Broadheet published by E Brice near East Gate
John Trathing Heavitree Gallows - August 55th 1782.
"John Trathing, aged 38, born in the north of Devon, had in 1778 a little farm, at Martin's Town, and killed cattle for farmers of that neighbourhood, where his father, wife, and one child now live. Nothing remarkable occured in his life till the commission of the crime he died for. On his trail, it appeared, that Farmer Arnold, of Little Torrington, at two in the afternoon of Saturday, May 16, 1778 had gone with his men to work in a neighbouring coppice, leaving only the servant Mary Balkwill and an old man in the house. About four, the girl was found some distance from the house, speechless, covered with blood and without cap, apron or handerchief. She was immediately put to bed and a surgeon called. Two large wounds extended quite areas of (of) her throat, her head was covered with bruises, and the fingers of one hand almost cut off. A chest in the house was rifled of £35. Suspicion fell on the old man; but the girl recovering speech the next day, related, that he left the house soon after the rest, that a little before three, a man to her unknown, of short thick growth, fair complexion, and dark curled hair, wearing a white coat, without waistcoat, greasy leather breeches, black cravat, and a rusty old hat, came and enquired if her master was at home, or had a horse to sell. Being answered, No, he advanced and looked at the clock, then took a hammer from his pocket, and by repeated blows laid her senseless near the chimney. Recovering, she saw him again at her side, he then dragged her by the hair to a window, and took a knife; she seized the blade, but he drew it thro' her hand and cut her throat. Fearing more woulds, she feigned death. Hearing him breaking open the chest above the stairs, she arose, wrapped the skirt of her gown about her neck, and with vast difficulty walked and crawled on her hands and knees to the place she was found on. All care was taken,but she died the Monday morning....
.... The description given by the deceased was in all respects correspondent to the person and dress of Trathing, which added to this behaviour occasioned a suspicion, on which he was carried before a justice."