Anthony de Rosa: Accused by the Insane

Anthony de Rosa was convicted of murder and robbery and was sentenced to death by hanging on March 23, 1752. Being a foreigner it almost seemed as though Anthony’s fate was determined before he stepped foot in the Old Bailey. This trial is an excellent example of how discrimination isn’t an issue that is new to society. In fact, discrimination and bias have roots in the past and are also in the present and most likely will continue in the future. When analyzing the trial and conviction of Anthony de Rosa it is important to note that there was not one person, other than Emanuel de Rosa who was from a mental hospital, who had observed Anthony de Rosa murdering William Fargues. Not to mention, the court allowed his account of the murder to be a credible piece of evidence, which makes it unclear if he actually committed the murder. The guiltiness of Anthony in this trial is irrelevant due to the lack of circumstantial evidence, few reliable witnesses and an unfair trial free of bias. Anthony took his last breath as his life ended when the board was removed from beneath his feet at the tree of Tyburn on the 23 of March in 1752.

According to the speculative account of Emanuel de Rosa, it was a cloudy and misty night on the evening of June 11, 1751 when Anthony de Rosa arrived at the home of Emmanuel de Rosa. He told his friend that he needed some extra money so the two men set off for town where they met up with William Fullager. Once the three were together they walked around looking for someone who looked like they could potentially have a few coins on them. The men waited until about ten o’clock when the sun started to go down and the darkness rolled in. The men crossed over a road where they spotted their soon-to-be victim, William Fargues. Anthony requested that Fargues hand over all the money that he had on him at once but Fargues quickly replied with, “I have no money for myself!” This response did not satisfy the three men so Fullager swiftly jumped forward and hit Fargues on the head multiple times with a stick that had a piece of iron drove into the end of it. After what I am sure was a pleasant beating to the head… Emanuel held down a struggling Fargues with force as Anthony fiercely stabbed him multiple times in the chest. They quickly took what little money he had on him and fled the seen of the crime leaving Fargues in the middle of the road for someone to find him.

Not long after the brutal murder was committed, Emanuel de Rosa was detained for disorderly conduct and was thrown into Bridewell Prison and Hospital, which at this time was a facility that treated the insane. Emanuel claimed that he was unable to live with himself after what he had done to Mr. Fargues and that his conscience was eating away at him. Emanuel preceded to call upon one of the guards at the facility and descriptively told him what had happened on that dreadful night of the murder. In doing this, he was deemed evidence of the crown and his life was preserved. As soon as the story of the murder was told, the guards called upon Anthony de Rosa to go to Bridewell where he was immediately taken into custody. When they searched him Anthony had a knife with him, which the guards immediately deemed as the murder weapon. Anthony de Rosa would be tried at the Old Bailey and a jury of his peers would determine his fate.

On February 19, 1752 the trial for Anthony de Rosa was held at the Old Bailey Court House in London, England. He was being detained for the murder of William Fargues. There were many people, men and women, who took the stand describing what they knew about the murder on June 11, 1751. At the beginning of the trial it was publically stated that the prisoner, Anthony de Rosa, was a foreigner. This clearly shows bias just as the surface of the trial was being brushed and it potentially foreshadowed how the rest of the trial would unfold.

There were many witnesses or “evidence” as they were called, who took the stand to tell their story. The brother and father of the deceased were first. Both with the same name, Peter and Peter Fargues took the stand stating that the deceased had a nice supper with them on the night of the murder. After dining with them Fargues had left, it was around ten o’clock in the evening and it was notably dark outside. Both men were not sure of any money Fargues had on him when he left the house. Isaac Hendrop had also taken the stand and in his account he told the jury about how he came across the murdered William Fargues. He explained that he was walking down the street when he saw a few men huddled around something so he curiously approached them to see what was going on. When he reached them one of the men said, “I believe a gentlemen here is murdered!” Hendrop proceeded to describe the body as he saw it in saying that it was in a very strange posture in a deep rut. His hat and wig were not on his head and his body was still warm when he picked up his hand. He then left the scene and returned ten minutes later noticing that the body temperature of Fargues had significantly decreased. “He had life when I left him!” Hendrop had stated, and when he returned he no longer possessed life. There was a fourteen-year-old boy by the name of William Etheringham who took the stand next. He told the jury that on the night of the murder he had seen three men (he assumed to be the men who committed the murder) about a hundred yards away from where the murder was committed and they seemed to be out of sorts walking back and forth. Despite seeing whom he thought looked like Anthony, Etheringham did not see anyone commit any murderous actions.

There were additional accounts and other witnesses who took the stand, all of who had accounts of what Anthony had done in the weeks before or even the day of the murder, but none of the murderer in action. There were accounts from those who had found the body, those who had cleaned the body, the coroner and even a surgeon but no one had seen the murder take place. The account of Emanuel de Rosa was the original story that has previously been told; he is the only one who claims to have witnessed the murderer in action, partly because he took part in it. The question is, can we trust the only eyewitness account of the murder when it is given by a man who had previously been admitted into Bridewell? At this time Bridewell was a prison and a hospital for the insane! How can we be certain that Emanuel is telling the truth or that he is just plain crazy? Are we able to consider this statement credible?

The fate of Anthony de Rosa was doomed before the trial at the Old Bailey even began. First, it was publically stated in the courtroom that Anthony was a foreigner, which clearly indicated bias. To say that we do not know if that statement would make this case bias is false. If the fact that Anthony was a foreigner was irrelevant then it would not have been mentioned because it would not have mattered. Second, a man who had recently been admitted into a psychiatric hospital gave the only eyewitness account of the murder of William Fargues. Yes it is reasonable to take this man’s statement into consideration but should they really have relied on it for a solid piece of evidence? Unfortunately we will never know the true story of Anthony de Rosa or if he even murdered William Fargues. Bias and discrimination were not uncommon during this time and the trial and hanging of Anthony de Rosa would certainly not be the last to take place in the Old Bailey courthouse.

All information was taken from Ordinary’s Account, 23rd March 1752, the Newgate Calendar and the trial transcript from the Old Bailey.

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3 comments on “Anthony de Rosa: Accused by the Insane

  1. ryliecole says:

    I think you hit all the right topics for this trial. You cover (quite clearly) how Anthony’s foreign status played a role in his guilt, as well, how his accusers were men who were both involved in the act and insane. I know you mention at the end of the post that we cannot know for certain if Anthony played a part in the murder, but I feel as though you should reiterate that a few times. Also during your retelling of events at the start of the post you should mention that the information is all speculative; during my reading I take your retelling at face value, and it comes as a surprise that you are arguing for Anthony afterwards. Other than those things, the article looks very good and will definitely make the reader think more about what constitutes as “evidence”.

  2. schamill says:

    Kelsie, I really enjoyed reading your trial. As Rylie said, you hit all the right topics for this trial. The way you told the story seems to be very on point, and full of important information. I do agree that there should have been no reason for the court to bring up that Anthony was a foreigner. It definitely should not have mattered if he wad foreign or not. Overall, I found this article very interesting, and I can’t seem to find anything to pick apart! Job well done!

  3. kelsiesmyth says:

    Thank you both for the very helpful comments! I have adjusted my essay accordingly, I appreciate your help, it has made the essay better!

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