The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: The Multiple Retellings of a Mystery

In the 190 years since the Bill o’Jack’s murders, there have been numerous books, articles, poems and plays published on the story. Some are creative, some are more academic. Do any of them shed any light on what might have happened?

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The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: The Red Bradburys

As the people who had been detained on suspicion of murdering William and Thomas Bradbury were gradually released, it seemed that the culprits would never be found. But then two new suspects emerged – a father and son who it was claimed had a strong motive for silencing Thomas Bradbury. For years afterwards, the family were believed to be involved. But was there actually any evidence against the “Red Bradburys”?

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The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: The Night Before

While we can be fairly certain of most of the events which followed the discovery of William and Thomas Bradbury at on 3 April, there is much less clarity about what happened the night before. Almost everything we know comes from the evidence of one man, Reuben Platt. He spent maybe a couple of hours with Thomas Bradbury that evening before the two went their separate ways . His description of their encounter with three suspicious men formed the basis of a frenzied hunt for suspects in the following days, and much speculation since.

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The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: The Tales of Thomas Smith, Ammon Platt and Joseph Bradbury

Apart from the three journalists who covered the story for the newspapers, we have two other accounts of what happened in the hours after the discovery at Bill o’Jack’s. But the major source for many who wrote about the murders afterwards was a book called Saddleworth Sketches. And its author, the mysterious Joseph Bradbury, did not always tell the truth…

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The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: The Morning After

On 3 April 1832, a young girl called Amelia Winterbottom made a horrifying discovery at the house of her grandfather in Saddleworth. As the news spread, it marked the beginning of the strange tale of a brutal double murder which both appalled and fascinated the people of the area. The 85-year-old William Bradbury and his 47-year-old son Thomas had been attacked the previous evening. This is the story of their final hours.

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The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: An introduction

At some time late on 2 April 1832, two men were brutally attacked in their home on the edge of Saddleworth Moor. They lived in a public house, known locally as “Bill o’Jack’s” which was beside the road from Greenfield to Holmfirth – the modern A635. The men – a father and son, William and Thomas Bradbury – died soon after. Their murderers were never found, but the mystery has continued to fascinate people in the local area and far beyond for almost 200 years. Perhaps interest has been sustained through a combination of the murders remaining unsolved, the remote location and the undeniable brutality of the attack upon both men.

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