Liverpool Journal, 31st March 1849

It is this week our most painful duty to record a horrible murder in this town, on Wednesday, March 28th At noon a lady, far advanced in pregnancy, her two children and her waiting maid were murderously attacked. The two children are dead, the recovery of the mother no hopes are entertained, and it is barely possible that the girl may survive.

The victims are Mrs J. H. HINRICHSON, the wife of Capt HINRICHSON commander of the ship DUNCAN, a vessel belonging to Messer's James AIKEN and Sons of this port. [At this time the Captain is at sea on his homeward voyage from Calcutta.] their two sons, Henry George, aged 5 and John Alfred aged 3, and Mary PARR a maidservant aged about 23-24. Mrs HINRICHSON is from a respectable family and arrived from Hull 7mths ago. Her mother arrived from Hull on Monday.

They were a family happy and domesticated, but Mrs HINRICHSON, desired to take in boarders, signified by a card in the window. On Tuesday afternoon a man on who suspicion falls called at the house In disclosing his identity he gave his name as John Gleeson Wilson, a carpenter for the Dock Estate, and each week in receipt of 2 pounds 10 shillings.

Being civil in manner he gave a favourable impression upon the landlady, who only too eager to secure a boarder let him the back parlour and the top front bedroom.

The man was of a rather striking appearance, 5ft 7ins tall and rather broad of build, and muscular, his hair brown, short at the back but hanging long and lank over the right side of his face. He was of fair complexion, his face presented several curious characteristics, his ears nearly on a line with his eyes, which were small and had a queer cast, set deeply in the head, cheek bones high, nose rather pointed, cheeks hollow, lips full and pouting, face tapering into a small chin, the tip of which was red, characteristics which cut the face into a mass of sharp angles.

Nothing strange marked his behaviour that night, he was reticent speaking little of himself, although at pains to inform the household that his sister was licensee of the Tranmere Hotel, at Tranmere.

"And when will your luggage arrive?" asked Mrs HINRICHSON during one of the few moments he had been in his room.

"The day after tomorrow" was his laconic reply.

Servant's statement

Yesterday morning, the prisoner heavily ironed was taken to the Southern Hospital to see if the servant girl could identify him, The Mayor, Mr RUSHTON and Mr JAMESON the magistrate's clerk were present. The prisoner walked into the room with several other men and the moment her eyes rested on Wilson she said in a clear distinct voice "that is the man with the hat on".

The prisoner betrayed no outward signs of emotion. On leaving the hospital it was with the utmost difficulty the ruffian could be preserved from the crowd assembled outside. He was abused and threatened by the angry crowd.

Mary PARR'S account of events were that the prisoner took lodgings at Mrs HINRICHSON'S for a monthand came on the Tuesday, the next morning her mistress went out to the market between 10 and 11am leaving the children with her. Her mistress had two children Henry George who would be 5 on the 8th of May and John Alfred 3 on St Patrick's day.

"The children were in the parlour and he [prisoner] drove them out with the newspaper, she was cleaning the grate and he came into the parlour and asked her the price of fire irons, the fender and card tables. He then struck me on the head with the tongs. I don't remember anything more other than the children being in the room and lying there.

I have lived nearly five years with Mrs HINRICHSON, I have been to Mr AIKIN'S for her lately when I received 10 pounds for her, she had a green purse and wore a watch and chain outside.. I am 30 next birthday.

Wilson had no money he borrowed 6d from Mrs HINRICHSON, when the lad brought the note he had three-halfpence, he borrowed another three-halfpence and gave the lad three pence"

Examination of the prisoner before the magistrate.

It became known on Thursday night that the supposed murderer had been captured crowds besieged the door of the police-office and bride well, Mr RUSHTON decided to examine the prisoner in the Crown court. The facts oozed out and people endeavoured by every possible means to gain access, there was never more intense excitement. J Bramley MOORE, the Mayor and Mr RUSHTON sat on the bench.

Mr YATES and Mr DAVENPORT, Solicitors acted for the prisoner.

Thomas HUGHES, Bricklayer of Back Berry St was the first witness called. He was passing Leveson St when a young woman was trying to get into the house for a music lesson.

He said, "I got on the rails and looked through the window, I saw the servant girl lying on the floor her head covered in blood, a little boy also lying on the floor had his arms around her waist, his head lying under her. I then gave the alarm. Some men came up, we broke the window, I got in we found Mrs HINRICHSON on the floor, I asked the boy who done it, he muttered something. The mistress was badly hurt and cut on the head , her bonnet was on and gloves, there was blood on the floor. We went into the cellar and through to a back pantry where we saw the youngest child with his throat cut, he was quite dead."

Mr Thomas SLATER, Surgeon was then called, he said he was sent for and went to the house Mr MARTIN surgeon was there and was attending to Mrs HINRICHSON, she was bleeding profusely and was insensible, he went to the front parlour and saw the servant who was also bleeding profusely, on examination she had two compound fractures of the skull. He then found the boy who on examination had extensive comminuted fracture of the frontal and parietal lobe. A little finger had been cut off and was adhered to the child's frock, there were about a dozen cuts to his head, the child was not sensible but was living and conscious. A policeman directed him to the child with his throat cut, it was an extensive wound to the front of the throat from ear to ear, dividing the windpipe and carotid artery, it was merely the vertebra which kept the child's head from parting from his body. He immediately ordered cars to take the three living to hospital and ran along with the cars to the hospital.

