The Craxford Family Magazine Red Pages

{$text['mgr_red1']} Cottingham 2.1

The Tragic Short Life of Thomas Christopher Claypole

by Alan D Craxford, Brenda Eldridge, Deirdre Ann Norton, Janice Binley and Peter Crane


"The large populous village of Cottingham is situated in one of the loveliest districts of the county of Northampton. The historic castle of Rockingham is within two miles of it, and at the slope of the acclivity on which it is principally built extends the broad and beautiful valley of the Welland, which here divides Northamptonshire from Rutland. But not the most beautiful spots on earth can enjoy an immunity from crime." - The Northampton Herald (1)

It has been a matter of longstanding surprise that the events we are to recount in this article have been effectively expunged from the collective memories of the families concerned and from the archives of the environs where they took place. Indeed it is only a chance remark written in a letter to our (Alan and Brenda's) father, George William Craxford, by his cousin Iris Snow (See: Murder Most Foul?? In Cottingham??? ) over 20 years ago that allowed the circumstances of this tragedy to resurface. Discussions with contacts and family members in Northamptonshire drew a blank, and indeed George himself denied ever hearing his father (who was involved as a very young child) mention the crime.

Sarah Anne Claypole, our great grandmother, had already been the subject of quite intensive research in our endeavours to track down a missing "aunt Lizzie" (See: In Search Of James Ernest's Older Sister) who was also mentioned in Iris' letters. We have had to widen our searches beyond the Craxford family itself and have had to include the census records for Cottingham of 1871 and 1881, the English Births, Marriages and Deaths indexes and materials from the National Archives. It soon became apparent that Sarah had not one but two children before she married John Craxford and it was the death certificate of her young son which was to be the key to the whole mystery.

Cottingham in the nineteenth century

Map of Cottingham Village 1887

Plan of Cottingham village about 1887(3)

The village of Cottingham lies to the north of the county of Northamptonshire , north of the connurbation of Corby and close to the border with neighbouring Leicestershire and Rutland. As a settlement it was mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle and the Domesday Book. It looks out across the Welland Valley and lies in the shadow of Rockingham Castle. To the east is the hamlet of Middleton with which it has a shared history. During the nineteenth century the population of just over 600 people remained fairly constant. By far the largest occupation was in agriculture and the activities supporting farming.

The main routes into and out of the village were Corby Road, Rockingham Road and Main Street (the extension of the High Street which led to Middleton). The street names have changed over the years but dwellings were clustered around High Street, Church Street, Blind Lane, Water Lane and School (or Dag) Lane. There were also a number of closes and alleys such as The Nook and Barrack Yard where further cottages could be found. The village was home to a church, a chapel and up to four public houses.

The Craxford family hailed from the village of Gretton, some eight miles east along the Welland valley. It was John Craxford's grandfather (also John) who moved into the hamlet of Middleton sometime around 1800 and where John's father, William, and three other sons were born. William stayed in the village but two of his brothers moved to the south coast near Uxbridge and a third set up a Craxford dynasty in Monmouth, South Wales. John senior died in 1848 aged 74 from multiple injuries when he was run over by a cart. At the time of our story John Craxford's brother, Thomas, was the proprietor of the Three Horseshoes in Cottingham.

Even a superficial glance at local family histories reveals a quite short list of commonly recurring surnames - and equally commonly these families intermingled in wedlock (or otherwise) or in employment over the century. As well as the Claypoles and Cranes (of whom more shortly) we come across the Beadsworths, the Tansleys and the Tilleys. Earlier generations of the Tansleys had been associated with the Bellamy and Munton families: names which would recur in our timescale. We discovered that William Craxford's brother James married a Comfort Tansley and their daughter (also called Comfort) later worked for John Claypole.

The Claypoles of Cottingham

Claypole (and its derivative spellings) is a common enough surname in Northamptonshire and many branches claim descendency from the union of Sir John Claypole and Elizabeth Cromwell (daughter of Oliver Cromwell) in 1646. Our lineage has been traced back to the middle of the seventeenth century when Robert Claypole lived in the village of Medbourne in Leicestershire. Descendents of his moved to the neighbouring village of Great Easton which stands on the border with Northamptonshire and ultimately John Claypole (born in Great Easton in 1816) moved to Middleton and then settled in Cottingham in the 1840s. There were other Claypoles in the village at the time (Samuel Claypole was born in Middleton in 1824) but they were no closer than second cousins.

