2: HISTORY OF THE SMUGGLERS.
IN SEPTEMBER, 1747, one John Diamond, otherwise Dymar, agreed with a number of smugglers to go over to the Island of Guernsey, to smuggle tea, where, having purchased a considerable quantity, on their return in a cutter, were taken by one Capt. Johnson, who carried the vessel and tea to the port of Poole, and lodged the tea in the Custom-house there.
The smugglers being very much incensed at this fatal miscarriage of their purchase, resolved not to sit down contented with the loss; but, on a consultation held among them, they agreed to go and take away the tea from the warehouse where it was lodged. Accordingly, a body of them, to the number of sixty, well-armed, assembled in Charlton Forest, and from thence proceeded on their enterprise; to accomplish which, they agreed, that only thirty of them should go upon the attack, and that the remaining thirty should be placed as scouts upon the different roads, to watch the motions of the officers and soldiers, and to be ready to assist or alarm the main body, in case any opposition should be made.
In the night-time, between the 6th and 7th of October, they went to Poole, about thirty only present, broke open the Custom-house, and took away all the said tea, except one bag about five pounds.
The next morning they returned with their booty through Fordingbridge, in Hampshire, where some hundreds of people were assembled to view the cavalcade. Among the spectators was Daniel Chater, a
shoemaker (one of the unhappy persons murdered) known to Diamond, one of the gang then passing, as having formerly worked together in harvest time. Diamond shook hands with him as he passed along, and threw him a bag of tea.
His Majesty’s proclamation coming out with a promise of a reward for apprehending those persons who were concerned in breaking open the Custom-house at Poole, and Diamond being taken into custody at Chichester, on a suspicion of being one of them, and Chater saying in conversation with his neighbours, that he knew Diamond, and saw him go by with the gang, the day after the Custom-house at Poole was broken open, it came to the knowledge of Mr. Shearer, collector of the Customs at the port of Southampton, when, after some things had passed by letter, between him and Chater, he was ordered to send Mr. William Galley (the other unfortunate person murdered) with Chater, with a letter to Major Battin, a Justice of PRace for the county of Sussex, the purport of which was, to desire the justice to take an examination of Chater, in relation to what he knew of that affair: and whether he could prove the identity of Diamond’s person.
On Sunday, the 14th of February, they set out, and going for Chichester, they called at Mr. Holton’s, at Havant, who was an acquaintance of Chater’s; Holton asked Chater where they were going, and Chater told him they were going to Chichester, to carry a letter to Major Battin; when Mr. Holton told him the Major was at East Murden, near Chichester, and directed him and Galley to go by Stanstead, near Rowland’s Castle. Galley and Chater, pursuing their journey, and going through Leigh, in the parish of Havant, in their way to Rowland’s Castle, they called at the New Inn, and
asking the nearest way, they saw Mr. George Austin, and Mr. Thomas Austin, two brothers, and their brother-in-law, Mr. Jenkes; when the elder brother, G. Austin, said they were going the same way, and would show them; and they all set out together (Galley, C hater, and the rest being all on horseback); and about 12 at noon came to the White Hart at Rowland’s Castle, a house kept by one Elizabeth Payne, widow, who had two sons, both men grown, and blacksmiths, and reputed smugglers, in the same village. After calling for some rum, Mrs. Payne took Mr. George Austin aside, and told him she was afraid these two strangers were come with intent to do some injury to the smugglers. He replied he believed she need be under no such apprehension on that account, for they were only carrying a letter to Major Battin; and as he did not know the purport of it, he imagined it was only about some common business. The circumstance, however, of their having a letter for the Major, increased her suspicion; upon which she sent one of her sons who was then in the house, for William Jackson and William Carter, two of the murderers (as will appear hereafter), who lived within a small distance of her house. While her son was gone, Chater and Galley wanted to be going, and asked for their horses; but Mrs. Payne told them, that the man was gone out with the key of the stables, and would be at home presently, which words she said in order to keep them till Jackson and Carter came, who lived very near. As soon as Jackson came, who was there first, he ordered a pot of hot to be made, and while that was getting ready Carter came in; Mrs. Payne immediately took them aside., and told them her suspicions concerning Chater and Galley, and likewise the circumstance of a letter which they were carrying to
Major Battin; and soon after advised George Austin to go away about his business, telling him, as she respected him, he had better go and not stay, lest he should come to some harm; upon which he went away, and left his brother Thomas and brother-in-law Mr. Jenkes there.
During this time, Mrs. Payne’s other son came in, and finding there were grounds to suspect that the two strangers were going to make information against the smugglers, he went out and fetched in William Steel (who was one of the King’s witnesses upon trial), and Samuel Downer, otherwise Samuel Howard, otherwise Little Sam, Edmund Richards, Henry Sheerman, otherwise Little Harry, all smugglers, and all belonging to the same gang, and were indicted for the murder of Mr. Galley, but not then taken.
After they had drank a little while, Jackson took Chater into the yard, and asked him how he did, and where Diamond was; Chater said he believed he was in custody, but how he did he did not know; but that he was going to appear against him, which he was sorry for, but he could not help it. Galley soon after came into the yard to them, to get Chater in again, suspecting that Jackson was persuading Chater not to persist in giving information against the smugglers, and upon Galley’s desiring Chater to come in, Jackson said, “G...d d n your b d, what is that to you?” strikes him a blow in the face and knocks him down, and set his nose and mouth a-bleeding; after which they all came into the house, Jackson abusing Galley; when Galley said he was the King’s officer, and could not put up with such usage; then Jackson replied, “You a King’s officer! I’ll make a King’s officer of you; and for a quartern of gin I’ll serve you so again;” and some time after offering to strike him again, one of the
Paynes interposed, and said, “Don’t be such a fool, do you know what you are doing?”
