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A PERFECT AND IMPARTIAL DISCOVERY OF TIIAT LATE BARBAROUS
AND UNPARALLELED MURDER COMMITTED BY
MR. GEORGE STRANGEWAYS,
FORMERLY A MAJOR IN THE KING'S ARMY,
ON HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW,
MR. JOHN FUSSEL, AN ATTORNEY,
ON FRIDAY, THE ELEVENTH OF FEBRUARY.
Together with a full Discovery of the fatal Cause of those unhappy Differences
which first occasioned the Suits in Law betwixt them. Also the Behaviour of Mr. STRANGEWAYS at his Tryal--the dreadful Sentence pronounced against him-bis Letter to his Brother-in-Law, a Member of Parliament- the Words by him delivered at his Death; and his stout, but christian-like Manner of dying. Published by a faithful Hand.
Strangulat inclusus dolor, atque cor æstuat intus. Ov. TRIST, I. v. London: Printed by T. N. for R. Clavell, at the Stag's Head, in St. Paul's
Church-yard, by St. Gregory's Church. 1659. Quarto, containing thirty-two Pages.
SINCE* the various relations of this sad and horrid act, even
in the city where it was committed, are so many, that the illegitimate births of those corrupted parents must of necessity fill more distant places with so spurious an issue, that when it comes to be nursed with those usual adjuncts, which either envy or love will extort from most relators, it may possibly grow to so mon. strous a form, that all the vestigia of verity must of necessity be lost in its variety of disguise; wherefore it was thought fit by one that is not only a lover of truth, but an honourer of both the parties deceased, before a farther travel hath warmed her with impridence, to unveil report in so clear and impartial a discovery, as may neither deform the truth, nor disgust their relations.
Mr. George Strangeways, commonly known in the country, where he chiefly resided, by the name of Major Strangeways, an
* This is the 57th in the catalogue of the Harleian Pamphlets ; and published at the request of one who signed the recommendation with E. F. YOL, VII.
office which he had, with much honour and gallantry, performed in the unhappy war*, was second son to Mr. James Strangeways, of Mussen, in the county of Dorset: a gentleman of an antient and unblemished family, whose virtues this unhappy son of his, till sullied by this rash act of ungoverned fury, did rather seem to illustrate by a constant course of worthy and manly actions, than any ways to degenerate from the best atchievements of his most successful predecessors. He was now about the five or six-andfortieth
year of his age: a person that had a brave and generous soul, included in a stout and active body. He was of stature tall, and framed to the most masculine proportion of man; his constitution, such as rather fitted him for the active employments of busy war, than the more quiet affairs of peace-affecting studies; yet was he not so much a stranger to those arts, which are the adorning qualifications of a gentleman, but that he had sacrificed to Minerva, whilst in the Temple of Mars; and, in the most serious consultations, had always a judgment as dexterous to advise, as a heart daring to act. What he appeared most unskilled in, was love's polemicks, he having spun out the thread of his life without twisting it in matrimony.
He was in some trivial actions, performed since the time of his imprisonment, condemned for a parsimonious sparing, too low for the quality of a gentleman ; which, if true, I much wonder that he, whose former frugality was but the child of discretion, being now so near a supersedeas from all the afflicting wants mortality trem. bles at, and having none of his relations, whose necessities craved a subsistence from what he left behind, should, near his death, save that with dishonour, which in his life he spent with reputation.
But to detain thee no longer with the character either of his person or qualities, which probably some of his many enemies may unjustly censure for partiality ; I will hasten to as full a relation, both of the original ground of their unhappy difference, and the fatal conclusion of his implacable wrath, as it hath been possible by the most diligent inquisition to obtain, both from the nearest in acquaintance to both parties, and such ocular informations as were 'observable in much of the time from his sentence to his execution.
The father of Mr. Strangeways, dying about some ten years since, left him in possession of the farm of Mussen, leaving his eldest daughter, Mrs. Mabel Strangeways, since wife to Mr. Fussel, his executrix.
