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… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Roseberry

“Murder by a Farmer in the North-Riding” (Part 2)

If you have not read the first part of this history then it might make more sense if you did.

We left Bradshaw Graham languishing in gaol charged with the wilful murder of William Johnson on the night of 19th October 1863. Perhaps he was reflecting on his life so far. Perhaps he was thinking of Roseberry Topping, a hill he would have been so familiar with.

His arrest was said to have been dramatic, the shrieks of his wife and family being “heart-rending”. In gaol, he wrote a letter to his wife, “asking her forgiveness for the heavy disgrace he has brought upon his name and family, and saying that his ‘cup of bitterness’ had long been full, but now it had overflowed”. His father had died a month or two earlier and had left all his property to his widow, who was his second wife. Perhaps this was the bitterness that had filled his cup. He was described as being “very passionate”1“THE STOKESLEY MURDER.” York Herald, 24 Oct. 1863, p. 5. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/R3211101700/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=db190b36. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021..

He was about fifty years of age, married to Martha Tweddle2o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021. with “five or six children”. Johnson, whom he had killed, was twenty years his junior3“Extraordinary Murder near Stokesley.” Yorkshire Gazette, 24 Oct. 1863, p. 3. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JA3231084785/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=7405f68d. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.. Perhaps this contributed to the pride that Johnson referred to when he was chiding him. Bradshaw Brougham Graham, to use his full name, was not a typical farmer. He was an educated man, a former articled solicitor4“Extraordinary Murder near Stokesley.” Yorkshire Gazette, 24 Oct. 1863, p. 3. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JA3231084785/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=7405f68d. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021. but by 1841, then aged about 28, he was farming 46 acres in Ayton as one of his father’s tenants. Thomas Graham, his father, happened to own Ayton Hall5o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021., a large palatial house that still overlooks the Low Green in Great Ayton6“AYTON HALL, Great Ayton – 1150651 | Historic England.” Historicengland.org.uk, 2012, historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1150651. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021. . So Bradshaw came from a very wealthy family which owned much land in the area.

Thomas Graham was born in Cumberland, and had brought Ayton Hall sometime between 1810 and 18237o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.. He had remarried after his wife, Bradshaw’s mother, Eliza, died and his new wife, Mary, was 47 years his junior8o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.. Thomas would have been 86 in 1863 so that puts his widow as 39, eleven years younger than Bradshaw.

I haven’t been able to find out if Newham Hall, Bradshaw’s farm, was leased from his father or whether he owned it himself, but if he did lease it then his step-mother would have become the lessor which may further account further for his admitted bitterness.

But to go back to Thomas Graham. In 1805, he was one of if not the main beneficiary in his brother’s will. Monkhouse Graham was “a merchant in Liverpool”9Barrigan, Alice. “Thomas Graham of Ayton Hall.” Blogspot.com, 4 Mar. 2021, northyorkshirehistory.blogspot.com/2014/06/thomas-graham-of-ayton-hall.html. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.. Now that is not a common name which lead me down an interesting path as to the source of his trade. I will be the first to admit here that there may very well be two merchants by the name of Monkhouse Graham from Cumberland but I’m pretty certain these are the same.

The first thing I came across was the baptism of a James, who was recorded as the son of Monkhouse Graham, and an “African” in the parish registers of Stanwix 11 May 180010“Trading in People Slavery -Its Cumbrian Connections”. https://cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/542/796/41381124341.PDF Accessed 4 March 2021.. Stanwix is just north of Carlisle and, in the village of Tarraby, Monkhouse Graham brought a house there11Barrigan, Alice. “Thomas Graham of Ayton Hall.” Blogspot.com, 4 Mar. 2021, northyorkshirehistory.blogspot.com/2014/06/thomas-graham-of-ayton-hall.html. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.. This was a time at the height of the trade in enslaved peoples to the plantations of the Caribbean and it was not uncommon for black people to be brought back to Britain either under a moral obligation of paternity, as a servant or indeed just as a fashion accessory. There is a debate about their legal status since slavery did not officially exist in Britain at this time.