(Galley and Chater began to be very uneasy, and wanted to be going; upon which Jackson, Carter, and the rest of them persuaded them to stay and drink more rum, and make it up, for they were sorry for what had happened: when they all sat down together, Mr. Austin and Mr. Jenkes being present. After they had sat a little while, Jackson and Carter wanted to see the letter which Galley and Chater were carrying to Major Bat-tin; but they refused to show it; upon which they both made a resolution they would see it. They then drank about pretty plentifully, and made Galley, Chater, and Thomas Austin fuddled; when they persuaded ( l alley and Chater to go into another room where there was a bed, and lie down; which they did, and fell asleep; and then the letter was taken out of one of their pockets, and brought into the kitchen, where Carter or Kelly read it; and the contents of it being plainly a design to promote an information against some of their gang, they immediately entered into consultation what course to take on this occasion. Some proposed one thing, some another; but all agreed in this, that the letter should be first destroyed, and then they would consider what to do with the men, in order to prevent their giving the intended information.
Before this, one John Race (who was also one of the King’s witnesses) and Richard Kelly came in, when Jackson and Carter told them that they had got the old rogue the shoemaker of Fordingbridge, who was going to give an information against John Diamond, the shepherd, who was then in custody at Chichester. Then they all consulted what was best to be done with him and Galley, when William Steel proposed to take
them both to a well, a little way from the house, and to murder them and throw them in.
At this consultation were present only these seven smugglers; namely, William Jackson, William Carter, William Steel, John Race, Samuel Downer, Edmund Richards, and Henry Sheerman, and this proposal was disagreed to, as they had been seen in their company by the Austins, Mr. Jenkes, Mr. Garrat, Mr. Poate, and others who came into Payne’s house to drink. This being disagreed to, another proposal was made, which was, to take them away, and send them over to France; but that was objected against, as there was a possibility of their coming over again, and then they should be all known. At these consultations Jackson and Carter’s wives were both present, and who both cried out “Hang the dogs, for they came here to hang MS.” ^ Then another proposition was made, which was that they should take them and carry them to some place where they should be confined, till it was known what would be the fate of Diamond, and in the mean time each of them to allow three-pence a week to subsist Galley and Chater; and that whatever Diamond’s fate was, they determined that theirs should be the same.
Galley and Chater continued all this while asleep upon the bed; then Jackson went in and began the first scene of their cruelty; for having first put on his spurs, he got upon the bed and spurred their foreheads to awake them, and afterwards whipped them with a horsewhip, so that when they came out into the kitchen, Chater was as bloody as Galley. This done, all the above said smugglers being present, they took them out of the house, when Richards with a pistol cocked in his hand, swore he would shoot any person through the
head that should mention anything of what was done, or what they had heard.
When they were all come out of the house, Jackson returned with a pistol in his hand, and asked for a belt, a strap, or string: but none of the people in the house presumed to give him either; upon which he returned to the rest of the gang, who were lifting Galley on a horse, whose legs they tied under the horse’s belly; then they lifted Chater on the same horse, and tied his legs under the horse’s belly, and then tied their four legs together.
All this time John Race was with them; but when they began to set forward, Race said, “I cannot go with you for I have never a horse/’ and so stayed behind.
They had not gone above a hundred yards, before Jackson called out “Whip them, cut them, slash them, damn them”; and then all fell upon them except the person who was leading the horse, which was Steel; for the roads were so bad that they were forced to go very slow.
They whipped them till they came to Wood’s Ashes, some with long whips and some with short, lashing and cutting them over the head, face, eyes and shoulders, till the poor men, unable any longer to bear the anguish of their repeated blows, rolled from side to side, and at last fell together with their heads under the horse’s belly; in which posture every step the horse made, he struck one or the other of their heads with his feet. This happened at Wood’s Ashes, which was more than half a mile from the place where they began their whipping, and had continued it all the way thither. When their cruel tormentors saw the dismal effects of their barbarity, and that the poor creatures had fallen
under it, they sat them upright again in the same position as they were before, and continued whipping them in the most cruel manner over the head, face, shoulders, and everywhere, till they came beyond Goodthorpe Dean, upwards of half a mile farther, the horse still going a very slow pace; where they both fell again as before, with their heads under the horse’s belly, and their heels up in the air.
Now they found them so weak that they could not sit upon the horse at all, upon which they separated them, and put Galley behind Steel, and Chater behind Little Sam, and then whipped Galley so severely, that the lashes coming upon Steel, he desired them to desist, crying out himself that he could not bear it, upon which they desisted accordingly. All the time they so continued to whip them, Jackson rode with a pistol cocked, and swore as they went along through Dean, if they made any noise he would blow their brains out. They then agreed to go up with them to Harris’s Well near Lady Holt Park, where they swore they would murder Galley; accordingly they took him off the horse and threatened to throw him into the well. Upon which the poor unhappy man desired them to dispatch him at once, or even throw him down the well, to put an end to his misery. “No, G...d d...n your blood,” says Jackson, “if that’s the case, we must have something more to say to you”; and then put him on a horse again, and whipped him over the Downs till he was so weak that he fell.
Was ever cruelty like this! To deny a miserable wretch, who was half dead with their blows and bruises, the wretched favour of a quick dispatch out of his tortures! Could the devil himself have furnished a more execrable invention to punish the wretched victims of
his malice, than to grant them life only to prolong their torments!
Poor Galley not being able to sit on horseback any longer, Carter and Jackson took him up and laid him across the saddle, with his breast over the pommel, as a butcher does a calf, and Richards got up behind him to hold him, and after carrying him in this manner above a mile, Richards was tired of holding him, so let him down by the side of the horse; and then Carter and Jackson put him upon the grey horse that Steel had before rode upon; they set him up with his legs across the saddle, and his body over the horse’s mane; and in this posture Jackson held him on for half a mile, most of the way the poor man cried out “Barbarous usage! barbarous usage! for God’s sake shoot me through the head”; Jackson all the time squeezing his private parts.
After going on in this manner upwards of a mile, Little Harry tied Galley with a cord, and got up behind him, to hold him from falling off; and when they had gone a little way in that manner, the poor man, Galley, cried out “I fall, I fall, I fall”; and Little Harry, giving him a shove as he was falling, said, “Fall and be dÄd”; upon which he fell down, and Steel said that
they all thought he had broke his neck, and was dead; but it must be presumed he was buried alive, because when he was found, his hands covered his face, as if to keep the dirt out of his eyes.
