William Elby

Perp: William Elby

Crime: Murder

The Victim : Barry, Esq. of Fulham's gardener

Weapon of Choice : Knife

Motive: Robbery

Date: 1704

Punishment : Executed and then hung in chains

Location: Fulham

The Story

THIS young man was born in the year 1667, at Deptford, in Kent, and served his time with a blockmaker at Rotherhithe, during which he became acquainted with some women of ill repute. After the term of his apprenticeship had expired, he kept company with young fellows of such bad character, that he found it necessary to enter on board a ship to prevent worse consequences. Having returned from sea, he enlisted as a soldier ; but while in this situation he committed many small thefts, in order to support the women with whom he was connected. At length he deserted from the army, assumed a new name, and prevailed on some, of his companions to engage in housebreaking.

Detection soon terminated his career, and in September 1704, he was indicted for robbing the house of -- Barry, Esq. of Fulham, and murdering his gardener. Elby, it seems, having determined on robbing the house, arrived at Fulham soon after midnight, and had wrenched open one of the windows, at which he was getting in, when the gardener, awaking, came down to prevent the intended robbery with a light in his hand. Elby, terrified lest he should be known, seized a knife and stabbed him to the heart, and the poor man immediately fell dead at his feet. This done, he broke open a chest of drawers, and stole about two hundred and fifty pounds, with which he repaired to his associates in London.

The murder soon became the subject of very general conversation, and Elby being at a public-house in the Strand, it was mentioned, and he became so alarmed on seeing one of the company rise and quit the house, that he suddenly ran away, without paying his reckoning. The landlord was enraged at his being cheated ; and learning his address from one of his companions, he caused him to be apprehended, and he was eventually committed for trial on suspicion of being concerned in the robbery and murder.

On his trial he steadily denied the perpetration of the crimes with which he was charged ; and his conviction would have been very doubtful, had not a woman with whom he cohabited become an evidence, and sworn that he came from Fulham with the money the morning after the commission of the fact. Some other persons also deposed that they saw him come out of Mr. Barry's house on the morning the murder was committed ; and he was found guilty, and having received sentence of death, was executed at Fulham, on the 13th September, 1704, and was hung in chains near the same place.