FRANCIS HASTINGS MEDHURST
Convicted on 13th of April, 1839, of the Manslaughter of a Schoolfellow
MR MEDHURST was a young man of highly respectable connections, and the offence of which he was found guilty was that of the manslaughter of a schoolfellow, Mr Joseph Alsop, at the Rectory House Academy, at Hayes, in Middlesex. This establishment was kept by the Rev. Mr Sturmer, a clergyman of the Established Church, and minister of the parish of Hayes.
Mr Alsop and Medhurst were his pupils, the latter being about twenty-two and the former twenty-one years of age. On Saturday, the 9th of March, 1839, Mr Sturmer was in his study with Mr Alsop, and a pupil named Bunney, when Medhurst entered the apartment and complained to Mr Sturmer that Dalison, another pupil, whom he designated as "a blackguard," had broken the glass of his watch. Mr Alsop, who had been the constant companion of Mr Dalison, indignant at the language applied to his friend, and perhaps irritated at former bickerings with Medhurst, exclaimed: "You are a liar and a blackguard for saying so!" and thereupon Medhurst, who carried a stick in his hand, immediately struck him several severe blows over the head and arms. A scuffle ensued, in the course of which Alsop wrested the stick from his opponent, and they had separated to a distance of five or six feet when, just as Alsop was again advancing towards Medhurst with the stick upraised as if to strike him, the latter suddenly drew a clasp-knife from his pocket, opened it, and stabbed his antagonist in the belly. Surgical assistance was obtained, but it proved to be without avail, and after lingering a few days the unfortunate young man died.
It was not, however, until Friday, the 15th of March, that Medhurst was taken into custody; and on the next day and the following Monday an inquest was held on the body of the deceased. A verdict of wilful murder was returned against Mr Medhurst, and he was conveyed to Newgate to await his trial upon that charge.
At the Central Criminal Court, on Saturday, the 13th of April, the prisoner was put to the bar to be tried upon the indictment which had been preferred against him, and he was found guilty of the minor offence of manslaughter. Upon this conviction he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in the house of correction.
Mr Medhurst was a young man of considerable expectations. It is not a little remarkable that his grandfather was also tried for murder, though he escaped the consequences of his act by proof being given of his insanity. His wife was the victim of his attack; and her death was caused by a stab which she received from the hand of her husband in a moment of passion. For this alleged murder he was tried at the York Assizes in the year 1804, but acquitted on the ground of his being insane.