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Notes on the Round Green Murder Principal Players

The following brief details of some of the principals in the death of William Bradberry and the trial of William Worsley are mostly taken from census returns, though the Bedford Gaol registers provide details on Levi Welch and James Day.

Lilley church June 2010
Lilley church June 2010

The Victim and his Family

The 1861 census records William Bradberry as William Bradbury. He was living in Lilley [Hertfordshire] as a boarder. He was aged 42 and unmarried, an agricultural labourer who had been born in Lilley. He was lodging with Susan Bradbury, a 62 year old spinster (presumably some relation); she was a straw plaiter who had been born in Lilley. Also living at the house was Emma Bradbury, another boarder, aged 16 and a straw plaiter who had been born in Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire].  Susan does not occur in the 1871 census.

Edith Cole was Bradberry's cousin. In the 1871 census she is described as 42, a straw plaiter and living in Lilley with her husband William, a general labourer of the same age. She had been born in Flamstead [Hertfordshire] and he in Lilley. They had five children: Thomas, aged 16, an agricultural labourer; Elizabeth, aged 14, a straw plaiter; Jane, aged 8, a scholar; Daniel, aged 5 and Amelia, aged 2. Sarah Bradbury, Edith's aunt (who could not attend the trial because she was ill), a 74 year old straw plaiter was also living with them.

William Worsley and his family.

  • The gaol register [QGV12/1] simply notes that he was 45 in 1868 and notes that he had five previous convictions, four times at Hertford and once at Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire].
  • The 1841 census shows the Worsley family living in Old Bedford Road. The head of the household is 45 year old Sophia, a dressmaker; living with her were: William, 17, Obadiah, 16 and John, 13, all agricultural labourers.
  • The 1851 census shows William and Obadiah Worsley, a baker, with no master, lodging with the Marlow family at Hitchin Road.
  • The 1861 census shows Worsley as a 36 year old unmarried straw bonnet blocker, who had been born in Luton. He was lodging with Hannah Wingrave, a straw bonnet sewer, and her daughters at 34 Duke Street, Luton.
  • On 25th May 1862 Worsley married is landlady, Hannah Wingrave, who was two years his senior, at Saint Mary's church. She was a widow and her maiden name had been Leeper. The marriage certificate describes William Worsley as illegitimate.
  • The 1871 census shows Hannah Worsley, widow, living at 41 Cobden Street and sharing the house with 35 year old Catherine Shane and her daughters Sarah, Emily and Kate.
  • John, William Worsley's brother is shown on the 1871 census as being then 44 years of age and having been born in Harpenden [Hertfordshire]. He was described as a manufacturer, presumably of hats. The 1869 Post Office Directory lists George Worsley as a beer retailer in Taylor Street and it is not clear whether this is a mistake for John Worsley or not - no immediately appropriate George Worsley appears in the 1871 census. Certainly, in 1871 the Worsleys lived at 4 Taylor Street. John's wife, Mary Ann was 43 and had been born in Westoning. They had one son, Thomas, 19, a blockmaker's apprentice. They also had five daughters: Sarah Ann, 14, a sewer; Sophia, 12, a scholar; Emily, 10, a scholar; Jane, 8, a scholar and finally Agnes, a 4 year old scholar.
  • The Bedford Gaol register reveals that Obadiah Worsley was nearly as much of a gaolbird as his elder brother. He was first committed on 24th July 1845, aged 20, for stealing a hen [QGV10/2], for which he was acquitted. He stood 5 feet 7½ inches tall, had light coloured hair and grey eyes. He was committed again on 6th January 1846 [QGV11/2], when his hair was described as brown and his eyes as dark blue. He was also described as stout, with a small mole on his forehead. He served two months hard labour for larceny. His next visit to the gaol was on 3rd December 1850 when he was committed for breaching the Game Laws [QGV12/1]. He served one month's hard labour. Whilst there he served a concurrent term for "unlawfully using a certain engine called a snare for the purpose of taking game" [QGV10/3]. His description on this occasion noted that his eyes were hazel! He had a scar on the right side of his forehead (had he had his mole removed?) and was a baker by trade.

Levi Welch [QGV10/4/150]
Levi Welch [QGV10/4/150]

Levi Welch and his family

The impression from the trial that Welch was a jailbird is amply born out from entries in the registers from Bedford gaol given below:

  • On 18th January 1862 [QGV12/1] he was imprisoned for twenty one days' hard labour, unless he paid a fine of £1/14/-, for killing a hare. He was then 32 and had already served two terms of imprisonment, at Hertford, for breaking the game laws. He was discharged on 7th February 1862.
  • On 12th December 1863 he was again committed [QGV12/1], this time for night poaching. He was sentenced to fifteen months hard labour on 14th March 1864 and discharged on 12th June 1865.
  • The day after his release he was again committed [QGC12/1] for two breaches of the game laws. For the first breach he was given one month, unless he paid £2, and for the second he was given two months, unless he paid £3. He was discharged on 12th September.
  • He was summarily convicted on 26th June 1866 for breaching the Game Laws [QGV12/1] and received six weeks hard labour, being discharged on 4th August.
  • On 2nd October 1866 he was again committed for breaching the Game Laws [QGV12/1] and was offered two months hard labour or a fine of £3/14/8. He evidently did the time as he was discharged on 30th November 1866.
  • His next committal [QGV12/1] was for the murder and robbery of William Bradberry. A separate register [QGV10/4] provides us with a photograph of the miscreant together with a description. Welch was 5 feet 6 inches tall, had dark brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He had sores all over his body as a result of scurvy. He adhered to the Church of England and then lived at 80 Burr Street, Luton, having been born in Stopsley. He was removed to Pentonville [Middlesex] on 24th April 1868, and so was still at Bedford Prison when William Worsley hanged.
  • His final committal was on 9th April 1869, for non-payment of the Poor Rate. His sentence was seven days in gaol or payment of 22/10. He was discharged on 15th April.

