Saturday, 28 February 2015

Killing of a Peacemaker

A man who light heartedly tried to calm down an elderly female who was acting anti socially ended up getting hacked to death by the woman who was descibed as a 'tigress' by the trial judge.


At about 9pm on the evening of 17th September 1870 a 62 year old Irish woman named Bridget Daley was outside her home in Grosvenor Street looking for an argument with anybody and throwing dirt about. Despite being hit by the dirt 59 year old neighbour Patrick McDermott made light of the situation and pacified her. He then put his hand on Bridget's shoulder and persuading her to return down to her cellar.

Patrick followed Bridget into the cellar to make sure she remained quiet but she then set about him with a cleaver, striking him several times on the face. Patrick managed to cry out 'murder' leading to several passers by rushing down the cellar steps, where they saw him lying on the floor with several cuts. Bridget was still kneeling next to him, striking away with cleaver.

A policeman was sent for and Bridget calmly told the officer she had struck Patrick with a cleaver as he had no business being in her cellar. She was initially taken into custody and charged with assault, while Patrick was taken to his own house and treated by Dr Birney from the East Dispensary.

Patrick died on the Sunday evening and on the Monday Bridget appeared before the police court charged with assault. She was remanded in custody for seven days pending the outcome of the inquest, which was to take place the following day. With the post mortem concluding that death was caused by suppuration of the brain due to the injuries of two of the wounds, a verdict of manslaughter was returned. Bridget was then committed to the assizes on a coroners warrant.

In its report of the trial, which took place on 13th December, the Liverpool Courier & Commercial Advertiser described the street where the incident took place as 'that locality of drunkenness and disorder.' Bridget was undefended but shouted from the dock that the witnesses were lying and if Bishop McHale was there he would speak about her character.

The jury found Bridget guilty and she was described by Mr Justice Mellor (left) as 'like a tigress' and of a 'very cruel and wicked disposition.' She had ten previous convictions for assaults and fighting, leading to Mellor believing the streets were better off without her. He then passed a sentence of twenty years penal servitude, the severity of which caused a sensation amongst those present in court.

The Paraffin Lamp Tragedy

One of the most horrific killings by a female in the 19th century saw a woman kill her landlord and landlady by setting them on fire after throwing a paraffin oil lamp at them. However, despite the gravity of the crime she was spared the death penalty.

26 year old fruit hawker Catherine Levens lived with her husband in a court in Lower Blenheim Street, lodging with a couple called Mr and Mrs Tracy, who were in their early 30s. In the early hours of Sunday 30th April 1899 Mr and Mrs Levens were arguing over insurance money, causing John Tracy to shout upstairs for them to quieten down.

They did for a short while then Catherine threw a boot at her husband, which then bounced out of the window and into the yard. She then went down to the Tracy's room and asked for the key to the back door, but they refused to give it to her and said she should just go to bed. Catherine then shouted at them that she would roast their eyes out. During this commotion her husband left the house, perhaps knowing what his wife was capable of doing.

After returning upstairs and breaking a window Catherine then took hold of a paraffin oil lamp and went back down to Mr and Mrs Tracy. With their two daughters watching, Catherine threw the lamp at Mary Tracy, hitting her on the forehead. The glass broke, causing the bedclothes and Mary's chemise to catch fire. As John tried to put the fire out, his shirt was set alight and after the couple ran into the yard, two neighbours heard their screams and came to put the flames out.

A police officer arrived and arranged for them to be taken to the Northern Hospital in a horse ambulance. Mary died soon after arrival, a post mortem establishing that the cause of death was cardiac arrest which had been caused by the shock of the burns which covered her face, body, thighs and arms.

Catherine had escaped to a friends house in Limekiln Lane but she was soon arrested, giving herself up when a police sergeant knocked. She was charged with the wilful murder of Mary and grievous bodily harm to John. As she was taken into custody she said 'I did throw the lamp but I had good cause for it, if he had given me the key there would have been nothing of this.'

Later in the day a magistrate took a deposition from John in the presence of Catherine, which stated that she had thrown the lamp at his wife. An inquest into Mary's death was opened and adjourned pending the condition of John but when he died on 10th May, also of cardiac failure, it was resumed. On the recommendation of the Coroner, Catherine was found guilty of wilful murder in both cases and committed to the assizes for trial.



On 2nd August Catherine appeared at the assizes charged only with the murder of Mary, as was the norm at the time. Mr and Mrs Tracy's fourteen year old daughter described what she had seen, as did Mrs Tracy's brother who had been in the kitchen at the time. Some neighbours told how the shouting was so loud that they heard the threat by Catherine to roast Mr and Mrs Tracy. Catherine's defence counsel had a difficult job to do but tried to suggest that the lamp was not thrown at all, instead it had come out of her hand in a struggle and accidentally set light to the clothing.


