- Transcribed by unknown author unknown author
- Edition: November 3rd 1882 November 3rd 1882
SECOND DAY. - WEDNESDAY
Mr. Justice DAY took his seat on the Bench about twenty-five minutes after
ten o’clock, and at once proceeded with the trial of the only remaining case
in the Calendar. Before his Lordship arrived every available seat in the
Court had been taken up by the public. Mr. HAVERFIELD, at seventeen minutes past
ten, entered the Court with the prisoner, on whom all eyes were turned with
THE WORKINGTON MURDER.
Hugh GRANT, 21, labourer, imperfectly instructed, was charged with killing
and murdering one Eleanor GRANT, at the parish of Workington on the 3rd
October, 1882. He was also charged on the coroner’s inquisition with the like
Mr. HENRY and the Hon. A. D. ELLIOT (instructed by Mr. MILBURN, Workington)
prosecuted, and the prisoner was defended by Mr. SHEE (instructed by Mr.
Mr. HENRY in opening the case for the prosecution, said - I appear on the
part of the prosecution WITH MY LEARNED FRIEND Mr. ELLIOTT, and my learned
friend Mr. SHEE appears for the defence of this man, who stands charged before
you with the willful murder of his own daughter on the 3rd October at
There are two families in Workington, the prisoner’s family called GRANT
and his wife’s family called M’GOWAN. The prisoner was married to one Mary M’
GOWAN, daughter of James M’GOWAN on the 19th December last. They seem not to
have agreed, because they separated in March this year, and the prisoner at
that time went away and enlisted in the army, and Mary GRANT went back to her
father’s house, that is M’GOWAN’s house, and there she lived and is living up
to the present time.
On the 18th September, this year the prisoner returned home from the army,
for what purpose I do not know. He went to live in his father’s house at
Workington, which is situated at Betany-street in the suburbs of the town. About
half past ten o’clock on the night of the 3rd October, a girl named Kate
STEPHENSON, a servant of the prisoner’s father, was sent out by his mother to
bring the prisoner, who was coming down Senhouse-street making some noise, into
The prisoner came in and sat down in the house and took his supper. Whilst
he was taking his supper, his mother seems to have said something about his
wife, to the effect that his wife was going to the workhouse. Upon hearing
this he uttered an oath that he would go down and smash the whole house, meaning
that he would go down to M’GOWAN’s and smash the whole house. [The learned
counsel put in a plan of M’GOWAN’s house.] The house is situated in a field.
There are several houses surrounded by fields; and there are a few houses,
five or six together. This house consists of two storeys, two rooms on the
ground floor and two rooms on the first floor. On the ground floor you will
observe when you come in at the door there is what is called a parlour and at the
back of this is what is called a kitchen and at the back of the kitchen is
what is called a scullery or a pantry. Next to this house is one in which a
family called CASSIDY lived. At the back is an open yard belonging to both
Now, this man after uttering the threat I have mentioned left his own house
and came down to M’GOWAN’s house, and when he came in he went into the
kitchen. In the kitchen were his mother-in-law, Mrs. M’GOWAN, and, I understand,
three of her children - in any case there was Alice M’GOWAN and Hugh M’GOWAN.
There were also in the kitchen his wife, and on his wife’s knee was this
daughter, Eleanor, the daughter which was afterwards killed, and also another
child of his wife’s, because it appears his wife had two children, one before
marriage and one after. There were Mrs. M’GOWAN and three children and Mrs.
GRANT and two children. Mrs. GRANT and her mother were taking tea together when
he came in, and, to use the language of one of the witnesses “jostled”
against the table. They said they wanted peace and did not want to be disturbed,
and he said he did not desire it. Upon that he said he would lie down before
the fire, and asked them to call him about six or half past six o’clock in
The prisoner lay down and shortly afterwards the prisoner’s mother and the
girl STEPHENSON who had followed him from his father’s house came up to M’
GOWAN’s. The mother uttered a curse or imprecation against the prisoner’s
wife, who returned the words upon the other. The prisoner jumped up and struck
his wife, who at the time had the child on her knee. Alice M’GOWAN, sister of
the prisoner’s wife, took the child away; she went upstairs to rouse her
father who was there asleep. The prisoner struck his wife and kicked at his
mother-in-law who went out to get a policeman; and John M’GOWAN came downstairs in
his night shirt. The prisoner said to him, “Who strikes you, strikes me,” or
words to that effect, which seem to my mind to indicate that he was on
rather friendly terms with his father-in-law. But the first act that he does is to
knock his father-in-law down and to kick him. The prisoner’s wife came to
the assistance of her father and struck the prisoner with a tea tin.
