Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Stanfield Hall" murders

I could not write a blog about the Riches family without writing about the two notorious British murders of 28 November 1848 at "Stanfield Hall" in Wymondham, Norfolk.

Jessie Wallis (nee Riches) kept in safe-keeping a newspaper clipping from 1848 about the murders. She thought her grandfather John Riches was a strapper, in charge of the stables at "Stanfield Hall" at the time. I have not been able to verify that fact. John was a Glover by profession, familiar with leather, but not a strapper. Family folk-lore says that the Riches family tried to get hold of the property.

The photo of "Stanfield Hall" kept by Jessie Riches from childhood

What I can prove is that John & Elizabeth Riches were living in Pulham, Norfolk when their children were born - John Riches in 1844, William Riches in 1846, Anne Riches in 1848 and Isabella Riches in 1850. The distance from Pulham to "Stanfield Hall" is about 12 miles as the crow flies.  It is highly unlikely John would travel that distance for work. In 1851 John & Elizabeth Riches were residing with Elizabeth's parents in Bacton in 1851 (a long distance away), along with 4 of their children. John & Elizabeth moved back to Pulham for the birth of Mary Riches in 1853 and James Riches in 1854.

The happenings at "Stanfield Hall" would have been quite an event in the area at that time. So much so that the family have continued to take an interest in "Stanfield Hall", even though they know nothing more than what was recorded in the newspaper.
My husband's father Keith Olney subdivided land in Glen Waverley in 1964, naming a street Stanfield Court, Glen Waverley.
Peter and I bought a house block in 1964 and built our family home at 5 Stanfield Court, Glen Waverley in 1969.
Prior to leaving Australia for a visit to England in 1972, Keith and Marjorie Olney (Jessie's daughter) had written to the owner Dr.Hudson and made a date and time to visit "Stanfield Hall".
Diary extract - Friday 4th August 1972 as written by Marjorie Olney.
"After lunch we drove to "Stanfield Hall" which was quite exciting and to see it for the first time was quite a funny feeling.  There is a moat with water lilies on it all the way around, in some parts right up to the wall.  It has a double arch bridge to drive over.  The trees round about are huge and lovely.  There are stables of course and Dr.Hudson's daughter and grandchildren have horses.  There is a family crest over the front door and the front entrance leads straight into a reception room which has a stone floor, some very old furniture, an unusual fireplace, two paintings which look very much like my great grandparents but guess they are not.  Pictures of the Hall were also on the walls, one of which had an envelope with papers in it stuck on the back. (The same as ones I have).  This room led into a central square hall with a very high vaulted ceiling and staircase going upstairs to a balcony right around and lovely bedrooms off it.  The master bedroom was large and had an alcove and big windows.  There were two small rooms - one done out with cars and planes on the wall paper for the boy and the other in pink with flowered paper.  There was also a double room for the daughter and husband, a very pretty guest room and a couple of others, also two bathrooms - huge.  Leading off the square hall downstairs were a dining room with a long table, very old and beautifully carved, a sideboard with silver candlesticks, an interesting fireplace to burn logs in it which had an inscription carved on it - Elizabeth Regine 1583.  The door was about six inches thick.  The two sitting rooms were lovely with comfortable lounges, little tables, views out across the fields.  One had a real crystal chandalier which came from Dr.Hudson's mother's home.  There was Dr.Hudson's office and a writing room and library as well.  There were three or more grandfather clocks around. A very big  kitchen had a large table in the middle and a large white stove which is going all the time.  There were pantrys, little brick floored passages and a flower room.  Mrs.Cotton who showed us over the Hall gave us a cup of tea and some papers about the history of the place, also the murders to read while we were drinking our tea. We had quite a discussion but could not find out when great grandfather Riches lived there.  Keith took pictures inside and a couple outside.  It was rather disappointing not to find anything definite.  When I told Mrs. Cotton that I had some papers about the murders at "Stanfield Hall" in 1848 (28 November), Mrs Cotton clamped up".
Can you feel the genuineness of interest in "Stanfield Hall" as passed down the generations?
Dr. H.G.Hudson bought "Stanfield Hall" for 24,000 Pounds. He farms the 537 acres.

In 2007 Peter and Joy Olney also visited "Stanfield Hall". The intrigue about this estate was huge.
Unfortunately the present German owner was overseas and the Butler was unable to give us a tour of the Hall without approval, but we were free to stroll around the gardens.
Our son has named his family business "Stanfield Holdings" and has a photo of "Stanfield Hall" hanging in his office.

I have concluded that the "Stanfield Hall" murders were of great interest at the time, but definitely nothing more than that to the Riches descendants. Interestingly, it has held us captive for generations!

"Stanfield Hall" as visited by Joy & Peter Olney in 2007
"Stanfield Hall" from the Moat - 2007.
"Stanfield Hall in 2007
Gatehouse at the entrace to "Stanfield Hall"

I am sure you want to know more about the two murders at "Stanfield Hall" on 28 November 1848.
I have read with interest "The Trial of James Blomfield Rush", edited by W.Teignmough Shore and published by William Hodge & Co Ltd. - a book from the "Notable British Trial Series". I've also read "The Rush Murders". If you Google "Stanfield Hall", "Jermy family", "Stanfield Assinations" or "Stanfield Tragedy", you can read plenty about the history that has made "Stanfield Hall" famous.

