Infamous Brough Crimes and Criminals
...or "Murders by Family"
The following murder accounts have been provided with the hope that current and future generations will learn from--and not repeat--the mistakes of past generations. For example: the 1731 Murder of Robert Brough was due to infidelity and covetnous; the 1845 murder of Thomas Brough by his brother John Brough was due to financial stress and uncontrolled anger; and the 1864 murder by Charles Brough was due to greed and matters related to poor judgment and health.
1731 Murder of Robert Brough of Staffordshire by John Naden
1731 Murder of Robert Brough at White Lee Farm, Wincle, Cheshire, England, by John Naden, http://www.cheshireghostsandhauntings.org.uk/wincle/wincle.html
Note: This account was edited in February 2011 by the RBFO Research Committee as a result of genealogical and historical research. On-going research and findings may result in additional changes in the future. Genealogies of Robert Brough (1679-1731), who was murdered in 1731, are listed within the "Genealogies" section of the BFO website.
Public executions were almost a daily occurrence in rural England in the eighteenth century, and usually, a gathering of townsfolk would quickly assemble in the vicinity of the hanging, hoping to see the life of some poor wretch being extinguished, whether they were guilty of the crime or not. One such event took place in the August of 1731, at a place called White Lee Farm, at Wincle, [in Cheshire] near to the Staffordshire border.
The man in question was named as John Naden, or Nadin, as he was often referred to. Born near Leek, Naden came from a poor family background, his hard-working parents tried their hardest to give him the very best start in life, doing whatever they possibly could to help him achieve his goals, at least education wise. As such, he gained a competent knowledge of reading and writing, so much so, that he was ultimately offered employment, as the position of servant, at White Lee Farm, owned by Robert Brough (1679-1731), and his wife Mary Daken (abt.1696-1735).
In every respect, John Naden was the ideal employee; faithful to his master, loyal, with his overall behaviour being described as impeccable. For a short while, life at White Lee Farm was enjoyable, both for employer and employee, and a common trust was soon built between the pair. In fact, it was Naden who happened to save the life of Robert Brough, when the farmer fell into the flooded River Dane, an event not forgot by the locals of Wincle and nearby Danebridge. Naden soon became established around the village, being well liked by the men and fondly admired by the ladies, for he was often described as being a tall, handsome man, slim and extremely well spoken for a country lad, but it was to be the actions of one particular woman who would lead Naden to the Gallows.
Robert Brough and Mary Daken were married in 1718 in Prestbury, Cheshire. However, Mary was said to have been much younger than her husband, and had simply grown to despise him and all that he stood for. At first, she would shoot Naden lingering looks, smiling at him, leaving him with no doubt in his mind at what her intentions were. Soon after, the inevitable happened, and Mary and Naden started an affair. Almost every day that would pass, she would tell him how much she loved him, that she cared deeply for him, but most of all, how she hated her husband, how she wouldn't miss him if he was dead. Some months into their secret relationship, Mary Brough gave him a ring, upon which she confessed her love to him. From that moment on, Naden didn't get a moments peace, for he was nagged daily, time after time Mary Brough begged him to take the life of her husband, so that together, they could run White Lee Farm themselves. It wasn't long before tongues began to wag in the village, and at one point, the landlord of the Cock Inn, Mr. Statham, from nearby Leek, was sure that Brough's wife and his servant were up to no good, but Brough was having none of it, for he trusted Naden completely.
By this time, Mary Brough was fully aware of the rumours that were flying around the village; she herself had heard many of them. Growing ever more frustrated with Naden, she told him that the affair would end if he didn't kill her husband, and that in any case, she would find someone else to do the deed, as, apparently, Robert Brough had some enemies in Wincle and its surrounding villages. After much persuasion, and endless deliberation, he finally agreed to murder Robert Brough.
With murder on his mind, John Naden set out to entrap his master, who was returning from a trip to the nearby town of Congleton. But his mind must have been elsewhere, as he suddenly realised that he couldn't do it, and returned to White Lee to face the wrath of Mary, who was at this time, enraged by his incompetence. Robert Brough, meanwhile, decided that he could no longer stand to hear the wagging of tongues, where his servant and his wife were concerned and sacked John Naden. Unfortunately for Brough, with these actions, his death-warrant had been signed.
Mary Brough could no longer face her husband, and decided that she needed to be rid of him, begging Naden to murder her husband. Naden, who was equally annoyed at his dismissal, this time agreed with his mistress, setting the stage for what, ultimately, would lead him to the Gallows.
On June 24, 1731, Robert Brough went to Leek Market, and unbeknown to him, was followed by Naden, who then hid in undergrowth, along the dark moorland tracks, between White Lee Farm and Hollinhall, in Heaton, near Meerbrook. Naden had deliberately set a stone against a gate, which Brough would have had to move, in order to pass through. At this point, in a completely intoxicated state, Naden jumped upon him and slashed at his head, throat and wrists, in what the Coroner, Thomas Palmer, described as "a most frenzied attack". in fact, the attack was so brutal, that Robert Brough was almost decapitated, the cuts were that deep.
