Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) - Chapter XL

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Chapter XL. Marsden Moor Murders

This was the terrible calamity of the year 1903, in the peaceful valley of the River Colne, in the lovely late summer time of this beautiful and prosperous district. All things were going on quietly. Work was plentiful; good will universal. The churches, chapels, and schools were all doing good work, so that by the zeal displayed one might reasonably have expected universal goodwill on earth — “Angel Jim” in that charming novel by Hales: but, on the other hand, unsuspecting humanity may expect many a rude awakening, as to professions and performances, and often the blatant virtues are mere advertisements to deceive the very elect. Some day let us hope right and righteousness will be possessed and not flauntingly used as a mask to cover deceit. Until then the best means in our hands must be made use of to regenerate that blessed word. Humanity.

With regard to the heading of this note. The days of old presented a similar catastrophe at “Bill’s o’ Jack’s,” the wild moorland height on the lovely Greenfield Hills, where father and son were done to death one dark night in that old hostelry, and the foul murder never found out. It then rang out with a loud clang throughout the length and breadth of the land, calling for restitution on the perpetrators of this foul deed; but, alas! they were never found out, and the crime goes unpunished to this day.

How singular that this unfortunate debacle should be repeated on the Marsden Moors, closely adjoining. On a peaceful morning the inhabitants were terribly startled by the wild announcement that Bob Kenyon and Bill Uttley had been shot on the Buck Stone Moors, occupied by Messrs. Joseph Crowther, John E. Crowther, and Tom Ramsden. How these gentlemen were shocked, and the whole neighbourhood upset, can only be realised by those then living in the neighbourhood. The above gentlemen were rebuilding the shooting box, and had done all they could for their men, who were all good sportsmen, and the best of their kind. How this should come to them under the circumstances was a staggering blow to their glowing hopefulness; to find their best keeper lying dead by gunshot wounds, with his faithful dog by his side, was so shocking as to almost deprive them of their senses at least for a time. But to also discover young Bob Kenyon hidden under bracken and stones was something too terrible for words and too horrible to describe, and yet this was so, and all the skill of the best solicitors, men from Scotland Yard, the police from near and far, could do nothing to elucidate the matter or find anything to fix the crime on the proper shoulders. True, there were trials which got no forrader, and demonstrations made which had been much better let alone, but what a pity that nothing has ever been found out. The mystery remains, and the world still wonders.

It was a terrible time for all concerned. Those living will never forget it, and the sympathy will always go largely to Mrs. Uttley for the tragic death of her dear and faithful husband, beloved by man and master as a true example of honest worth, true fidelity, and sterling manliness; and here it has to be silently left for good old Father Time to reveal or for ever retain.

Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden