Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Mistaken identity?

 Thanks for the comments, Ken.
The possibility that Rachel was the intended victim is interesting, and an angle not previously suggested. As with all the theories in this case there are frustrating points for and against. How physically similar Rachel and Liz were, we simply don't know. If they were very similar that could give substance to the suggestion. What we do know is that on the night of the murder there was a waxing moon, which would have given some light, but whether it was enough to see the person clearly is debatable. However, if the attacker was one of Ramsden's circle, he would have known both girls very well and unless the attack was carried out in a panic, I think he would have known who the girl was, even in poor light. Given Liz and Rachel's colourful love lives, it's certainly likely that both had made enemies. Rachel, in particular, had very likely made an enemy of Anne Ramsden, Thomas's wife, but the way the act was carried out seems unlikely for a woman.. If the murderer was Thomas or one of his apprentices, I think they would have been aware of Rachel's whereabouts, due to her being the Ramsdens' servant. On the night in question she was doing the Ramsden's family's laundry until around 10.00 and when she left, was accompanied by one of Thomas's brothers and one of his sons and I suspect this accompanying her home was a regular occurrence. As a result, I think it unlikely  the attackers would have thought the girl hurrying alone down Sheepcote Lane was Rachel. Of course, it isn't outside the realms of possibility either...Frustrating, isn't it!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Elizabeth Brook's address

Thanks also to Mary Twentyman for a correction to the address I gave for Rachel's mother Elizabeth Brook when she left Clifton to live with her nephew. The address was Goose Hill not Gorse Hill. Handwriting is sometimes tricky to interpret on a census and I imagine this is what threw me.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Oakenshaw Fair

Huge thanks to Mary Twentyman who has discovered the date of Oakenshaw Fair. Readers may recall that Liz Rayner and Rachel Brook were accompanied home from the fair by Thomas Ramsden. I now know this must have been on the 17th of September. By late December both girls were around 15 weeks pregnant. Counting backwards...well, the date fits rather well...

Friday, 1 July 2011

Family Tree magazine

I've recently had an article accepted for publication by Family Tree magazine. I don't know yet which edition it will be in, but I'm really pleased at the opportunity to reach more people.

Ideas about deer

As anyone who has read the book knows, part of my theory concerns deer. One Cliftoner was quick to point out, however, that during his grandfather's day there were no deer on the Kirklees estate - at least no herds. This puzzled me as on old maps the estate is clearly marked as a deer park. A little research in the Armytage's archive seems to clear the matter up. In a game warden's book from 1894 to 1903 deer stock in the park is noted on a weekly basis. And there are a large number of deaths, from attacks by dogs, to green tail, to tuberculosis. Following this in 1904, there is a lot of correspondence regarding the purchase of fallow deer - from France, Wales and Bourne. The final reference is a game book 1925-1946 - and here's the rub - no mention of deer at all. From this my conclusion is that tuberculosis became so endemic, it decimated the herd each time it was restocked until at last the whole idea was abandoned. This would explain why there were deer aplenty up until around 1905, but from then onwards there was no longer a maintained herd.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A suspect closer to home

Geoff Hirst has contacted me to suggest that William Rayner, Liz's father, is worth considering more closely as a suspect. It's certainly true that the murder of a child by a parent is,sadly, not unknown. He points out that there could have been two possible motives - the first that William disapproved very strongly of his daughter's behaviour and a heated argument turned tragically violent. The alternative suggestion is that he may have had an incestuous relationship with her (not unknown in those times) and wanted to dispose of the physical reminder of his actions. I agree that this is possible, but my argument against it is that if there had been some suspicion regarding him, surely he would have been asked to give a deposition before the coroner. The fact he didn't, seems to suggest that plenty people had seen him on the night of the murder, so his whereabouts were not in question.