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ON the thirtieth of March in the year
sixteen hundred and ninety-nine, four barristers
who are concerned in my first case, came,
among others, on circuit to the town of Hertford.
Two of the four,—Mr. Ellis Stevens, and
Mr. William Rogers, arrived together, and
took a night's lodging for themselves and for
another of the four, Mr. Marson, who would
shortly follow them, in the house of a person
named Guney. The lodging taken, they, as a
matter of course, went about their business
for the day.

The fourth barrister was a gentleman of
high character and good connections, having
some little independent property, and a fair
practice at the bar. His name was Spencer
Cowper, and for him no lodgings were taken
because he had friends at Hertford, with
whom he was invited to reside during the
assizes; moreover, if he had not accepted
their invitation, there was still another
lodging in the town, habitually used at assize
time either by his brother or himself. Mr.
Cowper's friends in Hertfordresidents
much respected by the townsfolkwere
two Quakeresses, a widow, Mrs. Mary Stout,
and Sarah Stout, her daughter, who was a
pretty, but not healthy girl, possessed of
property in her own right. At the house of
these friends Mr. Spencer Cowper first drew
rein when he reached Hertford (the circuit
was then travelled on horseback); after a
brief call, he proceeded to the Globe and
Dolphin inn, but sent his horse to be put up
at Mrs. Stout's; and at the end of the day's
business, he himself went to Mrs. Stout's to
supper, purposing, as it was understood, to
pass the night there.

At six o'clock the next morning, when
a miller was about to let a flush of water
into his mill-dam, on the Priory river, he
was startled by the sight of a woman's sleeve,
and something like part of a woman's dress,
floating on the surface of the stream. He
called his men, and drew out of the water
the corpse of a female which had been
caught by the right arm between the stakes
placed across the mill-dam. The corpse was
that of the young Quakeress. Her fair hair,
though uncovered by the close cap that
she usually wore, scarcely had one of its
smooth braids roughened; her grey dress had
been removed. Except for some discoloration
about neck and breast, she looked as
she might have looked when slumbering.
This event set the town of Hertford astir,
but inquest on the body elicited little

No evidence was adduced to show by what
accident Sarah Stout could have come to her
death. The surgeons examined, gave it as
their opinion that the discolorations were no
more than the settlings of blood, common in
all cases of death by suffocation. The body,
it was remarked, was slight as in life, not
distended by the water, nor had any water
issued from the mouth when it was drawn
out of the river. Mr. Cowper, the last person
known to have been in the company of the
deceased, declared that he had parted from
her on the previous night in her own house,
and in reply to some questions, he affirmed
on oath, that he knew of no distraction or
love-fit, that should put deceased on this
extravagant actionshe was a very modest
woman. The jury found that Sarah Stout
destroyed herself, being of unsound mind at
the time; and so the matter rested for a

But, on the twenty-eighth of April, Mary
Stout, the mother of the dead girl, not
contented with the inquest, caused the body of
her daughter to be disinterred for further
surgical examination. In consequence of
some opinions then formed, and of disclosm'es
made relative to the three friends of Mr.
Cowper, Mr. Cowper himself, together with
those friends of his, John Marson, Ellis
Stevens, and William .Rogers, all gentlemen
of reputation and good standing, were, on the
sixteenth of July following, put upon their
trial for the murder of Miss Sarah Stout by
strangling. It was alleged that they had
strangled her, and afterwards thrown her
into the Priory river, to make it appear that
she had destroyed herself.

Mr. Jones, king's counsel, opened the case
by stating that a friendship of long date had
existed between the deceased, the prisoner
Cowper, and his wife; that in the week
previous to the assizes, the deceased wrote to
invite Cowper to stay at her house during
assize time, which invitation he accepted in
a letter written by his wife. It was said

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