The Wrong Man, October 1764

Article on Stranger framed for murder

Regarding the murder of Mrs Ruscombe and her maid, for which Higgins was rumoured to be responsible.

From the Gentleman’s Magazine, October 1764

October, Friday 19

“One Isaacs, an old industrious country shoemaker, who came to town to sell a cargo of shoes, had the curiosity to enquire at Mr P***man’s, in Cranbourne-Alley, for an old shop-man whom he was informed lived somewhere in that neighbourhood, and was thence conducted to his lodgings.  The fellow, knowing the man to be a in a manner a stranger in town, instantly conceived a scheme to get the reward offered for discovering the murder[er] of Mrs. Ruscombe of Bristol, by swearing against this old man, and actually laid an information against him before Saunders Welch, Esq; one of his majesty’s justices of peace for Middlesex, who, after hearing the man’s account of himself, and that account confirmed by reputable people, honourably discharged the poor old man, and reprimanded the execrable villain, who would have swore his life away if his innocence could not have been made appear upon the clearest proofs.”

NOTES: Saunders Welch, Eqr. searches find: Under marriages in February 1774, on the 12th, Joseph Nollekens, Esq. of Mortimer street to Miss Welch, daughter of Saunders Welch, Esq. of Charles street, Cavendish square.  Saunders Welch Esq was a magistrate and moved in circles that included Samuel Johnson, William Hogarth, and his future son-in-law, the sculptor Joseph Nollekens.  In January 1749, Fielding qualified himself to act as justice of the peace for Middlesex, becoming as a result the leading magistrate in the urban area to the west of the City of London.


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