- Transcribed by unknown author unknown author
- Edition: September 1st 1855 September 1st 1855
Croydon, Monday Evening.
-Yesterday morning intelligence reached this town of a murder which had been committed at a village called Cudham, some miles distant, in this neighbourhood, and of an attempt, fortunately, unsuccessful to take away the life of an aged woman residing under the same roof.
The victim of the murderer was a woman named Jane BEAGLEY, a little above 40 years of age, the wife of a farm labourer. It appears that about half past four or five oclock in the morning of Saturday last, BEAGLEY, the husband, quitted his cottage, which is a detached one, situate in the Westerham road, to proceed to his ordinary work, leaving his wife and mother, who resided with them, asleep in bed. He did not return till the evening about half past seven oclock, when , on arriving at his cottage with one of his sons, they were surprised to find it locked up and the windows closed. They broke a window, by which they entered, in being then almost dark. On going into the wifes room he asked her why she had gone to bed so soon, but receiving no reply, he felt in bed for her in the dark, and in doing so put his hand into, what turned out, on lighting a candle, to be a pool of blood.
His wife was completely covered over with the bedclothes, and on removing them he encountered a shocking spectacle. The unfortunate woman was lying in her blood, with her head and face so frightenly beaten and lacerated that it was difficult to recognise her. Near her, on the counterpane, lay a pair of tongs, which, from being smeared with blood and from having portions of human hair adhering to them, was evidently the instrument by which the deed had been perpetrated. She was quite dead and had been so for many hours.
The old woman, who lay in a adjoining room, had part of her skull broken in, her hands very much bruised, and her shoulders hurt. She was still alive, but insensible, and wholly unable to give any account of the transaction. The object of the murderer appears to have been plunder alone. The elder woman, though upwards of 80 years of age, had been able up to the present time to work in the fields, and her son maintained her to accumulate her small earnings. These, amounting to a few pounds, she kept in a box in her room. The murdered woman had also about 3s., which she had deposited in a chest in the apartment where she slept. Both these boxes had been broken open and were ransacked.
About six oclock on the morning of the murder, two men, who were mowing clover in a field close by, state they saw a man come from the garden behind the cottage across the meadow in which they were working. He was about 30 or 40 yards from them; that they hailed him; and that the louder they shouted the faster he ran till he was out of sight.
He appeared to be from 20 to 25 years of age, about five feet seven inches high, dressed in a dark shooting coat and trousers and black hat, and carrying a little bundle under his arm. At present suspicion points to two men separately, and to one in particular, namely, William CLARKE, but who sometimes goes by the name James BAKER, who is supposed to be a deserter from the Grenadier Guards. He is about 45 years of age, a native of Halfag Island, near Portsmouth, with a swarthy complexion, large black whiskers, and nearly six feet high. He is a tramp, and has occasionally worked as a navy.
According to his own account, he has just recently been liberated from the prison at Wandsworth, where he was incarcerated four months for theft. Suspicion also attaches to a man named Robert PEELING, a returned transport, and a shoemaker by trade. He is about 24 years of age, and has lately been living in the neighbourhood of Cudham, but has suddenly disappeared.