Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Shipwreck Victim and Brothel Owner Killer Hanged.

In 1865 shipwreck victim Henry Brown was hanged in public at Kirkdale after being convicted of murder for which the motive was never properly established.

32 year old Brown was a boatswain on the Culloden which was wrecked whilst sailing from Quebec to Liverpool in 1854. He was cast adrift in a lifeboat with three others for ten days and survived on a small number of biscuits before being picked up off the coast of Ireland.

By the 1860s Brown had married and set up home in Crump Street where he ran a brothel. He spent the evening of Saturday 3rd December 1864 drinking at Dawson's public house in Greenland Street with friend Thomas Lindon. A man called Thomas McCarthy, who had had a long standing feud with Brown for reasons that were never established, then went into the pub with his landlady and had a glass of ale with Brown, but soon afterwards the three men were arguing in Crump Street. This led to Brown striking McCarthy about the face with the butt of a pistol, while Lindon then kicked him as he was on the floor. Brown's wife then came out of their house and hit McCarthy with a bottle.

McCarthy did not admit himself to the Southern Hospital until the next day and died of brain injuries the following Wednesday. Brown and Lindon had initially been charged with assault but this was changed to murder following the death and they were tried on 17th December at the Liverpool Assizes. Witnesses told how they had seen McCarthy and Lindon fighting before Brown hit McCarthy with the pistol. In his summing up, the judge drew attention to the fact Brown had shouted to Lindon to kill McCarthy whilst he was down. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to death, although the recommendation of mercy for Lindon was upheld.

Whilst awaiting his fate in Kirkdale Gaol Brown read religious texts and continued to maintain that he had not intended to kill McCarthy.  On the day before his execution he was visited by his father and pregnant wife and encouraged her to sell up her possessions and go to a better life in America.

Saturday 7th January, the date of the execution was a bitterly cold day and Brown refused breakfast, instead writing a final letter to his wife and unborn child. The crowd was much lower than had attended previous multiple executions there and was estimated at 10-15,000 by the Liverpool Mercury. Brown cried out 'Lord Have Mercy On My Soul' before Calcraft drew the bolt that sent him to his death.

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