The estate being thus left, Mrs. Mabel, being then an ancient maid, rents the farm of her brother George, and stocks it at her own cost; towards the procuring of which stock, she engaged herself, in a bond of three hundred and fifty pounds, to her bro. ther George, who, presuming on her continuance of a single life, and, by consequence, that her personal estate might, in time, re. turn to her then nearest relations (of which himself had a just reason to expect, if not the whole, the greatest share), 'he not only entrusted her with the fore-mentioned bond, but likewise with that
* Between the king and parliamenl, in 1648.
part of the stock, and such utensils of the house, as, by his father's will, properly belonged to himself; which, he presumed, she could better secure, passing under the notion of her's, than he, whose whole estate was liable to the dangerous hazard of sequestration*; a disaster so epidemical, as many thousands, besides himself, by sad experience know, that honesty, the common preservative against other calamities, was the principal means that made them obnoxious to this.
His estate being, as he then conceived, thus in a fair probability of preservation from those vultures of a commonwealth, sequestrators, by the calm neutrality of a discreet sister, they, for some time, lived very happily together, he making the farm of Mussen the common place of his residence: but, on a sudden, the scene alters, and she, whom, he thought, age and a long-continued sin. gle life had imprisoned too fast in her virgin ice, ever to be thawed with the thoughts of a matrimonial life, began to express some resentments of affection towards Mr. Fussel, a gentleman of good esteem in the country where he lived, and of much repute for his eminent abilities in matters of law. He had formerly bore arms under the same royal standard which Major Strangeways did, in which troublesome time of action he always proved himself a very useful member of that unfortunate army, serving them faithfully, till their sad declination, with many other noble sufferers, forced him a long time to mourn both his and their calamities, in an on. couth jail. His ordinary place of residence was now in Blandford, an eminent town in Dorsetshire; in and about which place, though some, that feared his vigorous proceedings in the law, may seem • glad to have their weakness protected by the absence of so able a prosecutor, the major part, especially such as had the happiness to experiment his honesty and ability in solliciting their causes, will, with a far greater weight both of reason and religion, have a just cause to repent so considerable a loss.
But pot to dismantle too many of those unhappy differences which were the prodigious monsters that first hatched this horrid murther, it looking too much like a crime to pollute the ashes of the dead with the sins of the living, wishing all the enmity, that, like Hydra's fruitful heads, may spring up between the friends of both the deceased parties, were sepulchered in their grave; we will only insist upon what appears to be the first and most fatal argu. ment of their quarrel. Mrs. Mabel Strangeways, now no longer disguising her affections to Mr. Fussel, being then a widower, lets her resolutions discover themselves in so publick a way, that it soon, arrives to the ear of her discontented brother, who, though not apparently for any former hate between them, yet, as is most likely, doubting those abilities of Mr. Fussel, which, since in relation to the law, he, with many others, were pleased, by an easy metaphor, to term subtlety, might, it not prejudice him in part of his own estate, yet wholly deprive him of that part of bis
* By the parliament forces.
sister's, which before, hope, grounded on fair probabilities, told him he was of all men most likely to enjoy.
To prevent this approaching storm, he lets his sister know his disgust of her intended marriage; and being farther exasperated by her unmoveable constancy, as it is affirmed by the friends of Mr. Fussel, broke out into such exuberant expressions of passion, that to her terror, he affirms, if ever she married Mr. Fussel, to be the death of him, either in his study or elsewhere; which bloody reso. lution, since the time wherein those black thoughts, disveloped themselves by action, she hath under her hand confirmed, as is reported by the relations to Mr. Fussel, by several letters; but such, as since they contain little, besides this asseveration, concerning our present purpose, I shall omit the inserting of them, presuming all wives, especially good ones, need not a pattern by which to be taught to mourn such losses as these.
To trouble thee no further with a digression, whilst this pa. roxysm of his passion continues in such a dreadful vigour, he and his sister are parted; at which time, as she pretends, he unjustly detained much of the stock belonging to the farm, which either by her father's will, or her own purchase, was properly her’s; withal she denies any such thing as the sealing the fore-mentioned bond, pretending it only a forgery of her brother's.