With a look of sheer horror on his face, John Naden made his way back to White Lee Farm, and struggled to tell Mary just what had happened. Jubilation and celebration soon turned to horror and despair as Naden suddenly realised that he had left the weapon, a sturdy kitchen knife, at the scene of the crime. Mary told him to clean himself up, and then made her way back to the where the lifeless body of her husband lay. The scene was just as Naden had described. Quickly, she found the knife and threw it in the undergrowth, then rifled through her dead husbands pockets, to make the murder look like a bungled robbery. Back at the farm, Naden was made to swear that he knew nothing of what had happened, and that they would lay the blame squarely at the door of William Wardle, a well-known peddler and sworn enemy of Robert Brough.
Unfortunately for Mary, Naden had made another mistake in his desperate attempt to flee the scene. To calm his nerves, which by this time were completely shattered, he stopped at an Inn at Danebridge. The girl behind the bar, her eyes sharp and clear, noticed that the usually calm young man from White Lee was behaving in an erratic manner, with his clothes and hands covered in blood.
Soon after he left, the girl told the local constable what she had seen, and the next day, Naden was apprehended, and taken to the Coroner, Thomas Palmer, who in turn, passed him over to the local magistrate, Thomas Hollinshead Esq., of Ashenhurst. As such, Naden was transferred to Stafford Gaol on Saturday, 25th June, with his trial being held at the Assizes on August 19th, 1731.
Standing before the Judge, Naden pleaded not guilty to the crime of murder, blaming the whole thing on William Wardle. Fortunately for Wardle, a number of credible witnesses came forward, to testify on his behalf; he was acquitted of any wrongdoing soon after. As for Naden, the evidence against him was too strong, and he was sentenced to be hung at White Lee Farm, at Wincle, then transferred to Gun Hill, where he was to be left in chains.
John Naden was said to have struggled to take in what was happening to him. Finally, in a rasping voice, the Judge told him: "John Naden, you stand here convicted by a jury of your peers, for the crime of murder, you are sentenced by this court on this day, and that conviction and the sentence that you are about to receive has been affirmed by the highest court in the land". Naden shook his head in despair, as the Judge continued " The man you murdered was your friend, a friend that brought you out of the bondage of poverty and insecurity, and into the comfort of his own home. You spent each day and each night under his roof. During his absences, he entrusted his household into your care and your protection. You betrayed that trust by defiling the marital bed and living in sin. But your guilt and depravity did not stop there. To gain possession of your master's wife and property, you waylaid him and set upon him with a stunning blow to the head, and with that fateful knife, you brutally hacked and slashed at your victim's throat and wrists, you mangled and murdered your victim". He went on to say "You, John Naden, have taken a human life, you have sent a soul unprepared to its Maker. You have set at defiance God's will and commandments. Your fate is inevitable.
At this point, Naden seemed inconsolable as the Judge condemned him, speaking without a moments hesitation, "John Naden, I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead. May the Lord have mercy on your soul". Naden was to be transported to Leek, the day before the execution was to take place, where a gaggle of townsfolk had gathered around the Cock Inn, where he was placed under the supervision of Mr. And Mrs. Statham, which at the time was located on the corner of the Market Place and Stockwell Street. Naden was accompanied from Stafford Gaol by the Reverend Corn, and together they prayed for his soul.
On August 25th, 1731, John Naden broke down and made a full confession of his crime, admitting that he alone had murdered Robert Brough. His confession is as follows: "I John Naden, do confess, and not by the fear of God before my eyes, but spurred on by the instigation of the Devil, that I, and nobody else, am guilty of the murder of my master, Robert Brough, by cutting my said master's throat with his own knife. I can not reflect, nor do I wish to, upon the abominable fact but with the greatest horror and abhorrence, and therefore must own the justice of my sentence, most willingly submitting myself to undergo the same; hoping by sincere repentance for pardon and remission of this most heinous sin, and for all of my other previous sins, through the merits of my dear Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Now, what prompted me to do this most wicked fact, was that unlawful familiarity that I had with my mistress, the wife of my said master, Robert Brough; I had never attempted such familiarity before, and had she not first made me offers of the same. Soon after this, about three or four years ago, she gave me a ring and declared her love for me, and said that if anything was to happen to my master, she would be very happy with me. In the procedure of our acquaintance, she continued often making such like professions, but towards the last, she solicited to murder him, or to have him murdered, adding, that if I would not agree to do it, then she would find someone who would. After her frequent persuasions to this bloody fact, I went out to meet my master, about a fortnight before he was murdered, on his return from Congleton market; but being then disappointed, at my coming home, she expressed a great deal of anger, and asked me why I had not yet done it, meaning why had I not murdered my said master. Upon the morning of the fatal day, whereon the murder was committed, I have concluded with her to murder my master, he my said master having determined to part with me from his service. I accordingly followed him to Leek, and, on his return home, I, being heated with much liquor, did way-lay and take away his life, as before stated. Soon after I came to my master's house, and in a little time, I acquainted her with what I had done. Afterwards, when the rest of the family had gone to bed, my mistress went out to the place where my master lay murdered, rifled through his pockets, and threw the knife, the unfortunate instrument wherewith I committed the murder, over the hedge. She, my said mistress, called me up about three o clock in the morning, and told me this, and bid me o say that I saw William Wardle, an innocent person, do the murder. By her wicked persuasions I accused the said Wardle upon oath, for which enormous crime I heartily beg pardon, and wish it was in my power to make him satisfaction. In the meantime, I beg forgiveness from all I have injured, and do declare and solemnly affirm this to be my confession to be exactly true, as I am a dying man, and expect in a few days to appear before the tribunal of the Great God of Heaven: as witness my hand this 27th day of August, 1731 - John Naden.
