Page images



newspapers.--I arrived at Hertford said impressively there was no danabout the same hour as on the former ger-and the jailer retired to take occasion. I drank tea over again, the chains from his charge. I had sat again by the fire. The former heard that Thurtell meditated and day seemed but a rehearsal of this- even threatened violence against and I as anxiously looked for the Hunt,—and indeed Hunt himself apmorning.–Throughout the night prehended some attack from his treHertford was as sleepless as before. mendous companion ;-but the for-The window at the Plough was as mer had evidently been counselled as luminous as usual ;-the Half Moon to the effect of such vengeance being swarmed with post-chaises and drab wreaked, and doubtless he had himcoats ;-and the Seven Stars - the self come to the conviction that reSix Compasses—the Three Tuns— venge was a profitless passion, and and the Horse and Magpie, abounded particularly so at such a time! with tippling witnesses, all dressed At eight o'clock the trumpets of in their Sunday clothes, and con- the javelin men brayed the arrival of triving to cut a holiday out of the Mr. Justice Park, who shortly afterremnant of the murder. “Pipes," wards entered the court and took his as Lord Byron says, were every- seat:-as usual the court was collowhere," in the liberal air." quial respecting the heat,-and the

With great and laborious difficulty crowd,—and the sitting down of tall I made my way into court about men,—to the loss of much of that half past seven in the morning. The imposing dignity with which the doors were sadly ordered, for instead ermine and trumpets invariably surof the wholesome guardianship of round a judge. Sir Allan is a kind but a Ruthven, Upson, and Bishop, men warm tempered man; and few things who know how to temper a crowd with distract him so much as the disorder kind severity, we had great country- occasioned by full-grown persons constable-bumpkins with long staves, standing up, or by unwieldy men in which they handsomely exercised up- any position. I really think he would on those excrescences in which they not be able to endure even a standing themselves were deficient, the heads order ! of the curious l_Such bumping of The pressure was great at this skulls I never before witnessed. Gall early time. Only one space seemed would have loved them. One or left, and who, to be ever so comforttwo sensible officers might have kept ably accommodated, would have the entrances free and quiet:--but filled it? The dock was empty! Tumult had it all her own way.

Some short time was lost in the reThe Court was crowded to excess. moving of the irons from the prisonIt appeared to be more closely and ers, - and although the order to inconveniently packed than on the “ place the prisoners at the bar” first day,—and even at this early had long been given,—the anxious hour the window panes, from the stretch of the crowd to behold them great heat, were streamed and stream- was not relieved by their presence. ing with wet. The reporters were The situation in which I stood closely hedged in, and as a person commanded the entrance to the dock, observed to me, had scarcely room which was from the back part of it: to write even short hand.

it was lost in gloom, and seemed like Before the entrance of the judge, the dark portal to a condemned cell. the clerk of the arraigns beckoned At length, the approach of the priMr. Wilson, the humane jailer of soners could be discerned. Hunt Hertford prison, to the table, and in- entered first and took his place at the quired of him whether the fetters bar; and Thurtell immediately folwere removed from the prisoners : lowed. They slightly bowed to the Mr. Wilson replied that they were court. Every motion of Thurtell not, as he did not consider it ad- seemed watched and guarded at first; visable to free them without orders. but when from his attention to his paThe clerk recommended the removal, pers, it was clear that he had no idea and Mr. Wilson, apparently against of violence, his actions were less obhis own will, consented,—declaring served by his keepers. that he thought it “ dangerous. Hunt was dressed in black, with Mr. Andrews, Thurtell's counsel, a white cravat and a white handker



dantake had

and ainst


It was

fored as meing nim


of I of ter

his llothe

hat the


Her nis in ld

chief, carefully disposed, so as to the eyebrows were forcibly marked
give the appearance of a white un- though irregular; that over the
der waistcoat. There was a foppery right eye being nearly straight, and
in the adjustment of this part of his that on the left turning up to a point
dress, which was well seconded by so as to give a very painful expres-
the affected carriage of his head and sion to the whole face. His hair was
shoulders, and by the carefully dis- of a good lightish brown, and not
posed disorder of his hair.

