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Richard HEMMING

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   


The Oddingley Murders
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Hired by local farmers
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 24, 1806
Date of birth: ???
Victim profile: Reverend George Parker
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Oddingley, Worcestershire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Beaten to death the same day by those who had contracted
 
 

 
 

The story of Richard Hemming is one that spans over 25 years and proves that it is never too late to solve a murder. In 1806 it was one of the duties of the rector of Oddingley in Worcestershire to collect the village tithes or taxes. Any collector of taxes is going to be unpopular but in the case of Reverend Parker he seemed to take such pleasure in his job that he was hated by the villagers.

On 24 June 1806 a shot was heard in the rectory garden. Villagers ran into the garden and found the rector lying dead on the ground. One of the villagers chased after the killer who was disappearing into the distance. Without warning the man stopped and turning around fired at his pursuer. Not wishing to be killed himself the man gave up the chase but not before he had managed to identify the killer. He recognised the man as Richard Hemming, a wheelwright and carpenter from nearby Droitwich.

Although a reward of fifty guineas was offered for the capture of Hemming no one seemed willing to claim the reward, and the crime remained unsolved.

Twenty-five years passed and without the rector to bleed them dry the village prospered. For one of them having more money than he needed was not a blessing. He would drink and gamble it away in the local inn. So used to this sort of life that he began to spend more than he actually had. Before he realised what he had done Thomas Clewes found he had to sell his farm.

The new owner was having some alterations carried out when a skeleton was discovered under a barn floor. Even after 25 years it was possible for Mrs Hemming to make the trip from Droitwich to identify the remains of her husband.

Thomas Clewes was arrested and soon confessed to what had happened. It seemed that Hemming had been hired by six local farmers to remove the hated Reverend Parker. This he had done and had been paid. He had then decided that perhaps he could blackmail them into paying him more. This was when they had decided to kill him. Out of the original six only three were still alive and they were influential members of the village. It was thought best to let the matter drop.

Real-Crime.co.uk
 


Richard Hemming

Today the peaceful green fields surrounding the little church of Oddingley - about five miles northeast of Worcester - present a picture of tranquillity oddly at variance with the dreadful crime committed there last century.

On Midsummer Day, 1806, whilst walking in those same fields, Oddingley's rector, Rev George Parker, was first shot and then bludgeoned to death in broad daylight.

The rector was a pleasant man, well-known for his generosity to the poor but perhaps a little too astute in business affairs for the liking of some of his parishioners. At any rate a fierce quarrel over tithes had broken out between Rev Parker and some local farmers led by Captain Evans from nearby Church Farm, a well-known magistrate in the area. The angry old captain was heard to declare furiously that Parson Parker was a very bad man and that 'there is no more harm in shooting him than a mad dog'.

It was not Captain Evans, however, who murdered the rector but a Droitwich carpenter, Richard Hemming who, immediately after the shot was seen running away across the fields towards Trench Woods. He was seen both to enter and to emerge from the woods after which he completely disappeared.

It was 24 years before Hemming's fate was known. In January 1830, during the demolition of a barn at Netherwood Farm, Oddingley, a shallow grave was found containing a skeleton with a fractured skull. Hemming's wife, who had since remarried, identified him by his clothes and a carpenter's rule found with the body. A further inquest was opened at the Talbot Inn in The Tything, Worcester.

The story was again told of the dispute between the unfortunate rector and Captain Evans and his friends. The inquest was adjourned and the former occupant of Netherwood Farm, Thomas Crewes was taken into custody and held on suspicion of Hemming's murder.

Crewes made a statement disclaiming all responsibility for the murder but implicating Captain Evans and a man named Taylor who were both now dead.

The trial created enormous interest throughout the county. Crowds jostled for admission to the Guildhall where the case was being heard by Mr. Justice Littledale. After 13 hours the jury returned a verdict that Crewes was guilty as accessory after the fact. As he had not been charged with that offence the judge declined to accept the verdict. The jury then found Crewes not guilty.

When the news of the acquittal reached Oddingley the church bells were rung in celebration - much to the displeasure of the rector!

Worcesteruk.co.uk

 


The Oddingley Murders

Continuing towards Worcester on the A38 some 3 miles from Droitwich the village of Oddingley and the hamlet of Dunhamstead are signposted near the public house Cop Cut Elm at Martin Hussingtree and by following this road Oddingley can be reached.

There is very little of the village, just a few scattered houses and the church of St. James, however, this small community was very much in the news in 1806 when the peace was shattered by the murder of the Rector, the Reverend G. Parker, known as a hard and an uncompromising man he was a stickler for rules and extracted every morsel when collecting tithes.

His murderer was a Richard Hemming a carpenter of Droitwich who was hired by three local farmers, Clewes, Banks and Barnett and a farrier named James Taylor  to do the deed.

The rector was shot whilst he was driving a herd of cows down a lane, Hemming had hidden in the hedgerow and fired the fatal shot from that position, he immediately fled the scene and was never seen alive again, an extensive search was made and it was assumed that he had escaped from the country.

In 1830 during the building of a barn  at  Netherwood  farm, human remains were found and were identified as being those of Richard Hemming. The identification was made by finding a carpenters rule in the mans pocket and it transpired that on the night of the murder Hemming was enticed out of his hiding place in the barn by the promise of food by his employers for the deed done, whereupon Clewes, Banks, Barnett and Taylor set on him clubbing him to death.

This was done in order that he could not implicate them in the murder of the Rector. Following the discovery of the body an inquest was held at the Talbot Inn, Barbourne Worcester. By this time Taylor himself had died and the others could not be charged because the principal was dead so they were found to be not guilty. Upon their return to the village the church bells were rung and there was much rejoicing.

On the border of  Oddingley is the hamlet of Dunhamstead, it was at the local pub The Fir Tree Inn  that Thomas Clewes became landlord and hence the reason for the naming of the bar The Murderers Bar. In here is a display of prints and newspaper cuttings that describe the events of the time. The pub has a restaurant and also serve food.

Cotswolds.info

 

 

 
 
 
 
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