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: Suspicion Falls on Reuben Platt

By the end of April 1832, it was still not known who had murdered Thomas and William Bradbury at Bill o’Jack’s. The main problem was that there was no way to identify a suspect. The only direct evidence against anyone was the mumbled words of William Bradbury as he lay dying. It was not even certain what he said. But this did not stop suspicion from falling, if we can believe the words of Joseph Bradbury in Saddleworth Sketches, upon Reuben Platt…

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The Bill o’Jack’s Murders: Finding a Motive

Although the original assumption was that the prime motive for Bill o’Jack’s murders was theft, this is not the only possibility. Both William and Thomas Bradbury had been in disputes with other people. Thomas, in particular, seems to have been a violent and dangerous man who enjoyed causing trouble. Not only that, but Thomas may have been involved in another case that came before the Coroner during the week he was killed. The case of a local servant and her illegitimate child…

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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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