Initially he was a carter but later set up a business at his home on the corner of Blind Lane and Barrack Yard where he traded as a blacksmith. He married Ann Bellamy Munton from Middleton at St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham in 1839. They had seven known children of whom Thomas Bellamy was the oldest son and Sarah Anne the oldest daughter. Sarah Anne was noted in one census to be a lace maker but by 1870 she had given birth to two children; a daughter, Elizabeth Alice (1867) and a son, who was registered as Christopher Thomas, in 1869.

In 1871, the scene was being set, and families had taken up residence in the houses and cottages along Blind Lane and in Barrack Yard. Sarah lived four doors away from her parents with her son. Blacksmith John and his wife Ann had their two sons, John and William, and daughter, Mary with them, and had also provided a home for Sarah's four year old daughter, Elizabeth Alice. The cottage on the Rockingham Road side of Sarah was occupied by Amos Crane and his family. The cottage on the other side was empty.

John Craxford and Sarah Anne Claypole were married at St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham in August 1871. He shared her cottage on Blind Lane. By the Spring of 1875, they had two children: James Ernest (1872) and Henrietta (1875)

Who were the Cranes?

The Cranes have been associated with the village since before 1800 and the family had at least five sons around 1820. During the 1840s Henry, William and Amos had brushes with the law through poaching and the illegal use of firearms to kill game (4,5). Amos, an agricultural labourer, married Sophia Bradshaw in Uppingham in 1841 but settled in Cottingham where by 1871 they had raised at least eleven children.

Amos' older brother Henry, also a farm worker, married Mary Sculthorpe about 1853. They had eleven children too although it is likely that the oldest two were born prior to the wedding. By the time of the census of 1871, they were living in the High Street, Cottingham but already the family was beginning to fragment. Eldest son, Charles, had moved in with his 87 year old grandmother, also called Mary Sculthorpe. Their son Henry was lodging with his cousins, the Sculthorpe sisters Sarah, Eliza and Emma in the village of Great Oakley.

Henry Crane had a reputation of being "an odd character" and there is evidence of domestic violence towards Mary. In 1873, Mary made a complaint to the police and took out an injunction against him. He moved out of the family home, and it seems likely that Amos pointed him in the direction of the empty cottage in Blind Lane. Whether it was already falling into disrepair when he took up residence we don't know, but eye witnesses indicated that he did little to look after either the property or himself and by the time of the murder it was described as a "wretched hovel"

A two part case study documenting the life and times of the family, including Henry, his siblings and their children, begins with The Crane family of Cottingham: Victim or Villain?.

The crime

May 1st 1875 probably dawned much the same way that Saturdays had done for decades for the residents of Cottingham. Sarah Anne Craxford and her son Thomas had gone shopping in the village quite early and were home again by nine o'clock. While she was occupied with her housework, Thomas played outside in the garden with his three year old brother "Little Jimmy". Sarah became aware that her neighbour was talking to Thomas and that he had given him some money to buy "suckers" (sweets). On her instruction, Thomas was told to go either to Mr Chamberlain, who ran the Post Office in Church Street or to Miss Rayson, who owned the grocers shop and bakery in Corby Road. He returned with the sweets and what happened next is best summed up in Sarah's own words taken from her witness statement.

STATEMENT 1: Sarah Anne Craxford's testimony

Chamberlain's shop, Cottingham

Chamberlain's Shop, Cottingham about 1900 (3)

"In about 20 minutes my child came back. He said he had given the suckers to Crane and Crane had given him five. The child gave one to me and one to his grandmother and one to his little brother. Then he went out and played with his little brother under the window. About 2 minutes after the children had gone out I thought I heard Crane's voice say 'Come you along' and I thought I heard a child's feet scrape along the ground. I ran to the door and asked the little child where Tommy was. He pointed to Crane's door. I rushed to the door. It was shut. I opened it a little way and there stood my child bleeding from its throat - the blood splashed upon me. I caught hold of my child and dragged him out and ran out into the street with him and laid him on the ground and I screamed out. The Policeman came while I was there. The child was not dead when I first brought it out but it died in about three minutes."

