Monday, 27 May 2013

Walton Mother Drowns Two Of Her Children

In 1893 there was a terrible tragedy in Walton when a father returned home from work to find that his wife had drowned two of his three children.

John Winchester was a 27 year old engine fitter for the Midland Railway Company and worked at Rice Lane station. He lived at 18 Buchanan Road with his 31 year old wife Mary and three daughters Gertie (5) Flora (2) and Ida (11 months) and his family were described by the Liverpool Echo as 'exceedingly quiet and well regulated people.'

Following the birth of Ida, Mary's health suffered and she often complained of pains at the back of her head. She would tell John that if she were to die then she would prefer her children to go first. She rarely opened the blinds and was convinced that her neighbours were conspiring against her and that her mother was still alive.

On 27th November 1893 John left for work at 6am and Mary seemed fine. She took her children out for a walk in the afternoon and at about 5pm sent Gertie to her grandfather's house in 61 Hertford Road, Bootle, about half a mile away. Whilst she was there, she drowned Flora and Ida in the dolly tub, which was usually used to do the laundry. When Gertie returned, she took him to John's workplace and said to him 'Here is Gertie, the other two are gone.'

John took Mary and Gertie to his father's house in Bootle then they all went to Buchanan Road. John's father asked what she had meant and she directed him to the back kitchen, where he found  both children lying face down in the dolly tub, having obviously been dead for some time. The police were called and Mary was taken to Walton police station, where she remained until her first appearance at the County Sessions House in Islington on 29th November.




On the same day as Mary's first court appearance, the inquest was held at the Queen Victoria Hotel. John's father, also called John, broke down as he described how the bodies were as cold as ice when he found them. Eliza Blundell, who lived opposite in number 19, said she asked Mary why she had drowned the children and she replied 'I'd rather them be dead than called bastards' and then that another neighbour had been telling John that she had been having affairs with other men. The neighbour concerned and John both said that these allegations had never been made. A police officer confirmed that John had once expressed his concern for Mary to him, as she had been out wandering all night. 


Mary was tried at the Liverpool Assizes before Mr Justice Day on 14th March 1894. Doctors from Walton Gaol and Rainhill Asylum both said that the children had been well loved and cared for and that at the time the murders were committed, Mary was of unsound mind.  Justice Day told the jury that there was only one conclusion they could come to and Mary was found guilty, but not responsible. She was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Husband Kicks Wife To Death In Front Of Children

In 1824 a brutal husband subjected his wife to a three hour battering which resulted in her death and his transportation to the colonies.

39 year old Joseph Wilkin, a bailiff's assistant who was originally from Scotland, lived with his wife Alison and six children in a cellar in Blake Street, which was eventually cleared to make way for the Copperas Hill postal sorting depot. Joseph's wage was not a good one and Alison earned additional income to maintain their family by sewing, but was also prone to drink heavily.

On the night of 25th November 1824 Joseph returned home at 10pm when the rest of his family were in bed. After one of his daughters opened the door to him he pulled Alison from the bed and repeatedly beat her whilst she was on the floor and when she managed to get up and sit on a chair, he knocked her off it and set about her again. This ferocious behaviour was still going on when the night watchman called out that it was midnight and when a jug of water was knocked onto the floor and smashed, Joseph pushed Alison's face into it so that it cut open.

The vicious beating finally ended at 3am when Joseph picked Alison up and laid her in bed before getting in himself. At 4.30am, he woke and found that Alison was dead and sent one of his children for a neighbour Mrs Reed, who called for medical assistance. The surgeons who examined the body found that there were cuts to the head, neck and limbs, ten broken ribs and a punctured lung. Joseph was by then crying and gave himself up to the watchman who took him to the Bridewell at 530am.

Joseph was charged with murder and tried at the Lancaster Assizes the following March. He had previously lived there and was well known in the town, leading to an overcrowded courtroom for his trial. The most solemn part was the evidence of his 11 year old daughter Margaret, who wept as she told of the beating and how her mother had once tried to hang herself after her father left home for a period. The owner of the property, Mr Stephenson, said that he had often heard Joseph beating Alison but on the night in question he was on the top storey of the house and didn't hear anything.

