Buckstones Murders of 1903

On Wednesday 9 September 1903, 56-year-old gamekeeper William Henry Uttley (known as "Bill o' Mark's") of Far Owlers and 26-year-old Robert Kenyon were murdered on the desolate moors to the south of Buckstones, near Marsden. The two men were related by marriage — Uttley was Kenyon's uncle-in-law.

Despite a search by Robert's father, gamekeeper James Kenyon, the previous evening, the bodies were not found until the the following day. Uttley was found at around 9:40am in a gully known as Ben Clough and had apparently been shot at close range from behind — around 30 grouse pellets were later removed from his body. At around noon, Robert Kenyon's body was found just over a mile nearer Marsden, partially concealed in an area known as Deep Clough.

At the subsequent inquest held in the Marsden Mechanics' Institute, James Kenyon provided information to the coroner that he believed the killer was Henry Buckley, a dairy farmer who resided at Sholver in Moorside, Oldham, some six miles west from the sites of the murders.

Buckley was arrested and brought before the magistrates at Huddersfield on no less than seven occasions. Although there was some circumstantial evidence, Buckley's solicitor, Mr. G.P. Fripp of Oldham, argued that James Kenyon held a grudge against Buckley and that there was no definitive proof against his client. Buckley's statement that he had not been near the area where the murders took place was supported by a number of witnesses.

On Friday 16 October, the magistrates gave their verdict that there was not enough evidence to justify committing Buckley for trial and he walked free.

Despite a sizeable reward of £300, the murders remained unsolved.

William Henry Uttley's son, Sidney, died in the First World War. William Henry's father, gamekeeper Mark Uttley, died from a gunshot wound caused by an accidental discharge in May 1867. William's daughter, Lucy Hannah, died in 1971.

Henry Buckley continued to maintain his innocence. On Friday 25 October 1918, he was involved in an accident with a lorry and suffered internal injuries. On the Tuesday of the following week, he committed suicide at his home.[1]

Further Reading

Notes and References

  1. Newspaper reports of his death give his address as 8 Sholver Lane, Moorside, Oldham.
  2. The author may be recounting the details of the murder from memory, as he incorrectly names Robert Kenyon's father as William, not James, and makes other factual errors.