Edward MC DERMOTT, a young man, a labourer of 8 court, Bannistre St, was next called and said, "On Wednesday morning last at about 9,30 I was coming up the corner of Pitt St when I met the prisoner he asked me would I carry a letter for him and he would give me three-halfpence, I agreed" I am sure the prisoner is the man, he said, "Then do as I tell you, I want you to watch where I go, just up the street her, number 20, wait five minutes and then knock on the door, ask if Mr Gleeson Wilson lodges here, when the woman says "Yes" tell her you have a letter from his master. When she gives me the letter I will give you 3d"

He remembered his light corduroy trousers and dark shooting coat, together with his features, he was shown the letter and identified it, he could not read but remember the shape of the lines.

Detective MARKS was then called, he said, " I went yesterday with a man called Michael KANE to a pond in a field at the end of Crown St., known as the "figure of eight pit". In looking along a ditch I found a letter [produced], further on were a man had been sitting I found a handkerchief [it had been washed there were witnesses to prove it belonged to the accused]

Michael KANE, plasterer was then called, he said he crossed the field on Wednesday and saw a man come up to the pond with his trousers rolled up over his boots. The man had light cord trousers and dark coat. He waded out into deep water and washed himself, his trousers and boots.

Anthony CARNEY, a young man of 66 St James St, next called, He Said, " My master is Michael COX, a provision dealer, Mrs HINRICHSON came into the shop for a second time about 11am and ordered a peck of potatoes, I was sent with them to the house. I knocked on the door in a hurray and a young man answered half opening the door, he was in great perspiration. He took the basket and went inside, as he was emptying the basket Mrs HINRICHSON came to the door, I asked where the potatoes paid for and she said, Yes. The prisoner is the man who came to the door. "

Mr SLATER, Surgeon then commented that he saw some potatoes had been emptied on the front parlour floor.

Thomas FINN, a pawnbroker of Great Homer St then called, he said, " On Tuesday or Wednesday the prisoner came into the shop and bought a pair of trousers, he asked could he change and I took him to a compartment. I wrapped the old cord trousers up and noticed the tops were clean but the bottoms from the knee down were quite dirty. He seemed nervous and agitated, after he left another customer came in and said that he saw the man give the trousers away." Witness was asked to examine the trousers, and confirmed they were the ones the customer wore.

The prisoner at this point cried "Have you got my name on them?"

Henry WORTHINGTON a corporation paviour was next called, He said, "I was walking along Great Homer St about 1.05pm and saw prisoner fitting on a pair of trousers in the shop of the last witness, about 20yds from the shop he asked would I have a pair of trousers, I said yes and took them. I showed them to my mates the trousers had blood on them and they had been rubbed with dirt." The trousers were produced, there was slight spots of blood on them. He was confident the prisoner was the man.

Miert SAMUEL was next called, He said, " I am a pawnbroker and reside in Great Howard St, I remember the prisoner offering the gold watch for sale. On Thursday morning they came in, there was another man with him, They called me over the way to a public house, I went leaving some customers in the shop. We went into the snug and the prisoner asked me for £30 for the watch. I asked him to call back at the shop when I was not busy. I later called on him in the lodging house in Porter St, he was not in, I waited and he came in a car to the door. I looked at the watch and offered £8, he was not willing to take this so I left and asked him to come to the shop if he changed his mind. He came to the shop about 8.30 that evening, I offered £6 and he accepted. I showed the watch to my father, who thought it might be stolen, I asked the prisoner for a receipt but, he said he could not write. My father spoke to me in Hebrew and said to take him to the police office, tell him we have another shop in Dale St. When I got to the police office he tried to get away but I stuck to him close enough, my father suspected he was the murderer."

Constable TOOLE said he was in the police office when the prisoner came in with SAMUEL, who put the watch in his hand, he told him he would get a receipt and the prisoner seamed uneasy. He sent for Supt CLOUGH who afterwards took the prisoner into custody. On searching him he found a purse and 10s-3d. He then went to the place he lodged in Porter St. The prisoner told Supt CLOUGH he had had the watch for 5yrs.

Mrs HINRICHSON'S mother was in court and swore the watch was her daughters.

Mr CLOUGH was called and said he was called to the office as the prisoner was suspected of stealing the watch, he questioned the prisoner. He asked him where he was on Thursday, he said about the docks.

Where you in Cheshire? - No

Where were you on Wednesday? - At the Clarence Dock.

The whole of the day? - Yes.

Where did you sleep on Wednesday night? - At Tranmere.

With your father-in-law? - he looked earnestly - Yes.

Did you live at 84 Sparling St some time ago? - Yes.

Marry a Miss STEWART ? - Yes.

And you are separated? - Yes.

Did you engage a car from George's Pier Head? - Yes.

Did you drive to the top of Porter St and go into a public house and buy a glass for the driver? - Yes I did.

He was then satisfied he had identified the man and sent for Mr MC DERMOT who identified him. A man who saw him running up Washington St after the murder identified him among several other men.

He then charged the prisoner with the murder of the two children in Leveson St.

Mary NOTT, a young woman residing at 4 Lower Harrington St was next called. She said, "I worked for Mrs HINRICHSON and there was no man in the house, the captain was away at sea. A man came on Tuesday and took lodgings. She remember the prisoners hat being in the house and identified her mistresses purse. Constable TOOLE had found the hat [produced] in the prisoner's lodgings at Porter St.

The prisoner here produced some violent gesticulations, exhibiting considerable choler.

Constable TUCK then produced two shirts which had been sent to a washerwoman Jane WILSON in Porter St. Upon one sent on Thursday there was spots of blood on the breast, right arm and skirt. Two witnesses proved the shirts had been sent and belonged to the prisoner.

