A cruell murther committed lately upon the body of Abraham Gearsy


A cruell murther committed lately upon the body of Abraham Gearsy


who liv'd in the Parish of Westmill, in the County of Harford; by one Robert Reeve, and Richard Reeve, both of the same Parish: for which fact Robert was prest to death, on Munday the 16. of March, and the Tuesday following Richard was hang'd; and after both of them were hang'd up in chaines, where now they doe remaine, to the affrightment of all beholders. 1635. To the tune of Fortune my Foe.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Reproduction of the original in the British Library , STC / 5418, Wing / 2123:488-489. EEBO record (institutional login required). 

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I pray give eare unto my tale of woe,
Which Ile declare that all may plainly knowe.
Neare Harford lately was a murder done,
O twas a cruell one, as ever was knowne.

The good with evil herein was repaide,
Him that did good the evil hath betraid,
The world is lately growne to such a passe,
That one may feare another in this case.

This money is the cause of manies death,
As twas the cause that one late lost his breath,
The devill and the money workes together,
As by my subiect you may well consider.

With teares of woe I am inforst to write,
That which may cause a tender heart to sigh,
And sighing say, this was a wofull case,
That men should be so much voide of all grace.

Two brethren were there that did doe the same,
The first calld Robert Reeve, the others name
Was Richard Reeve, these did a horrid déed,
As in my following verses shall proceede.

Behold these lines, you that have any care,
And from bloodshedding alwayes doe forbeare;
Though murder be committed secretlye,
Yet for revenge to God it loud doth crye.

And that sinne goes not long unpunished,
Therefore let all men of this sinne take héede:
Many are daily for such crimes accused,
And yet alas too commonly tis used.

One of these brothers was in debt I heare,
Vnto that man, which was his neighbour néere,
But hée repaid him with a envious mind,
As in the story you shall plainly find.

Abraham Gearsie was his name, that was kild,
By those two brothers, as the Devill wild:
He on a day demanded mony due,
I pray give eare and marke what doth insue.

They wish'd him to come home for to be paid,
But for his life it s[ee]mes they wast had laid:
For one day twas his chance for to come there,
Not dreading that his death had bin so néere.

Now these two brothers kild him instantly,
No neighbour was there that did heare him cry:
And being dead floung him in a sawpit,
And coverd him with such as they could get.

Now having hid this murder in that kind,
Great search was made, but none this man could find
His friends lamented for him very sore.
And made inquiris all the country ore.

The second part, To the same tune.

SIx wéekes it was ere it was plainly knowne,
And many were examin'd herevpon:
But these two brothers much suspected were,
And at the last the truth it did appeare.

Some murmured and sayd that they did owe
Him mony, and desired for to know
Whether they had giuen him satisfaction,
Who said, they had, and they did owe him none.

About this mony all did come to light,
Now being put for to approue this right
They could in no wise iustifie the same.
When they to true examination came.

Now they were asked for a quittans made,
But they had none, then others present said,
Where is your bond or witnes of the same?
This must be prou'd, or you will suffer blame.

They being taxed on this wise confest,
How they in bloody murder had transgrest:
Then were they sent to Harford gaile with spéed,
Where they did answere, for this wicked déed.

This lent on sises last their fact was tri'd,
Where they were cast, condemnd and for it di'd,
Robert was prest to death because that hée
Would not bée tride by God and the country.

Richard was hangd by his owne Fathers dore,
Which did torment and grieue his friends full sore,
Now hée and's brother both do hang in chains,
This is a iust reward for murders gaines.

I would intreat all men sor to beware,
Of chue this crying sinne and still for beare,
Good Lord, me thinkes it is a cruell thing,
Of all sins else this may each conscience sting.

This being done, what is hée can forbeare,
With troubled conscience to shed many a feare?
'Tis fearefull sure for to be thought upon,
Although that it be ners so secret done.

Our God is love, and he doth charg us all,
To love each other, but we often fall
From love and unity, to envious evill,
Thus leave we God, and runne unto the Devill.

This may be warning for all other men,
That doe but heare of those vile bretheren:
And more consider 'tis a fearefull sight
To see them hang'd, it would our hearts afright·

Yet some there are that will not frighted be
At all, the warnings that they dayly sée:
Too many doe estéeme such things as nought,
Or else there would not be such murther wrought.

Thus to conclude, pray lets to God for grace,
And alwaies have his feare before our face:
Fly bloody murther, and such horrid sinnes,
Then God will kéep you from such shamefull ends.


R. C.

Composer of Ballad

Richard Crimsal

Method of Punishment

hanging in chains, pressing, hanging





Execution Location

Westmill, Harford

Printing Location

Printed at London : for John Wyright Junior, dwelling at the upper end of the Old Baily,




“A cruell murther committed lately upon the body of Abraham Gearsy,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/842.

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