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The Murders at Bill's O'Jack's (Hardback)

The Mystery that Stunned Georgian Britain

P&S History > True Crime

Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 20 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399035866
Published: 30th September 2024

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RRP £20.00

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On 3 April 1832, a twelve-year-old girl visited her grandfather's house, a public house known as Bill's o'Jack's on the edge of Saddleworth Moor, only to find her uncle dying on the floor of a room saturated with blood. Upstairs, her grandfather lay in his bed having suffered mortal injuries. Neither man lived long enough to explain what had happened. The story of the murders of William and Thomas Bradbury quickly spread throughout the local area and beyond, precipitating a frantic hunt for suspects. No-one was ever charged and the case remains unsolved, but the story never quite went away, becoming a legend that long outlived those directly affected.

The Bill's o'Jack's Murders took place at a time of great change, and the background to the case encompassed many issues, including political reform, enclosure and the growing influence of newspapers. It was a crime very much of its time, shaped by contemporary issues and concerns. Yet the legend took on a life of its own, removed from any historical context, and continued to grow for almost a hundred years before settling down into a final form that only vaguely reflected reality. Bill's o'Jack's itself, made infamous by the events of 1832, became an integral part of the local community and thrived on its notoriety until it was demolished in 1937.

This book follows the story from that first morning and traces its transmutation into legend. It examines the events leading up to the death of William and Thomas Bradbury and the aftermath of the murders; it describes the lives of those affected — the families, the suspects and the journalists — and places everything within the context of the tumultuous Georgian era.

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