worn after any fashion. I have been
combed forward over his ears from thus particular, because, although I
the back part of his head, and divided have seen many pictures, I have seen
nicely on his forehead, so as to allow none resembling him in any respect,
one lock to lie half-curled upon it. and I should like to give you some
His forehead itself was white, femi- idea of him. His frame was exceed-
nine, and unmeaning; indeed his ingly well knit and athletic—and if
complexion was extremely delicate, you have ever seen Shelton the prize-
and looked more so from the raven fighter, you will have a perfect idea
blackness of his hair. Nothing could of John Thurtell,-even to the power
be weaker than his features, which and the stoop of the shoulders. I
were small and regular, but destitute observed that Thurtell seldom looked
of the least manly expression. His at the person with whom he con-
eye was diminutive and unmeaning, versed,—for whenever he addressed
indeed coldly black and poor. He Wilson, or his solicitor, or a turnkey,
gazed around at the crowded court, he leant his head side-ways to the
with the look and the attitude of a speaker, but looked straight forward.
person on the stage just about to He had a large bundle of papers and
sing. Indeed the whole bearing of books,--and very shortly after being
Hunt was such as to convince any placed at the bar he commenced
person that even his baseness was not making remarks and penning notes
to be relied upon, that his self-regard to his counsel and advisers.
was too deep to make him bear dan- The trial commenced I should con-

companions, or to contem- ceive about ten o'clock; for some plate death while safety could be time was consumed in a fruitless appurchased at any price!

plication on the part of Hunt for a Beside him stood the murderer- further postponement of his trial to complete in frame, face, eye, and allow of his petitioning the crown for daring !—The contrast was singular- mercy on the ground of his confesly striking,-fatal indeed, to the opi- sion before the magistrates. The nion which it created of Thurtell. Jury were mustered by main strength He was dressed in a plum-coloured -and several Hertfordshire yeomen frock coat, with a drab waistcoat seemed much perplexed at hearing and gilt buttons, and white corded that they were challenged :-indeed breeches. His neck had a black one or two had taken a comfortable stock on, which fitted as usual stiffly seat in the box, and seemed deterup to the bottom of the cheek and mined not to be called out. end of the chin, and which therefore It now fell to Mr. Gurney's lot to pushed forward the flesh on this detail the case, which he did in a part of the face so as to give an ad- slow, distinct, and concise manner, ditionally sullen weight to the coun- pretty well in the following words. tenance. The lower part of the face The Jury listened with an almost was unusually large, muscular, and breathless attention-and in several heavy, and appeared to hang like a of the most appalling parts of his load to the head, and to make it drop statement,—there was a cold drawing like the mastiff's jowl. The upper lip in of the breath and an involuntary was long and large, and the mouth murmur throughout the whole court. had a severe and dogged appearance. The Judge, who had read the depoHis nose was rather small for such a sitions, leant back in his chair at the face, but it was not badly shaped: his narrative ! eyes too were small and buried deep -The deceased, whose murder was the under his protruding forehead, so in- subject of the present inquiry, was the late deed as to defy you to detect their Mr. William Weare-a man, it was said, colour. The forehead was extreme- gested, connected with gaming-houses.

addicted to play, and, as had been sugly strong, bony, and knotted ;-and Whether he was the best, or the least esti

ger for his

[merged small][ocr errors]

