Stephen Gambrill – Maidstone

The harvest was poor, bread had reached a crazy price, it was close to Christmas and the farm labourers were on strike. This was Kent in 1878, a county where hunger and hatred were poisoning the land. Farm vandalism caused by the strikers was rife, and the landowning gentry feared for their properties, if not their lives.

Marauders had come at night to Gillow’s Farm in Sandwich, leaving a trail of havoc behind them, as well as a distraught family. On December 4th Arthur Gillow, 24, son of a gentleman farmer, told his father grimly: “I’ll stay up and keep watch tonight. I’ll catch them red-handed, you can be sure of that.”

Next morning Arthur’s body was found in one of his fields. He had been beaten to death.

The immediate suspect, Stephen Gambrill, 28, a member of the Union of Agricultural Workers, was arrested and charged. He confessed in the condemned cell but maintained that he had killed Arthur Gillow in self-defence. He was hanged on Tuesday, February 4th, 1879, in Maidstone Prison.