Which lead me to a growing suspicion of the sort of business Bradshaw’s Uncle Monkhouse was actually involved with. Now, a lot of work has been been done on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and their website contains a really good searchable database. Within minutes I had a listing of 21 voyages between 1799 and 1805 in which Monkhouse Graham was listed as one of the owners (usually a third or half share). The total number of enslaved people transported was 4,349 although only 3,369 survived the journey. These statistics are quite chilling. Two ships were lost, one at sea and the other captured by the French‌12“Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – Database.” Slavevoyages.org, 2021, slavevoyages.org/voyage/database. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.. No doubt he was covered by insurance for all the losses.

As an example: The “Lord Nelson”, a 237 ton ship with a crew of 40 crew and carrying 22 × 6-pounder guns, was jointly owned by Monkhouse Graham, Thomas Hayes, and Samuel Newton. On 3 September 1801, the ship sailed from Liverpool under Captain Francis Darnoult, first to the west coast of Africa laden with copper, cloth, trinkets and beads. These goods were traded for 301 Africans who were crammed into the holds. Then the Lord Nelson sailed the Middle Passage and arrived at Trinidad on 23 February 1802 with 271 on board, a loss of 10%. The enslaved people were sold and sugar, rum, and molasses brought for the return journey. Leaving Trinidad on 8 March, the Lord Nelson arrived back at Liverpool on 20 April.  Six crew members died on the voyage13“Lord Nelson (1798 Ship) | Wikiwand.” Wikiwand, 2017, www.wikiwand.com/en/Lord_Nelson_(1798_ship). Accessed 4 Mar. 2021..

One thing that the database does not reveal is the amount of “profit” made from these voyages but there can not be any doubt that the trade was very lucrative. Monkhouse Graham would have accumulated considerable wealth, a substantial part of which would have passed to his brother Thomas Graham and which perhaps enabled the latter to buy the Ayton Estate.

A bit of a sidetrack perhaps and no doubt Bradshaw Graham never gave it a second thought where his father’s money had actually come from as he sat in York gaol contemplating his future. Only a growing resentment that it had all gone to his step mother.

Next time: 14th December 1863 and Bradshaw Graham stands trial at York Assizes for the ‘Wilful Murder’ of William Johnson.

  • 1
    “THE STOKESLEY MURDER.” York Herald, 24 Oct. 1863, p. 5. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/R3211101700/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=db190b36. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.
  • 2
    o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.
  • 3
    “Extraordinary Murder near Stokesley.” Yorkshire Gazette, 24 Oct. 1863, p. 3. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JA3231084785/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=7405f68d. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.
  • 4
    “Extraordinary Murder near Stokesley.” Yorkshire Gazette, 24 Oct. 1863, p. 3. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JA3231084785/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=7405f68d. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.
  • 5
    o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.
  • 6
    “AYTON HALL, Great Ayton – 1150651 | Historic England.” Historicengland.org.uk, 2012, historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1150651. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.
  • 7
    o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.
  • 8
    o’Sullivan, Dan. “AYTON HALL.” http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/individual-houses/Ayton-Hall.pdf Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.
  • 9
    Barrigan, Alice. “Thomas Graham of Ayton Hall.” Blogspot.com, 4 Mar. 2021, northyorkshirehistory.blogspot.com/2014/06/thomas-graham-of-ayton-hall.html. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.
  • 10
    “Trading in People Slavery -Its Cumbrian Connections”. https://cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/542/796/41381124341.PDF Accessed 4 March 2021.
  • 11
    Barrigan, Alice. “Thomas Graham of Ayton Hall.” Blogspot.com, 4 Mar. 2021, northyorkshirehistory.blogspot.com/2014/06/thomas-graham-of-ayton-hall.html. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.
  • 12
    “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – Database.” Slavevoyages.org, 2021, slavevoyages.org/voyage/database. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.
  • 13
    “Lord Nelson (1798 Ship) | Wikiwand.” Wikiwand, 2017, www.wikiwand.com/en/Lord_Nelson_(1798_ship). Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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4 responses to ““Murder by a Farmer in the North-Riding” (Part 2)”

  1. […] so ends Part 1 of this tale. Part 2 will follow when we have another dull miserable day on the North York […]

  2. […] suggest if you are coming to this afresh, I advise you to read Parts 1 and 2 […]

  3. Eric Graham avatar
    Eric Graham

    Bradshaws stepmother only had the use of Ayton House or Ayton Hall for her lifetime,after her death the estate was left to Bradshaws son Monkhouse Bradshaw is my GG grandfather.

    1. Fhithich avatar
      Fhithich

      Thanks for that info.

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