Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Radlett Murder

Gambling has caused more than its share of trouble over the centuries.  It cost William Weare his life, though he was the one owed money.  His murderer, John Thurtell accused Weare of cheating.  Thurtell had to both shoot and knife Weare, but he successfully murdered him near Gills Hill Lane.  Thurtell ended up on the gallows for his crime.  Sir Walter Scott ruminated on this event on July 16, 1826, as he recorded in his journal:
  
July 16 [1826]—Very unsatisfactory to-day. Sleepy, stupid, indolent—finished arranging the books, and after that was totally useless—unless it can be called study that I slumbered for three or four hours over a variorum edition of the Gill's-Hill's tragedy.  Admirable recipe for low spirits—for, not to mention the brutality of so extraordinary a murder, it led John Bull into one of his uncommon fits of gambols, until at last he become so maudlin as to weep for the pitiless assassin, Thurtell, and treasure up the leaves and twigs of the hedge and shrubs in the fatal garden as valuable relics—nay, thronged the minor theatres to see the very roan horse and yellow gig in which the body was transported from one place to another. I have not stept over the threshold to-day, so very stupid have I been.

Lockhart's Note:
The murder of Weare by Thurtell and Co., at Gill's-Hill in Hertfordshire (1824). Sir Walter collected printed trials with great assiduity, and took care always to have the contemporary ballads and prints bound up with them. He admired particularly this verse of Mr. Hook's broadside—
"They cut his throat from ear to ear, 
His brains they battered in; 
His name was Mr. William Weare, 
He dwelt in Lyon's Inn."
—J.G.L.

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