mable individual in society, was no part of answering in every respect to the descriptheir present consideration. The prisoner tion of John Thurtell and Hunt, went to at the bar, John Thurtell, had been his ac- a pawnbroker's in Mary-le-bone, and purquaintance, and in some practices of play chased a pair of pocket-pistols. In the had, it was said, been wronged by him, and middle of the same day, Hunt hired a gig, deprived of a large sum of money: The and afterwards a horse, under the preother prisoner, Huut, was described as be.. tence of going to Dartford in Kent; he ing a public singer, and also known to also inquired where he could purchase a Mr. Weare, but not, as he believed, in ha- sack and a rope, and was directed to a birs of friendship. Probert, who was ad. place over Westminster-bridge, which, he initied as an accomplice, had been in trade was told, was on his road into Kent. a spirit-dealer, and rented a cottage in Somewhere, however, it would be found Gill's-hill-lane, near Elstree. It was si- that he did procure a sack and cord, and tuate in a by-lane, giving out of the Lon- he met the same afternoon, at Tetsall's, dun-road to St. Alban's, and two or three Thomas Thurtell and Noyes. They were miles beyond Elstiee. The cottage of all assembled together at the Coach and Probert 'was, it would appear, selected Horses in Conduit-street. When he from its seclusion, as the fit spot for the made use of the names of the two last in. perpetration of the murder. Probert was dividuals, he begged distinctly to be unhimself much engaged in London, and his derstood as saying, that he had no reason wife generally resided at the cottage, which to believe that either Thomas Thurtell was a small one, and pretty fully occupied or Noyes were privy to the guilty purin the accommodation of Mrs. Probert, pose of the prisoners. Some conversation her sister, (Miss Noyes,) some children of took place at the time between the parties, Thomas Tourtell's, (the prisoner's bro- and Hunt was heard to ask Probert if he ther,) and a maid and boy servant. It would be in it,”- meaning what they should seem, fron) what had taken place, (Hunt and John Thurlell) were about. that the deceased had been invited by John Thurtell drove off from Tetsall's between Thurtell, to this place to enjoy a day or four and five o'clock to take up a friend, two's shooting. It would be proved ihat as he said to Probert, to be killed as he the prisoner Tourtell met the deceased at travelled with hin; an expression which a billiard-room, kept by one Rexwor Probert said at the time he believed to thy, on the Thursday night previous to have been a piece of idle bravado. Here- ; the murder. They were joined there by quested Probert to bring down Hunt in Hunt. On the forenoon of the Friday, bis own gig. In the course of that evenhe (deceased) was with Rexworthy at the ing, the prisoner Thurtell is seen in a gig, same place, and said he was going for a with a horse of a very remarkable colour. day's shooting into the country. Weare He was a sort of iron grey, with a white went from the billiard-rooms between face and white legs very particular marks three and four o'clock to his chambers in for identity. He was first seen by a paLyon's inn, where he partook of a chop trole near Edgeware; beyond that part of divner, and afterwards packed up, in a the road he was seen by the landlord; but green carpet bag, some clothes, and a from that time of the evening until his mere change of linen, such as a journey arrival at Probert's cottage on the same for the time he had specified might re- night, they had no direct evidence to trace quire. He also took with him when he him. Probert, according to Thurtell's left his chambers, in a hackney coach, request, drove Hunt down in his giş, and, which the laundress had called, a double having a better horse, on the road they barrelled gun, and a backgammon box, overtook Thurtell and Weare in the gig, dice, &r. He left his chambers in this and passed them without notice. They manner before four o'clock, and drove stopped afterwards at some public-house first to Charing-cross, and afterwards to on the road to drink grog, where they beMaddox-street, Hanover-square; from lieve Thurtell must have passed them unthence he proceeded to the New-road, perceived. Probert · drove Hunt until where he went out of the coach, and re. They reached Phillimore-lodge, where he turned after some time, accompanied by (Hunt) got out, as he said by Thurtell's another person, and took his things away. desire, to wait for him. Probert from Undoubtedly the deceased left town on thencé drove alone to Gill's-hill cottage, that evening with the expectation of reach- in the lane near which he met Thurtell, ing Gill's-hill cottage ; but it had been on foot, alone. Thurtell inquired, Where previously deterniined by his companions, was Hunt, had he been left behirid ? he that he should never reach that spot alive. then added, that he had done the business He wouli here beg to state a few of the without his assistance, and had killed his circumstances which had occurred ante

At bis desire, Probert returned to cedent to the commission of the crime. bring Hunt to the spo', when he (Probert) Thomas and John Thurteil were desirous went to Hunt for that purpose. When of some temporary concealment, owing they met, he told Hunt what had happened. to their inability to provide the bail requi- “ Why it was to be done here," said site to meet some charge of misdemeanor, Hunt (pointing to nearer Phillimoreand Probert had procured for them a re- lodge), admitiing his privity, and that he ireat at Teisall's, the sign of the Coach had got out to assist in the comission of and Horses, in Conduit-street, where the deed. When Thuriell rebuked Hunt they remained for two or three weeks pre- for his absence; "Why (said the latter), vious to the murder. On the morning of you had the tools." • They were 110 Friday, the 24th of October, two men, good," replied Thurtell; “ the pistols


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

were no better than pop-guns. I fired at the body was dragged through the hedge
his cheek, and it glanced off."- that into the adjoining field. The body was,
Weare ran out of the gig, cried for mercy, as he had previously described it to be, en-
and offered to return the money he had closed in a sack. I'hey then effectually ri-
robbed him of_that he (Thurtell) pur- Aled the deceased man, Thurtell having in-
sued him up the lane when he jumped out formed his companions, that he had, in the
of the gig. Finding the pistol unavailing, first instance, taken part of his property.
he attempted to reach him by cutting the They then went back to the cottage. It

