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Trial & Execution of William KENNEDY

Dorchester - 1830

Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington July 2015


(16 individuals )

The following account is extracted from
"The Annual Register, or a view of the History of Politics & Literature of the year 1829"

William KENNEDY aged 19, a private in the 5th Dragoon Guards, was indicted for shooting at the Revd H WILLOUGHBY, on the night of the 29th of November last, with intent to murder him; and in other accounts he was charged with shooting, with intent to disable the prosecutor, or to do him some grievous bodily harm.

The Revd Henry Phillip WILLOUGHBY, a young man about twenty five years of age, examined:-

"I reside at Dorchester, and was at Weymouth on the 28th of November last. I returned about half past eight at night; on horseback: it was a grey horse. When I arrived at Rideway-hill, about five miles and a half from Weymouth,I perceived a man walking on the left hand side of the road. When I came up to him, he stepped forward, and without uttering a word, shot me. My body was inclined towards him at the time, and I could see from the flash of the powder that he wore the dress of a soldier; he had on a red jacket with a dark collar. The light was so momentary I could not discover that the instrument he held in his hand had a great deal of brass on it. I felt myself wounded, and upon the shot being fired, the horse became very much terrified and plunged and set off at full speed for Dorchester and I must have arrived there in a quarter of an hour. It was then about a quarter before ten. I was examined before Mr WOLLASTON and was in a very weak state at the time.

The Magnet coach passed me a little outside Weymouth. I can't swear whether the instrument was carbine or a pistol: the night was dark, and I was very much exhausted.

Mary PURCHASE:
"I was in the company with the prisoner on the night of the 28th November, about eight o'clock, or a little after. I heard the barrack trumpet sound at seven. I asked him if he was going to the stables. He said he was not going until four in the morning, as he had a pass until that Hour"

Mr DEVENISH:
"I live at Weymouth, and I was traveling by the Magnet Coach on the night of the 28th November; I was on the box; the coach had lamps. When we got to Monkton-hill, about two miles and a half from Dorchester about nine o'clock, I observed a person in the dress of a soldier at the bottom of the hill. A part of that regiment is stationed at Weymouth and I had remarked the uniform before. What struck me particularly in the person I observed was the yellow stripe down the side of his trousers. The coach arrived at Weymouth a little before ten. The lamps of the Magnet gave me an opportunity of seeing the dress of the person on the road. I passed a person on horseback near the turnpike at Weymouth. It was a grey horse he rode".

Michael TYNING:
I am sergeant-major of the fifth dragoons and belong to the detachment at Weymouth. I remember the roll being called over about half past eleven on the night of the 28th November. I was called up for that purpose. There was one man missing, named William ROOTH. I searched for him and found him at Weymouth. He had not leave to go out that night. The barrack wall is very low, and the men can get over. I found the man at a house of ill fame with a girl.

Lieutenant and Adjutant John GRIFFIN of the fifth dragoon guards:
The prisoner is a soldier in that regiment, and is in captain Hunter's troop. I remember his showing me a pass about six o'clock in the evening on the 28th November. On the night of that day an application was made to me by the last witness, about twenty minutes after ten. he told me the Revd Mr WILLOUGHBY had been shot by a soldier and in consequence of that I had a roll called. All the men were there but the prisoner. I went round to all the rooms. My attention was afterwards directed to the armoury, and on searching there I missed the prisoner's pistol. According to Regimental practice ten rounds of ball cartridge are allowed each man; but five rounds of the prisoners ammunition were missing, and the powder of the other five rounds. Directions were given to place men inside the barrack wall which divides the barrack from Mr HENNING's straw yard to prevent any one coming by that way. The prisoner acme in through the gate at half past eleven at night. He was perfectly sober. By a regimental order, no man can pass the gate to go into town without wearing his sword. The prisoner could not have gone without it. When he came back, he had it on. Every man ought to be in barracks at nine o'clock unless he has a pass. I searched the prisoner but found nothing on him. He was asked by me, where his pistol was. He seemed astonished and said he knew nothing at all about it; but he thought it was on the arm rack in his room.

The arms are inspected once a week for the purpose of bei8ng kept in order; and it is expected that the men should keep their arms clean. The men are allowed to leave the stables at eight, and must return at nine o'clock. The arms of each man are not locked up but placed on numbered pegs to which every man may have access. The prisoner gave me a pass when he came and did not appear agitated. Serjeant John CAHUSAC inspected the arms on the morning of the 28th November and saw the prisoner's pistol on the rack in the armoury ."

Richard AMY:
I was a watchman in Dorchester on the night of the 28th November last. About half past ten that night I saw the prisoner passing through the market place under the arch. I had heard of a gentleman being shot that night. I said to the prisoner (taking hold of him) "you are doing wrong soldier by being out of barracks at such a time" and that it was after hours, and the roll was going to be called. I added that a most serious accident had happened and that I had heard that a person had been shot. I had no lantern at the time when I spoke to the prisoner. He produced a pass. I also observed that he had something in his hand. It looked like a pair of trousers rolled up. He had not his sword at the time. I saw the prisoner on the following morning at the barracks and pointed him out from a number of soldiers. There was another watchman with me, and he was about sixty yards off when I took the prisoner by the arm.

Mr Thomas COOMBS:
I am clerk to the magistrates of Dorchester. I was present at the examination of the prisoner before the magistrates, who cautioned the prisoner that what he had to say might be used as evidence against him, and that he was not bound to say any thing unless he thought fit. A passage of the deposition was then read in which the prisoner said when questioned by the magistrates : " I know no more of the man than any other soldier in the regiment; I did not see the watchman and if he saw any other person it was a curious thing he did not take him.