Events leading up to the "Stanfield Hall" murders

The 1841 Census records "happy " neighbours living next door to each other.
Isaac Jermy, aged 52 was living at "Stanfield Hall".
James Blomfield Rush, aged 40, a Farmer and wife Susannah Rush aged 40, with children - Mary 10 years, James 9 years, John 7 years, William 6 years, Eleanor 5 years, Jonathan 4 years, Horace 3 years, Susan 2 years and Joseph 1 year.

This Isaac Jermy (was Isaac Preston born 1789) and his son Isaac Jermy Jermy (born 1821) were murdered by James Blomfield Rush on 28 November 1848.

1841 Census showing Isaac Jermy (52) and James Rush (40) as neighbours

I will try to give a shortened version of this fascinating story.
In 1735 one William Jermy married the heiress to the estate, which then came into the Jermy family.
This William in 1751 took as his second wife Frances Preston, who died without children. The Stanfield property was entailed on his nephew-in-law, Jacob Preston, then to Thomas Preston, his brother-in-law and his heirs-male, who on succession were to assume the name and arms of Jermy. Where there is no issue to Jacob or Thomas, the property was then to go to the male Jermy nearest related to William. Out of this complicated arrangement arose much trouble.

In 1753 there lived at North Walsham a Lawyer named Jermy, who claimed to be the nearest male relative, and in 1754 a bargain was struck with him by which he assigned for the nominal price of 20 Pounds all his claims to the "Stanfield Hall" estate to Isaac Preston, father of Jacob, who was a minor.  Both Jacob and Thomas died without issue, and Isaac Preston, a stepbrother, succeeded.  He, too, died without a son, leaving all his property to his brother, the Rev.George Preston, rector of Beeston Saint Lawrence, Norfolk, who in 1835 became Rush's landlord.

Mr.John Rush, stepfather of our Rush, also held his farm under the Rev.George Preston, which was seemingly the commencement of the disastrous and somewhat mysterious connection between the two families.  James Blomfield Rush, our Rush, was intimate with his landlord, acting as his agent or steward, apparently obtaining considerable influence over the old man and holding his entire confidence. At this time, too, he built up some connection as an auctioneer and estate agent.

In 1837 the Rev.George Preston died, being succeeded by his eldest son Isaac Preston, born in 1789. In order to regularise his ownership of "Stanfield Hall" estate (which was disputed), in 1838 he assumed the surname of Jermy by Royal licence. He married twice, by his first wife he had a son Isaac Jermy Jermy, born in 1821.

Isaac Preston, now Isaac Jermy's possession of "Stanfield Hall" was disputed by Thomas Jermy, a member of another branch of the family, and a more distant relative John Larner, his cousin. In June 1838 the furniture, library and some personal goods of the Rev.George Preston were advertised for sale. Thomas Jermy and Larner put in a claim to the estate, serving notices on Mr.Jermy and the auctioneer to stop the sale.

Larner made an attempt to secure possession of the Hall, but was thrown out by Rush, acting as bailiff for Mr.Jermy. Larner proceeded to fell and remove timber on the estate for which he was apprehended, but discharged. 

The following handbill was distributed in the neighbourhood:
To Workmen, Labourers and others - Whereas Isaac Preston, Recorder of the city of Norwich, (recently styled I.Jermy), having publicly acknowledged that he has no right or title to the Stanfield estates, mansion, and manors, but naked possession only; workmen, labourers and others are therefore duly cautioned not to aid and assist the said Isaac in attempting to prevent the Heir at Law, John Larner, from taking possession of his family residence, "Stanfield Hall", otherwise they will be liable to be prosecuted for a breach of the peace. Signed John Larner 22 August 1838.

On 24 September 1838 Larner appeared at "Stanfield Hall" with a large party of 80 men at 11am. They went to the Kitchen door demanding admittance. Larner took a crowbar, forced the door open and the party rushed into the house. He carried out two women against their will, threw all the furniture out, broke open all the closets and barricaded the doors and windows. They took in a vast quantity of stones and brickbats which were laid in very room near the windows, as if they had prepared for a seige. Meanwhile Mr. Isaac Jermy who himself is a commissioner of the peace for the county of Norfolk, arrived and gave directions to Hubbard and Pont, two police constables of Wymondham to protect the furniture that had been thrown outside from being exposed to heavy rain. It appeared useless to take the persons engaged in the rage into custody. Mr.Jermy read the Riot Act in front of the house, cautioned them that if they remained an hour after the Act was read, they would be guilty of felony. Two county magistrates arrived after 3pm. but resistance was made to the constabulary force with one struck down. Military force was called for after Mr Jermy was also assulted. The Riot Act was again read to those standing at the windows armed with bludgeons. At 6pm the Military arrived. Orders were given to prime and load with ball cartridge. Five minutes was given for consideration. Before the time expired, the door opened and one by one the rioters were roped together to prevent escape.  Wagons were procured and 63 were brought under military escort ot Norwich Castle, arriving at 11pm. The remained were allowed to go with a promise to appear the next morning before the magistrate. They were tried in April 1839 and given short sentances.