In summing up, Justice Bailey told the jury that the charge could be reduced to manslaughter if they were satisfied that Joseph had not intended to cause death and pointed to the fact that no weapons were used and he had sent for assistance and not tried to escape. This was the verdict that was returned and Joseph was sentenced to 'transportation for the term of his natural life'. He left Britain on the convict ship Medway in July and arrived in Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) the following March.


Man Kills Brother In Law After Drinking Session

In 1899 the decision by two Kirkdale family members to stay off work and spend the day drinking had fatal consequences when one killed the other after a row.

On 6th November 1899 dock labourer Thomas O'Byrne, who was 29 and lived at 1 Blackfield Street in Kirkdale, decided not to go to work and go out drinking with James Toolan, who was married to O'Byrne's sister Joanna. All three lived at the same house along Thomas and Joanna's mother Bridget.

Their drinking session began before breakfast and at 930am they went to a pub, taking Bridget with them. After returning to the house at 1130am Thomas went out to get some more liquor but when he got back he found that Bridget had gone out. This angered him and he told both Joanna and James that he would 'do for you' if anything happened to her.

As the two men argued across the table Joanna tried to intervene but before she could do so Thomas picked up a small knife that was used for cutting tobacco and plunged it into James's chest. James ran outside but collapsed in nearby Latham Street. A pub landlord called for the police but James was pronounced dead on arrival at Stanley Hospital.

At the inquest on 16th November Joanna told the coroner that both men were usually best of friends but were 'stupidly drunk.' On 1st December Thomas appeared before the Liverpool Assizes charged with murder, which he denied on the basis that he was too drunk to know what he was doing. His defence counsel argued for total acquittal so he could continue looking after his aged mother, but the jury found him guilty of manslaughter, accepting that there had been no intent to kill. He was sentenced to ten years penal servitude.



Thursday, 23 May 2013

Insane Woman Cuts Daughter's Throat

One of the last murders to take place in the 1800s saw a mother cut the throat of her four month old daughter in Toxteth.

Rose Earle lived in Chesterfield Street with John Fletcher, a commercial traveller, and their four month old baby, also called Rose Earle. On the morning of Monday 14th August 1899 Rose, who had told John a few days earlier that her mind was going, called her domestic servant Ellen Woolley down to the cellar. When Ellen arrived Rose told her that she had 'done it' and took her to the front bedroom where baby Rose was lying on the bed in a pool of blood.


Ellen ran for assistance and Mrs Campbell, a resident of Upper Parliament Street, came into the house. When she asked Rose what had happened she replied that she had been unable to leave her baby with anyone when she had gone. A police officer was called and as she was arrested Rose replied 'Yes, Yes, I am very very sorry.' A doctor arrived at the house whilst Rose was having a fit and carried out a post mortem, concluding that the baby had died after having the windpipe cut.

Whilst on remand at Walton Gaol doctors had serious concerns about Rose's ability to enter any pleas or understand the court proceedings. She often refused food as she believed it had been poisoned and said that she had been called upon by God to destroy herself. Dr Wigglesworth from the Rainhill Asylum said that she was unfit to plead and the judge directed that she be detained during Her Majesty's Pleasure.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Murder By A Mother In Kirkdale

In 1892 there was a shocking domestic tragedy in Kirkdale when  two children were strangled by their mother.

At 5am on 15th February 1892 John Lascelles left his home at 54 Freeland Street to go to work at the Great Howard Street goods depot, where he was a guard for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company. His wife Mary and children -six month old Elizabeth and three year old John Henry were still in bed- with Mary commenting that she was still not feeling well, having been struck by a bout of influenza the week before. 

John was 38 year old former piano teacher Mary's second husband, her first having been the Captain of a steamship that drowned nine years earlier. They were described by the Liverpool Mercury as a couple who were 'very respectable quiet folks'.

Freeland Street (www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)Around 9am Catherine Newey, a relative of Mary's called around, as she often did so as she had been suffering from depression since Elizabeth's birth. Catherine was horrified when Mary opened the door wearing a nightdress which was covered in blood, and with a washing line tied around her neck. She ran off to get help from neighbours, who entered the property to find Mary sat on the kitchen floor trying to pull the cord tighter.

