SAT JAN 11TH, 1908


Liverpool police investigating a remarkable case a childs disappearance so far without success. Margaret T. KIRBY aged 7yrs residing with her father David a plumber. 55 Romilly St Kensington, her mother died only a couple of weeks ago.

About halfpast 4 on Monday afternoon Margaret was with her brother 3 yrs of age in Farnworth St off Kensington when they were accosted by a strange man who asked the girl if she would go for some sweets. Child-like she obeyed with alacrity.

Before going home from that moment to the present the girl has not been heard of

The girl has dark brown hair, blue eyes, a prominent nose and fresh complexion and when she was last seen was dressed in a black shirt worn at the sleeves, blue pinafore, black velvet bonnet with black strings, black stockings and laces boots.

When last seen the girl was in the company of Annie McGOVERN, age 7 who attended St Michaels school her brother 5yrs also present. They were all playing on the reservoir in Kensington shortly before 4-30 pm


Monday Jan 25th 1908

Small Ad girl still missing and description


Aug 15th 1908

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A terrible discovery made on Tues morning , for 8mths Liverpool Police have been searching for Margaret [Madge] KIRBY the dau of a plumber. On tues morning a body since identified as the missing child was found in broad daylight in a wide thoroughfare in Great Newton St nr London Rd A labourer on his way to work in Great Newton St noticed the sack. Becoming curious he cut open the sack and found the body of the child Scantily clad and decomposed. The remarkable fact that although there had been a heavy shower just before, the sack was dry, it could only have been left minutes previously.

When police arrived they made a fresh discovery, the body had been taken from a cellar of a house which with those adjoining were due for demolition by the corporation.

It is possible to cover up a crime it was placed in the cellar months ago and on Tuesday somebody removed it before the demolition revealed its presence. On hearing footsteps he dropped his burden getting clear away before the body was found within the next minutes

It was once seen that the body had lain in the empty house on the ground in the cellar and disturbed the dust, portions of the girls clothing and some hair close to the clothing were found.

At the beginning of January when she went missing she went to school as usual and then was playing in a public recreation ground, Systematic searches conducted all over the city after weeks searching and broadcasting description police acknowledged themselves beaten.

Description of abductor was meagre.

Child identified by father by her clothing.

Apparently no effective clues have been discovered practically the entire detective force engaged in the mystery

Important evidence found on door Dust was gathered thickly on wood handprints found will be photographed 4,000 to 5,000 empty house had been examined but not this particular one


entrusted to Dr Nathan RAW and Dr OWENS

Police anxious for information on sack, unfortunately it is a canvas sugar bag bearing no name or distinctive marks.


On Thursday Liverpool Coroner Mr T. E. SAMPSON opened the inquest

He remarked that the house in Great Newton St was a perculiar one the jury could see Photographs or view it, Jury viewed the body and visited the house.

David KIRBY Gave evidence

He could not recognise the child's body but the clothing belonged to his daughter.

She was healthy

He missed her on the 5th of Jan

He searched for the child assisted by the police

He had heard nor seen anything of her till Tuesday last.

CORONER-And then you went down to the Princes Dock Mortuary and saw remains, you were not able to recognise her due to the decomposition, but you did identify her chemise stockings and garters

:- yes Sir.

They were still on the body

:- yes Sir.

You were satisfied it was your daughter

:- Satisfied

Coroner expresses his deepest sympathy to David KIRBY

To the Jury " that is all the evidence to be taken regarding identification this enables me to issue a burial order."

Adjourn till September the 10th at 11 am

JUROR- asks to see sack

CORONER- Have you a particular reason

JUROR- Yes Sir

CORONER "It is in the possession of Dr Nathan RAW at Mill Rd Infirmary

JUROR did not then press the request


The remains of Madge KIRBY were lain to rest on Thursday afternoon at the Catholic Cemetary Ford

Romilly and Farnworth St was densely crowded with mourners moved to tears.

Over a dozen wreathes from Father, relatives, neighbours, school children and playmates.

A touching feature a harp of flowers from Annie McGOWAN a playmate in Madge's company on that fatal day.

Chief mourners

Mr David KIRBY Father, George and Davy brothers, Lizzie sister, Thomas and Arthur KIRBY Uncles and their wives, Mrs COULTER Her Grandmother, Mrs BYRNE Aunt, Annie McGOVERN and her mother.