When Mr.Isaac Jermy succeeded to the Stanfield property he decided to pull down the Hall! This is Rush's account of what happened: "When Mr.Jermy came into possession, he took it into his head to pull down the Hall and all the offices.  When I realised he was determined to do so, I bought the Hall and offices, withthe understanding that I could have pulled them all down immediately, or have the whole of my term to do so. In less than two years he altered his mind, and I let him have the Hall, with the coach-house and stable back again for the same as I gave him, which was only 1000 Pounds".

On succeeding to the property Mr.Jermy found that the leases which had been granted by his father (Rev.George Preston) to Rush for Felmingham and Stanfield Hall farms had been irregularly drawn and were not binding. Mr.Jermy granted new leases which was the starting point of Rush's enmity, which developed into a ferocious hatred.

In 1838 the neighbouring property "Potash Farm" was for sale. Mr.Jermy empowered Rush to purchase it for him, limiting the price to 3,500 Pounds, but Rush purchased it for himself for 3,750 Pounds.  Not having the money to complete the transaction, Rush induced Mr.Jermy to advance it to him upon mortgage. By 1844 there was a total charge upon Rush's estate to the tune of 5,000 Pounds, the annual interest upon this sum at 4% coming to 200 Pounds. Technically Rush became Mr.Jermy's tenant at Potash in order that the latter might have power to distrain for rent if and when the interest on loans and debts was not punctually paid. The money secured was to remain on loan until 30th November 1848. Rush was Mr.Jermy's tenant on no less than three farms - Felmingham, Stanfield, and Potash Ash, and heavily indebted to his landlord.

October 1844 Mr.Rush Senior died. The newspaper reported: Horrible Accident - On Thursday last Mr.Rush, a respectable farmer at Felmingham, and auctioneer at Wymondham, was shot dead in his kitchen by the accidental discharge of a gun. It appeared that father and son had been out shooting and returning home the son was admiring his father's gun. The son retired to another room and left his father examining the gun. A shot was fired and the son returned to find the bleeding corpse of his father lying prostrate in the kitchen. The gun had gone off, lodging the whole contents in the head of his father, entering at the left cheek. The Jury gave a verdict of "Accidental death".

The major part of the old man's property was left to his widow, off whom Rush promptly borrowed a large sum. The estate was worth 7,000 Pounds. Mrs.Rush senior took ill, dying on 13 August 1848. Nurses reported that on the day she died, Rush was found giving his mother cake moistened with what looked like wine. A few hours later Rush paid the nurse off. Her property was left to trustees for the benefit of Rush's children. He forged a codicil to the will, which placed the property in his power till his youngesrt child attained the age of twenty one.

Going back a bit, in 1842 or 1843 Rush lost his wife after a lingering illness, the mother of his nine legitimate children.  He gave assiduous attention to her during her illness and he expressed deep grief at her loss. It was noted that at the time of the murders in 1848 his eldest son was married, four boys had been sent to school in France, and two girs were being educated in London.

In October 1846, Rush advertised in "The Times" for a governess, meeting applicants in London. He engaged Emily Sandford, who was to play a prominent part in the approaching tragedy. Both she and her mother were caught by Rush's "polite behaviour, apparent respectability, general intelligence, moral and religious conversations". Rush brought her down to "Stanfield Hall", seduced her with a promise of marriage. Then he took lodgings for her in Mylne Street, Pentonville, a favourite haunt of his. Here, assuming the character of her fond uncle, he frequently visited. When he stayed the night the landlady made up a bed for him who apparently had no suspicion of the liaison. Emily passed under the name of Mrs.James, her mythical husband being a commercial traveller and often absent. Toward the end of her stay there she announced that her husband had died and assumed widow's weeds.

On 3 October 1848 the following were assembled: Thomas Jermy, the Larners, senior and junior, Rush and Emily Sandford who was introduced by her "uncle" as a lady of some means, who was ready to help them secure the property which was rightly theirs. 
The upshot was the following agreement which was in Emily's handwriting:
London, 3rd October 1848.  Memorandum of an agreement made this 3rd day of October, 1848, between Thomas Jermy, of the Parish of Upper Tooting, in Surrey, John Larner, sen., No.9 James' Street, Featherstone Street, City Road, London, Charles Larner jun. in Wiltshire on the one part; and James Blomfield Rush of  No 2 Mylne Street, Pentonville, London on the other part.  That is to say, Thomas Jermy, John Larner and Charles Larner agree for themselves, their heirs, administrators, or assigns, to let to the said James Blomfirld Rush, his heirs, administrators, or assigns; and he agrees to hire all those two farms in Felmingham, Skeyton and North Walsham, in the county of Norfolk, now in the occupation of the executor of the late Mrs.Mary Rush, or previously to that, in the occupation of Mr.John Rush, and the said James Blomfirld Rush, for the term of twenty one years, commencing from the 11th day of October, 1848 and endinging 11th October 1869, at the annual rent of 230 Pounds, payable in two equal half-yearly instalments, on the 6th of April, Lady Day, and the 11th of October, Michaelmas Day, after deducting landlord's taxes and tradesmen's bills, for what the aforesaid James Blomfield Rush may think are necessary for the repairs of the dwellings houses and farm buildings on the said estates; the foresaid Thomas Jermy, John Larner, sen. and Charles Larner jun., their heirs, administrators, or assigns, as they respectively come into possession of the aforesaid property. That the aforesaid James Blomfield Rush agrees, as soon as conveniently he can, after the signing of this agreement, to put Thomas Jermy into possession of the estates, and to do all he can, legally, to assist him in maintaining possession; and that, if he succeeds, that he, the said James Bloomfield Rush, is to be allowed, from the foresaid rent as it becomes due, to reimburse himself all reasonable expenses he may incur in keeping his, the aforesaid Thomas Jermy, his heirs, and assigns, in possession; and also all reasonable expenses he, the James Blomfield Rush, may incur, in obtaining possession of the Stanfield Hall estates, the the aforesaid parties.  In witness, we the undersigned, hereunto have set our hands, the day and year above written.
Thomas Jermy, his x mark.
John Larner, sen, his x mark.
Richard Reid, Witness, 2 Red Bull Yard, Thames Street, City of London.
Emily Sandford, Witness.

