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The Inquest on William Bradberry

The Jolly Topers June 2010
The Jolly Topers June 2010

The Bedfordshire Mercury of 13th August 1867 continued its account of William Cole's murder by detailing what happened at the inquest:

On Tuesday an inquest was held at the "Jolly Topers" before J. P. Piper, Esq., Deputy Coroner for the county, and a jury selected from Luton. The Jury having viewed the body, the following witnesses were examined: -

Edith Cole sworn: I live at Lilley in the county of Hertford, and am the wife of William Cole, labourer. I have seen the body which the jury have just viewed. I identify it as the body of William Bradbury, a first cousin to me. He lived at Lilley and was a single man. He was of the age of 48 last March. He was a labourer and had been employed at Mr. George Sowerby's the last few weeks at Putteridge, near here. I saw him alive on Saturday about six o'clock in the evening, coming up the lane opposite my house, on his way to Luton. I did not speak to him.

The former Royal Oak Round Green June 2010
The former Royal Oak Round Green June 2010

William Worsley sworn: I live at HighTown, Luton. I am a blocker when there is anything to do but am out of employ now. Last Saturday night I was at the "Royal Oak" in Round Green. Levi Welch and James Day were there with me. We left there when they shut up, about 12 o'clock. We turned towards Stopsley. When I got round the corner, about a hundred yards from the "Royal Oak", my mates were in the middle of the road and I was walking by the side of the road. I said "Hulloa, Levi, here is someone lying here drunk". I puts [sic] my head down to look at him and he was making a very curious noise in his throat, like someone being strangled. One of us lighted a match and I said "This man is in a curious state, you had better run back to Gazeley's at the 'Royal Oak' and get a light". Day went, and Gazeley and his son-in-law brought a light. The blood was all clotted on his face, on his cheek and on his temple, and his hair was quite matted with blood. He was lying on the side of his face and his head was in the gutter. He was lying on the right hand side of the road as we walked. I raised him up and as I raised him he began vomiting. He never spoke nor yet opened his eyes as far as I could see. There were n no appearances of any struggles as far as I could see. I did not recognize him. Then I helped to carry him to the "Jolly Topers". I did not notice his dress. I had had a little too much beer, but I quite understood what I was about. We went towards Stopsley because we were going out poaching. I could see nothing of his face till a light was brought. I did not see anyone about. I nearly fell over him. If I didn't kick him I was near upon doing so. I cannot remember whether I actually fell over him. I raised him over the light came.

Levi Welch sworn: I live at HighTown, Luton, and am a blocker. I was at the "Royal Oak" last Saturday night with William Worsley and James Day. We left about twelve o'clock. Gazeley's clock struck twelve just as we came out of the passage. We turned towards Stopsley. I walked along the middle of the road and Worsley was behind me. When we had got thirty yards round the corner Worsley said "Hulloa, Levi, here is a drunken man", or words to that effect, and I said "Come on, he is right enough". Day said "I will go back and fetch a light". I believe Day had struck a light before he went back to Gazeley's. Gazeley and his son-in-law and a man of the name of Battams came with a light. We raised him up and brought him to the "Jolly Topers". He was lying on his back when we found him, on the right side of the road as we got to Stopsley, and his head lay on the path, and all over his face there was blood. The blood was clotted. The blood was trickling from his forehead. He did not speak but he gurgled in his throat all the time. I did not help carry him, I walked behind. We were not going home. We had all three of us plenty to drink , but I could understand what I was about. I did not observe and marks of a struggle having taken place. His legs lay in the road like, and his head lay in the path, and his shoulders straight in the path like. I am sure he was on his back when I found him. I think Worsley raised him a little before the light was brought but he certainly did not try to raise him altogether. Worsley, when he called out, made a noise as if he had stumbled over something. I did not know him when the light came. I have known him before. He had got a slop [a loose jacket or smock] on buttoned down in front. I did not take any notice of his trousers. I had not seen him before that night. I first recognized him when we got him under the window of the "Jolly Topers". I can't say whether Worsley had raised him before I saw him. I should think we were at the "Royal Oak" three quarters of an hour. I should think the light came about five minutes after we found him. He was a man who liked a little drink now and then. I have seen him the worse for drink. Before the light was brought I had not noticed anyone about. I heard no footsteps. I saw blood on the other side of the road and where he lay. The next morning I went to the spot. There were two pools of blood where he lay. (The jury here went to see where the body was found). I have known him sixteen or seventeen years. I do not know who he worked for. He always appeared to me as if he had not got his right senses quite. If I had been walking along the path I should have got to his head first. The body was bending towards Nether Crawley.

