The trial of Roger Benstead
The trial of Roger Benstead the elder, and Roger Benstead the younger: for the willful murder of Thomas Briggs, of Lakenheath, in Suffolk, at the Lent assizes 1792 ... before Sir William Henry Ashhurst,
The trial of both Roger Bensteads and Thomas Harper took place in 1792 at Underley Hall. Thomas Briggs had owned a cow which had been kept at Roger Benstead’s farm Thomas Briggs arrived to take his cow away and after an altercation with Roger Benstead was shot in the back. Thomas fled, mortally wounded and met Matthew Waddelow, saying that he had been shot. Thomas made his way home were he died a short while later.
Before he died he said who had shot him and Roger Benstead Snr. and his son were soon apprehended. The trial took place at Underley Hall which was later to be come a home to the Martin Family Thomas Harper had been working for the Bensteads and
was involved in the Murder, was given a pardon and testified against both Roger Bensteads. Roger Benstead Senior was convicted of the murder and he hung on the 26th March 1792. He was then placed in the gibbet on Underley Common, Lakenheath close to the farm where the murder had occurred. .
Letter requesting the pardon of Thomas Harper
At the last General Gaol Delivery for the County of Suffolk, Thomas Harper, Roger Benstead and Roger Benstead the younger were indicted for the willful Murder of Thomas Briggs, and the two Bensteads were also charged as Accessories before the Fact.
Upon Consideration of the Circumstances I thought it proper to charge the jury with the Case of Thomas Harper only, as it appeared to Me that the other Prisoners or at least
Roger Benstead the elder were likely to turn out to be the more enormous Offenders . . . . .
Thomas Harper was tried and capitally convicted I passed Sentences of Death upon Him but I thought it proper to respite him . . . He is a youth of twenty years of Age and appears
to have acted in this dreadful Business under the Commands of his master Roger Benstead the elder, and it appears there are circumstances likely to be proved which added
to the account given by Harper may be sufficient to fix the crime upon Roger Benstead the elder and the other Person or at least upon Benstead the elder . . . .
In order therefore that the most atrocious offender may not escape, if he shall appear guilty and as his guilt cannot be inquired into in the Manner it ought, without the evidence of Harper; I humbly presume to submit it to his Majesty's Wisdom whether it may not be right to pardon Harper, in order to make Him a competent Witness against the other Prisoners . . . . . The Pardon if it be thought proper to grant a Pardon, must be perfected
under the Great Seal, so as to be produced at the next Gaol Delivery for the County of Suffolk
I am Sir
You're most obedient humble Servant.
I enclose a Copy of the Indictment 27th Jany 1792, as it may be wanted.
The Waddelow Society is a non profit Family History Group, established in 1988, interested in reasearching the Waddelow/Wadlow name.
This Website replaces our old freeserve
and blueyonder websites.
Site Created August 2011
Updated: 13th April 2017
Web Author: Susan F. Waterhouse (Secretary)
You are Visitor