Sort file:- Greenwich, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest 1818-

Tiger's Head

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London Street





Who murdered a Wealthy Tradesman and his Housekeeper, and was executed on 3rd of August, 1818.

ON the 31st of July, 1818, Charles Hussey, who had been a sailor in the East India Company's service, was indicted at Maidstone Assizes for the wilful murder of Mr Bird, a retired tallow-chandler, who lived at Greenwich, and his housekeeper, Mary Simmons, aged forty-four.

Mr Bird had amassed a considerable fortune, and he and his housekeeper were in the habit of attending Greenwich church regularly, but one Sunday morning, 9th of February, they were absent. The beadle of the parish went to Mr Bird's house and, not getting any response, forced an entrance at the back. On entering the house a shocking spectacle presented itself. The body of the housekeeper was found lying in the passage, the skull being frightfully fractured, apparently with a hammer. In a parlour adjoining the passage was found, lying on the ground, the body of Mr Bird, with his arms stretched out, and his skull fractured in the same manner as that of his housekeeper. On the other rooms of the house being examined, it became obvious that plunder had been the object of the murderer; and it was found that the pockets of the deceased had been rifled of the keys of the various drawers and boxes which were found above-stairs, marked with blood. Some silver spoons, etc., had been stolen, but it was unknown what other property had been carried off.

An inquest was held in the course of the week, but no circumstances were elicited to lead to the discovery of the perpetrator of the deed. During the three succeeding weeks several persons were apprehended on suspicion, but nothing material could be alleged against them. At length the murderer was pointed out by his own sister. This woman was married to a man named Godwin, and resided with her husband at Peckham. About a week after the murders had been committed, her brother, Charles Hussey, came to her house and said he was going to see his brother, who resided at Basingstoke. He said he should return in a week, but he did not do so for nearly a fortnight. She then said to him: "Oh, Charles, I have been so uneasy during your absence! I have had such frightful dreams, and could not think what detained you." He replied, "Why, what could cause you to dream?" and appeared greatly agitated. After he had gone away Mrs Godwin said to her husband: "I think there is something in Charles's box there should not be." With one of her own keys she opened the box, when she saw a couple of watches, which had belonged to the late Mr Bird. As Hussey did not return according to promise she informed the police, who, on searching the box, found Bank of England notes all marked with Mr Bird's initials. A search was made for Hussey, and some considerable time later he was taken into custody in Oxfordshire by a publican, named Poulton. Hussey declared his innocence, but his criminality was too plain to be doubted, and he was found guilty. He was executed on the 3rd of August, 1818.


From the Morning Post, Monday 3 August 1818.


Friday morning the Court was crowded at an early hour, by people attracted by the interest of Hussey’s Trial, against when a true bill was found on Wednesday, for the murder of Mr. Bird and his housekeeper at Greenwich on the 7th of February last. Every part of the Court was filled to excess, so that accommodation could scarcely be found for these whose business rendered their presence necessary. The trial of Hussey was expected to come first, but another case of little interest got the precedence. The prisoner was well dressed, in a black coat and waistcoat, and mixed pantaloons, and appeared composed, both in manner of entering the Court, and in his mode of answering the questions put to him on his arraignment. He is rather a tall man, with a mild looking countenance, and possessing much the appearance of a person above his rank in life.

Mr. Berens opened the pleadings.

Mr. Serjeant Onslow, in a luminous statement, detailed the circumstances of the case, gave a connected view of the evidence which he was to bring forward, showed how it bore against the prisoner, examined the weight of every part of it, and laid it before the Jury in a very methodical and distinct manner. He dwelt particularly on the late discovery of the hammer, and the evidence which contradicted the statements made by Hussey in his own defence, both in his examination before the Magistrates, and in two letters found on his person when apprehended, the one addressed to Mrs. Walmsley, the mistress of the “Tiger’s Head” public house at Greenwich, and the other to his brother. These letters said that he had embarked for America, thought he was then in Oxfordshire, in the heart of England; and that he had been all the Saturday night, from seven o’clock downwards, when the murder was committed at the “Tiger’s Head,” among the society that met there called the Lodge of Odd Fellows. This last statement he would disprove by the evidence of persons who were there.