The meaning of this document was that Rush was preparing his future in case Thomas Jermy & Co. should succeed in capturing the Stanfield Hall estate from Mr.Recorder Jermy; but was that the only purport of it?  Was there not a more sinister motive for procuring this document?  It will be seen later that Rush tried to manufacture evidence that would get Thomas Jermy at the least suspected of being the murderer of Mr.Recorder Jermy. In pursuance of this scheme, Rush induced Jermy and Larner, paying their expenses, to take possession of the Felmingham farm in October of this year.  He tried to persuade them to remain there, but they obstinately declined, returning to London, much to his annoyance.  At about this time also, he said that he was in possession of a Will, which he alleged to have been made by the late Rev. George Preston.  What exactly was the content of this Will?  Was it genuine?  did it in any way invalidate Mr.Recorder Jermy's claim to "Stanfield Hall"?

Rush also prepared his way in case Mr.Recorder Jermy should die.  But what reason was there to suppose that he should do so? None other that I can see except that Rush had already determined to put Mr.Jermy out of his way.  Unless Mr.Jermy did die, the documents with which I shall now briefly deal would have been worthless.

On 10th October 1848 Rush went to see Mr. Jermy at the Hall alone. When he next saw Emily he produced the following singular document for her to sign as Witness:
I agree for myself, my heirs, administrators, or assign, to let to James Blomfield Rush of Felmingham, his heirs, administrations, or assigns, all those two farms lately occupied by Mr. John Rush, and the said James Blomfield Rush, for the term of twelve years, from Michaelmas, 1848, at the annual rent of 300 Pounds, and that a lease and counterpart thereof should be prepared, at the expense of the said James Blomfield Rush, his heirs, administrators and assigns, with the same covenants as are now contained in the lease of the afoesaid John Rush and James Blomfield Rush. And that a clause should be inserted in the said lease, that my son Jermy Jermy, is to have the right of shooting over the said farm, and to have a sitting room and bedroom provided for him, whenever he might require the same in the shooting season; and that he shall be boarded in the farmhouse, and pay whatever may be reasonable for the same. In witness wherof I have heeunto set my hand.
Isaac Jermy.
James Blomfield Rush.
Witness - Emily Sandford.

Emily's conscience pricked her for having signed as witness a document to which she had not been a witness.  She wrote to Rush protesting, keeping a copy of her letter, which Rush angrily tore up when next he saw her.  He then went further, persuading her to witness these other agreements:
An agreement made, this 10th day of October, 1848, between James Blomfield Rush on the one part, and Isaac Jermy, EsQ., Recorder of Norwich, on the other part.  The said Isaac Jermy agrees to let the said James B.Rush have the 5,000 Pounds on the Potash estate, three years over and above the time mentioned in the mortgage deeds, at four per cent, computing the three years from the expiration of the ten years as mentioned in the said mortgage deeds.  And the said J.B.Rush agrees to pay the interest of the same as heretofore, and to observe all the stipulations and covenants mentionded in the aforesaid mortgage deeds, and the said Isaac Jermy agrees to do the same. 
As witness our hands, the day and year above written.
Isaac Jermy.
James B.Rush.
Witness Emily Sandford.

and this:
It is hereby agreed to by me, Isaac Jermy, of Stanfield Hall, that if James Blomfield Rush gives up all what papers and documents he holds, relating to the Stanfield Hall and Felmingham estates, and do all that lies in his power in maintaining and keeping me, or my heirs or assigns, in possession of the said estates, that I will give up all clain I have on him, the said James B.Rush, within twelve months from the date thereof, and give him a lease of the Felmingham farms for twenty one years, on the same terms and conditions as he holds an agreement from the present tenant, Thomas Jermy. 
In witness thereunto the undersigned have set their hands, this 21st day of November 1848.
Isaac Jermy.
(This date is strange!)

I, James Blomfield Rush do, in consideration of the above, herewith give up all the papers and documents relating to the above estates, that can in any way affect the title of the aforesaid Isaac Jermy, and agree to do all I can to assist in maintaining and keeping possession of the said estates for the aforesaid Isaac Jermy, his heirs, or assigns.
James Blomfield Rush.
Witness Emily Sandford.

(At the trial evidence was given to the effect that the signatures of Isaac Jermy were not genuine).

