© Wonersh History Society - www.wonershhistory.co.uk   (WHS)
THE JUDGE & THE HIGHWAYMAN In   1710   William   Chapple    married   Trehane   Clifton,    daughter   of   Susanna   Clifton    of   Wonersh   Park.      They   had four   sons   and   two   daughters,   one   of   whom,   Grace,    married   Sir   Fletcher   Norton    (later   1st   Baron   Grantley   of Markenfield).      A   well   respected   judge,   William   Chapple   was   knighted   in   1729   and   when   he   died   in   1745   he   was buried in a tomb of black and white marble in Wonersh Church. What   is   really   interesting   however   is   that   Sir   William   Chapple   presided   at   the   trial   in   York   of   John   Palmer   on charges   of   horse-stealing   and   highway   robbery.      That   really   is   a   story   worth   telling   because   John   Palmer   was an alias - his real name was Dick Turpin. From Butcher to Highwayman Richard   (Dick)   Turpin   was   born   in   1705   in   Hempstead   near   Saffron   Walden   in   Essex.      It   has   to   be   said   he   was   not   the   handsome,   suave, gentleman   of   the   road   as   is   popularly   believed.      In   the   London   Gazette,   Turpin   was   described   as   " …   a   tall   fresh   coloured   man,   very   much marked   with   the   small   pox,   about   26   years   of   age,   about   five   feet   nine   inches   high,   lived   some   time   ago   in   Whitechapel   and   did   lately   lodge somewhere about Millbank, Westminster, wears a blue grey coat and a natural wig. As   a   butcher,   Turpin   provided   the   ideal   outlet   for   the   Essex   Gang,   a   gang   of   deer   thieves,   who   he   later   joined   when   they   progressed   to house-breaking.      By   early   1735   the   majority   of   the   gang   had   been   caught   and   hanged   and   Turpin   turned   to   highway   robbery   in   Epping Forest.      A   fatal   shooting   in   Whitechapel   of   his   accomplice,   Matthew   King,   (possibly   by   Turpin,   possibly   not!)   saw   him   escape   to   Epping Forest.      Here   he   was   spotted   by   Thomas   Morris,   the   servant   of   one   of   the   Forest   Keepers,   who   Turpin   killed   when   he   attempted   to   capture him. The Journey North It   was   around   June   1737   that   Turpin   travelled   North   and   boarded   at   the   Ferry   Inn   in   Brough   where   he   used   the   name   of   John   Palmer   and posed   as   a   horse   trader.      Events   went   dramatically   downhill   when   in   1738   he   shot   a   man’s   game   cock,   threatened   to   shoot   a   man   who rebuked   him   and   refused   to   pay   a   bond   which   would   have   avoided   his   being   committed   to   the   House   of   Correction   at   Beverley.      While   he was   there,   further   enquiries   by   the   Justices   caused   them   to   believe   that   the   case   had   now   become   more   serious   and   that   Turpin   should appear at York Assizes.  Again, Turpin refused to pay a bond and so was transferred to York Castle in handcuffs. Turpin’s   fatal   mistake   was   to   write   from   York   Castle   to   his   brother-in-law   who   refused   to   pay   the   delivery   charge   when   he   saw   the   York postmark.      The   letter   was   sent   to   the   Post   Office   where   his   old   teacher   James   Smith   recognised   the   handwriting   and   travelled   to   York   to identify John Palmer as Dick Turpin. On   22   March   1739,   Sir   William   Chapple   presided   over   Turpin’s   trial,   a   trial   at   which   Turpin   had   no   right   to legal   representation,   his   interests   being   the   responsibility   of   the   judge.      Despite   his   claims   throughtout the   trial   that   he   had   not   been   given   enough   time   to   prepare   his   defence   and   call   witnesses,   the   jury returned   their   guilty   verdict   without   leaving   the   courtroom   and   Sir   William   Chapple   sentenced   Turpin   to death by hanging. On   7   April   1739,   Turpin,   followed   by   his   mourners   (he   had   hired   five   for   three   pounds   and   ten   shillings) was   taken   to   the   gallows   where   according   to   ‘The   Gentleman’s   Magazine’,   he   behaved   in   an   undaunted manner;   as   he   mounted   the   ladder,   feeling   his   right   leg   tremble,   he   spoke   a   few   words   to   the   topsman,   then threw himself off, and expir'd in five minutes. " Just   to   add   insult   to   injury,   Turpin’s   body   was   reportedly   stolen   by   body   snatchers,   recovered   and   then reburied. According   to   the   Surrey   Advertiser,   in   1912   the   Grantley   Arms   was   used   as   a   location   for   the   filming   of   a Dick Turpin silent movie.  Sadly, the hero couldn’t ride and a dummy horse had to be used!