all the way expressing their Joy by loud Huzzas. He confessed before Colonel Mohun and Mr. Lambert, two Justices of the Peace, That himself and Billins first made the late Mr. Hayes drunk with Claret in his own House; and that he falling asleep, Billins broke his Scull as he lay on the Bed, while himself cut his Throat, and afterwards cut his Head off, and mangled the Body in the manner as hath been already described; with many other Particulars relating to the horrid Fact: Which Confession he signed before the Justices.

Wednesday, March 30

Daily Post, p. 1: Yesterday the three Murtherers of Mr. John Hayes, who are now in Newgate, were examin'd again, and made a further Confession relating to that horrid Fact.

Saturday, April 2

Weekly Journal, p. 3: [After repeating the March 29 Daily Journal and Daily Post accounts of the murder and the arrests, adding only that the number of children "Margaret Hayes" claimed to have had by her husband was fourteen, the Weekly Journal report provided the following new information: "The mangled Corpse was carried out of Town on Monday last in an Hearse, followed by several Mourning Coaches, to be interr'd at Ombersley in Worcestershire; his Mother, who is come to Town, having order'd the Funeral, and a vigorous Prosecution against the Murderers."]

Mist's Weekly Journal, p. 2: The whole Affair of the Murder of John Hays, whose Head was found at Westminster, and his Limbs and Trunk near Marribone, is at length discover'd; his Wife and Gallant, with one whom they hired, having confessed all the Circumstances of that horrid Murder, viz. that they made him drunk at home, and falling asleep, Wood, a Farmer's Man, knock'd his Brains out with a Hatchet, and then quarter'd him by the Directions of the good Woman. His Body is carried down in a Hearse, with several Mourning Coaches attending, into Worcestershire to be interr'd.

London Journal, p. 2: [After repeating various earlier reports, the London Journal adds, concerning Catherine and Mrs. Springate: "The Wife has . . . confess'd . . .; but, we hear, that the other Woman who was committed to Prison, was no Accomplice, but that having made, seen, and heard some Things which gave her Cause to suspect the Murder, they had thought it to bribe her to hold her Tongue."]

Wednesday, April 6

Parker's Penny Post, p. 3: Last Saturday it was discover'd, That William Billins, by Trade a Taylor, the Person that beat out Mr. Hay's Brains with a Hatchet, on the 1st of March last, at his House in Tyburn Road, is the Natural Son of Margaret Hayes, begotten by a Tanner in Worcestershire, before her Marriage with the said Mr. Hayes.

Wednesday, April 13

Daily Journal, p. 1: Also to-morrow the Coroner's Inquest finish their Inquiry in relation to the Death of Mr. John Hayes, lately Murder'd by his Wife and two Men, at his own Habitation in Tyburn-Road.

Saturday, April 16

Daily Post, p. 1: On Thursday last the Coroner's Jury having sate for the last Time upon the Body of Mr. John Hayes, barbarously murther'd and cut to Pieces, brought in their Verdict Wilful Murther against his Wife Katharine Hayes and her two Companions Wood and Billings; all the Three are in Newgate.

London Journal, p. 3: We hear, that the Prosecution against Margaret Hayes, Thomas Billings, and Thomas Wood, for the inhuman Murder of John Hayes, is to be carried on at the King's Expence, and managed by Mr. Cracherode, Sollicitor to the Treasury.

Monday, April 18

Parker's Penny Post, p. 4: Last Wensday, began the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the City and Liberty of Westminster, when Bills of Indictment were found against Margaret Hays, Thomas Wood, and Thomas Billings, for the Murder of John Hays, on the first of March last, at his own House in Tyburn Road.

The next day, Mr. Higgs, the Coroner for the County of Middlesex, finish'd his Enquiry in relation to the death of the said Mr. Hays, when the Jury he had summon'd on that Occasion, brought in their Verdict Wilful Murder, against Thomas Wood, Thomas Billings, and Margaret Hays, Wife of the deceased: Twelve Witnesses having been Examined by the Jury.

Tuesday, April 19

Evening Post, p. 1: We hear that Katharine Hayes had promised to make, as last Night, a full Confession of the Murder of her Husband, for which purpose several Justices of the Peace, and a Clergy man were to attend her in Newgate.

Wednesday, April 20

Daily Post, p. 1: Yesterday the Sessions began at Hicks's-Hall, and To-Day the Grand Jury for Middlesex will hear the King's Witnesses, and bring in their Verdict, in relation to the barbarous Murther of Mr. John Hays in Tyburn Road, committed by his Wife Katharine Hays and her two Companions Billings and Wood.

Parker's Penny Post, p. 4: On Friday last, Thomas Wood, and Thomas Billings, were brought to Mrs. Margaret Hayes, on the Master-side of Newgate, and to her Face, charged her with being aiding and assisting in the Murther of her Husband Mr. John Hayes (which she as stiffly deny'd) Justice Lambert and others being then present.

Thursday, April 21

Daily Post, p. 1: Bills of Indictment were found yesterday at Hicks's Hall against Thomas Billings, Thomas Wood and Katharine Hayes, for the Murther of Mr. John Hayes; and we hear their Trials will come on this Day at the Old Baily.

Evening Post, p. 1: Bills of Indictment were found Yesterday at Hicks's Hall against Thomas Billings, Thomas Wood, and Katherine Hayes, for the Murder of Mr. John Hayes, the two Men continue to acknowledge the Fact to such as visit them, particularly Wood in a free, ingenuous and penitent Manner, but the Woman, Wife of the deceas'd stiffly denies it, and hath put her self into deep Mourning, in which to appear at her Trial.

Friday, April 22

Parker's Penny Post, p. 4: The Tryal of Mrs. Hays, for the Murder of her Husband in Tyburn Road, with her Confederates Thomas Wood and Thomas Billings, is deferr'd till this day.

Daily Journal, p. 1: The Tryal of Thomas Billings, Thomas Wood, and Katharine Hayes, for the Murder of John Hayes, comes on this Morning at Eight of the Clock.

Saturday, April 23

Daily Post, p. 1: Yesterday at the Sessions in the Old Baily came on the Trials of Thomas Billings, Thomas Wood, and Katherine Hayes, for the barbarous Murther of Mr. John Hayes, which two Men pleaded guilty to their Indictments, the Woman, the Wife of the murther'd Person, pleaded not guilty; but upon hearing Counsel, and examining Evidences touching that Affair, the Jury brought her in guilty of the Indictment laid against her.

Daily Journal, p. 1: Yesterday, at the Sessions in the Old Baily, came on the Tryal of Margaret Hayes, Thomas Billings, and Thomas Wood, for the Murder of Mr. John Hayes. The Men pleaded Guilty; and Margaret Hayes, putting herself upon Tryal, was, on full Proof, found Guilty of Petty Treason. When the Cloaths of her deceased Husband were produced, she fell into a Swoon at the Bar, and desired to be carried away, lest she should Miscarry. She appear'd in Mourning at her Tryal.

London Journal, p. 2: [After repeating the gist of the Daily Journal account of this day, the London Journal adds: "There were a great Number of Nobility and Gentry at the Tryal."]

Monday, April 25

Daily Post, p. 1: On Saturday last the Sessions ended at the Old Baily, when the fifteen Malefactors following received Sentence of Death, viz. . . . Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood for the barbarous Murther of Mr. John Hayes; as also Katharine Hayes, the Wife of the Deceased, for the same Fact, the latter being order'd to be burnt alive . . .

Thursday, April 28

Daily Journal, p. 1: Yesterday Catherine Hayes, being at the Chapel in Newgate with the other Malefactors under Sentence of Death, fainted away several times. She publickly declares, That not a Shilling would she give to save her Life; but a hat full of Guineas, if she had them, she would bestow to save her from being burnt.

Saturday, April 30

London Journal, pp. 1-2: [What follows is a front-page letter to the editor.] The World is very justly alarmed at the Barbarity of a Murder lately committed by a Wife on her Husband. I believe no Reflexions of mine, upon this Occasion, will be an equal Entertainment, or contain so good a Moral, as the following Narration, which I took from Holinshead; who is very diffuse and particular in his Account of it. The Reader will find in it many resembling Circumstances to the present execrable Affair; and I hope from both will draw convincing Proofs of the Interposition of that Providence, which never suffers the Blood of the Innocent either to lie concealed or unpunished, however darkly the Guilty go to work. [The author then presents a long account of the 1551 murder of Arden of Feversham by his wife's lover and some others, a murder committed at the behest of the wife so that she could marry her lover.]

Monday, May 2

Daily Journal, p. 1: We hear, that Thomas Wood, one of the Persons concern'd in the Murder of Mr. John Hayes, lies so dangerously ill in Newgate, that 'tis believ'd he cannot live to undergo the Execution of his Sentence.

Tuesday, May 3

Daily Journal, p. 1: Catharine Hayes still persists in her being innocent of the Murder of her Husband.

Wednesday, May 4

Parker's Penny Post, pp. 3-4: [What follows is an account appended to a listing of the trials heard in the Old Bailey.] The most remarkable of which Tryals, we will give a short Account of viz.
Katharine Hayes, for abetting and being privy to the Murder of her Husband John Hayes, and Thomas Billings, and Thomas Wood, for committing the same. The two last pleaded Guilty, having ingeniously [sic] declar'd the true Matter of Fact, how it was perpetrated, viz. That she had for a Month or six Weeks, been importuning them to Murder her Husband, which they refused two or three Times, but at last comply'd, which was thus effected: On Tuesday the 1st of March, all the four Persons being together, an unhappy Discourse began about drinking, Mr. Hayes boasting how much he could bear and not be Drunk; on which an Offer was made, that if Mr. Hayes drank six Bottles of Wine, then Billings would pay for it, and accordingly lays down half a Guinea: But if not, then Hayes should pay for it himself: They readily went to fetch in the Wine, and in the Way, they consulted to Murder him when he was drunk with the Wine; and by drinking it so very fast, their Expectations were quickly answer'd, and then he went and fell fast asleep on the Bed in the next Room, where he had not lay above 15 Minutes, but Billings goes to him with a Hatchet, and therewith gave him a Blow on the hinder part of the Head; upon which, Wood and Mrs. Hayes went into the same Room, where Wood, with his Knife, cut off the Head, and Mrs. Hayes, to prevent the Blood flying about the Room, held the Pail while it was doing: That the same Night (when late) they carried the Head and Pail, and threw it into the Thames, and the next Night, carried off the Body, wrap'd in a Blanket, and threw it into a Pond in Marybone fields, where it was found.

Thursday, May 5

Daily Post, p. 1: Two . . . Malefactors under Sentence of Death, died yesterday in the Condemn'd Hold within an Hour of one another, viz. Thomas Wood condemned for the Murther of Mr. John Hayes, and Jan Vanvick condemned for Felony and Burglary, who were immediately carried out into a Place call'd the Pump-House, for the Coroner's Inquest to sit upon the Bodies. We heard the former shew'd, to outward Appearance, great Penitence and Contrition all the while he was in the said Goal [sic], for the Part he acted in that barbarous Murther, saying it was the Effect of his being intoxicated in Liquor, begging Mercy of God for so heinous a Crime, owning the Justice of the Court in his Condemnation, and in his Sickness wishing he might only live till the Sentence of the Law should be executed upon him for a Terror to others.

Friday, May 6

Daily Post, p. 1: Yesterday Mr. Serjeant Raby, Deputy Recorder of this City, made his Report of the Malefactors under Sentence of Death in Newgate, to his Majesty in Council, when the Ten following were ordered for Execution, viz. . . . Thomas Billings and Katherine Hayes for Murther; the latter to be burnt . . .

Thomas Wood who received Sentence of Death for Murther, and Jan Vanvick for Felony and Burglary, having died in Newgate, as said in our former.

We hear the aforemention'd Malefactors will be executed on Monday next; but the Dead Warrant for fixing the Time is not yet come down to Newgate.

Saturday, May 7

Daily Journal, p. 1: The Coroners Inquest having sate on the Bodies of Thomas Wood, and John Vanwick, the Two Malefactors that dyed in Newgate last Wednesday; they were last Night buried in Christ-Church Parish.

Tuesday, May 10

Daily Post, p. 1: Yesterday the ten following Malefactors were executed at Tyburn, viz. . . . Thomas Billings and Katherine Hayes for Murther; the latter was burnt alive according to her Sentence, as in Cases of Petty Treason, and was carried to Tyburn on a Sledge or Hurdle, and being a notorious Offender had not the Indulgence of being strangled before the Fire came to her, which they say is often done at such Executions; she was fasten'd to the Stake by an Iron Collar round her Neck, and an Iron Chain round her Body, having a Halter also about her Neck (running through the Post) which the Executioner pull'd at when she began to shriek; she affirm'd upon her taking the Sacrament at Newgate, that Billings was her own Son got by Mr. Hayes, tis supposed before her Marriage with him; the said Billings said she was then a vile Woman in not discovering it to him before he had any criminal Conversation with her: If so, it appears to have been a dreadful Scene of Wickedness, hardly to be parallel'd in History; the Son kill'd his Father, and assisted in quartering him, and lay with his Mother when his Mangled Limbs were under the Bed. Billings was hang'd in Chains near Tyburn Road.

Daily Journal, pp. 1-2: Yesterday the following Malefactors were executed at Tyburn, viz. . . . John Cotterell, and James Dupre, two House-Breakers, together with Thomas Billings, one of the Murderers of Mr. Hayes, in a third Cart: Catharine Hayes being drawn thither on a Hurdle. . . .

Catharine Hayes, assoon [sic] as the others were executed, was, pursuant to a Special Order, made fast to a Stake, with a Chain round her Waste, her Feet on the Ground, and a Halter round her Neck, the End whereof went through a Hole made in the Stake for that Purpose: The Fuel being placed round her, and lighted with a Torch, she begg'd for the Sake of Jesus, to be strangled first; whereupon the Executioner drew tight the Halter, but the Flame coming to his Hand, in the Space of a Second, he let it go, when she gave three dreadful Shrieks; but the Flames taking her on all Sides, she was heard no more; and the Executioner throwing a Piece of Timber into the Fire, it broke her Skull, when her Brains came plentifully out; and in about an Hour more she was entirely reduced to Ashes.

Thomas Billings was the same Day hang'd in Chains within 100 Yards of the Gallows on the Road to Paddington.

Just before the Execution, a Scaffold that had been built near Tyburn, and had about 150 People upon it, fell down. A Snuff Box Maker in Castle-Street, and Gentleman then not known, were, as 'tis believed, mortally Wounded; and about 12 other Men and Women, Maimed and Wounded in a most cruel Manner: Some having their Legs, others their Arms, &c. broke. Some part of the Scaffold being left standing, the Mob gathered upon it again in Numbers; and in about Half an Hour more, that also fell down, and several were hurt. Soon after, another Scaffold broke down, with about 100 Persons upon it; but the People that were damaged by it, being immediately carried off on Mens Backs, and in Coaches, we must defer the Particulars of that Mischief, as well as what happen'd at the other Place, to another Opportunity.

Wednesday, May 11

Parker's Penny Post, pp. 2-3: Yesterday was publish'd, (as its said) a true Copy of the Paper which Mrs. Catharine Hayes deliver'd to a Friend on Sunday last, the 8th of May, being the day before her Execution, for the Murder of her Husband.

Seeing I am soon to appear before a just and merciful God, who desires not the death of a Sinner, but rather that he would turn from his Wickedness and live, and from whom (through the Merits of our Saviour) I hope for a Pardon for my past Transgression, I am perswaded to publish this Paper that the World may not be impos'd on, nor my Memory suffer thro' a false and feign'd Character of my Life and Conversation. I must first confess the barbarous and bloody Murder of my Husband John Hayes. The design was carry'd on by my Contrivance, and the Murder committed through my Perswasion. The first Cause of my Aversion and Hatred proceeded from his ill Usage to me, he beat me, he abus'd me, and what is worse, he almost starv'd me, for he was covetous to an extream degree, and lov'd his Money better than his Wife. The first Thing that prompted the unhappy Youths to consent to kill him, was his beating me one day in their Presence; I could wish with all my Heart that they had not seen it. I do not repine at my Destiny, I am only sorry that I drew the two unhappy Youths into a Snare that has cost them their Lives. As for my own part, I neither desire, nor can I expect, a Pardon in this World; Mankind is grown enrag'd at the bloody Deed to such a degree, that my Life would be one continual Scene of Hatred and Reproach.

Next I declare, Thomas Billings to be my Son, begotten before Wedlock. I was ambitious to live well, and therefore I did believe I should not have got an Husband that could make me happy, if I had publickly own'd him to be my Son: This was the Reason that I drop'd him in Worcestershire in a Basket, but yet I took Care to know how he was dispos'd of, and to enquire after the Woman that was appointed to be his Nurse. I soon got acquainted with her, and under the Pretence of Charity, I often visited her, and made her considerable Presents and several Times bought for him and deliver'd to his Nurse Things that I thought most necessary. Thus I conceal'd his Birth, and supply'd his Necessities. I had a design on Mr. Hayes's Son, which was the only Cause that made me hire my self as a Servant to his Father; my design succeeeded according to my Wish, and I manag'd the Intrigue so well, that in spite of his Father's Perswasions, I married him: Happy had it been for me had I still continued a reputed Maid. I humbly ask Pardon of all the World, and earnestly beg the Prayers of all good People, and particularly the Relations of Mr. Hayes, whom I have injured in his most untimely death. The World may judge of me as they please as to a Criminal Conversation with my Son, but if they believe it real, they wrong me. I was perswaded to persist in my Innocency in hopes to avoid a just Prosecution, and skreen me from the Laws of this Land; but when I found that the Dead Warrant was sign'd for my Execution, I thought it a Folly to trifle any longer, and therefore have made this Confession, which I have desir'd a Friend to publish; and as it is the last Request I can propose to make in this World, I hope he will not refuse me. I dye in perfect Charity with all People. I have no more to add, but that I remain, expecting the death pronounced by the Laws of this Land, with as much Constancy as my Nature will allow, and humbly beg leave to subscribe my self,

The unfortunate Catherine Hayes.

Friday, May 13

Parker's Penny Post, p. 3: The Account to be added of what has been already said of the Persons executed last Monday, is as follows:

Thomas Billings, aged between 19 and 20 Years, was very Penitent for the Murder of John Hayes, and declar'd, that he did not Care what he suffer'd in this World, so that his Soul might have ever-lasting Happiness in the World to come.

Catharine Hayes, aged about 36 Years, acknowledg'd Thomas Billings to be her Son, born before she knew John Hayes: she own'd her self guilty of being Privy to her Husband's Murder, her Affections towards him being much cool'd by means of his ill Treatment, in beating and abusing her; she seem'd willing to submit to death, and repented of the Murder, but was terrified at her being to be Burnt.

Saturday, May 14

Weekly Journal, p. 2: [This paper repeats the Daily Journal's account of the execution, then reports as follows on a statement made by Catherine Hayes: "She confess'd herself guilty in part of the Murder of her Husband Mr. John Hayes, for which she beg'd God and the World Pardon, and declar'd she repented herself heartily for being concern'd in it: She had a great Confidence of an happy State, because she said she was charitable and just in her Dealings. She own'd Billings to be her Son, and that his true Name was Thomas Hayes. She was somewhat confus'd in her Thoughts, and dyed in the Communion of the Church of England."]

London Journal, p. 2: On Monday the Ten following Malefactors were executed at Tyburn, viz. . . . Thomas Billings and Katherine Hayes, for Murder. The latter was drawn to Tyburn on a Hurdle, and there burnt alive, without the Indulgence of being first strangled, as has been customary in like Cases. But, to strike a proper Terror in the Spectators of so horrid a Crime, a special Order was sent to the Sheriff to the contrary. She was fasten'd to the Stake by an iron Collar round her Neck, and an iron Chain round her Body, having an Halter also about her Neck, (running through the Stake) which the Executioner pulled when she began to shriek: In about an Hour's Time she was reduced to Ashes. She affirmed in Newgate, that Billings was her own Son, got by Mr. Hayes's Father, when she lived with him as a Servant. So that Billings murder'd his own Brother, assisted in quartering him, and then lay with his own Mother, while his Brother's mangled Limbs were under the Bed. Billings was hanged in Chains near Tyburn in the Road to Padington.

B. The 1726 Pamphlets

The murder of John Hayes prompted the appearance of two different pamphlets presenting accounts of the case, pamphlets that were prepared even before the execution of the murderers in May 1726. On April 28, 1726, the Daily Post (2) announced that there was in the press a work entitled The Life of Mrs. Margaret Hays [sic]. This publication, according to the advertisement in the Post, would give

a full and true Account of all the Particulars of her Parentage, Birth, Education and Behaviour, from the Time of her Birth to the Hour of her Execution; with all the Circumstances of the barbarous and inhuman Murder she committed upon the Body of her Husband, with the Assistance of Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood . . .

The pamphlet was to be published by John Applebee, the usual publisher of accounts by the Ordinary of Newgate,2 and on April 30, 1726, the Daily Post (1) ran another advertisement in which the condemned Thomas Billings endorsed the Applebee version as the only one containing his "Confession or Account."

Since Thackeray, in the final chapter of Catherine, has his narrator say he is using the account of the Ordinary, this pamphlet may have been one of Thackeray's sources. Unfortunately, it has not survived.

The other 1726 pamphlet has survived. Published originally by Thomas Warner on April 28, 1726 (see the Daily Journal for that date: 2), i.e., before the execution, it was reissued in a second edition later in the year. This second edition is reprinted below.

A Narrative of the Barbarous
and unheard of Murder of Mr. John Hayes,
By Catherine his Wife, Thomas Billings,
and Thomas Wood, on the 1st of March at Night.

Wherein every minute Circumstance attending that Horrid Affair, and the wonderful Providence of God in the Discovery of the Actors therein, are faithfully and impartially related. Together with the Examinations and Confessions of the said Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood before several of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace. As also the Copy of a fictitious Letter that Catherine Hayes sent, as from her Husband, to his Mother in Worcestershire after his Death; and the Mother's Answer thereto: With some Account of the wicked Life and Conversation of the said Catherine, and likewise of those of Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood. To which are prefix'd, Their true and exact EFFIGIES, drawn from Life, and curiously engraved on Copper. Published with the Approbation of the Relations and Friends of the said Mr. John Hayes.

A Narrative of the Horrid Murder of Mr. John Hayes, &c.

In all the black Catalogue of Sins committed in the World, there is none that the Justice of God has so visibly witness'd against, and brought to just and deserved Punishment, as that barbarous and crying Sin of Murder; a Crime in defacing his holy Image, and assuming a Prerogative peculiar to him alone, who is the Sovereign Lord of the Life and Death of his Creatures: Therefore as it is not lawful for any Person to take away his own Life, or the Life of another, unless ourselves have forfeited them to the Justice of the Law, so has the Law of God, and the Laws of all civiliz'd (nay even heathen) Nations, made a Fence to secure them.

His present Majesty, our most gracious Sovereign, hath ever held this Crime in the utmost Abhorrence and Detestation, and since his Accession to the Throne of these Realms there have happen'd but two Instances where his Royal Clemency has been extended to Persons that by the Law had been found guilty of it, and that upon Account of some very favourable Circumstances, as appear'd in their Cases, more than thro' the Intercession of Courtiers, or others, who had any Share in his Royal Favour.

