‘IN DEEP pain and distress, Margaret crawled to the front door and turned the lock. On entering, the men witnessed that the floor behind the front door to the bedroom was wet and streaked with blood.’

John Gowland had been trying to enter his home, a dilapidated one-bedroom cottage at 26 High Street, Bradford - now Barkerend Road - where he lived with his common-law wife Margaret Sutton and two young daughters.

‘The house was so dark, so John lit a match from his pocket. There was no noise, no children making a sound. What Gowland and his neighbour saw shocked them to the core. Margaret sat beside the bed, her throat cut open and the bed saturated with blood. Strewn across the bed lay the lifeless body of John Gowland’s child, Elizabeth, with her younger sister Anne by her side. They were both dead and macabrely dressed in their best Sunday clothes.’

The gruesome discovery, made at the house in 1860, is described in the third volume of Bloody Yorkshire by author Wendy Rhodes, which brings to life unsavoury crimes across the region in bygone days.

John and Margaret had had a tempestuous relationship, with John treating her badly and having numerous affairs. They had separated twice, before reconciling and moving to Bradford.

Incredibly, Margaret survived but later died from her wounds.

John was arrested but stuck to his story that when he left the house that event, Margaret was well and cheerful.

The conclusion to this sorry tale can be found in third book in Wendy Rhodes’ Bloody Yorkshire series, detailing crimes from the past. Grisly deeds carried out across the region include a number in the Bradford district.

Another horrific murder took place at the Bowling home of James 'Buck' and Hannah ‘Annie’ Harrison and their three children. James was out of work and drank. He was due to start a new job on the day he savagely attacked his wife, stabbing her and ‘bashing her brains out’ with a poker. Arrested and charged, Wendy writes of how he met a grim end himself.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Hannah 'Annie' Harrison and husband James, pictured in the Illustrated Daily News, 1890Hannah 'Annie' Harrison and husband James, pictured in the Illustrated Daily News, 1890

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Seven Lord Street, home to James and Hannah 'Annie' Harrison and their three childrenSeven Lord Street, home to James and Hannah 'Annie' Harrison and their three children

Jane Owston lived in Westgate with her husband Anthony, who ‘worshipped the ground she walked on’ but was wildly jealous. He believed she was having an affair with local grocer John Smith whose shop was next door.

On Saturday September 28, 1878, he argued with Jane, a mother-of-four, and viciously attacked her. As she lay bleeding on the floor he spotted Smith outside the house and chased him into his shop.

He slashed him in several places with a carving knife and would have killed him had it not been for the intervention of another local man.

His fate is delivered in the paperback, which does not hold back in the grim details of the crimes.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Wendy Rhodes with the third volume of Bloody YorkshireWendy Rhodes with the third volume of Bloody Yorkshire

Four murders in Ilkley appear in one chapter, including that of a woman named Mrs McKnight. Initially, her death did not arouse suspicion, but was reinvestigated after relatives complained.

Aged 54, she was found in June 1856 on a footpath through Cow Pasture to Ben Rhydding. She had a small mark on her throat, thought at first to be caused by her bonnet strings. But after passing her body to a different doctor, other marks and signs of stress were found, plus she had been robbed. So was her killer caught? The answer lies in Wendy’s engrossing book.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mrs McKnight was walking to Ben Rhydding when she was murderedMrs McKnight was walking to Ben Rhydding when she was murdered

*Bloody Yorkshire Volume 3 by Wendy Rhodes is published by La-di Dah Publishing, priced £7.99