across his throat, and ultimately ought to be stated, that Thurtell, before
finished him by driving the barrel of the he went out, placed a large sponge in the
pistol into his head, and turning it in his gig; and when he returned from this ex-
brains, after he had penetrated the fore- pedition, he went to the stable and sponged
head. Such was the manner in which himself with great care. He endeavoured
Thurtell described himself to have disposed to remove the spots of blood, many of
of the deceased, and they would hear from which were distinctly seen by Probert's
Probert what he said on the occasion. boy; and certainly such marks would be
A gig was about that time heard to drive observable on the person of any one who
very quickly past Probert's cottage. The had been engaged in such a transaction.
servant-lad expected his master, and In the course of the evening Thurtell
thought he had arrived; but he did not produced a gold watch, without a chain,
make his appearance. Five minutes after which occasioned several remarks. He
that period, certain persons, who would also displayed a gold curb chain, which
be called in evidence, and who happened might be used for a watch, when doubled ;
to be in the road, distinctly heard the re- or, when singled, might be worn round a
port of a gun or pistol, which was followed lady's neck. On producing the chain,
by voices, as if in contention. Violent it was remarked that it was more fit for
groans were next heard, which, how- a lady than a gentleman; on which Thur-
ever, became fainter and fainter, and tell pressed it on Mrs. Probert, and made
then died away altogether. The spot her accept it. An offer was afterwards
where the report of the pistol and the made that a bed should be given to Thur-
sound of groans were heard, was Gill's- tell and Hunt, which was to be accom-
hill-lane, and near it was situated the cot- plished by Miss Noyes giving up her
tage of Probert. They had now, there- bed, and sleeping with the children. This
fore, to keep in mind, that Thurtell ar- was refused, Thurtell and Hunt obsery-
rived at about nine o'clock in the even- ing, that they would rather sit up. Miss
ing at Probert's cottage, having set off Noyes, therefore, retired to her own bed.
from Conduit-street at five o'clock; and Something, however, occurred, which
though he had been seen on the road in raised suspicion in the mind of Mrs. Pro-
company with another person in the gig, bert; and, indeed, it was scarcely possi-
yet it appeared that he arrived at the cot-ble, if it was at all possible, for persons
tage alone, having in his possession the who had been engaged in a transaction
double-barrelled gun, the green carpet-bag, of this kind to avoid some disorder of
and the backgammon-board, which Mr. mind-some absence of thought that was
Weare took away with him. He gave bis calculated to excite suspicion. In con-
borse to the boy, and the horse appeared to sequence of observing those feelings, Mrs.
have sweated, and to be in a cool state, Probert did not go to bed, or undress her-
which corroborated the fact that he had self. She went to the window and look-
stopped a good while on his way. He ed out, and saw that Probert, Hunt,
left Conduit-street, it should be observed, and Thurtell, were in the garden. It
at five, and arrived at the cottage at nine- would be proved that they went down to
a distance which under ordinary circum- the body, and, finding it too heavy to be
stances, would not have occupied more removed, one of the horses was taken from
than two hours. The boy inquired after the stable. The body was then thrown
Probert and Hunt, and was told that across the horse ; and stones having been
they would soon be at the cottage. At put into the sack, the body, with the sack
length, a second gigarrived, and those thus rendered weighty by the stones, was
two persons were in it. They rode, thrown into the pond. Mrs. Probert dis-
while Thurtell, who went to meet them, tinctly saw something heavy drawn across
walked with them. The boy having the garden where Thurtell was. The
cleaned his master's horse, then per parties then returned to the house; and
formed the same office for the horse of Mrs. Probert, whose fears and suspicions
Thurtell, which occupied a good deal of were now most powerfully excited, went
time. Probert went into the house. Nei- down stairs and listened behind the par-
ther Thurtell nor Hunt was expected by lour door. The parties now proceeded to
Mrs. Probert. With Thurtell she was share the booty; and Thurtell divided with
acquaiuted; but Hunt was stran- them to the amount of 6l. each. The
ger, and was formally introduced to her. purse, the pocket-book, and certain papers
They then supped on some pork chops, which might lead to detection, were care-
which Hunt had brought down with him fully burned. They remained up late;
from London. They then went out, as and Probert, when he went to bed, was
Probert said, to visit Mr. Nicholls, a surprised to find that his wife was not
neighbour of his; but their real object asleep. Hunt and Thurtell still continued
was to go down to the place where the bo- to sit up in the parlour. The next morn-
dy of Weare was deposited. Thurtelling, as early as six o'clock, Hunt and
took them to the spot down the lane, and Thurtell were both seen out, and in the

