Liverpool Journal, Feb 10th 1877
THE ALLEGED WHOLESALE INFANTICIDE BY A WIDOW
On Saturday at the County Magistrates Court, Basnett St.
Messers R. WITHERS, G. W. MOSS and A. FENTON on the bench.
Mrs KIRKBRIDE was again placed in the dock, charged with the concealment of birth of 3 of her children, under circumstances fully detailed at the inquest.
There was a crowded attendance of the public court, interest in the case having increased in intensity. Probably owing to the fact that the remains of another child were found buried in the garden of a house at Helton in Westmoreland, where the prisoner formerly resided.
The discovery was made after one of the prisonerís sons at Penrith, stated that he remembered from some years ago when he was a child, his mother burying something in the garden at the foot of a peach tree, making the 6th child for which the prisoner will be charged.
When placed in the dock Mrs KIRKBRIDE evinced no emotion, it was evident her confinement had begun to tell on her, she looked thinner and weaker than she was when she appeared at the Coronerís inquest 3 days ago.
Insp WALSH who was in charge of the case then detailed to the bench the circumstances of the apprehension of Mrs KIRKBRIDE and the charges against her.
He also added that at about 9 on Thursday night he received a message that the prisoner wished to see him, and accompanied by 2 other officers he went to her cell.
She then said to him, ď I want to tell you who the father is of all the children I am here about. His name is Thomas MOSS, he is a tea, ham and bacon dealer in Askham near Penrith. He is the only man I have ever had anything to do with in any way, and I think it only right he should be exposed, as it is entirely by his own persuasion that I am placed as I am, and he has always promised that he will make me his wife, instead of doing so, when he was in a position he married another.Ē
Mr WALSH stated that they had traced the prisonerís arrival to Aintree station on the 4th June last.
On the 29th July she went to Aintree station and took away the boxes having paid, 13s-4d the companyís charge.
Supt FOWLER of the Cumberland Constabulary held in his hand a warrant for the apprehension of the prisoner, and stated the offences for which the prisoner is charged were committed in Westmoreland, it was the opinion of the Clerk of the Peace that she should be taken to Cumberland and tried there. It was concluded that by the opinion of the court, the prisoner should be given into custody to the officers of Penrith.
The prisoner was then handed over to Supt FOWLER, who, conveyed her to Penrith by the 2.35 train from Lime St station.
Large crowds had assembled and an attempt was made by the police to get her out by the back of the premises, but the ruse was discovered and she left through the usual door in Basnett St. Reinforcements of police had been brought in to control the crowd, and prevent the prisoner being molested, one or two women made attempts to grab her but were unsuccessful.
Hundred followed the cab to the station at Lime St, after the prisoner had got on the train the crowd overturned the barrier and got on the platform. They made a rush to the carriage to view the prisoner, but a porter had entered the carriage and blocked the window by holding up Supt FOWLERíS rug at the window till the train moved out.
The prisoner arrived at Penrith at 6 oí clock on Saturday. The crowd at the station was large but no demonstration took place. The prisoner appeared indifferent to the curiosity exhibited.
On Monday the prisoner was brought before Mr William HARRISON, Magistrate and was formally remanded till Saturday at 11.
The remains of the 3 children found in the box at Tuebrook were interred at Anfield Cemetery. They were placed in one coffin. The interment was concluded quietly, there was no religious service said, inasmuch as it has not been shown that any of the children ever lived.
Liverpool Journal, Feb 17th 1877
HORRIBLE DISCOVERY AT TUEBROOK
Police Court proceedings at Penrith
On Saturday at the Police court, Penrith, Mrs Elizabeth Mary Louise KIRKBRIDE, a widow, was brought up on remand charged with the concealment of birth of 6 of her children.
2 bodies were discovered last month in a box at the Griffin Inn, Penrith, left there in June last when the prisoner quitted Langwathby and moved to live at Tuebrook, where three more bodies were then found.
Since removal to Penrith a 6th body was found at the home she shared with her mother, some 5 to 6yrs ago.
The prisonerís connection to Liverpool is much closer than first suspected, she having been born in the town. Her father was a surveyor of customs and lived in Everton, the prisoner, an only child received a superior education and could speak 5 or 6 languages. This qualified her to carry on a school which was a failure.
She married young, her husband a Government collector of reformatory fees in the district. After her husbandís death she went to live with her parents in Helton, nr Askham, Westmoreland. It is at Helton the children are supposed to have been born. Up to last spring she resided with her mother, when she left for Langwathby, where she kept a school. In June last she came to this neighbourhood where her eldest son resided and was in a situation.
The case has created immense excitement at Penrith, and the two villages where she lived, yielding an exhaustless topic for village gossip.
Interest was considerably heightened when she named a well-to-do shopkeeper in Askham as the father of the children.
It was arranged by the authorities that the proceedings should take place before a bench of Westmoreland magistrates with the view of the prisoner being committed to Appleby Assizes.
Magistrates on the bench, Capt MARKHAM, Rev Clark W. BARTON, Mr William HARRISON and Mr Frederick COWPER Jnr.
The investigation was conducted by Supt FOWLER on the part of the police, no one represented the prisoner, who throughout the hearing declined to question any of the witnesses.
She was provided with a seat and except when questioned by the magistrates, never raised her head. She wore a dark dress and her face was closely veiled.
A Gentleman from a local solicitorís office watched the case on the behalf of Thomas MOSS, whom the prisoner accused of being the father of the children.
William Ernest KIRKBRIDE, the 1st witness deposed Ė I am a tailorís apprentice at Brampton, Westmoreland, I am 18yrs old, the prisoner is my mother. Since my fatherís death and up until June last my mother resided with my grandmother in Helton, Westmoreland. I have not resided with my mother since I was about 1 or 2, I lived with my maternal grandmother at Brampton.
I was frequently at my motherís house and have another brother named Alfred. About 5 or 6 yrs ago me and my brother where cleaning out the loft above the wash-house at our motherís residence in Helton. We commenced to throw the dirt and stuff into the midden and observed a white bag. It was tied up and I loosened it. I noticed in it a red flannel petticoat covered in marks and stains, amongst rags and other things. I saw a dead child, it was quite dry, mummified. The fingers and toes were perfected, it had white hair on its head. I threw the body in the midden.
I did not mention it to my mother but told my grandmother and two aunts the next day. They told me not to speak of it again and not to return to my motherís house again. I, however, returned to my motherís house the next day and noticed in the garden something in the ground covered with earth, it was the same child, I threw more earth over it without touching it. I did not return to the spot again until the 1st inst, when I pointed out the spot to P.C. REED, who found some bones and took them away.
The day after I found the child my grandmother told me if my mother knew she would be vexed with it. My mother and grandmother left Helton at Candlemas last year, and went to reside at Langwathby. The furniture was taken by cart and I and my mother, grandmother and a servant went by cab, taking with us the tin box produced. I stayed at Langwathby for 2 days and then returned to Helton.
P.C. John REED, stationed at Lowther, said, that on the 1st Feb in consequence of information he received, he went with the last witness to the residence in Helton. The witness pointed to the spot where he remembered the child was and he dug up the spot, finding bones, some lying on the top of the earth. He took them away, some where found not to be human.
Isabella NICHOLSON, a single woman, belonging to Helton, said, she knew the prisoner well, and confirmed they moved from Helton to Langwathby at Candlemas. The prisoner, her son Ernest and her mother and herself went by cab to Langwathby. A tin box was in the cab by the driver. The prisoner opened a school there which was unsuccessful. She remained there with them till Whitsuntide then moved on to Carlisle. When her mother died the prisoner went to Carlisle, witness helped with her boxes the box produced being one of them.
Robinson DONALD, a labourer employed by the Midland Railway Co, At Whitsun drove a lorry between Penrith and Langwathby, the prisoner employed him to carry boxes, china, a hamper and other items from Langwathby to the Griffin Inn at Penrith. He left them in charge of Mr JAMESON, the box was one of them.
