24TH APRIL, 1873

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THE HANDLEYS, Derbyshire, England

THE THREE HANDLEYS form the north west side of the parish of Staveley, and contains the villages of Middle, Nether, and West Handley. Handley for the most part belonged anciently to Beauchief Abbey, as such they were seized on by Henry VIII., and granted to Wm, West, Esq. In 1577 they were sold by Edmund West, Esq., to Francis Rodes, whose name is more familiar hearabouts, (for as a native of this parish,) as Judge Rodes. Nearly the whole of the sites of the Three Handleys is now the property of his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, and the manor which was formerly separate from, is now merged in that of Staveley.

MIDDLE HANDLEY is a pleasant village on a bold elevation, 2½ miles NW. from Staveley. A Chapel of ease was erectcd here in 1838, principally by the Duke of Devonshire. It is a neat substantial edifice, in which Divine service is regularly performed by the rector or his curate. His Grace also erected, about the same time, a commodious School of stone, to which he allows £20 per annum towards the support of a master, for which 16 children are educated free.

NETHER HANDLEY is a very small hamlet, two miles NW, from Staveley.

WEST HANDLEY is an agricultural village, three miles NW. from Staveley. The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel here, erected of stone in 1796. Netherthorpe, a hamlet and small village ½ mile E. from Staveley. A Grammar School was founded here in l537,-(see charity report). This school has fallen into disuse.

These communities were the stage of a tragic event that shook them to the core and even today it is still talked about. The tragedy is known as the...

The West Handley Murder

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On 24th April, 1873 Eliza Hudson was murdered by her husband and cousin, Ben Hudson.

Had it not been for the manner of her death, she, Ben and their other relatives would have lived and died without notice in historic record.

But the story of the murder, simply told as it was by those who observed and were affected by it, directs a small spotlight upon the lives and attitudes of these ordinary people as they struggled to survive in the early years of Victoria's reign.

Thanks to Jean Coulton of West Handley I am able to bring you this story with her permission to include her transcript of the events surrounding the murder here.

In her post script Jean added partial information of the family tree of Ben & Eliza HUDSON this is my attempt to expand on this for her.

What is more fascinating to me is the persons in this story include some of my own ancestors.

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