Three women managed to free the cord and laid Mary down as she pointed towards the ceiling, her arms apparently cut and a knife nearby. A police officer was sought and he went upstairs where he found the bodies of the two children on the bed. Both had been strangled. An ambulance took Mary, whose life hung in the balance, to the Stanley Hospital and her husband was called home from work to the terrible scene at his home. He told the police officer that a few days earlier he had heard his wife say to a friend that it would be good to all die together, but hadn't realised just how serious she had been about this. Later that evening Mary's life was out of danger and she enquired about her children, having no idea that they were dead.

Mary remained in hospital for three months before she was charged with murder, telling police that she had no recollection of the events. At her trial on 28th May a doctor from the Rainhill Asylum told the jury that she was insane at the time of the killings. She was found guilty of murder but not responsible for her actions and as such detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.


Monday, 20 May 2013

Condemned Man Warns of Drink Danger

In 1891 John Conway was hanged for the killing of 10 year old Nicholas Martin, whose body he had dumped in Sandon Dock.

The last time Nicholas was seen by any of his family was at a quarter to nine on the evening of Saturday 16th May, when he was playing ball outside his house in Bridgewater Street. His mother went to some shops and returned half an hour later and he was nowhere to be seen. However as Nicholas had a habit of going to an uncle's house in Great Howard Street he wasn't reported as missing to the police until the Monday.

On the Tuesday morning two gatemen at the Sandon Dock Basin pulled a black bag out of the water and found that it contained the badly mutilated body of Nicholas, whose feet had been cut off. Word soon got around the city of the find and Nicholas's father, also called    Nicholas, identified the body at a mortuary that evening. 

Enquiries focused on the black canvass bag that Nicholas's body had been placed in and it was soon found that it had been sold from a shop in Park Lane on the Monday afternoon. A vital clue left in the bag was some brown paper with the stamp of the Sailor's Union, who had an office in Stanhope Street. This allowed police to act swiftly and a search of the premises found a large quantity of blood. The following day the union's representative in South Liverpool, former marine fireman John Conway, was arrested at a lodging house in Bridgewater Street.

At the inquest Nicholas's mother was so distressed at the description of his body that she had to go and sit in the coroner's room. A verdict of wilful murder was returned and his funeral was held at the Church of St Vincent de Paul  and he was buried in Ford Cemetery.

Conway's trial took place on the 31st July and 1st August. The circumstantial evidence against him was overwhelming. Fellow boarding house lodgers identified the razor which was believed to be the murder weapon as his, boys said they saw Conway talking to Nicholas shortly before he disappeared and the shop owner confirmed that Conway had bought the bag. A cab driver also said that he had picked Conway up from Stanhope Street on the Monday night and dropped him off at the Pier Head carrying the bag which he was struggling with but refused help. 

Conway's defence was that the murder had been committed by an unknown foreign sailor and pointed out that he was of previous good character, had no motive and had been drinking and acting normally with friends on the Sunday. It took the jury half an hour to reach a verdict of guilty and Conway was sentenced to death.

Conway was executed at Kirkdale Gaol on 20th August, having finally made a written confession to the murder the day before in which he said that he had developed a morbid mania to see someone dying. As he was led to the scaffold he said to the executioner James Berry 'beware of drink.' Berry had miscalculated the drop and Conway was almost decapitated as he was hanged, leading to him returning straight home to Bradford and refusing to talk to reporters.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Triple Child Murder In Wavertree

In 1890 three young children were killed by their mother who had fallen ill after failing to settle in Liverpool.


In 1889 customs officer Charles Charlton was relocated to Liverpool from Southsea, taking up residence at 16 Garmoyle Road with his wife Leah and three children Bob (4) Dorothy (2) and new baby Barbara. Leah though failed to settle in the area and made few friends, becoming convinced that everybody was out to get her and she would often tell her husband as he left for work that she may be dead when he returned.

Only one side of Garmoyle Road was built then and when some bricks were placed opposite the Charlton home in readiness for more development and she told her husband that they were meant to kill her. No amount of persuasion could convince her otherwise and when the body of a local boy was found in a nearby claypit on the morning of Thursday 8th May, it triggered the catastrophic tragedy that left three young children dead.


Leah was certain that whoever had caused the death of the young boy would be coming for her family next and after putting her children to bed that night she cut their throats with a razor as they slept. When her husband returned home at 7.30pm she answered the door holding the razor, then calmly slashed herself across the throat. Charles sought assistance from a neighbour who managed to summon a policeman, who found the bodies of the older two children in their beds. When asked why she had killed two of her children, Leah wrote on a piece of paper that the mob were out to get them and that there was a third child. The body of 10 month old Barbara was then found in her cot.

