"FRIGHTFUL MURDER AT SALCOT"
"A FARMER SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN KILLED BY HIS NEPHEW"
"THE BODY TIED IN A SACK"
Joseph Leatherdale was born on 3rd March 1822 at Chappel, Essex. As a boy, he worked as a labourer for his father Thomas, who farmed at Wakes Colne. He married a girl from Tolleshunt Knights named Elizabeth, and they had one daughter named Adelaide. By 1861 they had moved to Great Baddow, where Joseph became a farmer in his own right. Shortly afterwards he changed his career, moving to Virley to become landlord of the White Hart Inn. By 1871, however, he had returned to small-scale farming, this time in Salcott. The family lived at Vine Cottage, a small farmhouse "on a lane leading off Salcott Street", with eight acres of land.
In 1873,Joseph's niece gave birth to an illegitimate child named Arthur, and he was brought up by Joseph and Elizabeth as their 'nephew'. By 1881, Adelaide had married and moved to Tollesbury.
Joseph retired from farming, but he was not to enjoy a long retirement. He met a violent end on December 20th 1890 at the age of 68, just five months after the death of Elizabeth.
Arthur Leatherdale was just 18 years old when he was tried for the murder at Chelmsford Assizes on 11th March 1891. He pleaded "Not Guilty", claiming that although he did not do it, he "got someone to". Evidence against him, however, appears to have been overwhelming. He seems to have had a grudge against his 'uncle'; after the murder he went on a spending spree, and percussion caps found in his possession matched one of the guns found in Vine Cottage.
Arthur was found guilty and sentenced to death, despite a plea for clemency by the foreman of the jury.
However, the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
The above contains extracts from John's article. To see it all as a PDF file Click Here (opens in a new window - 3.3Mb)