The Bill o’ Jacks Murders

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15 Responses

  1. Ian Topham says:

    Murders in Saddleworth
    The story of Bill o’Jacks murder is probably not well known thees days.  As my mothers family are from Saddleworth and have been resident there for centuries I grew up hearing the local stories and of course the infamous murder. 

    Of course, the scene of this murder is extremely close to the location where the victims of the the Moors Murderers, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were discovered. 

  2. Edward Bamforth says:

    Murder at Bill o’Jack’s


    Let’s turn back the hands of time to eighteen thirty-two
    To the Moorcock Inn at Greenfield, renowned for it’s home brew.
    Situated in the bleak and rolling Pennine hills,
    Run by landlord Bill O’ Jack’s and his son Tom O’ Bill’s.

    From Holmfirth the turnpike came and over Isle of Skye
    And dropped down into Greenfield from the moors on high.
    Dug out of bracken, peat and bog and all the moorland mire
    Opening up the Pennine route right into Lancashire

    Built by gangs of Irish navvies, rough and ready men,
    Who were also known as “Pats” (from St.Patrick do ya ken).
    Every night in Bill’s O’ Jack’s they’d revel loud and long
    And down their ale and fill the night with strains of Irish song.

    With the opening of the road more people did drop in
    And enjoy a welcome drink at the Moorcock Inn.
    They’d take in the awesome view of moorland and of vale
    And they’d soak up the atmosphere as they did sup their ale.

    The gypsies or Burnplatters as they were sometimes called
    Made their camp at Wessenden, or so the story’s told,
    And Tom O’ Bill’s he charged them rent, claiming ‘twas his land,
    And if they should refuse to pay they’d feel his heavy hand

    For Tom was tall and muscular, with shoulders like an ox
    A fighting man when he was young and he’d learnt how to box.
    He was feared by many a man and enemies he’d made
    For Tom believed he was the king of all that he surveyed.

    Monday April 2nd dawned like any other day,
    But ended in mysterious and most horrific way.
    Rueben Platt called at the pub, he was Tom’s closest friend,
    Sometime twixt six and seven o’clock they set off to Roadend

    They hadn’t travelled very far when three “Pats” they did see
    Heading towards Bill’s O’ Jack’s, or so they seemed to be,
    But Tom and Rueben watched them go till they were out of sight
    And so set off to Whitehead’s store in quickly fading light.

    What Tom found on his return, we only can surmise,
    But one thing’s certain, on that night, they met their sad demise.
    At half-past ten on Tuesday morn Bill’s granddaughter called by
    And seeing Uncle Tom laid there young Mary then did cry.

    She ran down to Whitehead’s store her story to relate
    How grandpa Bill and Uncle Tom had sadly met their fate.
    They called Sam Heginbottom then hastened to the scene,
    The surgeon saw to both the men and their wounds did clean.

    Tom O’Bill’s was forty-six, his father eighty-four
    Bill was upstairs on his bed, a-lying in his gore.
    He had a badly beaten face and cuts on leg and hand,
    His mouth a blood-filled sticky mess, his face all white and bland.

    Downstairs Tom lay unconscious, upon the flags of stone,
    In a pool of his own blood, he lay there all alone.
    His blood was splattered on the walls, the windows and the door.
    With fifteen gashes on his head, from which the blood did pour.

    What happened on that fatal night is difficult to say,
    But plenty theories still abound until this very day.
    Now, Bill as he lay dying was said to mutter “Pats”
    Well that was what it sounded like, or maybe he said “Platts”

    Because this single uttered word from Old Bill’s lips did part
    The navvies and the gypsies were suspects from the start.
    For Tom and Reuben saw three navvies on that very night
    But Reuben said that he and Tom had seen them out of sight.

    Suspicion fell on Reuben Platt, supposed to be their friend,
    For hadn’t he accompanied Tom part way to Roadend.
    Knowing that the coast was clear he’d catch Bill on his own
    He could kill Bill and lay a trap for Tom when he came home.

    Bill always called him Reuben, he never called him Platt,
    So at the inquest he was cleared of murder – that was that.
    Two Irishmen were questioned in Uppermill next day
    As the description did not fit they sent them on their way.

