Hampshire Mills Group



Macabre Tale



From research by Tony Yoward


On 30th of May 1803, a very valuable freehold estate at Farlington was for sale.   As well as the farm buildings, 700 acres of land were included and the proprietor was Mr William HAWKINS.   A year later, the following appeared in the Hampshire paper - 

28/4/1804  TEN GUINEAS REWARD.  WHOEVER will restore CHARLES HAWKINS, son of Mr. William Hawkins, late of Farlington Farm, near Havant, and an Apprentice to Mr. John Stoneham, of Portsea, Miller, to his disconsolate Parent or Master, will receive the above Reward.   He is about 15 years of age, fair complexion, has a scar in his forehead, light hair, and about 5 feet 4 inches high.   He left Mr. Stoneham ‘s Mill on Thursday evening last, about 8 o'clock, for the purpose of waiting on his Father at the Corn Market, at the Royal Oak, Queen-street, Portsea, but he did not see him, nor has any tidings whatever been able to be gained of him since, so that it is very much feared some melancholy catastrophe has happened to him.    He had on, when he left Mr. Stoneham's mill, a white round frock and trowsers. --.Tuesday morning, April 10, 1804.

10/9/1804   PORTSMOUTH, SATURDAY, Sept. 8

Wednesday  morning as some men were taking away a dung-heap at Fratton windmill, they found the body of a young man named Hawkins, who appeared to have been murdered and buried there.  About six months ago this young man, who was an apprentice at the mill, appointed to go and meet his father, who was coming from Portsmouth market; but his father staying rather longer than usual, he did not  meet  him,  but from that time this young man has been missing. 

Enquiry was made on board all the ships in the harbour and at Spithead, as it was supposed he had been impressed; the mill-pond was dragged, a hat being found something like his, but nothing could be heard of him.

Strong suspicion attached to a man who was a journeyman at the mill at the time Hawkins was missed, and who absented himself soon after.  The deceased was son to Mr. Hawkins, a respectable farmer of Havant.      (Hampshire Chronicle 10th September 1804).

10/9/1804 MURDER.—It may yet be remembered by many of our readers, that in April last, a reward was offered to any person who should give information of Charles Hawkins, who was missed by his parents on the 5th of that month.    Five months elapsed, without any circumstance occurring that should tend to explain the fate of this boy:    'tho slow, yet certain, is that record of providence; "whosoever spills man's blood, by man shall his blood be spilt."   

The circumstance attending this discovery, with all its concomitants, are evidently the direction of an "all seeing Being:"

Hawkins lived with Mr Stoneham, at his mill at Kingston, near this place, with one Edwards, who belonged to the Portsea Volunteers, and who, about a month after the lad was missing, enlisted at Wickham fair, into the 21st regt. of dragoons.

Capt. Poulden, to whose company of Volunteers he belonged, consequently sent to his lodgings for his regimentals; on his box being examined, a shirt and several articles were found, belonging to Hawkins: this may appear as the dawn of discovery.   However, on Edwards receiving his bounty at Southampton, a person of Portsea, to whom he was indebted, went to him to make his demand; and on his taking leave Edwards said, "he should never return to Kingston again, as there was some thing there which he knew of, but which no body else never should know."   So far did he exemplify, that

" With terrors equal, but not with equal guilt, The murderer dreams of all the blood he spilt."

In this concatenation of circumstances it next occurred that the labourer hired by Mr. Stoneham, in the place of Edwards, was a taller man than Edwards, and was obliged for that reason from the lowness of the headway from which he fed the pigs, to reach over, which induced him to require of his master that the shed might be made higher; this Mr. Stoneham refused to do, but desired that he would sink the ground to lower the tubs, in the digging of which, was discovered, in a horrible state of putrescence, the body of Charles Hawkins!   The Coroner (J. Grigg, Esq„) instantly summoned a jury, and after a long examination, returned a verdict of—Wilful murder against a person or ·persons unknown.   The body was in that decayed state, that it was only upon the mother's knowledge of several articles of his clothes, that It was positively known to be him.    A warrant is issued to apprehend Edwards, who has deserted from his regiment.    The deceased is the eldest son of Mr. Hawkins, a wealthy and respectable farmer in this neighbourhood, who has offered a reward of fifty guineas, to any person who will give evidence tending to identify the perpetrator of this foul murder.    The author of the inhuman deed, to favour the idea of Hawkins having drowned him self, threw his hat into the Mill-dam at Portsea, where it was found the day after he was missing.   In the ardent wish and expectation that the murderer may in part expiate his offence by the sentence of the laws

 10/9/1804  FIFTY GUINEAS REWARD. WHEREAS the BODY of CHARLES HAWKINS was found the 5th inst. buried, in a hog-pen, at Fratton, near Portsmouth, murdered by some Person or Persons, unknown.   Whoever will give Information against the Offender or Offenders shall, on conviction, receive the above Reward of Mr. William Hawkins, Father to the deceased —- East Cosham, near Portsmouth, the 7th Sept 1804.

 17/9/1804  Edwards, the man mentioned In our last as suspected of the murder of young Hawkins, was this night brought here and lodged in our jail, by Mr. Hill and Mr. Stoneham, who had followed him to Woodbridge barracks, in Suffolk, where they found him already in custody, upon information communicated by Gen. Whitelocke.   Edwards is said to state, that an unhappy scuffle took place between him and the deceased, in which the latter, by falling from the mill gallery, or scaffold, broke his neck;  that to conceal his death, he buried the corpse as before stated; that it was not Hawkins's hat which was found in the Mill-dam here, for that he threw down the privy: any comment of ours would be both improper and indecorous.

 24/9/1804  Edwards, is confined in Gosport bridewell, till his trial comes on, for the murder of C. Hawkins.

 24/9/1804   WINCHESTER THURSDAY  William Edwards was committed to the County gaol, on suspicion of murdering Charles Hawkins, at Fratton-mill, near Portsmouth.  (Hampshire Chronicle 24th September 1804).

11/3/1805   WINCHESTER LENT ASSIZES.  No bills were found against - - - William Edwards, charged with the wilful murder of Charles Hawkins.  (Hampshire Chronicle 11th March 1905)..

We do not know the result of the trial, but the moral seems to be that one should ensure one’s successor is shorter than you!

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