Mr. David Thomas and Mr. R. Smith, the Magistrate, disposed to the state in which they found the murdered persons on entering the house on Saturday afternoon, and also to the appearance in each apartment.

Mr. F. Finch, a surgeon, described the wounds, which he said must have been inflicted by a hammer like that which had been shown to him.

Mrs. K. Bell, a washerwoman, at Greenwich, stated that Mr. Bird generally supped at nine, and went to bed at ten. She had been washing at Mr. Bird’s shop on the Monday before the murder, and had washed eighteen shirts. She saw two shirts produced by Hodges, the constable, after the murders, and she was very sure she had washed them on the Monday previous. A handkerchief was likewise produced, which she thought was Mr. Bird’s.

John Litton, lives at the Greenwich Academy, occupied the two floors above the ground floor. Is a cooper by trade. Was employed as a patrol when the murder happened. Used to leave his house at eight o’clock to go to patrol. Has known the prisoner a year, he left a box at witness’s house when he left his service at Mr. Stevenson’s, Vansittart’s-buildings. He carried the box upstairs. There were two pair of staircases up to the apartments occupied by witness. There was a front staircase and a back one. He never saw any matting or rubbish in this place that could have concealed a bundle. There is a cellar near this, where a person might conceal any thing he was disposed to conceal. The door of this cellar is always open. From this cellar one might get up to the room where the box was deposited.

He had a cooper’s hammer in the place near the kitchen before the murder of Mr. Bird, which he missed about ten days or a fortnight before that event. He made enquiries about it, but could not find it about the house. It was a pall-riviting hammer. It had a particular mark; its handle was split. Mr. Bicknell’s clerk showed him it in the presence of the constable Hodges, he was certain it was the same hammer. Witness had frequently seen prisoner come to the box in the room. He never saw the box open but once, and then it did not seem half filled. When prisoner brought it, it was only secured by some pack-thread. Witness, in consequence of what his wife said, took the box, which was secured by some strong cord, to Mrs. Goddard, Deptford, who was a relation of the Prisoner. He removed it about ten days after the murder. It was heavier when it came, which witness knew by taking it off the Prisoner’s shoulder. Witness heard of the murder on the Monday afternoon, and sae the Prisoner on the same afternoon, who came to his house about twenty minutes past three, or half an hour before four o’clock. He came upstairs with witness’s nephew, and stayed till ten minutes past five, when he went by the coach, as he said, to his brother’s at Peckham. Prisoner told witness that he had promised to “dine with his brother, and if not in time for dinner, he should be in time for tea.” He told witness he had dined at his washerwoman’s, Mrs. Bennet. Witness saw a pair of gaiters at the National School, which were shown by the Magistrates, and which he believed to be the Prisoners.

Thomas Bussey, the brother of the Prisoner, who was exceedingly effected, deposed that he lives at Peckham; that he saw him about four or five o’clock on Sunday, when the murder was discovered. He had asked him to come and dine with him on that day. He did not come to dinner on account, as he said, of the shocking murder, which made Greenwich like a fair.

Cross-examined by Mr. Nolan:- Deposed the Prisoner received a legacy of 60/- on the Wednesday after the murder. It was proved that the prisoner had said the pieces of silver buckles he had sold were in the bundle he had found.

James Goodwin, taylor, at Peckham, and his wife, who is sister to the Prisoner, deposed to their having found in a box at their house, to which the Prisoner had access, two watches and a parcel of notes. The watches, sheets, Bank notes, and several other articles, were then identified as the property of the deceased Mr. Bird.

Mr. Litton, the cooper, identified the hammer produced as being that which he had lost before the murder, and which was found at Mr. Smith’s pond.

John Poulton, the constable of Deddington, deposed, that he apprehended the Prisoner on the 1st of April. He took from him a watch and a pocket-book, with two letters. After the witness had searched the Prisoner, he asked him for the rings he said he heard he possessed. The prisoner said he put one of them down the privy at the “King’s Arms.” It was searched for and found. It contained an inscription:- “To the memory of six children.” The prisoner said this was the ring he had put down the privy.

Mr. Bird identified the ring to be his father’s, together with the watch, its seal and chain.

This was the case for the prosecution.