The mild gentle Laws of England, indulging the Passions of Men to a greater Degree than any other nation, may perhaps be a reason why so many Duels and Rencounters (in which the Subjects too often lose their Lives) pass with more Impunity than elsewhere. But when we consider how particularly benevolent they have been to the Women of this Island, the horrible Murder we are going to speak of, will appear the more black and shocking. For by the Laws of this Realm, when a Woman marries she gives herself over, and what she brings with her, to her Husband's Power; she parts with her very Surname, and assumes her Husband's, wherefore if she wrongs another Person with her Tongue, (a common Case) or commits a Trespass, her Husband answers for the Fault, and must make Satisfaction. If she takes Things upon Trust, unknown to her Husband, and so runs him in Debt, he must pay it, or lie in Prison, notwithstanding his having advertis'd the Publick, or cry'd her down in the Market. Nay, if a Wife brings forth a Child, begotten before Marriage by another Man, the Husband is bound to own it as his Child, and the Child shall be his Heir at Law, according to this Axiom, Pater est, quem Nuptia demonstrant.3 If she brings forth a Child after a long Absence of her Husband, and he liv'd all that while inter quatuor Maria,4 within the four Seas, he must father that Child. And if it be her first-born Son, and the Husband's Estate entail'd, or left without Will, that Child shall be Heir to it. A Wife that has no Jointure settled before Marriage, may challenge, after her Husband's Death, the third Part of his yearly Rents (if Land) during her Life. In short, as the Husband and Wife are accounted but One, so she cannot be produc'd as a Witness for or against him; nor can they be wholly separated by Law, but upon a Nullity of Marriage, for Adultery, Consanguinity, Impotency, or such like, in which Cases, this is call'd a Separation, à Vinculo Matrimonii,5 by which each Party is free to re-marry. However, if the Wife offends her Husband, he may moderately correct her; but should she kill her Husband, the Crime is by Law accounted Petty Treason, and she is to be drawn on a Hurdle6 to the Place of Execution, and there burnt alive for it.

Having said thus much of the great Privileges and Immunities of an English Wife, we shall proceed to shew the monstrous Perfidy and Cruelty of a Woman entituled to the Benefit of the above-mention'd Laws; a Tragedy too shocking to be heard by human Ears, almost incredible, and, (God be thank'd) the Circumstances consider'd, the like scarce ever heard of before in this Kingdom, which take [sic] as follows, viz.

On Wednesday the 2d of March last, the Town was alarm'd with an Account that the Head of a Man, which by its Freshness appear'd to have been newly cut off from a living Body, had been taken up by one Robinson, a Watchman, in the Dock before Mr. Macreth's Lime-Wharf, near the Horse-Ferry at Westminster, soon after Day-break, together with a Pail that was near the Head, in which was some Blood, and was therefore suppos'd to have been brought therein to the Water-side. It was brought to St. Margaret's Church-yard, and laid on a Tomb-stone, but being much besmear'd with Dirt and Blood, the Church-Wardens order'd the Face to be wash'd clean, and the Hair combed, and caus'd it then to be set upon a high Post, to the end that all Persons, having a clear View of it, might be the only Means of attaining a Discovery. Next Mr. Bird, the High Constable, issu'd his Precepts to the Petty Constables, that the Avenues leading to the Thames, as Petty-France, King-Street, White-Hall, &c. should be strictly guarded that Night, and all Coaches and Carts passing, search'd for the Body, as believing that would be likewise brought to the Thames, which Order was executed for two Nights together.

The Head, continuing expos'd for three Days successively, drew a vast Concourse of People to St. Margaret's Church-Yard to behold it, all expressing their Horror at so dreadful and unusual a Spectacle. Various were the Conjectures and Opinions of People about it, some saying it was a Soldier, others, a Country Pedlar; the Women mostly affirming they had seen the Face, but could not call it to Mind. At length a Welsh or Irish Porter at a Tavern in Holbourn, that was got drunk and was missing, was given out to be the Person, and the Face bearing a strong Resemblance of his Physiognomy, 'tis said the Man himself, being doubtful, came to Westminster, to be convinc'd by occular Demonstration.

The prudent Measures taken by the Church-Wardens having not hitherto met with the desir'd Success, their Discretion went farther, by ordering the Head to be deliver'd to Mr. Westbrooke, their Parish Surgeon, to be by him put into Spirits, and still preserv'd for View, which was done accordingly; and then a Woman or two came and pretended to give some Account of it, which did not prove satisfactory. The Town continu'd under great Surprize at the Barbarity of the Action, and moreover that no Light could be got on the Matter, which was become the Subject of all Conversation. The Man's Head, being a Phrase in every Body's Mouth, and indeed nothing more could be said about it, as the Case then stood.

But on Wednesday the 23d of March following it pleas'd a wiser Head than all the rest to bring to a signal Disgrace and Punishment the Authors of this execrable Fact, in the following Manner: viz. Mr. Henry Longmore that keeps the Green-Dragon Ale-House in King-Street, near Golden-Square, being nearly related to one Mr. John Hayes, from Ombersly in Worcestershire, who then lodg'd together with his Wife on a second Floor, at the House of Mr. Weingard, a Smith, in Tyburn Road, at a very short Distance from Mr. Longmore's House; Mr. Joseph Abshy [sic], Butler to Sir Thomas Lumley Sanderson, a Townsman, and a very intimate Friend of Mr. Hayes, taking Notice that Mr. Hayes had not been seen by any body for many Days before, and that there were many strange Reports, and a Suspicion of his being murder'd, were under a very great Concern to obtain Satisfaction about him. Having been many times with his Wife to ask what was become of him, sometimes she said he was gone to take a Walk in the Fields; at others, gone into Hertfordshire; thus varying in her Accounts of him, and having told also very different Stories to other People about him, they began to expostulate very seriously with her about this unaccountable Absence of her Husband; she then pretended to tell the Truth of the Matter, saying he had kill'd a Man, by giving him an unhappy Blow in a Quarrel, and was thereupon fled to Portugal. This Story she told to Mr. Ashby, who ask'd her, who the Man was that he had kill'd, and whether or not that was his Head that had been expos'd at Westminster? She answer'd it was not, for that the Man was buried, &c. and call'd one Mary Springate to say she knew it to be true.

Mr. Longmore and Mr. Ashby were now more surpriz'd than ever, this Tale serving rather to encrease than abate their Suspicion, as believing if any such Thing had happen'd, which was next to being impossible from Mr. Hayes's peaceable Disposition, they might have been acquainted with it, and consulted about his Security as well as Mary Springate. They therefore resolv'd to go to Mr. Westbrooke's, the Surgeon, to take a View of the Head. When they came to Mr. Westbrooke's, he told them a Woman from Kingsland had already been there and own'd it. Impossible is it to describe the Consternation Mr. Longmore and Mr. Ashby were struck with when they beheld it, for now was it demonstrable what a cruel and inhuman Murder had been committed on this unfortunate Person.

Hereupon they immediately apply'd to Oliver Lambert, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, who, upon Oath being made of these Circumstances, issu'd his Warrant for the apprehending of Catherine Hayes, she being then remov'd from her Lodgings at Mr. Weingard's, and lodg'd a little farther in Tyburn Road, at one Mr. Jones's, a Distiller, where Mary Springate was also remov'd with her. It was agreed to execute the Warrant about nine a Clock that Night, being the 23d of March, Justice Lambert going himself along with the Constable and his Assistants, and when they came up Stairs, were refus'd Admittance into Mrs. Hayes's Chamber; but they threatening to break in upon her, she came out to them, and opening the Door, they found one Thomas Billings, a Taylor, sitting upon the Bed-side, with his Shoes and Stockings off, whom they seiz'd also; as likewise Mary Springate, who lodg'd over Head in the Garret. Being carry'd to Justice Lambert's House, and there by him examin'd, they all strenuously persisted in their Innocence; Catherine Hayes was committed to Tothill-Fields-Bridewell, Springate to the Gate-house, and Billings to New-Prison, for farther Examination.

But remark the wonderful Providence of God, in bringing still to a a clearer Light this hidden Work of Darkness! During the Time they were under Examination, Mr. Crossby, a Constable, came with News to Justice Lambert's, that a few Hours before, Mr. Huddle, a Gardiner at Marybone, had, as he was walking with his Man in the Fields, discover'd the Arms, Legs, and Trunk of a Man's Body, wrapp'd up in two Pieces of Blanket, lying in a Pond near the Farthing-Pye-house, and cover'd over with Bricks and Rubbish. The Head was hereupon sent for to Marybone, where, in the View of several Surgeons and others, it was found to correspond exactly with the Body, and the Limbs to quadrate 7 also. But it must be here observ'd, that before the Head was brought from Westminster, Mrs. Hayes was carry'd from Bridewell to Mr. Westbrooke's to see it, the Keeper of Bridewell, Mr. Longmore, and Mr. Ashby being present, she said it was the Head of her dear Husband, and desir'd a Lock of his Hair; but was told she had had too much of his Blood already. She pretended to faint, and the same Afternoon she was remov'd to Newgate, by Justice Lambert's Warrant.

The Sunday following, one Tho. Wood, a Person suspected of being concern'd in the Murder, came on Horseback to Mr. Weingard's House, and asking for Mrs. Hayes, was told she was remov'd into King-Street, to Mr. Longmore's, and several People following him thither, Mr. Longmore immediately pull'd him off his Horse, Wood making an Offer to strike him with a Stick; he was carry'd before Justice Lambert, and committed to Tothill-Fields-Bridewell. In the Evening three of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace went thither to examine him, to whom he made an ingenious [sic] Confession of the horrid Affair.

Thomas Billings, having also made an ample Confession, they were both remov'd the next Day to Newgate.

The Examination and Confession of Thomas Wood, taken before John Mohun, Oliver Lambert, and Thomas Salt, Esqs; three of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, the 27th Day of March, 1726.

Who saith, That on Tuesday, the 1st Day of March, he had been drinking in several Places, and came about twelve a Clock at Noon to Mr. Hayes's Lodgings, and Mr. Hayes told him he was merry, that he could drink a great deal of Liquor and not be fuddled, and said, I and another drank half a Guinea a piece in Wine, without being fuddled; that Thomas Billings, then in Company, said that if Mr. Hayes would drink half a Guinea in Wine, and not be fuddled, he would pay for it; that Hayes agreed, each put down half a Guinea, that Catherine Hayes, Thomas Billings, and this Examinant went out about four a Clock in the Afternoon, to Bond-Street, and brought in with them, to Mr. Hayes's Lodgings, about six or seven Bottles of Mountain Wine, and on their Return home, Mr. Hayes was sitting by the Fire-side, eating Bread and Cheese, and then this Examinant went to the Angel and Crown, to fetch a Pot of Two-penny to drink while Mr. Hayes drank the Wine; that he staid about half an Hour, and when he return'd, Mr. Hayes had drank half the Wine; that Mr. Hayes began to be very merry, and danc'd about the Room, and said he thought he should not have Wine enough to make him fuddled, on which Thomas Billings went out by himself, and fetch'd another Bottle of Wine, and when he had drank that, he began to reel about the Room, and went and laid down on the Bed in the Back-Room; then Thomas Billings followed him into the said Room, and there with a Hatchet struck him on the Back-Part of the Head; which Blow this Examinant heard given, and went into the Room, and found Mr. Hayes dead; that Mrs. Hayes immediately follow'd into the said Room, and said we must take off his Head, and make it away, or it will betray us; that Catherine Hayes, Thomas Billings, and this Examinant, with this Examinant's Pocket-Knife, cut off Mr. Hayes's Head about eight a Clock at Night, and then put it into a Pail, without a Bale;8 that Thomas Billings and this Examinant carry'd the Pail with the Head in it to the Water-side; when they came there Thomas Billings set down the Pail; and this Examinant took it up, and threw it into the Thames, and return'd to Mrs. Hayes's Lodgings, and went to Bed in the Fore-Room, in which Room Mrs. Hayes sate up all Night; and this Examinant sayeth, that the next Morning, as soon as it was light, Catherine Hayes, Thomas Billings, and this Examinant began to consult what they must do with the Body; that Catherine Hayes propos'd to cut it in Pieces, which she, Thomas Billings and this Examinant, did, and put it into the Box, where it remain'd till Night, and then all agreed to carry it out in Parcels; that Thomas Billings and this Examinant took the Carcass in a Blanket, and carry'd it by Turns to a Sort of a Pond, or a Ditch, in Marybone Fields, and threw it in with the Blanket; that about eleven a Clock the same Night, Thomas Billings and this Examinant took the Limbs in a Piece of a Blanket, and by Turns carry'd them to the same Place, and threw them into the same Pond, and went home about twelve a Clock the same Night, and knock'd at the Door, and was let in by Mary Springate, and went to Bed in the Fore-Room; that Catherine Hayes was in the same Room, and sometimes went and lay down on the Bed: This Examinant farther saith, That on Thursday, being the 3d Day of March, he went to Greenford, near Harrow, in Middlesex, and carry'd with him a white Coat and a Pair of Leathern Breeches, which were Mr. John Hayes's, and are now at Greenford aforesaid. This Examinant saith, That on Saturday the 5th Day of March he went to Mrs. Hayes's Lodgings for some Linnen of his own, Mrs. Hayes then gave him a Pair of Shoes, a Wastecoat, a Hat, and a Pair of Stockings, which this Examinant knew to be her late Husband's, and gave him two Shillings in Money; that Catherine Hayes told him the Head was found at Westminster, but was not own'd. And this Examinant farther saith, That the said Catherine Hayes gave him three Shillings and Six Pence, and promis'd to supply him with more Money, when ever he wanted; and further saith, That Catherine Hayes had many times before, and on the 1st Day of this Instant, propos'd to Thomas Billings and this Examinant the Murder of her said Husband, and offer'd to give this Examinant Money to buy Wine to make her Husband drunk, that they might murder him; and further saith, That Mary Springate is no ways concern'd in the said Murder, or the carrying away the Body.

Tho. Wood.

The Examination and Confession of Tho. Billings, before two of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, on Tuesday, March 29, 1726.

Who saith, That Catherine Hayes, Tho. Wood, and this Examinant, about three Weeks before the Murder of Mr. John Hayes, had consulted to murder the said Hayes, but not in what Manner to put it in Execution; that on the 1st of this Instant March, he being in Mr. Hayes's Room with Catherine Hayes and Tho. Wood, discoursing about drinking, Mr. Hayes told him he could drink a great deal of Wine and not be drunk, to the Value of half a Guinea, and this Examinant, thereupon, put down half a Guinea to Mr. Hayes's half Guinea, that this Examinant, with Catherine Hayes and Tho. Wood, went for about six Bottles of Mountain Wine, that going for the Wine, they three consulted to murder the said John Hayes, it being a proper Time, after he had drank the Wine, being about four a Clock in the Afternoon; that on their Return they found Mr. John Hayes eating Bread and Cheese; that Mr. Hayes began to drink the Wine; that Catherine Hayes, Tho. Wood, and this Examinant did not drink above one Glass each of the said Wine; that Mr. Hayes began to be very merry, and danc'd about the Room; that this Examinant fetch'd another Bottle of Wine, which they all drank amongst them; that Mr. Hayes began to reel about the Room, and went and lay down on the Bed in the Back-Room; that this Examinant went into the said Back-Room about a Quarter of an Hour after him, and there with a Hatchet struck him on the Back-Part of the Head; that Tho. Wood took up the Hatchet, which this Examinant had just laid down, and therewith gave Mr. Hayes a Blow or two; that Catherine Hayes immediately follow'd into the said Back-Room, where Tho. Wood cut off the Head of the said Mr. Hayes with his Knife; that the said Catherine Hayes and this Examinant were close by the Bed when the said Head was cut off; that Catherine Hayes held the Pail which Tho. Wood put the Head in, which Pail was without a Bale; that this Examinant, with Tho. Wood, took up the Pail with the Head in it, which this Examinant carry'd to the Mill-Bank, and Tho. Wood took up the Pail and threw it into the Thames, with the Head in it, and so return'd to Mrs. Hayes's Lodgings, and went to Bed in the Fore-Room, in which Room Mrs. Hayes continu'd all Night: And this Examinant saith, That on Wednesday Morning the 2d Instant, this Examinant, Tho. Wood, and Catherine Hayes began to consult how to dispose of the Body of Mr. John Hayes; that the said Catherine Hayes and Tho. Wood propos'd to put it into a Box, where it remain'd until Night; that this Examinant went out about Noon to work; that Tho. Wood was to look out for a Place to throw the Body in against this Examinant's Return home; that about nine a Clock at Night, Catherine Hayes gave Tho. Wood a Blanket to carry off the Body of her deceas'd Husband, and then all agreed to carry it off in two Parcels; that about the same Hour Tho. Wood and this Examinant carry'd away the Body by Turns to a Sort of a Pond, or Ditch, in Marybone Fields, and threw it in with the Blanket, and then return'd to Mrs. Hayes's Lodgings, and then took up the Limbs in a Piece of a Blanket, and carry'd them by Turns to the same Place, and threw them into the same Pond, and at their Return were let in by Mary Springate, and went to Bed in the Fore Room. And this Examinant farther saith, That he remembers that the said Catherine Hayes shew'd to one or two Men a Bond which was owing to her said Husband, but knows not the Sum.

Tho. Billings.

Copies of these Confessions were presented to His Majesty, who justly resenting this cruel Tragedy acted upon one of his Subjects, was graciously pleas'd to give Orders for the Murtherers to be prosecuted by Mr. Attorney General, and at His Majesty's Expence.

Mr. Higgs, Coroner of the County of Middlesex, summoned an Inquest to enquire for His Majesty, &c. when Mr. Longmore depos'd as follows:

The Information of Henry Longmore, of the Parish of St. James's, Westminster, Victualler, taken and acknowledg'd upon Oath this 26th Day of March, 1726, before Charles Higgs, Esq; Coroner.

This Informant saith, That on Monday Morning last Mr. Joseph Ashby told this Informant that he heard Mr. Hayes had kill'd a man; upon which, the same Evening, this Informant went to Mrs. Hayes's Lodgings, where he found her, Thomas Billings, and a Lad about 16 Years old, and asking how his Cousin John did, Mrs. Hayes said, I suppose you have heard of his Misfortune, upon which the Lad laught very much; and whenever this Informant ask'd her any Questions about Mr. Hayes, the Lad burst out a laughing to that Degree, that this Informant had a Mind to have spoke to him, but was afraid Mrs. Hayes should suspect his Design; which Lad, this Informant hath heard was one William Bennet, an Apprentice to an Organ-Maker; the Lad went away, and then Billings went for Candles; when he was gone, Mrs. Hayes told this Informant, that her Husband happen'd to strike an unlucky Blow, and that the Man was dead and buried, and that no Body knew of it but a Boy, and that he went to the Wife of the Deceas'd and made it up, by giving her a Note for 15l. a Year. And this Informant farther saith, that she then declar'd that there had been two Men to inquire for her Husband, which she suppos'd came from the Widow: That when Thomas Billings return'd, this Informant going away, she follow'd this Informant to the Window upon the Stairs, and stopping him she said, he went away for the Man that he had kill'd, and was gone into Hertfordshire: And asking when he went away, she said, she had been in her present Lodgings about a Week, and that he went away about a Day or two before: Upon this, Mary Springate went into Mrs. Hayes's Room, and then Mrs. Hayes said, this Woman knows all the Secrets, and call'd her upon the Stairs; upon which Springate said, Ah, poor unfortunate Mr. Hayes! and then she went up again. That Mrs. Hayes then ask'd what she should do to get her Rent out of the Country, and ask'd this Informant when he would come again; which she desir'd might be in a Day or two. The next Day this Informant went to Mr. Weingard's, where he heard Mrs. Hayes had been gone from thence about a Fortnight; and this Informant going to her again that Night, he ask'd her if she had heard from her Husband? She said, No, he did not use to write to her. And this Informant farther saith, That on Wednesday last he went with Mr. Ashby for a Warrant, and seiz'd the said Mrs. Hayes, who was in Bed, and the said Thomas Billings in the same Room with his Shoes and Stockings off; and she being carried before Justice Lambert, and the said Justice telling her she was taken up on Suspicion that the Head of a Man that was found was her Husband's; and this Informant telling her he believed it was his Head, she said it could not be so, for that her Husband went into the Country for killing a Man. And being ask'd where he kill'd the Man, she said she could not tell, nor where the Man liv'd that was kill'd: She being then ask'd what Day he went away, and what Money he took, she said 25 Guineas, and 8 new Shillings; and 18 Six-pences; and that she sewed the Guineas in his Cloaths; and that he took with him four Pocket-Pistols. And this Informant farther saith, that he, this Informant, the next Day went with her to see the Head, and she said, It is my dear Husband's Head; that is my dear Husband's Hair.

Henry Longmore.
Charles Higgs, Coroner.

The farther Information of the said Henry Longmore,taken and acknowledg'd upon Oath this 14th Day of April, 1726, before Charles Higgs, Esq; Coroner.

This Informant farther saith, That he was present when C. Hayes was ask'd by the Justice what Liquor they drank the Night her Husband went away; she said that Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood were with him, and they drank about 2 or 3 Bottles; but neither of them named the Day of his going away.

And this Informant farther saith, That he was present on the 25th Day of March last past, at the taking up a Board in the Room of the said John Hayes's Lodgings, and found Blood and Sand under the said Board; and also saw several Drops of Blood sprinkled against the Wall of the Fore-Room of the said John Hayes's Lodgings, and also upon the Ceiling of the said Fore-Room, and on the Wall, some Part of which the Blood seems to have been lately scrap'd. And this Informant farther saith, that he was present when Thomas Billings confess'd before the Justices that himself, Thomas Wood, and Catherine Hayes consulted to kill John Hayes above three Weeks before they did kill him; and that on the 1st Day of March last past, in the Afternoon, they all three went to fetch six Bottles of Mountain Wine; and that as they were going along they all three agreed, that when he was drunk, it would be the properest Time to kill him; and that when he was drunk he went to lie upon the Bed in the Back-Room, and he followed him, the said John Hayes; and gave him his Death's Blow on the Head with an Hatchet, and that Wood gave him a Blow or two more on the Head with the same Hatchet; and Mrs. Hayes immediately coming into that Room, Wood cut off the Head, he, the said Thomas Billings, and Mrs. Hayes, standing by, holding the Pail.

Henry Longmore.
Charles Higgs,

Robert Wilkins, depos'd, That after her Examination before Justice Lambert, he went to her in Newgate, and asked her if she was concerned in the Murder of her Husband, or not? And then she replied, No; for that she was not with them, but was asleep in the next Room, and knew nothing of the Matter that was laid to her Charge; but that she afterwards own'd to him, that she was not sorry for committing the Murder, but was troubled she had brought Wood and Billings into a Premunire.9

Mr. Jones, her Landlord, going to see her, she desired him to go to Billings in New-Prison, and advise him to make Preparations for his Soul, for they should both die for it, and spoke to one Joseph Mercer, a Taylor, to the same Purpose, saying, I wou'd have you go to Thomas Billings, for you are a Friend of his as well as mine, and tell him, that it is in vain to deny the Murder, for he is as deeply concerned in the Action as I, and for which we must both die.

Her Confession of the Murder was confirm'd by several others, tho' she always carefully avoided owning it when examined by any Magistrate.

Mr. Blakesly, a Drawer at the Braund's-Head Tavern in Bond-Street, confirmed their fetching the Wine on the First of March, and their sending the Bottles home that Night, because, as they said, the Porter should not be troubled to fetch them the next Day from Mr. Hayes's Lodgings.