On the night before the execution, all of the public houses in Leek, where John Naden was being held, were kept open all night, with many of the landlords expressing a desire to see a man hanged everyday, such was the roaring trade. In fact, the Fountain Inn, at nearby Meerbrook, ran dry completely. At the time when Naden was preparing to meet his Maker, along with his spiritual advisors, at the Cock Inn, where he was being held, scenes of a different nature were taking place, as people not only from the town of Leek, but from Wincle, Bosley, Danebridge, and Heaton, all arrived in an attempt to witness the event. In almost all of the available taverns, men and women of all ages and conditions were drinking beer, which Leek was famous for, and then turning to more amorous spirits, to quench their thirst.
The day of the execution arrived, the 31st August, 1731, and the sun shone brightly in the sky. John Naden is recorded as stating, "To die on a day like this is hard, but 'tis just, for could I die a dozen times, I could not wipe away the memory of the heinous sin that I have committed". He was then led from the Cock Inn by the Hangman, who had arrived the night before, to, it has to be said, massive cheers and applause, who then walked behind him; at this time, the noose was already around his neck, like a halter. Behind, local officers carried the heavy Birmingham chains and ladder. To curious onlookers, this morbid procession must have indeed appeared strange, for it was a mixture of solemn-looking officials, singing choristers from Leek, Bosley, and Wincle, and to top it off, chanting drunken revellers singing and throwing insults at anyone who would look at them. As John Naden appeared, the crowd suddenly lunged forward, in an attempt to get a better view of the ensuing carnage that was about to take place. The local police had their hands full, desperately fighting to keep them all at bay.
Once the transportation had arrived, it wasn't long before the grim party arrived at White Lee Farm, where a more sombre crowd had gathered, some eagerly awaiting the execution, others whispering between themselves. The makeshift Gallows was to be an apple tree in the murdered man's garden, where the stoutest branch had been tested and re-tested, to make certain it could hold firm. The ladder, which had also been tested for its sturdiness, was placed by the tree. From this branch, the Hangman placed the rope, tied a sturdy knot and then stood quietly, waiting for the event to start.
Once the funeral service had ended, John Naden was ordered to climb the ladder. He said his goodbyes to all those that he recognised in the crowd, pleaded with those that he had offended, especially William Wardle, whom he had accused of the crime, and begged his pardon, then quietly commended himself to God. As he raised his head for the last time, the Hangman slipped the rope around his neck, and adjusted the knot, so that it rested behind his left ear. As he prayed silently to himself, the sound of bells could be heard in the distance, striking 12 Noon, on Tuesday, the 31st August, 1731. In an instant, the ladder was removed, leaving the body suspended from the rope. Gasps ran through the crowd, some of the women were said to have fainted, others screamed, whilst even the bravest of the men lowered their heads, thanking God that it wasn't them. As the ladder was removed, the body of John Naden gave several spasmodic jerks, a gurgling noise came from the throat, and legs and arms shook violently for several minutes. Then all was quiet.
John Naden died a hard and violent death. After 45 minutes, the lifeless body was removed from the rope, placed back on the cart, and then transferred to Gun Hill. There it hung, in chains in a Gibbet some 21 Feet high, so that all that could see it would be reminded of this fateful day. It is said that the body of John Naden hung here until it literally fell apart.
Mary Daken Brough was eventually tried, found guilty, and condemned to live alone in a small cottage on the edge of the Moor. Her children were taken from her and raised by a family relative. She died four years after her husband was murdered. Both Robert and Mary Brough were buried in Bosley, Cheshire: Robert on 26 June 1731, and Mary on 21 September 1735.
John Naden's ghost is said to haunt the lanes that surround White Lee Farm, and the lonely heathland that leads to Gun Hill. When the Gibbet was taken down, the wood was used to make two gate posts, and a post to stop the gate from opening. Other parts were used as stiles around Danebridge, Bosley, and Wincle. Today, all that remains is one stout post near to White Lee Farm, whilst the tree that was used to hang John Naden no longer exists.
