Comment: The tramps of Stony Stratford Road

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As recently exemplified, it often seems that the dopier of the female species are attracted to feckless layabouts.

Presumably due to a naivety unable to equate the ‘excitement’ of a Jack the Lad, devil may care persona, with an inherent irresponsibility.

Hardly ideal for a blissful relationship, and usually afforded by some form of financial scrounging. And in the days before the comfort of the Welfare State many of the work averse took to the profession of begging as ‘tramps.’

Two of this ilk were a couple who made their home in an old barn near Cattleford bridge on the Buckingham to Stony Stratford road. In her younger days the woman had supposedly been a matron from a Northampton hospital but on making a tramp’s acquaintance when he was begging in the town she became besotted, and giving up her vocation spent the rest of her life begging and tramping the roads with him.

Singing unintelligibly, they could often be seen in the 1930s and 1940s in Buckingham, placing a hat on the pavement in the hope of coins.

Then one day in the 1960s she was unable to wake him. He had passed on, and she followed suit three days later.

The barn wasthen taken over by ‘Yorky,’ an itinerant knife grinder.

Bounders taking advantage of vulnerable women are of course nothing new, and during WWI there was a sensation when rumours began to circulate that a female child, born to a woman who lived at 13, Weston Road, Olney, had been found dead in her bedroom under suspicious circumstances.

Aged 27 the woman had two children, and the news came as a complete surprise to the neighbours, not least since her husband had been in a German P.O.W. camp for over two years.

She was not well enough to attend the inquest and so the Coroner took just enough evidence to allow the burial. At the adjourned enquiry a jury returned a verdict of wilful murder, and in consequence the serious charge of infanticide was made against the woman.

She elected to go for trial at the Bucks Assizes, where accompanied by two wardresses she entered the dock looking very ill, and in answer to the indictment said “I am not guilty of murder; I am guilty of manslaughter.”

After much consideration the judge advised the latter, and when a sentence of six months imprisonment was pronounced the woman burst into tears, and had to be helped from the dock in a state of collapse.

In fact Olney would witness another sensational case when a resident killed his child and then took his own life, but that’s another story.