The situation in November 1848 may be summed up as:
Rush was in extreme difficulty re money.
He would shortly have to pay his landlord the mortgage on Potash Farm - a sum which he could not possibly raise.
He possessed documents from Thomas Jermy and John Larner, which if they should succeed in their claim to Stanfield Hall and Felmingham estates would establish his again in security.
He hated Mr. Jermy.
He held the forged agreements between Mr.Jermy and himself, which would be valueless unless the former died within a few days.

"Stanfield Hall" murders - 28 November 1848

A brief description of the events of the night of 28th November 1848 from Mr.A.D.Bayne's pamphlet, "The Stanfield Tragedy" will suffice. Evidence of witnesses is vivid and dramatic and can be read by going to the Web as suggest earlier in this Post if you are interested in more detail.

During the latter part of November, Rush had been in the habit of going out at night, and returning late, pretending to be on the look-out for poachers. On Friday night, 24th November, and on the Monday night, the 27th, he went out.  He had procured a family ticket for Madame Dulcken's Concert, to be given in Norwich on the following night.  On the Monday Mr.Rush junior and his wife went to Felmingham, and the female servant also left the house, so that the only persons remaining were Rush, Emily Sandford, and a lad named Savory.  A charwoman came on the Tuesday morning, did her work, and went away again. During the afternoon of that day Rush was out, and at Ketteringham gate he met a young woman, named Cooper and enquired whether Mr.Jermy was at home.  She having answered in the affirmative, he went across the field to the Stanfield gate. On the same day a boy, by his orders, littered down a quantity of straw from the homestead to the fields towards "Stanfield Hall". A portion of the path which had never before been littered with straw was then littered by Rush's direction; and the straw ceased where the green sward began, so that he could walk from his house towards Mr.Jermy's mansion without danger of his footsteps being traced.

Rush returned home about five o'clock, and asked when the dinner would be ready.  Emily Sandford said it would soon be ready; and he said "There is just time for me to go into the garden and fire off my gun", and he accordingly went into the garden and discharged his gun, and then went into dinner.  They had been sitting at tea, when Emily Sandford observed him to be a good deal agitated and he said in answer to her inquiry "I have been thinking a good deal about the story we read the other day of the Scottish chief, where he said he lay upon his back, and saw a spider, which had suspended itself from the ceiling, swinging itself with a view apparently of reaching a beam. The insect tried six times, and succeeded the seventh, and then said the Scottish chief, I have tried six times and as the insect tried six times, and succeeded the seventh I also shall succeed". Rush said "I have tried several times, I think I have tried five or six times, and the next time, perhaps I shall be successful". Emily Sandford expressed her alarm "What can this mean! It must be more than poachers". Rush had stated that he had been out after poachers and he said "I should like you better if you don't ask me why". She observed him to be extremely agitated, and at that time supposed him to be in tears. Tea was over and he left the room and went upstairs to his bedroom.  He came from his bedroom and went out some time between seven and eight o'clock.  She hears him go out, but nobody saw him leave the house.  He had put on a disguise, armed himself with either guns or pistols, and enveloped himself in a large cloak.  He no doubt proceeded by the nearest route to the Hall.

Floor plan of "Stanfield Hall" - 28 November 1848

The night was dark and windy, and therfore well suited for a murderer's purpose ..............
Soon after eight o'clock, the late Mr Jermy's dinner being over, he was sitting alone in the dining- room.  Mr.Jermy jun. and his wife had retired to the drawing-room. They were about to partake of tea, and to amuse themselves by a game ot picquet, the cards being on the table.  Mr.Jermy was in the habet of going outside the Hall after dinner, and on this evening he left the dining-room and proceeded to the porch in front of the mansion.  Rush, who knew Mr. Jermy's habits and expected him to come out, was standing near the porch, resolved upon murder.  As soon as Mr.Jermy reached the porch Rush presented a gun or pistol loaded with slugs to his breast, fired and shot him through the heart.  He fell down backwards and instantly expired.

Rush immediately went to the side door, entered and proceeded along the passages leading to the staircase hall, dropping two papers opn the floor.  He passed close to the butler, who affrighted at the appearance of an armed man in disguise, retired to his pantry.  Rush passed on to the door opening into the staircase hall.  Mr.Jermy jun. who had heard the report of the pistol, was proceeding to the same door, and was about to pass through the doorway on one side, while the armed man was going into the hall from the other side. They met. Rush drew back and presented the gun or pistol to young Mr.Jermy's breast, fired, and he also fell down dead in the hall.

The murderer passed on into the dining-room, no doubt with the intention of exterminating the whole family. Mrs.Jermy, still in the drawing-room, on hearing the second report, immediately went into the hall, and passed over the dead body of her husband.  Eliza Chastney, one of the female servants, on hearing her mistress screaming for help ran up to her, and holding her by the waist, cried out "My dear mistress, what is the matter?"  At this moment Rush came out of the dining-room, and seeing the two females opposite him in the recess, he levelled his weapon, fired twice, and wounded the servant in the leg and Mrs.Jermy in the arm.  They both fell.  The murderer then made his escape by the side door, leaving death, misery and woe in that mansion which only a few minutes before was the scene of happiness............

