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.