    Joe and his father Jamie, the Red Tom Bradburys
    Became the major suspects, but they had no worries.
    Though Tom had caught them poaching and they were summoned then
    To Pontefract Assizes that Tuesday to attend.

    So, early on that morning, they set out on their way
    And, upon reaching Meltham, Jamie was heard to say
    That Tom O’Bill’s won’t testify, just you wait and see,
    With him not there as witness, we’ll both get off “Scott free”

    The magistrates, who hadn’t heard, about this dreadful deed,
    Could not charge Joe and Jamie and so the pair were freed.
    Suspicion was awakened when news then filtered through
    And they were gaoled in Huddersfield until their case was due.

    There was no concrete evidence to convict the pair
    And Jamies’s daughter, Matty, swore on oath that there
    Would only have been time enough for them to get on back
    To their home from the New Inn and not call at Bill’s O’ Jack’s.

    The magistrates accepted this and duly closed the case
    The official verdict being “there was no charge to face.”
    And though they got off lightly, t’ was also seen by folk,
    That they stopped drinking in the pubs in case the “ale should talk”

    It’s well known that Tom was hated by many round about
    And he’d had lots of run-ins with the Bradburys, no doubt.
    Tom always had the upper-hand so, maybe then through spite,
    They made their plans to pay him back upon that April night.

    Whoever did this horrid deed, their blackened souls did save
    And took their morbid secret with them to the grave.
    So the mystery still lives on and no one has a clue
    To what happened on that April night in eighteen thirty two.

    Edward Bamforth, January 2006


  3. Daniel Parkinson says:

    Thanks Edward
    Great way of

    Thanks Edward

    Great way of putting the story across

    Danny P.

  4. Mauro says:

    That’s absolutely brilliant,
    That’s absolutely brilliant, didn’t know about this case.

  5. avalon1 says:

    Bill O Jacks
    Thanks for the memory, I recall going to see a play at Oldham Rep many years ago about this murder. Love the site. Book reviews great idea.

  6. puddled69 says:

    Re: Murders in Saddleworth
    People of Saddleworth still talk of Bill 0’Jacks even now. I recently went up there with a member of my team ( and to Saddleworth Church graveyard.

    It is a fantastic spot, very peaceful and you can still see the foundations of all the buildings that were present and the cellar is more or less intact. We shall hopefully going up later in the summer to carry out an investigation if we are permitted.

  7. Ian Topham says:

    Re: The Bill o’ Jacks Murders
    Investigation?  Is it meant to be haunted?  I hadn’t heard anything to suggest a ghost.

  8. puddled69 says:

    Re: The Bill o’ Jacks Murders

    Well we thought with its history we would check it out.  We did a small invest took pics etc.  We caught a strange blue orb, heard knocking in the old cellar part which you can still walk in? .  So yes I think it needs further investigation.

    And about a month ago myself, folks and daughter were coming back from Holmfirth, just before we passed the site, a great bright white orb (nearly as wide as the car) came from behind the wall and straight up the road and right through the car.  My mums face was  a picture! she is nearly 70 and she knew that this was not a cloud! very strange. She still talks about it.

    PS. we did ask permission prior to walking on the land.

  9. Ian Topham says:

    Re: The Bill o’ Jacks Murders
    A large orb came through the car?  Some kind of earthlight maybe?

  10. puddled69 says:

    Re: The Bill o’ Jacks Murders
    I don’t know what it was, its really hard to describe as it was so weird? Living in Saddleworth you get used to low cloud and rain, but this thing was different. It was so bright and so fast?

  11. Wiccaman says:

    Re: The Bill o’ Jacks Murders
     how far is saddleworth moor itself from the "little house on the prairie"?

  12. kbradbury says:

    Re: The Bill o’ Jacks Murders
     Wow these people were my fouth and fifth great grandfathers! How strange.

  13. Jody Anne Platt says:

    I am a descendant of Reuben Platt’s, he is my 3rd great grandfather. This is quite a mystery! I have really enjoyed reading the various accounts of the murders and imagining life in Oldham in 1832.

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