1845 Murder of Thomas Brough by John Brough of Staffordshire
Murder of Thomas Brough by John Brough in 1845, in Biddulph, Staffordshire, England,1st newspaper account, Times Newspaper, January 14, 1845, Another Case of Fratricide
The County of Stafford has become the scene of another shocking murder, and there is too much reason to fear that the diabolical crime was perpetrated by a brother. The murder was committed on the night of Friday week, at a place called Biddulph, in the Moorlands, about six miles from Tunstall, and three or four miles from Congleton. The condition of the unfortunate parties was that of small farmers. Thomas Brough, the deceased, lived at the New Brent Farm, in the parish of Biddulph. It would appear that he was a man who, by parsimonious habits, had succeeded in accumulating some little property, and was the owner of Whitefield Farm, which is situate near his own house. Whitefield Farm had been in the occupation of his widowed mother and his brother, John Brough, for a little more than 12 months. The mother was the recognized tenant, though, it would seem, that the brother John managed the farm, and was applied to for the rent when due. On Friday afternoon, the 3d inst., about dusk, a distress was put in by the direction of Thomas Brough, at Whitefield Farm, for rent due to him, amounting to 29£,12s. In consequence of some conversation which one of the bailiffs had with the mother and John Brough, the bailiff sent for Thomas Brough, in order to an amicable settlement, if possible, without enforcing the distress. The deceased Thomas Brough shortly afterwards came to Whitefield, and had some conversation with his mother and brother as to the rent due. There does not appear to have been any quarrel between the two brothers in the house, but the deceased complained very much about his rent not being paid, and intimidated that he must have it. He also refused to return two boxes, which had been removed by the bailiffs to his house, until the following morning. The two bailiffs left the house, and the brothers remained in conversation. Shortly afterwards Thomas Brough went into the fold, where some further conversation ensued. He was about to leave, when his brother John said- "Stop a bit, I will go an kin (kindle) my lantern, and will go with you as far as the barn, and sweep two or three cats up." According to the evidence of his nephew, who lived at Whitefield, John Brough then returned to the house, lighted the candle in the lantern, and went towards the barn; and his brother Thomas walked down the meadow towards his own house. Thomas Brough was not afterwards seen alive. As he did not return home, his wife became alarmed, and, assisted by other persons, made various inquiries after him until a late hour that night, but nothing was heard of him until Saturday, about noon, when his body was accidentally found in a sandpit on Biddulph-moor. He was quite dead. The inquiry as to the cause of death, which was commenced on Tuesday, terminated yesterday at the Talbot Arms, when, from the evidence adduced, little doubt was entertained but the prisoner had murdered the deceased by inflicting several severe slows on the head with a hammer. The jury returned a verdict of "Wilful Murder against John Brough," and he was committed for trial at the next assizes.
2nd newspaper account, Times Newspaper, March 21, 1845, Murder
Stafford, Wednesday, March 19; Crows Court.-(Before Mr. Baron FLATT.)
John Brough, aged 39, farmer, a powerful athletic man, was indicated for the wilful murder of his brother, Thomas Brough, at Biddulph, on the 3d of January last. Mr. Yardly and Mr. Huddlestone appeared for the prosecution ; Mr. Allen conducted the defence.
The particulars of his offence, which happened at Biddulph, a very wild district of Staffordshire, and peopled by a very primitive class of inhabitants, were fully detailed in The Times at the period of the inquest. The deceased, a person of saving habits, but of passionate temper towards his relatives, resided at High Bent, where he had acquired several small estates, one of which was occupied by his mother and her second son, the prisoner. His determination to look after his own interests occasioned the lamentable catastrophe which produced his violent death by the head of his brother. A year's rent amounting to 261, was due from his mother for these premises, to recover which debt a distress was put in on the 2d of January, when two boxes of wearing apparel belonging to the prisoner and another brother, James Brough, were seized, and carried away to the residence of the deceased by his bailiff, in spite of the tears and entreaties of the mother for time and forbearance. This adverse proceeding appears to have produced a collision between the deceased and the prisoner, a man of mild and affectionate disposition, who had joined in his parent' ineffectual appeal for mercy. The two brothers quitted their mother's presence together, after the removal of the boxes, and Thomas was killed, according to the statement of the prisoner, by a blow on the back of the head with a stone hammer, at the distance of 120 yards from the house, where the marks of blood were discovered by several witnesses. The prisoner communicated the fatal consequences of the blow to his brother James, who resided with a farmer at four miles from the place of the murder, and from whom he requested assistance in concealing the body. James Brough refused to comply with this request, and the corpse was found on the Saturday morning in a deep pit, about three quarters of a mile from the residence of the prisoner.
Mr. Allen, in a speech which was listened to with continued attention, urged that the evidence for the prosecution was more consistent with a verdict of manslaughter than murder ; attributing the death of the deceased to a blow in a sudden conflict, after the brothers had quitted the house, and not to an act of premeditation on the part of the prisoner.
The Jury retired at 2 o'clock, and returned into court at 7 o'clock with a verdict of Guilty, accompanied by a recommendation to mercy on account of the previous good character of the prisoner.
After the usual proclamation for the silence had been made, Mr. Baron Flatt passed sentence of death on the unhappy criminal, imploring him to make the best use of the short space left him in this world, and admonishing him to expect no mercy on this side the grave.
3rd newspaper account, Times Newspaper, March 24, 1845, Forfeiture of a Felon's Real Estates to the Crown
In the month on January, 1845, Thomas Brough, of Biddulph, in the county of Stafford, was murdered by his brother John, who struck him on the head with a hammer, and afterwards put him in a sack, and carried him upwards oh a mile and a half and threw him down an old stone quarry, where he was found by some boys.
At the spring assizes following the murderer was tried and convicted, and afterwards executed, having confessed the crime, and acknowledged the justness of his sentence.
Thomas Brough, at the time he was murdered, was seized in foe of an estate at Biddulph, which, in consequences of his brother (the brother) being his heir-at law, descended to him, but by his attainder the same became vested in the Crown by escheat.
In the consequence of the escheat the widow of the murdered man was left destitute.
The circumstances having been represented to the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury by the widow, their Lordships directed that a commission should be issued to find Her Majesty's title to the estate, which was accordingly issued, and bore date the 24th day of February last, directing Messrs. U. Corbet, J.M. Mahoe, and R. P. Tyrwhitt, and two other commissioners, or any three of them, to inquire of what lands and tenements John Brough, the murderer, died seized.
The three commissions above named entered on the inquiry on Saturday, the 20th inst., at the Swan Hotel, in Stafford, when, after the jury were sworn, and charged with the nature of the inquiry, Mr. H. B. Raven, from the office of the solicitor to the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury, examined the following witnesses :--
Mr. Charles Hodges, of Burslem, in the Staffordshire Potteries, proved the execution of the conveyance of the estate to Thomas Brough.
