Date Of Execution: 30 Jul 1902
Crime Location: Parkers Lane, Duckmanton, Chesterfield
Execution Place: Derby
John Bedford was convicted of the murder of Nancy Price 48 and sentenced to death.
He murdered her at her cottage on 25 June 1902 in Duckmanton near Chesterfield whilst they were alone and her crippled husband was away in Chesterfield staying with his brother-in-law.
John Bedford had been seeing Nancy Price while her husband was away for many years but had found her under compromising circumstances with another man. He said that he loved Nancy Price but when he found out that she didn't love him he beat her to death with a poker.
John Bedford and Nancy Price had been drinking together at the White Hart in Callow at about 9pm on the evening of 25 June 1902 although they were both said to have been sober at the time even though John Bedford was said to have been a heavy drinker at times.
At about 10pm a woman went to the White Hart and met Nancy Price by appointment, saying that when she got there she saw Nancy Price talking to a man but didn't know who it was, although it was noted that the barman said that he had seen both John Bedford and Nancy Price together in the pub and it was assumed that the man that the woman saw was John Bedford.
It was said that the woman and Nancy Price then went to Nancy Price's cottage for the loan of a skirt and that John Bedford had followed. After that Nancy Price showed the woman part of the way home.
John Bedford later arrived at his father's house at midnight sober and said to him, 'I have done the job'. John Bedford's father said that he had often heard John Bedford say he would commit murder.
The following morning John Bedford took two of his friends to Nancy Price's cottage and showed them Nancy Price lying dead on the sofa and told them that he had murdered her with a poker. John Bedford's friends had said that when they saw Nancy Price lying dead on the sofa that John Bedford had said, 'God bless thee my old darling. I have loved thee but thou hasn’t been true'.
It was noted that when Nancy Price was found she had a stocking on her left hand and a needle in her right which it was pointed out showed that she could not have assaulted John Bedford as she was in the act of sewing when attacked. There were also no signs of a struggle.
One of John Bedford's friend said that John Bedford said to him, 'She dared me to it. She said I daren’t strike her but I did do'.
It was also reported that John Bedford's friend had said that John Bedford had told him that he had seen Nancy Price with a man from Dukmanton that night, but it was noted that he had not repeated that at the magistrates hearing.
It was noted that it was a curious inconsistency that though knowing that Nancy Price was being unfaithful to her husband that he was desperately jealous of her with others.
It was also noted that in his statement before the magistrates he had declared that he had caught Nancy Price with a man in the stable about three years earlier and repeated several times that he ought to have murdered her then.
It was also noted that John Bedford had detailed that he was jealous of a man from Duckmanton, which was about a mile away from Calow, and told a long story about how he had caught Nancy Price with the man at 11pm, but it was noted that the story was very confused as to when it had happened.
When John Bedford was arrested he repeatedly said, 'I have killed one of the best women that ever lived. I ought to have been married, and it would not have happened, but I know my doom, I shall have to swing for it'. When he was being handcuffed he said, 'This beats your Coronation', and then sang, 'Dolly Gray'.
Later at the trial John Bedford said that he had seen the young man that he was jealous of talking to Nancy Price at the White Hart Inn and that when he had gone home with her that the conversation had turned on the young man and that he was seized in a sudden fit of jealousy and temper and took up a poker and killed her.
However, it was heard that there was no evidence of Nancy Price having spoken to the young man at the White Hart, it being heard that the barman there said that he had not seen Nancy Price talking to such a man on the evening in question.
The police report to the Home Secretary said that there seemed to be nothing whatever to be said for John Bedford except that the murder was probably committed in a fit of passion and was not long premeditated. However, the report added that his previous threats, the absence of any sign of a struggle, and the defenceless condition of the woman with the stocking in one hand and the needle in the other, made it a very bad case against John Bedford. The report noted that the provocation could only have been by word of mouth and that it was thought that John Bedford had been sober at the time, his accurate recollection of the position of Nancy Price at the time he struck her and his locking of the door after him when he left confirming that.
He was executed at Derby Gaol on Wednesday 30 July 1902.
John Bedford had been a miner and was also known as Tommy.
Nancy Price was also known as Annie Price.
Nancy Price's cottage where she had lived with her husband, was described as a 'pretty little cottage', which was almost hidden with the heavy foliage of the trees around it at the end of a charming winding bye-lane in the Parish of Duckmanton, but only just beyond the White Hart at Calow. The cottage was additionally described as an old-fashioned, one-storied building with quaint windows of small panes of glass and with a well-kept and well-stocked garden in front of it.
Nancy Price's husband was a cripple after having had an accident whilst working at Hartington Colliery of a most serious nature, the effects of which never left him. It was further noted that he must have been a most unfortunate individual as he was later knocked down on the Great Central Railway and received further injuries. As such, it was noted that he had not had regular employment and it was Nancy Price who was practically the bread winner.
Nancy Price was spoken of as being of good build, homely appearance, scrupulously clean and hard working. She had for some time utilised a little shop near Arkwright Town bridge for the purpose of disposing of dried fish, in which it was said she had done a good trade in and to have lived very comfortably.
It was reported that it was not known however how John Bedford and Nancy Price had met but it was thought to have been nearly a decade earlier. John Bedford was described as a quiet and otherwise fairly respectable single man and it was said that he had fallen in love with Nancy Price and that the evidence conclusively proved that after they had met that they were frequently in each other’s company and that even in public had showed much affection for each other.
It was additionally thought that Nancy Price's husband was probably the last person to have learnt what was taking place.
It was said that their relationship had continued over the years and that John Bedford had started to become exceedingly jealous of a rival although it was also noted that if the rival did exist that his identity as shrouded in mystery as no one, not even the police, knew who he was.
It was heard that John Bedford's temper had not been concealed and he was heard on more occasions than one to declare that he would kill her. However, little notice was taken of his threats, it being noted that the landlord of the White Hart had said, 'He was the last person that anyone would expect to do such a deed', adding, 'He never seemed to have enough stomach for anything of that kind'.
see National Archives - ASSI 13/32, HO 144/580/A63516
see Western Daily Press - Saturday 12 July 1902
see Cornishman - Thursday 31 July 1902
see Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 28 June 1902
see Shields Daily Gazette - Saturday 12 July 1902
see Bolton Evening News - Saturday 28 June 1902
see Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 02 August 1902
see Cornishman - Thursday 17 July 1902