THE HADDENHAM MURDER
from Denise Howes
This article was originally published in the April 2009 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
I stumbled upon this article and thought you might find it interesting. Unfortunately I cannot claim Soloman Sewell but maybe another members will be able to !
Reported in the The Windsor and Eton Express
Saturday, March 13, 1830
AYLESBURY, FRIDAY, MARCH 5.
All the unprivileged parts of the court were occupied by persons of all ranks, anxious to hear the details of this strange case. The respectability of the deceased, who, from his handsome and athletic figure, and great courage, used to be called the "Noble Edden," the length of time which has elapsed since the murder was perpetrated, and the numerous investigations which have taken place before the magistrates with a view of bringing the guilty parties to justice, - all combined to invest the case with a fearful interest, which the state of the court amply testified.
BENJAMIN TYLER, aged 32, and SOLOMAN SEWELL, aged 20, were charged with having murdered William Edden, at the parish of Haddenham, on the 25th of October 1828.
Mr. ANDREWS stated the case for the Crown.
Thomas Buss was at Aylesbury the day Edden's body was found. I was in company with him at market, and left it with him in the evening, while it was light, but it began to grow dusk. He had a cart with him, with coals and trees in it. I rode with him out of Aylesbury, till we got a little the other side of Dinton-castle, about four miles.
Thomas Walker, the Oxford newsman, was at Aylesbury on the day Master Edden was murdered; saw him there; going from Aylesbury passed two gigs coming from Thame, but no cart; lit of Edden just the other side of Dinton. He said, "Ah, Master Walker," and witness said, "Ah, Master Edden." It was quite darkish. After I had passed Edden, for about a mile, a cart came up to me quite rapid. My boy said, "Grand-dad, there's the cart come up, now we have got company;" and I said "Drive on, boy," and drove on quicker, and the moment I said the words the cart stopped suddenly, and did not go on any more. The moon soon after got up. It was a full moon two days before.
Henry Taylor, miller, Notley-mill. I was going from Aylesbury market, on the 25th of October 1828, and saw a man lying on the road, on his side, three miles from Thame. I called out to him two or three times, but received no answer. I then said, "I shan't get down unless you choose to make reply," and rode on.
John Jervis :- Is constable of Haddenham. Recollects Edden's body being found. I was called up about 11 o'clock by Mr. Taylor, and we went to the body. (Witness described the position of the body, the state of his clothes, print of the knee). I observed the toe of the foot-mark which belonged to the person whose knee made the mark; it was sharp, and Edden's was round and blunt, and would not have made the mark I observed.
Edden's breeches, shoes, &c. were produced, and were covered all over with mud. The colour of the coat and waistcoat was scarcely distinguishable on account of the quantity of mud upon them.
Richard Lee, surgeon, examined the body with Mr. Reynolds, and concluded with him, that the injury must have been produced by a blow with a heavy instrument.
Francis Very :- I know the man called "Noble Edden." I know Tyler very well. On Tuesday before Edden was found dead, I saw him and Tyler together at the Saracen's Head, at Thame. They were having words. I heard Noble say to Tyler that "he (Tyler) was a sad rogue, and he knew enough to hang him, if he were to say all about him that he knowed." Tyler made no reply I heard. I went away, and left them having words together. I did not hear the words.
John Foster :- I live at Thame, and know the two prisoners well. I recollect Edden's body being found; about a week or ten days before that, I saw the prisoners together at the back of the Anchor, by Lipscombe's, the butcher, between nine and ten at night. Tyler said to Sewell, "It was done very easy;" Sewell made answer, "He would not do it; that would hang him," and he repeated that it would hang him, two or three times.
[Sewell here called out "It is false; but I am willing to leave this world; and I say it was false if it was the last breath I had to draw."]
Baron VAUGHAN asked Sewell if he wished to ask the witness any question; but he replied savagely, "I don't want to ax him nothing; he's come here to take a false oath, the same as Jem Edden, a d--d rogue."
Ann Bonner :- Tyler was lodging at William Fernell's, at Thame, when the body was found. I went to Tyler's house that evening, and saw him between five and six. I saw Tyler put on a great coat of dark colour. Hines said, "How long shall you be gone ?" He said, "I don't know; according to what time I shall meet him." He had on knee breeches, white cotton stockings, and high shoes. I saw him turn to the right, towards the Aylesbury road. I saw him at 10 o'clock next morning; he was coming down stairs, with a pair of high shoes in his hand; they were very dirty with road dirt. He had on knee-breeches, and they were ribbed, and light gray worsted stockings. He scraped both the knees of his breeches; they were very dirty with road dirt, of quite a light colour. I said, "Old one ! you got into the dirt last night." He said, "Yes, I did a bit." I saw, under a table, a hammer, all dirty with road dirt, of the same colour as that on his breeches knees and his shoes. I had seen the hammer before, but never in the same place; it was not dirty then. It was usually kept in the cupboard.
