Notorious Crime: Who did the murdered girl accuse on her tombstone in 1763?
Written on the 250-year-old grave of Sarah Smith is the extraordinary claim that the buried girl was poisoned.
Who killed Sarah Smith? Ask the Rev. Eddy Sneyd of Saint Margarets church Wolstanton in the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Because Mr Crick, a local historian and archive expert who studied the murder and who has spent the last three years investigating this 300 year old murder. He states that the parish records at that time during the 18th century written and recorded by the Rev. E. Sneyd CLEARLY show who C…S B…W is. .and solves the 18th century unsolved murder mystery case.
The grave has puzzled visitors to the church for centuries. Who was Sarah Smith – and more intriguingly, who was the person responsible for her murder, if she was sent to her death by the hand of a killer?
At that time, Reverend Edward Sneyd was the vicar at St Margaret’s, of the powerful and wealthy Sneyd family, the lords of the manor. It seems unlikely that a murder accusation would be allowed to be written onto a gravestone in his churchyard without his knowledge and approval.
Did the Rev Sneyd believe the story that was perhaps passed on to him by Sarah’s family? Did he know the identity of Sarah’s killer? It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Rev Sneyd was called out to visit Sarah as she lay on her death bed. It could even be that he heard her utter the accusation herself. It would be difficult to disbelieve the testimony of a dying girl.
Was it Rev Sneyd who convinced Sarah’s family to simply put the killer’s initials on the headstone, rather than identifying the killer outright?
There is no evidence that anyone was brought to justice for the murder – if there was a murder – but Sarah and her family would have exacted a small revenge on the killer, just from the wagging tongues that must have been set in motion.
Whoever C–––S B–––W was, he (or she) would have surely heard the rumours, perhaps people would stop talking when he walked into the local inn, or people would whisper behind his back.
Scant consolation perhaps for Sarah’s parents, Samuel and Martha, but village life would have at least been very uncomfortable for the poisoner.
But more than 250 years after Sarah’s death, the mystery may have in fact been solved by historian Jeremy Crick, who lives close to St Margaret’s Church in Wolstanton.
Mr Crick spent three years researching the grave, trawling through parish records and spending hours in the library, after coming across it during a stroll through the churchyard.
The true identify the killer, as a wealthy farmer, who lived at Red Street, not far from Sarah’s home at Bradwall estate. A man named Charles Barlow.