Mary Springate, a Lodger in the House, when she came home at Night, heard some Noise in Mr. Hayes's Room, but finding they were drinking, and she being tir'd, went up to her Garret, thinking to take up her Husband's Supper, and after having eat the same, to go to Bed, she accordingly did, but that about Eleven o'Clock, she hearing somebody go down Stairs, called to Mrs. Hayes, and asked her who it was; to which she answered, it was her Husband, who was going into the Country, and seemed to be concerned thereat, saying, the Roads were very dangerous, and that she was sorry he was oblig'd to go out at that Time of Night: Springate then bid her not fear, for that by God's Grace he would return again safe, and then went again to Bed. About four or five the next Morning, she heard somebody go down Stairs again, when she got out of Bed in her Shift, and calling to Mrs. Hayes, ask'd her who it was; Mrs. Hayes replied, it was her Brother, who had brought a Bed there, when Springate's Curiosity exciting her to go down Stairs; Mrs. Hayes came up into the Garret, saying she had a Mind to smoak a Pipe of Tobacco with Mr. Springate, which stopt her having a Suspicion that they were either going to quit their Lodgings, or that something extraordinary was the Matter; and therefore ask'd Mrs. Hayes whether they had any such Design or not, who answered there was no such Thing in her Thoughts; on which Springate then ask'd no farther Questions at that Time, till a few Days after she saw Thomas Wood carry out a Bundle from Mr. Hayes's Room, wrapp'd up in a white Cloath, and asking Mrs. Hayes what it was, she said, it was a Suit of Cloaths Wood had borrowed of a Friend, and was going to carry them home.

Leonard Myring, a Barber, being sent for by Mrs. Hayes, she said to him, Mr. Myring, I know you to be a very good Writer, and my Husband being gone away, and I believe will not return, and I having a small coming in of Ten Pounds a Year, which I know not how to get without forging a Letter in my Husband's Name, which I desire you to do for me; which he refused, as not knowing the Consequence of such a Proceeding; but soon after she procur'd another to write the following Letter to her Husband's Mother in the Country, viz.

Dear Mother

I have not been easy of late, on Account of Ten Pounds John Davis owes me. I understand there is but an indifferent Footing since he and Uncle Jones juggle together so much; and as I am inform'd has under Colour divested himself of his Estates for some Time, for Payment of some Money to Mr. Jones; therefore I insist on his Payment of the Money forthwith to you, and I will send the Bond when you send me Word you have the Money; otherwise, without Favour or Affection, I will employ an Attorney to get it, for I will be paid forthwith, and so shew him this Letter, and let me hear speedily what will be done in the Affair. I got a Friend, more skilled than myself in such Things, to write this Letter for me, and am, with due Respect,

Your dutiful Son,

March 14, 1725-6.John Hayes.   

P.S. My Wife gives her Duty to you, and pray direct for us at the Brandy-Shop, next Door to the Golden-Pot, over-against Little Queen-street, in Tyburn-Road, for we have moved our Lodgings.

Directed for the Widow Hayes, at her House in the Parish of Ombersley, to be left at the Pack-Horse in Ombersly [sic], Worcestershire.

To which Letter there came the following Answer, viz

Loving Son,

John Davis desires you to send down the Bond to me, and the Money is ready; so no more at present, but my Love to you. Your Brothers and Sisters gives [sic] their Love to you. All from your loving Mother,

Ombersly, March 22, 1725-6.Sarah Hayes.   

The mangled Corpse, after having been many Days expos'd to some Thousands of Spectators, was decently interr'd at Marybone, by Mr. Longmore. Bennet, the King's Organ-maker's Apprentice being at the Funeral, acquainted the Company, that upon his going on the second of March to see the Head at Westminster, he then judg'd it to be Mr. Hayes's, being intimately acquainted with him, and thereupon came immediately to Mrs. Hayes's, to give her Notice of it, when she reprov'd him very sharply, telling him, he ought to be cautious in raising such a false Report for that it was dangerous, and might bring him into Trouble; wherefore the Lad, who had no other Reason to suspect Mr. Hayes's being murder'd said no more about it.

On Thursday the 14th of April, the Coroner's Inquest, after several Meetings, and Examination of Witnesses, brought in their Verdict, Willful Murder, against Catherine Hayes, Thomas Wood, and Thomas Billings; and on Friday the twenty second of the same Month, their Trials came on before the Lord Chief Justice Raymond, and Mr. Baron Price, at the Old-Baily, the Court having never been known to be so crowded before, several Persons of the First Quality being on the Bench with the Judges; and a Guinea a-piece was offer'd by several for Admittance. Wood and Billings pleaded Guilty to their Indictment; and Hayes putting herself upon Trial, about seven Witnesses were called for the King, who, in Substance, deposed what has been before related. But she denied every Particular of the Fact, and with abundance of Assurance, endeavour'd to persuade the Court of her Innocence, and protested she was no ways concerned in, or assisting in the Murder; but being ask'd why, if she was not consenting to the Murder, she did not in Time discover the same, and give Notice to some Magistrate for the apprehending the Murderers, she said she durst not, for that they had threaten'd to kill her if she said any thing of it. No Person whatever appearing in her behalf the Lord Chief Justice Raymond summ'd up the Evidence for the King and in his Charge to the Jury intimated, that tho' it was not positively proved by any of the Evidences for the King that she was actually concern'd in the Murder, yet there were very strong circumstantial Proofs of her assisting and consenting to the same, and that the other two Prisoners had confess'd the same, and own'd that she was a Contriver thereof; upon which the Jury found her guilty of Petty Treason. At her receiving Sentence to be drawn on a Hurdle to the Place of Execution, and there burnt alive she was observ'd to be greatly terrify'd. And Wood and Billings entreated the Court that they might not be hang'd in Chains, since they had been so ingenious [sic] in their Confession, and desir'd no other Favour to be shewn them. At her being carry'd to and from the Sessions-House, a more than ordinary Number of Persons were set to protect her from the Insults of the Populace, who were desperately exasperated against her, and would, in all Appearance, have done her some Mischief, could they have got at her.


CATHERINE HAYES, aged about 38 Years, born near Birmingham in Warwickshire; at the Age of 16 she wander'd from her Parents and came to Ombersly near the City of Worcester, and was there entertain'd, as a Servant, in the House of Mr. Hayes, a wealthy Farmer; and being a sprightly Wench, his eldest Son John, in an Instant, became enamour'd with her, and they had secretly agreed to marry, which coming to his Father's Knowledge, he us'd all possible Endeavours to prevent it, which, however, prov'd of no Effect; for she threatning to cut her Throat if his Son did not marry her, and the young Man being fully bent on it, and breaking several Knives lest she should be as good as her Word, old Mr. Hayes at last consented. On the Day of their Marriage an odd Accident happen'd to the Bride; for as they were passing over Heaver's Bridge, from the Church, the Waters being out, she fell in, and was, with much Difficulty, saved from being drowned by her Husband, who waded in after her, the Father saying to his Son, John, John, e'en let her go.

The very first Night of their Marriage the Bridegroom was taken out of his Bed by a File of Musquetteers, being impressed by Order of some Officers that were recruiting in the Neighbourhood, and whom, as it soon after appear'd, had been better acquainted with Mrs. Hayes than her Husband, and had brought her away from her Parents in Warwickshire; but his Father soon procured his Liberty again. The same Officers going soon after for Spain, she prevail'd with her Husband to enlist himself into their Regiment; and he being sent to Barcelona, she accompanied him thither; where he remained till such time as his Father procured his Discharge, when he returned home with his Wife into Worcestershire, the old Man having expended about 60l. on that Occasion.

Old Mr. Hayes dying, and his Widow shewing but little Regard to her Daughter-in-law, as she had very little Reason to do otherwise, on Account of her ill Behaviour in the Family, she, with her Husband, came about seven Years since to London, and bringing with them about 150l. they liv'd in Plumbtree-street in St. Giles's, where they rented an House, letting the chief Part of it out in Lodgings; and after that themselves lodg'd alternatively at several Houses in Tyburn Road, lending small Sums of Money to poor People, on Pledges and Notes, at Interest, for their Livelihood, Mrs. Hayes having, as herself said oftentimes, made 18d. in a Week of one Guinea by those Methods. Mr. Hayes, being a close penurious Man, lost no Opportunity of getting Money, sometimes by sending his Wife out a chairing10 for 12d. a Day, while himself made his own Cloaths, Shoes, &c. at home, at which he had an expert Hand, tho' he was not brought up to any such Business; and was observ'd to be always so careful of his Money, that the Key of the Drawers, where he usually kept it, was never known to have been out of his own Custody; the Wife being never permitted to have it in hers; so that after Mr. Hayes's Death, when one of his Acquaintances came to enquire for him, and seeing that Key in her possession, he concluded Mr. Hayes was not living, which Circumstance contributed very much to the Discovery of the Murder.

Mrs. Longmore going to make her a Visit, on Thursday the 4th of March, and enquiring how Mr. Hayes did, she reply'd he was very well, and gone out to take a Walk; and asking Mrs. Longmore what News there was, she answer'd that all the People talk'd of was about the Man's Head found at Westminster. To which Mrs. Hayes said again, Lord keep us, how wicked the Age is grown, for, adds she, there's another Murder done here in our Fields, where they have found the Body of a Woman cut in Pieces. Mrs. Longmore said that could not be true, because she, living so near, had not heard any thing of it. This Discourse being above a Fortnight before Mr. Hayes's Body was found.

The Revd. Mr. Wittingham, Minister of Marybone, came to her in Newgate, pray'd by her, and press'd her to a Confession of her Crime, and a hearty Sorrow and Repentance to obtain a Remission of that and many other of her evil Actions, she having formerly advis'd her Husband to murder his Father and Mother in the Country, to get Possession of their Substance, and by her artful and insinuating Way once spirited him up to break almost all the Goods in their House, she being always violently prejudic'd to them. When thus admonish'd, she would still persist in her Innocence, saying, how could any one think it should enter into her Heart to murder a Man that had lain by her Side so many Years, and appeal'd to God for the Truth of her Assertions. Altho' she encourag'd Wood to consent to the Murder of her Husband, by affirming he had kill'd a Man, and two Children she had by him in the Country, and that she had then ten more Children living, was a notorious Falshood, she having never had a Child by Mr. Hayes in her Life. But it being shrewdly suspected, from many Circumstances, that Billings was her Son, and that Question being put to her, she pray'd for him, saying his Hair was the Colour of her own, and that he much resembled her, and that himself did not know how nearly he was related to her; and added, that before her Foot went off the Cart she doubted it would appear to the World; and would be often sending over to the Condemned Hold to enquire of his Health, &c.

A certain great Dutchess came to see her in the Prison, where reproaching her for Cruelty, she said she had never done an ill Thing in the Course of her Life, so that her Conscience did no ways accuse her; and as for the Fact she was charg'd with, there was a righteous God that knew she was not culpable in that Respect, and that tho' the Law might hurt her Carcass for it, yet it could not hurt her innocent and immortal Soul. In this Manner was she wont to talk to almost every Body that was admitted to see her. Being ask'd if she was ever in any Trouble before, she answer'd never but once, when for some Quarrel with her Neighbours she was before Colonel Ellis, a Justice of the Peace in Denmark-Street.

One of her Sisters came to Town from Warwickshire, on hearing what a Misfortune she was fallen under, and furnish'd her with Necessaries, of which she was became destitute, the Officers of Marybone Parish having seiz'd on her Goods and other Effects, at her Lodgings in Tyburn Road, in order to their being deliver'd to the Relations of her late Husband; and for which Purpose Mr. Benjamin Hayes, one of his Brothers, was come to London.

A few Days before the Sessions, she put herself into Mourning, tho' she had neglected that Ceremony before, and having advis'd with a Sollicitor, was resolv'd to plead Not Guilty, and stand her Trial, being taught to believe that Wood's and Billings's Confessions could no ways affect her, and that there was nothing but circumstantial Proofs of her being concern'd in the Fact, that she should escape, and grew pretty confident of it. But when the Cloaths of her Husband, which she had given to Wood, were produc'd before the Court, whether thro' Remorse, or that she judg'd that an evincing Proof of her Guilt, she fainted in the Bar, the Sweat running down her Face, and when she recover'd, begg'd that she might be taken away, lest she should miscarry; which made it be concluded she design'd to plead her Belly, before Judgment, wherefore a Jury of Matrons were summon'd, in case she thought fit to give the Court that Trouble, but on better Consideration she declined it.

She sent Word to Wood, that it was hard he would not suffer her to be hang'd along with him and Billings, but by discovering all the Particulars and Circumstances of the Murder, he had ruin'd them all, and subjected her to the Pains and Penalties of Petty Treason, whereby she must be burn'd.


THO. BILLINGS, about twenty three Years of Age, the Place of his Nativity not being known, we cannot satisfy the Curiosity of such as require it; but thus much is certain, that in his more innocent and infant State he was found in a Basket, at a Place call'd Holt Heath, near Ombersly, in Worcestershire, and being by the Parish put to be nurs'd by People whose Names were Billings, he assum'd that Name, and when capable, was put Apprentice to one Mr. Weatherland, a Taylor in the Neighbourhood, with whom he behaved as a diligent and dutiful Servant. His Time being expired, he came for London, and wrought as a Journeyman to the Salesmen in Monmouth-Street, lying in the Bed with Mr. Hayes and his Wife, at the Husband's Back, paying Mr. Hayes three half Pence a Night for his Lodging. The Day after Mr. Hayes's Murder, being at Work at Mr. Grainger's, at the Dog and Dial in Monmouth-Street, where Mr. Hayes and his Wife were well acquainted, Mr. Grainger and his Journeymen being mostly Worcestershire People, one Mr. Samuel Patrick, belonging to the King's Printing-Office, having came from waiting at the House of Lords, and seen the Head in St. Margaret's Church-Yard, told his Sister, Mrs. Grainger, and the rest, that he thought it look'd the most like their Countryman Mr. Hayes's Head of any thing he had seen in his Life, Billings, being then at Work on the Shop-board, and hearing what he said. No, replies several of the Workmen, that cannot be, for here is one (meaning Billings) that lodges with him, and had it been so we should have heard of it, to which Billings made answer, Mr. Hayes is well, for I left him at home in Bed this Morning.

Before this Piece of Barbarism he had the Character of as sober and honest a Fellow as could breathe from every Body that knew him, an Oath nor no obscene Expression scarce ever being heard from him, therefore it was the more surprizing that he could in so short a Time be wrought up to so great a Pitch of Villany; for when it was first reported that he was taken up, and sent to New-Prison on Suspicion of cutting a Man's Head off, his Acquaintance treated it as the most ridiculous Story they had ever heard of. When he with Wood and Mrs. Hayes were going to fetch the Wine to make Mr. Hayes drunk with, and she then proposing to murder him, Wood started at the cruel Motion [sic], saying what a dreadful Thing it would be to murder an innocent Man that had done none of them any Harm, and what would be their Punishment in this World, (if it was discover'd) and moreover in the World to come; to which Billings cry'd, D—n thee, thou hast not the Heart of a Mouse, what's come to thee, thy Mother's as stout a Woman as can be, and is able to beat any Man. Mrs. Hayes then urging it was no more Crime to kill a Man that was so great an Atheist as Mr. Hayes, and us'd her so cruelly, &c. than it was to kill a Dog or Cat. But both before and after his Sentence he discover'd great Sighs of Sorrow and Contrition for his heinous Crime, and from the Time he had purged his Conscience by an ingenious [sic] and ample Confession of it, he behav'd like a sincere Penitent, and grew more easy in his Mind, desiring not to live. A few Days before the Sessions, being along with Wood, confronted with Mrs. Hayes, who was on the Naster-side [sic; should be Master-side]11 of Newgate, Justice Lambert and several others being present, he acknowledged he had lain with her several Nights since her Husband's Death, which she denying, he confirm'd, saying there was a just God that knew it to be too true, to both their Sorrows.


THOMAS WOOD, aged 28 Years last July, was born near the Hundred-House on the Road between Worcester and Ludlow, within 3 Miles of Ombersly, his Mother and Sister now keeping a publick House there; but he being brought up to no regular Employment, lived sometimes in Farmers Houses, doing Drudgery in the Barns, &c. and at others serv'd as a Tapster at several Country Inns: Coming to London, he, for about a Year, drew Liquors at the Baptist-Head Ale-house in Clerkenwell; and, for ought as we can learn, behav'd honestly in all his Places: But unfortunately going, about the latter End of February last, to Mr. Hayes's Lodgings in Tyburn Road, to see Thomas Billings, his Countryman and Friend, and having some Acquaintance with Mrs. Hayes and her Husband, she persuaded him to lodge there with them, and they would take Care to employ him in some Business or other; he, fearful of being impress'd, and being withal straighten'd for Money, was thankful for her Kindness, and agreed to her Proposal; but before he had been there four Days, she communicated to him the Design of murdering her Husband, which Billings had consented to before, and only waited an Opportunity to put it in Execution, and press'd him to be assisting in it, saying, she was worth about 1500l. and he should have it all; and thro' her strong Persuasions, he comply'd with her fatal Request. He own'd, that after the Commission of the cruel Fact, his Heart was full of Horror, and his Head full of Confusion, and had not enjoy'd an Hour's Quiet since; and said, that on the Sunday when he came from Greenford, and was apprehended, as he approached Mrs. Hayes's old Lodgings he saw a Crowd of People about the Door, and fancy'd the Murder was discover'd, yet was so infatuated, that he had not the Power to go back again, though he had once design'd to have come into the Town to learn if there was any Talk about it, before he went to Mrs. Hayes's, having not heard any thing of it towards Harrow; but also neglected so to do. In both which he own'd the Justice of God in pursuing with his Divine Vengeance such a wicked Sinner. But when secured, no Man could do more than he to expiate his Guilt, first, by an ingenious [sic] and ample Confession of the Fact, and, secondly, by a sincere and hearty Repentance of it: So that he might be said, with holy David, to wash his Couch with his Tears.12 Which suitable Behaviour drew the Commiseration of all manner of People on him, and render'd him an Object of great Pity; and both him and Billings desir'd the Prayers of all the Persons that came to see them in Newgate, who generously relieved their Necessities by giving them Money, and pious Books suitable to their Circumstances.

When the News came into Worcestershire of his being apprehended for Murder, about 14 Gentlemen of good Account in that Country sign'd a Certificate of his honest and sober Deportment there, and sent the same to London, that it might be of Service to him at his Trial, they believing him entirely innocent of the Charge, till they were satisfy'd of the contrary by his Confession. When he was confronted with Mrs. Hayes in Newgate, and she persisting in her Denial of her Guilt, he with Tears exhorted her to desist from that wicked and foolish Resolution, telling her the contrary would soon appear, not only here, but before the Great God; adding what Comfort his own Soul had received since his prostrating himself at the Throne of Grace for Forgiveness, and doubted not he should receive it from a merciful Creator; but that made no Impression on her wicked obdurate Heart, still vainly believing she should slip thro' the Hands of Justice.

On the Day of Mrs. Hayes's Trial he recollected himself that when they had cut off her Husband's Head, and were consulting what to do with it, Mrs. Hayes said, She would boil it in a Porridge-Pot till nothing remain'd but the Skull, to avoid a Discovery.

The following is a Copy of a Letter that he sent to some of his Friends, in which he acknowledges the Part he acted in that most Tragical Affair.

Newgate, April 12, 1726.

Dear Friends,

I beg and pray heartily, Day and Night, that the just God of Heaven will pardon the great Offences which have been committed, in his Sight, to our Fellow Creature so rashly: I allow myself to be a vile Sinner, in being concern'd in that wicked Crime; but since it cannot be recall'd, I hope the great God of Heaven will be merciful unto me a poor miserable Wretch. It is a great Trouble to me that I should so disgrace my honest Parents and Friends, and brought this shameful Death to be my End; so as I ask Pardon of God Almighty, I ask Forgiveness also of all my Friends, and beg their Prayers for my poor Soul, which is all the Good they can do for me. Now to let you know the truth of this Matter, according to your Desire, in the first Place Cousin Jones, after I had been there a little while, seem'd weary of me, who at my first coming up pretended to do great Matters for me, but after a Time she hired another to do her Business in the House, and then I thought I should trouble her no more. I then design'd to go to my Sister until I could get into Business, and a little Money to come down; but she happening to lye in at that Time, I could not be there; so unfortunately going to Mrs. Hayes's House —— [Here he mentions the Particulars of the Murder.] For so doing I think myself deserving of Death; I resign myself to Almighty God, to take my Life or spare it; I hope, through his gracious Mercy and true Repentance to receive Forgiveness for my great Offences and wicked Crime, and as I was drawn in by wicked People, I beg the Prayers of all my dear Friends; I am greatly troubled for my dear Mother and Sister, but it is too late to recall what is past. My Duty to my Mother, and Love to Brothers and Sister, and all Friends. I rest in Prayers that God will have mercy on my poor Soul.

An unfortunate Sinner,


I should be glad to see some of you; if I should ask for my dear Mother I fear she cannot undergo the Journey, but if one of my Brothers would come I should be glad. So God Almighty bless you all.


C. Select Trials and The Bloody Register (1734-35, 1764)

[The Select Trials, for Murders, Robberies, Rapes . . ., a two-volume collection published in London in 1734-35, contains an account of the Hayes murder at 2: 174-90. A virtually identical version appears in The Bloody Register, a four-volume collection published in London in 1764, at 3: 23-54. A copy of the Register was in Thackeray's possession at his death,13 but it does not appear to be the source he used for Catherine, as it does not contain the material he copied for his final chapter.

[The account of the crime in Select Trials and the Register reproduces elements of the above-printed 1726 pamphlet and also contains passages similar to those in the Villette account below, presumably copied from Villette's source, which perhaps was the now missing second pamphlet of 1726.14 The only material in the Register-Select Trials version not found in the other versions in this Appendix is a section reporting the Ordinary of Newgate's interviews with the condemned murderers. This material, which presumably comes from the missing pamphlet, is printed below in the form in which it appears in the Register. Substantive variants from Select Trials are indicated in footnotes.]

The Ordinary's account of these three criminals is as follows.15 —-In the time of delivering useful instructions, all of them appeared attentive; but shewed no outward signs16 of repentance and sorrow for sin requisite in every sincere christian, much more in such notable and impious offenders.—-Wood, the murderer, was most affected, but he appeared but two or three days in the Chapel, for, falling sick, he died in the condemned Hold a few days before the sentence was put in execution. Billings, who actually murdered Mr. Hays, was a confused, hard-hearted young fellow, and had few external signs of penitence. Mrs. Hays was too unconcerned, and I fear, too often her mind was taken up with things altogether foreign to the purpose. The dead warrant coming down on Friday the 9th of May, Mrs. Hays, who before shewed but little concern, being assured she was to die on Monday, wept bitterly; and the rest appeared more affected than usual.

Thomas Billings (as Mrs. Hays affirmed some days before their execution) was son to17 John Hays and Catherine Hays, and between 19 and 20 years of age. When he was a child he did not live with his father and mother, but with some of their relations in the country. He was put to school in his younger years, and taught to read his mother tongue, and was instructed18 in the knowledge of the christian religion. I asked him if he knew what parents he was of? he said, he did not, but believed himself to be a bastard, but a near relation of Mrs. Hays's; but which way he could not tell: that he was put to a taylor in Worcestershire, and that there was a shoemaker in that country,19 now dead, with whom he staid when he was young, who always passed for his father. I asked him what moved him to murder Mr. Hays? he said, he was cruel and barbarous in beating and abusing her, that he threatened to murder himself, and said, that some time or other he should kill his wife; and that he was an avowed atheist, frequently blaspheming in a manner which ought not to be expressed, denying the immortality of the soul, and alledging, that men and women were in the same condition with the beasts that perish.