After spending a night in the Royal Southern Hospital, Leah was taken to the Toxteth Workhouse Hospital the following day, where she was not expected to survive. Intrigued crowds gathered outside the house, where the bodies of the three children remained until the inquest on the Saturday, which was held at the nearby Bourne Arms hotel. A verdict of wilful murder was returned and they were buried in the same grave in Toxteth Park cemetery two days later at an internment attended by just Mr Charlton, his brother and a handful of police officers.

On 4th August 1890 Leah was tried at the Liverpool Assizes before Justice Vaughan Williams. Charles Charlton was in court to hear his wife described by the prosecution as a 'kind, affectionate and attentive mother' whose move away from her family and friends had led to her being in 'an unsatisfactory condition of health.' Doctors from Toxteth Workhouse, Walton Gaol and Rainhill Asylum all said she was suffering from melancholia, hallucinations and delusions. It took the jury no time at all to find Leah guilty but not responsible for her actions. She was then detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Murder of a Sea Captain

In 1888 a seaman stabbed his captain to death whilst on a voyage to Liverpool but escaped the hangman's noose when the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.


On 5th March that year the Dovenby Hall left San Francisco bound for Liverpool carrying a cargo of grain. On board was a crew of 23, including Steward Charles Arthur, a 34 year old native of Barbados who had lived in Liverpool for a number of years.


Arthur had been on the outbound voyage and remained quiet for most of it, but in San Francisco there was a disagreement between the Captain, David Bailey, and a number of crew members that led to many leaving the ship and the recruitment of a new Chief Mate. On 30th March, Arthur was reprimanded by the 54 year old Captain and ordered to perform  menial duties on deck, temporarily relinquishing his role as a Steward.

Being forced to go on deck was the culmination of a week of berating for supposedly not carrying out his duties properly and the following morning Arthur snapped. One of the jobs he had to do as Steward was take a cup of tea to the Captain in his cabin at 5am but when he did so, he plunged a carving knife into Bailey's stomach as he lay in bed. The Chief Mate and a sailmaker heard screams and ran to the cabin, managing to disarm Arthur and then capturing him as he tried to jump overboard. Captain Bailey died from his injuries 24 hours later and was buried at sea, with the Chief Mate safely guiding the vessel back to Liverpool, arriving on 28th June.

Arthur, who had been held in irons for the rest of the voyage was handed over to the river police on arrival and appeared to be on good terms with the crew, most of whom shook hands with him as he was taken away. On being charged with murder he responded that he had done it, but 'under great provocation.' Standing by the quayside were Captain Bailey's wife and nephew, who heard about his terrible fate for the first time.

At the trial on 3rd August crew members told how the Captain had regularly complained about Arthur's work and threatened him. However, in summing up the judge said that the only grounds for a reduction of the charge to manslaughter were if Arthur had actually been assaulted himself. As it had been admitted that Bailey was lying in his bed at the time and the knife had been removed from the pantry, the jury had no option but to conclude that he was guilty of wilful murder.

Arthur was of previous good character and the jury recommended mercy due to the provocation. Following submissions from his family and the Seamen's Institute, a reprieve was granted and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Orange Day Killing

In 1880 a killing with possible Sectarian undertones took place in Everton when a Protestant was stabbed by a Catholic.

On 12th July 1880, the traditional day for Orange Lodge parades, Matthew Foulkes and his wife took a wagonette to Hale where an Orange parade was taking place, although they did not join in this. After stopping for drinks at Garston on the way back, they arrived in Beresford Street at 8pm when their wagonette came under attack from bricks that were being thrown from 29 Beresford Street, the home of a 29 year old Catholic seaman named Ezra Male. His house was directly opposite number 30, where Mr and Mrs Foulkes lodged.


A squabble took place between Mrs Foulkes and Mrs Male, while a large crowd also gathered as three youths were taken away by police. Ezra Male then came running out of the house with a knife and slashed Mrs Foulkes down the arm, cutting her from the shoulder to elbow. Matthew Foulkes then went at Male and was stabbed in the stomach. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary, while Male was arrested initially for wounding. Matthew was able to give a statement the next day prior to dying from his injuries, his bowel having been protruded.