William PRESCOT was then called, he said, "1 am a coach driver and work for Mr HAYHURST, Great George St, I was in Great George St on Wednesday. Where I stood I could see down Leveson St, I saw a man coming down Great George St he had a dark coat on and his trousers were turned up above his boots, I remarked to another person near me, " That person is much heated he has been walking or working hard." He pulled out a dark handkerchief and wiped his brow. PRESCOT swore the prisoner was the man he saw and identified the trousers.

Thomas JONES another cab driver gave a similar testimony.

Samuel HAIGH, PC. 499, said, on Wednesday about 12.15 he went to Leveson St and spoke to the positions of the inmates. He produced a poker much bent, with a massive ornamental head, clotted with blood and hairs which was found lying next to Mrs HINRICHSON, a bonnet, a veil and a victorine were also lying near her head covered with blood. He produced the woman's cap saturated with blood.

The production of the articles produced a murmur of horror in the court, everyone shuddered at the sight except the prisoner who was unmoved.

The witness searched the apartments below going into the cellar and through to a back cellar or pantry here he found a child with his throat cut, he was quite dead. In an upstairs room he found a box had been opened and clothes were strewn over the floor.

Henry POWER a sergeant in the fire brigade produced a fire shovel bent with hairs upon it stained with blood and a pair of broken tongs with marks of blood.

Jeremiah MANGLE, PC 132, produced the other part of the broken tongs and James WILSON. PC, produced a white halted table knife covered with blood found where the youngest child had met his death.

Mr RUSHTON then remanded the prisoner till today at 2pm. As the prisoner left the dock a loud yell of execration was set up by people at the back of the court, crowds remained outside the session house for hours afterwards discussing the particulars of the affair.



He spoke with an Irish accent and in court said he was from Tipperary.

As to who he is, what he is and where he comes from is involved in considerable mystery as he is avoiding entering into particulars relative to himself. In answering inquiries his answers have been exceedingly vague. From inquiries made at a late hour last night we gleamed the following particulars.

Towards the close of last year he took lodgings at 34 Sparling St, the house was kept by a respectable young widow [we have her married name] daughter of Mr STEWART a worthy and respectable man living in Tranmere. He gave his name as John Gleeson Wilson. Some time after gaining lodgings at the house he made advances to the young widow and proposed marriage, which was accepted, the marriage taking place Christmas week last.

The prisoner represented to his wife that his father was a foreigner and had resided in London for a length of time where he was brought up. By trade he was an engineer fitter and had been employed on the steam-packets.

Soon after the marriage he became overbearing and tyrannical and was in the frequent habit of beating his wife. A few months ago his wife said he came home and said he had come into a large some of money, he took off a hard worn blue coat, tore it up and set fire to it. He then put on a better coat he had purchased. [the one he was wearing when apprehended] she never knew him to follow an occupation or calling. His ill-treatment of her became indescribable, he had threatened to murder her. Some five or six weeks ago she informed her father of the situation and he insisted on her giving up the house in Sparling St and taking protection under his roof in Tranmere. This she did and Mr STEWART forbade the prisoner ever to approach the house upon pain of being handed over to the police.

On Wednesday night he went over to Tranmere and sought means to communicate with his wife. He expressed deep contrition for his past misconduct and succeeded in awakening her affections, in so much that she clandestinely admitted him to the house and consented to share her bed with him. He left early in the morning and quitted Tranmere about noon. For three hours with the view of eluding detection he was sailing to and fro in the cabin of one of the Birkenhead Ferry boats. It was only when the Captain compelled him that he went to the gate to pay. He then took a cab from St George's Pier in the afternoon to his lodgings in Porter St.

On Wednesday about 12.30pm directly after the circumstances at Leveson St became known, the prisoner offered a gold watch in pledge at the shop of Mr TUNSTALL, London Rd, the watch was refused Mr TUNSTALL suspecting he had come by it dishonestly, gave the information to one of the detective police, "to keep an eye on him" the officer followed him into a street leading from Park Lane to the docks, where the prisoner turned into a house and the officer lost him. Mr TUNSTALL went to the bride well where the prisoner was placed with several others and identified him as the man who had offered the watch.

At a late hour last night one of the reporters visited the Southern Hospital, Mrs HINRICHSON remained insensible and in a precarious state, little hopes are entertained for her recovery, the young woman continues to rally and is conscious.

Mary PARR died on Thursday morning April 5th.


Hinrichson grave at St James cemetery
April 14th 1849

The Leveson St murder

On Saturday the borough coroner held an inquest on the body of Mary PARR, the jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against the prisoner. On Saturday evening the remains of Mary PARR were interred in St James cemetery, the body placed in the same grave as Mrs HINRICHSON and her children, the burial service was read by Rev M. GREEN Curate of St Marks Church.


April 21st 1849

The Leveson St murder

Mr DOWLING has received particulars relative to the man charged which he thinks may be relied upon.

The real name of the prisoner is Maurice GLEESON, son of David GLEESON, born, Brurie, nine miles from Limerick. He has three brothers younger than himself and two sisters. The father is a blacksmith but has done little work for some time he is dissipated and idle, the whole family are noted for their idleness and vicious propensities. The father is in receipt of poor relief. The prisoner who worked as a blacksmith left home almost two years ago in consequence of being charged with robbery, although the crime was not clearly proven. Since he left home his sister Honorah has been transported for 10yrs. The prisoner went from Ireland to Plymouth where he worked as a striker in a foundry, from Plymouth he moved to London and lived for some time in Limehouse. About 10mths ago he came to Liverpool taking lodgings in Sparling St.

It will be seen from our shipping intelligence that the DUNCAN, Capt HINRICHSON, did not arrive out at Calcutta till 25th February.


