Samuel Partridge thus depos’d

Samuel Partridge thus depos’d

Jennifer Hockey


… as if it was well past their endurance,

the 2 men, moonlit, russet-stained,

hoarse. For they set it down and down again

at intervals, drew what breath they could,

then took it up well before either was best prepared,

each hunched about their burden, bent

on the field edge, the rat black water waiting.


… and as for myself, I went back

about my business, pushing my handcart

that way and this. Until not long after,

what did I see but the same 2 men, faster

afoot and at it again, one keeping step with

the other, another blanket lapped between ‘em.

What more I can tell is that I saw a fifth foot

added to their four, stuck up stiff as a gibbet

between the winding cloth’s bloody folds.


… back the men went to the same field edge

to lay their second load to rest with the first.

About 11 at night it was when I heard the lap

of water, the suck of it all going down. And

by and by I saw the 2 men unhanded, turning

about and about blind, treading the field, the one

bowed in the front, the other a-stagger behind.

Between them nothing said, but breath.



Jennifer’s inspiration for the piece:

This poem was inspired by the deposition of Mary Springet who lodged with Catherine and John Hays. Her partial account of the murder and disposal of thebody – she heard a lot but saw relatively little – suggested a poem where the details are left to the imaginations of both the person speaking and the reader. And the poet!  I have tried to utilise some of the language that occurs in a number of the depositions we read.

The original case of Catherine Hayes can be found here


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