Village constable, PC Stringer, lived only yards away from the murder scene and arrived within minutes. He was to remark subsequently that he knew the family well and that his children used to play with the victim. After confirming that Thomas was indeed dead, he went to Crane's cottage and arrested him.

1930 aerial view of Cottingham

Aerial view of Blind Lane about 1930 (3). From the aspect of the plan of the village above, this picture was taken from the area North of Rockingham Road looking South.

STATEMENT 2: P.C. Stringer's testimony

"I spoke to Mrs Craxford and, in consequence of what she said, I went direct to Crane's house which is next door to Mrs Craxford. Crane's door was shut. I went in. He was in the room. He said 'I'm here Stringer'. He was sitting in an arm chair near to the fire, behind the door. The door opens back upon where he was sitting. I went to him and took hold of him and told him he would be charged with cutting the little boy's throat. He said: 'I done it. I meant to do it.' I took him outside to where the mother was and the child was lying. I found the child was dead. I then charged Crane with murdering the child. He repeated the words: 'I done it. I meant to do it'."

The Inquest

The Spread Eagle Inn

The Spread Eagle, Cottingham (3)

An inquest was held on May 4th 1875 into the death of Thomas Claypole at the Spread Eagle Inn in the village, presided over by the Northamptonshire Coroner, William Marshall and his deputy and son, William H. Marshall and before a jury of local worthies - farmers and tradesmen.

As was the custom at the time, the jury viewed the body and then listened to statements from the witnesses including shop keeper John Chamberlain and evidence from the attending surgeon, Mr Thomas Greaves. Henry Crane was also present and he was allowed to conduct his own cross examination. Mr Greaves confirmed the cause of death.

STATEMENT 3: Statements from the Inquest: John Chamberlain annd Thomas Greaves

"I examined the body and found a deep cut and extensive wound of the throat, of the length from three to four inches and the depth of nearly an inch. There were also two slight wounds on the right lower jaw. The wound would be inflicted by the knife produced which the Police showed to me. It was stained with fresh blood. The large vessels on the right side of the neck were divided and the wind pipe severed in two. Deceased has died from the injury received and a child of his age could not have inflicted it himself."

At the end of the proceedings the jury "without hesitation returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against the man, Henry Crane". The Coroner duly issued a death certificate to that effect. Crane was formally bound over to appear at a hearing at the Magistrates Court the following day and was taken to the lockup at Kettering.

The Committal

A special session was convened at the Court in Kettering on Wednesday May 5th 1875. Henry Crane appeared before Magistrates Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Captain Borlace Tibbits. The evidence was given again which largely duplicated the events at the inquest the previous day. An opportunity was given to Henry Crane to speak in his own defence. Eye witnesses found him to be rambling and repetitive in his evidence. He made general accusations that people around him had been trying to drug and poison his food. At one time he declared that "if he had got both of them into his house that night he would have killed them both" (possibly meaning 'Little Jimmy' as well). He also said that he never meant to harm the lad and that Thomas had run up against the knife. There was also a reference to 'Old Thomas Sculthorpe' who Crane said had burned to death some time before because he too have been drugged. Crane said he wanted revenge on the people who had done this.

He was formally committed for trial at the Northampton Assizes and was taken that same day to Northampton County Gaol. That, however, is not the end of the story for it appears that Henry Crane never did stand trial. A post script in the local newspaper of July 17th 1875 reported from the Summer Assizes that Crane had been removed to the Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Broadmoor in Berkshire on May 21st 1875 on the order of the Secretary of State.

We have not been able to confirm or deny Crane's reference to Thomas Sculthorpe. At one point he did say that this was his wife Mary's brother who also lived in the village. There were in fact the deaths of two Thomas Sculthorpes registered in the Kettering district (which would have covered Cottingham) in 1870. The younger man, aged 57 and presumably Mary's brother, died on November 23rd 1870 but the cause of death was "Effusion on the brain". There is no mention of burns or foul play. He was also the father of the three sisters mentioned above with whom Henry Crane's son was lodging. What is curious is that the death was registered by Sophia Crane, the wife of Henry's brother, Amos. The older man, aged 84, had died in March the same year. Although we have not confirmed this we believe this to be Thomas and Mary Sculthorpe's father.

