Below is one chapter from the Book:-

PUBLIC EXECUTION OF REGINALD TUCKER

Extracts from the Bath Chronicle, 1775:

On the 20th. June, 1775, Mr. Reginald Tucker, of Ansford, was committed to Shepton Mallet Gaol, by Gerard Martin Esq., of Pennard, charged on the coronerís inquest with the wilful murder of his wife Martha, by fracturing her skull with a large hammer, such as used to drive nails into wheels.

The Court heard how that the inhabitants of the parish were alarmed by a report that Mrs. Tucker, wife of Reginald Tucker, had dropped down dead in a epileptic fit. Several people immediately repaired to the house, where a scene of the most shocking to human nature presented itself. One of the finest women in these parts dead on the floor, weltering in her blood, with her skull fractured so that her brains came out at the back part of her head, her face, breasts, shoulders, arms and one of her ears, bruised in a barbaric manner.

Mr. Tucker persisted in his innocence but the jury brought a verdict of wilful murder. A second jury was summoned the next day, who gave the same verdict. He was capitally convicted on 26th. July, 1775.

On Monday afternoon, on 28th.August, 1775, at about five oíclock, was executed at Keward Green near Wells, pursuant to his sentence, in the presence of nearly 10,000 spectators, Mr. Reginald Tucker of Ansford, for the inhuman murder of his wife.

His behaviour during his trial, which lasted near eleven hours, was in the highest degree astonishing to the whole Court; he never was observed to change colour, or in the least to be affected but once, which was, when the sledge hammer, with which he committed the horrid deed, and his bloody clothes, were produced in Court, when he was seen to drop a tear.

After his condemnation, he received the sacrament three times, yet to his last moments persisted in declaring his innocence, (Though he acknowledged he had been guilty of offenses that deserved death), and ascended the cart which carried him to the place of execution with the greatest alertness and seeming unconcern.

He was dressed in deep mourning, was accompanied by a clergyman, and carried a prayer book in his hand, which he read all the way from the prison to the gallows; and just before he was turned off, he threw away his cravat, opened his shirt collar, and put the halter round his neck.

A hearse in waiting conveyed his body to Langport, where it was delivered to a surgeon for dissection.

As various accounts of this unhappy convict has been circulated round the country, we present our readers with the following sketch of his life and character, which we are assured deserves credit:

"He was a native of Hewith, near Langport, and being left young without a father, his mother apprenticed him to a bellows-maker at Wells, but turning out very wild, he absconded his masterís service, enlisted in the army, and was at the Battle of Culloden, where he was wounded, and in consequence obtained a pension, and came to Ansford, where his mother lived, and kept the Ansford Inn. He there carried on his trade for some time, but being of a rakish and brutish disposition, was always engaged in riots and quarrels. In 1750 he was married to his late wife, M artha, and soon after went to London, where he followed different branches of business chiefly in the mechanical way, and obtained a premium for the invention of a ventilator. A fire happening in the neighbourhood where he lived, he was burnt out, but having insured very high, availed himself of that circumstance, and as a considerable sum of money belonging to some rich Jews who lodged at his house was also missing, he was suspected to have made free with it, as he soon became rich of a sudden, dropped his trade and retired to Ansford to live private on his fortune, where he purchased an estate of about 30 pounds a year, on which he commenced farming, but that not answering his expectations, he let his estate at a very advanced rent to a potato planter, and lived private with his wife and daughter, keeping no servant.

He was about 50 years of age, his wife 53; he had two children by her, the eldest daughter now living aged 23, the other a son born in London, whom he is said to have killed by an unlucky blow aimed at his wife, while she had the infant in her arms.

On Thursday the 8th. June, his daughter being gone to a neighbours house, his wife dined together on some stinking pork, when words arose, and he beat her in a cruel manner, and afterwards dashed her brains out with a sledge hammer, of which fact, he was convicted on the clearest evidence, and to the great satisfaction of a crowded Court, who were present to hear his trial."