You are in [Themes] [Crimes]

This section of the museum brings together a range of the various crimes related to Hungerford (in chronological order):

- 1248 - Theft by William Turnpeny - escaped to Kintbury church

- 1675 - Felony by John Boone - burned in the hand, and property confiscated.

- 1676 - Murder of Martha and Robert Bromham - George Bromham and Dorothy Newman hanged at Combe Gibbett.

- 1762 - Murder of William and Anne Cheyney - no-one convicted.

- 1793 - Sarah Liddiard - transported to Australia for theft from the Post Office.:

- 1803+ Excise crimes by local maltsters.

- 1825 - John Giles and George Breadmore - Theft - Transported to Australia.

- 1830 - Agricutural "Swing" Riots in Bridge Street and other places.

- 1835 - Theft of six turkeys, Christmas 1835

- 1831 - Burglary at James Woodham's clock and watchmaker's shop.

- 1876 - Murder of two local Policemen near Folly Crossing - Tidbury brothers executed.

- 1987 - Hungerford Shooting Tragedy.

1248 - Theft by William Turnpeny:

"Kintbury Through the Ages" (Kintbury Volunteer Group, 2004, page 15) records that "in 1248 .. an escaped convict, Wiliam Turnpeny, having been captured and imprisoned for theft in Hungerford, escaped again and sought refuge in Kintbury church. Possessing no goods himself, it was the village that was fined!"

1675 - Felony by John Boone:

In 1675, John Boone, a maltster who lived in what is now Wilton House, 33 High Street, was convicted at the Quarter Sessions at Newbury Court of receiving stolen goods. He was "legally tried and found guilty of the said felony", and as a result, his punishment was to be "burned in the hand".

John Boone had bought the property in 1665 from William Curtis, the Parish Clerk for £86.

When John Boone was convicted of the felony in 1675, he claimed right of clergy, and escaped imprisonment, but all his properties were confiscated to the borough. The feoffees (John Boone was one of them!) sold it for £200 to Jehosophat Stevens and John Lewis, but it was later bought back by John Boone snr and John Boone jnr, (see 1722 deed) and he was able to remain in his residence (other properties were not "returned").

In 1692 John Boone (unclear at present whether father or son) became Bailiff, and Porrtreeve in 1693. In 1696 John Boone was Constable (although the boards in the Town Hall give the years 1695 & 1706)

John Boone made a will in 1706, and died in 1714. His only daughter Sarah inherited his property. She had married (in 1704) William Ryman (plumber).

Follow this link to see the transcription of the Indenture between the Feoffees of Hungerford and Jehosophat Stephens and John Lewis, granting them the lands and goods of John Boone, after his conviction for felony.

1676 - Murder of Martha and Robert Bromham - George Bromham and Dorothy Newman hanged at Combe Gibbett.

Combe Gibbett was erected in 1676 to hang George Bromham, a married farm labourer from Combe, and Dorothy Newman , a widow of Inkpen. They were together found guilty of the murder of George Bromham's wife Martha Bromham, and their son Robert Bromham.

The trial took place at Winchester Assizes, and began on 23 Feb 1676.

The accused were charged with "the murder of Robert, son of George Bromham and of Martha, wife of said George Bromham, each with a "staffe", and were ordered to be hanged "in chaynes near the place of the murder".

The public hanging duly took place on 3rd March 1676

See also:

- Combe Gibbett

1762 - Murder of William and Ann Cheyney, 1762:

The Berkshire Directory of 1762 reports that "In the year 1762 a shocking murder was committed in this town, on the bodies of Mr. Cheyney and his wife, an old couple, who for many years had resided here: the murder was supposed to have been perpetrated about nine o'clock in the evening, but was not discovered till the next morning. Many persons were suspected, but no proofs appeared of their guilt. Diligent search was made after the author or authors, but without success, nor have they yet been discovered."

A mural monument was erected in the parish church against the wall of the north aisle which commemorated the burial of the murdered couple in these words:- "Near this place rest the remains of William Cheyney, late of this town aged 83 and of Ann his wife, aged 71, who were barbarously murdered in their own house on the evening of 11th of December, 1762."

See also:

- "The Murder of William and Ann Cheyney" in Norman Hidden's "Aspects of the Early History of Hungerford",

- A full report in The Gentleman's Magazine (1762 vol 11, pp 124-5),

- 114 High Street, Hungerford

1793 - Sarah Liddiard - Theft - Transported to Australia:

Lina Moffitt (of Australia) contacted the Virtual Museum in May 2013 with the following information about her ancestor Sarah Richardson:

General Post Office, 15 Mar 1793:
Whereas Sarah Liddiard, the wife of William Liddiard, lately a Letter Carrier in the Post Office in Hungerford, was convicted at the assizes held at Salisbury the 9th instant, of feloniously stealing Bills and Notes, which were taken out of a letter at Hungerford; and at the same assizes an indictment was preferred and found against Mary Richardson, the wife of Thomas Richardson, Hungerford, painter, mother of the said Sarah Liddiard, as an accessory after the fact to the said felony so committed by her, the said Mary Richardson was committed to Devizes Bridewell on the same charge in November last, but escaped from thence on the 24th December. Whoever shall apprehend the said Mary Richardson and secure her in any of his Majesty's gaols of this kingdom, shall be entitled to a reward of FIFTY POUNDS to be paid on her conviction.