April 28th 1849

Extracts from a letter by M. M. G. DOWLING

Gleeson has been identified by a magistrate Mr FEATHERSTONE who resides at Brurie near Limerick, who visited the prisoner, on seeing Mr FEATHERSTONE, the prisoner became tearful and asked about his father and family. These circumstances put the identity of GLEESON in no doubt.


August 25th 1849



On Wednesday John Gleeson WILSON, alias Maurice GLEESON, aged 26yrs, was tried before Mr Justice PATTERSON in the Crown Court, found guilty and sentenced to death.

Thursday last was by mutual consent of the counsel engaged, appointed for the trial, as the time approached reminiscences of the melancholy tragedy were vividly revived and the public excitement and desire to be present became intense. The was a morbid desire to have at least a view of the perpetrator marked with such and unexplained atrocity. It was rumoured tickets would be administered by the sheriff, such a step was never contemplated. It was then privately arranged to prevent the excitement and turmoil that the trial should come on Wednesday at 1 o' clock, the fact only known to professionals and the favoured few, so at the commencement of the proceedings the court was only half full. Astonishingly, however, the news spread rapidly and the doors soon became besieged by applicants, as the day wore on a crowd of 2 or 3 thousand had gathered in the street outside.

On the bench by his Lordship was William BROWN Esq, M.P, the Rev W. POLLOCK of St Marks was also present.

The Jury

James F. DEVONPORT, Accountant, Everton, foreman

John COOPER, Builder, Walton-on-the-Hill

Joseph Pearson DICKEN, Dentist, Wardleworth

James BYRNE, Engineer, Toxteth Park.

George HARRIOTT, Agent, Ashton-in-Mackerfield

Obadiah KIRK, Farmer and cotton manufacturer, Ashton-under-Lyne

Thomas MOLYNEUX, Music dealer, Pendleton

John MILLARS, Marble mason, Salford

William MERCER, Land agent, Newton-in-Mackerfield

Arthur POTTS, Engine manufacturer, Newton-in-Mackerfield

Thomas TAYLOR, Merchant, Bootle-cum-Linacre

Richard TICKLE, Coal proprietor, Hindley

"Put up the prisoner" said Mr SHUTTLEWORTH, the clerk of arraigns, breathless silence prevailed in the court, all eyes bent upon the dock. After a few moments suspense Wilson stepped lightly up to the bar, unconcerned at the awful position in which he stood, appearing in good health, looking none the worse for his imprisonment.

The prisoner was first put on trial for the murder of Mary PARR. The indictment was read and the usual question then put, "How say you John Gleeson Wilson, are you guilty or not guilty of the crime?"

The prisoner replying instantly in a sharp voice, with apparent indignation, "Not guilty."

Mr Sergeant WILKINS, Mr BLAIR and Mr PAGET appeared for the prosecution, Mr POLLOCK and Mr BRETT defended.

Witnesses called.

Mary KNOTT, of 4 Lower Harrington St, who did needlework for Mrs HINRICHSON.

Edward MC DERMOTT, Labourer of Banastre St, who delivered the letter for Wilson.

Anthony CARNEY a young Irish lad, assistant in the shop of Michael COX, 66 St James St, who had delivered potatoes to Leveson St

Daniel ROEBUCK, whose father was a dealer in earthenware of 2 Great George St, who delivered goods to Leveson St, after looking through the keyhole he went to get a policeman.

John HUGHES, Bricklayer, 15 Back Berry St, passing Leveson St, looked through window, raised the alarm, broke window and entered house.

John MARTIN, Surgeon, in the area when alarm was raised, entered house and attended to victims.

Police in attendance, Samuel HOUGH. PC, Henry POVER. PC, John TOOLE. PC, Samuel TUCK, Detective, Thomas QUICK, Superintendent.

W. M. JAMESON, Clerk to the magistrate who was in attendance at the Southern Hospital when Mary PARR, gave her testimony.

William PRESCOTT, Thomas JONES and Robert MASSEY, Cab drivers who saw prisoner after the murder coming up Leveson St.

Mary Ann ROWLANDSON [nee PARR] daughter of Jane PARR, who keeps a tavern in Leveson St, prisoner came in for ale, mother lent him wax to seal letter.

Michael KANE, plasterer of Windsor who saw prisoner at the "figure of eight pit" cleaning his boots etc

John MARKS. PC, who went with KANE to the pit and found the handkerchief and letter.

George MOORE, apprentice to pawn broker, 207 London Rd.

Joshua FINN, pawnbroker, 59 Great Homer St

Henry WORTHINGTON, Paviour

James OSWIN, Boot and shoemaker, 181 Scotland Rd, sold short boots to prisoner witnessed prisoner selling Wellingtons to Ellen NEEDHAM [his stitcher] for 2s.

Margaret COLLOPY, 44 Porter St, kept lodging house, prisoner lodged with her.

Jacob SAMUEL, hairdresser, 79 Great Howard St, prisoner had a shave in his shop witness saw blood on his wrist.

Benjamin CHADWICK, Watchmaker Lord St, identified Mrs HINRICHSON'S watch having repaired it for her.

Mary PARR'S sworn testimony was then read

Mr POLLOCK then addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner

The learned Judge summed up the case, during this time the prisoner was leaning forward paying the most marked and anxious attention, on hearing the Judge's most strong opinion expressed upon the point of insanity, his breast heaved , he sighed audibly and exhibited other manifestations of mental disquiet.

The jury after a deliberation of not more than two minutes delivered their verdict of guilty. People immediately rushed out of the doors into the street, shouting, "He is condemned".

