Wide screen devices may view this page better by clicking here

The state :: Crime

spotCampaigns

spotOrganisations

spotArguments for socialism

spotPeople

spotInternational

spotEvents

spotAround the UK


All keywords


All Campaigns subcategories:

Anti-capitalism

Anti-fascist

Anti-racism

Anti-war

Asylum

Black and Asian

Children

CNWP

Corporate crime

Disability

Education

Election campaigns

Environment

EU

Finance

Food

Gender Recognition Act

Health and safety

Health and welfare

Housing

Human Rights

LGBT Pride

Local government

Local services

Low pay

Migration

Nationalisation

New workers party

NHS

Pensions

Post Office

Poverty

Privatisation

Public Services

Socialism

Socialist

Sport

Stop the slaughter of Tamils

Students

* The state

Transport

TUSC

Welfare rights

Women

Workplace and TU campaigns

Youth


Crime


Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 955, 5 July 2017: Public sector wages - pay up!

Search site for keywords: Review - Rotherham - Mansfield - Crime - Nobility - Derby - Nottingham - Pentrich - Nottinghamshire

Book review

200-year miscarriage of justice exposing ruling class

Jon Dale, Mansfield Socialist Party
The Murder of Bessie Shepherd by David Marshall

The Murder of Bessie Shepherd by David Marshall   (Click to enlarge)

Exactly 200 years ago a 17 year-old Nottinghamshire girl was murdered walking home to Papplewick village from nearby Mansfield. She had been looking for work. Three weeks later a former soldier was hanged for her murder.

Within two years a memorial stone was erected, inscribed: "To the memory of Elizabeth Sheppard of Papplewick who was murdered when passing this spot by Charles Rotherham July 7th 1817."

The Murder of Bessie Sheppard, by David Marshall, describes his 40-year investigation into this crime, completed in 2014. Why was Bessie killed - and why was the name of her killer commemorated alongside hers?

Marshall unearthed contemporary newspaper reports of the murder, trial and hanging. The more he researched, the stronger there seemed to have been a miscarriage of justice.

Today, Papplewick is a pretty village but when Bessie lived there with her mother and younger brother it was dominated by Robinson's cloth mills - which exploited child labour. Marshall comments: "Robinson was a very rich man. He was also, I concluded fairly quickly, a bastard."

New machinery threw hand-loom weavers into destitution, as well as soldiers returning from the Napoleonic wars who roamed the countryside.

Less than 24 hours after Bessie was brutally bludgeoned Charles Rotherham, a travelling scissor-grinder, was arrested on the outskirts of Loughborough, about 20 miles away.

As Marshall explains, police forces at this time were in their infancy, set up in response to growing civil unrest. How and why did the police make such a remarkably quick arrest?

Marshall shows contradictions in witness reports, throwing doubt on Rotherham's conviction, and questions why he apparently confessed to the crime immediately after arrest.

Marshall makes a good case for Rotherham's defence. But if it wasn't him, who else might have killed her?

Newspaper reports of the time say Bessie's mother thanked the "nobility and gentry of the town of Mansfield and its vicinity for the many favours and kind assistance she has received since the murder of her daughter."

He speculates that Bessie had been working as a prostitute to support her family and that Rotherham's rapid arrest, conviction and execution conveniently prevented further investigation of the 'nobility and gentry', who raised the finance for the memorial stone and had Rotherham's name inscribed on it.

The local gentry might also have been keen to see a poor stranger found guilty of the crime as four weeks earlier, barely ten miles away, 200 to 300 armed workers marched from Pentrich towards Nottingham, thinking they were taking part in a national uprising against the government. The leaders were awaiting trial in Derby gaol, later to be hanged or transported to Australia.

Justice, far from being a traditional right enjoyed by all, served the rich and well-connected. Working class people have had to fight for justice - and continue to do so, as the Hillsborough and Orgreave campaigns show.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






The state keywords:

Army (57)

COPS (12)

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (8)

Civil rights (35)

Cops off Campus (2)

Crime (82)

DNA database (2)

Detention without charge (5)

Foreign Aid (7)

Jean Charles de Menezes (17)

MPs (262)

Military (153)

Parliament (157)

Police (830)

Prison conditions (2)

Shrewsbury 24 (7)

State (392)

State (392)

anti-terrorist (5)

shooting (16)

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Article dated 5 July 2017

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

MEMBER RESOURCES

Pay in Fighting Fund

Pay in paper and book sales

Leaflets

Bulk book orders

New member submission

WHAT'S ON

triangle22 Jun Caerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: China - the new imperialism

triangle23 Jun Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: Northern Ireland - what lies ahead?

triangle23 Jun Cardiff West Socialist Party: Housing is a right - Stop the evictions!

More...


The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party

Trade unions and workplace

NHS

International news

News

Campaigns and party news

Subscribespacer|spacerebook / Kindlespacer|spacerPDF versionspacer|spacerText / Printspacer|spacer1138 onlinespacer|spacerBack issuesspacer|spacer Audio files


RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June. Photo G Freeman

What We Stand For
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Platform setting: =

Desktop version