Upon such foolish pretences, Wood and he conceived a false notion, that it was no more sin to kill him than a dog or a cat. I told him, that if he was such a wicked man as he represented him to have been, there was so much the less shadow of reason to murder him suddenly and unexpectedly; since it was more reasonable, upon that very account, to suffer him to live, that he might have time to think upon the evil of his ways, and repent of his crying sin, God being always willing to receive into favour all penitent sinners, however notorious their guilt might be. All this he acknowledged, adding, that he had never done it had he not been sottishly intoxicated with liquor, so that he knew not what he was doing. He owned, that there was no cause for so villainous a murder; and that, whatever punishment was inflicted upon him, was infinitely less than what he deserved. He said, that no sooner was the thing done, but immediately his conscience was seized with such horrible guilt, that he would have given the world to have it undone, but that was impossible; and that Mrs. Hays and he wept and mourned most bitterly all that night. He denied himself to have been upon the first contrivance of the murder, but that Mrs. Hays and Wood first consulted about it; and, being overcome with drink, he was so left20 of God as to commit the murder.

Mrs. Hays denied that she ever advised Wood or him, to make away with him, or that she knew any thing of it till the fact was done.

Wood, who, the second day after his sentence,21 was confined to the Hold, and could not come to the Chapel because of a violent indisposition, of which he died; went to death with it, that Mrs. Hays pressed upon him for some time to murder Mr. Hays, but he refused. He also said, that Mrs. Hays held the candle whilst he cut off the head, and advised to the cutting his body in pieces, in order to carry it off with the greater conveniency, and was present at the doing of it: but this, as a dying woman, she denied. Wood appeared to be mightily concerned, and very penitent.

I asked Billings, if he knew that Mrs. Hays was his mother? he said, she had told him something of it; but that he knew nothing of Mr. Hays's being his father,—-declared himself heartily sorry for his sin, and that he was content to have his body disjointed, and all his bones broken, bone by bone, or to suffer the most painful death the wit of man could invent, since his punishment was greater than he could bear. Billings said, that from his infancy he had always lived in the fear of God, that he had studied and practiced religion, and of which indeed he wanted not a competent knowledge for one of his station; and that, excepting the barbarous crime of parricide, for which he died, he had never committed any heinous sin; neither had he been addicted to any of those vices of whoring, drinking, lying. He said22 also, that he had once taken the sacrament. I told him, that by that one mortal sin of parricide, he had lost all his former righteousness. He hoped the seed of grace was left in him. I said, that it appeared very ill in such hellish fruits; his crime not being a common murder, but parricide by his own confession; for he knew Mrs. Hays to be his mother, and consequently Mr. Hays her husband, to have some paternal relation to him. He declared himself most penitent for his offence. He seemed to have been a young fellow of a simple, easy foolish temper, and to have been seduced into the commission of this unheard of cruelty, by the persuasion of Wood, or some other way. He expected salvation only through the merits of Christ,23 and died in the communion of the church of England, of which he owned himself an unworthy member.

Catherine Hays, born in Warwickshire, of honest and respected parents, aged (as she said) about 34 or 36 years, educated in the faith of the church of England. But what good instructions she received in her younger years were mostly forgotten, for she married Mr. John Hays, son to a countryman in Warwickshire, within four miles of the city of that name, who had an estate in land of 40 or 50l. per. ann. as she said, when twelve or thirteen years old, but, as her friends said, fifteen or sixteen, upon eight days acquaintance; for, travelling by Mr. Hays's father's house, and asking the way, old Mrs. Hays asked her to come in, and young Mr. Hays fell deeply in love with her, and married her suddenly without consent of friends, she having left her mother's house upon some discontent: and, as she affirmed, Mr. Hays her husband was so intent upon the world, that he would not suffer her to apply to the reading of her books, or religious exercises, such as praying, &c. and that all the time of her marriage, which was twenty years and eight months, he would never suffer her to go to church but two or three times, namely, twice at London, with Billings the murderer, her son, whose true name, upon the word of a dying woman, she assured me was Hays; and that when she went to church, it was without her husband's knowledge, and contrary to his consent. They lived in Worcestershire upon a piece of land of their own, and some, of which they farmed;24 but she complained that Mr. Hays was a very unkind husband, beating and mortifying her upon every trivial occasion, in a cruel manner; and, that when she was with child, he would never suffer a midwife to be called for her but once,25 which, with his other ill usages, proved the cause of abortion, and commonly put her in hazard of her life. Five or six years ago, upon discontents and grudges arising in the family, between Mr. Hays's father and mother and her, and her husband and her, they sold all off they had in the country, and came to town, where they kept a chandler's shop, and lived in different places, till lately they took a house in the parish of St. Mary-le-Bone, where this unfortunate accident of her husband's murder happened. When I first visited her, asking the cause why they murdered Mr. Hays in so barbarous a manner? she told me, that it was no more sin to kill him than a dog or a cat,2 because of the cruel usage he gave her, and the blasphemous expressions which he too frequently used, declaring that he believed nothing about a God, and that the souls of men and women died like the brutes.—-Wood, when I told him this, cast the whole blame upon her, saying, that twenty days before the murder happened, Mrs. Hays advised, and frequently pressed him to murder her husband, upon doing of which he should be master of all her money, which was of a considerable value; that he would not consent to do it; but that afterwards she proposing it to her son Billings, he too easily agreed to it. Wood held to this confession till his death; for two or three days before he died, lying sick in the Hold,27 he affirmed the same, adding, that she advised to the cutting off his head, legs, and arms, and held the candle while it was doing.

All this Mrs. Hays constantly denied, and by all the arguments I and several who spoke to her, could use,28 she could not be in the least moved to make any farther confession; only, that three days before the unlucky time to her and the other two, Thomas Wood sitting beside Mr. Hays in the house, and holding his hand over Mr. Hays's shoulder, said, Mr. Hays, I think it no more sin29 to kill you than a dog or cat. Why? says Hays. Wood answered. Because you are so cruel to that poor industrious woman, and because you are so atheistical and wicked. Mr. Hays said, that as to striking his wife, he had such a giddiness in his head at times,30 that he knew not what he was doing; and he believed that sometime or other he should kill his wife in his passion, which he could not help.

Notwithstanding this, Billings said, that his mother and Wood first plotted the murder, altho' when she was present, he stood in awe, and would say nothing of her. What passed between31 Wood and Mrs. Hays, was all she would confess, that she knew nothing of any fore-thought32 or design of murdering her husband. I told her, supposing33 she knew nothing of a premeditated intention, yet her concealing the murder, and abetting the murderers, made her equally guilty of the crime in the eye of the law. That she acknowledged, and said, she desired not to live, but thought she should not be burnt. I told her that Burning was the particular punishment appointed by the law of England, for women who were concerned in the murder of their husbands. She wept and fretted when she thought on this.

Asking her why she concealed her husband's murder? she said, that the ill usage he always gave her cooled her affection towards him, and her only son being concerned, she could not think of delivering him up to public justice.

She spoke much of Mr. Hays's beating and mortifying her, and some times breaking her ribs and bones, and of his having murdered two newborn children of hers, and of burying them one under an apple-tree, and another under a pear-tree, at two different places, where they lived in Worcestershire; a note of which, a neighbour of hers in that country, who lives near to these places, took, and was to dig about the trees, to see if he could find any of the bones, and was to write an account of it to town, if any such thing could be found.

Being asked, why she maligned and spoke so much to her husband's disadvantage, now he was dead, and murdered in so barbarous a manner? she said, she had no malice in her heart to him, but that her being so ill-treated by him was the cause why she concealed the murder, and was so indifferent about it; and that she could not die in peace till she opened her mind, about the two children.

She seemed to be a woman of good natural parts, but grossly ignorant in religious matters. I was always very pressing upon her to consider her latter end, and to improve the knowledge of God, and the salvation which is to be obtained only in and through Jesus Christ. She frequently affirmed, that she had no doubt of being happy in another world, because she had been just and upright in her dealings, charitable to the poor, careful in household affairs, faithful and dutiful to her husband.—-As to conjugal duties, I told her, that though she did not actually imbrue her hands in her husband's blood, yet by patronizing and supporting such execrable murderers, she declared herself a very ill woman, and deserving the punishment appointed her. At which she sighed and groaned, confessing herself faulty in part; for which she begged of God34 and the world pardon, and declared, she35 heartily repented of the murder, so far as she was concerned in it.

She said, she believed in Jesus Christ her only Saviour, upon whose account alone she expected eternal life and salvation. By frequent instructions, I brought her to understand some of the first elements of Christianity; but was greatly troubled to see her much less concerned than what I desired; for when I spoke to her about the great concern of her soul, she was too ready to bring in some little story, nothing to the purpose; for which, when I reproved her, she acknowledged her error. She declared herself of the communion of this church, of which she was an unworthy member. When in Chapel, I preached, or prayed, or discoursed about murder, she commonly fainted away, which she acknowledged to proceed from the thoughts and apprehensions of her husband's horrible murder, which still harrassed and distracted her mind night and day, ever since it happened.

D. The Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals (1735)

The Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals, published in three volumes in London in 1735, contains one of the fullest accounts of the Hayes murder, at 2: 190-244. However, it is not the source Thackeray used for Catherine, for its wording in the section describing the murder differs from Thackeray's wording in the final chapter of his novel, whereas Thackeray's wording is the same as that found in John Villette's Annals of Newgate (1776) and other sources (see section E below). The interesting thing about the 1735 Remarkable Criminals version is that it must have been based on the same source that Villette's version ultimately derives from, for the material covered is virtually the same and the wording at times is identical (though not in the murder description). The main difference is that the Remarkable Criminals version is wordier and contains some material not found in Villette: thus it is likely that the version in Villette is a condensation of the fuller version that made its way into the Remarkable Criminals collection.

Some of the details found in the Remarkable Criminals version and not found elsewhere are as follows:

The Remarkable Criminals version (2: 202) explains why Thomas Wood hit John Hayes after Tom Billings had already delivered the mortal blow: it says that Wood was concerned that the noise Hayes made in his death agony would wake the neighbours; thus he "went in and repeated the Blows."

The Remarkable Criminals version (202) reports that after the murder Catherine Hayes's two accomplices were in "so much Terrour and Confusion, that they knew not what to do."

The Remarkable Criminals version tends to exonerate Wood and Billings for the crime, placing all the blame on Catherine. Wood and Billings, it says (234), "deserv'd Pity, since . . . they were Persons of unblemished Characters, and of virtuous Inclinations, untill misled by her [Catherine Hayes]." On the other hand, the Remarkable Criminals version presents information supporting Catherine's claim that her husband was an atheist, saying he had associated with "Free-Thinkers," that is, people who were inclined to "redicule those Things which the rest of the World think Sacred" (242). It adds (242-43) that "Mr. Hayes had now and then let fall some rash Expressions, as to his Disbelief of the Immortality of the Soul, and talked in such a Manner on religious Topicks, that Mrs. Hayes persuaded Billings and Wood therefrom, that he was an Athiest [sic], and as he believed his own Soul of no greater Value than that of a brute Beasts [sic], there could be no Difference between killing him and them."

The most extended section of the Remarkable Criminals version not appearing in the other sources is an account of a visit made to Catherine Hayes while she was in prison (230-33). This account is as follows:]

. . . On her return to Newgate, she was visited by several Persons of her Acquaintance, who yet were so far from doing her any Good, that they rather interrupted her in those Preparations which it became a Woman in her sad Condition to make. One old Gentleman indeed, who seemed to have no other Motive in Curiosity in coming to see her, took an Opportunity of discoursing to her in these Terms, which as I myself over-heard, and as I think they may not want their Uses on other Occasions, I have carefully inserted. "Mrs. Hayes, you see the Clamour of the World is very strong against you, and tho' common Fame be very indifferent Evidence in some Cases; yet in so much as yours is, it is a Sign of more than ordinary Guilt, because the common Sort, being unable to distinguish nicely, generally pity every body whom they see under Affliction, unless there be a peculiar Degree of Wickedness in what they have been guilty of, such as seems to transcend the Malignity of human Nature, and hath consequently rendered the Criminal unworthy of human Regard. Consider then, if such be the sentiments of the Publick, what should yours be? If the Noise of your Cruelty hath struck them with Terrour, should it not inspire you with Repentance, and if the Death of Mr. Hayes with the bloody Circumstances which attend it, can so far move those who had no Acquaintance with, or so much as knew by Sight, what effect ought it to have on you, who after having been his Companion and his Wife for so many Years, have at last become his Murderess, and imbrued your Hands in that Blood, which you should have considered your own. I knowing very well that you have high Notions of your own Innocence, because it was not from your Hands that he received his Death's Wound; yet you cannot deny that those who gave it received their Directions from you. The Conviction of their own Hearts, hath induced them to offer their Blood to attone for his. Twelve impartial Men have found you also to be guilty of his Death; and I do not think so meanly of your Reason, as to believe you have any Hopes of having your Sentence stay'd. Reflect then a little, if these Artifices cannot prevail, even with a credulous World, or take any Place in the Opinion of Twelve Men, utterly unbias'd in their Verdict against you, how should you expect they should yet cover you from the Wrath of God, and illude that Judgment, with which he hath threatned Sinners. The small Time you have to live, forbids trifling, and every Moment that passes, calls upon you to employ it so, as by Penitence to escape his Vengeance. Lay then aside such Notions as these are, confess with Truth the Circumstances of that cruel Act of which you have been guilty, and after losing all Hopes in the World, apply yourself steadily to make sure of Happiness in that which is to come; humbly intreat that merciful Being, whose Creature thou hast destroyed, to have pity on thy Condition, and by submitting patiently unto that terrible Punishment, which the Law hath appointed for your Crimes, attone for this Murther, suffering the fear of your approaching Death, to work no otherwise on your Mind, than urging you by Prayers and a sincere Repentance to avoid eternal Death from the Sentence of him, at whose Tribunal you are quickly to appear, as God is a God of Justice, presume not hastily to think you have secured his Pardon, and as he is a God of Mercy, let not even your Offences make you dispair; but by the Piety and Resignation of your last Moment's Efface the Memory of your guilty Life."

E. The Tyburn Chronicle, The Annals of Newgate, and The Old Bailey Chronicle (1768, 1776, 1788)

What follows is the account of the Catherine Hayes story found in John Villette's Annals of Newgate, 4 vols. (London, 1776) 1: 394-428. This account is virtually identical to that found in The Tyburn Chronicle, 4 vols. (London, 1768) 2: 252-93 and also to the one found in James Mountague's The Old Bailey Chronicle, 4 vols. (London, 1788) 2: 3-39. The main difference in the Tyburn version is that it omits the opening description of the trial and begins with the section headed "A full and particular Account of the Life, Trial, and Behaviour of CATHERINE HAYS . . ." As well, Tyburn uses the more common spelling Hayes for the central figures, whereas Villette uses the more unusual Hays. Mountague's version, like Villette's, from which it was probably copied, uses the spelling Hays and includes the opening description of the trial. However, Mountague omits several passages found in both Villette and Tyburn, including the confessions of Wood and Billings and the closing poem. These omissions are recorded in the footnotes, as are other substantive differences among the versions.

Thackeray must have used one of these versions, or perhaps some other version that they derived from, for his account of the murder of John Hayes in the final chapter of Catherine very closely follows the account found in these sources and at times copies it verbatim.

CATHERINE HAYS, for Murder, April, 1726.

Thomas Billings, and Thomas Wood, of St. Mary-le-Bon, were indicted for the murder of John Hays: Billings by beating, striking, and bruising him on the hinder part of the head, with a hatchet, and thereby giving him one mortal wound, of which he instantly died, on the first day of March, 1725-6, and Wood, by being present, aiding, abetting, and maintaining the said Billings in committing the said murder.

To this indictment they both pleaded guilty. Death.

Catherine Hays was indicted for petit treason, by being traiterously present, aiding, abetting, comforting, and maintaining the said Thomas Billings, in the murder of the said John Hays her husband.

The council for the king, who by his majesty's order carried on the prosecution, having opened the indictment, the charge, and the evidence, the witnesses against the prisoner were called and sworn.36

Richard Bromage. After the prisoner, Catherine Hays, was committed to Newgate, I, and Robert Wilkins, and Leonard Myring went to visit her there. I am very sorry Mrs. Hays, says I, to see you here upon such a sad occasion as the murder of your husband. And so am I too, says she. But what a [sic] G-d's name, says I, could put it into your head to commit such a barbarous murder? Why, said she, the d-v-l put it into my head; but, however, John Hays was none of the best of husbands, for I have been three parts starved ever since we were married together. I don't in the least repent of any thing I have done, but only in drawing those two poor men into this misfortune. I was six weeks in importuning them to do it; they two or three times refused to be concerned in it; but at last I over persuaded them. My husband was made so drunk, that he fell out of his chair, and then they carried him into the back room, and laid him upon the bed, and there Billings knocked him on the head with a hatchet, and Wood cut his throat. This was what they told me, for I was not in the room when he was killed: But, as soon as he was dead, I went in and held the candle, while Wood cut his head quite off. But, says I, How came you to cut him and mangle him in such an inhuman manner? She answered, because we wanted to get him into a box; we thought to have done it with only cutting off his legs at the knees, but still we could not get him in, and therefore we cut off his thighs, and his arms, though when we had done, the box was too little to hold all, and shut close; and so the next night we put the body and limbs into two blankets, and Wood and Billings carried them away at twice, and threw them into a pond. But, says I again, What could induce the men to be guilty of all this? Was it the lucre of money? No, says she, there was nothing of that in the case, but the d-v-l was in us all, and we were all got drunk. And what, said I, can you say for yourself when you come before the court? she replied, It will signify nothing to make a long preamble, I'll hold up my hand and confess myself guilty, for nothing can save me, and nobody can forgive me.

Leonard Myring. I went to see the prisoner in Newgate the day after she was committed, but she confessed nothing at that time. I went again on the Sunday evening, and then she said, I am glad you are come, for Thomas Wood, one of the men that committed the murder, was taken to-day, and has confessed that it was done by him and Billings; but I was not with them when they did it, for I was drunk, and sitting upon a stool by the fire in the shop; but I heard the blow given, and heard somebody stamp. And why then, says I, did not you cry out for help? she answered, Because I was afraid they would murder me too: and so, after they had killed him, they cut off his head, and carried it out in a pail; and, when they came back, Billings sat down by me, and cried, and would lie in the room where the dead body was that night. —— Another time she told me, that she was not upon the same floor, but in the shop below stairs when her husband was killed. —— I went again with Richard Bromage and Robert Wilkins to visit her, and then she confessed that for some time past there had been a contrivance to kill her husband; but said, that she did not know they would do it that night as it was done. I asked her how they came to contrive such a wicked thing? Why, said she, my husband came home drunk one night, and beat me, upon which Billings said, This fellow deserves to be killed. Aye, says Wood, and so he does, and I would be his butcher for a penny: and I told them, as to that, they might do as they thought fit. But, pray, Mrs. Hays, said I, why did you never acquaint your husband with their design? Because, said she, I was afraid that he would beat me.

Robert Wilkins confirmed the evidence of Richard Bromage.

Joseph Mercer. On the Monday after the prisoner was committed, I don't know whether it was the 28th or 29th of March, I went to see her in Newgate, Mr. Mercer, said she, You are Tom Billings's friend as well as mine, and therefore I desire you would go and tell him, it will be in vain for him to deny the murder any longer, for we are both equally guilty, and we must both die for it.

John Blackesly. I live at the Brawn's-Head-Tavern in New-Bond-street. On the first of last month, about four in the afternoon, the prisoner and the two men who have pleaded guilty, came together to our house; she said, she wanted to taste some wine, for she should have occasion for a quantity. Then she called for a half pint of mountain, and, when they had drank it, she ordered me to put up six quarts of the same. She paid for it at the bar, and saw it put into bottles. I sent a porter home with her, that he might know where to call for the bottles when they were empty: but, about nine o'clock the same night, one of those two men brought back the six empty bottles, and had another quart of wine.

Mary Springate. I lodged up two pair of stairs in Mr. Weingard's house, where the murder was committed.—On Tuesday, the first of March last, I was out all day at work, and came home between eight and nine at night. My husband told me, there had been great merry-making, drinking, and dancing in the room below. I was tired, and wanted to be a-bed, but was willing to know if their liquor was almost out, that I might not be disturbed when I was going to sleep; and so I went down and knocked at the door, and asked her, if they had almost done drinking. Aye, child, said she, I am just going to bed. And with that, I said no more, but went up again, but it was not long before I heard the door open. I called, and asked her, who it was that went out? O! said she, It is my husband, he is gone into the country with a charge of money, and I am frighted out of my wits for fear he should be murdered: I wish to the Lord he may come safe home again; but I never knew such an obstinate man in my life, when he gets a little liquor in his head: there was no such thing as persuading him to stay till morning. I got up by five o'clock next day, which was Wednesday, and went out to my work; I returned about nine at night, and found the prisoner sitting by the fire side, with Wood and Billings, but without any candle. She said, she was very uneasy upon her husband's account, for fear some wicked rogue or other should knock him on the head for his money. I went up to my own room, but had not been long there, before I heard something drawling37 along the floor, and the door open, and somebody go out: upon which, I went down and asked her what they were doing? She said, the men were going to fetch a bed home; so I went up again, and when they came back, she let them in, and I heard them say, they had not got money enough for the bed. By and by I heard another drawling along the floor, and the men went out again. When they returned, I went down and let them in myself, but they had not yet brought the bed. What, says she, was the landlord's mark upon it? They answered, Yes. Why, then, said she, I am glad you did not bring it; I left them, and went up once more to my own room. In a little time I heard another bustling below, at which I began to grow very uneasy, and thought that something more than ordinary must be the matter; and so I was going down again, but she met me at my own door, and said, she was come to smoak half a pipe with my husband. While she staid, I heard the men going out again, I stepped to the stair-head, and looked down over the rails, she followed, and asked me, why I was so uneasy. To tell you the truth, says I, Mrs. Hays, I believe you are a going to move your goods by night, and I think it is a shame you should do any such thing, when you have got money that lies by you: no, indeed, said she, it is no such thing. Then, pray, says I, Mrs. Hays, tell me what is the matter? Why, nothing, said she, and therefore I beg you would make yourself easy. The next day, which was Thursday, I saw Wood go out with a bundle, and turn down Swallow-street. I asked her, what that bundle was, and she told me, it was a suit of cloaths that he had borrowed to go abroad in last Sunday. The head that was thrown into the Thames at Mill-Bank, and the pail that it was carried in, were both brought to me to the Gate-House, to see if I knew them. I knew the head to be the head of Mr. Hays, and that the pail was his pail. Mr. Bowers, let me see the coat? —— And this my lord was Mr. Hays's coat.

At the sight of the coat the prisoner at the bar fainted away.

Richard Bowers. Wood lodged at my house at Greenford three weeks. When he first came, which was on Thursday the 3d of March, he brought this coat with him.

