In August 1660, William Harrison, estate manager to Baptist Hicks, set off on foot for Charingworth in order to collect rent owed to his master. However, as he had not returned by dusk, Harrison’s wife, becoming worried for his safety, despatched Harrison’s man servant, John Perry to look for him.
On their way back, they came to hear that a hat, shirt, collar and comb had been found on the main road between Ebrington and Campden, near a large bank of gorse. Finding the hat and comb slashed and the shirt collar covered in blood, they immediately started to search the area, assuming that Mr Harrison had been killed.
On returning to Campden, the news of this discovery caused great alarm; so much so, that the men, women and children of the town took it upon themselves to search for the body. Meanwhile, back at the Harrison’s home, his already distressed wife now feared heavily for her husband’s safety.
As Mr Harrison had been sent to collect rent money, many townsfolk started to suspect that John Perry had killed his master and stolen the money.
Perry was questioned further and then remanded in custody in Campden. Whilst in custody, Perry finally indicated that if he were taken before the Justice of the Peace again, he would disclose some new and vital information regarding his master’s killer. On further interrogation, Perry stated that his master had been killed not by him, but by his brother and mother, who had robbed Harrison for the rent money. Perry’s only involvement was to provide his mother and brother with the time and date that his master would be making his journey to Charingworth to collect the money.
Perry’s mother and brother were also questioned, and then the three of them were tried and found guilty of killing William Harrison to obtain the rent money. A few days later, John, Richard and Joan Perry were taken to the top of Broadway Hill, which overlooks Chipping Campden, and hung for their supposed crimes.
The first person to be hung was Joan Perry as she was thought to be a witch and had placed a spell over her sons. Next to be hung was Richard Perry, who begged his brother John to tell the truth about the disappearance of William Harrison. But, John Perry stuck by his story and they were both duly hung.
William Harrison returned to Chipping Campden around two years later, claiming that he had been abducted by three men dressed in white on horseback. He was then taken to Deal, in Kent, and put on a ship to Turkey; where he was kept for nearly two years, until escaping with a silver bowl that had been given to him. Using this silver bowl, he was able to secure his passage back to England.