Mr H. JACOBS:
I live in Dorchester; on the 1st of December I made a search for a pistol near the barrack wall and I found the pistol now produced in a large straw rick in a yard adjoining which belonged to Mr HENNING. To gain access to this yard a person must go through the gates but there could be no difficulty in going in. The pistol was concealed so near to the barrack wall that a person might have got over easily and taken it. On examining the pistol and putting in a piece of tow, it came out very black and when the lock of the pistol was put back a little a few grains of powder fell from it. The touch hole was foul; the other parts exhibited nothing particular.

Mr W.D.TRAPP, (3) a surgeon in Dorchester was called up on the night of the 28th November to see Mr WILLOGHBY and extracted a ball from his left side. It had entered just below the region of the heart and passed across the chest between the integuments and lodged in the right side. The wound was a very dangerous one and Mr WILLOUGHBY was in danger for two or three days; but no vital part was affected.

Serjeant CAHUSAC stated that the prisoner was in the habit of firing his pistol at the riding school. Witness had seen his pistol clean that morning between seven and eight o'clock; and to the best of his knowledge the prisoner was in the riding school between those hours; but he could not say whether he used his pistol during that time. Ball cartridge is not used in the riding school . The powder used there is delivered out from the quartermasters store. Mr JACOBS produced the pistol he found and the former witness deposed that this pistol had the prisoner's number (22) upon it and he believed it was the prisoners. Each soldier's number is different. The ball produced fits this pistol and answers to the regimental balls. It is like the other regimental ball produced but it is a little altered by passing through the pistol. The pistol is marked "5 D.G.No.22". The regimental pass given to the prisoner was then put in and read. it was to the following effect:- "Wm KENNEDY has liberty to be absent from the barracks until one o'clock on the morning of the 29th of November Signed "Captain HUNTER "Sergeant Major CAHUSAC"

When called on for his defence the prisoner said he knew nothing of the concern nor could he account for his pistol and ammunition being missing. The pistol was on the rack at5 twelve o'clock on the day in question and he saw the ammunition the day before; any other soldier might have taken the pistol and ammunition. He was at the 'Wood and Stone Inn' at Dorchester with Mary PURCHASE until nine o'clock on the night in question and he should wish to have the landlady examined as to that fact

Mrs MASTERS stated that she kept the 'Wood and Stone Inn' at Dorchester. She saw a soldier pass through the kitchen with a woman on the night in question, but she did not recollect his feature. Mary PURCHASE is the woman who was with him. It was between seven and eight o'clock. They drank at the house and remained half an hour. They left about eight o'clock. She never told the serjeant that he was there until near nine o'clock.

Serjeant CAHUSAC was re-examined: He stated that he called at the 'Wood and Stone Inn' on 29th November and Mrs MASTERS told him there had been a soldier and a woman at the house at half past eight, or a quarter to nine, on the night of the 28th of November

Lieutenant GRIFFIN in re-examination stated " that part of the road from Dorchester to Weymouth was chalky and likely to leave whitish marks on boots or shoes. He examined the prisoners boots on the night in question: they and his spurs were very dirty, but they had not the slightest appearance of chalk. His stockings were wet from perspiration

Mr COMBS stated that there was gravel on the road above alluded to

The JURY: after a short absence from the box, returned a verdict of guilty. When the clerk of the Arraigns asked the prisoner if he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed against him he said " Is there any man woman or child in the court who can swear that I committed this offence?". The prisoner pronounced this without appearing in the slightest degree moved by the verdict which had just been given against him. Sentence of death was the announced when he is stated in the newspapers to have said "My Lord, neither you nor the jury have done me justice though I am to die".

The following account is extracted from
"Wilts, Dorset, Somerset Newspaper for Saturday 4th April 1830"


William KENNEDY, found guilty at the late Dorchester Assizes of shooting the Rev.H.Willoughby, with intent to murder him, was executed pursuant to his sentence on the drop erected over the entrance lodge of the county goal at Dorchester on Saturday last. When on the scaffold he said " I am a guilty man and deserve to die; I am in charity with all mankind, and hope they will forgive me".
Genealogical Notes:-

(1). Revd Henry Phillip WILLOUGHBY MA (1804-1851) He was baptised at St John at Hamstead Church in Camden London on 23rd Feb 1804, the 5th son of Dobson Willoughby by Sarah his wife. He was educated at Lincoln College Oxford where he matriculated on 19th June 1823 at the age of 18 being awarded his BA in 1827 and MA in 1830. He was ordained a deacon on 1st June 1828 at St Georges church in Hanover square and the following day took up his appointment as stipendary curate of Charminster and Stratton. He was appointed curate of Frittenden on 21st April 1832 and just before he took up the post he married Marianne Tringham of St Marylebone by licence on 23rd Feb 1832 and they had at least 2 children. He was appointed Rector of Frampton Cotterell in Gloucestershire in 1841 and died there being buried on 24th Jan 1851.

(2). The 'Wood and Stone Inn' was according to Pigots Street Directory for the year 1830 located in Durngate Street Dorchester the proprietor being listed as William MASTERS. Robert Wadham a local carrier operated fr4om the Inn; he delivered to Weymouth every Monday and Bath every Tuesday. By 1839 the proprietor was John TULLIDGE who was still there in Slater's Directory for 1852.

(3) Although the surgheon is reported to be Mr W.D. TRAPP this is actually William D TAPP shown in both the Pigot's 1830 and Robert's 1839 Street Directories as a surgeon operating out of Cornhill in Dorchester

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