The abhorred murderer of the two women and two young children will in a few days pass from the gallows into eternity, but the memory of this unprovoked and atrocious crime will survive to sadden the heart at the contemplation of his bloody work, to keep alive in the sensitive and right-minded the strong indignation, which refused to be suppressed, even in the presence of the good, just, and venerable judge, who tried the prisoner.

On Wednesday night the prisoner was being removed from the dock to the bridewell, by the subterranean communication, after the death sentence had been passed on him, he heard the mobs outside cheering, annoyed and excited by it he exclaimed, " Damn them, I wish I was amongst them"

He kept reiterating he had been innocently condemned and didn't care for death. On Thursday he requested his original clothes, these he now wears, the trousers still bear blood stains and particularly please him, to one of the attendants he remarked, "it's a pity I could not wear out such nice clothes."

At his request a letter dictated by him has been sent to his father, informing him of the sentence and protesting his innocence .

Captain HINRICHSON is expected home at the end of this month arrangements have been made that when the DUNCAN arrives in the river to communicate with him that he must be prepared to expect domestic news of a painfully distressing nature, not, however stating any of the circumstances of the tragedy.


September 1st 1849

It is now ascertained beyond all doubt that GLEESON was in Bristol on the 20th March last, 8 days before the murder. He arrived here on the 23rd of March on the steamer TROUBADOUR and while on board changed 4 sovereigns treating the crew and passengers. He became intimate with a respectable family who took him ashore at Swansea and gave him dinner. He came back to Liverpool with them staying with a shipping agent and contemplated going to America but changed his mind.

He is now most anxious to see a twin brother, John, whose name he assumed, but, it is not deemed advisable to let his family see him. His mother has been dead for many years but he speaks of her in a most kind and affectionate manner. She seems to have been a hard working woman who struggled hard to curb the propensity of her husband and shield her children from the ruin of his drunkenness and evil habits. September 15th 1849


0n Sunday at 2am the DUNCAN and Capt HUNRICHSON arrived here, the esteemed commander had learned at St Helena of the murder of his family, the vessel had barely anchored before a person came on board and told the captain he had sad news, "Well" said the Captain, "these are my mates I have no secrets tell me before them.". The purveyor however beckoned him to his own cabin and broke the sad news. He stared at first, but staggered when assured and fell in a fit to the floor. During the voyage the captain was subject to paroxysms of deepest grey. On arrival here the vessel was boarded by some friends, on seeing them he wrung his hands and cried, "My wife where is my wife?" he referred in affectionate terms to his children and exclaimed there father would see them where they were laid."

"Is there not one left?" he inquired "Where is my Ann [his wife] my little Harry and my Alfred?"

He was urged to come home and cried, "I have no home."

Only after much persuasion did he leave the vessel Mrs HARRISON, Mrs HINRICHSON'S mother and other immediate relatives had made suitable accommodation for him in Upper Pitt St. On reaching the house he threw himself into the arms of his mother-in-law and cried "Where is my wife?" He was unremittingly attended by Mr PARSONS surgeon of 100 Mill St. After some time when the captain has regained some composure and settled some business arrangements he is going to Hull to stay with relatives. Since his arrival he has had a slight wish to see the murderer but has been advised against it.

Late particulars

The murderer in Kirkdale gaol

It is now a matter of positive arrangement that the execution of John Gleeson Wilson or, rather, Maurice Gleeson will take place today at noon. So early as yesterday morning several people with carts drew up at the gaol wall where the scaffold is always erected, intending, to draw profit by letting them off to parties wishing a good stand to view the execution. Mr GIBBS the governor immediately ordered them away and put up barricades. It was found necessary all day to keep several policemen on the spot, by 6pm last night a considerable crowd had assembled with a determination to stay all night, to secure a good spot. Several special trains are announced from various industrial towns, there is no doubt a multitude will come.

Up until last night the prisoner retained the same obduracy, persisting in declaring his innocence, the earnestness in which he denied his guilt impressed one Catholic priest, that he expressed sympathy for him openly. Several of the Catholic priests on hearing this, to satisfy his doubts, entered into an inquiry and the Rev gentleman himself interviewed the witnesses, the result was, then, a thorough conviction in his mind of the prisoner's guilt.

The first Catholic priest to visit Wilson was grossly insulted by him, during the week Rev Mr DUGGAN and other priests including Rev Mr HEARNE who spoke to the prisoner in the Irish language, visited him, the results were disappointing to them. The vindictive spirit which the prisoner manifested caused Rev Mr DUGGAN considerable anxiety and grief. In the opinion of the officers at the gaol the prisoners abiding feeling is one of vanity, he is flattered by the notoriety which he has acquired and looks forward, it is feared, with pleasure to the revolting exhibition of today.




Murderer John Gleeson Wilson

The hour is 4pm, the day Tuesday, March 27th 1849, before the door of a house in L St, Liverpool halted a young man, he peered closely at the number it was 20, then with a quick movement gave the door a sharp rat-tat.

The man was of a rather striking appearance, 5ft 7ins tall and rather broad of build, his hair brown, short at the back but hanging long and lank over the right side of his face. He was of fair complexion and was wearing a dark blue plaid sporting coat, light corded trousers, quarter Wellington boots and a hard felt hat, banded with crepe.