The Prisoner was then asked by the Court, what he had to say for himself:- he declared his innocence. He said, about seven o’clock on Saturday he went to sell some clothes at a woman’s house, though she could not recollect anything of this. He went then to an eating house, called Perrel’s. He stopped to hear some singing in the street, and went then to the “Tiger’s Head” about half past eight o’clock. He then stated what happened in the lodge at the “Tiger’s Head.” He then related a long irrelevant story about his conduct on Sunday, and afterwards. He repeated this string of incoherence with considerable fluency and composure. Non look of terror appeared in his face, but he seemed fatigued by standing in a crowded Court, for so many hours, from ten in the morning till six in the afternoon.

Mr. Sergent Lens then summed up the evidence in a speech of two hours long.

The Jury, without retiring, after a consultation of a few minutes, returned a verdict of Guilty. The prisoner, who had during the whole day maintained a firm and intrepid aspect, now became agitated and pale. He exclaimed that he was as innocent as the Judge who sat on the bench, and that he was ready to meet death tomorrow with such a conviction.

The Judge then pronounced the awful sentence by law, at the close of which the prisoner cast an anxious agonising look towards the bench, apparently wishing them at address the Judge. He did not do so, however, but retired under charge of the officers, without speaking a word.


From the Maidstone Gazette, 4th August, 1818.


[We pledge our sales for the correctness of the following statement:-]

Yesterday morning, Charles Hussey, paid the forfeit of his crime. From the time of his conviction, the unfortunate man evinced the most anxious attention to religious duties. Unremitting endeavours were made by the Chaplain of the prisoner, (the Rev. J. Argles) to bring him to a state of mind which it was hoped would lead him to confess the crime of which he had been convicted. In this Christian task, the Rev. Gentleman was assisted by the Rev. James Rudge, of Limehouse, who had attended the criminal on his first apprehension. But through the unhappy man performed his religious duties with great earnestnest, yet until yesterday morning, he could not be brought to acknowledge more than that he deserves death for many and great offences. But a short time previous to leaving the prison, he promised the Rev. Gentleman he would at the place of execution, answer "yes" or "no" to the question respecting the murders "do you know who did this deed." He said he was in the house after the murders were perpetrated; he committed the robbery but he did not commit the murders. He also acknowledged that the gaiters found in his box were in the house, and were sprinkled with blood of the victims, as he walked over the bodies. Mr Bird, (son of the deceased Mr Bird) also visited him in the cell, and in answer to a question from that gentleman he said, "I did not see them do it."

At 11 o'clock in the morning, he left the prison in a wagon, escorted by the usual offices and attendants. On coming out he exhibited a melancholy spectacle. He was pale, dejected, and emaciated, but seems wrapt in devout meditation. During his progress to Penenden Heath, he scarcely ever took his eyes from a religious book which he held in his hand. On his arriving in front of the fatal scaffold, the Rev. Chaplain and Mr Rudge ascended the wagon, and he prayed with them, earnestly, for several minutes. On their leaving of the wretched man, he ejaculated "heaven bless you, God bless you," and mounted the scaffold more today alive. He was obliged to be supported by the executioner fastened the cord round his neck. He seemed by the motion of his lips and hands to be fervently praying, but mental agony and bodily debility rendered him a spectacle, which is to be hoped, made a due impression on the immense multitude assembled to witness the just, though dreadful sacrifice to the violated laws of God and man. The drop soon fell, and terminated the worldly suffering of Charles Hussey, a man, whose crime, apprehension, and punishment, have caused sensation throughout the Kingdom, which does honour to the moral feelings of the British people.

From all we can collect, it appears wretched man in the last moment, denied having committed the murder. At the place of execution, one of the clergyman asked him the question, whether he knew who did the deed? He answered "I do." "I do." Just before the executioner left him, he expressed the wish that Mr. Rudge should be called to him, and when the gentlemen had complied with his wish, he told him it was righteous judgement. We still make no further observations on this dreadful-this single transaction. Hussey is no more. He has suffered, and we leave the man in the hands of that omniscient Being, to whom alone he is now responsible. May God grant him that pardon which he could not expect to receive from man.



PHILLIPS J 1823+ Pigot's Directory 1823

CLAYTON Robert 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34


Pigot's Directory 1823From the Pigot's Directory 1823

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34


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