Hi and welcome to my site.
Cheshire is full of weird and wonderful stories of the supernatural, local heores and the mysterious.
I will take you on a tour as I look deep into the Cheshire that lies underneath the wonderful countryside and find the secrets that still hide there.
What magic and long lost secrets will we find?
So, sit back and enjoy my journey. This is a land of Magic, Knights, Dragons, Wizards, Witches, Boggarts, Murder, Ghosts and Old Forgotten Knowledge.

I would love to hear your stories as well. So if you have anything you would like me to look into and find information out, please let me know.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Murder at Tilstone Fearnall

This tale is something of a legend in Tilstone Fearnall at Alpraham, nr Tarporley. In fact many people still believe that the wrong man was hanged. Is this a murder mystery that to this day has never been fully investigated?
I will let you read and draw your own conclusions.
We travel from Cheshire to New Orleans.

The murder of John Bebbington.

During the early hours of Friday 17th April 1857, Thomas Chesters was walking to work. He had taken a short cut across a wheatfield on the grounds of Tilstone Lodge Estate belonging to Edward Corbett.

He saw a body lying in a ditch with a loaded shotgun beside him and he recgonised him as John Bebbington (gamekeeper). Thomas ran to his employer, John Sheen(tenant farmer). They both moved John Bebbeington's body to the nearby house of Mr Hall.

John Sheen then went to inform the Lord of the Manor, Edward Corbett, a senior local police officer and the surgeon John Croxton-Foulkes of Bunbury.
The surgeon examined the body and found he had a large gunshot wound on his leftside.

The following day, John Croxton-Foulkes conducted a full post mortem and found that the gunshot had passed through John Bebbington's left lung and shattered his heart causing instant death.

About 9am, Superintendent Francis McDermott, Constable John Kearns and John Sheen went back to the scene of the murder. They found some clean partridge feathers, some wadding from shotgun cartridges and two sets of footpints. They compared the game keeper's boots and matched one set of prints to him. They followed the other set and they led to Sandy Lane, Alpraham, to the cottage of 47yr old John Blagg. He was a shoemaker and poacher. He was charged with the murder of John Bebbington. They also took away his shotgun and boots.

John Blagg was held in Tarporley lock up overnight before going to Chester Castle.
He claimed he was not guilty.

The trail took place on Friday 7th August 1857 at Chester. From day one, a picture was painted of someone who (as a poacher) hated the gamekeeper.

During the trail, Lord of Alpraham Manor, James Tollemache, ordered the eviction of John Blagg's wife and 4yr old child from their home.
The villagers didnt like John Blagg but cared about how his family were being treated. They told Lord Tollemache that no one would testify against John Blagg and they would threaten anyone who did. Lord Tollemache's responce was harsh, he would evict any of his tenants who didnt obey him.

John Blagg claimed he was innocent and that he had loaned his boots to Henry Edwin Jones, on the day before the muder. Mrs Blagg confirmed this. The police had spoken to Mr Jones but let him go. She claimed the police were only interested in her husband because he was so disliked in the village. She even showed the police the other pair of boots her husband had been wearing.

The trail only lasted 10 hours and John Blagg was found guilty. His execution was set for Friday 28th August 1857.

Immediately after the trail, Thomas Jones (defence solicitor) and Andrew Johnson of Tarporley drew up a petition and sent it to the Home Secretary asking for a reprieve. But the appeal had been doomed to fail as (it was claimed) that Lord Tollemache had already spoken to the Home Secretary and so there was no way John Blagg would ever be set free.

During his time in prison, John Blagg talked to The Deputy Sheriff of Cheshire, Richard Bordessa. Richard Bordessa thought that John Blagg was innocent but John Blagg was hung on Friday 28th August 1857.

Now everything went forgotton for 30yrs. Then a Liverpool Merchant, James Sawers went to New Orleans. It was there that he heard of a startling confession made to the Rector of St Paul's, New Orleans by Henry Edwin Jones, on his deathbed. He had emigrated to Canada after the murder and died there.
He confessed that he had a personnel grudge against John Bebbington.
He had borrowed his boots, murdered him and left the footprints so that John Blagg would get the blame.

Was the wrong man hung?
Did the authorities just blame John Blagg and go for him because he was disliked?
Why did someone else claimed they had done the murder, if they had not?



After reading my tale regarding this murder, I was contacted regarding another murder some 17 years earlier.

Thomas Henshall was murdered in 1840 and he too was the Gamekeeper at the Lodge. Thomas was also shot in his left side and found in a ditch on the ground of the Lodge. His body had been taken away by the police and his body had been laid out by Sarah Sheen.

Shoemaker, John Elson, was the first suspect but it was Thomas Brooks who was tried for the murder. Thomas was found innocent and no one else was arrested or tried for the murder.

Is it possible that two murders could happen in the same way and at the same place, 17 years apart?

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