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The Round Green Murder - Introduction

Hitchin Road the approximate site of the attack on William Bradberry June 2010 (no houses existed on the site in 1867)
Hitchin Road the approximate site of the attack on William Bradberry June 2010 (no houses existed on the site in 1867)

The Round Green Murder of 1867 became something of a talking point in Luton, not just for the murder itself but for the subsequent events. The Bedfordshire Mercury of 13th August 1867 reported the murder like this:

SHOCKING MURDER AND ROBBERY AT ROUND GREEN

Just as the inhabitants were about retiring in peace, and looking forward to the Sabbath, already at hand, at midnight on Saturday last the cry was raised that a murder had been committed at Round Green, about a mile from Luton. On enquiry the alarmed [sic] proved too true. The victim was a labourer of the name of William Bradbury, aged 48 years, a native of Lilley, and a resident in that Hertfordshire village. At half-past 11 o'clock that night he was seen to leave the Bell Inn, George-street, where he had had a little beer, he and some of his companions having had four pints between them, and then he took the road home. When last see he was, or at any rate appeared to be, in excellent health and spirits. It would take him 25 minutes to walk up the hill to Round Green from the Bell, and about five minutes past twelve he was found in a dying state on the path by the side of the road, within 100 yards of the new Wesleyan Chapel, at Round Green, and within a distance of 40 yards from the nearest house. His head had received the fatal blow by some blunt instrument. On looking at him the men who found him, and they had known him for years, said they were unable to recognize him until his face was washed, so frightfully was the blood clotted all over his hair and face, having the appearance of liver. When this was washed off they ascertained who it was, and at once the police authorities were made acquainted with the facts. The three men who found him were persons whose names our readers have seen before; they are men who are blockers by trade, but who occasionally do a little other business of quite another description. By their own admission on this particular evening it appears they had planned and intended to execute a poaching expedition, most likely on Mr. Sowerby's preserves. They left the Royal Oak public-house at Round Green at 12 o'clock and went in the direction of Stopsley. One of them walked in the middle of the road, and the others kept the path. They had all three had some drink, but the man William Worsley, who stumbled against the deceased, was apparently more tipsy than the rest. The names of the other two are Levi Welch and James Day. Worsley called out to his mates, and they raised the alarm. Their statement, in their own words, we give below. We find that when the deceased had been washed, it was discovered that a bundle he had is missing. It is supposed though he left home with 28s. in his possession, he had only 8s. when he returned. We need not say that that sum can nowhere be found. On the upper part of his forehead, between the temples, is the wound through which his life ebbed away; it is about half an inch in diameter. He was utterly unconscious when found. He was never seen to open his eyes, nor did he ever make an attempt to speak.