Prisoner. I own that, three or four days before my husband was killed, there was a design against his life; but I was not guilty of his blood. He and Billings had been playing at cards, and fell out about the game, and, I bidding Billings tell the pips of the cards, my husband flew into a passion, and beat me, which Billings very much resented, and from that time resolved to murder him; but I had no hand in it; for, when it was done, I was in the next room, and therefore I am clear and innocent of the fact.

The jury found her guilty. Death.

A full and particular Account of the Life, Trial, and Behaviour of CATHERINE HAYS, who was burnt alive at Tyburn, for the Murder of her husband; and also an Account of THOMAS BILLINGS, and THOMAS WOOD, who were concerned in the said Murder.

Catherine Hays was born of parents of the name of Hall, in very low circumstances, in the year 1690, on the borders of Warwickshire, about four miles from Birmingham.

She lived with her parents several years; but their poverty did not permit them to bestow any education on her; on the contrary, they were obliged to apply to the parish for relief, at the charge of which she was maintained for several years.

Even during her childhood she gave evident signs of a fiery, turbulent temper, and untractable spirit, which her want of education rather increased than otherwise, so that she at length became ungovernable.

In this manner she lived till about the year 1705, when several officers going into that country to beat up for volunteers, the men were quartered in and about the neighbourhood.

Whether the appearance or the behaviour of the military gentlemen induced our heroine to accompany them we cannot pretend to determine; but certain it is that she rambled about with them to several places; and when they left Birmingham and its neighbourhood, she accompanied them to a village in Worcestershire, called Great Ombersly, where, either tired with her company, or not chusing the expence of maintaining her any longer, they took an opportunity of leaving her behind.

Being thus left alone, and not knowing what course to take, she wandered about like a distracted creature, till coming to the door of one Mr. Hays, his wife good-naturedly took her in, and entertained her for a few days.

At that time Mr. Hays had several children, the eldest of which, whose name was John, about twenty-one years of age, found something so agreeable in the person and conversation of Catherine, that he privately made overtures of marriage to her. His proposals were readily accepted; but the young people believing that neither Mr. Hays nor his wife would consent to the match, agreed to keep their intentions a profound secret.

The preliminaries were soon settled, and in five or six days the preparations for a private marriage being made, they agreed it should be solemnized at Worcester, and, on the appointed day, they left the old people very early in the morning, in the following manner:

Young Hays, who was a carpenter by trade, acquainting his mother that he had occasion for some tools in his business, which he would go and purchase at Worcester, obtained by that means some money of her, which, together with some he had by him, were sufficient to defray the expences of the intended expedition.

Being thus furnished, he took leave of his parents early in the morning; and Catherine, without the formality of bidding them adieu, trudged after him to Worcester, where they met at an appointed place, and the wedding was soon celebrated.

On the very day of her marriage, Mrs. Catherine Hays had the fortune to meet with some of her former acquaintance, who had lately dropped her at Ombersly, and were now quartered at Worcester.

These fellows understanding she was that day married, and where the nuptials were to be solemnized, consulted among themselves how to make a penny of the bridegroom, and accordingly deferring the execution of their intentions till the evening, just as Mr. Hays was got into bed to his new bride, they came to the house where he lodged, forcibly entered the room, and dragged the bridegroom away, pretending to impress him for her majesty's service.

This affair broke the measures Mr. Hays had concerted with his bride, to keep their wedding a secret; for finding no redemption from their hands without the expence of a larger sum of money than he was master of, he was necessitated to let his father know of his misfortune.

The old gentleman hearing of his son's adventures, as well of his marriage,38 as his being pressed at the same time, his resentment for the one39 did not extinguish his paternal affection for him, but that he resolved to deliver him from his troubles, and accordingly taking a gentleman in the neighbourhood along with him, he went to Worcester.

On their arrival there, they found Mr. John Hays in the hands of the officers, who insisted upon detaining him for her majesty's service; but his father, and the gentleman he brought with him, by his authority, soon made them sensible of their error, and instead of making a benefit of him, as they proposed, they were glad to discharge him, which they did immediately.

Mr. Hays having acted thus far in favour of his son, then expressed his resentment for his having married without his consent, but it being too late to prevent it, there was no other remedy but to bear it with patience.

For some time afterwards, Mr. Hays and his bride lived in the neighbourhood, he following his business as a carpenter, and his father and mother grew more reconciled to him.

But Mrs. Hays, who approved rather of a travelling than a settled life, persuaded her husband to enter himself a volunteer in a company of soldiers, who were then at Worcester; which he at length complied with, and went abroad with them, where he continued for some time.

Mr. John Hays being in garrison in the Isle of Wight, Mrs. Hays went over to him, and continued with him for some time, till Hays, tired with so idle a life, solicited his father to procure his discharge, which at length, after much trouble, and an expence of sixty pounds, was accomplished.

The young couple now returned into Worcestershire, where his father put him into an estate of ten pounds per annum, hoping that, with the benefit of his trade, would enable them to live in credit, and alter his daughter-in-law's inclinations for roving; for he was sensible that his son's ramble had been occasioned by the persuasions of his wife.

Young Hays now representing to his father that it was not possible for him and his wife to live on that estate only, persuaded the old man to let him have another, a leasehold of sixteen pounds per annum; on which he lived during the continuance of the lease, and the old man paid the rent.

The characters of John Hays and his wife were widely different: he was a sober, honest, peaceable man, and a good husband; and the only things objected to him are, that he was rather too parsimonious in his disposition, and too indulgent to his wife, who repaid his kindness with opprobrious language, and sometimes with ill usage.

As to his wife, she was on all hands allowed to be a very turbulent, vexatious woman, always setting people together by the ears, and never free from quarrels and controversies in the neighbourhood, giving ill advice, and fomenting disputes, to the disturbance of all her friends and acquaintance.

This unhappiness in her temper induced Mr. John Hays's relations to persuade him to settle in some remote place, at a distance from, and unknown to her, for some time, to see if that would have any effect upon her turbulent disposition; but Mr. Hays could not approve of that advice, nor consent to a separation.

In this manner they lived for the space of about six years, until the lease of the last mentioned farm expired, about which time Mrs. Hays persuaded her husband to leave the country and come up to London, which about twelve months afterwards, through her persuasions, he did, in the year 1719.

Upon their arrival in town they took a house, part of which they let out in lodgings, and sold sea-coal, chandlery-ware, &c. whereby they lived in a creditable manner; and though Mr. Hays was of a very indulgent temper, yet she was so unhappy as to be frequently jarring, and a change of climate had not made any alteration in her temper: she continued her same passionate disposition, and had frequently bickerings and disputes with her neighbours, as well in town as in the country.

In this business they picked up money, and Mr. Hays received the yearly rent of the first mentioned estate, though he lived in town; and by lending out money in small sums amongst his country people and acquaintance, improved his circumstances considerably.

She would frequently, in speaking of Mr. Hays to his friends and acquaintance, give him the best of characters, and commend him for an indulgent husband; notwithstanding which, to some of her particular cronies who knew not Mr. Hays's temper, she would exclaim against him, and told one of them, particularly, above a year before the murder was committed, "that it was no more sin to kill him, meaning her husband, than to kill a mad-dog; and that some time or other she might give him a polt."40

After this they removed into Tottenham-Court-road, where they carried on business for about two years, and then removed into Tyburn Road, a few doors from the house where the murder was committed.

They lived in this place about a year, during which Mr. Hays practised the lending money on pledges, and sometimes worked at his profession, till he was thought to have accumulated a considerable sum of money.

They now removed a little lower in the same road, and took lodgings up two pair of stairs, at the house of Mr. Whinyard, where the horrid murder was afterwards perpetrated.

At the last mentioned place, Thomas Billings, who was a taylor by trade, and worked in and about Monmouth-street, being Mrs. Hays's countryman, came to see them, and they invited him to lodge with them, which he agreed to do.

On Hays's going out of town for some days, several of his wife's acquaintance took the opportunity of his absence to come and see her, and continued there revelling till just before his expected return.

When Hays came to town, being informed of what had passed, he remonstrated with his wife on the liberties she had given herself: how far her answer might provoke his resentment we cannot determine, but a quarrel ensued, and a blow or two passed between them: this was about six weeks before the commission of the murder.

Whether this quarrel might augment Mrs. Hays's inclination to get rid of her husband, or whether she had before absolutely resolved on it, we cannot pretend to say, however it is certain that she soon after proposed to Billings to join with her in murdering her husband, and endeavoured to persuade him thereto by all the arguments she possibly could; she urged, that she daily received abuses and injuries from him, that he was a person of a debauched conversation, and atheistical principles; and "that it was no more sin to murder him than it was to kill a dog, a cat, or any brute beast."

Whilst these proposals were on foot, Thomas Wood, a countryman, a neighbour's son, and a former acquaintance of Mr. Hays and his wife, coming to town, was obliged to forsake his lodgings for fear of being pressed, and not knowing how to secure himself, went to see Mr. Hays, who entertained him very civilly, and he acquainted him with the fears he lay under of being pressed, and carried away to sea on the one hand, and on the other, his being destitute of any business or employment.

Mr. Hays kindly invited him to accept of such conveniency as their lodgings would afford, and promised to use his endeavours to procure him business amongst his friends and acquaintance.

Wood thereupon accepted of the offer, and came and lodged with Billings at Mr. Hays's. He had not been there above three or four days before Mrs. Hays, ingratiating herself with him, communicated the design she had formed of murdering her husband.

Wood started at such a proposition, and urged the sinfulness thereof, as well as the ungenerousness of such an action, if he should be any ways instrumental in shortening the life of Mr. Hays, whom he esteemed as his friend, his neighbour, and particular acquaintance.

Whereupon Mrs. Hays replied, "It would be no crime to remove such an atheistical person as he was, for that he was void of any religion or goodness, that he was a murderer, and had killed a man in the country, and destroyed two of her children, of which she had had twelve, one of which was buried under a pear-tree, and another under an apple-tree in the country."

By these stories, though totally void of foundation, she endeavoured to spirit up Wood to a compliance with her wicked intentions; and added farther, that she should then be mistress of about fifteen hundred pounds, which he should be master of, if he would assist in the commission of this fact; that she and Billings had consulted on the matter, and only wanted a third person to join in it.

Wood going out of town two or three days after this, returned again on the first of March, when he found Mr. and Mrs. Hays and Billings in company, and being conversing merrily together, Mr. Hays said that himself and another person had drank to the amount of a guinea in wine without being fuddled; upon which Billings offered to fetch six bottles of mountain, on condition that if Hays drank it all without being intoxicated, then Billings should pay for it, but if it should happen otherwise the expence should be Hays's.

This proposal being agreed to, Mrs. Hays, Billings, and Wood went all together to the Braund's-Head in New-Bond-street, to fetch the wine; as they were going along, Mrs. Hays reminded them of the proposal she had before made of murdering her husband, urging that there could not be a better opportunity than when he was intoxicated.

Wood objected to this, and said it would be the most barbarous and injuman thing imaginable to murder an innocent person, not only in cool blood, but when they had designedly intoxicated him.

In answer to this, Catherine repeated the arguments she had before used to Billings and himself, to prepare them for the wicked deed; and Billings joining in her persuasions, Wood was at length so influenced, that with some little reluctance, he seemed willing to comply with their request.

When they came to the tavern, they called for half a pint of mountain for a taste, which being brought, they agreed with the vintner for seven shillings per gallon, and ordered a gallon and a half of it to be carried to their lodgings, which was accordingly done, and for which Mrs. Hays paid half a guinea.

As soon as they came home they sat down to drinking, or rather to see Mr. Hays drink, under pretence of the wager betwixt Billings and him, who was to drink all the wine, whilst they three had several pots of beer, &c.

Having encouraged Mr. Hays in drinking the wine, and he growing very merry therewith, he sung and danced about the room; but his wife fearing the quantity he had drank would not have the wished for effect41 upon him, she sent away for another bottle, of which he drank also, which effectually answered their expectations, and Mr. Hays became thereby intoxicated and deprived of his understanding.

He, however, made shift to get into the other room, and throwing himself across the bed fell asleep; upon which Mrs. Hays reminded them of the affair in hand, and told them that was the most proper juncture to finish the business.

Hereupon Billings went into the other room, where Mr. Hays lay sleeping, and going to the bed-side with a coal-hatchet in his hand, struck Mr. Hays on the back of the head, whereby he broke his skull: the violence of the blow, and the agony of the pain, occasioned Mr. Hays to stamp upon the ground five or six times with his feet, which hung over the bed-side; whereupon Thomas Wood came into the room, and struck him twice more on the side of the head with the same instrument, though the first blow had done his business effectually.

Upon the noise Mr. Hays made with his feet, as abovementioned, Mrs. Springate, who lodged up in the garret, over Mr. Hays's room, came down to enquire the occasion thereof, complaining the disturbance was so great that they, meaning herself, her husband, and a child they had, could not sleep for it. To which Mrs. Hays answered, they had some company there, who having been drinking, were grown merry, but as they would be going immediately, desired her not to be uneasy.

This satisfied Mrs. Springate for the present, and she returned back, and went to bed again, not expecting to hear any thing farther.

When the murderers perceived that Hays was quite dead, they debated on what manner they should dispose of the body; and several expedients were proposed to remove it, in order to prevent a discovery; but that which appeared most feasible was of Catherine's own contrivance.

She said that if the body was carried away whole, it might be known, and a discovery would be thereby made; and therefore proposed that the head should be cut off, and then the body being removed, could not be known.

This being resolved on, they got a pail, and the murderess carrying a candle, they all three went into the room where the deceased lay, when Catherine held the pail, Billings supported the head, and Wood cut it off with his pocket-knife, having first dragged the body over the side of the bed, that the blood might run into the pail without staining the bed-cloaths, &c.

The head being thus cut off, and the body having done bleeding, they poured the blood into a wooden sink out at the window, and threw several pails of water after it, to wash it away; notwithstanding which precaution, several lumps of congealed blood were found in the morning by Springate the lodger, who suspecting nothing of the truth, threw them away.

Notwithstanding the precaution of catching the blood in the pail as abovementioned, there was some spilled upon the ground, and sprinkled about the room in several places: what was most visible they endeavoured to get out by washing, &c. Mrs. Hays herself drying up the blood which fell on the floor with cloths, to conceal the same, and some they scraped off with knives.

However divers sprinklings of it remained on the floor, and about the walls, some of it even spun up to the very ceiling, and the sprinklings remained visible long after the discovery of the murder.

Mrs. Hays proposed, in order to prevent a discovery, that she would take the head and boil it in a pot till only the skull remained, whereby it would be altogether impossible for any body to distinguish to whom it belonged.

This proposal might have been approved of, only it was not altogether so expeditious: it was therefore proposed, that Billings and Wood should take the same in the pail, and carry it down to the Thames, and throw it in there. This was approved of, and Billings taking the head in the pail under his great coat, went down stairs with Wood to dispose thereof, as had been before agreed upon.

Springate hearing a bustling in Mr. Hays's room for some time, and then somebody going down stairs, called again to know who it was, and what was the occasion of it, it being then about eleven o'clock, to which Mrs. Hays answered, it was her husband who was going a journey into the country, and pretended to take a formal leave of him, expressing her sorrow that he was obliged to go out of town at that time of the night, and her fear lest any accident should attend him in his journey.

Billings and Wood being thus gone to dispose of the head, went towards Whitehall, intending to have thrown the same into the river there; but the gates being shut, they were obliged to go onwards as far as Mr. Macreth's wharf, near the Horse Ferry, at Westminster; where Billings setting down the pail from under his great coat, Wood took up the same with the head therein, and threw it into the dock before the wharf. It was expected the same would have been carried away with the tide, but the water being then ebbing, it was left behind.

There were some lighters lying over against the dock, and one of the lighter-men being then walking on board, saw them throw the pail into the dock; but it being too dark to discern them clearly, and having no suspicion, he then thought no more of the affair.

They now returned back, and arriving about twelve o'clock, Mrs. Hays let them in, and they found she had been busily employed in washing the floor, and scraping the blood off the walls, &c. They now all went into the fore-room, where Wood and Billings went to bed, and Mrs. Hays sat by them the remainder of the night.

In the morning of the 2d of March,42 soon after break of day, one Robinson, a watchman, saw a man's head lying in the dock, and the pail near it: he called some persons to assist in taking up the head, and finding the pail bloody, they conjectured that the head had been brought thither in it. Their suspicions were fully confirmed by the lighter-man, who saw the head thrown in as above-mentioned.

It was now time for the murderers to consider how they should dispose of the body, which Mrs. Hays and Wood proposed to put into a box, where it might remain concealed till they had a convenient opportunity to remove it.

This being determined on, she brought a box; but on endeavouring to put it in, they found the box was not big enough to hold it. They had before wrapped it in a blanket, out of which they now took it, and Mrs. Hays proposed to cut off the arms and legs; and this being done, they again attempted to put it in, but still the box would not hold it; they then cut off the thighs, and laying the limbs in the box, concealed the same till night.

The finding of Hays's head had in the mean time alarmed the town, and information was given to the neighbouring justices of the peace. The parish officers did all that was possible towards the discovery of the persons guilty of perpetrating so horrid a murder: they caused the head to be cleaned, the face to be washed from the dirt and blood, and the hair to be combed, and then the head to be set upon a post in public view, in St. Margaret's church-yard, Westminster, that every body might have free access to see the same, with some of the parish officers to attend, hoping by that means a discovery might be made.

The high constable of Westminster liberty, also issued private orders to all the petty constables, watchmen, and other officers of that district, to keep a strict eye on all coaches, carts, &c. passing in the night through their liberty, imagining that the perpetrators of such a horrid fact, would endeavour to free themselves of the body in the same manner they had done of the head.

These orders were executed for some time with all the secrecy imaginable, under various pretences, but without success. The head also continued to be exposed for some days in the manner before described, which drew a prodigious number of people to see the same, but without any discovery of the murderers.

On the 2d of March, in the evening, Catherine Hays, Thomas Wood, and Thomas Billings, took the body and disjointed members out of the box, and wrapped them up in two blankets, viz. the body in one, and the limbs in the other: Billings and Wood first took up the body, and about nine o'clock in the evening, carried it by turns into Marybone-Fields, and threw the same into a pond, which Wood in the day-time had been hunting for, and returning back again about eleven the same night, took up the limbs in the other old blanket, and carried them by turns to the same place, throwing them in there also.

About twelve o'clock the same night they returned back again, and knocking at the door, were let in by Mary Springate; they went up to bed in Mrs. Hays's fore-room, and she staid with them all night, sometimes sitting up, and sometimes lying down upon the bed by them.

On this same second of March, one Bennet, an apprentice to the king's organ-maker, going to Westminster to see the head, believed it to be that of Mr. Hays, with whom he had been intimately acquainted; whereupon he went and informed Mrs. Hays that the head exposed to view in St. Margaret's church-yard, was so very like her husband's, that he believed it to be his; upon which she assured him that Mr. Hays was very well, and reproved him for forming such an opinion, telling him he must be very cautious how he raised any such false and scandalous reports, which might bring him into a great deal of trouble. The young fellow was silenced by this reprimand, and said no more about it.

The same day also one Mr. Patrick having been to see the head, went afterwards to the house of Mr. Grainger at the Dog and Dial in Monmouth-street, with whom Hays and his wife had been intimately acquainted; Grainger's journeymen and other servants being Worcestershire people.43 Patrick told them he had been to see the head, and that he thought it the most like their countryman Hays of any face he had ever seen.

Billings being then at work, some of the servants replied, that it could not be his, because he being one of Mr. Hays's lodgers, they should have heard of it by him if Hays had been missing, or any accident had happened to him; to which Billings answered, that he was then alive and well, and that he left him in bed when he came to work in the morning.

On the next day, March 3, Mrs. Hays gave Wood a white coat, and a pair of leather breeches of her husband's, which he carried to Greenford, near Harrow on the Hill. Mrs. Springate seeing Wood carry away these things, tied up in a white cloth, told Mrs. Hays that Wood was gone down stairs with a bundle; and Hays answered that it was only a suit of clothes Wood had borrowed of a neighbour, which he was going to carry home again.

On the 4th day of March Mrs. Longmore going to visit Mrs. Hays, enquiring after her husband, she told her he was gone out to take a walk, and asking Mrs. Longmore what news, she told her all the talk was about the man's head that had been found at Westminster: she seemed to wonder very much at the wickedness of the age, that could commit such barbarous murders, telling her also, that there was a report in the neighbourhood of a woman who was just found in the fields, all mangled and cut to pieces; to which Mrs. Longmore answered, she had not heard any thing of such an accident.

On the 5th of March, Thomas Wood returned to town again to Mrs. Hays's for some linen, at which time she gave him a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings, a hat, and a waistcoat, which he knew to have been her husband's, and 5s. in money, and told him she would supply him with money whenever he wanted. She then told him her husband's head had been found, and how it continued to be exposed to view at Westminster, but that no person had owned it.

'Till the 6th of March the head continued to be exposed daily, but no discovery of the murder being made, the officers of the parish consulted with Mr. Westbrook, a surgeon, to have the same preserved in spirits, whereby it might be kept more intire, and the features much better preserved than otherwise, till a discovery could be made of the murderers.

This being resolved upon, Mr. Westbrook took charge of the same, and having provided a proper glass and spirits to contain it, the same was put therein, and exposed to the view of such persons as were desirous of seeing it. Notwithstanding all their endeavours to detect the authors of such a piece of barbarity, no discovery could be made, or any light obtained whereby the murderers could be detected.

In the mean time, Mrs. Hays quitted the house where the murder was committed, and removed to Mr. Jones's, a distiller in the neighbourhood, taking with her Wood, Billings, and Mrs. Springate, for whom she paid three months rent at her old lodging.

She now employed herself in collecting as much of her husband's property as she possibly could; and finding among other papers, a bond due to Mr. Hays from one John Davis, who had married his sister, she prevailed on a person to write a letter in her husband's name, which she sent to his mother on the 14th of March, to demand 10l. of the above-mentioned Davis, and threatening to sue him in case of non-payment.

Old Mrs. Hays received the letter, and acquainted her son-in-law Davis with the contents of it; he offered to pay the money on the bond being sent into the country; of which the old gentlewoman acquainted Mrs. Hays by a letter on the 22d of the same month.

During these transactions, numbers of people went to see the head of the murdered person, and among others a poor woman from Kingsland, whose husband had been absent from the day before the head was found: she fancied it bore a resemblance to that of her husband, but was not so positive as to swear to it; her belief however occasioned a report that it was so, and search was daily made after the body, but to no purpose.

In the mean time Mrs. Hays gave it out in the neighbourhood, that her husband had absconded upon account of an unfortunate rencounter he had44 with another person, wherein he had given his antagonist an unlucky blow which had occasioned his death; that they had hushed up the matter for some time, by promise45 of a considerable sum of money he was to pay the widow annually; but not being able to comply with the same, he was forced to withdraw. This story she endeavoured to propagate with all the industry she possibly could, though, as she pretended, under the greatest secresy.

Some few days before the discovery of this piece of barbarity, Mr. Joseph Ashby, who was an intimate acquaintance of the deceased, calling to see him, she informed him with a pretended secresy, of the fictitious story above-mentioned. He asked if the person her husband had murdered was the same to whom the head belonged; she said, no, that he was buried entire, and that her husband had given a note or bond, to pay her 15l. per. annum, in order to compromise the matter, and avoid a prosecution: he then asked her where her husband was gone; she replied, he was gone over to Portugal with two or three foreign gentlemen. Not being very well satisfied with this story, he went from thence to one Henry Longmore's, (who was cousin to the deceased) and told him the misfortune she had related to him, adding, he did not approve of the account he had received from her, and desired Mr. Longmore to go to her, without taking any notice of his having seen him;46 and then, by comparing the account she had related to him, with that which she should give to Mr. Longmore, they might be able to make some probable conjecture of the truth of the case.