Mary Brough, the mother of Thomas Brough, proved her marriage; that Thomas was her eldest, and John her second son, and consequently the heir-at-law of her son Thomas.
Hannah Brough, the widow of Thomas Brough, proved her marriage, of which there was not any issue; that her husband at the time of his decease was seized of the lands and tenements in question; that several years before her husband was murdered he made his will, which he gave into he care; that she locked it up in a dresser drawer, from whence she took it after his decease, and handed it to her solicitor, Mr. Redfern, of Leek.
Mr. Abrabam Kershaw Kelmister, an attorney at Leek, proved the execution of the will, which being read, it appeared he gave and devised all his real and personal estate to his wife; but at the time he was not possessed of the estate in question, consequently the same did not pass by such devise.
Mr. Thomas Redfern, a solicitor at Leek. Produced certificates of the marriage of the father and mother of Thomas and John Brough, of their baptisms, and the marriage of Thomas Brough with his present widow.
Mr. William Stonier, of Biddulph, proved the value of the estate.
Whereupon the Jury found that the said John Brough, immediately on the commit l of the murder, was seized to him and his heirs of the estate in question, and that the same were holden by the said John Brough of Her Majesty in free and common socage, in right of her Regal crown, but not subject to any services or rent in respect thereof, except fealty ; and that by reason of the premises the same had devolved unto Her Majesty as an escheat, by virtue of her prerogative Royal.
By the finding of this verdict the estate becomes the property of the Crown, and the same is accordingly seized.
The widow of the murdered man has petitioned the Crown to grant the lands to her, which, it is supposed, the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury will recommend to be done, subject to the same being liable to the payment of her late husband's debts, if any are owing.
4th newspaper account, Times Newspaper, March 31, 1845, The Biddulph Murder
Stafford, Saturday: The accounts which have appeared in several of the London papers with respect to the confession of John Brough, convicted of murdering his brother at Biddulph, in North Staffordshire, are incorrect. Yesterday afternoon the unfortunate man made a statement, from which it would appear that he had no deliberate intention of perpetrating so foul a crime, and scarcely supposed that the blow he inflicted could prove fatal. He, yesterday evening, made the following statement, for which we are indebted to the Staffordshire Advertiser:--
After describing what took place when his brother Thomas came to the house, the conversation about the boxes, &c. Thomas's refusal to listen to his mother's entreaties, and the departure of the two bailiff's the prisoner said, "Thomas shortly afterwards left. I followed him and kept begging and entreating him to let me have the boxes back again. I promised he should have the rent. He said he would not let me have them again that night; but he would consider of it by the morning, or by tomorrow at noon. A little hammer, for breaking stones was reared up against the stone wall in the meadow. As I went along I took it up, and held it in my hand while talking to him. We stood still a little bit. Then we talked side by side talking to each other. I kept on asking for the boxes back again, and said he should have his rent if he would only let the matter drop. He still refused. His selling us up and getting papers printed about the sale of the stock and things on the farm, and his taking away the boxes, aggravated me. I then struck his on the head one blow; whether on the back or on the side I'm not sure. I do not know whether he had his back or his face turned towards me at the time. He stood a little bit after I hit him and then fell down. I do not remember whether he spoke after the blow was given. I took the hammer part of the way up the meadow and then flung it away. I then went straight home. I lighted a candle and went to the barn with it. I swept up some oats, and shut the barn-door. The barn is about 40 yards from the house. I went to the cowhouse and looked at the cows and calves. I then went into the house, and sat me down by the fire. My mother and the little boy were there. I remained but a few minutes and then got up and walked to the meadow to see whether my brother Thomas was gotten up and gone home. He was sitting up. I stood looking at Thomas, and I perceived a person at the contrary side. Thomas was in a bit of a hollow. The person I saw stood on the top of a bank. He was looking straightforward in the direction where Thomas was. I was frightened lest he should see me, and stooped down by a ditch, a little distance off from Thomas. The person was about 20 or 30 yards off. I was about five or six yards off from Thomas. Thomas was sitting on a place that sloped down to the ditch, and I afterwards heard a splash in the water from Thomas's falling in. It is possible for a man to slip down into the water even if he had not been hurt. At this moment I saw the person who had been looking towards the place where by brother was, move on ; I heard this step, and thought he was coming where Thomas was. If he had come to his help, I think Thomas would have lived. I was afraid to go myself, and went off home immediately as fast as I could and washed myself. I walked out again, and called on Ishmael Lancaster, and told him what my brother Thomas had done with the boxes. Lancaster went with me to where my brother James was employed in service at a farm house about four miles from our house. Lancaster, and my brother James and me, after stopping a little while with James, came back to our house. On our way, we had to pass my brother Thomas's, and I asked James to go in and inquire if my brother Thomas had come home. I thought he perhaps might have recovered and got home again. James said he had not come home, and that they had heard nothing of him since he went over to the Whitefield. Lancaster left s for his own house just before we got to Thomas's. James and me went to out house together. I said to James 'I am frightened by Thomas not coming home. I fear I have killed him, as I've hit him with a hammer.' James said 'Oh surely you have not done such a thing!' As we went along we met my brother Thomas's servant, and a young man with him. James asked them where they had been. They said, 'to see there Thomas was.' The servant swore before the coroner that James called Thomas at this time 'Gunner-o-Brough,' but; he was mistaken. I told the coroner so at the time. [This is correct.] I told James he had better go with me and see whether Thomas was dead. I said he must help me carry him off further from the house, as folks would think I had killed him from his being so near at hand. James said he could not go near him if he was dead. James then went into our house while I milked three cows. Afterwards I went in. James soon after left, saying to my mother and me, he could not stop all night. I went across the fields with him, about five minutes walk, towards my brother Thomas's house. James tried the door, and it was locked. No one answered. We parted by Thomas's yard gate. I walked back home again, and James went to his master's. I sat up by the fireside all that night. I went out about 5 or 6 o'clock the next morning before my mother came down stairs. I returned to the meadow to the place where I left Thomas the night before. I found his head and arms, and half his body in the water. His feet were upon the bank. I pulled his body out of the ditch by the feet. I carried it in my arms several yards, and then lifted it into a barrow, which was close to our house. I wheeled it a little distance and then carried it again a considerable way, and put it on the edge of a pit, and let it roll down to the place where it was found. I then returned towards home. On my way back I wheeled away the barrow which I had left behind when I took the body to the edge of the pit. I declare most solemnly I did not intend to kill my brother, or even to strike him, ten minutes before I did so."
