Monday, 9 March 2015

Landlord's Girlfriend Stance Leads to His Murder

A man who killed his girlfriend's landlord who objected to him spending time with her in the parlour was hanged after stabbing him to death in Everton.

In 1876 Richard Thompson, a 22 year old labourer, was courting a lady named Mary Corfield who lodged with John Blundell and his wife in Haigh Street. Blundell wasn’t happy about the two of them often being alone in the parlour and expressed his dissatisfaction at this, but as Thompson had been best man at his wedding four months earlier there was little expectation that the situation would deteriorate so much. Things came to a head on 14th April 1876 when Thompson walked past and saw Blundell’s wife Margaret on the step. He swung his belt and shouted at her ‘Send him out and I will put him in his coffin before the night is over.’

The following evening, Blundell was helping Mary’s brother William move house and was carrying a box down nearby Coronation Street. They came across Thompson who immediately acted with a threatening demeanour, and after Blundell asked ‘What’s to do with you Dick’ he was grabbed around the neck. Thompson then took an open knife out of his pocket and stabbed Blundell up to twelve times. Blundell was taken home but as he was bleeding heavily he was admitted to the Workhouse Hospital, where he died on 17th April at around 10pm. Around four hours earlier, Thompson had handed himself in to the bridewell at Rose Hill having been on the run since the stabbing.

Whilst close to the point of death 23 year old Blundell had told the chaplain, Reverend Ebenezer Smith that he ‘freely forgave Thompson’. His condition had deteriorated quite quickly and a magistrate sent to take a deposition didn’t get there in time. However the evidence of William Corfield and a boy who was shown a knife by Thompson earlier in the evening but told not to worry it was for someone else, was enough for the inquest to return a verdict of wilful murder. He was then committed to the assizes on a coroner’s warrant and listed to appear before Mr Justice Lindley on 29th July.

There was little doubt that Thompson had carried out the stabbing, the only issue was whether it was manslaughter or murder. In summing up, the judge said that if there had been no provocation then the jury had to return a verdict of murder, even if there had been no intent to kill. It took ten minutes for them to find Thompson guilty and he said ‘I would liked to have seen my witnesses he threatened to lay me out.’ Justice Lindley said that death had resulted from ‘too free use of the knife’ before donning the black cap and passing sentence. Thompson, who had remained calm throughout the trial, then burst into tears before being taken to the cells.

Thompson's solicitor Frederick Ponton of Vernon Chambers in Dale Street fought hard but on 12th August the Home Secretary wrote to him saying he could see no grounds for granting one. He remained indifferent to his fate, taking little notice of the chaplain and not requesting a final visit from his mother, who he had last seen on 7th August. Instead he remained satisfied that he would receive divine forgiveness as his victim had forgiven him.

After having the rope put around his neck Thompson was crying and singing ‘Safe in the Arms of Jesus’. The bolt was then drawn by hangman William Marwood and he dropped to his death alongside William Fish, a barber from Blackburn who had been convicted of raping and murdering a 7 year old girl.  

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