Old M’GOWAN went upstairs to put his clothes on to go out for a policeman,
leaving Mrs. GRANT and her husband in the scullery. The prisoner abused his
wife in the scullery; she was heard screaming. Eventually she got him outside
the scullery into the yard and shut the door. Now Alice M’GOWAN had gone into
the yard with the child after rousing her father, and in this place she was
accompanied by the girl STEPHENSON who had another child in her arms. On
coming into the yard the prisoner struck Alice M’GOWAN on the face, and he took
his child in his hands, swung it three times round his head and shoulders, and
each time struck its head against some boards that were lying in the yard.
After doing this he threw the child onto a hen house in the yard. The child
subsequently got into the hands of the prisoner’s mother, Mrs. GRANT, who took
it to the house of a person named EGLINTON, but before it got there it was
dead. The prisoner afterwards went home, and stopped for a short time at home,
and then afterwards he seems to have come to EGLINTON’s house.
Now, gentlemen, these are the facts upon which the prosecution rely. What
occurred in the yard appears to me the most important pasrt of the story. The
question is did he take this child of his and dash its brains out as we may
say in the yard, if he did I don’t suppose my learned friend or anyone will say
that can be anything but murder. There is no reason for supposing an act of
that kind can be anything but murder. But did he commit that wanton act as I
Next to M’GOWAN’s house is the CASSIDY house; and Mrs. CASSIDY by the
glare of the light of the 19 furnaces in blast in the neighbourhood saw the whole
of the occurrence, and she says that the prisoner swung the child three
times over his shoulder and dashed it against the boards in the yard. The girl
STEPHENSON, who was in the yard, says she did not see the child dashed against
the boards, but that is no evidence against that of Mrs. CASSIDY, who says she
did see him do so. What Mrs. CASSIDY says is borne out of the evidence of
Alice GRANT and by Hugh GRANT, a boy whose evidence was not given in the court
below. In addition to this there is the medical evidence that the child’s
head was smashed in by not one blow but by a number of blows, because the
injuries were in number and variety very considerable.
There is one other circumstance of which I am reminded. The family kept the
hens in the yard and fed them on porridge, a fact still further
corroborative of the child’s head having been dashed against the boards. That the child’
s head was smashed and she died of injuries there can be no doubt. After the
occurrence the prisoner went to his father’s housre, and the first thing he
said was, “God forgive me for what I have done”; he then lighted his pipe,
saying he could prepare for the rope in the morning. When afterwards charged
with the crime, on being apprehended, he said, “Yes, that will be about it; I
wish I had broke my leg before I went down; it was her mother that caused all
the bother.” Provocation came from the prisoner who began the affair - at all
events, whether it was established or not, provocation given by one
individual cannot excuse a man for killing another. However, that is a question of
law on which his Lordship will direct you.
William MURRAY, civil engineer and surveyor testified to the accuracy of the
plans laid before the jury. He also stated there was a large number of blast
furnaces in the neighbourhood of M’GOWAN’s house. On some occasions the
effect of these would be to light up the place and make things quite clear.
Botany-street would be about half-a-mile from these furnaces.
Cross-examined - The nearest furnaces are half-a-mile off - the others are
about three-quarters of a mile away.
By Mr. HENRY: I have noticed that the furnaces sometimes light up the
country for two miles around.