Mr JAMESON, Proprietor of the Griffin Inn, Penrith, said that at the beginning of June prisoner told him she had 3 boxes to be taken care of till she found a home in Liverpool. He stored them in a lumber-room and they remained undisturbed there till 25th Jan, when the body of the child was discovered. He informed the police in consequence of what he saw. Two applications had been made for the boxes, one from the prisoner and one from her son, Sidney KIRKBRIDE.
Mrs Grace JAMESON, wife of last witness, remembered the boxes being delivered and she put them in the lumber-room. In consequence of the information on the 25th Jan, she took a look at the boxes of which one was now empty on top of the box was written, ďMrs WOODS, Aughton, Great Howard St, station, Liverpool.Ē
Isabella CARRUTHERS, Domestic servant at the Griffin Inn said that on the 25th Jan she was in the lumber-room and an unpleasant smell was emanating from one of the boxes, her and Mr JAMESON opened it and found, a dress, and shirt and the child.
Sgt FRASER of the Penrith police, deposed Ė On Thursday, 25th January in consequence of information received, went to the Griffin Inn and in the lumber-room found the large box, in it was the body of a child, which appeared to have been dead for some years. In the large box was a smaller box, which I took in my possession. I was with Dr THOMPSON when he examined the body, round the neck of the child was a piece of cord or the hem of a garment, tied tight and knotted. I searched the other box after the inquest and found a bundle of wallpaper, old carpet and a chemise, in which was wrapped the body of another child, born some time before the other as it was more decayed.
Dr THOMPSON said, that on the afternoon of, 26th January he examined the body of the child found in the lumber-room and could not say if the child had ever lived. It was fully developed, there was several layers of clothing around its neck and chest. The head was perfect and bent over the chest, the arms folded over each other and the legs doubled up under the chin, there was a ligature around the neck sufficient to cause death and a perceptible mark around the neck. The coronerís jury found no proof the child had ever lived, it was born 5/6 yrs ago.
I examined the 2nd child which was much bigger than the first and more decomposed, its chest had been crushed from side to side and there was a deep furrow around its neck, the head nearly severed from the body. The umbilical cord in this case had been tied by a qualified person, born about 11 to 12 yrs ago but I cannot say whether it ever lived.
Other witnesses that came forward were, Sgt ROBINSON, Sgt SHEPARD and Insp WALSH of the Lancashire constabulary, Tuebrook, the prisonerís son, John Sidney KIRKBRIDE, her landlady at Tuebrook, Mrs OBERTI, Henry Yates PITTS, Surgeon, Tuebrook, all giving the same statements they made at Liverpool County Court.
Alfred CLEGG, a pointsman on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway residing at Aintree said, in June last he was a booking clerk at Aintree Station, and remembered on the 4th June last, the prisoner being a passenger to Aintree and her leaving the boxes at the luggage office, she returned for them herself a month later.
James SCOTT, a warehouseman, of 32 Woodside St, Wavertree, remembered the prisoner coming in one of the trains from Liverpool, when he was a signalman at Tuebrook station. She asked him to take her luggage to 21 Sutton St, Tuebrook, which he did, the tin box was part of the luggage.
Mary Agnes FORSYTH, domestic servant, a native of Askham, said, that 11 or 12 yrs ago she was in service for Mrs HAYTON at Helston, at that time the prisoner resided with her mother there, and held a school. I was 12 yrs old and in service there for a year, One Sunday evening the prisoner was in bed, she had a child with her, I canít say the age but it could walk. The prisoner was not well and stayed in bed all day, I heard something like the cry of a new born baby and told my mother.
The Chairman, Do you mean it was the voice of a child other than the one able to walk?.
Witness, I think so, it was a long time ago.
The Chairman read the charges of which the prisoner was accused, namely, concealment of birth, and asked her if she wished to make a statement or call a witness, to each question she replied in the negative.
The bench, were in the opinion there was sufficient evidence to commit her for trial, and so the witnesses were bound over to appear at the Appleby Assizes, to give evidence against the prisoner, who was led from the court weeping copiously.
The trial was fixed to commence on the 21st inst.
Copyright 2002 / To date