The house at which he was knocking was medium sized, situated in a respectable quarter of the city. Originally the street had been known as G St then it was changed to L St, but, so notorious did it become by the incidents to be described that it was changed back to its old name. And the end it was cut by a thoroughfare Great George St, the site of the well-known Great George Chapel, and as befitting the vicinity of so great a house of worship, the neighbourhood bore a reputation for quietness and respectability. L St was proud of its associations and its inhabitants were law abiding and peaceable people. Number 20 was the address of Mrs J. H. HINRICKSON, the wife of Capt HINRICKSON commander of the ship DUNCAN, a vessel belonging to Messer's James AIKEN and Sons of this port. At the time the Captain was at sea on his homeward voyage from Calcutta. With his wife lived their two sons, Henry George, aged 5 and John Alfred aged 3, and Mary PARR a maidservant aged about 23-24. They were a family happy and domesticated, but the wife being thrifty and the house too large, she desired to take in boarders, signified by a card in the window.

The door had now opened the young man inquiring about terms. On close scrutiny his face presented several curious characteristics. Mrs HINRICKSON observed these, his ears nearly on a line with his eyes, which were small and had a queer cast, set deeply in the head, cheek bones high, nose rather pointed, cheeks hollow, lips full and pouting, face tapering into a small chin, the tip of which was red, characteristics which cut the face into a mass of sharp angles. But, it was a countenance expressive of great determination and character. Standing there at the door his head leaned a little to the left, a peculiarity with which all who knew him were familiar.

In disclosing his identity he gave is name as John Gleeson Wilson, a carpenter for the Dock Estate, and each week in receipt of £2-10s.

Being civil in manner he gave a favourable impression upon the landlady, who only too eager to secure a boarder let him the back parlour and the top front bedroom.

Nothing strange marked his behaviour that night, he was reticent speaking little of himself, although at pains to inform the household that his sister was licensee of the Tranmere Hotel, at Tranmere.

Having partaken of tea he went out for a walk returning about 10pm and retired to his room.

"And when will your luggage arrive?" asked Mrs HINRICKSON during one of the few moments he had been in his room.

"The day after tomorrow" was his laconic reply.

The next morning was cold and raw a bleak wind swept around the corner of the street. Errand boys their noses blue with cold their baskets hung closely over their arms went whistling merrily on their calls, barefoot street urchins thinly clad and shivering, their hands tightly clenched and drawn into the sleeves of their thread bare coats for warmth, lurched with shrugged shoulders in the streets. It was such a blue-nosed street urchin, Wilson accosted that morning as he walked down the street shortly after 9am.

"Here boy, do you want to earn 3d?" asked Wilson.

"Yes mister, I do" replied the boy with an eager look in his eyes.

"Then do as I tell you, I want you to watch where I go, just up the street her, number 20, wait five minutes and then knock on the door, ask if Mr Gleeson Wilson lodges here, when the woman says "Yes" tell her you have a letter from his master. When she gives me the letter I will give you 3d"

Wilson walked up the street and into the house. There was a knock at the door, the piping voice of the street urchin asks, "Does Mr Wilson live here?"

The maid answers,


"Is he in?"

The voice of the maid is sharp and irritable.

"Yes! What do you want?"

"Will you give him this letter from his master"

"Is that for me ?" Wilson demands loudly.

"Yes Sir" Answers the maid as she hands him the letter. Wilson glances casually at the address, takes some coppers from his pocket and hands them to the boy. In consequence of the supposed communication in the letter that there was no work for him that day, Wilson's presence in the house during the afternoon occasioned no surprise. Mary PARR was cleaning the grate in the lead kitchen, and in the back parlour were Wilson and Henry George the five year old son of Mrs HINRICKSON.

The girl sang merrily at her work polishing the leaded grate and from the inner room rang the laughter of the boy. Nether dreamed that the devil incarnate was so near, that a fiendish monster in human form was then planning their doom, into whose brain was beating the words -------- "Kill, kill, kill".

Some slight action of the boy invoked the wrath of Wilson and rising from the chair he made a move to strike the boy. Emitting a loud cry the boy ran out of the room with Wilson hot in his wake. Mary PARR who had seen Wilson attempt to strike the boy interfered, her womanly instinct to protect the child in her arms.

"What right have you to strike the child of my mistress ?" she cried.

It was enough, murder on his mind, his passion blazed, in a blaze of fury he was precipitate, blood ran red before his eyes his senses reeled, he picked up the tongues from the hearth, his eyes blazing, a repulsive look on his face, his two large irregular teeth like the fangs of a beast showing through his open distorted mouth, he swung the heavy weapon over his head and brought it smashing down on the head of the girl. With scarcely a cry she fell senseless upon the floor.

With the fury of a madman still upon him he swung round the tongs and delivered a terrific blow, and felled the little fellow, who was now cowering in fright in the corner of the room. Then making for the room in which was the child of three, on the table lay a large bladed carving knife, and picking it up he gashed it along the child's throat.

The house was now a house of slaughter, at that moment there was a knock at the door, rushing madly along the corridor Wilson answered the door, the unsuspecting Mrs HENRICKSON entered, the door banged behind her. A frenzy even more demonical now possessed the man, throwing himself on the woman he rained blow after blow on her head with the tongs, there was a splattering of red, and she fell prostrate in a heap on the floor.

The man's mean motive was now to be seen. In a feverish manner he pulled out drawers and boxes and commenced ransacking the house. Plate and jewellery became his spoil, then in a hurried manner he left the house. Up to Great George St he tore, one of the legs of his trousers drawn over his boot to hide the blood stains. Hailing a cab in Great George Square he entered and was driven away.

Walking sprightly along the street with a happy song on his lips, and a basket on his arms comes a boy. He knocks on the door of number 20, there is no answer, he knocks again, still no answer, he bends to peep through the keyhole and falls back in surprise. Across the floor of the passage he sees a woman lying, he jumps up to the window and sees to his horror a young woman and child lying huddled on the floor. His face white with horror he rushes across the street to a number of workmen and gives the alarm.

