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Evidence of the Companions

 Time Out 30-32 High Street May 2009 - the right hand side - 32 - is the site of the Rifle Beerhouse
Time Out 30-32 High Street May 2009 - the right hand side - 32 - is the site of the Rifle Beerhouse

“Edward Hatton sworn: I was at the time of the occurrence a stableman in the service of Mr. Faux, Kimbolton-road, Bedford. I know the prisoners at the bar. On Sunday night, the 10th May, about 11 o’clock I was in company first with Jordan, then Craddock, a black man, and another man unknown to me, dressed like a navigator, joined us. We were together at the Chequers, and we afterwards went to the “Rifle” beerhouse in the High-street. We all left the latter public-house together, and went down the Ram-yard. The Ram-yard leads down to Castle-lane. The two prisoners went first, I went next, and the other two followed. I saw a lady and gentleman coming down Castle-lane. Mrs. Budd was the lady, and the gentleman was walking with her. They passed us just before coming to Mr. Higgins’s gate, near the Castle Rooms. At that time the prisoners were about two yards before us. I saw Craddock turn round to go towards the black man and brush against the gentleman. The gentleman took hold of Craddock’s arm, asked him what he meant by it, and told him he would take him to the police. The Jordan walked sharply up to the gentleman and struck him in the face with his right hand. The gentleman did not say anything to Jordan before the latter struck him. Jordan struck one blow then, but the gentleman did not fall, and, releasing his arm from the lady, swung his stick about as if trying to defend himself. Craddock and Jordan went after the gentleman, and I turned to come away. After going a little way I turned round and observed the gentleman on the ground; they were both stooping down and hitting him as he lay; at the distance I could not tell how many blows they struck. I went towards St. Paul’s. In going away I passed Keeler and the black man. When I saw the gentleman on the ground and the two prisoners hitting him he had gone further on than when I saw him attacked the first time. When I got to the corner leading to the High-street, Keeler and the black man were before me going away. They afterwards joined me”.

58 High Street May 2009 - the site of the Chequers
58 High Street May 2009 - the site of the Chequers

“Cross-examined by Mr. Metcalfe: I went into a public-house to have a pint of beer before I met with Jordan. I afterwards went with the prisoners, the black and the other man to the Chequers. The black man exhibits wounds on his back which he said he received when a slave in the Southern States of America. Some halfpence were collected for him. When we left the Chequers the prisoners went down some steps to a cottage in the Ram-yard. A woman came to the door and spoke, but I do not know what took place. I did not run away directly I saw the blow struck, but I turned to go away before the deceased was on the ground. I only saw him once on the ground. I never got further than the back gates of Mr. Higgins, near the Castle-rooms. When I got near the black and the other man we got into a run. The reason why I went away was because I felt frightened. I did not want to get into a bother. We met a soldier and another chap near the High-street. We did not say anything to them about the attack on the gentleman. I did not say anything about it until next morning when I heard that Mr. Budd had been killed”.

Thomas Jenkins in the Bedford Gaol Register [QGV10/4]
Thomas Jenkins in the Bedford Gaol Register [QGV10/4]

“Thomas Jenkins, a black, sworn: I am a native of the United States of America. I have been a ship’s cook. I remember being in Bedford on Sunday, the 10th of May. On that night I saw both the prisoners. I saw Jordan first, and afterwards the other prisoner. A companion of mine (Richard Keeler) and another young man (Hatton) were with us. I was with the prisoners in a public-house. Jordan said he would take me to where I could get a good supper and a good bed. When we all left the public-house we went into a narrow lane. Jordan and Craddock led the way. Jordan looked back and said, “Are you coming?” and threw his hand back and hit me across the eyes. He said, “Excuse me, darkey, I did not mean to do it”. We passed a blacksmith’s shop, and the two prisoners went to a house in the lane. A woman’s voice from within and she could not let them in. Craddock kicked the door, and then turned round and pushed me up the steps into the land again, and we all moved on slowly. I went a few steps with them, and then they stopped to talk. I went and stood with my back against a wall. A gentleman and lady came down the lane. I saw Craddock shove up against the gentleman. The gentleman turned to him and put his hand on his arm, and said, “What did you do that for, you cowardly fellow? Give me your name”. Craddock then struck him, saying, “That is my name”. Both struck him afterwards, and knocked him down. The gentleman said, “Is there any Christian friend who will assist me?” Then Craddock and Jordan both began striking him again, and hit him about the face. I was close to the deceased when he was knocked down, and could have touched him. Keeler said, “Now is your chance, darkey, run”. I ran a little way, and then stopped and looked back. I saw them beating him on the ground. Keeler again said, “Run, darkey, run”. I ran down a wider lane, and met some soldiers and civilians. That is all I saw of it. I only saw him knocked down once”.

