Executed in the Market-Place of Windsor, 7th of March, 1764, for Murder
THIS hardened villain was nearly sixty years of age when he committed, with aggravated cruelty, the foul crime for which he most justly underwent the sentence of the law.
Two maiden ladies of fortune, of the name of Hammersley, resided near Windsor. On the night of the 4th of February some ruffians broke into their house with such caution that they took the ladies' pockets from under their pillows while the owners were asleep. A maid-servant, who it was supposed had been alarmed, was murdered by them before they quitted the house.
The struggles of the poor woman awoke the ladies. They called, but getting no answer they got up, and procured a light, and, to their horror, found the dead body of their faithful servant, with a handkerchief crammed into her mouth, a cord tightly twisted round her neck, and her head forced between her legs, and tied to the foot of the bedstead.
A reward of fifty pounds being offered for the apprehension and conviction of the murderer, Thomas Watkins, by trade a gardener, was taken up on suspicion, and committed to Reading Jail.
His trial occupied eight hours, during which the hardened wretch behaved with great resolution, asked the witness many questions, and asserted his innocence in the strongest terms. Though no absolute proof could be adduced of his having committed the murder, a great number of concurring circumstances rendered his guilt clear to the jury, who, with little deliberation, found him guilty, and he received sentence of death.
He was carried in a post-chaise from Reading to Windsor, where the murder was committed, accompanied by the executioner, the under-sheriff and his javelin-men. His body was afterwards hung in chains.