Downing tools the men run to the house, hearing moans, the window is broken, as they clamber in a horrible sight is before them, Lying on the floor in a pool of blood, skulls battered and faces mutilated is the servant girl and the young boy. The girl moans but from the boy is no sound. By the door with her head just inside is Mrs HINRICKSON, her head battered by her side is a comb and veil. In the kitchen lies the child of three his head almost severed. By the bodies lie the poker and tongs clotted with blood and hair, the poker bent, the tongs broken. It is the house of death.

Standing by the "figure of eight pit" is a man washing his shoes, he dips his booted foot in the water and swirls it around, he inspects the boots carefully and is satisfied. He then sits on the side of the pit and washes his trousers, there is no shade of concern on his face, he looks aimlessly around, rises and walks slowly in the direction of Crown St, then down London Rd and into Great Homer St. He enters a pawn shop and buys a pair of blue cloth trousers and a cloth cap, leaving the shop he enters Porter St and here enters a lodging house. In his possession he had three shirts, he handed one to the servant asking for it to be washed, wearily he then retires to bed and sleeps calmly throughout the night.

It is the morrow, he stands at the counter of a shop in Great Howard St, in his hand he has a watch, he is trying to sell. The dealer leaves the shop and after a few moments on the shoulder of the man toying idly with the watch is placed a firm hand. He turns round quickly and his eyes look into those of an officer, but, there is no look of terror, John Gleeson Wilson stands firmly within the power of the law.

Months have passed since Wilson felt the hands of the officer, the murder had proved a great sensation, the court during the trial was packed with eager listeners and thousands had followed the reports of the trial in the newspapers. Throughout the time Wilson had maintained a callous demeanour, outbursts of temper had marked his speech during the trial. Both judge and jury had been shocked by the revolting details of the murder.

Mary PARR, although her injuries proved fatal, lived long enough to make her depositions of what happened up until the time she was struck down by the fury ridden man. It was a story of mean passion she told. Wilson was callous in the perpetration of his crime, callous during his trial as he was callous now in the condemned cell.

There had never been any doubt about his guilt, in less then five minutes the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. Yet clear was the evidence and clear his guilt, Wilson still persisted in avowing his innocence.

All though incarceration he had been morose refusing food , turning a deaf ear, even showering abuse upon the ministration of the chaplain. For three days he refused food, then with the same suddenness as he decided on his course of obstinacy, he demanded his rations, not only for that day, but all food in arrears. All efforts to induce him to make his peace with God proved futile. But, the day had arrived. He must meet his fate.

The morning was bright, the sun suffused its rays about the whole scene, a stranger visiting Kirkdale that day would have thought there was a gala. Over 100,000 persons were massed together outside the gaol, every vantage point taken, for miles around a black mass of seething people. Every street leading to the gaol was crowded, mothers leading offspring by the hand, fathers accompanying daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. Special trains by the Lancashire and Yorkshire and East Lancashire lines had run at a nominal fare of 1s. Excitement was higher than on a cup day at Aintree. In one case a number of gentlemen had engaged a steamer to give some workmen a treat on the Mersey. The programme included a visit to the Lightship, returning at 11 and stopping at a point near Bootle where they could witness the execution of Wilson, after which they would journey to Eastham for lunch.

Of Wilson his manner was as callous as ever, only when the executor, HOWARD, a poor, feeble old man, that whose hands so shook that only with the help of the warder, could pinioning the condemned man be performed, did Wilson pale and his courage seem to vanish. His frame shook, he could barely walk, his speech was incoherent, and he sat, a dazed, pitiable creature upon a chair in the Pressroom while the work of inspecting the scaffold could be carried out.

The scaffold at Kirkdale was a simple construction. Two strong beams about four yards apart projected from holes in the wall. From uprights above these crossed the fatal beam, and around this was an iron chain and link which hung down from the reception of a hook. To which was attached the rope. Suspended from below the projecting beams was a kind of framework or box with folding lids, the outside being covered with a black cloth. On top of this was placed the culprit, the greater part of his body being exposed when he first stepped below the drop. About breast high was passed round the scaffold an iron rod. When the bolt was withdrawn the top of the box or framework fell inwards and the criminal became suspended. The entrance to the scaffold was through two iron folding doors in the wall. The scaffold was erected at the north-west angle of the gaol, the angle was at no great extent, and as the fatal erection extended only a few feet from the wall, spectators to obtain a view had to take up positions in the fields outside the end of the road which led on either side to the entrance of the gaol. Below the scaffold a small space was barricaded for the press, friends and those who gave evidence at the trial.

This was a day of days, an execution more popular than any for many a day. The time near, snatches of popular songs while the crowd whiled away the time were heard by the unhappy man as he sat a shivering mass in the chair. From a clock near by came the chimes of 11.30, a dove fluttered down and hovered for a few seconds over the scaffold. It caused a sensation all eyes directed upon it, it was for half an hour the subject of discussion.

Only a few minutes before the appointed time of 12 o'clock would strike, everyone was on tip-toe of excitement. Many women's faces were pale they stood in silence, others shouted a lusty oath of vengeance, a curse for the damnation of the doomed man's soul. Men to shouted out and bawled out songs of oath, children looked on in wonder, some cried and clung to their mothers.

A wild cry of rage and execration, the crowd seemed to have lost control, hands are raised, fists shook and oaths are hurled. Between two priests is the stumbling form of a man, his white shirt standing out between the black robes of the priests. Those near see his twitching face, yet he tries to carry a look of bravado, his lips move, his words cannot be heard. It is a jumbling speech, the words "innocent, innocent" fall in strange juxtaposition with the words, "pity" and "Holy Mother" He is pushed erect by the beams, the noose is fixed, the white cap thrown over his face. The executioner jumps quickly away.