Poor unhappy Galley! who can read the melancholy story of thy tragical catastrophe without shedding tears at the sorrowful relation? What variety of pains did thy body feel in every member of it, especially by thy privy parts being so used? What extremity of anguish didst thou groan under, so long as the small remains of
life permitted thee to be sensible of it! And after all, to be buried while life was yet in thee, and to struggle with death even in thy wretched grave, what imagination can form to itself a scene of greater horror, or more detestable villainy? Sure thy murderers must be devils incarnate! for none but the fiends of Hell could take pleasure in the torments of two unhappy men, who had given them no offence, unless their endeavouring to serve their king and country may be deemed such. This indeed was the plea of these vile miscreants; but a very bad plea it was to support as bad a cause. But such is the depravity of human nature, that when a man once abandons himself to all manner of wickedness, he sets no bounds to his passions, his conscience is seared, every tender sentiment is lost, reason is no more, and he has nothing left him of the man but the form.
We forgot to mention in its proper place that in order to make their whipping the more severely felt, they pulled off Galley’s great coat, which was found in the road next morning all bloody.
They, supposing Galley was dead, laid him across a horse, two of the smugglers, one on each side, holding him to prevent his falling, while the third led the horse, and as they were going up a dirty lane, Jackson said, “Stop at the swing gate beyond the water till we return, and we will go and seek for a place to carry them both to; when he and Carter went to the house of one Pescod, who had been a reputed smuggler, and knocked at the door. The daughter came down, when they said they had got two men whom they wanted to bring to the house. The girl told them her father was ill, and had been so for some time, and that there was no conveniency for them, nor any body to look after
them: and they insisting that she should go up and ask him, she did, and brought down word that her father would suffer nobody to be brought there, be they who they would; upon which they returned to the rest.
Though this Pescod was (as I have observed) a reputed smuggler, and therefore these fellows supposed he would give them harbour upon this occasion, yet it does not appear that he had gone such lengths as the rest of them had done; for if he had, he would not have refused admitting them at any hour of the night, notwithstanding his illness; but he imagining they were upon some villainous expedition, resolved to have no hand in it, or have his name brought in question on that account. But to proceed.
By this time it was between one and two in the morning, when they agreed to go to one Scardefield’s at the Red Lion at Rake, which was not far from them. When they came there, they knocked at the door, but the family being all in bed, Scardefield looked out of the window, and asked who was there. Carter and Jackson told him who they were, and desired him to get up, for they wanted something to drink, and there were more company coming; Scardefield refused several times, but they pressing him very hard, he put on his clothes and came down, and let them in after many times refusing.
As soon as lie was down, and had let Steel, Jackson, Carter and Richards in, he made a fire in the parlour, and then went to draw some liquor, while he was doing which he heard more company come in; and he going into the brewhouse saw something lie upon the ground like a dead man. They then sent him to fetch them some rum and some gin, and while he was gone for the same, they had got poor Chater into the parlour, and on his bringing the liquor, they refused to let him in;
but he saw a man, he says, stand up very bloody, whom he supposed to be Chater. They told him, Scardefield, that they had an engagement with some officers, and had lost their tea, and were afraid that several of their people were killed; which they probably said, as well to conceal their murder of Galley, as to account for Chater’s being bloody.
All this time poor Mr. Chater was in expectation every moment of being killed, and indeed, when I am speaking of it, my heart bleeds for his sufferings; but they sent him now out of the way, for Jackson and Little Harry carried him down to Old Mills’s, which was not far off, and then returned again to the company.
After they had drank pretty plentifully, they all went out, taking Galley, or his corpse, if he was quite dead, with them; when Carter and Bichards returned to Scardefield’s, and asked him if he could find the place out where they had some time before lodged some goods; and he said he believed he could, but could not go then. But Richards and Carter insisted he should; and then Carter took a candle, and lantern, and borrowed a spade, and they went together, and had not gone far when they came to the rest, who were waiting; and then Scardefield saw something lie across a horse, which he thought looked like the dead body of a man; and then Little Sam having a spade, began to dig a hole, and it being a very cold morning, he helped, but did not know what it was for; and in this hole they buried poor Mr. Galley.
They then returned to Scardefield’s, and sat carousing the best part of Monday, having, as Jackson told them, secured Chater.
This Scardefield was formerly thought to have
been concerned with the smugglers; and as he kept a public house, they thought they might take any liberties with him. And it seems evident, by what they did after they gained admission, that they only wanted a convenient place to consult at leisure what course to pursue on this occasion. They had two prisoners, one of whom they supposed they had already murdered, whose body they must dispose of in some manner or other. The other, though yet living, they resolved should undergo the same fate, but by what means it does not appear they had yet agreed. The better to blind Scardefields, whom they did not care to let into the secret of their bloody scheme, and likewise to give some colourable pretence for what his own eyes had been witness to (a dead corpse in his brewhouse, and a man all over blood standing in his parlour), they tell him a plausible story of an engagement they had with the king’s officers. Now whether Scardfield gave entire credit to what they told him, or whether he really suspected what they were upon, did not appear from the evidence. This, however, is certain, that he went with them to the place, and assisted them in burying the body of Galley; and therefore one could imagine he could not be entirely ignorant of what they were doing. But as he was one of the witnesses by which this iniquity was brought to light, and as he was likewise a person of fair character, we shall forebear saying any thing that may seem to throw a slur on his reputation.
But now we must return to the melancholy story of the unfortunate man, unhappy in the hands of the most cruel wretches surely ever breathing.
While they were siting at Scardfield’s, consulting together what they were to do next, Richard Mills
came by; this Richard was the son of old Richard Mills, to whose house they had conveyed Chater for his better security, till they had resolved what to do with him. When they saw young Mills they caller! him in r and related to him in what manner they had treated Chater, who was going to make information against their friend Diamond, the shepherd, and that in their way they came by a precipice thirty feet deep. To this Mills made answer, that if lie had been there he would have called a council of war, and thrown him down headlong. So it seems as if cruelty was the ruling principle among the whole body of smugglers, and that nothing less than death or destruction of all those they deemed their adversaries – that is, all such as endeavoured to prevent or interrupt them in the pernicious trade of smuggling would content them.