Margaret M’GOWAN said: I am the wife of John M’GOWAN, and my husband is a
labourer. We live in a place at Workington called Clay Flatts. Prisoner
married my daughter on the 19th of December, and he left her sometime in March of
last year. They did not agree so well, and the prisoner went and enlisted. He
came back to Workington on the 28th of September. He came to our house on
Tuesday night, the 3rd of October about 11 o’clock. My daughter (prisoner’s
wife) and I were sitting at the table in the kitchen, taking a cup of tea. There
were also in the room my three children, Alice, Hugh and William - and her
two children - Eleanor and John William. My husband was upstairs in bed. My
daughter sat on one side of the table, and I sat at the other, and the child
Eleanor was on the mother’s knee. The mother rose from the table and went and
sat down in the chair by the fire.
When the prisoner came in he said, “What are you looking at, three eyes?”
and I said, “Let us have a cup od tea Hugh, in peace.” He said, “You don’t
deserve one,” and he lay down on the floor and said no one should put him out
that night. He asked us to wake him at six or half past six o’clock in the
morning. With that his mother came in, and she asked if Mary had seen Hugh.
Mary pointed to him saying, “He’s there.” His mother then ran out, but she came
back directly and said, “May the curse of Jesus light on you, Mary, for
saying I have put ill betwixt Hugh and you.” Mary said something, but what the
words were I don’t know.
Hugh then rose up and struck Mary, his wife, and I think he must have struck
her, judging by the sound, on the face with his open hand. He struck her
then on the mouth, and continued to strike her five or six times about the head,
face and body. Then he kicked at me, but he missed and tumbled down on the
floor. I got outside the door, and I heard prisoner’s wife shouting “Will no
one take the child?” Up to that time the child had been on her knee. I then
saw my little girl Alice running into the pantry with the child in her arms.
The pantry is between the parlour and kitchen underneath the stairs. The next
thing I saw was my husband coming down the stairs, and then I went away to
look for the police. When I came back I heard something, and then I went to
EGLINTON’s house, and there I found the child Eleanor, and upon seeing it I went
for the doctor. When I came back the child was dead.
Cross-examined - It was me to whom Hugh said “You don’t dserve to have tea.
” He was not quite drunk when he came to the house. He was sensible of what
he was doing. I did not say to the magistrate that he came in drunk. I don’t
know how long my daughter and he had been acquainted before they married. She
had been in service at GRANT’s father’s house. The eldest child was also
his. My daughter might have returned the answer to him “May the curse light on
you.” I could not be sure of this. I had seen a poker at the fireside that
evening. My daughter did not use the poker in my sight.
By Mr. HENRY - When I saw the prisoner he walked steady enough across the
John M’GOWAN said - I am the husband of the last witness. I remember the
3rd of October last. I went to bed a little before ten o’clock. I remember
someone arousing me. I came downstairs in my nightshirt and went into the
kitchen. I asked hugh GRANT what was the matter in the house, and he said, “There’s
nothing in particular.” I said, “It would be more like you if you will go
home and go to bed peaceably.” He said he thought it would, and turned to go
away, as I think, but when I turned round he struck me, and knocked me down.
Before he struck me he said, “Them that will strike you will strike me.” When
he knocked me down I fell with my head within the pantry door, and while I
lay he kicked me once or twice. When he kicked me someone interfered, and he
turned to follow them. I went upstairs and got my clothes on, and came down
again. There were only two little ones in the kitchen then. I was going off to
look for the police, when prisoner came up, took me by the arm, and asked me, “
Where I was going.” I said, “For the police,” and he said, “You had better
not”; but I jerked his arm loose and went for the police. I then went back
to my own house, where no one was in, and afterwards went to Mrs. EGLINTON’s.
The child was there on the bed.
Cross-examined - Before I came downstairs I had not heard any disturbance.
When I came downstairs prisoner said he did not want any row. I could not
understand anything about it, however. Somebody had told me he was struck with a
tea tin when I was down. I saw no one strike him with a tin.
Alice M’GOWAN said: - I am the daughter of John M’GOWAN, and I live with
my father at Clay Flatts, Workington. I am “going” for twelve years old. I
remember the Tuesday night when Hugh GRANT came into our house. I was in the
kitchen when he came in, and I went into the parlour for a cup. I came back and
poured out some tea for myself, and then I saw Hugh lying on the floor before
the fire. I saw Hugh’s mother come in, but I did not hear what she was
saying. My sister Mary reached me the baby, and I went upstairs to wake my father,
because the prisoner was beginning to “fratch” with my sister Mary (his
wife) and my mother. Hugh began it, but my sister Mary did nothing.