Continued in column 2...

Please contact us

email If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site in general, or you have further information regarding this article, please Get in touch by leaving a message in our Guestbook. If you don't want the message to be added to the Guestbook, just say that in your text. We look forward to hearing from you.

An Asylum for the Criminal Lunatic [A]

It is generally accepted that the genesis of Broadmoor can be traced to an attempt on the life of King George III in May 1800. One James Hadfield fired two bullets at the royal box at the Drury Lane Theatre, just missing the royal personage. He was charged with High Treason but at trial was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Almost immediately, this lead to the passage of an Act through Parliament entitled "A Bill for Regulating Trials for High Treason and Misprision of High Treason in certain cases, and for the Safe Custody of Insane Persons Charged with Offences" which subsequently became known as the Criminal Lunatics Act 1800. Prior to 1800, although somewhat complex and confusing, the treatment of the insane found guilty of a crime or considered unfit to plead tended to be handled under Common Law. Nigel Walker (6) notes "gaols and bridewells were the places to which offenders were sent if they were found insane; it was the gallows or plantations which awaited most of those who were not".

The Act formalised the powers of the Court and added the concept of secure confinement for an indefinite period. "If a court found a person unfit to plead because of insanity, or if it acquitted an accused on the grounds of insanity; then the court had to order that person to be confined 'at His Majesty's Pleasure', (i.e. indefinitely with the power to release resting entirely with the king or his responsible minister). The act was subsequently amended to provide for the indefinite detention of persons suspected of being insane, and suspected of intending to commit an offence. They could be detained under a special warrant from a Justice of the Peace as 'dangerous persons'. (7) Their status had changed from criminal to criminal lunatic.

The first obvious consequence of this new Act was to highlight the paucity of secure places in institutions and existing 'madhouses' (London's Bethlem Royal Hospital - the original Bedlam - being the most famous). Piecemeal expansion to existing sites did take place and the first wings for the criminally insane was opened as part of a new hospital at St George's Fields, London in 1816. It was not until the late 1850s that the need for a dedicated special hospital was recognised. Fascilitated by the passing of the Criminal Lunatic Asylums Act, 1860, Broadmoor was built on Crown land outside the village of Crowthorne in Berkshire. It opened in May 1863.


The Terrace, Broadmoor Asylum About 1885 (8)
Reproduced by permission of Berkshire Record Office

The new asylum was built as a series of blocks, accommodation initially being a mixture of single rooms and communal dormitories holding eight. By 1875, there were six such blocks housing 400 male detainees, two thirds of whom were 'pleasure' inmates. Two blocks were reserved for the most dangerous or destructive inhabitants. Two were for those considered to be of low risk. There was also an admissions block and an infirmary. Male and female inmates were housed completely separately.

From the outset the establishment was considered to be a secure hospital rather than a prison. Diagnosis of mental conditions was rudimentary and there was no concept of psychiatric analysis or drug management. Inmates were subjected to a 'moral treatment' regime which consisted of exercise and work. Each block had its own 'airing court' which gave access to exercise facilities and the outside air. Employment, which ranged from domestic chores such as cleaning and laundrywork, working on the asylum farm, tailoring, cobbling and carpentry was allocated according to the inmate's capabilities. Between 1870 and 1886, the Medical Superintendent was William Orange whose tenure was considered to be an enlightened one. He believed in rehabilitation and public protection and encouraged arts, crafts and sports activities where possible.

In the early years, conditions were frugal: nights were cold and dark and sanitary arrangements were primitive consisting of earth closets. Central heating of bedrooms and flush sanitation was not introduced until the 1880s. A single room had a floor area of 12 feet by 8 feet and was equipped with a bedstead, a horsehair mattress and a desk. Some personal possessions were allowed although this depended on the attitude and classification of the inmate. The day lasted from six o'clock in the morning (seven in winter) to seven o'clock in the evening. The daylight hours were mostly spent at work punctuated by four meal breaks. The main meal was in the late afternoon, typically comprising meat, potatoes or seasonal vegetables and a steamed pudding.

