Macabre objects held at the Norris!!
On 1st September 1827, a notorious murder case came to its grim conclusion on Huntingdon Mill Common. 18 year old Joshua Slade was hanged for the murder of the rector of Little Stukely, Rev Waterhouse.
The reverend, by coincidence also called Joshua, lived the life of an eccentric miser. He blocked up the windows of the rectory and filled the rooms with grain and wool. He was too mean to sell any of it in case the price went up!
The rumor that he owned large amounts of valuables lured an intruder into the house. The 80 year old rector was found stabbed to death.
Slade was a Stukely man whose bad character was well known. His claims that he had been out drinking in various pubs were dismissed and his clothing appeared to be stained with blood. A bill-hook owned by a lodger in his family home was discovered coated with hair and blood.
These pieces of circumstantial evidence were brought against Slade at his trial in Huntingdon. A fellow prisoner also told the court that Slade had confessed to the murder in his cell.
The Judge made it clear that he neither believed the testimony or felt that the physical evidence was strong enough to pass sentence; but the Jurors took just 20 minutes to find Slade guilty.
Three years earlier the Somersham arsonist, Thomas Savage, had been hanged on Mill common. Ironically Slade and Reverend Waterhouse had walked there together to see the execution. We are sure that they could never have imagined who would be the next victim of the gallows, or why!
Norris Museum, St Ives