They continued drinking at Scardefield’s all that- day, which was Monday, Chater being chained all the while by the leg, with an iron chain about three yards long, in a place belonging to old Mills, called a skilling, which is what they lay turf up in, and looked after by little Harry and old Mills; and in the dead of that night they agreed to go home separately, and to rally up some more of their gang, and to meet at Scardefield’s on Wednesday.
Their design in this was, that the}’ might appear at their own homes on Tuesday morning early, so that their neighbours might have no suspicion of what they had been about, or of what they had in hand still to do,, and likewise to consult with the rest of the iron what was best to be done.
They all met at Scardefield’s on Wednesday evening according to appointment; that is, William Jackson, William Carter, William Steel (one of the king’s witnesses),
Edmund Richards, of Long Coppice, in the parish of Walderton, in the County of Sussex, and Samuel Howard, otherwise Little Sam, of Rowland’s Castle, in the county of Hants, who were five of the six concerned in the murder of Galley, as has been before related. Also John Cobby, William Hammond, Benjamin Tapner, Thomas Stringer, of the city of Chichester, cordwainer, Daniel Perryer, otherwise Little Daniel, of Norton, and John Mills, of Trotton, both in the county of Sussex, and Thomas Willis, commonly called the Coachman, of Selbourne, near Liphook, in the county of Hants, Richard Mills, jun., and John Race (another King’s witness), being fourteen in number; Richard Mills, sen., and Henry Sheerman, alias Little Harry, stayed at home to take care of Chater, in whose custody they had left him. They dropped in one after another, as if by accident, so that it was late in the night before they were all got together. Being all of them at last come in, they entered upon the business for which they were then met, namely, to consult coolly and sedately what was to be done with Chater, that is, how to dispatch him in such a manner as would be least liable to discovery; for that he must be destroyed, had been already unanimously determined, as the only method they could think of to prevent his telling tales about Galley. Thus, when a course of villainy is once begun, it is impossible to say where it will end; one crime brings on another, and that treads on the heels of a third, till at length both the innocent and the guilty are swept away into the gulf of destruction.
I cannot pass in silence, without making mention of the readiness old Mills shewed when they brought poor Chater first clown to his house; for he fetched them
victuals and drink, and they all eat and drank, except Chater, who could not eat, but vomited very much.
After they had debated the matter some time among them, Richard Mills, jun., proposed this method: “As Chater is already chained to a post, let us,” said he “load a gun with two or three bullets, lay it upon a stand, with the muzzle of the piece levelled at his head, and, after having tied a long string to the trigger, we will all go to the butt end, and, each of us taking hold of the string, pull it together; thus we shall be all equally guilty of his death, and it will be impossible for any one of us to charge the rest with his murder, without accusing himself of the same crime; and none can pretend to lessen or mitigate their guilt by saying they were only accessaries, since all will be principals.” But some, more infernally barbarous than the rest (but who, the witness Steel could not recollect), objected to this proposal as too expeditious a method of dispatching him, and that it would put him out of his misery too soon; for they were resolved that he should suffer as much and as long as they could make his life last, as a terror to all such informing rogues (as they termed it) for the future.
This proposal being rejected, another was offered and agreed to, and that was to go to old Major Mills, and fetch him away from thence, and carry him up to Harris’s Well, near Lady Holt Park, and throw him in there, as they intended to have done with Galley, as the most effectual method to secrete the murder from the knowledge of the world; forgetting that the eye of Providence was constantly upon them, watched all their motions, and would certainly, one day or other, bring to light their deeds of darkness; and that Divine Justice never forgets the cries of the oppressed, but will, in due
time, retaliate the cruelties exercised on the innocent, on the heads of their inexorable tormentors.
All this while the unhappy Chater remained in the most deplorable situation that ever miserable wretch was confined to; his mind full of horror, and his body all over pain and anguish with the blows and scourges they had given him, and every moment in expectation of worse treatment than he had yet met with, without any sustenance to support his wretched life, than now and then a little bread and water, and once some pease porridge. Besides all this, he was continually visited by one or other of them, not to comfort or relieve him with words of kindness, or promises of better usage; not to refresh him with cordials or agreeable nourishment, but to renew their cruel exercise of beating and abusing him, and to swear and upbraid him in the vilest terms and the most scurrilous language that their tongues could utter.
Having at length concluded what to do with their poor unhappy prisoner, they all went down to Old Mills’s, where they immediately opened a fresh scene of barbarity. For as soon as they came in, Tapner, Cobby, and some others of them, went directly into the turf- house, where they found Chater in the most piteous condition, enough to melt a heart not made of stone into compassion; but was so far from moving the pity of these merciless bloodhounds, that it only served them as a fresh motive to renew their cruelties, and aggravate his afflictions. Tapner, in particular, immediately pulled out a large clasp knife, and expressed himself in this horrible manner: “G...d d...n your bÄd, down on your knees and go to prayers, for with this knife I will be your butcher.” The poor man being terrified at this dreadful menace, and expecting that
every moment would be his last, knelt down upon a turf, as he was ordered, and lifted up his heart and hands to Heaven, in the best manner that his pains and anguish would suffer him; and while he was thus piously offering up his prayers to God, Cobby got behind him, and kicked him, and with the most bitter taunts, upbraided him for being an informing villain. Chater suffered all his torments with great patience and resignation; and though there was scarce a limb or a joint of him free from the most excruciating pains, yet in the midst of all he did not forget his friend Galley, and believing that he was either dead or very near it, he begged they would tell him what they had done with him. Tapner replied, “DÄn you, we have killed him, and we will do so by you”; and then, without more ado, or any other provocation, drew his knife aslant over his eyes and nose, with such violence, that he almost cut both his eyes out, and the gristle of his nose quite through. Poor Chater was absolutely at his mercy, for it was not in his power to make any resistance; his great and only comfort was that he suffered in a righteous cause, and supported with this consideration, he resigned himself to the will of heaven, which he was persuaded took cognizance of his sufferings, and would reward his tormentors according to their demerits.