On arrival at Ford the coffin was carried gently into the chapel, the service was read by Father LOWERY. The little girl was laid to rest in the same grave as her mother


On Thursday afternoon police recieved a letter on the envelope was written, "From Madge Kirby's murderer".

They decline to make a statement as to the contents or whether they attach any importance to contents of the letter. The hand writing is evidently that of a person of education.


Saturday Aug 22nd 1908


Anonymous confession

Bloodhounds at work

The murder of Madge KIRBY is still occupying the attention of Liverpool police and the general public

The anonymous letter sent to the police reads as follows :-

To Inspector MOORE:-

Dear Sir,-

I should like to throw a little light on the murder of my victim, Madge KIRBY. Some years ago I was a lodger at 15 Great Newton St so that I know the house thoroughly I am still in possession of a key to the front door, which I used in those days.

"On the night of January 6th at 8.45 I took the girl through the front door, and it was quite dark. We had been over to "World's Fair" before then. That is the way I treated her; and then I did away with her.

The way I killed her you will no doubt find out today.

"At 5.35 on Tuesday morning last I entered the house once more with my key, not with the intention of moving the body for good, but with the intention of letting the world know what became of the child. If I had not been drinking I don't suppose I would have attempted the task. It may lead to my arrest, and only the drink have I to thank for it. I am now going to give you a real clue to work on [ I am a regular at the public house mentioned] Since I have made this confession I will be obliged to say goodbye to [ a persons name is here given ]. I suppose they have been good fiends to me, I have given you a chance for your money now, so do your best, but I am sure your manhunt will be in vain."

["Worlds Fair" a collection of swingboats and shows, then in Gill St, one thoroughfare away from the street in which the body was found]



On several occasions during the week the police tried a bloodhound named CZAR owned by Mr PAKENHAM.

One day the detectives and the dog covered 30 miles believed to be frequented by the accused. The trail followed after midnight and the early hours, crowds followed the dog, constables were engaged to stop interference in the dogs work.

The murderer traced

Early hours of Tuesday am CZAR renewed his work at least 2,000 spectators assembled outside Prescot St Police station, many having cycles to follow the hunt.

A decoy hound was takren to Great NEWTON St crowds followed it eagerly.

CZAR started at Botanic Gardens, Edge Lane finally he led towards the east end of Edge Lane crossed some waste ground were there was considerable evidence of the murderers presence.

CZAR then turned into a westerly direction and made a minute search through most property between Edge Lane and Wavertree.

CZAR proceeded along Wavertree and Tunnels Rd to Edge Hill Station, here he made for the inward platform on the left and stood stock still, sniffing the air in a convulsed state.. He then turned his head towards Lime St Station.

The owner read that the murderer had left Edge Hill not long before and headed to Lime St.

A Cab was chartered to Lime St

Here he proceeded to No 1 platform whence the train goes out to Birmingham he again sniffed the air and looked towards the tunnel.

Mr PAKENHAM proceeded that the murderer had taken departure for the Midland metropolis the night before.


The police on Wednesday obtained a statement from a man who on the morning the body was found saw a mysterious person dressed in womens clothing who he believed was a man emerge cautiously and hurriedly from the yard door of the house adjoining that in which the body lain.

He was not one of the occupants of the house and there is no yard door to the house the murder was committed in.

The wall between the houses showed signs of it recently being climbed over.


Aug 29th 1908



Police engaged throughout the week in probing various clues. Much attention centred on some points which have recently come to light all tinged with a smack of similarity that has aroused suspicion.

The theory gains ground that the criminal is probably the same man who committed the awful outrage in a back alley off Smithdown Rd and other crimes which greatly shocked public conscience, but the perpetrator of which has never been discovered. The indications are one foul human being is the author of all these horrors.


Sep 12th, 1908



MR T. E. SAMPSON the Liverpool Coroner on Thursday resumed at Dale St Courthouse

The inquest opened on Aug 13th touching the death of Margaret [Madge] KIRBY aged 7 daughter of David KIRBY, 55 ROMILLY St, Kensington.

Child disappeared having been decoyed away by a man in early February, remains found outside an unoccupied house where they had lain for sometime, 15 Great Newton St, a month ago.

There where 35 witnesses in attendance.

