Memorial puts another piece in the jigsaw of the Bessie Sheppard legend

A memorial to Richard Sheppard, nephew of Bessie Sheppard, subject of a 200 year old Mansfield murder mystery legend. The memorial has ben carved by Southwell stone mason Richard Morely.
A memorial to Richard Sheppard, nephew of Bessie Sheppard, subject of a 200 year old Mansfield murder mystery legend. The memorial has ben carved by Southwell stone mason Richard Morely.

A new stone plaque has been made to mark a grave linked one of Mansfields’ most enduring folk legends.

The legend about Bessie Sheppard, a young girl murdered by a 19th century vagabond intrigued Mansfield author David Marshall so much he has spend most of his adult life researching it.

David has spent 40 years solving the 200 year old murder mystery and has turned it into a compelling page turner of a book: The Murder of Bessie Sheppard.

Now he and Southwell stone mason Richard Morely have completed another step in keeping her memory alive by inscribing her name on the a memorial to her nephew.

David said: “The book sparked quite a renewed interest in the story in Mansfield and round about.

“My wife did a little digging into Richard Sheppard, the son of Bessie’s brother, Joseph, whose picture I managed to get and include in the book.

“He lost just about everyone and took to the booze, disappearing for a while with a troupe of travelling players.

“We managed to trace Richard back in Mansfield and found photos of his last home which is now demolished plus the fact that he got through three more wives and lived to the age 82, dying in 1915.

“Better still, I traced his grave through Mansfield Cemetery staff and we’re in the process of having a stone plaque produced to mark his grave. ”

David contacted Richard Morely, who had renovated the original memorial stone commemorating Bessie’s untimely demise on Nottingham Road.

David added: “Richard has been affected by Bessie’s tale for as long as I have and he was only too happy to carve the memorial from the same stone he used for the memorial.”

On 7th July 1817, 17 year old Elizabeth Sheppard was bludgeoned to death on her way home to the village of Papplewick from Mansfield where she had been looking for work.

Within weeks, Charles Rotherham, an ex-soldier who fought under Wellington in the war against Napoleon was hanged for the murder.

David has left no stone unturned to unearth information for his 320 page book. “This memorial kind of rounds the story off for me,” he said.