By command of the Postmaster-General ANTHONY TODD, Sec.

Sarah was convicted at Wiltshire Assizes, 9 Mar 1793, and sentenced to 7 years deportation. She had married William Liddiard on 8 Oct 1792. She initially spent a few years on a prison hulk, before departing Oct 1795. She arrived on the Indispensable on 30 Apr 1796. She remarried in Australia.

1803-1812 - Excise crimes by local maltsters:

See: Crimes by Maltsters

1825 - John Giles and George Breadmore - Theft - Transported to Australia:

Jan Humphreys contacted the Virtual Museum about an ancestor John Giles, who was employed as a servant for 8 years by James Jelfs. John Giles was tried at the Berkshire assizes in 1825 and sentenced to death - later commuted to life and transported to Australia.

John Giles was a farmer, ploughman and sawyer. He called upon Mr Jelfs his late master (of the Free Grammar School in The Croft) for a character reference but Mr Jelfs declined giving him one. There is an article in the Berkshire Chronicle of 5 March 1825 detailing the trial of John Giles and George Breadmore charged with having on Saturday night the 18th of December feloniously and burglariously entered the dwelling house of George Edwards at Hungerford and stolen thereout a number of silver and plated articles also £40 in country bank notes. We do not yet know where George Edwards' house was.

See also:

- Trial of John Giles and George Breadmore, 28 Feb 1825

- Report in Berkshire Chronicle, 5 Mar 1825

- Transcription on Indictment, Berks Assizes 1825

1830 - Agricutural "Swing" Riots in Bridge Street and other places:

See - Agricultural "Swing" Riots, 22 Nov 1830

1835 - Theft of six turkeys, Christmas 1835:

In the night of Monday 21st December 1835, in the run-up to Christmas, six turkeys were stolen from Anvilles Farm. A reward of £1 was offered by the farm owner, Mr. Curnick, as well as a reward of £5 from the West Berkshire Association, to be paid on the conviction of the felons. 

See Photo Gallery.

1876 - Murder of two local Policemen near Folly Crossing:

See - Police Murders, 11 Dec 1876

1987 - Hungerford Shooting Tragedy:

At lunchtime on 19 Aug 1987 local resident Michael Ryan began a frenzy of shooting. Over the next few hours Ryan was to murder 16 people, before he took his own life. This event shocked people around the world.

The Hungerford Massacre, as it became known, led to the Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1988, which banned the ownership of semi-automatic rifles and restricted the use of shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than two rounds.

The Tragedy Memorial Garden was established near the 2nd World War memorial avenue in Bulpit Lane. A further memorial was placed in St. Lawrence's Church. In July 2020 there were some complaints regarding the poor state of the Tragedy Hardens. See "Complaints over 'unkempt' Tragedy Gardens" - NWN, 23 Jul 2020.

See also: Photos (by Tony Bartlett) of the 30th Anniversary events, 20th August 2017.

Much further material is available both locally and on-line.

Photo Gallery:


Wilton House, 33 High Street 2007 - owned by John Boone in 1675 when he was found guilty of receiving stolen goods.


Combe Gibbet, Jul 2006


114 High Street, Mar 2007 - probable site of the murder of William and Ann Cheyney, 1762


Tragedy Memorial in Bulpit Lane


Tragedy Memorial in St Lawrence Church

tragedy memorial jun 1992
tragedy memorial jun 1992

Tragedy Memorial in Bulpit Lane June 1992

19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-1
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-1
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-2
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-2
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-3
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-3
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-4
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-4
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-5
19910204 Tragedy Memorial plans-5
18351221 Turkey theft
18351221 Turkey theft

Reward poster after Trurkey theft, Christmas 1835.

- Reward poster following the theft of six turkeys, Christmas 1835.

- Combe Gibbet, Jul 2006.

- 114 High Street, Mar 2007 - probable site of the murder of William and Ann Cheyney, 1762.

- Plans for Tragedy Memorial, Feb 1991.

- Tragedy Memorial in Bulpit Lane June 1992.

- Tragedy Memorial in St Lawrence Church.

- Tragedy Memorial in Bulpit Lane.

See also:

- Police

- Law-Suits connected with the Town and People of Hungerford (1248-1888)

- Berkshire Coroners Inquisitions - researchers can search Sue Wood's database to to see whether any family members, or other persons of interest, played a role in the inquisitions

- Town discusses plans to revitalise Tragedy garden - NWN 8th July 2010

- Hungerford Round Table offer of help, 20 Aug 1987.

- Hungerford Tragedy Fun appeal launched, 20 Aug 1987.

- Hungerford Tragedy 1987, General records [HHA Archive E41]

- Hungerford Tragedy 1987, Newbury Weekly News reports [HHA Archive D]