Male was charged with murder and appeared before the Liverpool Assizes on 30th July, when Mrs Foulkes was still in hospital recovering from her injuries and a miscarriage. Several witnesses said they had seen the two women arguing and that Foulkes had initially appeared to go at Male. With respect to whether the killing was motivated by religion, there is no doubt that Foulkes was wearing an orange lilly and that bricks were thrown from Male's house. However the two men had previously never spoken to each other and it is quite possible that it took place as a result of the two wives having had a disagreement a few days earlier.

In summing up the judge said that if Male was acting in self defence then it was manslaughter, but if he had come out of his property holding a knife it was murder. The jury deliberated for 35 minutes and found Male guilty of manslaughter, leading to the judge to tell him that the case was 'very near murder.' Male, who maintained just before sentencing that he had nor been in possession of  a knife that day, was sentenced to twenty years penal servitude.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Seaman's Suicide Attempt Fails After Lover Killed

In 1885 a seaman shot his lover dead and turned the gun on himself only to survive his suicide attempt, before meeting his death via the Hangman's noose anyway.

On Thursday 3rd September 1885 George Thomas, a native of Guyana, arrived in Liverpool on the Mary L. Barel which had sailed from Bombay. After being paid his wages for the voyage he went to stay with Margaret Askin, who lived in Brassey Street, Toxteth, which was his usual custom when he was in Liverpool. Askin was described by the Liverpool Mercury as being 'of the most disreputable class.'


On 8th September another seaman named Louis Powell arrived at the house and a fight took place, in which Thomas produced a knife. The following afternoon he had an argument, fuelled by jealousy, with Margaret (known as Maggie) who had asked him for money to buy food for Powell and also pawned some of his clothes that he had left when he had last stayed there. That evening he asked her to accompany him to a pub at the corner of Harrington Street and Beaufort Street for a drink. Maggie took a female friend, Mrs Tipping, with her and in full view of other customers Thomas shot her and threatened to shoot Mrs Tipping, but instead shot himself in the ear.

The pub landlord ran out and blew a whistle to attract the attention of police and when they arrived Maggie was already dead but Thomas was sat on a stool fully conscious with blood pouring from his wound. He was taken to the Southern Hospital where he was operated upon and made a full recovery. In  a reflection of how non whites were seen then, press reports into the case constantly reported that Thomas was 'coloured', with the Leeds Times even saying he was a 'darky.'

At his trial before the Assizes, Thomas effectively made the jury's mind up for him, saying he was only sorry he had not shot Powell as well. He was sentenced to death and hanged at Kirkdale on 8th December, with his last words being 'Beware of the sins of adultery and murder. I have committed a grievous sin in the sight of God.'



Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Killed By A Paraffin Oil Lamp

In 1884 a Toxteth man was found guilty when his girlfriend died due to serious burns after he threw a paraffin oil lamp at her.

In the early hours of  26th February 1884 Police Constable Robert Fagan was on duty in Mann Street when he saw a fire in a property. On running inside he found 28 year old Mary McNamara in flames on the bedroom floor and set about extinguishing the fire using a sheet from the bed.

Whilst this was going on he noticed a male, who it later transpired was 23 year old labourer Robert Black, stooping by the bed who did nothing to help or say anything. After help arrived and Mary was stretchered out of the property PC Fagan went back inside and found that Black had gone, having apparently escaped by the back door.

Black was arrested the following day in Church Street on suspicion of wounding after Mary had been able to give police a statement from her hospital bed at the Southern Hospital. She remained there until 19th March, when she died from exhaustion brought about by the burns. At the coroner's inquest the following day, witnesses from the area told how they had seen Mary arguing with Black in the street on the afternoon of the 25th, both of them worse for wear through drink and how Black had struck her to the ground on more than one occasion. Mary was last seen at 11.30pm on that date and before making his escape, Black told one of her friends that she was on fire after he had thrown the oil lamp and she needed assistance.

The inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder and Black was committed for trial at the Assizes in May. The Liverpool Mercury reported that Black was a 'lazy scoundrel' content to live off Mary's 'immoral earnings' and that they were members of the 'unfortunate class' who had been together for seven years. A statement was read out that had been made by Mary, in which she told how Black had thrown the lamp at her and the glass shattered after hitting her on the head, causing burning oil to pour over her.