That is the last gaol record of Welch. He appears on the 1841 census, aged 11, in Stopsley. By 1851 he had married Ann, aged 27. He was a 22 year old labourer labourer who had been born in Luton, she a dressmaker who had been born in Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire]. They had a one year old son named Reuben and lived next door to Levi's father, Joseph, a farmer of ten acres. He had come, like Day and Bradberry, from Lilley originally. Joseph's wife Charlotte and twenty year old son Joseph were also in residence.

The 1861 census saw Welch, aged 30 and an agricultural labourer and his new wife, described as Ader [sic] Ann, aged 22, who had been born in Luton (she was the daughter of John Gazeley of the Royal Oak). Their children were Fred, aged 4 and Letty aged 2. One presumes that Ann had died, Reuben we will discover more of a little later. The Welch family were then living at 8 Little Gaitskell. After the trial, in the 1871 census Levi Welch was still living at 45 Brunswick Street, to which he had returned in 1868. He was described as a blocker and Ada Ann had no occupation. They still have Letty, now aged 11 and a scholar, but there is no mention of Fred. Their other child was a nine year old son named Walter. They shared the house with another family: James Cruse, a 29 year old blocker, born in Stewkley [Buckinghamshire], and his 31 year old wife Mary, from Baldock [Hertfordshire]. They had one child, Caroline, aged 7, a scholar who had been born in London. Levi, Ada Ann and Walter do not appear in the 1881, 1891 or 1901 census. Letty, aged 21, married 20 year old Charles Burgess at Saint Mary's Church on 16th November 1878, her father being given as Levi Welch.

It looks as if Fred, who would have been 14 in 1871, must have gone to live elsewhere as in 1881 he was living in Stopsley with his wife Rosehannah, who had been born in Hitchin [Hertfordshire]. They had three children, all born in Stopsley: Florence, aged 8; Fred Benjamin, aged one month and, tellingly, Levi, aged 3. Of Levi senior there is no trace on the 1881, 1891 or 1901 census.

Reuben Welch in 1867 [QGV10-4-154]
Reuben Welch in 1867 [QGV10-4-154]

Reuben seems to have taken after his father. On 29th November 1864, aged 14, he was committed to Bedford Gaol for stealing money, sweets and an album [QGV12/1]. He received one month's had labour for the money and album and 21 days for the sweets. He was released on 17th February 1865. He was committed again on 10th September 1867 for "stealing a double barrelled gun of the value of £4, the property of one Edmund Swain at Luton on the 1st September 1867" [QGV12/1 and QGV10/4]. He was then 17, 5 feet 3 inches tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He had a tattoo of ring on his fourth finger. He was removed to Pentonville to serve seven years penal servitude.

 James Day [QGV10-4-152]
James Day [GQV10/4/152]

James Day and his Family

It seems likely that Day learned a lesson from his experience. His only entry in the Bedford Gaol Register was in connection with William Bradberry's murder. The entry [QGV10/4] gives us his photograph and describes him as 5 feet 1½ inches tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He had warts behind his left ear. He was a Primitive Methodist and a railway labourer who lived at 52 Back Street in HighTown. Interestingly he, like William Bradberry, had been born in Lilley.

The 1861 census records Day living with his parents and siblings at a "private house" in Stopsley. He was then 14 and a housekeeper. He was the oldest child, his siblings being: Naomi, 11, a bonnet sewer; Maryanne, 8 and George, 5. Naomi and Maryanne had been born, like James, in Lilley whilst George was born in Stopsley. Day's parents were John, 42 and Hannah, 39. John was an agricultural labourer who had been born in Ickleford [Hertfordshire]; Hannah was a straw plaiter and had been born in Little Wymondley [Hertfordshire].

By the time of the 1871 census, three years after the trial, James had married and was living at 54 Cobden Street. He was a blocker, as William Worsley had been. His wife, Mary Ann, was 21 and had been born in Luton. By 1881 the family were living at 4 Taylor Street, evidence in directories shows that this was the Tiger Beerhouse, formerly run by William Worsley's brother John, though bnext door at 4 Taylor Street. Day was now described as a manufacturer of hats, as was his wife. They had two children - George Walter, aged 7 and Beatrice aged 4 - and a lodger, James Waller, Mary Ann's father, a 73 year old widower and bricklayer, who had been born in Luton. Coincidentally, next door, the former Tiger Beerhouse, was also inhabited by a James Day, a year older than his neighbour, but also a manufacturer of hats. By the time of the 1891 census the Days lived at 151 North Street and had another child, a boy of 9 called Percy. Day is still described as a straw hat manufacturer. In 1901 the family were living at 16 Holly Walk and James, a straw hat manufacturer, is described as an employer. George had evidently left home but Beatrice, a sewing machinist and Percy, a straw hat blocker are still living at home - Mary Ann was described as a straw hat finisher.