The execution of Brough is fixed for Saturday next, but strong hopes of a commutation of punishment are entertained.
5th newspaper account, Times Newspaper, April 3, 1845, The Fratricide at Stafford
The following is a literal copy of the declaration that has been made by John Brough, who is now in the county prison at Stafford, under sentence of death for the murder of his brother, Thomas Brough, on Friday evening, January 3, 1845:--
"From the time that Thomas and me went out of the house at the Whitefield farm to the time I was in again, I am certain that 10 minutes had not elapsed. It was only two minutes' walk to the spot where Thomas laid after I had struck him. I did not go out of my way to get the hammer I hit him with, but I went close to it as Thomas and me walked to the meadow. When I took up that hammer I had no thought of striking him with it, I am sure. It was in consequence of Thomas's saying at last (after I had begged him again and again to let me have the boxes that night), 'It is of no use your speaking anymore about them, you shall not have them again to-night' - it was this that aggravated and provoked me, and caused me to hit him. Thomas was very angry when I kept asking him for the boxes. If it was the last word I had to speak, I declare that I had no intention to strike him until the moment when I gave him the blow, and why I took up the hammer I am not able to say."
The prisoner informed the Rev. Thomas Sedger, the chaplain of the prison, of the reason why he (the prisoner) wanted the two boxes that night. Thomas Brough, it would appear, had promised to consider about them, whether he would let him have them by the morning or noon of the next day. The reason designed by John Brough for wishing to have them returned immediately is the following:--
"I wanted," says he, "to go with Thomas, and fetch the boxes from his house that night, because I did not like to be seen by folks carrying them in the day time. I did not want any other person to know about my brother taking them off. I declare, as a dying man, that if Thomas had allowed me to have them that night, I should not have hurt him. I had never intended to strike him."
1864 Murder of George Walker by Charles Brough of Staffordshire
Staffordshire Advertiser, 31 December 1864, Double Execution at Stafford
On Tuesday morning last [27 December 1864] Richard Hale and Charles Brough suffered the last sentence of the law, in front of the county gaol [or jail] in Stafford. Their trial and conviction must be fresh in the memory of our readers….
Of the prisoner Charles Brough it is not necessary to say much, as he confessed to his guilt soon after the crime. He was very unlike [Richard] Hale in character…the one [Richard Hale] being a man of strong will, the other [Charles Brough] rather a feeble minded, unhelpful man, whose want of energy was increased by his having suffered for many years from diabetes, a most wasting and depressing malady. It is worthy of remark that an uncle of Brough's was executed at Stafford in 1845, for the murder of his brother at Wetley Moor. [On 7 January 1845, John Brough (1804-1845), murdered his brother, Thomas Brough (1797-1845), in Biddulph, Staffordshire. Thomas Brough (1797-1845) and Charles Brough (1841-1864) were actually "1st cousins once removed".] Brough himself has not borne a bad character, and as a member of the 2nd Staffordshire Militia, was considered a decent fellow by his comrades. He was twenty-four years of age and was born at Burslem, where his father-a carter-and mother formerly lived, and he was their only child. After the death of his mother, which took place about twelve years ago, young Brough was compelled to leave a school which he attended at Burslem, and at which he had been long enough to learn to read and write tolerably well for a boy of his age and position. He was first employed at a manufactory at Burslem, but did not learn the business of potting, and some time afterwards he followed the occupation of a collier. He lived with his father in lodgings at Dalehall for some time and afterwards separately, and during this time, though his earnings were small his character was good, and he is said to have employed his leisure in writing and drawing, of which he as fond. About four years ago his father went to live in a cottage at Bignall End and worked for a farmer in that township, and Charles went to live with him. About that time the old man formed an acquaintance with a married woman at Hanley, whom he constantly visited until about two years ago, when she went to live with him as his wife. This woman, who has frequently figured in the Pottery policecourts as complainant against her husband, was represented by old Brough to be his wife, and step-mother to the young man. She has a son about 15 years of age, a potter's apprentice, at Hanley, and during her residence at Bignall End he was in the bait of paying her occasional visits. At such times the woman would exhibit her affection for her son and her dislike of her pretended step-son in an offensive manner, and the neighbours say that she treated young Brough with studied harshness.