The jury deliberated for an hour and a half before returning to tell the judge they believed she had thrown the lamp with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm but there had been no intent to kill. Justice Wills advised them that if that was their belief then the only verdict they could return was guilty of murder. They then did so with a strong recommendation for mercy and as Catherine was sentenced to death she screamed loudly and had to be carried to the cells.

Catherine's solicitor William Quilliam, who had converted to Islam and opened the country's first mosque at Brougham Terrace ten years earlier, immediately made representations to have the death sentence commuted. The Home Secretary acted fast and just five days after the trial the Governor of Walton gaol received communication that her sentence had been commuted to penal servitude for life. She was then transferred to Aylesbury prison in Buckinghamshire.


Friday, 27 February 2015

Youth Cleared of Stone Throwing Death

A youth who threw a stone that killed another boy was cleared after the deceased's father declined to prosecute.

Herbert Corrie, the eleven year old son of broker William Corrie was playing cricket with some friends near York Terrace in Everton on a Sunday towards the end of July 1853. Some other boys unknown to them appeared and a dispute arose, leading to both sides throwing stones.

Herbert was struck just beneath the ear and died from an injury to the brain. A boy named George Langhorn was arrested and charged with manslaughter, appearing at the police court on 9th August. He was described as a 'respectably dressed lad' and with Mr Corrie not wanting to prosecute no evidence was offered and the case dismissed.

Wife Murderer Flees To Holland

A man who murdered his wife under the noses of the police managed to escape and stow away on a ship bound for Holland, but was taken into custody on arrival in Rotterdam after confessing to his true identity.

In 1867 dock labourer Thomas Quigley, who was 34 years old, lived in a court in Vernon Street with his wife Dinah and two daughters. On 18th December that year Quigley returned home from work and asked his 9 year old daughter Mary where her mother was. She went to the house of a man named Andrew Matthews in the court and could see her through the keyhole, but she lied to her father as she was frightened he would harm her as he had been drinking.

Quigley then went over himself and on looking inside saw Dinah running down to the coal cellar. He went inside and dragged her by the hair over to his own house where he beat her with a poker as she lay on the floor. He also picked  a table up and dropped it on her and kicked her in the throat. Mary's younger sister was picked up and thrown onto her mother and then into the yard, before he began to beat her with a stick so hard that it broke.

When Mary tried to intervene by pulling at Quigley he slapped her and said he would run a knife through anyone who came near him. When he noticed that a neighbour called Bridget Geoghan was looking in he went out and pulled down the shutters before resuming the assault. Another neighbour named Jane Lackey broke the shutters and shouted for the police, but the two officers who arrived and spoke with Quigley did not arrest him as both he and Dinah were drunk. Quigley told any neighbours who interfered that his wife was no better than a prostitute for drinking with Matthews and also a man called Peter Lawler the previous day.

Mary ran off to her grandmothers and Lackey called for more police, who this time did go in the property and lift Dinah into an armchair, at which point Quigley escaped. When she couldn't sit up she was taken to the Northern Hospital on a stretcher.  Doctors there believed she would not recover from her wounds and the following day a magistrate came to take a deposition from her. She lingered on and died on 23rd December, a post mortem establishing that she had several broken bones and the brain was congested.

An inquest took place on 26th December at which Mary and a number of neighbours gave evidence. The doctors who carried out the post mortem were of no doubt that Dinah died of the shock caused by the extent of her wounds. They explained that the internal organs were healthy with the liver showing no signs of alcoholism.A verdict of wilful murder was returned and a reward of £50 offered to anybody who could provide information that would lead to Quigley's apprehension.

Quigley had managed to be smuggled by some crew members aboard the steamer Ouse, which was at Nelson Dock and sailed for Brielle, near Rotterdam on the 27th. After a day or two at sea he was found by one of the ship mates and taken to Captain Perry, saying that his name was Jones. With no money to pay any fare, 'Jones' was put to work in the engine room as a stoker.

Captain Perry had taken a number of newspapers on board and on reading about the murder and inquest he wondered if his stowaway was really a killer escaping justice. On arrival at Brielle he instructed the pilot to go ahead and send a message to the British consul agent at Hellevoetslius, 7 miles away, of his suspicions. When the consul agent and burgomaster went on board, Quigley admitted his real identity under interrogation.

There was no extradition treaty between Britain and Holland so there was no power to take him into custody in relation to the murder. However as he had stowed away and had only two shillings on him, nowhere near enough to pay for a passage, he was arrested for fraud. At this moment a man named John Barnon, who was Dutch and married to a relative of Quigley's intervened, offering to pay his fare. The burgomaster, assuming that Barnon was somehow involved in aiding the escape, then arrested him as well but he was soon freed as there were no grounds to hold him.

The British Ambassador in The Hague was informed and Quigley remained under permanent guard whilst a telegram was dispatched to the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, arriving on 2nd January 1868. This was then passed to the head constable Major Greig, who dispatched Inspector Cozens to Holland. On arrival in London he was told that Rotterdam harbour was frozen up so he took a boat to Calais and a train to Moredyk, completing his journey to Hellevoetslius on a sleigh. Once there he was met by the British Consul and burgomaster of the town and taken to Quigley. On being shown the coroner's warrant Quigley broke down and said he had beat his wife due to her spending a lot of time drinking with other males and having no food in the house.

Inspector Cozens and Quigley began their journey back to Liverpool on 7th January, again having to travel the long way around via Calais, He was so quiet and withdrawn during the three day journey that Cozens didn't even handcuff him. He appeared before the assizes on 26th March, entering a plea of not guilty and listening intently to the proceedings. In opening the case the prosecutor announced that the more senior of the two policemen who refused to intervene believing it was a 'drunken row' had since been dismissed from the force.

When Matthews gave his evidence, Justice Mellor admonished him for essentially telling Quigley that if he was going to beat his wife then to do it in their own home. Mellor said that 'if he was a man' he would not have allowed Quigley to remove Dinah, and he hoped there were few men who had acted in the same way. Mary Quigley sobbed bitterly on entering the court and was allowed to sit next to the judge who questioned her discretely without the whole room having to listen.

Quigley's defence counsel argued that he was a man of good character who had been 'moulded into a beast' by the unhappy home which his wife had been responsible for, meaning a manslaughter verdict was more appropriate. In summing up the judge told the jury they had to decide whether there had been sufficient provocation for such a verdict, otherwise they were bound to find Quigley guilty of murder. It took just a few minutes for the jury to return a verdict of guilty of murder, but with a recommendation for mercy. After being sentenced to death Quigley was unable to walk and had to be assisted from the dock by a gaoler.

The judge forwarded the jury's recommendation to the Home Secretary and it was accepted. On 2nd April, communication was received at Kirkdale gaol that his punishment had been commuted to penal servitude for life.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Police Officer Cleared of Death

A woman's death that occurred following the arrest of a man by local police led to an officer being charged with murder, only for him to be found not guilty due to inconsistencies in the evidence.

On 6th July 1852, following a disturbance at the Wheatsheaf pub on Scotland Road where a shot was fired several police officers went to Grosvenor Street looking for a man named Gallagher. He was arrested and taken into custody but a lady named Margaret Baines died around fifteen minutes afterwards of a fractured skull. Several residents of the court said that this had happened after Constable John Slaney hit her over the head with his stick, having earlier hit another man named Patrick Hughes.

During the inquest evidence was heard from a number of residents of Grosvenor Street, police officers and a surgeon. He said that the injuries obtained were consistent of being struck with a stick and a verdict of wilful murder was returned, leading to Slaney being committed for trial at the next assizes. As he was remanded into custody he said he was innocent of the crime and thanked his superintendent for his support, before having a painful parting from his wife.


On 19th August 25 year old Slaney appeared Lord Chief Justice Campbell for a trial in which the evidence of the residents was inconsistent with what they had told the coroner in terms of how long Slaney had been in the house and if he had hit her inside or outside. In contrast the evidence of the police was consistent, with officers swearing that their colleague never went inside Baines's house. The surgeon who carried out the post mortem acknowledged that the skull of the deceased was exceptionally thin and any blow could have caused death.

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and there was a mixture of clapping and derision in the court for several minutes before things calmed down.




Sunday, 22 February 2015

Death From Fighting

A dispute between two men that led to a fight to resolve it led to one dead and the other convicted of manslaughter.

Thomas Quine and James Kirkby had a disagreement over something that was never established, leading to them agreeing to a fight at 1pm on Monday 24th March 1834. It took place before over a hundred people on a field that lay between the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and Sandhills Bridge.

The fight lasted over an hour and 25 rounds were fought before Quine received a blow to the left side of the head which left him unable to stand. Quine admitted defeat and he was taken to a beer house in Rake Lane and then one in Burlington Street that was owned by his brother in law Lawrence Tynan, who had been one of his 'seconds' for the fight. A surgeon was called as Quine was totally insensible and suffering from multiple bruising to the face, swelling to his eyebrows and bleeding from the ear.

The surgeon administered some medicine and visited Quine again three more times over the next twelve hours. The last of those was at 1am, about half an hour before he died. A post mortem discovered a ruptured vein which had been caused by a violent fall or blow, leading to coagulated blood forming. There was a bruise on the corresponding part of the head and the surgeon was of no doubt that this was the cause of death.

The inquest was held on 27th March before Borough Coroner James Cockshott, at the sessions house of Kirkdale gaol. The surgeon repeated his findings and a verdict of manslaughter was returned leading to Kirkby along with four others, who were seconds for both him and Quine, being committed for trial at the next assizes.

At Lancaster on 14th August evidence was given that it had been a fair fight and no kicking took place. It was also stated that no money had been at stake. The five men were found guilty but with a strong recommendation for mercy on the basis of the provocation received from Quine. The judge then sentenced 19 year old Kirkby to six months imprisonment and the others to periods of between one week and four months each.



Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Pushed Down Steps to Her Death

A man who pushed his partner's mother died after he pushed her down some steps was sentenced to just two months imprisonment after the judge remarked that although manslaughter it was not an aggravated case.

In 1866 James Wilson and Mary Gilligan cohabited in Christian Street, a relationship that Mary's 50 year old mother Ann did not approve of. On the afternoon of 3rd December Ann and her 14 year old daughter Elizabeth went from their Marybone home to Christian Street and knocked at the door, which was answered by Wilson who told them to go away.

Mary was inside the house with another of her sisters Ellen, who shouted at Wilson to 'turn that old faggot out.' Ann then turned around to go and Wilson grabbed hold of her shoulders and pushed her down the steps, causing her to fall on the pavement. She called out that her leg was broken and was taken to the Royal Infirmary, where a compound fracture was confirmed.

Ann was drunk on admission and remained in hospital and died on 13th December, a post mortem revealing that the kidneys were severely damaged by alcohol abuse. The surgeon who attended to her said that death was hastened by the fall and at the coroner's inquest a verdict of manslaughter was returned.

Wilson was tried just five days later with the surgeon Chauncey Puzey repeating his assertion that Ann would not have died if she didn't have the fall, but also that if she was a healthy lady she would have lived. The jury found Wilson guilty of manslaughter but Justice Smith sentenced him to just two months imprisonment with hard labour, in light of it not being of an aggravated character.

Ship's Carpenter Stabs Fellow Seaman

A seaman who was unhappy about the company his companion kept ended up being jailed for ten years after being convicted of manslaughter.

25 year old William Morgan was a ship's carpenter who arrived in Liverpool from New York on the Aleppo on 29th October 1866. Also on the voyage was George Hill,  and 28 year old Alexander Montgomery, who met the following evening at a coffee house in Old Hall Street. Morgan was not happy about this, believing Dutchman Hill should not be talking to a black man
 who didn't drink alcohol.

After Morgan saw the two men come out of the coffee house he insulted Hill, who struck him. Hill and Montgomery then went into the singing room of Fords public house and Morgan waited for them, offering Hill a fight which was accepted. As the two men got ready to fight Montgomery intervened but Hill told women watching to keep him back. Montgomery persisted in trying to break them up and scuffled with Morgan, who stabbed him in the stomach.

A passing policeman gave chase to Morgan and caught him, while Montgomery was taken to the Northern Hospital. His bowels were protruding and he died about twenty minutes after arrival. A post mortem revealed that all the organs were healthy and death was caused by extravasation of blood in the abdominal area.

Morgan was charged with murder and appeared at the Assizes on 18th December. In summing up Justice Smith said that the jury had to take into account the provocation that had been received by Morgan. This led to  a verdict of manslaughter being returned and Morgan being sentenced to ten years penal servitude.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Christmas Day Killing

A stumble into a foreign seaman by a drunk man on Christmas Day 1863 led to an altercation that ended up with his cousin dead after being fatally stabbed.

Joseph McGrath, a 22 year old dock labourer spent Christmas night that year in Holden's public house in Upper Frederick Street with his brother John, cousin William and another man named Thomas Gallagher. They each drank two quarts of ale whilst standing at the bar and at 1045pm two seamen from Manila, Lorenzo Carpur and Nariso Vrumea came in and stood at the other end.


About five minutes the two seamen left but William McGrath was staggering and fell backwards into one of the two foreigners, standing on his toes. Lorenzo and Carpur went and stood in the doorway of the pub, one of them having said they would get revenge. This led to Gallagher going and having a word saying they didn't want any trouble and they should return to their lodgings, only for a knife to be produced.

Gallagher returned into the pub and the four men stayed until closing time but when they left both seamen were still outside. Vrumea grabbed Joseph McGrath by the shoulder and both fell to the ground grappling, but Joseph managed to free himself and ran away. Vrumea chased after him and stabbed Joseph in the belly as he turned around to see how close the two men were together.


A policeman named Roberts was alerted by the screams of a female passer by and chased after Vrumea, apprehending him as he tried to discard the knife. Joseph was taken in a bearing barrow to the Southern Hospital, his intestines protruding. William had also been stabbed but his injuries were not too serious.


The prognosis for Joseph was not good and a magistrate Mr Mills went to take a deposition from him the following day, in which Joseph stated that he had said nothing provocative at all and he thinks he may have been mistaken for either his cousin or Gallagher, who had interacted with the two foreigners. All he could recall was somebody saying 'This is one then' being dragged to the ground, chased and stabbed. Joseph then died on Boxing Day night of hemorrhage and shock.

Both men were charged with murder but at the Assizes on 24th March 1864 the Crown only proceeded with the case against Vrumea. This was after his offer of pleading guilty to manslaughter was rejected by Justice Willies. The two surviving McGraths gave evidence as did Gallagher, while Constable Roberts described how he saw the fatal blow being struck. The defence counsel Mr Russell said that there could have been confusion as to who had struck the fatal blow, but his case was considerably weakened by Vrumea's initial offer to plead guilty to manslaughter anyway,

In summing up the judge said that their had been provocation by William McGrath and Thomas Gallagher, and that as the incident had all happened so quickly a murder conviction would not be appropriate. He left the jury to decide on whether Vrumea was guilty of manslaughter and they determined after just a few minutes that he was. The prosecutors told the judge that the landlady of Holdens had said the two men were in their every day for six weeks and had never caused any trouble, and as such he would not be pushing for a severe sentence.


Before sentencing Vrumea Justice Wills decided to proceed with the case of Carpur, who had been charged with wounding. Given he had came to court expecting to be tried for his life, he was happy not to contest this charge and the judge went on to sentence him to 18 months imprisonment. He then turned to Crumea, telling him that it was necessary to make an example of him so that other sailors did not resort to knives to settle quarrels. However he took into account the fact he was not of bad disposition and imposed a sentence of eight years penal servitude. This was explained to him by the Spanish Consul, who had been present in court throughout the trial.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Baby Dies From Exposure


In 1847 a woman abandoned her baby after repeated warnings about her responsibilities, then was found guilty of infanticide and jailed.

Nineteen year old Ann Curtis gave birth to a female child on 3rd June at the West Derby Workhouse (later Mill Road hospital). She was discharged on 6th August but later that day the baby was found crying nearby.

The baby was taken to the workhouse and cared for, then Curtis returned three days later to reclaim her. She was given a reprimand over her inhuman conduct, but the following night the baby was found abandoned again, this time in Berkley Street in Toxteth Park.

On 27th August Curtis was sent to gaol for one month for child desertion, but on 18th September the child, who hadn't even been given a name, died of exhaustion having been exposed to the cold and wet.

This led to her being further remanded on a coroner's warrant pending trial at the Assizes, It was initially intended to try Curtis for murder but this was changed to infanticide.  She was found guilty at the Assizes on 16th December and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.

Killed After Wish For Fight Granted

A man who took up another's challenge to a fight ended up on a manslaughter charge but was found not guilty due to the provocation he had received.

35 year old George Smith spent the evening of 13th September 1847 drinking with his brother and some other friends at the George the Fourth pub in Hood Street. One of them, sailmaker John Towers got into an argument with him but all was settled and the drinking carried on until after midnight.

Wood Street in 1960s (www.liverpoolpicturebookcom)
Later when they left the pub Smith and Towers started arguing again, with the latter making plenty of threats that his friends dissuaded him from. The men were persuaded to shake hands but Towers used this as an opportunity to wrestle Smith to to the ground. On getting up Towers took his coat off and demanded a fight, leading to Smith being told by his brother to strike him once then leave. Smith did just that, causing Towers to fall and bang his head.

Towers was helped to his feet but was in an insensible state. His friends took him to his Wood Street home but at 330am his wife was so worried about his condition that she sent for a doctor, who attended to him until he died at 8am. A post mortem concluded that the cause of death was a ruptured blood vessel on the brain and it would not have been caused if it was a simple drunken fall.

An inquest on 15th September returned a verdict of manslaughter against Smith and bail was refused by the coroner. He was tried on 16th December and the prosecution case was so weak that the defence counsel didn't even make a speech. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and he was discharged from the dock.

Run Over by 'Drunk' Carter

There was a tragedy in 1847 when a three year old was run over by a cart driven by a man who was accused of being drunk.

On 25th September that year market gardener Thomas Hale was driving his cart up Scotland Road towards Kirkdale at about 6 miles per hour. When he got to the junction with Bevington Street two young girls crossed the road but it was too late for him to pull the horse up.

Three year old Ann Owen was struck by the cart and Hale took her to the dispensary, accompanied by an ex policeman called Mr Robinson. He believed that Hale was 'far from sober' and when Ann died a few hours later, he was charged with manslaughter but given bail.

At the South Lancashire Assizes in December Hale was described by the Liverpool Mercury as 'being of respectable appearance.' Robinson again stated his opinions but other witnesses said that was not the case and Hale was found not guilty and discharged.

Killed by a Poker at Prescot

A faction fight between two Irish families led to one man being killed and the trial judge launching into a tirade against the Irish culture.

On the afternoon of Sunday 3rd October 1847 two extended Irish families, the Shannons and the Mulloys, were drinking at Cullins pub in Prescot. 36 year old James Murray arrived and upset the atmosphere by making some derogatory remarks about the women of the Mulloy family. This led to a melee in which glasses were thrown and lanterns extinguished.


When the landlord began ejecting people from the pub Murray picked up a poker and went outside, shouting out that he wanted to fight one of the Mulloys and asked who would take him on. Martin Mulloy was the nearest to him and even though he had left the pub as soon as the affray broke out, Murray said 'what are you waiting for' then struck him on the back of the head with the poker.


Mulloy returned home but complained of feeling giddy and he died the following Thursday of internal injuries. Murray was found guilty of manslaughter at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th December leading to a condemnation of Irish culture by Baron Alderson. He said 'The Irish are too excitable people, a little phlegm of the English must be infused into them.' He then sentenced Murray to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

Beaten to Death by His Father

A cruel father whose child died after he had inflicted regular beatings was found guilty of manslaughter and transported for twenty years.

33 year old Thomas Keegan and his two year old son John lodged in Addison Street with a Mr and Mrs Welsh, being accommodated in the attic. Keegan was a bad father and often starved and beat the child, usually under the influence of drink.

On the afternoon 23rd November 1855 Mrs Welsh heard Keegan beating John and shouted at him to stop, to which he replied 'mind your own business let me chastise my child.' Later that evening a widow named Mrs Pannell, who was another lodger that shared the attic, saw Keegan pull John's hair out, punch him and then smash his face against the floor.

The following morning Keegan went out at 8am leaving his son alone in the attic with Mrs Pannell. She offered John some food but he didn't eat any, leading to Mrs Welsh calling for the police. When an officer arrived Keegan had returned and on observing the bruises on John's face, he was taken to the workhouse while his father was arrested.

John died two days later. A workhouse surgeon who carried out a post mortem found a fractured eye socket and concluded that although he was poorly generally, it was the beatings that had accelerated the death as there was every chance of a recovery otherwise.

After being charged with manslaughter Keegan appeared before Justice Wightman at the South Lancashire Assizes on 14th December. The jury found him guilty with very little deliberation and the judge described him as committing 'cruel inhumanity towards a helpless child.' Keegan was then sentenced to be transported for twenty years.

Wife Kicker Not Guilty

A man whose wife died after he kicked her was found not guilty when he appeared at court.

45 year old Edward Larkin, a ships cook, and his wife Catherine lodged with a man named John O'Donnell in Burlington Street.

On 23rd September 1855 the couple argued and Edward went into the parlour to escape his wife, but when she followed he then went upstairs and locked the bedroom door. Catherine then beat the door down and scratched Edward's face.

Edward went back down to the parlour and was followed by Catherine who was now carrying a poker which she struck him with. O'Donnell tried to separate the pair and Edward kicked out, catching her in the stomach. Catherine was taken to hospital with severe stomach pains and she died the next day, her bowels having been ruptured.

The inquest found that the cause of death was manslaughter by Edward and he was committed to the South Lancashire Assizes on a coroner's warrant. He told the court that he had not intended to cause harm, only kicking out to get the poker out of her hand. The jury accepted this explanation and he was found not guilty and discharged from the dock.

Pub Landlord Transported

A pub landlord who stabbed a tradesmen in an argument over betting was found guilty of murder and given a lengthy sentence from the judge.

On 5th December 1855 Patrick Connolly, who ran the American Hotel in Regent Road had a business meeting with Patrick Mahon before returning to the latter's pub in William Street. On the same day two Irishmen, 34 year ear old Ambrose Dunleavy and his friend George Mackenzie were buying provisions for Mackenzie's forthcoming voyage to Australia. At around 9pm Mackenzie and Dunleavy went into Mahon's pub and the four men played at the bagatelle board.

Everything seemed normal and just before midnight Mrs Mahon cleared the pub and Connolly, Mackenzie and Dunleavy left together. Mahon accompanied them to the corner of Great Howard Street and all three seemed sober and in good spirits, although there was a brief argument over betting. They then went to the American Hotel which was by now closed, but Connolly's wife and her sister were still sat up talking.

The men began playing bagatelle again but an argument again broke out over betting, leading to Dunleavy striking Connolly, who ran inside and retrieved a dagger. There was then a struggle between the two men with Mackenzie trying to intervene, and which ended with Dunleavy being stabbed in the chest.

At 210am two police officers came across Dunleavy in Regent Road after they heard somebody shouting 'police'. He was bleeding heavily from the chest and unable to speak. The officers then saw Connolly and Mackenzie trying to get into the American Hotel, which was about forty yards away and went over to question them, leaving Dunleavy in the care of another officer who had arrived on the scene. Connolly had his trousers down and was bleeding from the thigh. His request to see his own doctor was refused and both he and Mackenzie were arrested, and a search of the street found a bloodied knife.

Dunleavy was taken to the Northern Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. This news was conveyed to Connolly at the North Dock Bridewell and he replied that Dunleavy had stabbed him and he shouted 'police'. He then said that another man wearing a light coloured jacket then appeared from nowhere and stabbed Dunleavy before running away.

Dunleavy's wife Mary was taken to identify her husband's body at 7am. The couple had come to Liverpool to set up business and met Mackenzie, who had come from Sligo, at a lodging house in Carlton Street. The inquest then took place that afternoon, with Mackenzie giving some incriminating evidence against Connolly, who he had never met before. The coroner's jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Connolly, who was committed to trial at the present Assizes amongst gasps from relatives and friends who were in the courtroom.

On 15th December Connolly was tried before Mr Justice Wightman. Mary Dunleavy said that her husband had never carried a knife  and she had last seen him alive at 7pm on 5th December. Mackenzie confirmed that he had never seen Dunleavy with a knife and a surgeon who examined Connolly at the bridewell said that the wound in his thigh could well have been self inflicted.

Connolly's defence counsel suggested that he would not have called for the police himself if he was guilty, and suggested that Dunleavy could have produced he knife. The jury took little notice though and they took only a few minutes to return a guilty verdict. The judge told Connolly that his evidence had been inconsistent and he had no doubt that he had inflicted the thigh wound upon himself. Connolly then showed no emotion as he was sentenced to be transported for twenty years.

Stabbing Over Grog

An Indian man who stabbed a fellow sailor to death after a quarrel in 1862 had a lucky escape from the hangman's noose after being convicted of manslaughter.

John Lloyd (probably an Anglicised name that he was given) was a native of Madras who joined the Ethiopian on 11th October at New Calabar in what is now Nigeria for a voyage to Liverpool. That evening he was acting steward and got into a row with another crew member, Benjamin Jack, who he believed had drank too much grog.

Jack, who was much bigger and stronger, pushed Lloyd in the chest causing him to fall backwards by about four feet. Lloyd then went into the pantry and got a carving knife, an act that was seen by another crew member James Barber, who told him to be careful. Lloyd said he wouldn't do anything and returned to the deck where Jack was holding a winch handle. Seeing the knife, Jack dropped the winch handle and tried to get it from Lloyd, but a struggle ensued during which Jack was stabbed.

Lloyd then hurried to the medicine cupboard and took all the laudanum that was on board. The captain came to deck and found Jack's body, which had blood protruding from a throat wound. After being put in irons the second mate ordered crew to prepare a coffin so that Jack could be buried at sea, leading to Lloyd joking that two would be needed due to the laudanum he had taken. Lloyd then suffered a mentally torturous voyage to Liverpool, having survived his suicide attempt but knowing a murder charge awaited him on arrival.

Lloyd was tried at the South Lancashire Assizes before Mr Justice Blackburn on 18th August 1863. Fellow crew members gave evidence as to what they had seen and Jack's difficult character, while Lloyd insisted he had the knife already as he the argument began. His defence counsel suggested a manslaughter verdict was more appropriate due to the provocation, but in summing up the judge said that if Lloyd had got the knife out of the pantry with the intention of causing harm then it was murder.

After a few minutes deliberation a manslaughter verdict was returned and the judge told Lloyd that he was lucky, as there had been no justification to get the knife and the presence of others on the ship would have protected him from an attack by Jack. He was then sentenced to a term of penal servitude for ten years.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Killer Tried Twice

In 1863 a man was convicted and imprisoned for cutting and wounding, only to find himself back at court on a manslaughter charge after his victim died from the injuries.