The learned Judge: - What do you mean by the word “fratch?”
Witness: - He was beginning to be mad at them. When I awakened my father I
came downstairs and as I walked through the kitchen I saw Hugh GRANT strike
his wife one blow. I went straight through the scullery door into the yard
with the child Eleanor in my arms. I stood at the end of the scullery by the
sink stone for about ten minutes. I stood within a few inches of the sink,
between it and CASSIDY’s door. When I got to the sink stone I turned round the
corner to my left. When I was standing in that position the prisoner came out
and struck me on the side of the head, knocking my head against the wall of
the scullery. He took the baby out of my hands, and I ran out of the yard door
to the pump. Hugh GRANT’s mother came out with him. When I got to the pump
Kate STEPHENSON was standing there, and she and I went straight to his father’
Cross-examined - After I went out with the child I left them quarrelling
inside. Kate STEPHENSON was also in the house, but she went out before me. I
remember saying before the magistrates, “I was standing round the scullery door
cheek.” When I got the blow I nearly scattered the baby.
Catherine Ann STEPHENSON said: - On the 3rd of October last I was living at
GRANT’s house as a servant. That night I saw the prisoner GRANT in the
street between half past ten and eleven. He asked if it was me, and I replied, “
Yes.” He went home and I went with him. I did not go into the house, but waited
outside. I heard his mother say something to him like, “Your wife’s going to
the union.” He said, “By the Holy Jesus, when I get my supper I’ll go down
and smash everything in the house.” With that he came out and went towards M’
GOWAN’s house, and his mother and I followed him.
His mother went in and said, “May the curse of God light upon you Mary M’
GOWAN, for what you have done to my son.” Mary M’GOWAN replied that she hoped
she would get the curse upon herself. I followed through into the kitchen,
and saw Hugh GRANT get up and strike his wife who was sitting at the fireside
nursing her baby. When she was struck she lifted up the poker from the
fireside and struck Hughie somewhere about the face. She then handed the child to
Alice M’GOWAN, who went towards the yard with it. When john M’GOWAN came
downstairs he said he would not have such work in his house at that time of night.
Hughie GRANT then said, “Them that will strike you, John, will strike me,”
but when John M’GOWAN went towards the fireside GRANT struck him and knocked
him into the pantry. While he was lying on his back GRANT kicked him. GRANT’s
wife then took a tea tin and hit GRANT on the forehead. His mother and I
went into the yard. Mary GRANT was following me, but Hugh GRANT caught her in
the back scullery, and I heard her screaming. Shortly after Hugh GRANT came
out into the yard. I saw Alice M’GOWAN out there with the baby. She was
standing by the side of the scullery wall of the house next door. GRANT struck her
on the face, clicked the child out of her arms, and swung it three times
around his head, throwing it from him on to the hen house top. His mother said, “
Oh Hughie, that’s the wean you’re throwing,” and Hugh replied, “Let the ___
lie there.” Mrs. GRANT then went and lifted the child up. Hugh GRANT went in
the closet, and I went towards the pump, and joined Alice M’GOWAN, and we
went away together to GRANT’s father’s house. Shortly after we got there Hughie
came in and said, “God forgive me for what I have done,” and as he was
lighting his pipe he said he could prepare himself for the rope in the morning.
He then went out.
Cross-examined - When the wife struck him with the poker they both fell
together. I remember saying that he fell and his wife got on top of him. It was
while he was striking John M’GOWAN that his wife struck him with the milk
tin. I remember saying before the magistrates that when he swung the child three
times round its head struck against nothing until it fell on the hen house.
When it got on the hen house its head bounced against it. I am quite sure it
only got one knock - that is, when he threw it on the hen house. The child
only lay a minute or so before the prisoner’s mother went for it. She took it to
his wife and said, “Mary, here’s the baby.” The prisoner had a little sup
of drink about him, but not much.
By Mr. HENRY: - When the prisoner flung the child he would be about three
or four yards from the hen house. He was standing close to the sink when he
was swinging it.