Prior to the committal of the crime for which he was sentenced to death, young [Charles] Brough had borne the character of a quiet, inoffensive young man, free from vice of every description, and until the last year or two, industrious in his habits. During that period he had been suffering from the wasting disease above noticed, becoming more and more enfeebled, until he was absolutely unable to work, and could scarcely walk up the few steps leading from the road to his father's cottage door. And to this is attributable his apparent indolence from April to the end of July, when he was accused by some of laziness. During the last few mounts of his residence at Bignall End, the unhappy young man was accustomed to lie motionless and alone under a holly bush opposite his father's house occasionally walking about the lanes and bye-ways of the parish of Audley.
On the 24th of July, the day before the murder of [George] Walker, young [Charles] Brough went as far as Tunstall, and on approaching his dwelling place on his return was so exhausted that he was obliged to ask the assistance of a neighbour to get to the door. According to his own account he was goaded into leaving the house by the reproaches of his father. He went to a hut where a poor old man, of the name of George Walker, 74 or 75 years old, lived, who having seen better days, lived in a little hut on the Bignall Hill Farm, which he had occupied in his more prosperous days. The prisoner said his object was to sleep there, and that the old man heard him, and come out, and that he knocked him down with a piece of wood, with which he struck him several blows, afterwards taking his watch. This account did not fully explain all the circumstances, as it was plain that one wound was caused by an instrument with a sharp edge, no doubt an iron bar; whilst there was blood on the bed and about the room, and money was taken and found on the prisoner, as well as the watch. Brough never fully explained this, but appeared to have a confused remembrance of the circumstances. He offered the watch of the deceased for sale on the day but one after the murder at Tunstall, which is four miles from the scene of the crime, and was at once taken into custody. The watch was clearly identified as that of the murdered man, and the prisoner's clothes were stained with blood, and he confessed his crime in the police station.
From the time of his apprehension to the time of his executive little sympathy was shown for the young man [Charles Brough] in the neighbourhood of Audley, where he was less known than his victim, George Walker, who, though eccentric in his method of living of late years, had relatives and acquaintances there by whom he was respected for acts of kindness in his younger and more prosperous days. And independently of the moiré personal feelings towards individuals, the ruthless murder of an old man by a young one for the paltry object of obtaining a few shillings' worth of property is justly regarded with abhorrence. Brough is pitied on account of the serious nature of the complaint under which he has long suffered, but of substantial sympathy not the slightest has been manifested in the neighbourhood where the murder took place. Brough's father was much affected as soon as he learned that his son had been apprehended and accused of murder, and protested strongly that he had never neglected him. Brough while in custody on the day of the inquest was questioned by his father as to whether he had been properly treated at home, but he doggedly refused to make any answer upon that point. The old man then declared that he would leave the neighbourhood where so foul a deed had been perpetrated by his son. This declaration he carried out early in August, and he is now living at a village in the Biddulph Valley. He visited Audley, Raven's Lane, and Bignall End on Monday last, and made an effort to get signatures to a document setting forth the previous character of his son, with a view of obtaining a commutation of the sentence. Even, however, if he had made the effort earlier, it would have been useless. He received but little encouragement, and asking only a few friends for the testimonial. When conveyed to Stafford the prisoner was exceedingly weak, from his disease and probably also from the reaction which would follow the exertion necessary to effect the murder in the manner in which it was committed. He was, however, well supplied with food in the gaol, of which he consumed an enormous quantity, that being a result of the disease, and was stronger when tried than when he first entered the prison, but he then looked a sad object. His trial brought him to a great state of weakness, but he rallied considerably. His inordinate craving for food, solid and liquid, made it at first difficult to secure his attention to spiritual instructions but for the week preceding his execution he gave more attention to the instructions of the Assistant-chaplain, who has chiefly visited him. He appeared resigned to his fate, and, in fact, his whole conduct has shown that he clung very feebly to life. His father and his father's housekeeper have visited him since his condemnation, his father having seen him on the Thursday, and the housekeeper and two cousins on the day before his execution.
On Monday the usual barricades were placed across the Gaol-road and the County-road, which command a view of the front of the gaol, with the view of breaking the pressure of the anticipated crowd, and a force of about 100 police were mustered from various parts of the country to preserve order, and fires were made in the enclosed space round the scaffold for their benefit and for the workmen engaged in fixing it in its place. The night was cold and rather foggy. It was thought likely that, as two men were to be hanged for different murders, the one having taken place in the north and the other in the south of the county, and the execution taking place in a holiday week and on the very day when a special market was held at Stafford for servants changing their places, that an unusually large crowd would assemble. This was not, however, the case, and probably the execution was witnessed by fewer persons than any which has taken place for many years past. From six to eight thousand was probably about the number present. There were but few persons about the gaol on the night previous, but large bodies came on foot and in vehicles from the south of the county during the whole night, and some, though far fewer from the Potteries.
