THE BIG RED BOOK 17

WILLIAM TAPSON OF LAUNCESTON, CARPENTER & INNKEEPER [1779-1854]

One event in William’s life has been recorded by Alfred F. Robbins on page 309 of his book Launceston Past and Present published in 1888. Discussing crime in Launceston during the early part of the century, the author cites the following case:

 

A still more striking instance of the ease with which those guilty of murder escaped the gallows, while a multitude of lesser offenders were hurried into eternity, was afforded in 1814.

An execution for rent had been “put in” at Higher Bamham, and the Sheriff’s officers went on a Saturday to levy distress. They found the door to be locked, and, having waited until the next day and still gained no admittance, they called upon the borough constables (then chosen annually from among the inhabitants) to assist them to break open the door. The constables (Samuel Jory, a Broad Street tradesman, Joshua Farthing, a sergeant of militia, and William Tapson, keeper of the Plymouth Dock, now the Devonport, Inn) went to Bamham on the Sunday accordingly, and were preparing to force an entrance, the farmer and his two sons being within, when Jory was shot dead through the doorway. Nothing daunted, the remaining constables made their way in and arrested the three, who were committed to the assizes at Bodmin charged with the murder.

BODMIN JAIL

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