Tapner, however, not satisfied with this wanton act of cruelty, in another fit of frenzy, aimed another stroke at his face, designing to cut him again in the same wound; but happening to strike a little higher, made a terrible gash across his forehead, from which the blood flowed in abundance. What a lamentable figure must the poor creature make! His face deeply furrowed with the most ghastly wounds, his eyes cut almost out of his head, and the blood running down in torrents
upon the rest of his body. What a spectacle was here! yet not miserable enough to move the compassion of these bloodthirsty tigers! Old Mills, however, not from any pity, or that his heart relented at the terrible condition of this deplorable object, but apprehending had consequences to himself, in case he should die under their hands, and under his roof, said to them, “Take him away, and do not murder him here, but murder him somewhere else.”
It is surprising that this poor miserable man, who was far advanced in years, had strength and vigour enough to sustain such a variety of torments, which were inflicted upon him, almost without intermission, for several days successively; yet even after this last act of barbarity, he had more severe trials to come before lie was suffered to part with his wearisome life. And as the last scene of this woful tragedy appears more astonishing and more monstrous than anything they had hitherto transacted, we shall give a very particular and circumstantial account of everything that was done on this sad occasion. Being all agreed in the measures they were about to take, they mounted Chater on a horse, and set out together for Harris’s Well. Mills, however, and his two sons, stayed behind, desiring to be excused, because their horses were not in the way; or they would readily have borne them company on the occasion if they could, for they were as hearty in the same cause as the best of them. Besides, there was no great necessity for their assistance, since there were enough of them, as the Mills’s said, to kill one man; and as Harris’s Well lay just in their way homewards, the execution would be little or no hindrance to them in their journey.
Everything being now settled, they proceeded
towards the well. Tapner, however, more cruel, if possible than the rest, fell to whipping poor Chater again over his face and eyes, and made his wounds, which he had before given him with his murdering knife, bleed afresh; and, what was still more amazing, swore, “That if he blooded his saddle” (for it seems Chater was set upon his horse) “he would destroy him that moment and send his soul to Hell:” which is such an unparalleled instance of barbarity, that one would think it impossible that there should be a creature living, that pretends to reason, and would be ranked among men, could be guilty of. What! to threaten to murder a man for a thing which was not in his power to avoid, and which the villain himself was the sole occasion of! Horrible, shocking wickedness! but let us proceed in our melancholy story.
At last poor Chater, in this disfigured lamentable condition, is brought to the well. By the time they got there, it was the very dead of night, and so near the middle of it, that it was uncertain whether it was Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The well was between twenty and thirty feet deep, without water, and paled round at a small distance to keep the cattle from falling in. Being come up to the pales, they dismounted Chater, and Tapner, taking a cord out of his pocket which he had brought for that purpose, made a noose in it and then fastened it round his neck. This being done, they bade him get over the pales to the well. The poor man observing a small opening, where a pale or two had been broken away, made an attempt to go through; but that was a favour too great to be allowed to so heinous an offender, as it seems poor Chater was in their opinion: and therefore one of them swore he should get over in the condition he was
with the rope about his neck, all over blood, his wounds gaping and himself extremely weak and ready to faint through loss of blood; yet in this miserable plight these cruel executioners obliged him to get over the pales as well as he could.
With a great deal of difficulty he got over the pales, when lie funnel himself just upon the brink of the well, the pales standing very near to it. Being over, Tapner took hold of the rope which was fastened to Chater’s neck, and tied it to the rail of the pales where the opening was, for the well had neither kerb, lid nor roller. When the rope was thus fixed to the rail, they all got over to him and pushed him into the well; but the rope being of no great length, would not suffer his body to hang lower than knee-deep in it; so that the rest of his body, from his knees upwards, appeared above the well, bending towards the pales, being held in that position by the rope that was tied to the rail. But as in this posture he hung leaning against the side of the well, the weight of his body was not of sufficient force to strangle him presently. For his inhuman executioners, whether wearied with tormenting him so long or whether they wanted to get home to their several places we cannot say, but they seemed now resolved to dispatch him as soon as they could.
After they had waited about a quarter of an hour, and perceiving by the struggles he made that he would be a considerable time in dying, they altered the method of his execution. Thomas Stringer therefore, with the assistance of Cobby and Hammond, pulled his legs out of the well, and Tapner untying the cord that was fastened to the rail, his head fell down upon the ground, and then, bringing it round to the well, put it in. Then Stringer, who had hold of his legs, assisted by Cobby
and Hammond, let them go, and the body fell head foremost into the well.
Now one would think they had entirely finished this tragedy and that this miserable creature was quite out of his misery, and beyond the reach of any further injury. No, he had yet some further remains of life in him, and while he had any sense left, he must feel the exercise of their cruelty.
After they had thrown the body into the well, they stood by it some time; and it being the dead of night and every thing still, they heard him breathe or groan, and from thence being assured that he was still alive, and that if they should leave him in that condition somebody accidentally passing that way might possibly hear him; and in that case if the man should be relieved and brought to life again, the consciousness of their own horrid crimes and the enormous barbarities they had exercised upon him and Galley, told them that they would certainly be discovered, and then they knew they were dead men.
Upon which they immediately came to a resolution to procure a ladder that should reach to the bottom of the well, and one of them would go down by it and dispatch him at once. Accordingly they went to William Combleach, a gardener, who lived but a little way off, and knocked him up, telling him that one of their companions was fallen into Harris’s Well and begged the favour he would lend them a ladder and a rope to get him out again. Combleach knowing nothing more of the matter but what they had told him, lent them the ladder, and they carried it to the well. Having brought it to the pales, whether through the surprise and confusion they were in or the dread and horror that might have seized their minds from the
consideration of the dreadful work they were about, or from what other cause is uncertain, they had not all of them power sufficient to raise the ladder high enough to get it over the pales, it being a very long one, though there were six of them employed in doing it, namely, Stringer, Steel, Perryer, Hammond, Cobby and Tapner.
When they had tried some time, and found all their efforts ineffectual to raise the ladder, they left it upon the ground, and went again to the well side to listen, and hearing the poor man still groaning, they were at a stand what they should do to put a quick end to the life of the miserable creature. But recollecting themselves, they hunted about for something heavy to throw in upon him, and found two logs of wood that had been gate-posts, which they threw into the well; and being resolved to do the business effectually, got together as many great stones as they could find, and threw them in likewise. And now they thought they had done his business, and they were undoubtedly right in their guess, for on listening again they could hear nothing of him; and therefore, concluding he was dead, as most certainly he was, they mounted their horses and went to their respective homes.
