May 1832, in the busy town centre of Leicester, the brutal murder of John Paas took place. The killing is particularly worthy of note, not merely for the horrific circumstances which accompanied it, but the other factors surrounding the incident.
Join The Leicester Chronicle as we explore the story of the last man in England to be gibbeted, James Cook.
Mr Paas arrives in Leicester.
At forty-nine years of age, the victim, John Paas was a partner in the firm of Messrs, Pass & Co., Engravers of High Holborn, London. He was by profession a bookbinder’s tool cutter, engraver and stationer, and one of his functions was to act as a commercial copyrighted material traveller for the company, visiting clients up and down the country taking orders and collecting money for goods that had been supplied.
Having arrived in Leicester on the evening of the 29th May 1832, he checked into his accommodation at the Stag and Pheasant Inn on Haymarket Street. Mr Paas had been on the road for around four months and accumulated around £50, a large sum in those days.
There was much to interest Mr John Paas. He learned from the locals that the Leicester and Swannington Railway was opening shortly. And that Mary Linwood still plied her industrious needle at the age of 77. In return, he vouchsafed the latest news about the difficult progress of a new Bill to reform the House of Commons.
After a good nights rest and breaking his fast, Mr Paas went about his work. His first visit was to Richard Tebbutt, a bookseller. After leaving some samples with Mr Tebbutt, the commercial traveller obtained from him the directions to the workshop of James Cook.
James Cook was a clever young apprentice who had inherited a bookbinding business at the young age of 21, after the death of his master, Mr Johnson. He ran his highly respectable business in a workshop above a cowshed in Wellington Street. He was expecting Mr Paas.
The puzzling fact of this story is that James Cook’s business had flourished, so he was not in any financial difficulty.
Mr Paas arrived at James Cook’s workshop whilst he was giving his apprentice the afternoon off. The apprentice was the last person to see Mr Paas alive.
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