Sarah State :- Had been at Aston Sanford the day Edden's body was found. On my return at six o'clock, I went across Haddenham-field, and three men overtook me before I got into the turnpike road, I heard one say, "Let's all three keep together;" one of them came up to me. I have seen him since.
The witness here turned round and looked at the prisoners, and Sewell returned the glance with a ferocious scowl. This, and perhaps the recollection of the evening on which she met them, and the purpose on which they were out, instantly unnerved her, and she fainted, and was carried out of court. During her absence the whole of their demeanour was that belonging to men perfectly void of shame, and utterly insensible of the danger of their situation. The trial was delayed for a considerable time on account of the absence of the witness, who seemed to be highly respectable, and creditable young woman.
Examination resumed - The man who came up and spoke to me was Sewell.
[Sewell cried out, "It's all a lie; I was not nigh, or by the place; and I'll stand to that, if its my last breath I have to draw."]
Susan Manners :- In 1828, I was living at Thame turnpike, on the Aylesbury road. I had been to Thame on the evening Edden's body was found, and left it to return home between eight and nine. On my way home I met three people, two together, and one a hundred yards behind. The moon was up, and I could see the men. One of the two had a dark long coat on. That man was Tyler. [Tyler continued eating his bread, and laughed very gaily.]
Joseph Edwards - I met Tyler on the 1st of Sept last at the Bull, Thame. Nothing was talked of but the murder. I heard Tyler say, "There was no person in the house knew so much of the murder as he did." His brother said, "Don't talk so much about that murder : let's strike into a song."
Thomas Hart - I was Edden's house before he was buried, while the dead body was lying there. I saw Tyler there, I said to Tyler, "There he is, poor man !" Tyler said, "Ah ! there he is, poor old man, murdered sure enough !" Mrs. Thorpe asked him whether he would not touch the dead body. He said he did not like; and did not touch it. I saw him afterwards at the Anchor, Thame, and he said (speaking of Sewell's being taken up for poaching), "that if they did not mind, they would all get hung together." After the company was gone, he said, if he was as innocent as me and John Webster, he would not mind that cup-full of golden guineas !
John Birch, constable of Uxbridge.- I apprehended Tyler, in August last, at the Red Lion, at that town. Ellen Hines was with him at supper. I told him I wanted him. He said, "Very well; let me have my supper, and I'll go with you." He said, "I know you want me for that job down in the country, that job of Edden's." The woman burst out crying, and said, "I told you how it would be !" He told her not to fret about it; and he said, "Edden has been murdered, and people said it was him that done it."
Isaac Sprowston - I am guard on the Oxford coach, and James Edden, son of "Noble Edden," is the driver. On the night of the 20th Nov he took up a man by Beaconsfield. It was dusk. He sat close behind the coachman. Edden turned round, and the man (it was Tyler) turned his face away. This happened thrice. Edden got on the coach-wheel, and put the lamp up to in the man's face, and said, "How durst you, for shame, get on my coach, knowing that you killed my father ?" The man said, "I mean to pay my fare." Edden said, "I don't want your fare : come down instantly, or I'll break the lamp about your head." The man and Edden instantly got down, and Edden was going to strike him, but a waggoner prevented him. The man then said, "I have ruined your brother by expenses, and I'll serve you worse than I did your father."
James Edden (son of Noble Edden), then confirmed all that the Guard had sworn to.
Thomas Edden - I know Fernell's house at Thame, at which Tyler lodged. I searched it on the 19th of August 1829, and found this hammer. [ The hammer was produced. It was a kind of pole-axe, and its production caused a universal shudder in court. The prisoner Tyler continued to laugh, as he had done from his first appearance in the dock, with the most extraordinary effrontery.]
Mr. Reynolds, surgeon. - [Takes the axe in his hand.] I consider this, of all others, an instrument more particularly suited to give the injury than any other I ever saw.
Wm. Hawes.- The night before Edden's death, Sewell made an appointment to do a job for me, but he did not come. On the day following, I saw Sewell a little before nine. Sewell said, "I'll have the door locked, for I don't want ay one to know I'm here." I said to Sewell, "They tell me Noble Edden's murdered." Sewell said, "Dear me ! I wonder who done that ?" I said, "I don't know;" Sewell said, "If you knowed, would you tell ?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I'd be damned if I would though."
[Sewell here said, "Its all false what they have been a saying; they'll swear away my life : I'm innocent of the crime; and there'll be ever so many more come up and swear bigger lies than he does." This was said very savagely, but without any concern.]