A telepraphic message was sent to Norwich for the police, and soon after a number of armed constables started off in conveyances to the Hall.  Mr.Yarrington, the superintendent of police caused telegraphic messages to be transmitted along every railway in the kingdom, and gave a description of Rush. A curious fact as no intelligence had then reached Norwich as to who was suspected.

In the meantime the scene at "Stanfield Hall" was one of utter dismay.  The cook had fled to the coach-house with Miss.Jermy.  The butler had rushed to Mr.Gower's, another farmer, for assistance.  The maidservants were conveying their wounded mistress upstairs.  Eliza Chastney was lying wounded on the ground.  Mr.Jermy sen., was lying dead in the porch of his own home, everbody being then uncertain as to his fate.

Mr.Skoulding, a surgeon, arrived in a gig, and by the light of the lamps saw the dead body of Mr.Jermy lying in the porch.  As they were removing the body into the drawing-room the blood poured out of the wound all along from the porch to the room.  The dead body of Mr.Jermy jun., was removed into the same room.  They were laid side by side on the carpet. Upon examination of the bodies, it was found that Mr.Jermy's wound was on his left breast, large and bleeding profusely, the clothes being singed, a proof of the close proximity of the assassin to his victim.  The wound of Mr.Jermy jun., exhibited only a small perforation on the right breast.  Mr.Cann, a magistrate living at Wymondham, and other gentlemen, as soon as they received information proceeded to the Hall.  Notices were sent to the county police as well as to Norwich.  A telegraphic message was transmitted to the city for Mr.Nichols, the family surgeon, who soon afterwards arrived.

It is scarcely necessary to say that suspicion at once turned toward Rush, whom several of the servants at the Hall declared that hey had recognised.  When the Norwich police arrived, some time between one and two o'clock in the morning, they were ordered without delay to go to "Potash Farm", which by road is somewhat over a mile distant. The house was surrounded, a careful watch kept, then near daybreak a light was seen in Rush's bedroom. The boy Savory was sent to tell him that he was "wanted". Rush came to the door, was immediately seized and shortly afterwards taken to Wymondham Bridewell.

Rush had tried to build up evidence which would incriminate Thomas Jermy and Larner. The paper that Rush had dropped in the Hall read: "There are seven of us here, three of us outside, and four inside the hall, all armed. If any of you servants offer to leave the premises or to follow, you will be shot dead.  Therefore, all of you keep in the servant's hall and you nor any one else will take any harm, for we have only come to take of the Stanfield Hall property -     Thomas Jermy, the owner.

The Trial of James Blomfield Rush - 29 March 1849.

This trial did not become a volume in the Notable British Trials Series without reason. There is so much detail, Statement for the Prosecution, Evidence for Prosecution, Prisoner's defence, Witness Statements and Summing-up, that you can read about if interested. I will share with you some letters that I thought were interesting as they reflect the character of a man about to face trial and his responses after the verdict.

James Rush wrote a note to Emily Sandford on 1 January 1849:
To Emily Sandford, I am sorry I used the language I did when I was last with you, but I hope you know enough of my tember to believe me when I tell you, you have nothing to fear from my bad wishes, either from what I then said, or whatever may be the result of this unjust accusation against me.  You will always have my best wishes for health and happiness both of yourself and our child.  Write only a few words to acknowledge the receipt of this, for we are not allowed to say more.
James B.Rush.

James Rush wrote to Mr.Leggatt, Bell Inn, Orford Hill, Norwich on 24th March 1849:
Sir, You will oblige me by sending my breakfast this morning, and my dinner about the time your family have theirs, and send anything you like, except beef.  I shall like cold meat as well as hot, and meal bread, and the tea in a pint mug, if with a cover on the better.I will trouble you to provide for me now, if you please, till after the trial, and if you could get a small sucking pig in the market today, and roast it for me on the Monday, I should like that cold as well as hot after Monday, and it would always be in readiness for me, as it will be so uncertain what time I shall have for my meals after Monday.  Have th pig cooked the same as you usually have, and send plenty of plum sauce with it.  Mr. Pinson will pay you for what I have of you.  By complying with the above,
You will very much oblige,
Your humble and obedient servant,
James B.Rush.

The Trial of James Blomfield Rush commenced 29 March 1849 before Mr.Baron Rolfe and occupied six days. Rush, seemingly confident of acquittal and apparently in good health, carefully dressed in black, defended himself.  His speech, which occupied fourteen hours, is one of the most extraordinary in the annals of criminal trials, turgid, bombastic, often hopelessly irrelevant and difficult to follow.  If there had been any chance of his securing a verdict "not Guilty", his defence destroyed it.

In Summing-up Mr.Baron Rolfe: By the death of Mr.Isaac Jermy sen., his son Isaac Jermy Jermy and his wife, property amounting to many thousand pounds might have been passed into the hands of Rush. That of course would only have been if the (forged) documents had not been disputed.  So here a motive was evident.  Rush was due to pay out the mortgage on "Potash Farm" to Mr.Isaac Jermy on 30th November 1848.