Thus are we brought to the fatal and final catastrophe of the unhappy Chater, and whoever seriously reflect on the cause for which he suffered, the torments he underwent, the variety of punishments with which he was continually exercised, from the time he set out from Rowland’s Castle till he finished his miseries in Harris’s Well, which was from Sunday afternoon to the dead of the night between the Wednesday and Thursday following, must feel their hearts melt with compassion, and in some measure be sensible of the variegated pains and tortures with which the poor creature was
constantly racked and torn during this time. But who can think on his tormentors without horror and detestation? Bloody villains! had you thought that his death was absolutely necessary to secure your own lives, could you not have dispatched him at once, without exercising such a variety of merciless cruelties upon him? It is true, .even in this case you would not have been excused, because you would have slain him while he was actually discharging his duty to his country, that is, endeavouring to detect and to bring to punishment wretches that live only by rapine and the plunder of the public. I say, had this been the case, and upon meeting him on the road you had shot him through the head, merely to prevent his bringing you to that righteous judgment which your country has since passed upon you, it might have been some mitigation of your crime; but to torture and to destroy a man by inches, to be constantly afflicting and lacerating his body for so many days together with every cruelty that malice itself could suggest; this surely must convince mankind that some malicious demon had taken possession of your souls, and banished every sentiment of humanity from your hardened hearts.
But let us now proceed to those other matters which we promised to give an account of. The first thing we shall mention ought indeed to have been taken notice of before, but we were not willing to interrupt the story of Chater till we had brought him to the last stage of his sufferings, and his final destruction in this world.
When these miscreants had brought their unhappy victim within about two hundred yards of the well, Jackson and Carter stayed behind and bid Tapner, Cobby, Stringer, Steel, Perryer and Hammond go
forward and do their business. “You,” says Jackson, “go and do your duty and kill Chater, as we have done ours in killing Galley, and then there will be a final end of the two informing rogues”; for Hammond, Stringer, Cobby, Tapner and Perryer were neither of them concerned in the murder of Galley, who was killed on Sunday night, or early on Monday morning^ as before mentioned, of which they were entirely ignorant, till informed by Jackson, Carter, Little Harry, Richards, Steel and Little Sam.
But though these wretches had perpetrated the murders of these two unhappy men with such secrecy (notwithstanding they had them so long in hold) that they thought it next to impossible that they should ever be discovered, unless they had traitors among themselves; yet they were sensible that there were two witnesses still living, which, though dumb, would certainly render them suspected, if suffered to survive their masters; and these were the two horses that belonged to Galley and Chater; and therefore a consultation was held what was best to be done with them. Some were for turning them adrift in a large wood, where they might range about a long while before they could be owned. But others alleged that whenever they were found, they would undoubtedly soon be known to belong to the rightful owners, and as Galley and Chater might possibly have been seen riding upon them in their company but a very little before these men were missing, some curious people might imagine they were, some way or other, concerned in conveying them away; to prevent which, let us, said they, put them on board the first French vessel that shall bring goods on the coast and send them to France. This however, was objected to, as liable to
some miscarriage; and therefore, after much debate, it was unanimously agreed to knock them on the head at once, and then take their skins off. Accordingly they killed the horse which Galley rode on, which was a grey, and having flayed him, cut his hide into small bits, which they disposed of in such a manner, that it was impossible for any discovery to be made from thence. As to the horse which Chater rode on, which was a bay, when they came to look for him they could not find him, for he had got away, and not long after was delivered to his owner; but the grey, which Mr. Shearer, of Southampton, had hired for Mr. Galley, and which they had now killed, he was obliged to pay for.
Thus we have given a full and circumstantial account of all the particulars relating to the murders of these two unhappy men, whose misfortune it was to fall into the hands of these savage brutes. But as Providence, seldom suffers such atrocious crimes to go undiscovered or unpunished even in this world, so in this case, though the Divine justice seemed dormant for a while, yet the eye of Providence was not asleep, but was still watching their motions and taking the necessary steps to bring to light these horrible deeds of darkness, and to punish the perpetrators of such abominable wickedness in the most exemplary manner.
The first thing that gave occasion to suspect that some such misfortune as above related had befallen these men was that they did not return in the time which it was reasonable to suppose they might have done, from Major Battin’s, to whom Mr. Shearer had sent them with a letter, as before related. Another circumstance that served to strengthen the suspicion that they had fallen into the hands of the smugglers,
who had privately made away with or destroyed them, was that exactly at the time when they were sent on the abovesaid message, the great coat of Mr. Galley was found on the road very bloody. This circumstance the reader will remember we mentioned when we gave an account of their first setting out from Rowland’s Castle, when these tormentors began their cruel discipline of whipping, and that they pulled off Galley’s great coat, that lie might the more sensibly feel their lashes.
The long absence of .these men from their homes, and the reasons there were to conclude that the smugglers had either murdered them or sent them to France, being, laid before the commissioners of the customs, a proclamation was immediately ordered, offering a reward to anyone who should discover what was become of them, with his Majesty’s pardon to such discoverer. However, six or seven months passed before the Government could get the least light into the affair; and then a full discovery was gradually made by the following means.
One of the persons who had been a witness to some of the transactions of this bloody tragedy, and knew of the death of either Galley or Chater, and where one was buried, though he was no way concerned in the murder, sent an anonymous letter to a person of distinction, wherein he intimated that he thought the body of one of the unfortunate men mentioned in his Majesty’s proclamation was buried in the sands in a certain place near Hake (but for some particular reason did not think it prudent to make himself known); whereupon some people went in search, where they found the corpse of Galley buried; and the reason why it is supposed he was buried alive, they found him standing almost upright, with his hands covering his eyes.
The discovery being made by this letter, another letter was sent, wherein an account was given that one William Steel, otherwise Hardware, was one concerned in the murder of the man that was found buried in the sands, and mention was made therein where they might find him, and he was accordingly taken into custody; when he offered himself to be an evidence for the King, and to make a full discovery and disclosure of the whole wicked transaction, and of all the persons concerned therein.
