On May 1st 1812 William Wyatt, the new landlord of the Rose and Crown in Fowey, was executed at Bodmin for robbing and murdering Isaiah Falk Valentine of Plymouth. At the scaffold a statement was read on his behalf, in which he acknowledged the justice of his punishment, ‘imploring the Almighty to have mercy on him, and all other persons’ and confessing that of late years ‘he had much deviated from the paths of virtue, particularly in following the practice of smuggling, and cautioned all persons from offending in that way against the laws of their country the practice of which had so hardened his heart, as in an evil hour, to cause him to offend his Maker’.
Mr Nettleinghame, of Polperro writing to the Cornish Magazine in 1964, suggested that Wyatt, although a smuggler, was, in fact, executed for ‘plain, ugly, sordid murder.’ He went on to write: ‘Wyatt was a Plymouth man, who went from keeping a pub in Plymouth to keeping one in Fowey. When in Plymouth he had met Isaiah Valentine, who was an agent for one Abraham Joseph, the Westcountry agent of a firm of London bankers (Goldschmid), and who had been commissioned by the Government to buy up golden guineas on account of the gold shortage’. Wyatt lured Valentine to Fowey with the promise that a gentleman of Fowey had a quantity of ‘buttons’ (gold sovereigns) for him, although, in fact, he had none. Valentine arrived with a stock of money, £260, remained for a week, then suddenly disappeared. His body was later found in the water near the quay. Wyatt was found to have murdered him by drowning, and to have taken the £260 which was later found at the back of the inn. The inn was eventually pulled down.
Research Lesley McCartney
Sources: Cyril Noall, Cornish Magazine Vol 6 No. 12 April 1964; John Keast, The Story of Fowey, (Dyllansow Truran, 1987)