When sentence of death was pronounced, at quite unnecessary length, Rush stood dumb, apparently in a state of stupor. It is recorded that shortly after leaving the dock Rush said to the officers in whose charge he was, "I am thirsty, give me some port" and that he reluctantly accepted tea in its stead. After leaving the Court and on his return to prison Rush said "This is indeed a troublesome world". Not exactly original, but appropriate. While in his cell he was somewhat more than usually reserved, sullen and speaking seldom, but he did say "Well, upon such evidence, had I been the jury, I should certainly have returned the same verdict", and a little later "Well, now let me have my tea and slippers". All along to the end Rush maintained the attitude of one who had been basely wronged, especially in having been convicted of a crime that he had not committed.

As reported by "Norfolk News" with courtesy of Mr.Pinson, Governor of Norwich Castle and Rev.Mr.Brown, Chaplain to the Gaol. These gentlemen state that Rush from the commencement of his imprisonment, assumed the character of innocence and piety. He took every opportunity of denying his guilt, professing tranquility and unhesitating confidence in his acquittal. His constant language was "Thank God, I am quite comfortable in body and mind, I eat well, drink well and sleep well".  He was constant in his attendance at chapel and very soon after his committal requested the Chaplain to administer the Sacrement to him privately. This was refused while he remained impenitent and without confession. The Chaplain came to Rush about half past eight on the morning of the execution and he seemed glad to join in devotion, but whenever his guilt was assumed and confession and repentance were urged on him, his constant reply was "God knows my heart, He is my judge, and you have prejudged me".

Nothing in his conduct is more remarkable than the reliance which he placed upon his defence of himself, his confidence in his power to convince others of his innocence, and his anger at hearing that the world was unanimous in thinking him guilty.

On leaving the chapel, he went into the prison yard and washed his face and hands and the back of his neck with cold water at the pump. Rush was taken to the executioner. On meeting him, Rush asked "Is that the man who is to perform the duty?" The operation of pinioning commenced.  The prisoner who appeared perfectly calm and collected said, "This don't go easy, I don't want the cord to hurt me:.  His request was complied with and the rope was moved a little to give him relief.  He then said that he was comfortable and the sad procession having been formed, he was conducted to his doom.

Rush was executed on 21 April 1849, at Norwich Castle, to the end maintaining his defiant demeanour. More than 12,000 people gathered. Some were attracted by curiosity and love of excitement to a spectacle so painful as a public execution.

As reported by "Norfolk News"......... The short distance between the Castle entrance and the drop was lined on one side by the magistrates of the county and on the other by representatives of the press. At last the death-knell began to toll from the spire of St.Peter's Mancroft, and shortly aftertwelve o'clock the dreadful procession emerged from the Castle, and took its way to the drop.  First came the Sheriffs and javelinmen, and then followed the convict, attended by the governor and executioner.  On the way they were met by the chaplain, who read the funeral service with a loud voice.  The wretched prisoner moved along with great firmness.  He was dressed in black, wore patent leather boots, and had his shirt collar, which was scrupulously clean, turned over. As his head was bare, the features of his face could be distinctly marked. His determined expression had not changed since his trial and the man was in all respects the same unwavering, resolute being, who for six days conducted his own defence in a Court of Justice. His step never faltered, and he regularly marched to his doom. On catching sight of the scaffold, he lifted his eyes to heaven, raised as far as he could his pinioned hands, and shook his head mournfully from side to side once or twice. The pantamine was perfect, conveying almost as clearly as words a protest of innocence, combined with resignation of his fate.  As he walked along he asked the governor what the words were with which the burial service ended. He was told that it was with the benediction, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ", and he requested that the drop might fall when the chaplain came to those words.

The wretched man then mounted the scaffold, but instead of looking to the crowd, he turned his face to the Castle walls, the white night-cap was placed over his head, and fastening the fatal rope to the beam, adjusted the noose to his neck.  The unhappy man, even at this dreadful moment, had not last his coolness. "This does not go easy" he said, "put the thing a little higher, take your time, don't be in a hurry".  These were his last words.  The rope was in the right place, the drop fell, and in an instant the murderer was dead.

No struggles ensued, and the dreadful ceremony was performed as quickly and as well as is practicable and with fewer revolting circumstances than usual. During the whole time the crowd without maintained a solemn silence, and the only sounds that accompanied the fall of the body, and jerking of the tightened rope were one or two faint shrieks.  After being suspended for one hour, it was cut down and carried back to the Castle where interment took place within the precincts. 

My personal research about the various persons is also of interest:

James Blomfield Rush baptised on 10 January 1800 at Tacolneston Church, died 21 April 1849 in Norwich, Norfolk.
- mother Mary Blomfield born 1780 Norfolk, died 13 August 1848 in Felmingham, Norfolk. 
- no father (illegitimate). A recent book (Meeres, 1998) appears to have solved a mystery. James' father was William Howes, a young man then living with his father at Tacolneston Hall.  William had promised to marry Mary but betrayed her, and she brought an action for breach of promise of marriage against him at the Assizes and was awarded damages. Mary's father James Bloomfield was a tenant farmer in Tacolneston with 3 children - John, James and Mary Bloomfield. Mary Bloomfield died August 1848. She married Mr.Rush who died October 1844.
- married Susannah Soame baptised 23 March 1806 at Aylsham, Norfolk, died October 1845 Norfolk on 20 May 1828 in Aylsham. Susannah's parents were Peter and Sarah Sloame.
- 9 children - Mary Rush born 1831 in Wood Dalling, James Blomfield Rush born 1832 in Wood Dalling, John Blomfield Rush born 1834, William Soame Blomfield Rush born 1835 in Wymondham, Eleanor Richardson Blomfield Rush born 1836, Jonathan Blomfield Rush born 1837 in Wood Dalling, Horace Rush born 1838 in Wood Dalling and died April 1874, Susan Rush born 1839, Joseph Rush born 1840.
Note their mother died 1845, leaving a young family.
- Dictonary of National Biography: James Blomfield Rush died 1849, murderer, a tenant famer on the estate of Isaac Jermy (1789-1848), who sympathised with the claimants to Jermy's estate and shot him and his son.