H Crane, 'Pleasure' inmate 838

Henry Crane

Henry Crane © Berkshire Record Office, Reproduced with permission (9)

Henry Crane was certified as insane by his attendants while awaiting his trial in Northampton County Gaol. He was transferred to the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum on May 22nd 1875 under the terms of a warrant signed by the Right Honourable Richard Assheton Cross, the Home Secretary and Privy Councellor. Crane became inmate 838. Unlike the majority of other male residents who were literate, he was unable to read and write. The admission record notes his height as 5 feet 7¼ inches and weight as 9 stones 10 pounds. His general health was described as feeble. His complexion was fair; his face thin and wrinkled. He had grey eyes but had lost the sight of his left eye. His hair was light brown but balding, his whiskers becoming grey. The cause of his lunacy was unknown. He was not thought to be a suicide risk but was considered a danger to others.

Crane was initially assigned to a dormitory block. He continued to exhibit delusional behaviour during his incarceration. He persisted in complaining that his food was being poisoned and at times became very agitated and excited, grumbling about a draught in the room at night. Over the years, the medical reports remained more or less constant although on occasion he had to be force fed when the delusions about his food were particularly strong. As he grew older he started to have hallucinations about angels but claimed that he enjoyed these visions. His status as an inmate of the Asylum was noted in the 1881 England Census.

Shortly after he arrived, Henry's brother John sent a letter to the Superintendent: 'I write to ask you how my brother Henery (sic) Crane is and how he is getting on. I should very much like to know. I should like to see him very much if they would be so kind as to let me and what days are permitted for that purpose'. The reply indicated that visiting could be arranged any week day between 10am and 4pm. There is no indication that such a visit took place. The same year, the Asylum authorities returned the sum of twenty four shillings and nine pence which Crane had in his possession on his arrival to his wife Mary.

Mary Crane wrote to the Superintendent on April 5th 1881: 'I hope you will please to excuse the liberty I have taken in writing to you but as I am the wife of Henry Crane an inmate of your Institution I am very anxious to hear of him as I have not heard a word about him for some years may I ask the favour of a line from you to know how he is Sir. I should be very much obliged to you as it would relieve my anxiety'. In reply she was told that his mind was more deranged than before and his general health was only indifferent.

His health continued to deteriorate and he was admitted to the infirmary for treatment in September 1884. Mary was informed of this. He was readmitted on March 26th 1885 with congestion of the lungs from which he died three days later. Mary wrote: 'I write to tell you that I received your letter to say that my husband is dead. I hope he is gone to rest and it does not lie in our power to come and see him as I am ill myself and at the Infirmary Out Patient as I should so like to know whether ever he was sensible or ever ask about any of us before he departed from this world' . He was buried in the Asylum grounds.

The aftermath

Claypole headstone

Thomas' headstone

Thomas Claypole was buried in a grave in plot A of St Mary Magdalene Churchyard (Link to cemetery page). The site is now overgrown but there is a small weatherworn headstone of commemoration.

Life seems to have returned to normal for the majority of the occupants of Cottingham and village life and the make up of the population remained remarkably constant over the years ahead. This constancy can be clearly seen by comparing the composition of the inquest jury that was reported in The Northampton Herald (1) ("The following gentlemen were sworn on the jury:- Mr Thos. Aldwinkle (foreman), Mr Wm Aldwinkle, farmer, Mr Wm Spriggs, farmer, Mr Wm Cooke, farmer, Mr Peake, Farmer and innkeeper, Mr Saml Reynolds, farmer and innkeeper, Mr Arthur Buswell, grazier, Mr Edward Spriggs, farmer and grocer, Mr Jesse Ingram, tailor and draper, Mr Wm Simpson, stonemason, Mr Chas Curtis, shoemaker, and Mr John Shaw, publican. Mr John Neville Chamberlain, shoe manufacturer" [although Chamberlain was stood down from the jury after an objection, presumably because he was shopkeeper John Chamberlain's father - ED]) and a group photograph of the village copy holders (presumably sons of the same) which was taken some 25 years later.

