The Murder Of Mr Bourden

In its edition of Friday the 1st of October 1841, The Athlone Sentinel published the following report of a murder that had occurred at a pub near the Tower of London a few days before.-


On Tuesday night, at about 10 minutes past 10 o’clock, a horrible murder was committed at the King’s Head public house, Eastcheap, London, on the person of Mr. Bourden, the landlord of the above house, as well as an attempt made on the life of two other persons, the sister of Mr. Bourden and his wife.


The particulars of the case, so far as could be learned are as follows:-

At about three o’clock on Tuesday morning, a person of the name of Blaskesley accosted Sergeant Braley, 503, of the City of London Police, and inquired how he could obtain possession of his wife, whom, so he stated, was staying at the above house, but after being advised to call in the afternoon he went away.


At about ten o’clock on Tuesday night (Blakesley) went to the King’s Head with every appearance of extreme agitation, and, being at the bar where the deceased was sitting on a chair dozing, and his (Blakesley’s) wife attending to the customers, he drew from his pocket a butcher’s knife, amt made a desperate thrust at his wife, wounding her in a dreadful manner.

Her screams awoke Mr. Bourden, who while in the act of rising from his seat was stabbed the stomach by Blakeslev, the knife penetrating to the handle.


He fell at the bar door, and Blakesley, after making an attempt to strike Mrs. Bourden, escaped.

Mr. Smith, of Gracechurch Street, was sent for, and he lost no time in attending, but ere he arrived Mr. Bourden had expired.

His attention was then directed to the unfortunate woman, who it is stated, is mortally wounded.


Blakesley is stated to be a rather fine-looking man. He is about five feet ten inches in height, round face, dark hair, large whiskers, and he is about thirty-five years of age.


Robert Blakesley was apprehended a few weeks later, and, having been charged with the murder of James Bourden, he appeared at the Old Bailey on Thursday the 4th of November 1841.

He was found guilty, and was sentenced to death.


He was executed at Newgate Prison on Monday the 15th of November 1841.

The Weekly Chronicle published the following report of his execution in its edition of Saturday the 20th of November 1841:-

“His step in proceeding to the scaffold was perfectly firm; indeed, there never was even the slightest tremor visible in his frame.

A storm of hooting and yelling saluted his appearance on the scaffold, but he seemed perfectly unmoved, and took his station on the drop with the most perfect coolness.

The rope was adjusted, the cap drawn over his face, and in a moment afterwards the drop fell, amid the shrieks of the females who were near the scaffold; and, after a few convulsive motions of the body, the murderer ceased to live.

A photograph showing the exterior of Newgate Prison.
The Exterior of Newgate Prison


At nine o’clock the body was cut down and placed upon a stretcher, and carried back cold and inanimate to the cell from whence, but a short hour before, the living body had departed.

It was placed upon a slab, and the cap was removed from the face, and the coat and waistcoat from the body of the dead man.


The face presented a placid and composed appearance, and no one would for a moment have imagined, from the expression of the countenance, that the body had met a violent death.

There was not the least discolouration, no effusion of blood, and the only trace of the mode of death left was a slight mark round the neck caused by the rope.

The hair having been shaved off the head, a cast of it was immediately taken in plaster of Paris, and the body was then placed in a shell, and, in accordance with the sentence, it was subsequently interred in that portion of the gaol allotted for the reception of murderers, and the remains of Robert Blakesley now lie mouldering by the side of those of Courvoisier, Greenacre, and of the other persons executed for murder within the last few years.