Steel being now in custody, he gave an account of the murder of Galley, and further informed in what manner Chater was murdered and thrown into Harris’s Well; whither messengers being likewise sent, and one of them let down into the well, the body was found with a rope about his neck, his eyes appeared to have been cut or picked out of his head, and his boots and spurs on. They got his body out of the well with only one leg on; the other was brought up by itself, with the boot and spur on it, which, it is supposed, was occasioned by his fall down the well, or else by throwing the logs of wood and stones upon him.
But Steel did not only give information of all the particulars of this transcendent wickedness, but likewise acquainted the justice with the names of the principal actors in it; pursuant to which, warrants were immediately issued, and several of them taken in a short time, and committed to gaol.
John Race, who was another of the King’s witnesses, and concerned with them at the beginning of the affair at Rowland’s Castle, came in and voluntarily surrendered himself, and was admitted an evidence, as Steel had been.
Hammond was taken the beginning of October, and
being carried before two magistrates, and it appearing that be was privy to, and concerned in, the murder of Chater, and throwing him into a well near Halting, in the County of Sussex, was committed to Horsham gaol.
John Cobby, being likewise apprehended, was committed to Horsham gaol the 18th of the same month, and for the same crime of murdering Chater.
Benjamin Tapner was also committed to the same gaol the 16th of November following, and on his own confession, of murdering Chater in the manner above stated. He was betrayed by his master, one T ff, a shoemaker in Chichester, of whom we shall have occasion to speak more at large when we come to give an account of the life of Tapner.
Richard Mills, jun., was apprehended in Sussex, with George Spencer, Richard Payne and Thomas Reoff, about the 16th of August, 1748; and being all brought together under a strong guard to Southwark, were Carried before Justice Hammond, who committed them all to the county gaol of Surrey, for being concerned with divers other persons armed with fire-arms, in running uncustomed goods, and for not surrendering themselves after publication in the London Gazette.
And on the 5th day of October, Richard Mills was detained in the said gaol, by virtue of a warrant under the hand and seal of Justice Hammond, for being concerned in the murder of William Galley and Daniel Chater, whose bodies had a little before been found, as has been related.
William Jackson and William Chater were taken November the 14th, near Godalming in Surrey, and brought up to London under a strong guard the 17th November; and being carried before Justice Poulson in Covent Garden, were, after examination, committed to
Newgate, for being concerned with divers other persons- in running uncustomed goods, and for not surrendering after publication in the London Gazette.
Old Richard Mills, notwithstanding he knew that all these were taken, and that warrants were out against Henry Sheerman, otherwise Little Harry, of Leigh, near Warblington, labourer; Edmund Richards, of Long Coppice, in the Parish of Walderton, labourer: Thomas Stringer, of Chichester, cordwainer; Daniel Perryer, otherwise Little Daniel, of Norton, labourer; and John Mills (his other son), of Trotton, labourer; all which places are in the county of Sussex; as also against Thomas Willis, commonly called the Coachman, of Selbourne, near Liphook; and Samuel Howard, otherwise Little Sam, of Rowland’s Castle, labourer; both in the county of Hants; for being concerned with the others before-mentioned, in the murders of Galley and Chater r yet he continued at home, never absconding, thinking himself quite safe, as he knew nothing of the murder of Galley, and as to that of Chater, he was seemingly very easy, as he was not murdered in his house, nor he present when the wicked deed was done: but Steel having given an account in his information of the whole affair, which was laid before the Attorney General, that old Major Mills was concerned, as has been before related, by keeping the poor man chained in his skilling or turf -house; and that he was present when they all came down from Scardefield’s, and told him they were come to take Chater up to Harris’s Well, where they intended to murder him, and fling him into it; as likewise that he was present in the turf-house when Tapner cut Chater across his eyes, nose and forehead; and that he did express these words, “Don’t murder him here; take him somewhere else and do it,” it was thought
necessary to apprehend him, and accordingly on the 16th of December he was taken, committed to Horsham gaol as being accessary to the murder of Daniel Chater, before the same was committed, and concealing the same; which offence subjects the person so guilty to be hanged.
Combleach, the gardener, who lent them the ladder and rope to get Chater out of the well, when they found that lie was not quite dead, having been heard to say, that some of the persons in custody had told him they had murdered two informers against the smugglers, it was thought proper to take him up and examine him, in expectation of some further discoveries; but when Combleach was brought before the magistrates, he refused to give satisfactory answers to the questions asked him, and idly and obstinately denied all that was sworn against him, whereupon he was committed to Horsham gaol on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of Chater.
The smugglers had reigned a long time uncontrolled; the officers of the customs were too few to encounter them; they rode in troops to fetch their goods, and carried them off in triumph by day-light; nay, so audacious were they grown, that they were not afraid of regular troops, that were sent into the country to keep them in awe; of which we had several instances. If any one of them happened to be taken, and the proof ever so clear against him, no magistrate in the county durst commit him to gaol: if he did, he was sure to have his house or barns set on fire, or some other mischief done him, if he was so happy to escape with his life, which has been the occasion of their being brought to London to be committed. But for a man to inform against them, the most cruel death was his
undoubted portion; of which we already have given two melancholy instances, and could produce more; one especially is so very notorious, that we shall make a little digression, and relate a few particulars of it, and reserve a more circumstantial account till the trials of these cruel villains are over, who were the horrid perpetrators of it.
Richard Hawkins, of Yapton, in the county of Sussex, labourer, being at work in a barn, two of their gang, in January 1747-8, came to the barn in the said Parish of Yapton, where the poor man was threshing corn.
The names of the two men who came to him were Jeremiah Curtis, of Hawkhurst, in Kent, butcher, and John Mills, of Trotton, in Sussex, labourer (this last one of those who were concerned in the murder of Chater, and who is not yet taken), and having found Hawkins at work, as before mentioned, they told him that he must go along with them; and on his showing some reluctance to comply with their commands, they swore they would shoot him through the head that instant if he did not come away without any more words. Poor Hawkins being terrified at their threats, put on his clothes, and went along with them to the sign of the Dog and Partridge, an alehouse, on Slindon Common, and going into a back room, he saw Thomas Winter, of Poling, near Arundel, and one called Rob,. or Little Fat Back, servant to Jeremiah Curtis, who lived in or near East Grinstead. In the back room these two were waiting for them. This was in the afternoon, and having kept Hawkins there till about twelve o’clock at night, took him away; but whither they carried, or what they did with him, was not known for a long time; for the man was not seen, nor heard of, till the body was found in a pond in Parham Park, belonging
to Sir Cecil Bishop, in Sussex, upwards of nine months afterwards; and the coroner’s inquest, having sat on the body, they brought in their verdict of wilful murder by persons unknown.
