EXECUTION OF RUSH

FOR THE MURDER OF

Mr. Jermy, Sen.

AND

Mr. Jermy, Jun.

AT Stanfield Hall


The wretched convict, Rush, has squandered away the whole of his children’s property which was left to them by their mother. He was left one of the trustees in the mother’s will, but finding that he had not sufficient command of the money, forged a codicil, in which unlimited powers were given him to employ the money as he pleased, and containing this singular provision, that no questions as to the reasons of this codicil being executed should be asked. All the money has been spent, and the future condition of the family must be truly lamentable, an ejectment from the farms having been served. On Sunday he attended the chapel, and conducted himself decently during the performance of divine service. Indeed he always observed the outward characteristics of a religious man. When Larner and Jermy attended his house at Felmingham, all joined in family devotion, even at the time he was making his arrangements for the perpetration of a series of most revolting crimes, and for fixing them upon the men who were kneeling with him in united devotion. In his house was a box designed for the collection of money for a Society in London, called "The Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews," and to this he invariably called upon his friends to contribute.

The condemned convict Rush was visited on Monday by the whole of his family of nine children. They arrived at the Castle between two and three o’clock, and were accompanied by Mr James Rush, of Wymondham, brother to the convict, and Mr Somes, brother of the late Mrs Rush. On reaching the Castle they were received by Mr Pinson, the governor, who conducted them to the cell in which the convict lies. When Mr Pinson announced to the convict that his family had arrived, Rush for a moment or two buried his face in his hands, and seemed to be deeply affected. Having regained somewhat of his usual composure, he said, “Let them be admitted;” and the next minute the whole of the nine children were in the presence of their unhappy parent. The scene is described by those who witnessed it as being most painful, both parent and children giving way to the wildest paroxysms of grief. They spoke little upon family affairs. The convict with great earnestness called upon God to witness his innocence of the foul crimes imputed to him, and with many prayers recommended his children, especially the younger ones to the protection of the almighty. The interview lasted upwards of two hours, and as it was understood that this was to be the parting visit, its close was most painful. Parent and children embraced each other: even the gaolers and others, who are accustomed to scenes, were greatly affected. At length the children of the unhappy man left him, and after indulging for some moments of grief, he fell upon his knees and was engaged for a long time in earnest prayer. A large number of persons congregated on the outside of the Castle walls to witness the departure of the convict’s family.

A cheque for £40 has just been given up by Rush to Mr Pinson, Governor of the Castle, under very curious circumstances. It will be recollected that in the course of the trial, Mr John Cann, solicitor, and clerk to the magistrates at Wymondham, produced certain papers and books which he found at Potash Farm, on going there after the apprehension of Rush. Amongst these was a pocket book, which contained certain entries relative to Rush’s business, and also a few memoranda, &c, on slips of parer. There was also a cheque in it, drawn in favour of Rush, for £40. Immediately on the pocket book being produced in court, Rush asked permission to inspect it, and as the judge assented, it was immediately handed up to him. After detaining it for some few moments, he requested that he might be allowed to have it in his possession until the following morning. The counsel for the prosecution objected to this, whereupon Rush handed back the book to Mr Cann. No examination of the book was made when it came from the hands of the prisoner; but on the following day Mr John Cann discovered that the cheque had been abstracted. His suspicions immediately fell upon the prisoner Rush; indeed Mr Cann felt convinced that nobody else could have taken it, the book, with others, having been placed in a strong chest, locked up, while it remained at Mr Cann’s house. Nothing was done in this matter until after the close of the trial, when Mr Pinson, the governor of the castle, was requested to sound the convict on the subject. When Mr Pinson first put the question to him, Rush said, "No doubt that fellow Cann has it; why don’t you ask him? He knows all about it." Day after day passed. Similar questions were put to the convict on the subject, only however, to elicit the same reply, that "Cann knew all about it, and that if they wanted any information about it , they had better ask him. It’s of no use asking me anything," said Rush, "I tell you I have not got it, and don’t know anything about it. No doubt that fellow Cann has taken it." On Friday last, Mr Durrant, a highly respected solicitor of Norwich, visited the Castle, and in the presence of the governor saw Rush on the subject of the missing cheque. Rush fenced for a long time, and at length said, "Well, suppose I do know anything of it, what then?" It was urged upon him that as he had improperly obtained possession of it, he ought to give it up. He said, "No; I don’t want to trouble myself about it. I don’t know anything about it. You had better ask John Cann." Mr Durrant pressed him very closely, and at length Rush said, "Well, suppose it should be found, what will become of it?" Mr Pinson, the governor, replied that, under the circumstances, he had no doubt the crown would order it to be handed over to the convict’s family. Rush, after musing a few moments, said, "Well, Mr Pinson, if you really think it will be given to my children, perhaps I might be able to tell you something about it. You will find it in the lining of my hat." The hat was immediately produced, and the cheque was found carefully placed under the lining in the crown. During the few moments Rush had possession of the book, he managed to abstract the document unseen by any one, although every eye was turned upon him. On being convicted, he was very particular about his hat, and manifested considerable anxiety about it before he left the dock.

