The following are the circumstances attending a murder committed at Whaddon Chase, Buckinghamshire, in the month of January 1825, which at the time of its perpetration attracted a considerable portion of the public attention.
The information which was first published of this remarkable case, was that on the evening of Wednesday, the 5th of January, two young men took outside places by the Express coach, from London for Brick-hill, which is situated about nine miles from Stoney Stratford; and that having arrived at that place, they slept at the White Lion Inn, and on the following morning walked on towards Fenny Stratford, one of them carrying a gun in a green baize bag, while the other had a box on his shoulder. On their being overtaken by the Eclipse coach, they mounted it, and rode as far as Whaddon Chase, where they both suddenly jumped down, and one of them, carrying the gun, ran into the Chase, which is a wild, unfrequented spot, intersected by many roads, whither the other followed him. In a short time after, a labouring man named Meechan, who was employed in mending a hedge, heard a sound which appeared to him like a cry of murder. He listened, and distinctly heard the cry repeated in the direction of a place called Snell's Copse; and on his looking towards that spot, he saw two men whom he had before observed walking in the neighbourhood, one of them with an upraised gun, with which he suddenly felled his companion to the ground. The stock of the gun appeared to be broken by the blow, and then he saw the same person repeatedly strike the fallen man with the barrel. He was so alarmed as to be unable to render any assistance to repel the murderous attack; and he presently saw the man who, as he supposed, had killed his companion, change his coat, which was a blue body-coat, for a fustian shooting-jacket, and walk away. He felt totally unable to follow him; but as soon as his alarm had in some degree subsided, he ran to his master's house, which was situated about two hundred yards off, and gave information of what he had seen. Mr. Clarke, his employer, and his three sons, instantly accompanied him in pursuit of the murderer; and after an unavailing search of nearly two hours' duration, they at length saw him emerge from a thick copse, when they instantly seized and secured him. They conveyed him to the Haunch of Venison public-house at Whaddon, where he underwent an examination before Mr. Lowndes, Mr. Smith, and Major Mansel, magistrates of the county, to whom he stated that his name was Charles Lynn, and that that of his late companion was Abraham Hogg. A coroner's inquest was held on the body of the deceased on the following day; and then it appeared that the prisoner was the son of a respectable woman residing at No.4, Morehall-place, Vauxhall, where she kept a confectioner's shop, and that he, as well as the deceased, had been employed in the vinegar manufactory of Sir Robert Burnett, at Vauxhall, as coopers. Since his apprehension he had conducted himself in a most violent and extraordinary manner. He had repeatedly attempted to destroy himself by dashing his head against the walls and furniture of the room in which he was confined; and on his being informed that his late companion was dead, he answered, "I am glad of it, for he should not have had any of the money." He afterwards attempted to kill himself by drinking boiling water from a tea-kettle, and was only prevented from attaining his horrid purpose by the vigilance of the constables in whose charge he had been placed. He then begged to be permitted to write a letter to his mother; but having written "Dear mother, I have committed murder," he appeared dreadfully agitated, threw down the pen, and exclaiming, "O that I could kill myself!" attempted to strangle himself with his neckcloth. He was now handcuffed, in order to prevent his making any fresh attempt; but in spite of the utmost exertions of the officers, he obtained possession of the snuffers, with which he tried to stab himself in the throat; and having been disappointed in this project, he swallowed two half-crowns, hoping to choke himself. The evidence which was taken before the coroner went to prove the circumstances which we have stated; and witnesses having also deposed as to the finding of the body, and to the injuries which appeared to have been inflicted, and which were obviously the cause of death, a verdict of "Wilful murder against Charles Lynn" was returned.
The prisoner was then removed to Aylesbury jail, but not until he had made repeated new attempts to destroy his own life. He viewed the body of his murdered victim without the smallest degree of agitation or excitement; and on his arrival in the prison, he dictated a letter to King, the jailer, for his mother. He was subsequently visited by Mr. Ashfield, the chaplain of the jail, by whom he was brought to a proper sense of his situation. His mother, sister, and a clerk in Sir B. Burnett's establishment, subsequently reached Aylesbury jail from London, and at the entreaty of the first-named individual, the wretched prisoner made the following singular statement as to his inducement to commit the horrid crime of which he had been guilty. He said, "I and Abraham went to the Saracen's Head, Snowhill, and got upon the Liverpool coach: I saw two men in deep conversation with him, and two gentlemen were on the coach; the two men who spoke with Abraham I knew to be resurrection-men; and I was convinced that Abraham was agreeing to sell my body to them for the surgeons, two of whom were on the coach. Just before the coach started, one of the resurrection-men, who was dressed like a sailor, got a bottle of gin, and on the road they wanted me to drink two glasses for their one. The men afterwards threw the bottle away, but purchased another on the road. I and Abraham got down at the White Lion, Brick-hill, and the landlord and others were talking about robberies and murders: I did not like the conversation, and I went and slept at the public-house opposite. On the following morning I went to the White Lion, and the landlord said to me,--'It's lucky for you that you were not up sooner, or your body would have been half way to London by this time.' I got on another coach with Abraham, and passing by a common, I jumped down and ran away; Abraham followed with my gun. When I got near a wood I. heard the sound of horns and trumpets, and I thought the resurrection-men were after me, and that Abraham intended to kill me, and I am sure if I had not killed him he would have killed me." This remarkable statement was reduced to writing, and was produced at the trial of the unfortunate prisoner, which took place at Aylesbury, on Tuesday, the 8th of March, in the same year.
The evidence, which was then adduced, was precisely similar in its details to that which we have stated in substance; and the prisoner in his defence addressed the jury in an unconnected strain, repeating his belief that an intention existed to murder him. Witnesses were then called, who swore that they believed that the prisoner was insane, and the jury returned a verdict, finding the prisoner guilty of killing the deceased, but declared that he was of unsound intellect at the time.
The prisoner was thereupon ordered to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure, and was subsequently confined in an asylum for lunatics.
It appears that the prisoner had been employed by Sir Robert Burnett from a very early age, and that he was always considered there to bear an excellent character. Hogg was also engaged in the same establishment, and was a constant companion of the young man, by whom he was eventually killed. A considerable degree of suspicion was excited against them on the discovery of the murder, in consequence of the sudden disappearance of one Mangan, alias "Long Dan," who was their fellow workman, and who having been seen last with Lynn, on Sunday the 2nd of January, at Manor-place, Walworth, had become suddenly missing. Every inquiry was made for him, and at length Lynn was questioned upon the subject, but he most solemnly declared his ignorance of the cause of his quitting his friends, as well as of his hiding-place; but the observation which he had made, that "Hogg should not have any of the money," for a considerable time favoured the suspicions which were entertained. At length, however, Mangan came forward, and stated that he had enlisted in the East India Company's service, for a reason which he refused to disclose; and Lynn's statement explained the meaning of the expression which he had used. The reason for Hogg and Lynn quitting their work, and going out of town by the Liverpool coach, however, yet remains concealed.