Edward Bird

At Eton : 1707

Other Old Etonians

Known for: On the 10th January 1719, Edward Bird was indicted at the Old Bailey for the murder of Samuel Loxton. Bird was a Lieutenant in the cavalry, and on the 25th September 1718 had gone to a bagnio [part bathhouse, part brothel] in London with a woman of ill repute. Loxton was a waiter there, and at 2am, Bird demanded that a bath be drawn for him. Enraged at the time that it took for the bath to be ready, Bird stabbed Loxton with his sword, killing him. Bird was sentenced to death by hanging at Tyburn. He appealed, claiming self-defence, and his sentence was reduced to transportation. However, Loxton’s widow appealed to the King and the original sentence was again passed. Bird spent the remainder of his time in prison writing and eventually publishing a pamphlet on why he was not guilty, titled Mr. Bird’s Case. The nature and circumstances of this prosecution, will appear from the malice as well as character, of my prosecutors (1719). The prison chaplain was unimpressed at this apparent concern with worldly matters when he should have been confessing his sins and preparing his soul for the afterlife.

Despite his continued protests, on Monday 23rd February 1719, Bird was taken to Tyburn and there hanged, having attempted to commit suicide while in prison in Newgate. The chaplain recorded that he “call’d for a Glass of Wine; but being told it could not be got there for him, he desir’d a Pinch of Snuff; and taking it, he bow’d to the Gentlemen near the Cart, and said Gentlemen, I wish your Health. After this he was ty’d up turn’d off, and bled very much at the Mouth or Nose, or both.” He was buried at the church of St Mary Magdalen in Reigate, Sussex, and a monument, now lost, erected to him, popularly believed to show him with a noose around his neck.

School days: At Eton 1707. Although the manuscript list gives the surname only, the reports from his trial describe him as having been at Eton.

Archives: SCH P 01 02, manuscript list of the school

Related material: Etoniana, no. 26, 22 September 1920, pp. 409-410, available to view at http://archives.etoncollege.com. The records of the trial can be viewed online at https://www.oldbaileyonline.org