On the direction of the judge the jury found Black guilty of wilful murder but recommended mercy on the grounds of provocation. He was sentenced to death but the Home Secretary acted on this and the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Religious Mania Sees Mother Kill Child

In 1881 a tragedy occurred in Toxteth when a mother killed her child as she felt she was sending her to a better place after a fit of religious mania.

On Friday 17th June 1881 neighbours became concerned for the welfare of Annie Jackson of 2 Rhiwlas Street (below left) who hadn't been seen for several days. When Mrs Foggo, the wife of a bootmaker from High Park Street knocked on the door Annie answered wearing just a nightdress and said that she and her 4 year old daughter Rebecca had been in bed for three days, before going on to talk about religious matters.

For the next few days Mrs Foggo and the clergyman of the local church called but Annie continued to talk erratically. Eventually, on Monday 21st June, she told the curate 'It is no use I am lost' and the next day Mrs Foggo managed to get inside the house, where Annie told her that Rebecca had died and that she had killed her 'to save her soul.' A policemen attended and found a garter near Rebecca's body, which had red marks around the neck. Annie was removed to the Bridewell and then the workhouse hospital. A post mortem established that Rebecca had died from strangulation and that she had been well nourished.

Annie was detained in Whittingham Hospital in Nottinghamshire and she was not able to stand trial until the following February, an extremely long time lapse then. Mrs Foggo was a principal witness and told how Rebecca was loved and cherished by Annie, whose other child was being looked after by relatives in Cumberland. Although she had had an episode of despondency about 12 years earlier she appeared to now be well off and on affectionate terms with her husband, who was away at sea as a Master Mariner.


Annie's doctor told the court how she had been suffering from depression and had carried out the killing whilst in a melancholic state, while a doctor from Whittingham said that for 2 weeks afterwards she was 'quite stupified and lost to all around her.' He said that she was suffering delusions relating to religious views and was insane at the time the killing took place. 

The jury took just a few minutes to find Annie not guilty of murder on the grounds of insanity and she was detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure. On leaving the dock she muttered that she had made a wreck of her home and was responsible for her husband being miserable.







Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hanged For Murder Of An 'Unfortunate'

In 1879 a Toxteth man was hanged after stabbing a woman that he was in a relationship with, taking the reasons for the killing with him into the next world.

The murder of Eliza Patten, described as an 'Unfortunate' by the Liverpool Mercury took place on the night of Sunday 23rd March at what the paper also termed a 'house of ill fame' in Prince William Street. At 6.20pm a policeman was informed by a boy that a woman had been stabbed in the property and he found her lying on the kitchen floor.She was removed to the Southern Hospital but died shortly afterwards from loss of blood to the wound, which was to her neck and had penetrated the jugular vein.

The stabbing had been witnessed by others and the assailant was named as 21 year old Thomas Johnson, nicknamed 'The Demon', who had been involved with Eliza for the past two years. He managed to get away and took a ferry to Birkenhead, but the following night he was back in Toxteth and apprehended at a lodging house in Upper Mann Street.


There was no apparent reason for the killing, which took place on the same day the couple had booked into the house after being thrown out of a lodging house next door. They had drank beer with others there and Eliza cooked bacon and eggs for Thomas, who held her head in his lap as he talked with other residents. At 5.30pm they went upstairs together and Eliza came back down with a scratch on her neck and started to smoke a pipe, then soon afterwards Thomas came in and stabbed her behind the ear before running out of the property.

At  his trial that took place at the Liverpool Assizes on 9th May, three witnesses told how they had seen Johnson after the murder and he told them what he had done, admitting they had a row in which she had struck him with a candlestick but not elaborating on what it was over. The surgeon who had attended to Eliza told that the blow must have been delivered with considerable force given how far the knife had penetrated into the neck. Johnson's defence solicitor claimed that only a manslaughter verdict was necessary due to provocation and the fact that he had acted on impulse.

In summing up, the judge said that if the evidence was to be believed then murder was the only verdict possible, as Johnson was not under threat at the time he picked up the knife. It took the jury just two minutes to find him guilty and after being impassive during the trial, he collapsed when the judge passed sentence. He was carried downstairs and could be heard crying from the cells for some time. He was hanged at Kirkdale Gaol on 28th May.