Author :

Title : Images of the murderer James Rush, probably from 1849, unknown source.

Keywords: Rush. Craniometry. Physiognomy. Murder

Pages : Introduction | page 1


The notorious murderer James Blomfield Rush, a tenant farmer, was hanged in Norwich Castle on 21 April 1849. With his accomplice Emily Sandford, he attempted unsuccessfully to defraud Isaac Jermy, his mortgage holder, also a County Magistrate, the Recorder of Norwich, and Director of the Norwich Union Insurance Office. Jermy foreclosed on Rush, who then went to Jermy’s home, Stanfield Hall, and shot dead Jermy and his son. The judge sentenced Rush to death, and hoped his ignominious execution would serve as an effective antidote to the tendency to romanticise criminal behaviour. Rush’s trial was reported and followed widely, the callousness and careful planning of the murders causing much excitement. However, his hanging became the focus for criticism of the degrading spectacle of public executions (e.g. in the Observer). Punch (28 April 1849) responded robustly to such criticism. Several pamphlets were published on the Rush murders, including: An Introductory Narrative and Revised Report of the Trial and Execution of J. B. Rush, for the Murder of Isaac Jermy, of Stanfield Hall, Esq. … and of his son Isaac Jermy Jermy, Esq. (1849); A. D. Bayne, The Stanfield Tragedy: A Complete Narrative (1849); and Correct Life of Rush. The Romance of Crime as exemplified in the extraordinary career; systematic villainies; and awful atrocities of the Monster Criminal James Blomfield Rush (1849). Porcelain figures of Rush and Sandford were made, and can be found today in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

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