Son - James Blomfield Rush born 1832 Wood Dalling, Norfolk. 
- married Eleanor Halls born 1828 Wymondham, Norfolk on 11 April 1848.
- 3 children - Susan Blomfield Rush born 1849 Wymondham, Catherine Blomfield Rush born 1855 Wymondham, died 10 December 1924, Kent, and Eleanor Blomfield Rush born 1860 Wymondham.
Note: these children were born after their grandfather James Blomfield Rush was executed and they carry the Blomfield name.
- James was before the Courts. 1 January 1862 at Castle of Norwich on 2 charges of house breaking, pleaded not guilty. Committed for trial 11 March 1862 and received 4 years.
- Thomas Henry James Blomfield Rush was tried in Suffolk and received 12 months for Larceny.
- above named, after a former conviction for Felony, he received 18 months hard labour on 4 July 1884.
It seems Thomas was the son of James. We see 3 generations of criminal activity. 

Governess - Emily Vavasour Sandford born 27 November 1824 in Tiverton, London, died 6 September 1901 Hannover, Germany. Parents - Joseph Horace Sandford & Ann Jane Vavasour.
- Governess to James Blomfield Rush's children.
- 2 children to James Blomfield Rush - unknown male, born & died 1848,  Emily Martha Vavasour Sandford born 13 February 1849 in Forehoe, Norfolk. (Note: James' letter to Emily dated 1 January 1849).
- married Moses Simon Elder, a German, on 11 May 1850 in Adelaide, Australia. They had 9 children.

Rev.George Preston born 23 July 1760 in Beeston, St.Lawrence, Norfolk, died 23 October 1837 Wymondham, Norfolk.
- married Henrietta Elizabeth Bedingfield 1762, died April 1828 in Beeston St.Lawrence, Norfolk.
- father of Isaac Preston who changed his name to Isaac Jermy in 1838.
 Son - Isaac Preston/Jermy born 23 September 1789 in Beeston, Norfolk, died 28 November 1848 "Stanfield Hall". Dictonary of National Biography: Isaac Jermy 1789-1848 Recorder of Norwich 1831-1848; B.A.Christchurch, Oxford 1812; Barrister Lincoln's Inn 1814; known as Isaac Preston till 1838; his succession to "Stanfield Hall" forcibly resisted 1838; murdered there by James Blomfield Rush 1848.
- married Mary Ann Beevor born 18 February 1800 Hargham, Norfolk, died 1823, married 1819.
- 3 children - Ann Elizabeth Jermy 1820-1821, Isaac Jermy Jermy 1821-1848, Ellen Preston Jermy 1822 in St Stephen, Norfolk and died June 1885 in Essex.

Son - Isaac Jermy Jermy born 1821, died 28 November 1848 "Stanfield Hall". Graduated M.A.Trinity College Cambridge 1848.
-  married Sophia Jane Chevallier born 1824, died 22 February 1890 in Norfolk, married 1846 at Gorleston. Sophia's parents were Rev.Clement Chevallier & Sophia Farr, sister Jane Georgiana Chevallier.
 - Sophia Jane Jermy was shot in the right arm on 28 November 1848 at "Stanfield Hall".  She developed septicaemia and had her arm amputated.
- 2 children - Sophia Henrietta Jermy born 1847, married Col.Reginald Thorsby Gwyn in 1868. Their son Major Reginald Preston Jermy Gwyn sold "Stanfield Hall" in 1920 after 185 years in the Jermy estate.
- Albert Jermy born 22 July 1848, died 24 July 1848.
- Sir.Thomas Branthayt Beevor was the Chairman of the Bench at Wymondham, Bridgewell when James Rush was arrested on 29 November 1848. Isaac Jermy Jermy's mother was a Beevor.
- Sir Thomas Beevor had been handling Sophia's legal and financial affairs.  They married 1850 in Dover. 
- Sophia and Tom Beevor had 13 children from 1851 - 1869.
None of these people are ancestors in our family, or have anything to do with the Riches family.  It is interesting to see how some members of our family have become so consumed with "Stanfield Hall" and what happened there in 1848 - including me! I hope you enjoy reading about the events that made "Stanfield Hall"  famous so many years ago.

James Blomfield Rush was included in Madame Tussaud's London Chamber of Horrors - waxworks of notorious murderers  1849-1971

Pair of Staffordshire figures of James Rush & Emily Sandford - 9.8ins high.

If you wish to contact the author of the Riches Family Archives blogs with comments or further information, please email Joy Olney at -

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