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Robert Bambrough

Served with Essex County Constabulary from Aug 21, 1843 and died on Nov 30, 1850.
On Thursday 21 November 1850 20 year-old William Wood appeared before the magistrates at Billericay and was sentenced to three months imprisonment for poaching at Norsey Wood. In those days those sentenced to imprisonment by the magistrates had to be taken to Brentwood for onward conveyance to the County Gaol at Chelmsford.

The task of escorting Wood on the seven mile walk to Brentwood fell to 43 year-old Police Constable Robert Bambrough (sometimes referred to as Bamborough). The officer came originally from Jersey, but spent many years in the army before joining the police in 1843. Wood was secured to Robert Bambrough by a set of manacles which comprised of a length of chain with a hand cuff at one end (for Wood) and a handgrip on the other (for Robert Bambrough). The two men reached Hutton without incident, but Wood instigated a scuffle which resulted in both men falling into a small stagnant pond close to the junction of Rayleigh Road and Church Lane. Despite this Robert Bambrough managed to retain his grip of the manacle chain. However, Wood was able to get to his feet and in his efforts to escape trampled the officer into the muddy water.

Still Robert Bambrough would not let go so Wood thrust mud into the officer's mouth, soon rendering him unconscious. Wood then leapt from the pond and began to make off. However, after a few paces he returned and lifted Robert Bambrough's head and shoulders clear of the water. He then made his escape down Church Lane towards the church. The whole event had been witnessed by eleven year-old Sarah Hatch who watched from a window at Hutton House. Her screams alerted nearby workmen who pulled Robert Bambrough from the pond and conveyed him to the Chequers Pub in Hutton.

The police and a doctor, who were called from Billericay, arrived at the Chequers, and realised that it was only a question of time before Robert Bambrough died. The same magistrates who had dealt with Wood that morning were called to take down Robert Bambrough's account of what had happened. Meanwhile Wood, pursued by the police, made his escape via Brentwood and Tilbury, Gravesend and then onto Chatham. However, when the police arrived at Chatham they found that Wood was already in custody, having been recognized from the description published in the morning's papers. Wood was back in Billericay within 24 hours of his escape.

As was the practice Wood was taken to Robert Bambrough's bedside to hear the officer relate what had happened. Wood asked no questions, but stated that he had never intended to harm the officer. Robert Bambrough died the next day. Wood was taken away and charged with attempted murder. The case went to court in March 1851 at Chelmsford. Wood's assertion that he had not intended to harm Robert Bambrough was accepted. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to transportation for life. Robert Bambrough is believed to have been buried at Great Burstead.

A memorial stone was erected in his honour by members of Billericay Police on 21st November 1990, during the 150th anniversary celebrations of Essex Police. It is located beside the A129 Billericay to Hutton road, to the west of the Sir Winston Churchill public house and on the verge near Church Green.
© Essex Police Memorial Trust 2014
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