Monday, 10 June 2013

Murder And Suicide in Victorian Old Swan

In 1866 a man murdered his married cousin whilst her husband was away at sea before going on to commit suicide.

Ship's purser Thomas Train and his wife Ann lived at Wood Grove (now hardly in existence as a cul de sac opposite Kwik Fit on Edge Lane). A 20 year old servant named Margaret Golding also lived with them and Ann's cousin John Moss, who had recently returned to Liverpool from Australia where he had made cigars, also regularly stayed there and seemed to have a very close relationship with her.

For two weeks in May 1866 Thomas Train was back with his wife and expressed his disapproval of Moss's presence. At Thomas's request Moss left, but he would visit daily for a meal with Ann while Thomas was visiting Liverpool. On Tuesday 23rd May Thomas set sail aboard the Delamere, leaving Ann with instructions to leave the house in Old Swan and move to a new home in New Brighton. Moss immediately reappeared and stayed for the next two nights, then on Thursday 24th May Ann began packing up for the move, aided by her cousin and servant.

As the three of them were packing, there was a disturbing moment when Moss picked up a carving knife and began to sharpen it, saying that he didn't like this world any more and he could easily kill himself by cutting the jugular vein. By teatime though he was quite calm and after eating they continued packing. At about 930pm Ann asked Margaret to go to another room and get a dress and as she did so she heard screams. On returning upstairs she saw Moss striking Ann with a hatchet. Margaret ran outside for help and came back a few minutes with two neighbours, who found the body of Ann lying on the floor, with part of the brains lying beside the head. Police were called and they searched the house and found Moss's body in the scullery with a carving knife lying beside it, his jugular vein having been cut.

At the inquest into the deaths, it was revealed that a letter had been found in Moss's pocket, apparently written that day and for the attention of Thomas. In it he referred to Ann as 'nearly my sister' and that she was not a 'fit consort' for Thomas and as such he was 'ridding you of her'. The jury returned  a verdict of murder and suicide, having decided that Moss was of sound mind and taken his own life to prevent the law doing it for him.

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