J is for Jump the Bobby

William Jump's GraveOne of my regrets is not having made notes of the many stories that my grandmother told me about our family. Instead I have to rely on my less than perfect memory.

But one phrase she used when she talked about her father has always stuck in my mind : “He was born the year that Jump the Bobby got shot.”

I’m not sure if she ever explained exactly who Jump was or why he was shot and I just filed it away in that mental folder marked miscellaneous. Then one day, by chance, I came across his story in an old copy of the Ashton Reporter. This is by way of a memorial.

William Jump was only the second policeman to be killed in the line of duty when he was shot in the early hours of 28th June 1862.

There had been a long-running and increasingly bitter strike by the brickmakers of the district. Non-union labour had been brought in to work the kilns and the strikers retaliated with violence and sabotage, including night-time break-ins to destroy the bricks that had been made and throwing thousands of needles into the clay so that it couldn’t be handled. They also hamstrung the brickmaster’s horses so they couldn’t work.

The situation had become so tense that the policemen patrolling the area at night with sidearms and several night watchmen narrowly avoided serious injury or worse.

Reporter CuttingsOn the night in question, Constable Jump and Sergeant Harrop were on patrol and met three men who were returning from a brickfield in Smallshaw where they had caused considerable damage by trampling on a large number of moist bricks.

When stopped by the two policemen, three shots were fired, one wounding Harrop in the head and the other killing Jump outright.

The murder caused public outrage and the Reporter editorial condemned the strikers, saying: “They have now sacrificed to their diabolical tyranny an unoffending man, and made his wife a widow, and his children orphans, to show their determination to continue in their lawless career.

William Jump was just 30 years old and left his wife, Hannah, and five children all aged under ten. He was buried in the churchyard of St John the Evangelist in Hurst and above is a photo I took of his gravestone.

His widow was unforgiving of his murderers and there is an explicit curse in the inscription she chose for the gravestone:

Alas! the cruelty of human strife

That men should ere destroy his brother’s life.

Hurry his soul to meet its last account

And load his own with guilt of dread amount.

Two men were tried for his murder, Michael Burke and John Ward. Ward was hung for his crime, while Burke was spared the rope and sentenced to penal servitude for life.

Ward left the prisoner’s dock laughing after being sentenced and threw his cap to the crowd at his public execution.

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15 comments… Add yours
  • rog 23rd March 2011

    interesting history. fascinating how all the strikers got a bit of the blame in the mind of the public.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Wanda 23rd March 2011

    What a facinating story. I love when we find out things about our own History.

  • Rajesh 23rd March 2011

    Wonderful glimpse of history.

  • Mr Parrot 23rd March 2011

    Thanks all. I suspect the “outrage” was among the middle-classes, rather than the workers, and reflected by the local newspaper.

  • Su-sieee! Mac 23rd March 2011

    Wow! That is a fascinating story. I can actually see a movie or a play made from it.

  • Mr Parrot 23rd March 2011

    Hmm. I can see Jude Law in the leading role!

  • Jennyta 23rd March 2011

    What an interesting story. It’s great to be able to fill in the gaps sometimes from information or sayings that we grew up with.

  • Sylvia Kirkwood 23rd March 2011

    What a fascinating post for the J Day! And such fascinating history! I love finding stories/information like this and I enjoyed reading it so much! Thanks for sharing — glad you ran across the clipping! Terrific! Hope your week is going well!!

    ABC Team

  • Jay from The Depp Effect 23rd March 2011

    Fascinating. And so long ago, too. What a shame there are always people willing to kill people, and hurt both people and animals for a dispute.

    I know that things could be very very bad for the working man in those days, and men and their families could starve to death under a bad master, or be driven to the grave by overwork and misuse – children too. But I have never thought it right to answer one injustice with another and never will. Reminds me of the way certain hunt ‘monitors’ and animal rights ‘activists’ operate these days.

    I have no problem with a strong protest for a good cause, but how can it possibly be right to injure and kill? Seems to me it’s bringing yourself down to the level of what you’re protesting about – and in many cases, even lower.

  • Joy 23rd March 2011

    Your photograph is very atmospheric. A phrase brought to life.

  • LisaF 23rd March 2011

    Isn’t history and genealogy fascinating? I think it’s always great when people document these stories for future generations. It’s a marvelous way to bring dusty family stories to life.

  • Mr Parrot 23rd March 2011

    Jay: Different times I suppose. I know from the cuttings I’ve read from the time that animals were treated badly, simply beasts of burden. I guess the strikers’ actions were comparable with pouring sugar in a petrol tank. And we only have to think back to the long miners’ strike to realise how desperate men can turn to violence.

  • Meryl Jaffe 24th March 2011

    What a cool post! I just love clicking and entering new worlds on these posts and yours sure does that!

  • veronica fish 8th May 2011

    William Jump was my late husbands G.G.Grandfather. Williams sons went to Chethams school in Manchester, one of the sons also named William was a police officer and he drowned in 1887. I am doing the family history and still searching, but I have lots of the court case of Burke and Ward.

  • Mr Parrot 9th May 2011

    Thanks Veronica. I wasn’t sure if William had any living descendants as I knew that several of his children were also buried in Hurst. Good luck with the family history.


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