Eliza Jones.- Last June, I was at the Swan at Sudbury. Sewell was there. I said, "Sewell, there's a great outcry about your killing Noble Edden;" and he said (with a word that it's awful to mention), "If I'm took, Ben Tyler shan't be five hours after me, for he was the father of it all." His countenance changed and he was all of a tremble. ["D--n her b--y eyes," Sewell here muttered.] I saw Sewell and Tyler together the next day, talking with each other.
Edward Edden - I am a son of Noble Edden. Some time last August, I met Sewell on the Risborough road. I was driving a chaise, and when I saw him he hung down his head, and ran behind a gate.
[Sewell called out, "Why, was I obliged to run all along the road, as fast as your horse could go, to look you in the face all the way you rode along the road ? That other chap, James Edden, put gin in my tea, and made me drunk, and offered me money, and made me say things what I never thought of. This is true, I can say with a clear conscience ! When I was up about the poaching, they said they'd hang me if I did not say all about the job. They said they'd like to hang somebody, right or wrong. I'm as innocent as an angel in Heaven; and that I'll stick to to the last breath I have to draw !" This was said with a rapidity which the learned Judge could not stop or control.]
Martha Edden - I am widow of the deceased. I gave him his stick when he went to Aylesbury, on the day of his death; it is the same that was found by the body.
By the learned BARON.- He had a few shillings with him when he went out in the morning. One of the pockets of his breeches had been torn down, and I had sewed it up on the Thursday before. I don't know in what state it was when he went out. I do not know whether my husband was robbed; I don't know if he took any money at Aylesbury.
Thomas Jervis - I was by when Edden's pockets were examined as he lay on the ground. There were a few shillings and a few halfpence taken from them. His pockets did not appear to have been unbuttoned. (It seems, therefore, clear, that the object of the murderers was not plunder, but revenge.)
Charles Seymour, constable of Thame.- I had a warrant to apprehend Sewell. As soon as he saw me he ran away, and I followed him across the fields for two miles, over very thick hedges. He succeeded in escaping. ["I never runn'd at all, you lie," said Sewell.] I ultimately took him at his brother's. I said, "Solomon, I've found you at last;" and he said, "Yes, here I be." His person was scratched by the hedges so thick that I thought no man could get through. [Sewell - "You'd have got through if you could have followed me; but you could not, you old fool !"]
W.H. Ashurst, Esq. M.P., a magistrate - Sewell was brought before me on the 18th of August, on this charge. He made a confession, after being cautioned not to criminate himself. [The confession, which appeared in the Windsor Express at the time, was then read.]
Joseph Batten, constable. - Sewell was taken up on another charge, on the 14th Sept last. He had been speaking about Edden's death, and he said they had let the biggest rogue go. He said, he and another person went on the road to meet Edden, and they had agreed to murder him : that he (Sewell) had a hammer in his hand, and the other person had agreed with him to knock down Edden. Sewell said the other man took the hammer out of his (Sewell's) hand, and went and struck Edden as he sat in his cart, because his (Sewell's) heart failed him. He said the reason they did not hit him on the head was that the other person could not reach it, and he struck him as near the heart as he could; and he hit him again as he lay on the ground, as he (Sewell) was running away towards the brook.
Sewell.- 'Tis false, my Lordship, I don't mind nothing about this here world, nor the next neither, not I. If they be a mind to swear away my life, I don't care a d--n, not a button's end !
The learned JUDGE here, and repeatedly through the day, earnestly admonished the wretched man to be more guarded and decorous in his demeanour; but the man persisted, in spite of every caution.
The prisoners were then asked if they wished to say anything in their defence, or to offer any explanation, or to have any witnesses examined ?
Tyler.- I am as innocent as a baby just born : I know nothing but what I've heard, just like other folk.
Sewell (with the greatest effrontery) - I'm innocent of the job; they told me what to say, and what they told me I said. It's all hearsay.
Mr. Baron VAUGHAN began at half past seven to sum up this voluminous evidence. The learned Baron concluded by leaving the decision of the case entirely to them, reminding them that they were bound to give the prisoners the benefit of any doubt they might entertain.
The Jury retired, and in ten minutes returned, finding both prisoners Guilty
Silence being then proclaimed, Tyler asked if he might speak, and being told that he might, he clasped his hands and said, "May I burn for ever and a day if I be'n't as innocent of this here as a baby !"
Sewell made the same asseveration, and added that it was all bribery that had done it !
The learned BARON then proceeded to pass on them the dread sentence for their execution on the following Monday; and the prisoners seemed entirely unconcerned, whilst the audience were universally affected. Sewell hardly once ceased to smile, and repeatedly interrupted his Lordship during the passing of the sentence ! Quite at the conclusion, Tyler seemed slightly affected, and he rather tottered as he walked the last few steps which he will tread in this world.
The Court, at eleven o'clock at night, continued as much crowded as ever.
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