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THE WADLAND MURDER by Jonas Squire (1799 - 1878)


This is not the only poem written locally about a crime which took place in 1827. In the Ashbury section, we have provided a link to a broadsheet published 1827. However the two pieces have only one thing in common in that they both tell the story of the crime.  Sarah and Edward Glass are both buried in St. Thomas's churchyard  at Northlew


Good people, all I pray give ear

To these few lines I write. 

'Tis of a horrid deed was done

Happened on Monday Night.

The nineteenth of March as you shall hear

Eighteen hundred and twenty seven,

In Ashbury Parish on Wadland Down

There this fatal blow was given.

It's of a little boy we find

About thirteen years of age

And a young woman, Aunt to him,

Both left this worldly stage.

'Twas by a cruel murderer's hand

The blood of both was spilt

Who now before the Judge must stand

To answer for his guilt.

Before the murder he had done

He was of good report,

He seldom to the alehouse went

And gambling did resent.

He was in his temper meek

And lived a mosdest life

Before the passions of his love

Broke out in endless stgrife.

He loved a female to that degree

And he had no return

So, in his breast the fire of lust

At last began to burn.

Only by love at first it was

The awful work begun

But when he found 'twas all in vain

He then the murder done.

On this young woman, Sarah Glass

About twenty eight years old.

She lived a very pious life

As I have often been told.

In health and strength from home she went

And thought so to return

But in their road death laid a snare

And in it they did spurn.

After this murder he had done

Back to a furze break he went,

And there he lay two nights and days

With sorrows to lament.

The third day went he into a linhay

And in the loft he lay

And then he saw, as you may known

The corpses carried away.

And so on and so on for many more verses of this ilk.

The murderer turned out to be a servant of Sarah's family, a local man called Thomas Friend. Sarah and Edward Glass had arranged to meet up with their mother as she returned across the moors from a visit to friends. The story goes that Thomas  (considered by the Glass family as a lowly labourer, and  far beneath Sarah's notice) followed the sister and her brother and at some point on the journey declared his love to her and showed her evidence of  the savings he had amassed in an effort to convince her that he was a suitable suitor.  She rejected him outright and in a crime of passion, he killed both the woman and the boy. He was caught, taken to Exeter, tried and ultimately hanged for their murder.




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