[ocr errors]

lane together. Some men who were at with a strong desire to conceal the body work there, observed them, as they called effectually. Probert wished it to be reit, “ grabbling" for something in the moved from his pond; for, had it been hedge. They were spoken to by these found there, he knew it would be importmen, and as persons thus accosted must ant evidence against himself. He declared say something, Thurtell observed, " that that he would not suffer it to remain there; it was a very bad road, and that he had and Thurtell and Hunt promised to come nearly been capsized there last night." down on the Monday, and remove it. The men said, “I hope you were not On Monday, Thurtell and Hunt went hurt.” Tourtell answered, « Oh no, the out in the sig, and in furtherance of that gig was not upset," and they then went scene of villany which they meditated, away. These men, thinking something they took with them Probert's boy. They might have been lost on the spot, searched carried him to various places, and finally after Hunt and Tburtell were gone. In lodged the boy at Mr. Tetsall's, in Conone place, they found a quantity of blood, duit-street. On the evening of that same further on they discovered a bloody knife, Monday, Hunt and Thurtell came down and next they found a bloody pistol--one to the cottage. Hunt engaged Mrs. Proof the identical pair which he would show bert in conversation, while Thurtell and were purchased by Hunt. That pistol Probert took the body out of the pond, bore upon it the marks of blood and of put it into Thurtell's gig, and then gave human brains. The spot was afterwards notice to Hunt that the gig was ready. still further examined, and more bloud In this manner they carried away the body was discovered, which had been concealed that night; but where they took it to, by branches and leaves, so that no doubt Probert did not know. It appeared, howcould be entertained that the murder had ever, that the body was carried to a pond been committed in this particular place. near Elstree, at a considerable distance On the following morning, Saturday, the from Probert's cottage, and there sunk, as 25th of October, Thurtell and Hunt left it had before been in Probert's pond, in a Probert's cottage in the gig which Hunt sack containing a considerable quantity of had come down in, carrying away with stones. Hunt and Thurtell then went to them the gun, the carpet-bag, and the London; and the appearance of the gig backgammon-board, belonging to Mr. the next morning clearly told the way in Weare. These articles were taken to which it had been used over night; a Hunt's lodgings, where they were after. quantity of blood and mud being quite wards found. When Hunt arrived in town perceptible at the bottom. The parties on Saturday, he appeared to be unusually heard that the report of the pistol in the gay. He said, “ We Turpin lads can do lane on the Friday evening, and the disthe trick. I am able to drink wine now, covery of the blood in the field, had led to and I will drink nothing but wine." He great alarm amongst the magistracy. Inseemed to be very much elevated at the quiry was set on foot, and Thurtell, Hunt, recollection of some successful exploit. It and Probert were at length apprehended. was observed, that Thurtell's hands were It was found that Hunt had adopted a very much scratched, and some remark peculiar mode for the purpose of concealhaving been made on the subject, he ing his identity; for when he was hiring stated, “ that they had been out netting the gig, and doing various other acts conpartridges, and that his hands got scratch- nected with this atrocious proceeding, he ed in that occupation.' On some other wore very long whiskers; but on the Monpoints, he gave similarly evasive answers. day after the murder, he had them taken On Sunday, John Thurtell, Thomas Thur. off; and they all knew that nothing could tell, Noyes, and Hunt, spent the day at possibly alter the appearance of a man Probert's cottage. Hunt went down dress- more than the taking away of large bushy ed in a manner so very shabby, as to ex- whiskers. Strict inquiries were made by cite observation. But in the course of the the magistrates, but nothing was ascerday he went up stairs, and attired himself tained to prove to a certainty who was in very handsome clothes. There was very murdered. The body was, however, found little doubt that those were the clothes of on the Thursday, Hunt having given evithe deceased Mr. Weare. He had now to dence as to the place where the body was call the attention of the jury to a very deposited. The evidence which Hunt gave, remarkable circumstance. On the Satur- and which led to the finding of the body, day Hunt had a new spade sent to his he would use: but no other fact coming lodgings, which he took down to the cot- out of his mouth, save that, would he adtage on Sunday. When he got near Pro- vert to. He was entitled, in point of law, bert's garden, he told that individual, to make use of that. The fact only of the “ that he had brought it down to dig a disclosure by Hunt, in consequence of hole to buw the body in.” On that even- which the body was discovered, was he iog, Probert did really visit Mr. Nicholls; permitted to make use of; and to that and the latter said to him; “ that some alone, so far as Hunt's confession went, persons had heard the report of a gun or he would confine himself. But by referpistol in the lane, on Friday evening; but ence to his conversations with others, and he supposed it was some foolish joke." to various circumstances not adverted to Probert, on his return, stated this to by him, he was convinced that he should Thurtel and Hunt, and the information be enabled to establish a perfect and comappeared to alarm the former, who said, plete chain of evidence. He had now “he feared he should be hanged." The stated the principal part of the facts which intelligence, however, inspired them all it would be his duty to lay before the jury.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »