Thursday, 15 January 2015

Frying Pan Killing

The 1830s came to a tragic end for one married couple when the husband was killed after his wife hit him on the head with a frying pan during a row.

At around 9pm on New Years Eve 1839 William McEvoy returned to his Fontenoy Street home to find his lodger George Booth there but not his wife, 30 year old Elizabeth. George went to get Elizabeth, who was drinking ale with a neighbour and on her return William demanded to know why his dinner was not ready. She responded by taking the boiling potatoes and throwing them behind the fire.

The couple then began scuffling and fell on to the bed, but Elizabeth managed to get up and take down a frying pan that was hanging on the wall by a nail. She then struck William on the head with this and as he staggered towards the window, she picked up a brush and hit him, causing him to fall to the floor.

William vomited a few times that night and by 4th January he was in a feverish condition so a doctor was called by Elizabeth, who had been very tender in trying to bring him back to health.  When asked about the mark on his head William said a man he did not know had done it. The following day, William was shaking and suffering hallucinations so the same doctor was called again. He was deteriorating fast and died the day after, a post mortem concluding that extravasation of the muscles, caused by external violence was the cause.

Elizabeth was committed to trial at the next assizes and appeared before Judge Coleridge on 27th March 1840. He was angered when Dr McLellan from the Dispensary asked for a fee to give evidence, telling the surgeon that he should be ashamed not to say a few words without pay when a woman was on such a serious charge.'

After Elizabeth was found guilty the judge told her she had sworn to cherish and obey her husband, but she had been convicted of killing him. She was sentenced to one years imprisonment, with the last week of it to be in solitary confinement.

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