Parricide, executed at St. Edmondsbury, 9th April, 1740
This culprit was the son of the man he murdered, and who was the owner of good property at Long Melford, in Suffolk; for the possession of which, to support, like George Barnwell, an extravagant wanton, he committed the foul deed for which he was executed.
Mr. Drew, senior, was an attorney; yet of so unaccountable a disposition, that he wholly neglected his son's education, having quarrelled with and lived separate from his wife. There were five daughters and the unhappy one who murdered him, and to all he appears to have conducted himself with the most culpable reserve and unfriendliness.
When Charles arrived at years of maturity he became acquainted with one Elizabeth Boyer, who submitted to his solicitations, but was a woman of so much art, that most people thought be would marry her; and, when she urged him to it, he said, 'Betsey, let us stay a little longer; it will be worse for us both if I do it now, for my father will certainly disinherit me:' to which she replied, 'I wish somebody would shoot the old dog.'
This discourse was heard to pass between them in the month of January, 1740, and Mr. Drew was found murdered in his house on the first of February following. On inquiry into the affair, it was suspected that Mr. Drew was shot with a gun which had been lent to his son by Mrs. Boyer; and, though no prosecution was commenced against her, there was every reason to imagine that she bad been the chief instigator to the atrocious crime.
Charles, having been to the Chelmsford assizes, fell into company with some smugglers, among whom was one Humphreys, a hardened villain, whom he invited to meet him at Mrs. Boyer's lodgings. They accordingly met; when Drew promised to settle two hundred pounds a year on him if he would murder his father; and gave him likewise at the time a considerable sum of money. Humphreys hesitated some time; but, at length consenting to the horrid proposal, they went together towards the house, having a gun loaded with slugs, about eleven at night on the 31st of January. It was agreed that young Drew should stand at a distance, while Humphreys was to knock at the door, ask for the old man, and then shoot him; but Humphreys' courage failing him when he came near the spot, he threw down the gun, saying he would have no concern in the murder. On this young Drew commanded him to keep silence, on pain of death; and, taking up the gun, went to the door, and, when his father opened it, shot him dead on the spot.
Having committed this horrid parricide, he said to Humphreys, 'The job is done;' on which Humphreys went to Dunmow, in Essex, where he had appointed to meet some smugglers that night, and after that travelled to London.
Young Drew, going to London, made application for the king's pardon to any one except him who had actually murdered his father; in consequence of which an advertisement to that purpose was inserted in the London Gazette, signed by the secretary of state; and another advertisement followed it, in which Drew himself offered a reward of a hundred pounds on conviction of the murderer. This procedure appears evidently to have been intended to take off all suspicion from himself, though he meant not to fix it on Humphreys.
This latter, being apprehended on suspicion, gave such an indifferent account of the transaction, that he was ordered to be kept in custody: and while he was in prison Drew sent him twenty pounds, with the promise of a hundred more. After he was committed the suspicion of his guilt grew stronger, and was corroborated by several informations.
This gave Drew great uneasiness; he took the utmost pains to suppress all farther informations, and even to destroy the credibility of those already made. He publicly declared that Humphreys was not the man who shot his father, and threatened to prosecute the officer who apprehended him.
Drew now resided in London, where he changed his name to that of Roberts, and corresponded with Humphreys, who had assumed the name of John Smith. Some letters falling into the bands of Timothy Drew, Esq. a namesake only, he went to London in search of the murderer; and, after repeated inquiries, was told that ho lodged in Shire Lane, whither he went, and asked for him by the name of Roberts. The people of the house said they had no lodgers; but the gentleman, who had a magistrate's warrant for apprehending the offender, insisted on searching the house: the search, however, was made in vain.
On this he went to several bagnios, and at length to a house in Leicester Fields, where he inquired for Mr. Roberts. Drew had given orders that he should be denied, for the landlord said that all the gentlemen who had lodged there the preceding night were gone; but Mr. Timothy Drew, observing him whisper one of the waiters, suspected the truth of this declaration, and, calling for a pint of wine, asked the waiter to drink with him. After some conversation he raised his voice, and in a positive manner declared that he knew Mr. Roberts was in the house, but that his real name was Charles Drew, and that he had murdered his father; then he threatened to have all the people in the house apprehended for concealing a murderer. This authoritative manner induced the waiter to confess that the gentleman was in the house. Hereupon he was conducted to the mansion of Justice de Veil; and, after an examination of above six hours, was committed to Newgate under a strong guard.
During his residence in the prison he gave Jonathan Keate, the turnkey, a bond of half his fortune, on the condition of permitting him to escape, and accompanying him to France; and, for his farther security, he executed a bond for the payment of a thousand pounds. The turnkey seemed to comply, and the time was fixed on for their departure; but the man having informed Mr. Akerman, the keeper, of the progress of the affair, Drew was removed into the old condemned hole, where a guard was placed over him night and day.
On the approach of the assizes Humphreys being admitted an evidence, Drew was convicted after a trial of several hours.
After conviction be seemed not to have a proper sense of the enormity of the crime of which he had been guilty, and would have attributed it to his father's ill treatment of him. He said that his father denied him necessary money for his expenses; and that his having refused to make over an estate to him was the first instigation to his committing the horrid crime.
He was visited by his sisters, who carefully avoided reflecting on him; and did all in their power to console him in his unhappy situation.
He was hanged near St. Edmund's-bury, on the 9th of April, 1740, amidst the greatest crowd of spectators that were almost ever assembled on such a melancholy occasion in that part of the country.
He seemed to part with life with evident signs of reluctance, begging the clergyman who attended him to continue the devotions to the last possible moment.
man suffered in the twenty-fifth year of his age.
The crime of murder is in itself so horrid, that it requires no aggravation; but that of parricide is of the worst species of murder, The destruction of those from whom, under God, we have immediately derived our being, has something in it so shocking to humanity, that one would think it impossible it should ever be committed.
By the Lex Pompeia of the Romans parricides were ordained to be put into a sack, with a dog, a cock, a viper, and an ape, and thrown into the sea, thus to perish by the most cruel of all tortures. The Egyptians also put such delinquents to death in the most horrible manner. They gradually mangled their body and limbs, and, when almost every limb was dislocated or broken, they placed the criminal, writhing and screeching with pain, upon thorns, where he was burnt alive! In China impiety to parents was considered a crime similar in atrocity to treason and rebellion, for which criminals were sentenced to be cut in ten thousand pieces! By the ancient Jewish law it was also death for children to curse or strike their parents: in fine, every nation punished the parricide in the most exemplary manner.