Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Tragedies and Romances.            203
constructed of iron hooping, to which the rotting flesh and clothes and the bleaching bones long hung after wind and rain had done their worst upon them. In this way the body of Tapner, the Chichester smuggler, who took a leading part in the cruel murders of Galley, the Revenue Officer, and his witness, Chater, was exposed at the Old Broyle, in the immediate vicinity of Chichester, and another of the same gang, named Carter, was hung near Rake, on the Portsmouth road, in 1749. One of the last exhibitions of this kind, which, not improbably, by accustoming men to the spectacle of horrors, did more to harden than to appal them, took place in Sussex in the instance of two brothers, named Drewitt,.convicted in 1799 of robbing the Portsmouth mail on North Heath Common, near Midhurst, and sentenced to be hung in chains. The first part of the sentence was carried out at Horsham, where the men were tried, and then, in accordance with custom, their bodies were brought to the place where the crime was committed and exposed in the way we have described. One of the Drewitt's, the younger brother, died protesting his innocence, and the belief is still prevalent at Midhurst and its neighbourhood, to which they belonged and where they were well known, that he was guilt­less of the crime for which he suffered, but that he could not clear himself without implicating his father, and, rather than do this, went a victim to the gallows for the crime of a parent. It is remarkable that the last instance in this county of a barbarous custom should be thus coupled with a noble act of self-devotion on the part of one of the so-called culprits.
Poisoning has never been looked upon as an English crime; and it is remarkable, therefore, that a country town like Lewes should, so early as 1679, have been the scene of a deed of this nature, which would have been more in keeping with the soil and manners of Italy. The story, as told by a Lewes chronicler, has all the elements of a tragic romance.
A close intimacy had long existed between two young men of the town, Robert Brinkhurst, a cutler, and William Moor,
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