The Copyholders of Cottingham

The Copyholders of Cottingham (3)
Mr Bott (Exeter Arms Landlord), Geoffrey Binley, Alfred Bradshaw, Thomas Claypole, Samuel Botterill, John Chamberlain, Harry Buswell, Thomas Curtis, Charles Dexter, Job West, Samuel Swingler
John Sturman, William Aldwinckle, John Thomas Spriggs, Edward Spriggs, Christopher Robert Simpson, William Reynolds, Thomas Spriggs, Charles Bradshaw, Jesse Ingram
Looking out of the window behind are Louise Buswell and Anne Bradshaw

The subsequent courses of the individual families show some interesting twists and departures. Perhaps the answer to why the memories of this murder story faded into obscurity, tentatively kept alive by just one branch of the tree - and not the most obvious one, lies within these fascinating liaisons. John Craxford and Sarah Anne Claypole had two sons and four daughters between 1872 and 1885. John died in Cottingham in 1898.

Their son James ('Little Jimmy'), had left the village by 1891 to become a labourer on the farm in Spondon, Derbyshire, owned by John Keetley and his wife Mary. At the turn of the century, he had moved back to Leicester where he started work as a line labourer for the Midland Railway Company. In 1901, he was lodging in Flint Street, which ran between Humberstone Road and Charnwood Street, with John Scott's family. John's wife, Lizzie, was Henry Crane's niece - the youngest daughter of his oldest brother, William. James married Esther Burlton, a girl from Stoke Prior in Herefordshire, in 1905 and spent most of his working life as a porter and goods checker with the railway.

John and Sarah's younger son, William married Beatrice Edith Tilley and moved to Leicester to become a policeman. Their home at the time of the first world war was in Devana Road, just a few doors away from Percy James Chamberlain - son of shopkeeper, John Chamberlain and Edith's first cousin. (The full story of Tilley - Chamberlain link is recounted in Elizabeth Tilley and the grocery connection). William's daughter, Iris Snow, was the originator of the letters that started this research project.

Their eldest daughter Henrietta had a son, Albert John, who spent his early years living with his uncle William. He served in the armed forces and became a Chelsea pensioner. Second daughter, Louisa Craxford, married Arthur Beadsworth and many of their descendents (they had ten children) still live in Cottingham. Youngest daughter Sarah Anne Craxford married Thomas Charles Tansley. One daughter, Florence, died at the age of two years in 1884.

Sarah's father, John Claypole died in April 1903; her mother the following year. Her first born daughter, Elizabeth Alice, married a farmer, William Hobbs, and moved to Kent where she founded her own dynasty.

Sarah Claypole

Sarah (Claypole) Craxford late 1920s

Sarah Anne Claypole died in 1930. Her death was registered by Margaret Louisa Tansley, Thomas and Sarah Anne's daughter, who lived in Kettering. She married a William Marlow later the same year.

Henry Crane's wife Mary continued to live in Church Street with her oldest son, Charles, and her five youngest children at the time of the 1881 census. At the same time, her older daughter, Emma, had married her first cousin, Vincent Sculthorpe. They, too, settled in the west end of Leicester, taking a house in Flora Street, which in another remarkable coincidence was just around the corner from Fosse Road North where James Craxford spent his final few years. Second son, Henry junior, subsequently married Caroline Hoult and moved to Leicester where their descendents still reside.

Henry Crane's brother, Amos, died in 1879. His son, Charles, married Alice Rebecca Beadsworth in 1882 and they had (to our knowledge) eight children. Their youngest son Leonard married Eva Beadsworth, oldest daughter of Arthur and Louisa Craxford. Their descendents still live in the neighbourhood.

Further reading

Broadmoor Revealed cover

[A] Inspiration for the section "An Asylum for the Criminal Lunatic" was gained from the book "Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and The Lunatic Asylum" by Mark Stevens (2013) published by Pen & Sword Social History, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK. ISBN 978-1-78159-320-2. The book explores the background to the concept of criminal lunacy and indefinite secure confinement. It traces the building of Broadmoor, describing the lifestyle of both inmates and staff. It considers Victorian attitudes to mental illness and is illustrated with the case histories of several of the more notorious detainees.