Accordingly Mr. Longmore went to her, and enquiring for her husband, she replied, she supposed he had heard of his misfortune from Mr. Ashby; he answered, he had not seen him for some considerable time past, and was a stranger to his cousin's misfortunes, not knowing or believing that he was indebted to any person.

Mr. Longmore asked if Mr. Hays was in prison for debt; she replied, no, worse than that; and Mr. Longmore asking what could occasion his absconding, and saying, "I suppose he has not murdered any body," she answered that he had, and calling him aside, related the story above-mentioned.

Mr. Longmore enquired which way Mr. Hays was gone; she said into Hertfordshire, and that he had taken four pistols with him for his defence, viz. one under each arm, and two in his pockets. Longmore said it would be dangerous for him to travel in that manner, for he was liable47 to be apprehended on suspicion of being a highwayman; to which she answered, that it was his usual way of travelling, and the reason of it was because he was once attacked, and had like to have been robbed on the highway, and that he had once been48 apprehended on suspicion of being a highwayman, but that a gentleman who knew him, coming in accidentally, passed his word for his appearance, in consequence of which he was discharged.

Mr. Longmore told her, that it was very improbable that he should ever have been stopped upon suspicion of being a highwayman, and discharged only on a person's passing his word for his appearance; and asked her how he was supplied with money for his journey; to which she answered, that he had sewed twenty-six guineas into his cloaths, and had about seventeen shillings in silver in his pockets; and told him that Mrs. Springate who lodged in the house was privy to the whole transaction, for which reason she had paid her rent at her old lodging, the better to engage her secresy.

She now called Springate to testify the truth of what she had said; and seemed to reflect upon her husband's unkind usage of her, which surprized Mr. Longmore more than all she had said to him before, and strengthened his suspicion, because she had always before given him the best of characters, for a most indulgent and tender husband.

He then took his leave of her, and returning back to his friend Ashby, upon their comparing their several accounts together, there appeared very great reason to judge of some unfair practices towards Mr. Hays; they therefore resolved to go together to Mr. Eaton, a life-guard man,49 who was also an acquaintance of his, and accordingly went to enquire for him, intending he should have gone to her likewise, to have heard what account she would give him.

They went to several places to see for him, but missing of him, they went down to Westminster to see the head at Mr. Westbrook's; when they arrived there, he informed them that the head had been owned by a woman from Kingsland, who believed it to be her husband's, but was not positive enough to swear it,50 though the circumstances were strong, he having been missing from the day before the head was found: but they desiring to see it, Mr. Ashby went up stairs first to look upon it, and coming down again, informed Mr. Longmore he really believed it to be Hays's head; upon which Mr. Longmore then went up to see the same, and examining it more exactly than Mr. Ashby had done, was entirely of the same opinion.

They then went back to see for Mr. Eaton, and meeting with him at home, told him their suspicion, and the reasons thereof, and desired him to go along with them to make farther enquiry into the affair. Eaton invited them to stay to dinner with him, which at first they consented to, but afterwards changing their minds, they all went down to Longmore's house, where they repeated their suspicions, not only of Mr. Hays's having been murdered (which they were on sight of the head fully satisfied of) but also that his wife was privy to the same; and in order to obtain a more satisfactory account, they were consulting that Mr. Eaton should in a day or two go and enquire for her, without taking any notice that he had seen Longmore or Ashby; but in the interim Longmore's brother interposed, saying, that it was apparent their cousin had been murdered, and that there was great reason to supect that Mrs. Hays, together with Wood and Billings, (who, she had said, drank with him the night before his pretended journey,) were either principal actors in, or at least privy to the murder; and that therefore it was his opinion that no delay ought to be admitted, for in two or three days they might be gone from their lodgings, as they certainly would if they entertained any suspicion of a discovery being made.

Hereupon Mr. Longmore and the others went immediately to Justice Lambert, acquainted him with their suspicions, and desired his warrant to apprehend the supposed murderers.

The justice having examined the parties, concurred with them in their suspicions, and issued out a warrant for apprehending Catherine Hays, Thomas Wood, Thomas Billings, and Mary Springate, and likewise sent for proper officers to execute the same, resolving to attend them to see it done.

About nine o'clock at night the parties met, together with two officers of the guards, whom Eaton had in the mean time acquainted with the affair.

They went all together to Hays's lodgings, and, Longmore leading the company, they were going directly up stairs, when Mr. Jones, (the master of the house) demanded what they wanted: they soon satisfied him that they had sufficient authority, and immediately went up stairs.

When they came to Mrs. Hays's door, justice Lambert rapped with his cane, and she asking who was there, told them she was in bed; but being bid to open the door, or they would break it open, she desired time to put on her cloaths: when she came and opened the door, they entered, and seized her, and seeing Billings sit upon her bed-side without shoes and stockings, she was asked, if he had been in bed with her? she replied, no, but that he had been mending his stockings; to which justice Lambert replied, "He had good eyes that could see to mend his cloaths in the dark," there being neither fire nor candle burning in the room before the door was opened.

They seized Billings and her, and leaving a sufficient guard to attend them whilst they were dressing themselves, Longmore, justice Lambert, and several others, went up stairs to Springate, where they seized her also, and brought them away.

Justice Lambert examined them very strictly with respect to the murder, but they would not acknowledge any thing of it: whereupon they were severally committed, viz. Billings to New-Prison, Springate to the Gate-House, and Hays to Tothill-Fields Bridewell, for farther examination. She desired of Mr. Longmore that she might be admitted to see the head, of which request he acquainted the justice, who directed she should have a sight of it as she came from Tothill-Fields Bridewell, to her farther examination.

Accordingly Longmore going with the officers the next day to fetch her from thence to justice Lambert's, the coach stopped at Mr. Westbrook's door, and she being admitted into the house, as soon as she entered the room, threw herself down upon her knees, crying out, "Oh it is my dear husband's head: it is my dear husband's head!" and embracing the glass in her arms, kissed the outside of it several times: in the mean time Mr. Westbrook himself came in, and told her, if it was his head she should have a plainer view of it, he would take it out of the glass that she might have a full sight thereof; and accordingly taking the head by the hair, lifted it out of the glass, and brought it to her, when she catched hold of it and kissed it, pretending to be in a very great agony, and begged to have a lock of his hair; but Mr. Westbrook told her he feared she had already had too much of his blood. She fainted away, and on her recovery, was carried to Mr. Lambert's, to be examined by him, and other justices of the peace.

During these transactions, one Mr. Huddle, and his servant, being walking in the fields near Marybone, saw something lying in a ditch, which, on examination, they found to be the legs, thighs, and arms of a man: surprised at this, they the next morning procured assistance, and drained the pond, when they pulled out the body of a man wrapped up in a blanket.

One Crosby, a constable, brought the news of this circumstance, at the very time that the justices were examining Catherine Hays, not doubting but these were the body and limbs of her deceased husband.

Notwithstanding this additional circumstance, she steadily refused to make any confession; but the justices thought proper to commit her to Newgate, whither she was carried in the afternoon, the mob hollowing and shouting all the way, to express their joy at her being apprehended.

On the Sunday following, in the morning, Thomas Wood returned to town from Greenford, not having heard of the apprehension of Hays, Billings, or Springate; and going to the former lodgings to enquire for Mrs. Hays, he was told she was removed to Mr. Jones's the distiller: thither he went, and enquiring for her there, was known to be the other person suspected of being concerned in the murder of Mr. Hays; on which the people would not inform him that she and the others were apprehended on suspicion of the murder, but told him she was gone down to the Green Dragon in King-street, that being the house where Mr. Longmore lived; and a man who was present told him he was going to her, if he wanted to see her, he would shew him the way.

Accordingly Wood, being on horseback, followed the person, who led him directly to Longmore's house: at which time Longmore's brother coming to the door, and seeing Wood, immediately laid hold of him, and unhorsing him, dragged him into the house, sent for the officers, and charged them with him on suspicion of the murder, from whence he was carried before Justice Lambert, who asked him divers questions in relation to the murder, but he would acknowledge nothing, whereupon he was committed to Tothill-Fields-Bridewell.

Being there, he heard the various reports of persons concerning the murder, and judging from those that it was impossible to prevent a full discovery, or evade the proofs that were against him, he resolved upon making an ample confession51 of the whole affair, of which Justice Lambert being acquainted, he, with John Mohun, and Thomas Salt, Esqrs. two other justices of the peace, went to Tothill-Fields-Bridewell, to take his examination, which is as follows.

The Examination and Confession of THOMAS WOOD, taken before JOHN MOHUN, OLIVER LAMBERT, and THOMAS SALT, Esqrs. three of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, this 27th Day of March, 1726:

WHO confesseth, and saith, that on Tuesday, being the first of March instant, he had been drinking in several places, and that the last place was the Hog in the Pound, and came about twelve o'clock at noon to Mr. Hays's lodgings, and when he came home was merry, and Mr. Hays told him52 and said, "I, and another drank a half-guinea53 apiece in wine without being fuddled:" that Thomas Billings, then in company, said, that if Mr. Hays would then drink half a guinea's worth of wine, and not be fuddled, he would pay for it; that Hays agreed, they each put down half a guinea, and that Catherine Hays, Thomas Billings, and this examinant, went out about four o'clock in the afternoon, on the day aforesaid, to Bond-street, and brought in with them to Mr. Hays's lodgings, about six or seven bottles of mountain wine, and upon their return found Mr. Hays sitting by the fire-side in the fore-room, eating bread and cheese: that then this examinant went to the Angel and Crown to fetch a pot of two-penny, to drink while Mr. Hays drank the wine; that he staid about half an hour, and when he returned, about half the wine was drank, and Mr. Hays began to be very merry, and danced about the room, and said he thought he should not have wine enough to make him fuddled; on which Thomas Billings went out by himself and fetched another bottle of wine, and when he had drank that, he began to reel about the room, and went and laid down on the bed in the back-room: that Thomas Billings followed him into the said room, and there with a hatchet struck him on the back part of his head, which blow, he, this examinant heard given, and went into the room, and found Mr. Hays dead; and that Mrs. Hays immediately followed this examinant, and said, "We must take off his head, and make it away, or it will betray us;" and that then Catherine Hays, Thomas Billings, and this examinant, with the examinant's pocket-knife, cut off Mr. Hays's head, about eight o'clock at night, on the day aforesaid, and then put it into a pail without a bail; and Thomas Billings, and this examinant, carried the pail with the head in it to the water-side, and when they came there, Thomas Billings set down the pail, and this examinant took it up, and threw it into the Thames, and so both returned to Mrs. Hays's lodgings, and went to bed in the fore-room, in which room Mrs. Hays sat up all night.

And this examinant farther confesseth, and saith, that the next morning as soon as it was light, Catherine Hays, Thomas Billings, and this examinant, began to consult what they must do with the body: that Catherine Hays proposed to put it in a box which she had by her, and put it in a coach, and carry it away, and throw it into the Thames; that they all endeavoured, but the box was not large enought to hold it; upon which Catherine Hays proposed to cut it in pieces, which she, Thomas Billings, and this examinant did, and put it into the box, where it remained till night, and then all agreed to carry it out in parcels; and that about nine o'clock at night, Thomas Billings, and this examinant, took the carcase in a blanket, and carried it by turns to asort [sic]54 of a pond, or a ditch in Marybone-Fields, and threw it in with the blanket, and then returned again to Mrs. Hays's lodgings, being eleven o'clock at night, and then took the limbs in a piece of a blanket, and by turns carried them to the same place, and threw them into the same pond, and returned again about twelve o'clock55 the same night, and knocked at the door, and were let in by Mary Springate: that they went to bed in the fore-room, and that Catherine Hays was in the same room, and sometimes went and lay down on their bed.

And this examinant farther confesseth, and saith, that on Thursday being the 3d of March instant, he went to Greenford, near Harrow, in Middlesex, and carried with him a white coat, and a pair of leather breeches, which were Mr. Hays's, and are now at Mr. Bower's in Greenford, aforesaid.

And this examinant farther confesseth, and saith, that on Saturday, being the 5th day of March instant, this examinant returned to Mrs. Hays's lodgings, for some linen of his own; that then Mrs. Hays gave him a pair of shoes, a waistcoat, a hat, and a pair of stockings, which this examinant knew to be her late husband's, and likewise gave him two shillings in money; that she told him the head was found at Westminster, but was not known; that then he returned to Mr. Bower's aforesaid.

And this examinant farther saith, that Catherine Hays gave him three shillings and six-pence, and promised to supply him with money whenever he wanted: and farther saith, that she, the said Catherine Hays, had many times before, and often on the first of March instant, proposed to Thomas Billings, and this examinant the murder of her husband: that Thomas Billings had agreed to murder him, and offered to give this examinant money to buy wine to make Mr. Hays drunk, that they might accomplish the murder.

And this examinant farther saith, that Mary Springate was no ways privy, or any ways consenting or assisting to the aforesaid murder, or to the carrying away the body, or any thing relating to it.

Capt. coram nobis
die & Anno supradict.


He farther acknowledged, that ever since the commission of the fact he had had no peace, but a continual torment of mind; that that very day, before he came from Greenford, he was fully persuaded within himself that he should be seized for the murder when he came to town, and should never see Greenford more; notwithstanding which he could not refrain coming, though under an expected certainty of being taken, and dying for the fact.

Having thus made a full and ample confession, and signed the same, his mittimus57 was made by Justice Lambert, and he was committed to Newgate, whither he was carried under a guard of a serjeant and eight soldiers, with muskets and bayonets to keep off the mob, who were so exasperated against the actors of such a piece of barbarity, that without that caution it would have been very difficult to have carried him thither alive.

On the 28th of March, after Mrs. Hays was committed to Newgate, being the day after Wood's apprehension, Joseph Mercer going to Newgate to see Mrs. Hays, she told him, as he was Thomas Billings's friend as well as her's, she desired he would go to him, and tell him, it was in vain for him longer to deny the murder of her husband, for they were equally guilty, and must both die for it.

Billings hearing this, and that Wood was apprehended, and had fully confessed the whole affair, thought it needless to persist any longer in a denial, and therefore the next day, he made a full and plain discovery of the whole affair, which is as follows, viz.

The Examination and Confession of THOMAS BILLINGS, taken before OLIVER LAMBERT, and GIDEON HARVEY, Esqrs. two of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, on Tuesday, March 29, 1726.

WHO saith, that Catherine Hays, Thomas Wood, and this examinant, about three weeks before the murder of Mr. John Hays, had consulted to murder the said Hays, but not in what manner to put it in execution: that on the first of this instant March, he being in Mr. Hays's room with Catherine Hays, and Thomas Wood, discoursing about drinking, Mr. Hays told him he could drink a great deal of liquor, and not be drunk, to the value of half a guinea: that this examinant thereupon put down half a guinea to Mr. Hays's half guinea; that Catherine Hays, Thomas Wood, and this examinant went for about six bottles of mountain wine; that going for the wine, they three consulted to murder the said John Hays, it being a proper time after he had drank the wine, being about four o'clock in the afternoon; that on their return they found Mr. John Hays eating bread and cheese; that Mr. Hays began to drink the wine; that Catherine Hays, Thomas Wood, and this examinant did not drink above one glass each of the said wine; that Mr. Hays began to be very merry, and danced about the room; that this examinant fetched another bottle of wine, which they all drank among them; that the said John Hays began to reel about the room, and went and laid down on the bed in the back-room; that this examinant went into the room about a quarter of an hour after him, and there with a hatchet struck him on the back part of the head; that Thomas Wood took up the said hatchet, which this examinant had just laid down, and therewith gave Mr. Hays a blow or two; that the said Catherine Hays immediately followed into the said back-room, where Thomas Wood cut off the head of the said John Hays with his knife; that the said Catherine Hays and this examinant were close by the bed, when the said head was cut off; that Catherine Hays held the pail with the head in it, which this examinant carried to Mill-Bank; that Thomas Wood took up the pail, and threw it into the Thames, with the head in it, and so returned to Mrs. Hays's lodgings, and went to bed in the fore-room, in which room Mrs. Hays continued all night.

And this examinant saith, that on Wednesday morning the second instant, this examinant, and Thomas Wood, and Catherine Hays, began to consult how to dispose of the body of the said John Hays; that the said Hays and Thomas Wood proposed to put it into a box which she had by her; that Thomas Wood cut it in pieces, and put them58 into the said box, which it remained in till night; that this examinant went about noon to work; that Thomas Wood was to look out for a place to throw the body in, against this examinant's return home at night; and that about nine o'clock at night, Catherine Hays gave Thomas Wood a blanket, to carry off the body of her deceased husband; and they all agreed to carry it off in two parcels; that about nine o'clock at night, Thomas Wood, and this examinant carried away the body by turns, to a sort of ditch, or pond, in Marybone-Fields, and threw it in with the blanket, and then returned to Mrs. Hays's lodgings, and then took up the limbs in a piece of a blanket, and by turns carried them to the said place, and threw them into the same pond; and at their return were let in by Mary Springate.

And this examinant farther saith, that he remembered that Catherine Hays shewed to one or two men, a bond which was owing to her husband, but he knows not the sum.

Capt. Die & Anno


Wood and Billings, by their several confessions aforesaid, acquitting Springate of having any concern in the murder, she was soon discharged from her confinement; but this discovery making a great noise in the town, divers of Mrs. Hays's acquaintance went to visit her in Newgate, and examining her as to the reasons, and motives that induced her to commit the said fact, her acknowlegment in general was, "That Mr. Hays had proved but an indifferent husband to her; that one night he came home drunk and struck her; that upon her complaining thereof to Billings and Wood, they, or one of them, said, such a fellow (meaning Hays) ought not to live, and that they would murder him for a half-penny;" upon which she took that opportunity to propose the bloody deed, telling them they might kill him if they would.

She acknowledged that she knew of their design, and heard Billings give her husband the blow; that then she and Wood went into the room where they were; and that she held the candle whilst Wood cut her husband's throat.

When she heard that Billings had made an ample confession of the whole affair, and was told that the crime on her side was not murder only, but petit treason, the punishment whereof was to be burnt alive, she began to shew great concern, and sent word to Billings, that it was very hard he should, by acknowledging every circumstance of the affair, subject her to an indictment for petit treason.

Being told of a report that Billings was her son, she would not speak positively to that matter, but said, "He was her own flesh and blood, but how nearly he was related he himself knew not; but she feared before she died, it would appear to the world."

When asked the same question at other times, she would answer in no other terms, but that she would never disown him whilst she lived, and seemed to shew a greater concern for him than for herself, by endeavouring to extenuate his guilt, saying, "He was not so guilty as was believed." She was daily sending from the master's-side, where she lay, to the Condemned-Hold, in which he was confined, to enquire after his health.

Whilst she lay in custody she was taught to believe that the confession of Wood and Billings could no ways affect her life; this made her vainly imagine that there was no positive proof against her, and that circumstances only would not convict her: for this reason she resolved to put herself upon her trial, (contrary to her first intentions, for having been asked what she would do, she replied, she would hold up her hand at the bar and plead guilty, for the whole world could not save her) and accordingly, being arraigned, she pleaded Not Guilty, and put herself upon her trial. Wood and Billings both pleaded Guilty to the same indictment at the same time, acknowledging their guilt, and desiring to make atonement for the same with the loss of their lives; only praying the court would be graciously pleased to favour them so much (in regard they had made an ingenuous confession) as to dispense with their being hanged in chains.

Mrs. Hays having put herself on her trial, the king's council opened the indictment, setting forth the heinousness of the fact, the premeditated intentions, and inhuman method of acting it; that his majesty, for the more effectual prosecution of such vile offenders, and out of a tender regard to the peace and welfare of all his subjects, and that the actors and perpetrators of such unheard-of barbarities might be brought to condign punishment, had given them directions to prosecute the prisoners.

Then Richard Bromage, Robert Wilkins, Leonard Myring, Joseph Mercer, John Blakesly, Mary Springate, and Richard Bows, were called into court, the substance of whose evidence against the prisoner was, that she being interrogated about the murder when in Newgate, said "The devil put it into her head; but however John Hays was none of the best of husbands, for she had been half starved ever since she was married to him; that she did not in the least repent of any thing she had done, but only in drawing those two poor men into this misfortune; that she was six weeks importuning them to do it; that they denied it two or three times, but at last agreed; her husband was made so drunk that he fell out of his chair, then Billings and Wood carried him into the back room, and laid him upon the bed; that she was not in that room, but in the fore room on the same floor, when he was killed; but that they told her that Billings struck him twice on the head with a pole-axe, and that then Wood cut his throat; that when he was quite dead, she went in and held the candle whilst Wood cut his head quite off, and afterwards they chopped off his legs and arms; that they wanted to get him into an old chest, but he was too long and too big; they thought to have done it by cutting off his thighs and arms, and then the chest would not hold them all; the body and limbs were put into blankets at several times the next night, and thrown into a pond; that the devil was in them all, and they were all got drunk; that it would signify nothing to make a long preamble, she could hold up her hand and say she was guilty, for nothing could save her, no body could forgive her; that the men who did the murder were taken, and had confessed it; that she was not with them when they did it; that she was sitting by the fire in the shop upon a stool; that she heard the blow given, and heard somebody stamp; that she did not cry out for fear they should kill her; that after the head was cut off it was put into a pail, and Wood carried it out; that Billings sat down by her and cried, and would lie all the rest of the night in the room with the dead body; that the first occasion of this design to murder him was, because he came home drunk one night and beat her, upon which Billings said, this fellow deserves to be killed, and Wood said, he'd be his butcher for one penny; that she told them they might do as they would, but did not think they would do it that night it was done; that she did not tell her husband of the design to murder him, for fear he should beat her; that she sent to Billings to let him know it was in vain to deny the murder of her husband any longer, for they were both guilty, and must both die for it."

There were many other circumstances equally strong, besides this acknowledgment from her own mouth, and about fourteen or fifteen other witnesses; but the proofs being so plain, there was no occasion to examine them: she acknowledged in court upon her trial, that she knew of the intention to murder him some days before the fact was committed, and that she was in the next room when it was done, but persisted in it that she was innocent, because she did not kill him with her own hands; and having nothing else to offer, she was found guilty.

At their receiving sentence, Wood and Billings begged the mercy of the court that they might not be hung in chains, acknowledging the justice of their sentence, and their willingness to atone for the blood they had shed, by laying down their lives for the same: Mrs. Hays desired likewise she might not be burned, saying, she was willing and desirous to die, though innocent of the fact: and having nothing more to offer in their defence, sentence of death as usual was passed upon them, viz. Wood and Billings to be hanged, and Mrs. Hays to be burned alive.

After sentence they were all remanded back to Newgate, Wood and Billings were confined in the Condemned-Hold with the other malefactors under sentence of death, and Mrs. Hays in an apartment peculiar to the women in the like condition.

The great care and anxiety she shewed for Wood, and particularly for Billings, justly gave the world reason to suspect there were some uncommon motives that induced her to commit the fact: she was both before and after her trial sending messengers to, and enquiring after Billings, and out of such money as she either had with her, or was given to her whilst in prison by charitable persons, she would send and give the greatest share of it to them.