James day sworn: I live at HighTown, Luton. I am a blocker. I am working on the New Midland line at present. I was over at Mr. Gazeley's last Saturday night. Levi Welch and William Worsley were with me. We left there at twelve o'clock. The clock struck as we started to come out, and we went in the direction of Stopsley. When I got opposite the little chapel at the corner I put my hand in my pocket for some tobacco and dropped sixpence, and I looked for it and could not find it. I went to Gazeley's to get a Lucifer. I struck the Lucifer and could not find the sixpence. I walked on. Then, when in got part of the way to where they found the man. I met Worsley. He said "Here is a man lying here drunk". I put my hand in my pocket to find a lucifer, and while my hand was in my pocket, a man slips from behind me and strikes one. He struck a lucifer and when he saw the man's face all over blood, he went towards Luton. He says "I will go and fetch somebody" and I said "If you will stop I will go and fetch somebody". He stopped at the corner. This corner was about thirty yards from where the man was lying. I went on to Gazeley's and told them there was a man lying on the road bleeding. I did not know the man who struck the light. He was dressed in dark. I don't think I should know him again if I saw him because I did not take that notice. I should say he stood from about five feet six to five feet eight. Gazeley and William Breed, his son-in-law, and Battams went after I told them where the body was. They came after me. John Gazeley came with a light. There were some more people came, and he was carried by Henry Peters and James Battams and William Worsley to the "Jolly Topers", the nearest public-house. He made a gurgling noise in his throat as they were carrying him. I should say I was thirty yards behind Welch and Worsley when Worsley called out. The man was lying on the right hand side of the road as we were going to Stopsley. He laid on his back. There was blood on his head, face and clothes. He had got a slop on. I believe it was open so that we could see his shirt. I think it was partly buttoned up. I did not notice his trousers. We had been in the public-house about an hour. As soon as Worsley called out I went up to see if I knew the man and then, as I was feeling for the lucifer, the man struck a light. The man might have come back with the other people I can't say. I knew the deceased. He used to seem a little soft.

Superintendent Pope said he had ascertained from one of his officers that it was true another man was there, as stated by the last witness.

William Worsley re-examined: I never saw another party besides Welch and Day, but there might have been someone, for I was not very sober.

John Gazeley sworn: I am the landlord of the "Royal Oak". Last Saturday night William Worsley, Levi Church [sic] and James Day, with several more, were at my house. These three and others went out about twelve o'clock. I can't say which way any of them went. In five minutes after James Day came back and asked for a lucifer. He said he had lost sixpence. My son-in-law gave him one or two lucifers and he wasn't above two minutes when he came back again and said "Pray come, there is someone run over or something". I went and got a lantern and followed my son-in-law and Battams. I found the man lying on his back, with his head in the gutter. There was Worsley, Welch and Day, no-one else when I first got there, but several came afterwards. I came away before they carried him to the "Jolly Topers". Worsley was the worse for drink, but I do not think the other two were. They were at my house about an hour I think. A little after eleven I went out towards Luton to take three quarts of beer to a cottage close by. I heard nothing except a cart pass. It was going towards Hitchin. I did not notice what sort of cart it was nor yet how many there were in it. They were not talking as I heard. It was going at a fair pace, not at a galloping pace. I saw no-one about besides. It was rather dark. I knew the deceased well. He had not been in my house that night.

Superintendent Pope said the deceased left home with 23s. in his possession, which he should be able to prove by an aged aunt, who, however, was too infirm to attend the court on such a day.

Mr. Kitt Tomson, the medical witness, had some conversation with the coroner, and it was decided that a post mortem examination should take place on the following morning.

The inquest was then adjourned until Thursday, the 22nd inst., when it will be resumed, for convenience, at Luton, when it is hoped additional evidence will be forthcoming.

At the post mortem examination on Wednesday, conducted by Mr. Kitt Tomson assisted by Mr. Benson, junr., a fracture, three inches long, of the back part of the skull was discovered.

A reward of £50 has been offered by Mr. Sowerby, of Putteridge Bury, employer of deceased, for the apprehension, or information likely to lead to the conviction of the murderer".