The only reason these villains had to commit this murder on the poor wretch, who left behind a wife and many children, was, on a supposition only, that he had concealed a small bag of tea from them; for they had lodged a quantity of run tea near the barn where the man worked, and when they came to look for it, missed one bag, and imagined he had taken it away; though the villains, on a second search, after they had murdered the man, found the bag of tea where they had hid it, and had overlooked it before.
This murder in itself was as barbarous as that of Mr. Galley; for they made him go with them upwards of ten miles, all the way whipping him, and beating him with the handles of their whips till they had killed him, and then tied stones to his legs and arms and flung him into the pond, which kept the body under water.
These terrible executions, committed by the smugglers on these poor men, and the dreadful menaces which they uttered against any person that should presume to interrupt them, so terrified the people everywhere, that scarce anybody durst look at them as they passed in large bodies in open day-light. And the custom officers were so intimidated, that hardly any of them had courage enough to go on their duty. Some of them they knew they had already sent to France, others had been killed or wounded in opposing them, and Galley, in particular, had been inhumanly murdered by them: so that not only the honest trader suffered by the running of prodigious quantities of goods, which were sold again at a rate that he could not buy them at,
unless he traded with them; but the King’s revenue was considerably lessened by this smuggling traffic.
It is no wonder, indeed, that when once a set of men commenced as smugglers, that they should go on to commit the vilest excesses; for when a man has wrought himself into a firm persuasion that it is no crime to rob his King or his country, the transition is easy to the belief, that it is no sin to plunder or destroy his neighbour; and therefore we need not be much surprised that so many of the smugglers have turned highwaymen, housebreakers, and incendiaries, of which we have had but too many instances of late.
The body of the smugglers was now increased to a prodigious number, and the mischiefs they did wherever they came, at least wherever they met with opposition, were so enormous, that the whole country was afraid of them; and even the government itself began to be alarmed, and to apprehend consequences that might be fatal to the public peace, in case a speedy check was not put to their audacious proceedings. His Majesty, therefore, being perfectly informed of their notorious villainies, and informations being given of many of the names of the most desperate of their gangs, particularly those who broke open the custom house at Poole, issued a proclamation, with lists of their several names, declaring, that unless they surrendered themselves to justice at a day appointed, they should be outlawed, and out of the protection of the laws of their country; promising a reward of 500, to be paid by the commissioners of the customs, for the apprehension of every one who should be taken, and convicted in pursuance thereof. This, in great measure, has had the desired effect, and several of them have been apprehended, tried, convicted and executed, which was
the only satisfaction they could make to public justice. Hut to return from this digression.
Seven of the notorious villains, who had confederated in the murder of Galley and Chater, being apprehended by the diligence of Government, the noblemen and gentlemen of Sussex, being desirous of making public examples of such horrible offenders, and to terrify others from committing the same crimes, requested his Majesty to grant a special commission to hold an assize on purpose to try them; and represented that as Chichester was a city sufficiently large to entertain the judges and all their train, and as it was contiguous to the place where the murders were committed, they thought it the most proper place for the assizes to be held. Accordingly a commission passed the seals to hold a special assize there the 16th day of January, 1748-9.
On Monday, January 9th, 1748-9, Jackson and Carter were removed from Newgate, as also Richard Mills, jun., from the New 7 Gaol in Surrey, under a strong guard, to Horsham, in their way to Chichester. When they came to Horsham, the other five prisoners, viz., Richard Mills, sen., Benjamin Tapner, John Hammond, John Cobby and William Combleach (the latter committed only on suspicion), who were already in that gaol, were all put in a waggon, and conveyed from thence under the same guard as brought the others from London to Chichester, where they arrived on Friday, the 13th.
On their arrival there they were all confined, being well secured with heavy irons, in one room, except Jackson, who being extremely ill, was put into a room by himself, and all imaginable care was taken of him, in order to keep him alive (for he was in a very dangerous condition) till he had taken his trial.
Having thus brought the prisoners to Chichester, and put them in safe confinement, we shall leave them there for the present, till we meet them again on their trials, of which we are enabled to give the most authentic account of any that has been, or may be, published. After that, we shall attend the prisoners while under sentence of condemnation, and truly relate whatever appeared remarkable in their carriage or demeanour; and then bear them company to the place of execution, where we shall take particular notice of their behaviour and dying words.
But, previous to this, it will be necessary to give some account of the journey of the judges from London to Chichester, in order to rectify some mistakes that were made in the accounts published of it in the public prints.
The judges set out from London on Friday, January the 13th, and arrived at the Duke of Richmond’s house at Godalming in Surrey that evening, where they lay that night, and the next day they set out for Chichester, and were met at Midhurst by his Grace the Duke of Richmond, who entertained their lordships with a dinner at his hunting-house near Charlton, After which they proceeded on their journey, and got into Chichester about five o’clock, and went directly to the Bishop’s Palace. It was reported, though very erroneously, that they were guarded in their journey by a party of horse, both thither and back again; but they had none but their own attendants, except a few servants of his Grace the Duke of Richmond, the judges, counsellors, and principal officers being in six coaches, each drawn by six horses.
On Sunday morning, the 15th, they went to the Cathedral, accompanied by the Duke of Richmond, the
Mayor and Aldermen of the Corporation, where an excellent sermon was preached suitable to the occasion, by the Reverend Mr. Ashburnham, Dean of Chichester. We shall now proceed to give an account of what passed at Chichester during their trials; only observe first, that William Combleach, the gardener (whom we have before observed to have been committed only on suspicion, by his own idle talk, which, no doubt, gave a just foundation for his said commitment) was not ordered to be indicted, nor from the mouths of the witnesses on the trials was his name more than barely mentioned.