From the lower part of his face the white cap has fallen, his tongue hangs loosely from his mouth, he is a limp and helpless mass. With this sight, sickening and repulsive in their minds the crowds slowly break away, a mass of satisfied humanity.

"A nice hang Sir, beautifully done. Pity couldn't give him more"

Is the comment of a cabby to his fare as he drops him at the end of his journey.


Liverpool Times, Jan, 1850


Ten months since, 20 Leveson St, was the scene of a series of the most barbarous and unprovoked murders enrolled on the records of crime in this country. Notwithstanding the excitement which that dreadful tragedy occasioned and which more recently was renewed on the trial of WILSON, it is now almost forgotten, justice having been satisfied, the public mind seems to have consigned the deed and its perpetrator into oblivion. From that oblivion we would not rescue it, were it not that our attention has recently been called to the fact, that the house in which Mrs HENRICHSON, her children, and servant, were murdered is now converted into a beer-house, and that morbid curiosity is likely to make the speculation a profitable one. The parlour of the house in which the servant and one of the children were slaughtered, is converted to a bar and tap-room, the entrance to which is through the hall in which Mrs HENRICHSON herself met her doom, and we presume every party indulging in a glass of fourpenny is entitled to have pointed out to him the precise spot on which the murders took place, the spots of blood etc, whilst the privilege of descending to where the villain consummated his butchery by cutting the youngest child's throat, is limited to those who luxuriate in the higher priced and more palatable description of malt liquor. However this may be, the proprietor id likely for some time to reap a good harvest.


Liverpool Courier, May, 1850

Death of the son of Mrs HINRICHSON'S servant

The recollection of the Leveson St, tragedy has been revived by letter from Calcutta, written by a young man on the ship Duncan, a son of Mr CLEAVER, lace manufacturer of this town, in which he gives the following account of an unfortunate accident by which Mary PARR'S son lost his life, and of his own gallant attempt to save him :-

"About 7am, I was woke by a shout upon deck, and I heard the chief mate sing out, "Good God, the boy is overboard?" Of course I instantly jumped out of my hammock, and rushed upon deck in my shirt and drawers, where I saw the ship sailing about two knots an hour, the boat lashed upon the poop bottom up, and the boy Johnny [the little boy whose mother was killed at the same time as Mrs HINRICHSON] struggling in the water about 15yds from the ship, with the life-buoy about 10yds on the other side of him. It instantly occurred to me that if I could get him to the buoy he might be saved. The next moment I was in the water, striking out in the direction of the lad, whom I got hold of by the back of the neck, and succeeded in getting a few yards nearer the life-buoy, amidst the loud shouts and cheers of the whole ship's company, when the lad threw himself underneath me and in spite of all my endeavours, grasped my other arm with the grasp of a giant. As a matter of course we both sank, and after a sharp struggle I got clear of him. After breathing, I dived in quest of him, and brought him to the surface, where I kept his face above water. He had not been in that position above 5 seconds before he began to struggle again, and gain we both sank. This time I had great difficulty getting clear from him, and when I rose to the surface I was so exhausted that for some time I was not able to search for him, and when I did it was too late, for he had sunk to rise no more. When I looked around me after searching for the boy, there was a seaman in the water bringing the life-buoy to me, for it had drifted some distance from me during my struggles with the boy. After he had reached me we both cling to the life-buoy, and I had time to look around me, when I found the ship about half a mile from me, but we distinctly heard the cheers of the men as they launched the boat, and never did a landsman feel half the joy as we did in the water, as we saw the boat pulling towards us, for, after the excitement was over, we began to think of ourselves, and to feel that the longer we were in the water the more chance there was of our mortal foe, the shark, making his appearance, whom we should not have seen till we felt, or even if we could have seen, what defence should we have made without even so much as a knife ?"

The same letter contains an account of the death of Captain PARRY, who succeeded Captain HINRICHSON in the command of the vessel. "On the 3rd of February" the writer says, "Captain PARRY was sitting on the poop-rail, about 7.40pm, when, by some accident or other, he fell backwards upon the main capstan, from thence to the quarter-deck, the height from the rail to the quarter-deck being about 11ft. He was instantly borne into the cabin, in an insensible state, when it was discovered he had a tremendous wound on the back of his head, by which his skull was severely fractured, and another serious wound on his right knee, he had also seriously injured his spine. Every attention was paid to him and the ship was put before the wind to run into Madras, but he got rapidly worse and at 20 minutes to eight in the evening he breathed his last, having lived just 48hrs after the accident. Of course it was no use then to go to Madras, so the ship was hauled close to the wind to go to Calcutta. I am afraid the captain's wife will feel his loss severely, for he was only married five days before he left, to a young girl he had known some years, but he declined marrying until he could get command of the ship, and then, just when his hopes were crowned with success, and there was every prospect of him making a little money, he is cut off in the prime of life by a sudden and fatal accident."


Liverpool Journal, Dec 28th 1850

Meeting of the Health Committee

Mr THOMSON stated that the parties owning property in Leveson St [the street where the murders by Gleeson Wilson where committed] were desirous that the name of the street should be altered, as the property had much depreciated in value from the circumstances alluded to. He suggested the name should be henceforward be called by its original name of Grenville Street South. The suggestion was adopted.

Funeral of the Henrichson's at St James

Read the Ghostly Walk around St James cemetery which refers to the Hinrichson's

In 1863 there was another victim murdered who lived in the same house, 20 Grenville St

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