November 17th, 2005

Bill O'Jacks And Tom O'Bills

 

Here lie interred the dreadfully bruised and lacerated bodies of William Bradbury and Thomas his son, both of Greenfield, who were savagely murdered in an unusually horrid manner, on Monday night Ap 2 1832, Wm being 84 and Tho 46 years old.

Throughout the land wherever news is read
Intelligence of their sad death has spread.
Those who now talk of far fam'd Greenfield hills
Will think of Bill o'Jacks and Tom o'Bills.

Such interest did their tragic end excite
That ere they were remov'd from human sight
Thousands on thousands came to see
The bloody scene of the catastrophe.

One home, one business and one bed
And one most shocking death they had
One funeral came, one inquest pass'd
And now one grave they had at last.

There are three separate, graveyards clustered round Saddleworth church and it took us two hours to find what we were looking for. The "Bill o'Jacks" murder was a national sensation in its time. I've searched online for a full account of the case and can't find one but, as I remember it, the father and son- William and Thomas Bradbury (known as Bill o'Jacks and Tom o'Bills) were hacked and battered to death (with a shovel) in the little inn they ran on Saddleworth Moor (a bleak and isolated place- think Wuthering Heights) Not only was no-one ever charged with the murder, but (I don't think I'm making this up) the room where they were found was locked on the inside, making it an "impossible" crime.

St Chad's, Saddleworth

 

This is St Chad's, Saddleworth- where Bill o'Jacks and Tom o'Bills are buried. As if this wasn't enough there's also a Grey Lady ghost. And as if this wasn't enough there's also a legend that the the fairies didn't like the  original choice of site (on nearby Brown Hill) and moved the stones persistently, night after night, until the builders took the hint and built it here.

By the way, the clock is wrong. These pictures were taken at sundown.

 

 

It's a lonely place. There's no village, just a pub next door and a few farmhouses sprinked about the surrounding landscape.