By His Lordship: - I had the child John William with me in my arms all the
John William M’GOWAN, a lad aged seven years, was put in the box. His
Lordship asked him if he went to school, if he learnt anything, or knew anything
of the existence of a God. The little fellow replied, “No” to all of these
questions, and his Lordship said it was no use calling him as a witness.
Sarah CASSIDY, wife of James CASSIDY, who lives next door to M’GOWAN, said,
- My scullery window looks into the same yard as M’GOWAN’s. I heard a great
disturbance in M’GOWAN’s house on the night in question, and went to my
scullery window and looked out. I saw nothing at first, but in a short time I
saw Alice M’GOWAN coming into the yard with the baby, Eleanor GRANT, held to her
breast. I also saw Catherine STEPHENSON. Alice M’GOWAN was standing about
two yards from my scullery window, with her back to her mother’s scullery,
about half a yard from the wall near the corner facing my scullery window. It was
a nice, clear night, and made light from the furnaces. Kate STEPHENSON had
nothing in her arms. I then saw Hugh M’GOWAN and a little boy standing behind
Alice. I next saw Hugh GRANT, the prisoner, who seemed to come from M’GOWAN’
s back door, and he struck Alice M’GOWAN, either on the side of the face or
the shoulder. He then caught hold of the baby by the bottom of its dress, gave
it a swing to his left shoulder, and gave it a blow on the boards three
times, swinging it up and down three times. Its head struck the boards. The
boards were lying by the wash house side, and were pump box boards. They had been
lying there some time, and were about a foot high from the ground. After he
had given the child three blows, a woman stepped forward and took the child
out of his hand. I don’t know who the woman was.
By the learned Judge: - I am on good terms with the M’GOWAN’s. When he
struck the child against the boards he appeared to do it with great force. When
I saw him I exclaimed, “Oh, my God!” I did not communicate with the police,
nor did I go out of the house. My husband went out when the child came back,
but that was hours later on.
At this point the court adjourned for half an hour.
Mary GRANT, mother of the prisoner, was called. She said that she
remembered on the 3rd of October the prisoner had come home and had had his supper. He
was drunk, and when he went out I was afraid that the police would take him.
Before he went out he said it was very hard to put his wife into the
workhouse when he had only been at home four days, and was going to Derwent Works to
work the next morning.
When he went out I followed him, and found him in M’GOWAN’s house asleep.
The prisoners wife and I had sharp words about this workhouse, and he rose up
and asked what the noise was about. He then got in a rage and struck her,
and she took the poker and struck back. His wife and I put him out at the door;
he was a perfect demon with rage. When I got into the yard I came forward
and lifted the bay off of the boards, giving it to Mrs. GRANT. The boards were
lying near the wash house door, and the child was lying on these boards. I did
not see that there was anything the matter with it then.
Cross-examined by Mr. SHEE, witness said that when she came into M’GOWAN’s
house her son was asleep. If she had not come down to the house this affair
would not have happened. She never uttered the curse that had been spoken to.
When she pushed him out she shut the door. When he came down the street
about half past ten he was singing “Home Sweet Home.”
Eleanor EGLINTON said the child died in about half an hour after it was
brought into her house.
Inspector DODD, Workington, said - I received information of the crime on
the 3rd of October, and I went to Mr. M’GOWAN’s house, where I found the dead
body of the child. I went into the back yard and examined the premises. I
saw a heap of boards lying near the wash house about four yards from M’GOWAN’s
back door. I noticed a trough in the yard, in which there was a quantity of
His Lordship: - The clothes might have been stained with porridge, but I don’
t think it is material one way or another.
Witness continuing said - I apprehended the prisoner and charged him with
willful murder. In reply he said, “Yes that will be about it; I wish I had
broken my leg before I went down; it was her mother that caused all of the
Cross examined witness said there was no blood on the boards in the yard.
There was a little blood on the child’s clothes.
Mr. ORMEROD, surgeon, Workington said: - On the night of the 3rd October I
was called to the house of Mrs. EGLINTON about midnight, and I saw there the
dead body of the child. The child was about a month old. I noticed slight
bleeding from the right ear. On the 5th October I in conjunction with Dr.
