John Blagg 1857

On 16th April 1857 the body of John Bebbington , a gamekeeper, was found at 5 in the morning by a passing worker. He had left his home earlier that morning to patrol the fields, and was never seen alive again, except by his murderer. He had been shot dead, and shots had been heard in the early hours. As dawn broke, 2 sets of footprints could be seen in the mud, one belonging to the victim, and the other led across several fields in the direction of the house of John Blagg.
Those boot prints were matched to the boots belonging to Blagg, who denied any involvement. Blagg had a shotgun, and there were similarities between the shot that he had bought the previous month, and that used for the murder. Witnesses who lived with Blagg said that he was up and about before 5 that morning.
There was also a history of friction between the two. A couple of years before Bebbington had allegedly knocked Blagg down, and Blagg had said he would shoot him if he ever had the opportunity.
Despite the evidence being circumstantial, which the Judge referred to in his summing up, Blagg was found guilty.
Two petitions totalling 1300 signatures were collected, with public concern about the nature of the circumstantial evidence against Blagg, but home Secretary Sir George Grey could find no reason to interfere with the due course of the law.
John Blagg was hanged on front of the City Gaol by Calcraft on 28th August, 1857, and according to the Cheshire Observer, “appeared to be dead instantaneously, without making the slightest struggle”
Shortly before he died, Blagg had allegedly said to the turnkey that he knew who had committed the murder, but that he would never tell on him.