Wood being sensibly touched with remorse for the heinousness and barbarity of the fact, shewed all the marks of an unfeigned and sincere repentance; and what with the horror of the action, and the unwholesomeness of the place wherein he was confined, he contracted a violent fever, which preyed upon him in a very severe manner: he came to the chapel at prayer time so long as he was able, till his distemper prevailing upon him, he was obliged to desist: a reverend clergyman visited him in his illness, who gave him such advice and consolation as the nature of his case would admit of; he confirmed the particulars of the confession he had before made, agreeable to what is herein mentioned, wishing only that he might live a few days longer, not for the sake of prolonging a miserable life, but that purely, by suffering the sentence of the law, he might in some measure atone for his past offences, and by the condign punishment here inflicted upon him, he might be a terrible warning to all young persons how they offended in like manner; but on Wednesday the 4th of May he died in the Condemned-Hold.

This Thomas Wood, who was about twenty-eight years of age, was born about three miles from Ombersly, between Ludlow and Worcester, of honest, though indifferent mean parents; he had not in his youth been brought up to any regular trade or business, but worked among59 the farmers, hay-makers, &c. however he was very remarkable for being of a sober settled behaviour in all his actions, by which means he gained entirely the love of the neighbourhood, who could not be induced to entertain an ill opinion of him.

His father dying some years before he left the country, his mother, who then kept a little ale-house at the place before-mentioned, being left with several children, he was very dutiful and industrious in assisting her, and by his labour was very instrumental in the support of the family; sometimes doing husbandry, harvest, or labourer's work, according as the same offered: at other times being employed as a tapster, in drawing drink in several inns in the country, till some few months before the murder was committed, he had a desire to come to London, which he did, and behaved himself very regularly and diligently in such business as he could get; but not being settled in any certain place of work, he was fearful of being pressed, and recollecting his countryman Hays, he went to see him, to whom relating his apprehensions, and want of business at the same time, Mr. Hays invited him to come and lodge with Billings, and promised to enquire out for business for him: he had not been long there before Mrs. Hays took the opportunity to propose to him the designed intention she had of murdering her husband, which at first he refused with abhorrence, but at last was over-persuaded by her artful entreaties; and his being in a great measure intoxicated when the fact was committed, brought him to a compliance.

There are various opinions and conjectures of Thomas Billings as to his birth and parentage; Mrs. Hays herself, some few days before the execution, affirmed him to be her own son, lawfully begotten by Mr. Hayes after her marriage with him, and that he was twenty years of age at his execution; that Mr. Hays not loving him when an infant, he was put out to her relations to nurse, and took the name of Billings from his godfather, who was of that name; but as none of Mr. Hays's relations knew or heard of her ever having had any such child, and as it is certain she, even till the very time of her death, prevaricated in several things, there is little reason to believe it to be so.

The only account he could give of himself was, that he believed himself to be a near relation of Mrs. Hays, but by what means he could not tell; that he also believed he was a bastard, but had no other knowledge of his parents, than that a shoemaker in the country passed for his father.

He said he was brought up in the country, and put to school, where he learned to read and write; that he was afterwards put apprentice to a taylor, with whom he served his apprenticeship, at the expiration of which he came to town, and lodging with Mr. Hays, worked in Monmouth-street, and other places in that neighbourhood, till he was drawn into the commission of the fact for which he suffered.

He said farther, that Mrs. Hays never told him any thing of his being her son till after her condemnation, and a few days before the execution.

The best account of Billings is, that he was found in a basket on a common, not far from the place where Catherine lived in the country, before she was married to Mr. Hays; that he was put out to nurse, at the expence of the parish, to people of the name of Billings, from whom he derived that name; that when of a proper age, he was likewise put apprentice, at the parish charge, to Mr. Wetherland, a taylor, to whom they gave forty shillings with him.

At the time of his execution he was twenty-two or twenty-three years of age; whereas Mrs. Hays, by her own confession, had been married only twenty years and eight months. It is not unlikely that Billings was a natural child of Mrs. Hays's, born in her rambles before marriage, and dropped by her where he was found.

Billings appeared much restrained in his behaviour before Mrs. Hays, and influenced by her; nor was he so ingenuous in his confession after sentence as he had been before, but evaded several questions that were asked him, especially in Mrs. Hays's company: he otherwise seemed to have a great remorse of conscience for the crime he had committed, and appeared penitent and devout during his confinement.

After sentence Mrs. Hays behaved herself with more indifference than might have been expected from one under her circumstances; she frequently expressed herself to be under no concern at her approaching death, only the manner of it appeared to carry some terror with it; she shewed more concern for Billings than for herself, and also a surprising fondness for him in all her actions: when in the chapel, she would sit with her hand in his, and lean upon his breast and shoulder, and he on her's; for this she was reprimanded, as being offensive to the spectators, both in regard to the indecency of the action, and as it shewed her esteem for the murderer of her husband; notwithstanding which reason she would not desist, but continued the same until the minute of her death; one of her last expressions to the executioner, as she was going from the sledge to the stake, being an enquiry if he had hanged her dear child.

On the Friday evening before her execution, being assured she should die on the Monday following, she attempted to destroy herself; for which purpose she had procured a bottle of strong poison, designing to have taken the same; but a woman who was in the place with her, touching the same with her lips, found it burned them to an extraordinary degree, and spilling a little on her handkerchief, it burned that also; upon which, suspecting her intentions, she broke the phial, whereby her design was frustrated.

On the day of her execution she was at prayers, and received the sacrament in the chapel, where she still shewed her tenderness for Billings. About twelve the prisoners were severally carried away for execution; Billings, with eight others, for various crimes, were put into three carts, and Catherine Hays was drawn upon a sledge to the place of execution, where being arrived, Billings, with the other eight, after having had some time for their private devotions, were turned off: after which, Catherine Hays being brought to the stake, was chained thereto with an iron chain, running round her waist, and under her arms, and a rope round her neck, which was drawn through a hole in the post; then the faggots, intermixed with light brush-wood and straw, being piled all round her, the executioner put fire thereto in several places, which immediately blazing out, as soon as the same reached her, she with her arms pushed down those which were before her, when she appeared in the middle of the flames as low as the waist; upon which the executioner got hold of the end of the cord which was round her neck, and pulled it tight, in order to strangle her, but the fire soon reached his hand, and burned it, so that he was obliged to let it go again; more faggots were immediately thrown upon her, and in about three or four hours she was reduced to ashes: in the mean time Billings's irons were put upon him as he was hanging on the gallows; after which being cut down, he was carried to the gibbet, about a hundred yards distance, and there hung up in chains.

They were executed at Tyburn on the ninth of May, 1726.

An anonymous rhimer,60 imagining that this execrable murder was a proper subject for drollery, exerted his talent in composing the following ballad.

A SONG on the Murder of Mr. Hays.
(To the Tune of Chevy Chace.)
By Mrs. Hays.


In Tyburn-Road a man there liv'd,
A just and honest life;
And there he might have lived still,
If so had pleas'd his wife.


But she to vicious ways inclin'd,
A life most wicked led;
With taylors, and with tinkers too,
She oft defil'd his bed.


Full twice a-day to church he went,
And so devout wou'd be;
Sure never was a saint on earth,
If that no saint was he!


This vex'd his wife unto the heart,
She was of wrath so full;
That finding no hole in his coat,
She pick'd one in his scull.


But then her heart 'gan61 to relent,
And griev'd she was so sore;
That quarter to him for to give,
She cut him into four.


All in the dark and dead of night,
These quarters she convey'd;
And in a ditch at Marybone,
His marrow-bones she laid.


His head at Westminster she threw,
All in the Thames so wide;
Says she, my dear, the wind sets fair,
And you may have the tide.


But heav'n, whose pow'r no limit knows
On earth, or on the main,
Soon caus'd this head for to be thrown
Upon the land again.


This head being found, the justices
Their heads together laid;
And all agreed there must have been
Some body to this head.


But since no body could be found,
High mounted on a shelf,
They e'en set up the head to be
A witness for itself.


Ere many days had gone and past,
The deed at length was known,
And Cath'rine she confess'd, at last,
The fact to be her own.


God prosper long our noble king,
Our lives and safeties all,
And grant that we may warning take
By Cath'rine Hays's fall.

F. Knapp and Baldwin's Newgate Calendar (1824-28)

What follows is the account of the Hayes murder found in the 1824-28 edition of The Newgate Calendar, edited by Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, 4 vols. in 3 (London), 1: 257-68.

Burnt Alive for the Murder of her Husband.

We give the history of the enormous sins and dreadful sufferings of this abominable woman just as they came to our hands——altogether too shocking for a single comment.

Catherine Hayes was the daughter of a poor man of the name of Hall, who lived near Birmingham. She remained with her parents till she was about fifteen years old, and then, having a dispute with her mother, left her home, and set out with a view of going to London. Her person being rather engaging, some officers in the army, who met with her on the road, prevailed on her to accompany them to their quarters at Great Ombersley, in Worcestershire, where she remained with them a considerable time.——On being dismissed by these officers, she strolled about the country, till, arriving at the house of Mr. Hayes, a farmer in Warwickshire, the farmer's wife hired her as a servant. When she had continued a short time in this service, Mr. Hayes's son fell violently in love with her, and a private marriage took place, which was managed in the following manner: Catherine left the house early in the morning, and the younger Hayes, being a carpenter, prevailed on his mother to let him have some money to buy tools; but as soon as he had got it he set out, and, meeting his sweetheart at a place they had agreed on, they went to Worcester, where the nuptial rites were celebrated. At this time it happened that the officers by whom she had been seduced were at Worcester; and, hearing of her marriage, they caused young Hayes to be taken out of bed from his wife, under pretence that he had enlisted in the army. Thus situated, he was compelled to send an account of the whole transaction to his father, who, though offended with his son for the rash step he had taken, went to a magistrate, who attended him to Worcester, and demanded by what authority the young man was detained. The officers endeavoured to excuse their conduct; but the magistrate threatening to commit them to prison if they did not release him, the young fellow immediately obtained his liberty. The father, irritated at the imprudent conduct of his son, severely censured his proceedings; but, considering that what was passed could not be recalled, had good sense enough not to persevere in his opposition to an unavoidable event.——Mr. Hayes now furnished his son with money to begin business for himself; and the young couple were in a thriving way, and appeared to live in harmony; but Mrs. Hayes, being naturally of a restless disposition, prevailed on her husband to enlist for a soldier. The regiment in which he served being ordered to the Isle of Wight, Catherine followed him thither. He had not been long there before his father procured his discharge, which, as it happened in the time of war, was attended with an expense of 60l. On the return of young Hayes and his wife, the father gave them an estate of 10l. per annum, to which he afterwards added another of 16l. which, with the profit of their trade, would have been amply sufficient for their support. The husband bore the character of an honest well-disposed man; he treated his wife very indulgently, yet she constantly complained of the covetousness of his disposition; but he had much more reason to complain of her disposition, for she was turbulent, quarrelsome, and perpetually exciting disputes among her neighbours. The elder Mr. H. observing with concern how unfortunately his son was matched, advised him to leave her, and settle in some place where she might not find him. Such, however, was his attachment to her, that he could not comply with this advice; and she had the power of persuading him to come to London, after they had been married about six years. On their arrival in the metropolis, Mr. Hayes took a house, part of which he let in lodgings, and opened a shop in the chandlery and coal trade, in which he was as successful as he could have wished. Exclusive of his profit by shopkeeping, he acquired a great deal of money by lending small sums on pledges, for at this time the trade of pawnbroking was followed by any one at pleasure, it having been then subjected to no regulation. Mrs. Hayes's conduct in London was still more reprehensible than it had been in the country. The chief pleasure of her life consisted in creating and encouraging quarrels among her neighbours; and, indeed, her unhappy temper discovered itself on every occasion. Sometimes she would speak of her husband, to his acquaintance, in terms of great tenderness and respect; and at other times she would represent him to her female associates as a compound of every thing that was contemptible in human nature. On a particular occasion, she told a woman of her acquaintance that she should think it no more sin to murder him than to kill a dog. At length her husband, finding she made perpetual disturbances in the neighbourhood, thought it prudent to remove to Tottenham Court Road, where he carried on his former business; but not being as successful here as he could have wished, he took another house in Tyburn Road, since called Oxford Road. Here he continued his practice of lending small sums of money on pledges, till, having acquired a decent competency, he left off housekeeping, and hired lodgings near the same spot.——Thomas Billings, a journeyman tailor, and a supposed son of Mrs. Hayes by her former connexions, lodged in the house with Mrs. Hayes; and the husband having gone into the country on business, his wife and this man indulged themselves in every species of extravagance. On Hayes's return some of his neighbours told him how his wife had been wasting his substance, on which he severely censured her conduct, and, a quarrel arising between them, they proceeded from words to blows. It was commonly thought that she formed the resolution of murdering him at this time, as the quarrel happened only six weeks before his fatal exit. She now began to sound the disposition of Billings, to whom she said it was impossible for her to live longer with her husband; and she urged all possible arguments to prevail on him to aid her in the commission of the murder, which Billings resisted for some time, but at length complied.

At this period Thomas Wood, an acquaintance of Mr. Hayes, arrived from the country; and, as he was apprehensive of being impressed, Hayes kindly took him into his house, and promised to use his interest in procuring him some employment. After a few days' residence Mrs. Hayes proposed to him the murder of her husband: but the man was shocked at the thought of destroying his friend and benefactor, and told her he would have no concern in so atrocious a deed. However, she artfully urged that 'he was an atheist, and it could be no crime to destroy a person who had no religion or goodness——that he was himself a murderer, having killed a man in the country, and likewise two of his own children; one of whom he buried under a pear-tree, and the other under an apple-tree.' She likewise said that her husband's death would put her in possession of 1500l., of the whole of which Wood should have the disposal, if he would assist her and Billings in the perpetration of the murder. Wood went out of town a few days after this, and on his return found Mr. and Mrs. Hayes and Billings in company together, having drank till they had put themselves into the utmost apparent good humour. Wood sitting down at Hayes's request, the latter said they had drank a guinea's worth of liquor, but, notwithstanding this, he was not drunk. A proposal was now made by Billings, that, if Hayes could drink six bottles of mountain without being drunk, he would pay for it; but that Hayes should be the paymaster, if the liquor made him drunk, or if he failed of drinking the quantity. This proposal being agreed to, Wood, Billings, and Mrs. Hayes, went to a wine-vault to buy the wine, and, on their way, this wicked woman reminded the men that the present would be a good opportunity of committing the murder, as her husband would be perfectly intoxicated. The mind of Wood was not yet wrought up to a proper pitch for the commission of a crime so atrocious as the murder of a man who had sheltered and protected him, and this too at a time when his mind must necessarily be unprepared for his being launched into eternity. Mrs. H. had therefore recourse to her former arguments, urging that it would be no sin to kill him; and Billings seconded all she said, and, declaring he was ready to take a part in the horrid deed, Wood was at length prevailed on to become one of the execrable butchers. Thus agreed, they went to the wine-vault, where Mrs. Hayes paid half a guinea for six bottles of wine, which, being sent home by a porter, Mr. Hayes began to drink it, while his intentional murderers regaled themselves with beer. When he had taken a considerable quantity of the wine, he danced about the room like a man distracted, and at length finished the whole quantity: but, not being yet in a state of absolute stupefaction, his wife sent for another bottle, which he likewise drank, and then fell senseless on the floor. Having lain some time in this condition, he got, with much difficulty, into another room, and threw himself on a bed. When he was asleep, his wife told her associates that this was the time to execute their plan, as there was no fear of any resistance on his part. Accordingly Billings went into the room with a hatchet, with which he struck Hayes so violently that he fractured his skull. At this time Hayes's feet hung off the bed, and the torture arising from the blow made him stamp repeatedly on the floor, which being heard by Wood, he also went into the room, and, taking the hatchet out of Billings's hand, gave the poor man two more blows, which effectually dispatched him. A woman, named Springate, who lodged in the room over that where the murder was committed, hearing the noise occasioned by Hayes's stamping, imagined that the parties might have quarrelled in consequence of their intoxication; and going down stairs, she told Mrs. Hayes that the noise had awakened her husband, her child, and herself. Catherine had a ready answer to this: she said some company had visited them, and were grown merry, but they were on the point of taking their leave; with which answer Mrs. Springate returned to her room well satisfied. The murderers now consulted on the best manner of disposing of the body, so as most effectually to prevent detection. Mrs. Hayes proposed to cut off the head, because, if the body was found whole, it would be more likely to be known. The villains agreeing to this proposition, she fetched a pail, lighted a candle, and all of them going into the room, the men drew the body partly off the bed, when Billings supported the head, while Wood, with his pocket-knife, cut it off, and the infamous woman held the pail to receive it, being as careful as possible that the floor might not be stained with the blood. This being done, they emptied the blood out of the pail into a sink by the window, and poured several pails of water after it; but, notwithstanding all this care, Mrs. Springate observed some congealed blood the next morning; though at that time she did not in the least supect what had passed. It was likewise observed that the marks of the blood were visible on the floor for some weeks afterwards, though Mrs. Hayes had washed and scraped it with a knife. When the head was cut off, this she-devil recommended the boiling it till the flesh should part from the bones; but the other parties thought this operation would take up too much time, and therefore advised the throwing it into the Thames, in expectation that it would be carried off by the tide, and sink. This agreed to, the head was put into the pail, and Billings took it under his great coat, being accompanied by Wood; but, making a noise in going down stairs, Mrs. Springate called, and asked what was the matter; to which Mrs. Hayes answered that her husband was going a journey, and, with incredible dissimulation, affected to take leave of him; and, as it was now past eleven, pretended great concern that he was under a necesssity of going at so late an hour. By this artifice Wood and Billings passed out of the house unnoticed, and went to Whitehall, where they intended to have thrown in the head; but the gates being shut, they went to a wharf near the Horse Ferry, Westminster. Billings putting down the pail, Wood threw the head into the dock, expecting it would have been carried away by the stream; but at this time the tide was ebbing, and a lighterman, who was then in his vessel, heard something fall into the dock, but it was too dark for him to distinguish objects. The murderers, having thus disposed of the head, went home, and were let in by Mrs. Hayes, without the knowledge of the lodgers. On the following morning, soon after daybreak, as a watchman, named Robinson, was going off his stand, he saw the pail, and, looking into the dock, observed the head of a man. Having procured some witnesses to this spectacle, they took out the head; and, observing the pail to be bloody, concluded that it was brought therein from some distant part. The lighterman now said that he had heard something thrown into the dock; and the magistrates and parish officers, having assembled, gave strict orders that the most diligent search should be made after the body, which, however, was not found till some time afterwards; for, when the murderers had conversed together on the disposal of the body, Mrs. Hayes had proposed that it should be put into a box and buried; and the others agreeing to this, she purchased a box, which, on being sent home, was found too little to contain it: she therefore recommended the chopping off the legs and arms, which was done; but the box being still too small, the thighs were likewise cut off, all the parts packed up together, and the box put by till night, when Wood and Billings took out the pieces of the mangled body, and, putting them into two blankets, carried them into a pond near Marylebone; which being done, they returned to their lodgings, and Mrs. Springate, who had still no suspicion of what had passed, opened the door for them. In the interim the magistrates directed that the head should be washed clean, and the hair combed, after which it was put on a pole in the churchyard of St. Margaret, Westminster, that an opportunity might be afforded for its being viewed by the public.62 Orders were likewise given that the parish officers should attend this exhibition of the head, to take into custody any suspicious person who might discover signs of guilt on the sight of it.