HIGHET, made a post mortem examination. The result was that I found dried blood on
the right ear, and a blue mark on the right side of the head, three or four
inches long. The head was flattened behind and the bones were very movable, and
on moving the skin extensive fractures were found, and the base of the skull
was also fractured. The head was completely smashed.
In my opinion the child died of these injuries; they must have been
inflicted by great violence. Looking to the number and the character of the wounds I
do not think they could have been caused by one blow; there must have been
several blows. The injuries I have seen would be likely to be caused by the
violence described by Mrs. CASSIDY.
Cross-examined by Mr. SHEE, witness said he did not think one blow could
have done the injuries; if one blow did it it must have been a peculiar blow.
Dr. HIGHET gave corroborative evidence, stating that in his opinion the
injuries must have been done by several blows.
Mr. SHEE said one of the doctors had said the bones of the skull were
movable. He asked whether the bones of the skull of a child a month old were not
Dr. HIGHET: Yes.
Mr. SHEE: So movable that the nurses when one is born frequently move it.
Dr. HIGHET: They mould them.
Mr. SHEE: Mould them. I wish they would mould them better than they
sometimes do (laughter).
Mr. HENRY said he had now called before the jury the whole of the evidence
for the prosecution, and the question they would have to consider was who
caused the death of the child. The evidence on this point seemed very clear. The
medical men said the skull of the child was completely smashed, and had
given it as their opinion that the injuries could not be caused by one blow but
by several inflicted with great violence.
They had heard the story told by Mrs. CASSIDY as to the prisoner having
struck its head against the board three times. Well, certainly, the medical
evidence corroborated that statement. Again they had it on the evidence of the
prisoner’s mother - who could hardly be expected to say anything adverse to
the prisoner - that she had lifted the child up from the very boards referred
to by Mrs. CASSIDY. What occurred in the house was really of no material
significance. Supposing the question of provocation could possibly be considered,
who was the aggressor? The question of provocation was beside the matter. If
provocation were a matter of importance the evidence was that the prisoner
beat his wife.
But the real question to consider was did the prisoner go into the yard and
seize the baby and do what they had evidence of? After he seized the baby he
did that which, according to all the witnesses, even STEPHENSON, must have
caused death. He had endeavoured, to the best of his ability, to place the
facts before the jury, and the question they had to answer was whether this man
caused the death of his child on this night by violence or not. If he did
cause its death by violence he could see no way out of it; no suggestion of
provocation given, or of any drink taken by the prisoner, could diminish this
crime from murder to manslaughter.
Mr. SHEE then addressed the jury for the defence. He said they were getting
on towards the end of the case, but he sincerely hoped they were not getting
on towards the end of the prisoner’s life, and in spite of what his learned
friend had said he thought they would be of the opinion there were good
reasons for thinking he should not be hanged. It was a very sad story. A child
only four weeks old, which has never done any wrong to anybody, never raised its
hand to anybody, but simply clung to its mother’s breast, has met its death,
and a violent death. That was a very sad story, but the jury had a more
serious question than that to consider. That was the language of the Clerk of
Assize whether “this man with malice aforethought did kill and murder Eleanor
GRANT.” If they said “Yes” the prisoner died; if they said “No” even a life of
long imprisonment might perhaps be his fate.
Mistakes of Court of Law were common enough. They were unavoidable, but in
capital offences were irretrievable. But in this case they were all agreed
upon one thing, viz., that if this was murder it was not murder of a
premeditated kind. They were all agreed there was no sordid motive to induce the man to
do this. Therefore he again asked them to bear in mind that the question was
not whether this child, three or four weeks old, not fit to speak, scarcely
breathing, died on such a day, but the question was whether a man, younger
than any of the jury, younger than himself, a man whose heart throbbed as fast
as any of them, and that was fast enough, who has as bright hopes as some of
them on the 3rd of October, was to die and to die a disgraceful death.