On Thursday morning, Emily Sandford was released from custody, and proceeded to the Bell Inn. Here, we are informed, she had a conference with some of the gentlemen connected with the prosecution, to whom she expressed her conviction that from what she had heard, when the prisoner entered her bedroom, trembling, at 3 o’clock, on the morning after the murders, it was his intention to have assassinated her with the dagger found under his mattress by the police, and dispose of her body in the secret place under the floor of the parlour; intending afterward, upon inquiries being made for her, to represent that she, under the name of Mrs James, had, as previously represented to her friends by Rush, gone to France.

Amongst the numerous letters written by Rush, to the Recorder, there is one which is supposed to indicate that he entertained the idea of murdering Mr Jermy as long ago as April 26th 1848. E is soliciting from Mr Jermy an answer as to the terms on which he would let the Felmingham property to his mother for 8 years. From the context it would only seem to refer to helping the claimants to the Stanfield estates; but the words are, "I have nine children. You have completely ruined me, as far as my own property goes. If you think I shall not take steps to ruin you and your family, you never were mor deceived in your life. You do not know me yet. Hitherto I have done nothing but what I have told you of; but unless you answer this letter satisfactorily, nothing on earth shall prevent me from treading in your steps, and paying you off in the same villainous and base coins that you have me.

Eliza Chestney’s condition is considered most satisfactory. The subscriptions for her heroic conduct in the dreadful scene, already amounts to £336. 8. 0.

The subscription lists in behalf of Emily Sandford, in commiseration for the non-protected state in which she has been plunged by the crimes of the convict James Bloomfield Rush, amount to £210. 10. 0.

[Copied from the 3rd Edition of the "Despatch" of Sunday, April 22nd, 1849]

Rush has just expiated his heinous offence on the scaffold, on the Castle hill, before a multitude computed to be not less than twenty thousand, thousands of whom came yesterday from the surrounding districts and London. A vast number of women and young people were present. The day was beautiful. The unhappy man retired to rest early last night, after washing his feet, face, and neck, and ordering a clean shirt and cravat to be supplied him at an early hour this morning, which was done; he arose at two, saying he had had a very refreshing sleep, though apparently he had not. He then occupied himself in writing and reading until five, when he again went to bed and slept until early this morning, his conduct during the night evincing the same obstinacy and callousness which has characterised him throughout, but it was remarked by his attendants that his spirits were somewhat subdued. The Rev Mr Brown, the Rev Mr Andrews, and the Rev Mr Blake were in attendance upon the prisoner at an early hour, but, notwithstanding their spiritual labours, he made no confession. It is even said he refused to take the Sacrament. At twelve o’clock precisely the culprit passed slowly from the Castle gates towards the scaffold on the bridge. Mr Pinson, the governor, and a turnkey walked by his side. He slightly surveyed the crowd, he looked pale, but was not apparently agitated in the least; the face wore its habitual sneering, callous expression. Before he ascended the scaffold he requested Mr Pinson that the drop might fall when the chaplain come to the words, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." At this frightful juncture not a tremor shook his frame. He ascended the scaffold quickly but steadily; his back was turned to the crowd, and he moved his aside that the hangman might better perform his hateful office, and prayed with the minister, raising his hands aloft. He then shook hands with Mr Pinson, and the Turnkey. The drop immediately fell amidst the screams of women, and the wretched culprit was ushered into the presence of God. He died almost without a struggle. There were a few slight contortions and all was over. More people were present that at the execution of Yarham, and their behaviour was good. There were no yells.

There was an immense black flag flying at the back of the Castle, by order of the Sheriff, which gave a solemn and funeral look to the whole scene.

At one o’clock the body of the Murderer was cut down, the clothes removed, and the mortal remains of the Murderer, whose crime, as loathsome as it was horrible, were consigned to the Grave in the precincts of the jail without the rites of Christian burial.


Bond, Printer, Plymouth


From: Harvard University Library