The bend in Castle Lane - approximately the position of the attack on F. W. Budd seen in May 2009
The bend in Castle Lane - approximately the position of the attack on F. W. Budd seen in May 2009

“Cross-examined by Mr. Metcalfe: I was nearest the deceased all the time until I ran away. Keeler stood still and said “run, darkey”. Hatton and Keeler walked by the gentleman and lady; then Hatton ran first, Keeley next, and I last. I afterwards went with the Coroner and a number of gentlemen, and they asked me to point out the place where I stood on the night of the disturbance. A great many people were there. I couldn’t see over their heads, and I was confused. I showed them a wall against which I thought I had stood, but I afterwards thought I was mistaken”.

“Cross-examined by Serjeant Tozer: How long had you been in Bedford? I came to Bedford that night. – Where from? From Wellingborough: I only stayed in Bedford on Sunday. – What were you doing here? I was on my way from Liverpool to London. – Do you not go about showing yourself as a slave, representing that you came from the Southern States? I have shown my back, which is marked, but not for the purpose of getting money from the people. – Have you not often said to the people, “I hope there is some Christian friend who will assist me?” I have not said so: I was merely going to London. – What about your companion Keeler? Don’t he go with you and receive part of the money? I met with Keeler on the road”.

“Re-examined: The gentleman who was knocked down said. “Is there any Christian friend present who will assist me?” The Coroner asked me to show him the wall I leaned against. I showed him as well as I could, but I believe I did not show him the right one. I was cook in Mr. Green’s ship. Came over to England with guano, and have been in and out several times since”.

“By Mr. Metcalfe: My last voyage was about two years ago”.

“Richard Keeler sworn: I am a diver, of St. James’s parish, Dover. I go down in ships, and do any kind of work under water. I know the black man, having met him on the road. On the night of the 10th of May I remember seeing the black man and Jordan come out of the Star public-house between 9 and 10 o’clock. I was standing outside alone. Jordan and the black man came out, and went up to another public-house. I went in with them. When we came out again there were five of us – Craddock, Jordan, the black man, Hatton, and myself. We went across the street into a narrow lane; we went down three or four steps to a house. Jordan knocked at the door, and a woman said she would not let him in. Some one kicked the door twice. We turned back and came up the steps. When we had gone on a little distance Jordan and Craddock stepped on one side from us and began talking to one another. When we got into a wider street a gentleman and lady came along, passing between Hatton and the black man. Craddock turned round and blundered up against the gentleman. The gentleman put his hand on his arm and said, “You cowardly fellow, what did you do that for? Give me your name”. Craddock then struck him on the breast, as far as I could see, with his right hand, and said, “That is my name”. I was about three yards off. Jordan then came up, and they both struck the gentleman. When they both struck, the gentleman fell. After he was on the ground I saw each of them striking him with both hands. The black man was standing with his back against the wall. I said, “Now, darkey, run”. When the gentleman was on the ground I heard him say, “Is there a Christian friend to assist me?” I did not see anybody help him up. I ran a few yards, and then I turned round and saw Mr. Budd lying on his back. The lady was standing still three or four yards off, sobbing. Jordan and Craddock were still beating Mr. Budd. I did not know then who the gentleman was. I took the part of the black man. I said again, “Come on, darkey; run”. I turned round again, we both ran, and I did not look round any more. I met a soldier and a civilian, but should not know them again. The black man was running with me at the time. Hatton was a little bit ahead. He said, “Come on” and then ran on again ahead. We tried to get lodgings, but the houses were all shut up, and we went to the police-station”.

“Cross-examined by Mr. Serjeant Tozer: Am I to understand that a bony, strong man like you, stood by and saw that poor man brutally treated without offering the least assistance? Why look at the prisoners, are you not more than a match for both of them? I don’t know for that. – Were you afraid of them? They were all strangers to me. I did not know any of them, and as the black man was a cripple I thought I would look after him. – What cause had you to be so anxious about the black man. No one was going to hurt him? Hatton told me that the two prisoners meant something wrong. – Why, had they not kindly offered him a bed and supper? I don’t know whether they did so kindly. – Could you not have got assistance in the High-street – the principal street in the town? I did not know which was the High-street. Did not know one street from the other. – Where did you go after leaving Castle-lane? About a quarter of an hour afterwards I went to the police-office – Did you inform the police of what you had witnessed? I did not. I went to the station to get a night’s lodging. – Then you did not tell anybody that you had seen two men beating a gentleman as he was lying on the ground? Not a word”.

“Mr. Mills said he wished to ask the witness a question he had omitted to put. In answer Keeler said, I heard Craddock say, “I ain’t hit you properly yet”. Then the two prisoners struck the gentleman with their fists and he fell to the ground”.