At 1130pm on 2nd May 1863 Daniel Fitzgerald, a sailor, was involved in an argument with a washer woman in Saltney Street, near Clarence Dock. John Carr, an 18 year old who was returning home from St Johns Market stopped to see what was going on and Fitzgerald went up to him and asked him aggressively if he would be sticking up for her.

When Carr said he didn't know her Fitzgerald punched him without warning and the two men started grappling on the ground. During the scuffle Fitzgerald drew a knife and stabbed Carr in the head and shoulders. Carr was treated at the Northern Hospital and discharged, leading to Fitzgerland being convicted of wounding on 22nd May and being sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

There was then a tragic twist to the case when Carr was readmitted to hospital a week later due to erysipelas setting in. He died on 2nd June and the coroner's court returned a verdict of manslaughter.

On 13th August Fitzgerald appeared at the Assizes where he was found guilty of manslaughter after a very brief hearing. The the judge deferred sentencing given the curious legal situation of being tried twice for the same incident. The following day he declared that it was lawful for Fitzgerald to be tried first for wounding then for manslaughter saying to him that it was 'For technical reasons which I need not state to you and which you would not understand'. However he did state that he did not believe it fair to impose any additional penalty, meaning Fitzgerald would be out of jail ten months later.

Orange Day Shooting

The Orange Parade of 1851 ended in a riot after Catholics attacked the marchers on Scotland Road, leading to a man being shot and his killer never being brought to justice.

The Orange celebrations that year centred around London Road, with the lodges then returning to pubs in their own localities. A group of Orangemen were heading down Scotland Road on their way to the Wheatsheaf pub at about 330pm when they were set upon by a group of dock labourers.


A major skirmish ensued in which knives were drawn and as police reinforcements arrived two shots were fired, one of which struck John Malley in the thigh. He was one of the attacking party and was taken into custody, when a search found a large carving knife in his possession. Police then took him to the Rose Hill dispensary for initial treatment, before transferring him to the Northern Hospital. Another shot hit 14 year old Richard Brown in the shoulder, but his wound wasn't serious.

Police arrested around 40 persons for the affray, including a number of Orangemen who were found to have pistols. However there was no sign of the person who fired the shots at Malley and Brown, the only description being that it was somebody wearing white trousers. Malley remained in hospital and died on 16th July and nobody was ever convicted of his killing.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Corporation Workman Mistakenly Shoots Friend

As two reservists prepared for call-up after the outbreak of World War One there was a tragedy at a corporation yard when a workman shot his friend during a firearms demonstration.

Britain had declared war on Germany on 7th August and by the end of the month the recruitment drive was gathering pace, the first battalions of 'Liverpool Pals' being formed on the 29th of that month. The day before that Phillip Cribbin and Edward Fitzsimmons, both middle aged, were at the Lark Lane corporation workyard discussing the events of the past month.


The two had been best friends for years and members of the National Reserves. Cribbin had a rifle which he was showing Fitzsimmons how to handle, only for it to go off accidentally. The bullet that was discharged entered Fitzsimmons's head and killed him instantly. Cribbin cried 'I have shot poor old Ned what should I do.'

Cribbin was initially arrested for manslaughter and the following day he cried throughout the inquest, where friends testified to their close relationship. The Deputy Town Clerk described both men as 'steady sober industrious workers' but did say although they were on a break from duty permission had not been granted to to take the rifle onto corporation premises.

The jury did not hesitate to record a verdict of accidental death and Cribbin was discharged from custody.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Unsolved Sectarian Killing

In the early 1840s a woman was kicked to death in an apparent Sectarian attack but nobody was ever caught in relation to the crime.

At 5am on morning of 15th July 1842 Catherine Carney, a 34 year old who had come to Liverpool from Donegal, was set upon outside St James Church in Toxteth. The two men put their hands on her shoulders and called her an 'Irish bitch' before running away.


A few moments later the two men returned and beat her to the ground then kicked out violently as she was on the floor. One of them was shouting 'We'll finish you you Orange bitch.' As they made off she shouted loudly for a police officer but when one arrived, she was unable to give any description of the men, or even say if they had English or Irish accents.


Catherine was taken to the Infirmary where she was found to be very weak through loss of blood and remained in an insensitive state. A two inch long wound was discovered by a surgeon in what was described as a delicate part of her person' by the Northern Star newspaper


On 30th July a police superintendent was sent to see her but she was unable to provide any further information, saying that she felt she was near death. She died on 5th August and the jury at the inquest returned  a verdict of wilful murder by persons unknown. Her killers were never brought to justice.