Giles Yarde

Born in Crediton in 1782, Giles Yarde married Ann Stadden of Upton Pyne when he was 20. They then moved to Exeter where they had at least four children.


In 1817 he was a farm labourer, living in Friernhay Street in Exeter.


In 1823 he was remanded in custody on a charge of violently assaulting his wife; however the case appears to have been dropped.


On Thursday morning 9th November 1826 it was revealed that an “outrage of the most revolting nature had been committed during the night in St David’s churchyard, Exeter by the disinterment of the body of Elizabeth Taylor, 67 years of age, buried the preceding afternoon”.

[Elizabeth Taylor, nee Bulled, had been previously married to James Gerred, by whom she had a son, Thomas. After her husband died she married William Taylor in 1800.]

The grave was open, the coffin lying on its side, the upper side having been forced from the screws and turned up, part of the cover ripped and turned back, and a sheet, in which the body had been wrapped, with a cord, supposed to have been used in dragging the body from the grave, laying by;-there were evident marks of the body having been taken over the wall at the north-east angle and into the fields beyond. Taylor, the officer was immediately put on the alert and soon apprehended Giles Yarde, he also obtained such positive information, that the Magistrates issued a warrant for searching the house of Mr. Wm. Cooke, surgeon, 116, St. Sidwell-street. Mr. E. Ellis, one of the corps of constables, accompanied Taylor in the search, and on informing Mr. C. of the object of their visit, he said 'You will proceed immediately- you are sure to find it-it is useless to deny having it ;" and then accompanying them to the top of the house, unlocked the door of a room, where the body, partly dissected, was laying on a board placed on a table. At a subsequent search by the same officers, assisted by Messrs. Wilmott, F Chapple and Rodd, constables, the grave-clothes of the deceased were found in an aperture between the ceiling and the roof, and afterwards sworn to by the relatives and the nurse. Mr. Cooke was taken into custody, and after an examination (during which he was attended by Mr.C. Brutton) admitted to bail, himself in £200 and two sureties in £100 each, to appear and answer at the Sessions such indictment as shall then be preferred against him. Yarde was remanded for further examination.