A murder almost at the seat of government occurred on October 20th, 1856, when a robber bludgeoned to death Robert Cope, manager of a jeweller’s and “curiosity” shop in Parliament Street, London.

A passer-by was alerted when he heard moaning from inside the shop A group of men gathered on the pavement told him dismissively: “Don’t worry. It’s just a couple in there quarrelling with each other.”

Not satisfied, the passer-by went into the shop and found Robert Marley, 39, beating Mr. Cope over the head with a 14-inch long life preserver. He rushed outside shouting for help, only to find that the group of men had vanished.

Marley ran from the shop but was caught by other passers-by and was charged with assault and robbery. A fortnight later Mr Cope died from his injuries and Marley was tried at the Old Bailey for his murder.

The court was told that the murder weapon was found alongside George Canning’s statue in Parliament Square. Marley had been transported in 1853 for burglary, and had only recently returned to London.

The accused agreed that he had struck Mr. Cope during the course of the robbery, but claimed that his victim actually died of lung disease. The jury didn’t accept that, and he was hanged on Monday, December 15th, 1856, outside Newgate Prison, before “an unusually large concourse of persons.”

No one ever discovered the identities of the men on the pavement for, expecting to be executed, Marley refused to name any of his accomplices. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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