He asked the jury to lay aside what they had heard and read about the case
out of Court, and decide the matter on the evidence which had been given
before them. If there had been passion in the house of M’GOWAN on the 3rd
October, if there had been temper of the wildest or of the maddest kind, if there
had been keenness anywhere in this prosecution it was not in the jury box he
hoped. The prisoner might lame a man or woman when excited or enraged, no one
from any motive of vengence was going to strike him while he was down. Even the
strict letter of the law had pity for a man when he is on trial for his
The first thing that struck him in this case was that in the most important
of all issues there were actually two distinct, positively contradictory
stories. How many a petty larceny had been scouted out of the court because
there were two stories! Yet, his learned friend, who had just read his brief,
asked the jury to convict the prisoner of murder. A whisper did fall from a
quarter in the court that there was a totally distinct story told by one of the
witnesses. He asked whether there was not a third story to be told, was there
not a fourth story possible; and yet they were asked roughly to say, because
this child met its death somehow at the hands of the man, therefore he is
guilty of murder.
The stories were as distinct it seemed to him as the poles asunder. What was
Mrs. CASSIDY’s story? These were things which counsel dare not ask
sometimes; these were questions which when a man’s life depended upon their answer
counsel dare not put to witnesses. He did not like to ask Mrs. CASSIDY why she
did not run for the police or scream as a woman could scream; he did not ask
why her husband did not run out and go for the police, because he was afraid
that the answer would be injurious to the prisoner. But his Lordship put the
questions which counsel dare not put, and what were the answers?
Mrs. CASSIDY said she did not say anything except, “Oh, my God!” and that
was in the house; her husband did not run out; her husband did not arrest the
man before the third blow was struck; she and he went to bed and they slept
as soundly as ever. It was not in man nor woman to see that which that woman
spoke to and yet do not more than she and her husband did.
He repeated the story told by Mrs. CASSIDY, and he asked did it not strike
them that the story was to the last degree improbable. If it was true, the
conduct of Mrs. CASSIDY and her husband was inexplicable. He examined the
question of the possibility of Mrs. CASSIDY seeing clearly on the night in
question, throwing doubt upon the suggestion that the light from the blast furnaces
enabled her to see what took place, as they were a mile and a half off, and
not only threw light but shadows.
Look at the story of the girl STEPHENSON, who said distinctly and
positively that the child did not receive a blow until its head bounced upon the roof
of the hen house. Again, Mrs. CASSIDY’s story was contradicted by Alice M’
GOWAN. Notwithstanding those contradictions the prosecution, although they
professed to say it would be sufficient if the violence was proved to have been
committed by one blow, did not ask the jury to say that it was done in the
extraordinary way that Mrs. CASSIDY suggested.
The doctors were in favour of the prosecution, but doctors did not give
verdicts and their theories sometimes led themselves as well as others astray.
However the law might be laid down the jury must find the facts. He was
satisfied that when there were two stories told for the prosecution in a case of
murder a jury would take that story which was more favorable to the prisoner,
and they would say they preferred to take that because it was the safer to
The prisoner came home after a long absence and was singing merrily in the
street. The song he sung was “Home Sweet Home.” Whatever might be their
verdict, murder or manslaughter, he had seen that home for the last time. Did the
prisoner’s actions before the murder look as though he premeditated evil?
No. When he came into the house he lay down to sleep, asking to be awakened at
half past six next morning. And yet twenty minutes after this he is said to
have committed murder. It was in evidence that prisoner’s mother went down to
the M’GOWAN’s and said, “May the curse of Jesus light upon you for putting
ill between me and my son,” and prisoner’s wife replied, “May the curse light
on you.” He submitted to them that prisoner had awakened just as his wife was
cursing his mother. Look at the great struggle that had gone on in the
house, and to the fact that his own mother had turned upon the man who had been
peaceably disposed. In the language of a witness he was mad with rage.
[At this point one of the jurymen fainted, and had to be assisted out of
court for a few minutes.]
Upon resuming, Mr. SHEE expressed his regret that the prisoner could not
have his case stated connectively in this important trial, and went on to say
that he thought the prisoner had had great provocation - provocation to make
even a quite sober man mad with rage. When he was flung out of the house did he
know what he found, did he know what he took hold of? It was simply an act
of impulse that a sober man could not have avoided. Did he know it was a child
he took hold of? He might have had no mind to think; he might have clutched
at it not knowing what it was. If he had thought for a moment what would he
have thought? What was the thought of a father when he looked upon his child?