Mark Stevens is the senior archivist at the Berkshire Record Office and is responsible for the Broadmoor Hospital Archive. We would like to thank Mark for his advice and critical overview of the background to this article.

A full transcript of the murder scene, inquest and Magistrate Court proceedings taken from the Northampton Herald can be found at Strange Murder Of A Child At Cottingham (1)


We would like to thank Jane Smith, author of the Cottingham History web site for her help with historical details of the village and for permission to reproduce the archive photographs. Our grateful thanks to Alison Day, archivist, Berkshire Record Office, for the extraction and preparation of the Broadmoor records relating to Henry Crane. Thanks also to Catherine Dale at the Law Library, Newcastle Law School, The University of Newcastle upon Tyne; the archivists at Northamptonshire Records Office; the library staff at Northampton Central Library and the staff at the National Archives for their help in pointing our research in the right direction.


Deirdre Norton and Alan and Brenda Craxford are third cousins who share a common interest in family history although they have never met. Sarah Anne Claypole was Alan and Brenda's great grandmother and their grandfather, James Ernest Craxford, is referred to in the newspaper articles as "Little Jimmy". It was the mystery contained in Iris Snow's letters which was the initial stimulus for Brenda's genealogy researches. Deirdre's great grandfather, Thomas Bellamy Claypole was Sarah Anne's brother. Curiously both branches of the family migrated away from the village to Leicester in the early years of the twentieth century. Henry Crane was Peter Crane's great great grandfather. Peter is also sixth cousin (once removed) to Alan and Brenda Craxford and to Deirdre Norton through the Claypole family line of descent.

Bizarre historical coincidence No.9.(!) Of the two known murderers in our family tree, Henry Crane died on the same date in 1885 as Alan's birthday and William Corder (See: The Murder Of Maria: From Red Barn to Lincoln's Inn) was executed at Bury St Edmunds on the same date in 1828 as Brenda's birthday.


1. "STRANGE MURDER OF A CHILD AT COTTINGHAM": Northampton Herald May 8th 1875
2. St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham: The Churches of Great Britain and Ireland. (c) G. Weston; reproduced with permission.
3. 'Plan of the village', 'Chamberlain's Shop', 'Blind Lane', 'The Spread Eagle', 'The Copyhgolders of Cottingham': Photographs from A history of the village of Cottingham, Northamptonshire. Reproduced with permission .
4. "CRANE HENRY, Cottingham - Kettering Petty Sessions". Northampton Mercury Indexes 1843, at:
5. "CRANE AMOS - committed to the county gaol and house of correction for two months, for using a gun for killing game at Wilbarston". Northampton Mercury Indexes 1844, at:
6. Walker, Nigel: Chapter 3 "Some Eighteenth Century Trials" Page 52 in Crime and Insanity in England: The historical perspective: Edinburgh University Press. 1968
7. Argent, Valerie: Counter Revolutionary Panic and the Treatment of the Insane: 1800. An enquiry into the enactment of the 1800 Criminal Lunatics Act.
8. The Terrace: A photograph of Broadmoor Asylum 1885 Document ref: D/H14/C6/13 © Berkshire Record Office and reproduced with permission.
9. Henry Crane. An inmate photograph from Broadmoor Asylum. Document ref: D/H14/D1/1/1/2 Broadmoor admissions register 1868-1900 © Berkshire Record Office and reproduced with permission.

Added - May 1st 2007
Revised and updated: April 17th 2014

Return to Top of Page

Translate this page:

SSL Certificate

Internet Beacon Diamond Site - 2010

© The Craxford Family Genealogy Magazine and individual copyright holders.
Edited and maintained by Alan D. Craxford 2005 - 2022. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.
You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.

Search the Craxford Family Magazine powered by FreeFind
Optimal screen resolution is 1680 x 1050 and above
This page has been designed to display on mobile phone screens
- landscape orientation recommended

Crafted on a machine from chill Computers, Poole, Dorset, UK and hosted By eUKhost logo UK Web Hosting

This site powered by The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding ©, v. 10.1.3cx, written by Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2022.