The high constable of Westminster, on a presumption that the body might, on the following night, be thrown where the head had been, gave private orders to the inferior constables to attend during the night, and stop all coaches, or other carriages, or persons with burdens, coming near the spot, and examine if they could find the body, or any of the limbs. The head being exposed on the pole so excited the curiosity of the public, that immense crowds of people, of all ranks, went to view it; and among the rest was a Mr. Bennet, apprentice to the king's organ-builder, who, having looked at it with great attention, said he thought it was the head of Hayes, with whom he had been some time acquainted; and hereupon he went to Mrs. Hayes, and, telling her his suspicions, desired she would go and take a view of the head. In answer hereto she told him that her husband was in good health, and desired him to be cautious of what he said, as such a declaration might occasion Hayes a great deal of trouble; on which, for the present, Bennet took no farther notice of the affair. A journeyman tailor, named Patrick, who worked in Monmouth Street, having likewise taken a view of the head, told his master on his return that he was confident it was the head of Hayes; on which some other journeymen in the same shop, who had likewise known the deceased, went and saw it, and returned perfectly assured that it was so. Now Billings worked at this very shop in Monmouth Street: one of these journeymen observed, therefore, to him, that he must know the head, as he lodged in Hayes's house; but Billings said he had left him well in bed when he came to work in the morning, and therefore it could not belong to him. On this same day Mrs. Hayes gave Wood a suit of clothes which had belonged to her husband, and sent him to Harrow-on-the-Hill. As Wood was going down stairs with the bundle of clothes, Mrs. Springate asked him what he had got; to which Mrs. Hayes readily replied, A suit of clothes he had borrowed of an acquaintance. On the second day after the commission of the murder, Mrs. Hayes being visited by a Mr. Longmore, the former asked what was the news of the town; when the latter said that the public conversation was wholly engrossed by the head which was fixed in St. Margaret's churchyard. Hereupon Catherine exclaimed against the wickedness of the times, and said she had been told that the body of a murdered woman had been found in the fields that day. Wood coming from Harrow-on-the-Hill on the following day, Catherine told him that the head was found; and giving him some other clothes that had belonged to her husband, and five shillings, said she would continue to supply him with money. After the head had been exhibited four days, and no discovery made, a surgeon named Westbrook was desired to put it in a glass of spirits, to prevent its putrefying, and keep it for the farther inspection of all who chose to take a view of it, which was accordingly done. Soon after this Mrs. Hayes quitted her lodgings, and removed to the house of Mr. Jones, a distiller, paying Mrs. Springate's rent also at the former lodgings, and taking her with her. Wood and Billings likewise removed with her, whom she continued to supply with money and employed herself principally in collecting cash that had been owing to her late husband. A sister of Mr. Hayes's, who lived in the country, having married a Mr. Davies, Hayes had lent Davies some money, for which he had taken his bond. Catherine finding this bond among Mr. Hayes's papers, she employed a person to write a letter in the name of the deceased, demanding ten pounds in part of payment, and threatening a prosecution in case of refusal. Mr. Hayes's mother being still living, and Davies unable to pay the money, he applied to the old gentlewoman for assistance, who agreed to pay the sum on condition that the bond was sent into the country; and wrote to London, intimating her consent so to do, having no suspicion of the horrid transaction which had taken place. Amongst the incredible numbers of people who resorted to see the head was a poor woman from Kingsland, whose husband been absent from the very time that the murder was perpetrated. After a minute survey of the head, she believed it to be that of her husband, though she could not be absolutely positive. However, her suspicions were so strong, that strict search was made after the body, on a presumption that the clothes might help her to ascertain it. Meanwhile, Mr. Hayes not being visible for a considerable time, his friends could not help making inquiry after him. A Mr. Ashby, in particular, who had been on the most friendly terms with him, called on Mrs. Hayes, and demanded what had become of her husband. Catherine pretended to account for his absence by communicating the following intelligence, as a matter that must be kept profoundly secret: 'Some time ago (said she) he happened to have a dispute with a man, and from words they came to blows, so that Mr. Hayes killed him. The wife of the deceased made up the affair, on Mr. Hayes's promising to pay her a certain annual allowance; but he not being able to make it good, she threatened to inform against him, on which he has absconded.' This method of accounting for the absence of his friend was by no means satisfactory to Mr. Ashby, who asked her if the head that had been exposed on the pole was that of the man who had been killed by her husband. She readily answered in the negative, adding, that the party had been buried entire; and that the widow had her husband's bond for the payment of fifteen pounds a year. Ashby inquired to what part of the world Mr. Hayes was gone: she said to Portugal, in company with some gentlemen; but she had yet received no letter from him. The whole of this story seeming highly improbable to Mr. Ashby, he went to Mr. Longmore, a gentleman nearly related to Hayes, and it was agreed between them that Mr. Longmore should call on Catherine, and have some conversation, but not let her know that Ashby had been with him, as they supposed that, by comparing the two accounts together, they might form a very probable judgment of the matter of fact. Accordingly Longmore went to Catherine, and inquired after her husband. In answer to his questions, she said she presumed Mr. Ashby had related the circumstance of his misfortune; but Longmore replied that he had not seen Ashby for a considerable time, and expressed his hope that her husband was not imprisoned for debt. 'No,' she replied, 'it is much worse than that.' 'Why,' said Longmore, 'has he murdered any one?' To this she answered in the affirmative; and, desiring him to walk into another room, told him almost the same story as she had done to Mr. Ashby, but instead of naming Portugal, said he was retired into Hertfordshire, and, in fear of being attacked, had taken four pistols to defend himself. It was now remarked by Mr. Longmore that it was imprudent for him to travel thus armed, as he was liable to be taken up on suspicion of being a highwayman, and if such a circumstance should happen, he would find it no easy matter to procure a discharge. She allowed the justice of this remark, but said that Mr. Hayes commonly travelled in this manner. She likewise said that he was once taken into custody on suspicion of being a highwayman, and conducted to a magistrate; but a gentleman who was casually present, happening to know him, gave bail for his appearance. To this Longmore observed that the justice of the peace must have exceeded his authority, for that the law required that two parties should bail a person charged on suspicion of having robbed on the highway. In the course of conversation Mr. Longmore asked her what sum of money her husband had in his possession. To which she replied that he had seventeen shillings in his pocket, and about twenty-six guineas sewed within the lining of his coat. She added that Mrs. Springate knew the truth of all these circumstances, which had induced her to pay that woman's rent at the former lodgings, and bring her away. Mrs. Springate, having been interrogated by Longmore, averred the truth of all that Catherine had said; and added, that Mr. Hayes was a very cruel husband, having behaved with remarkable severity to his wife; but Mr. Longmore said this must be false, for to his knowledge he was remarkably tender and indulgent to her. Longmore went immediately to Mr. Ashby, and said that, from the difference of the stories Catherine had told them, he had little doubt but that poor Hayes had been murdered. Hereupon they determined to go to Mr. Eaton, who was one of the life-guards, and nearly related to the deceased, and to communicate their suspicions to him; but Eaton happening to be absent from home, they agreed to go again to Westminster, and survey the head with more care and attention than they had hitherto done. On their arrival the surgeon told them that a poor woman from Kingsland had, in part, owned the head as that of her husband, but she was not so absolutely certain as to swear that it was so, and that they were very welcome to take another view of it. This they did, and coincided in opinion that it was actually the head of Hayes. On their return, therefore, they called at Eaton's house, and took him with them to dine at Mr. Longmore's, where the subject of conversation ran naturally on the supposed discovery they had made. A brother of Mr. Longmore, coming in at this juncture, listened to their conversation; and, remarking that they proposed Mr. Eaton should go to Mrs. Hayes at the expiration of two or three days, and make inquiries after her husband similar to those which had been made by the others, this gentleman urged his objections; observing that, as they had reason to think their suspicions so well founded, it would be very ill policy to lose any time, since the murderers would certainly effect an escape, if they should hear they were suspected; and as Wood and Billings were drinking with Mr. Hayes the last time he was seen, he advised that they should be immediately taken into custody. This advice appeared so reasonable, that all the parties agreed to follow it; and, going soon afterwards to Justice Lambert, they told him their suspicions, and the reasons on which they were founded. The magistrate immediately granted his warrant for the apprehension of Catherine Hayes, Thomas Wood, Thomas Billings, and Mary Springate, on suspicion of their having been guilty of the murder of John Hayes; and Mr. Lambert, anxious that there should be no failure in the execution of the warrant, determined to attend in person. Hereupon, having procured the assistance of two officers of the life-guards, and taking with him the several gentlemen who had given the information, they went to Mr. Jones, the distiller's (Mrs. Hayes's lodgings), about nine o'clock at night. As they were going up stairs without any ceremony, the distiller desired to know by what authority they made so free in his house; but Mr. Lambert informing him who he was, no farther opposition was made to their proceedings. The magistrate, going to the door of Mrs. Hayes's room, rapped with his cane; on which she said 'Who is there?' and he commanded her to open the door immediately, or it should be broken open. To this she replied, that she would open it as soon as she had put on her clothes, and she did so in little more than a minute, when the justice ordered the parties present to take her into custody. At this time Billings was sitting on the side of the bed, bare-legged; on which Mr. Lambert asked if they had been sleeping together; to which Catherine replied 'No;' and said that Billings had been mending his stockings; on which the justice observed that 'his sight must be extremely good, as there was neither fire nor candle in the room when they came to the door.' Some of the parties remaining below, to secure the prisoners, Mr. Longmore went up stairs with the justice, and took Mrs. Springate into custody; and they were all conducted together to the house of Mr. Lambert. This magistrate having examined the prisoners separately for a considerable time, and all of them positively persisting in their ignorance of any thing respecting the murder, they were severally committed for re-examination on the following day, before Mr. Lambert and other magistrates. Mrs. Springate was sent to the Gate-house, Billings to New Prison, and Mrs. Hayes to Tothill-fields Bridewell. When the peace officers, attended by Longmore, went the next day to fetch up Catherine to her examination, she earnestly desired to see the head; and it being thought prudent to grant her request, she was carried to the surgeon's, and no sooner was the head shown to her than she exclaimed 'Oh, it is my dear husband's head! It is my dear husband's head!' She now took the glass in her arms, and shed many tears while she embraced it. Mr. Westbrook told her that he would take the head out of the glass, that she might have a more perfect view of it, and be certain that it was the same. The surgeon doing as he had said, she seemed to be greatly affected, and, having kissed it several times, she begged to be indulged with a lock of the hair; and, on Mr. Westbrook expressing his apprehension that she had too much of his blood already, she fell into a fit, and on her recovery was conducted to Mr. Lambert's, to take her examination with the other parties. On the morning of this day, as a gentleman and his servant were crossing the fields near Marylebone, they observed something lying in a ditch, and, taking a nearer view of it, found that it consisted of some of the parts of a human body. Shocked at the sight, the gentleman dispatched his servant to get assistance to investigate the affair farther; and some labouring men being procured, they dragged the pond, and found the other parts of the body wrapped in a blanket, but no head was to be found. A constable brought intelligence of this fact while Mrs. Hayes was under examination before the justices, a circumstance that contributed to strengthen the idea conceived of her guilt. Notwithstanding this, she still persisted in her innocence: but the magistrates, paying no regard to her declarations, committed her to Newgate for trial. Wood being at this time out of town, it was thought prudent to defer the farther examination of Billings and Springate till he should be taken into custody. On the morning of the succeeding Sunday he came on horseback to the house where Mrs. Hayes had lodged when the murder was committed; when he was told that she had removed to Mr. Jones's. Accordingly he rode thither, and inquired for her; when the people, knowing that he was one of the parties charged with the murder, were disposed to take him into custody: however, their fear of his having pistols prevented their doing so; but, unwilling that such an atrocious offender should escape, they told him that Mrs. Hayes was gone to the Green Dragon, in King Street, on a visit (which house was kept by Mr. Longmore), and they sent a person with him, to direct him to the place. The brother of Longmore being at the door on his arrival, and knowing him well, pulled him from his horse, and accused him of being an accomplice in the murder. He was immediately delivered to the custody of some constables, who conducted him to the house of Justice Lambert, before whom he underwent an examination; but, refusing to make any confession, he was sent to Tothill-fields Bridewell for farther examination. On his arrival at the prison he was informed that the body had been found: and, not doubting but that the whole affair would come to light, he begged that he might be carried back to the justice's house. This being made known to Mr. Lambert, he sent for the assistance of two other magistrates, and the prisoner being brought up, he acknowledged the particulars of the murder, and signed his confession. It is thought that he entertained some hope of being admitted an evidence; but as his surrender was not voluntary, and his accomplices were in custody, the magistrates told him he must abide the verdict of a jury. This wretched man owned that, since the perpetration of the crime, he had been terrified at the sight of every one he met, that he had not experienced a moment's peace, and that his mind had been distracted with the most violent agitations. His commitment was made out for Newgate; but so exceedingly were the passions of the populace agitated on the occasion, that it was feared he would be torn to pieces by the mob; wherefore it was thought prudent to procure a guard of a sergeant and eight soldiers, who conducted him to prison with their bayonets fixed. A gentleman, named Mercer, having visited Mrs. Hayes in Newgate the day before Wood was taken into custody, she desired he would go to Billings, and urge him to confess the whole truth, as the proofs of their guilt were such, that no advantage could be expected from a farther denial of the fact. Accordingly the gentleman went to Billings, who, being carried before Justice Lambert, made a confession agreeing in all its circumstances with that of Wood; and thereupon Mrs. Springate was set at liberty, as her innocence was evident from their concurrent testimony. Numbers of people now went to see Mrs. Hayes in Newgate; and on her being asked what could induce her to commit so atrocious a crime, she gave very different answers at different times; but frequently alleged that Mr. Hayes had been an unkind husband to her, a circumstance which was contradicted by the report of every person who knew the deceased. In the history of this woman there is a strange mystery. She called Billings her son, and sometimes averred that he was really so; but he knew nothing of her being his mother, nor did her relations know any thing of the birth of such a child. To some people she would affirm he was the son of Mr. Hayes, born after marriage; but that, his father having an aversion to him while an infant, he was put to nurse in the country, and all farther care of him totally neglected on their coming to London. But this story is altogether incredible, because Hayes was not a man likely to have deserted his child to the frowns of fortune; and his parents had never heard of the birth of such a son. Billings was equally incapable of giving a satisfactory account of his own origin. All he knew was, that he had lived with a country shoemaker, who passed for his father, and had sent him to school, and then put him apprentice to a tailor. It is probable she discovered him to be her son when she afterwards became acquainted with him in London; and as some persons, who came from the same part of the kingdom, said that Billings was found in a basket near a farmhouse, and supported at the expense of the parish, it may be presumed that he was dropped in that manner by his unnatural mother.

Thomas Wood was born near Ludlow, in Shropshire, and brought up to the business of husbandry. He was so remarkable for his harmless and sober conduct, when a boy, as to be very much esteemed by his neighbours. On the death of his father, his mother took a public house for the support of her children, of whom this Thomas was the eldest; and he behaved so dutifully that the loss of her husband was scarcely felt. He was equally diligent abroad and at home; for, when the business of the house was insufficient to employ him, he worked for the farmers, by which he greatly contributed to the support of the family. On attaining years of maturity he engaged himself as a waiter at an inn in the country, from thence removed to other inns, and in all his places preserved a fair character. At length he came to London; but, being afraid of being impressed, as already mentioned, obtained the protection of Mr. Hayes, who behaved in a very friendly manner to him, till the arts of a vile woman prevailed on him to imbrue his hands in the blood of his benefactor.

Billings and Wood having already made confessions, and being penetrated with the thought of the heinous nature of their offence, determined to plead guilty to the indictment against them: but Mrs. Hayes, having made no confession, flattered herself there was a chance of her being acquitted, and therefore resolved to put herself on her trial, in which she was encouraged by some people that she met with in Newgate.

The malignancy of the crime with which this woman was charged induced the king to direct his own counsel to carry on the prosecution; and these gentlemen did all in their power to convince the Court and jury that the most striking example should be made of one who had so daringly defied the laws of God and man. The indictment being opened, and the witnesses heard, the jury, fully convinced of the commission of the fact, found her guilty. The prisoners being brought to the bar to receive sentence, Mrs. Hayes entreated that she might not be burnt, according to the then law of petty treason, alleging that she was not guilty, as she did not strike the fatal blow; but she was informed by the Court that the sentenced awarded by the law could not be dispensed with. Billings and Wood urged that, having made so full and free a confession, they hoped they should not be hung in chains; but to this they received no answer.

After conviction the behaviour of Wood was uncommonly penitent and devout; but while in the condemned hold he was seized with a violent fever, and, being attended by a clergyman to assist him in his devotions, he confessed he was ready to suffer death, under every mark of ignominy, as some atonement for the atrocious crime he had committed: however, he died in prison, and thus defeated the final execution of the law. At particular times Billings behaved with sincerity; but at others prevaricated much in his answers to the questions put to him. On the whole, however, he fully confessed his guilt, acknowledged the justice of his sentence, and said no punishment could be adequate to the excess of the crime of which he had been guilty. The behaviour of Mrs. Hayes was somewhat similar to her former conduct. Having an intention to destroy herself, she procured a phial of strong poison, which being casually tasted by a woman who was confined with her, it burnt her lips; on which she broke the phial, and thereby frustrated the design. On the day of her death Hayes received the sacrament, and was drawn on a sledge to the place of execution. Billings was executed in the usual manner, and hung in chains, not far from the pond in which Mr. Hayes's body was found, in Marylebone Fields. When the wretched woman had finished her devotions, an iron chain was put round her body, with which she was fixed to a stake near the gallows. On these occasions, when women were burnt for petty treason, it was customary to strangle them, by means of a rope passed round the neck, and pulled by the executioner, so that they were dead before the flames reached the body. But this woman was literally burnt alive; for the executioner letting go the rope sooner than usual, in consequence of the flames reaching his hands, the fire burnt fiercely round her, and the spectators beheld her pushing away the faggots, while she rent the air with her cries and lamentations. Other faggots were instantly thrown on her; but she survived amidst the flames for a considerable time, and her body was not perfectly reduced to ashes in less than three hours.63 They suffered at Tyburn, May 9, 1726.

G. Bell's Life (1837)

On December 28, 1836, the "mutilated remains of a female, without head or legs," were discovered in the Edgware Road in London ("Suspected Murder," Bell's Life, January 1, 1837: 4). Early in the New Year, the woman's head was discovered, and was placed in spirits so that people could come to identify it—much as the head of John Hayes had been preserved and displayed for identification. It eventually transpired that the woman was one Hannah Brown and that she had been murdered by her fiancé, James Greenacre, with the help of one Sarah Gale. Gale was transported and Greenacre was executed.64

The similarity of this murder to that of John Hayes prompted a writer for Bell's Life in London, and Sporting Chronicle to summarize the Hayes story in an article that appeared on the front page of the paper on January 15, 1837, under the title "The Mutilated Body in the Edgware Road." After reporting the latest developments in the Edgware Road case, the writer commented as follows:

It appears from the Newgate Calender [sic], with a volume of which we have been favoured by a friend, that a case somewhat similar to this occurred in March, 1726. On that occasion, a woman named Hayes, formerly of immoral character, murdered her husband, in concert with two men, named Thomas Billings and Thomas Wood, whom she had prevailed upon to assist her. They contrived to make the man drunk, and then fractured his skull. After his death a doubt arose as to the mode of disposing of the body, when it was agreed to cut off the head——the wife holding the bucket to receive the blood. Billings then carried the head in the bucket to throw it into the Thames; but the tide ebbing it was left on the mud, and discovered next morning. It was exposed on a pole for several days, and was by some supposed to be the head of Hayes; but the wife told several artful stories of his being out of town. It was then preserved in spirits, and suspicions increasing of the fate of Hayes, some of his relatives made a fresh inspection of the head, and positively identified it. The wife was then taxed with the crime, and she told so many different stories that she was apprehended. She was shown the head, and at once said it was "her poor husband's," shed tears, kissed the livid lips, and asked for a lock of the hair. Billings was then secured, and made confession of the horrible tragedy. Wood was at this time out of town; but on the very morning of the examination of Mrs. Hayes (as if by the interposition of Providence), a gentleman riding through Mary la-bonne-fields, discovered the mutilated remains of a human body, the legs and thighs having been chopped from the trunk (a ceremony in which it turned out the wife had assisted in order to pack them in a box). Notice was immediately given to the Magistrates, and upon a surgical examination the head and all the parts were found to correspond. Wood was apprehended the next day, and thus all the monsters were secured. They were all tried and found guilty. Wood escaped execution by dying in prison; but Billings (who was supposed to be a natural son of Mrs. Hayes) and the widow were executed at Tyburn. The body of Billings was hung in chains in Mary-la bonne-fields, near to the place where the mutilated remains were found. Mrs. Hayes was burnt, having been found guilty of "petit treason," and was actually exposed to the flames alive, as before the executioner could strangle her he let got [sic] the rope, and she was for several minutes seen pushing the burning faggots from her breast, and her shrieks filled the spectators with horror, however deserved her fate. Her husband was described as being too fond and indulgent.


1 Criminal Conversation: i.e., adultery (OED, "conversation," 3). Back

2 See Linebaugh 259. Back

3 "He is the father whom the marriage proves to be the father." (This and the following translations from Latin have been supplied by Dr. H. G. Edinger.) Back

4Translated in the following phrase ("within the four Seas"). Back

5 The Latin phrase means "from the marriage bond." Back

6 A hurdle is the frame or sledge on which traitors used to be drawn through the streets to execution (OED, 1.c). Back

7 To quadrate is to conform or correspond (OED, "quadrate," 3). Back

8 That is, without a handle (see the OED, "bail," sb.2, meaning 2). Back

9 Originally, a premunire (or praemunire) was the offence of accepting some other power over that of the Crown (e.g., the pope's), but by extension it had come to mean any serious difficulty or predicament (OED). Back

10 "Chairing" is an obsolete form of the verb "to chare" or "char," i.e., to do housework (OED, "chair," verb 2; "chare, char," 5). Back

11 The Master-side was the section of Newgate prison reserved for better-off prisoners, as opposed to the Common side (Sheehan 230). Back

12 "I water my couch with my tears" (Psalms 6: 6). Back

13 See Stonehouse 138. Back

14 Villette could not have been copying either the Register or Select Trials because his account is fuller than theirs. Back

15 of these three criminals is as follows.] of Thomas Billings, Thomas Wood, and Catherine Hays. Select. Back

16 but shewed no outward signs] but no outward signs Select. Back

17 was son to] son to Select. Back

18 to read his mother tongue, and was instructed] to read his mother tongue, to write, and was instructed Select. Back

19 country] county Select. Back

20 so left] so far left Select. Back

21 after his sentence] after sentence Select. Back

22 said] told Select. Back

23 Christ,] Jesus Christ, Select. Back

24 some, of which they farmed;] some which they farmed; Select. Back

25 called for her but once,] called but once, Select. Back

26 she told me, that it was no more sin to kill him than a dog or a cat,] she told me, that Thomas Wood alleged it no more a Sin to kill him than a dog or cat, Select. Back

27 lying sick in the Hold,] as I visited him lying sick in the Hold, Select. Back

28 could use,] could make use of, Select. Back

29sin] a sin Select. Back

30 he had such a giddiness in his head at times,] he had a Giddiness in his head sometimes, Select. Back

31 between] betwixt Select. Back

32 was all she would confess, that she knew nothing of any fore-thought] is all she would confess, that she knew of any fore-thought Select. Back

33 supposing] suppose Select. Back

34 begged of God] begged God Select. Back

35 declared, she] declared that she Select. Back

36 The council for the king . . . called and sworn.] omitted in Mountague. Back

37 To drawl is to crawl or drag. Back

38 as well of his marriage,] as well as of his marriage, Mountague. Back

39 for the one] for one Mountague. Back

40 A polt is a blow (OED). Back

41 wished for effect] desired effect Mountague. Back

42 morning of the 2d of March,] morning, the 2d of March, Mountague. Back

43 intimately acquainted; Grainger's . . . being Worcestershire people. Patrick] intimately acquainted. Grainger's . . . being Worcestershire people, Patrick Tyburn. Back

44 rencounter he had] rencounter he had had Tyburn. Back

45 by promise] by a promise Tyburn. Back

46 him;] them Mountague. Back

47 liable] likely Mountague. Back

48 that he had once been] that once he had been Mountague. Back

49 That is, Eaton was a member of the Life Guards, cavalry regiments in attendance on the sovereign (OED). Back

50 swear it] swear to it Tyburn. Back

51 resolved upon making an ample confession . . .] made a full confession before justice Lambert: he was committed to Newgate Mountague (Mountague omits the confession). Back

52 was merry, and Mr. Hays told him] was merry, as Mr. Hayes told him, and Mr. Hayes told him Tyburn (presumably a typographical error). Back

53 a half-guinea] half a guinea Tyburn. Back

54 asort] a sort Tyburn. Back

55 about twelve o'clock] about twelve or one o'clock Tyburn. Back

56 "Taken in our presence on the day and year above-mentioned." Back

57 A mittimus is a writ committing a person to prison (OED). Back

58 them] 'em Tyburn. Back

59 among] amongst Tyburn. Back

60 rhimer] punster Tyburn. Back

61 'gan] began Tyburn. Back

62 It was formerly customary to oblige persons suspected of murder to touch the murdered body, for the discovery of their guilt or innocence.

This way of finding murderers was practised in Denmark by King Christianus II. and permitted all over his kingdom; the occasion whereof is this:——Certain gentlemen being on an evening together in a stove, or tavern, fell out among themselves, and from words came to blows, (the candles being out,) insomuch that one of them was stabbed with a poniard. Now the murderer was unknown, by reason of the number, although the person stabbed accused a pursuivant of the king's, who was one of the company.

The king, to find out the homicide, caused them all to come together in the stove, and, standing round the corpse, he commanded that they should, one after another, lay their right hand on the slain gentleman's naked breast, swearing that they had not killed him. The gentlemen did so, and no sign appeared against them; the pursuivant only remained, who, condemned before in his own conscience, went, first of all, and kissed the dead man's feet; but, as soon as he had laid his hand upon his breast, the blood gushed forth in abundance, both out of his wound and his nostrils; so that, urged by this evident accusation, he confessed the murder, and was, by the king's own sentence, immediately beheaded. Such was the origin of this practice, which was so common in many of the countries in Europe, for finding out unknown murderers. Back

63 Until the thirtieth year of the reign of king George III. this punishment was inflicted on women convicted of murdering their husbands, which crime is denominated petit-treason. It has frequently, from some accident happening in strangling the malefactor, produced the horrid effects above related. In the reign of Mary (the cruel) this death was commonly practised upon the objects of her vengeance; and many bishops, rather than deny their religious opinions, were burnt even without previous strangulation. It was high time this part of the sentence, the type of barbarism, should be dispensed with. The punishment now inflicted for this most unnatural and abhorred crime is hanging; but, once convicted, a woman need never look for mercy. Back

64 See Altick 37-40; Bell's Life, Jan. 15, 1837: 1; Jan. 22: 1; April 2: 1-2; April 16: 1; May 7: 1. Back

Published @ COVE

March 2022