Quick as lightening the memory of other days would come upon him and he would
know that one day he was as puny a thing as his child, and he would know
that the first word he used as he passed from infancy to childhood was “father.”
Would to God he had thought!
He pleaded before them for a fair and for a safe trial. It would be no use
suggesting to them that life would be happier for this man than death. The
cup of bitterness was full to overflowing, but in merder trials they must act
safely. He asked them to bear in mind that no weapon was used, and that the
prisoner had been peaceable and asleep, and had never raised his hand until his
mother had been cursed. He urged that their verdict should be no more than
His Lordship now summed up to the jury. The question they had to decide was
whether the prisoner’s guilt was proved to their reasonable satisfaction. It
was a painful duty for him to discharge, but it was his painful duty to do it
just as it was their painful duty to obey him, and he told them upon this
case, upon the evidence which was before them that he could see nothing
whatever that would reduce the killing of this child from murder to manslaughter. To
reduce the crime of murder to manslaughter in a case like this they must
show some such provocation as would set a man, as it were, beside himself, and
make him for the time, as it were, more or less unconscious of what he was
about, so as to destroy, so to speak, the inference which the law draws from
killing - that the killing is intentional, and he was bound to say that upon the
evidence in this case he could not see anything that would satisfy the jury
in saying that the killing was anything but willful murder.
They must remember that willful murder did not require any planning or
scheming. Any killing in law was willful murder. Looking at what took place on
this night, what conceivable circumstance was there which could reduce the
crime from willful murder to manslaughter? He urged that the charge was
essentially one of willful murder. He saw no grounds whatever for the suggestion that
the offence could be construed to be a less offence than willful murder. If
they thought so, and it was done by the prisoner, he saw nothing in the law why
it did not constitute willful murder.
The jury retired to consider the verdict about half past four o’clock.
The prisoner had been particularly observant of everything in the court,
until the learned Judge finished his summing up, when he bowed his head on his
breast and appeared deeply affected. A hum of conversation was meanwhile kept
up in the court, and all eyes were alternately riveted upon the door through
which the jury would enter and upon the face of the prisoner, who appeared
to be weeping, although his features were nearly concealed by the deepening
The jury returned into the court after an absence of a quarter of an hour.
THE CLERK OF ARRAIGNS: Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon your
The Foreman: Yes.
THE CLERK OF ARRAIGNS: Do you find the prisoner guilty of willful murder, or
The Foreman: GUILTY; but we recommend the prisoner to mercy.
His Lordship, assuming the black cap, said: Hugh GRANT, you have been found
guilty, and most properly found guilty, by the jury, of the offence laid to
your charge - the crime of willful murder. It would have been impossible for
the jury in the discharge of their duty to have found any other verdict against
you. They have been good enough to add to their just verdict a
recommendation for mercy. I have refrained, in mercy to you, from any inquiry into the
grounds of that recommendation. That recommendation will be forwarded to the
proper quarter. I earnestly urge upon you to place no reliance upon the
recommendation to mercy which has been made on your behalf.
I will not say unnecessarily one word that can add to your present pain, or
embitter your feelings; I will make no comment upon the crime of which you
have been found guilty; I will say nothing as to the circumstances. I merely
urge you, not as your judge, but as your fellow creature, to make good use of
the short time remaining to you, and earnestly to prepare for the great change
which is to come upon you. Seek mercy, and seek it earnestly, where alone
mercy is to be found; seek it at the hands of the all merciful Redeemer.
The sentence I have to pass upon you is not my sentence; it is the sentence
of the law, and a sentence which it is my duty to pass upon you; and that is,
that you be taken to the place whence you came, and thence to the place of
execution, and that you be there hanged by the neck until you die, and that
your body be buried within the precincts of the gaol in which you have been last
confined previous to your death, and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.
The prisoner, who had been sobbing loudly for some time, was removed from
the dock in a state bordering upon madness, and for some minutes after he had
disappeared in charge of the gaoler his cries could be heard in the court.
(The end of this article.)