Lewis Jeremiah “Jerry” Abershaw

Lewis Jeremiah “Jerry” Abershaw

Kingston upon Thames, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Greater London, England
Death 3 Aug 1795 (aged 21–22)
Kennington, London Borough of Lambeth, Greater London, England
Burial Putney, London Borough of Wandsworth, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 52240471 · View Source
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Jerry Abershaw, a notorious highwayman who was born and lived in the Kingston Upon Thames area, probably on the Royal Paddocks in Hampton Wick. This would have accounted for his skill with horses and he was easily able to obtain employment as a post-chaise driver in his teens. He readily took to highway robbery and associated with a young man who was in a position to feed him information. Avoiding arrest in Southwark, he murdered the Bow Street runner David Price, but was not convicted of this particular offence due to a technical fault in the evidence. It has to be said that his trial was rather short. He was executed in the company of John Little, one time curator of the observatory at Kew, who's murder victims are buried at Richmond Vineyard. The executions took place at Kennington Common.

The name Abershaw is sometimes spelled as Avershaw in the U.S.A. and the first name is sometimes given as Louis. He may have been christened as Lewis Jeremiah Haversham.

Abershaw frequented a tavern called the "Bald-Faced Stag" at Putney Vale. Much later, this property was taken over by speed ace Kenelm Lee Guinness, the site being used to build the World Land Speed record-breaking car, the "Golden Arrow", driven by Henry Segrave, who lived nearby. There is now a supermarket on site. Unfortunately, Abershaw's body was hung in chains at Putney Heath, just to the east of the Bald-Faced-Stag, before being disposed of on site - the last time this appalling practice was carried out in England.

Another tavern frequented by Abershaw is The Green Man - at the top of Putney Hill, and it is usually said that he was arrested here. The building is believed to date from around 1700. That area still has a special feel about it - a certain feeling of movement. The tavern is said to have been associated with the dreadful burglar and footpad Dick Turpin, but this cannot be confirmed. The time-scale would be right but the area probably wrong.

Those of a macabre disposition may wish to view the purported graves of highwaymen. Go to the curling pond, right near the busy main road, climb the steep escarpment, reinforced with old bricks, just to the south. The supposed graves can be seen immediately to your left as you reach the top. Inspection of the Putney Heath site in May 2010, showed that the reported graves are now barely visible, though they may have been clearly seen just after the Second World War. The other two graves may be somewhat earlier than Jerry's and could be those of John Lonn and William Gibson.

Jerry Abershaw was mentioned by Robert Louis Stevenson. A cutlas, said to be his, was retained in Ash in Surrey, but has been lost. He is regarded by many as the last of the true highwaymen, though this accolade might more properly go to his side-kick galloping Dick Ferguson, mentioned above, who survived him by five years, mainly due to an exceptional skill with horses.

It should be noted that highwaymen could normally have secured employment in other areas - they were usually quite skilled men, often of good parentage. They seem to have been driven by greed, laziness and excitement. They cannot be regarded as heroes because they robbed those less fortunate than themselves to feed their excessive lifestyles.

19 August 2011
I visited the sites this morning, tracing the old London to Portsmouth Road. The reported graves are visible to the naked eye but do not show up in photographs.

It should be noted that the road layout has changed, so I will be publishing the old layout in due course.



  • Created by: Kelvin Adams
  • Added: 10 May 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 52240471
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lewis Jeremiah “Jerry” Abershaw (1773–3 Aug 1795), Find A Grave Memorial no. 52240471, citing Putney Heath, Putney, London Borough of Wandsworth, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Kelvin Adams (contributor 47019579) .