A landlord who wanted his tenant to leave was killed after being hit with a plank of wood, leading to the tenant closely avoiding the death penalty.
In 1857 dock labour John Kilduff lived in a court at New Bird Street, letting out the lower floor of the house to 30 year old Patrick Kilroy and his wife. For reasons that never became apparent, Kilduff gave Kilroy a week's notice to quit on 2nd April.
Two days after receiving the notice, a Saturday, Kilroy and his wife began moving their furniture out of the property, but Kilduff refused to refund any rent in respect of them leaving earlier than required. Mrs Kilroy felt that they should stop moving out, but her husband wanted to continue and after an argument occurred between them, he threw a mattress out of the window.
Kilroy went away saying there would be blood later that night and on his return to the court at 11pm, he stood outside shouting at Kilduff to come outside and fight him. Kilduff's wife Winifred went down and locked the door, and managed to shout for help and a policeman arrived to take Kilroy away.
Once he had calmed down Kilroy was let go and went back to the court and hid in the darkness, observing Kilduff open the door to look around shortly afterwards. Kilroy then pounced and struck Kilduff over the head with a five feet piece of timber. He then went to strike again but Kilduff managed to fend it off with a hatchet and got inside, where he collapsed. He was taken to the Southern Hospital where he died the following Wednesday, 8th April. Doctors concluded that it was a direct result of the blow to the head that had fractured his skull.
Kilroy was charged with murder and appeared before Mr Baron Watson at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th August. His defence counsel asked for understanding from the jury, saying there had been provocation in that Kilduff had a hatchet. A verdict of manslaughter was returned but the judge was in no mood for leniency, telling Kilroy that he should be thankful the jury had taken a favourable view of the case. He then sentenced him to fifteen years penal servitude.