The lookers-on were of a very mixed character, and it was surprising to see so many decently-dressed and decent-looking men and women amongst them. The great mass, however, consisted of colliers and ironworkers, many with unwashed faces, almost all wearing worsted comforters, and who were accompanied by not a few women and even children; in several cases the women carrying infants at their breasts. The features of many of both sexes were extremely repulsive, and suggested the vast field of missionary work which lies close to our doors. As a whole the behaviour of the crowd was very good. Of course the licensed houses were open, and many persons were traversing the streets, but the absence of drunkenness and of course language was remarkable, and no case of robbery or violence has been reported. No one who watches the crowds who visit Stafford on such occasions as these with a desire accurately to note what their conduct really is can fail to be struck with the steady improvement which appears, and which contrasts remarkably with the horrible saturnalia of which we read when an execution takes place in London. When it is considered that these people had been up all the night, that many of them must have been taking intoxicating drinks, as public-houses were the only places to which they could resort, and that many were of the lowest class, the absence of outrage and the small amount of ribaldry and drunkenness was gratifying. On the evening before the execution a religious service was held in the Covered Market, at which some three or four hundred persons were present, and a solemn address was delivered by Mr. G. Kirkham, a gentleman from London, who visits the scenes of execution with the view of introducing religious truth to those who attend them, and who said he had been at twenty-seven during the present year. The Rev. J.C. Blake (Presbyterian) and the Rev. W. Cornish (Baptist) also took part in the service. A number of young men were engaged during the night in distributing printed slips containing solemn adjurations to the passers-by; and boards, with texts of Scripture of a similar character were placed near the gaol, whilst addresses were delivered by various persona. Those thus engaged say that they were treated with civility by the crowd.
The prisoners were visited by the High Sheriff, Major Thorneycroft, and the Under-Sheriff, Mr. C. Corser on Monday evening, to whom Hale earnestly asserted his innocence, in reply to their entreaties that he would confess the truth. They stayed with him for some time. During the night it is believed by the wardens who were with him that he never slept. He passed his time alternately lying on his bed and pacing the room, and read the Bible and prayed during most of the time. He repeated his declaration of innocence to the attendant warden saying, "I have told the Sheriff I am innocent, and when I get on the drop I shall tell the Chaplain the very same as I tell you now". He also said to the chaplain, in the presence of the Assistant-Chaplain, that he should die happy if he (the Chaplain) would believe him innocent. "Believe me, sir! Oh, believe me! Don't let the thought of my being guilty ever trouble you after I am gone; for sir, I'm innocent!". Brough slept for about two hours, waking at about four o'clock. Both prisoners were attended by the Chaplain and Assistant-Chaplain during the night. The Communion was administered to each of them. They both took very heartily of breakfast.
At about half-past seven o'clock Hale was taken from his cell to the hospital, where Brough had been since his trial, and was there pisioned [or poisoned] by the executioner, George Smith, of Dudley, Brough also going through a like process. At five minutes to eight the High Sheriff, the Under Sheriff, the acting Under Sheriff (Mr. Hand), Major Fulford (the governor of the gaol), Mr. Mountfort (the deputy governer); and other officers went to the hospital, and the prison bell began to tol. The Chaplain and Assistant Chaplain in their surplices issued forth, the former reading a solemn Litany used by him on these occasions. Hale came next. He was considerably thinner than when he was tried, looked pale and anxious, casting glances round, as if to find sympathy in the faces near him. Brough walked by the side of one of the wardens, requiring but little assistance, and apparently less anxious than his companion. Slowly the bell tolled, and the procession, in which the Sheriff, and the Under Sheriff, and Governor, and other joined, advanced to the gaol lodge, the solemn words of the service with the muttered prayers of the convict alone breaking the stillness of the morning. The crowd outside was hushed into the most perfect silence, and preserved it until some minutes after the drop fell. At the foot of the scaffold the procession paused, and the Rev. Mr. Vincent, the Chaplain, using an ear-trumpet on account of Hale's deafness, said to him:
Chaplain - Hale, in a few minutes you will stand in the presence of Almighty God. I adjure you, I implore you, not to die with a lie upon your lips, but to tell the truth. Are you guilty of the muder of Eliza Sillitoc?
Hale - I am innocent. This is the time to try me whether I am guilty or not, and, sir, I'm innocent.
Chaplain - When did you last see her alive?
Hale - About half past twelve o'clock the day she was missed.
Chaplain - So help you God?
Hale - Yes. So help me God!
The Chaplain then shook hands with Hale, saying "May the Lord have mercy on your soul," to which Hale responded - "May the Lord have mercy on my soul". The Chaplain also shook hands with Brough, using a similar prayer, and both prisoners, Hale with the greater fervency, continued to repeat "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" until the last moment. The wardens then ascended the steps, standing with their black wands in each corner, and Hale and Brough followed. The former was nervous and stumbled on the steps and displayed much trepidation as he stood on the drop. Their faces were quickly covered by the executioner and the ropes adjusted as the further words of the service were uttered, and at the passage "In the midst of life we are in death" the both was shot and the men fell, dying with scarcely a struggle. Hale's hands slightly rose and fell again, but probably neither was conscious for a second. The silence of the crowd continued for a minute or two after the drop fell. The bodies hung for an hour, and were then cut down by the executioner, placed in unplanned coffins, and buried in one grave near the chapel, and near the remains of men executed for several years past. Lime was flung upon them to destroy them, an practice at Stafford which preserves a crowded prison from the exhalations of noxious gases from the gradual decomposition of the bodies.
The crowd rapidly thinned after the execution, but some thousands were present when the bodies were cut down. Those who had come to the town to see the executions quickly took their departure, and may it be long before such a dread tragedy is again enacted in the county.