On the other side, he complains of injuries done to him, of no less extent than the endeavouring to defraud him of a part of his estate, besides the money due by bond. These were the differences which first fomented a rage, not to be quenched but by blood; over which part unspotted justice spread her wings. Who groaned under the burthen of afflicting wrongs, or who had the greater unhappiness to be the oppressor of the innocent, since the law hath left it undetermined, I think it not only an audacious presumption, but savouring very much of partiality, and a soul biassed by a self-interested affection, than of an even and equal-tempered friend, in whoever should so peremptorily affirm the justice of one cause, as to brand the other with an ignominious scandal of forgeries and oppression. Their bodies are both at rest in their silent dormitories, their souls, no doubt, triumphing in eternal joys; and shall we, whose uncertainty of life, and certainty of sin and its conse. quence, death (which we know not in what shape the eternal Disposer of the Universe will send to assault us) with uncertain censures sully their memories, the only, and that doubtful, re. mainder of swiftly-fading mortality? No; let their fames rest as peaceable, as we know their bodies, and hope their souls do. If Thou hast been a friend to either, be not so much an enemy to thyself as to abuse the other; but let thy resentments of love or sorrow rather disvelope themselves in a sober and silent pity, than loud and clamorous censures; that being the dress, in which, I can assure thee, it will appear most lovely to the view of those, which, having to neither party any more of concern, than what pity extracted from the goodness of their natures, look upon the action with a general sorrow; upon the parties deceased, with a charitable remorse; and upon their surviving friends, with the wishes of a hearty reconciliation.
And here (though I would not have it look like flattery) he. being a person I have little acquaintance with, and one that, probably, may never know me, as author of these papers, I cannot choose but commend the calm and equal temper of Mr. John Fus. sel, eldest son to the gentleman that was slain; whom, as well by the publick report, as by my own private experience (I haring been since some time in his company), I find to behave himself with that comely discretion, that, though he did violently prosecute him, as his father's murderer, he bath not been, at any time, heard to let fall any undecent language concerning his uncle Strangeways, but such as appears to express more sorrow for the offence, than envy to the man: a temper which, by preserving, will gain, him, whilst living, the love of all, whom the common invitation, of a general pity, or the nearer call of relative respects, summons,, as mourners for either of the lamented dead.
I have now done with the introduction to this tragick and dismal story, having unravelled almost as many of those almost occult causes, by which, being first propagated, it since hath been made, horridly publick, as civility or necessity in enucleating the truth requires. For he that would see more, it is his best course to confer with their council, and look over the large impertinencies of litigious courts, than to expect them in this piece, whose small bulk, by as much of their sense, as, in an ordinary dialect, might be expressed in two lines, when stuffed with their fucagoes of tanto. logies, would be swelled beyond its intended growth: wherefore, to leave that to those it more concerns, I shall hasten to reveal how he carried on the design, siace any discovery on his confession argues, he intended to murder him. Mr. Fussel, both for the better prosecuting his owo suits against his brother Strangeways, as likewise for the following of several causes for many others (he being a man of very great employment), being in this city on Hilary term last, had his lodging one story high, at the sign of the George and Half-Moon, three doors farther, without the Bar, than the Palsgrave's-Head tavern, opposite to a pewterer's shop: He being retired to his lodgings between nine and ten, not having bien in it above a quarter of an hour before the fact was done, he sitting writing at his dusk, with his face towards the window, the cur. tain belonging to it being so near drawn, that there was only left room enough to discern him, two bullets, shot from a carbine, struck him, the one through the forehead, and the other in about his mouth; the third bullet or slug stuck in the lower part of the timber of the window, the passage, where the other two came in (since in the corner of the window), being so narrow, that little more than an inch over, or under, had saved his life, by obstruct. ing thcir passage: but,
Nemo tam dives habuit faventes,