Suspicious man was murderer

The junction of Southwick Hill Road and London Road, Cosham, with a tram passing over the  bridge. Not a traffic light to be seen. Picture: GA Tucker

NOSTALGIA: Cyclist v tram in 1930s Portsmouth hill climb

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On this day in 1820 two men were sent by a magistrate to the Red Lion pub to investigate a report from a woman who had become suspicious of a man she had been sleeping with.

The two men sent on the mission were the town jailer, Mr Hunt, and the turnkey.

When they approached the man in the pub he immediately drew a loaded pistol from his waistcoat pocket.

Mr Hunt sprang at him and managed to grab the gun causing the flint to fall out, but the man pulled another pistol and tried to shoot the turnkey. The gun misfired.

Mr Hughes, the landlord, joined in and seized the suspect from behind while Mr Hunt hit him several times with his staff. He was handcuffed and taken to jail for questioning.

It emerged that the man, John Nesbitt, had confessed to the woman that he had committed murder. He was staying in Portsmouth en route to France.

Among Nesbitt’s possessions was a quantity of burnt money, silver cutlery and a watch engraved with the initials TP.

Several weeks earlier Thomas Parker and his housekeeper, Sarah Brown, had been murdered in Woolwich and his house set alight to conceal the crime.

Nesbitt was tried, found guilty and publicly executed – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days