Coroner addresses the jury and proceeded to give evidence given by childs father at the opening inquest

Albert BLENKHORN Sgt Liverpool Police produced several photographs which were handed to the jury.

Annie McGOWAN, Madge's playmate next witness, very nervous and was carried crying into the witness box by Detective Sgt HOWELL.

Coroner addressed comforting words whereupon she dried her eyes and answered questions with considerable intelligence

She described the man. The man said,"Will you come with me for some sweets?" and I said, "No" Maggie said, "Yes" The man took Maggie's hand and they walked down the back steps. She had seen neither since but would know the man if she saw him again.

The Coroner- That will do you have done very nicely.


Christopher SHEENAN , aged 8, living with parents, 17 Horlick St, described playing of the children together in Kensington Gardens. He heard the man say, "Will you come with me little girl and I will buy you some sweets" He was also invited but refused as his mother had warned him not to go with strangers. He waited for Madge to return and when she never went home for bread and butter. He wouldn't know the man again.


Robert WOODSIDE, 33 Smollett St had known Madge for a couple of months prior to her disappearance. 4 o'clock on Tuesday January 7th, he heard Madge was missing. On the day he was working as a shop boy. At 5.30pm he took an order to a house on Rupert Hill. On his way back coming down Rupert Hill he saw a man coming from the opposite direction leading a girl by the hand. It was dark but as he passed he could see it was Madge KIRBY.

Coroner did you do anything?

Witness "Yes I called out to her. "Come on Madge" And then did she look round? "Yes and she knew who I was. Was she trying to go to you?- Yes but the man held her back by the arm as soon as she saw me she started to cry, and the man hurried her along. Did you turn back and follow them ?- Yes How far did you go ? "To the top of Rupert Hill. The man saw me following him and he stopped and told Madge to stand by the railings, I was 3yds away at the time. She stood by the railings while the man ran after me down Rupert Hill. He then went back to her. Witness said he went home and told Madge's father, later he went to Prescot St, Bridewell and told the police.


Jane HUGHES, 30 Tynemouth St, a middle aged woman remembers Tuesday Jan 7th, 6-30 to 7pm, in the cocoa rooms on Brownlow Hill she served a man and a little girl, the former with tea, bread and butter, the latter a small cup of tea and an eccles cake. The child had been crying her face smeared with tears. Witness recognised the childs bonnet [produced]. She might know the man again.

Thomas MOODY, Journeyman and woodcarver stated how he discovered the sack William James MULBY, Engine fitters Labourer, Lewis GREEN, Hairdresser, Prescot St Corroborated


John MORGAN a Stableman engaged in Pembroke Place said between 11 and 12 each day he went to the saw mill on Great Newton St for shavings he always saw a man walking up and down on the right hand side of Great Newton St and opposite No 15. Sometimes he stood with his hands in his pockets against the railings and if anyone approached he would walk away in the opposite direction as if to avoid being seen.


Hannah LEE a young woman living in the court in Pembroke St referred to in this case remembered sitting on the steps at the corner of the court between 1-2 am on July 24th. She saw A man entered a court . He passed her and went to a doorway at the top of the court. The following morning about the same hour the same man came again. She remained for 2hrs but did not see him return.


John MORGAN, Dock labourer, 19 Dansie St, said that on Sunday morning July 26th he was standing by No 4 court Pembroke St when a previous witness told him a man had gone up the entry at the end of No 6 court. He went with other men but saw no one. At 6-30 am the same morning a man came down Pembroke St and turned into the court. He stood with his hands in his pockets looking about him for 4-5 mins then walked to a place at the top of the court climbed the roof and got over the wall dropping into the yard of No15. Described the man and would know him again.

Elizabeth HANNAH gave the same evidence but did not see his face.

Edward FARNEN, Carter deposed that at 5-30 am Tuesday Aug 11th, he was standing in the courtyard of the rear of 15 Great Newton St he saw a man climb the wall and drop into the entry.

James GLOVER, Painter and Decorator employed by the Corporation on the morning of August 11th was standing on the landing of the Corporation yard in Brownlow St , he saw a man in women's clothes come partly out of the back yard of No 13 and go back in quickly to avoid being seen. The individual was exited and agitated and caused him to carry on watching. Almost immediately the same person came out of No 13 and walked quickly down the court looking about in all directions. When he saw him he stared at him till he got to the bottom of the court.

Nathan SCHWERNSKY a bill distributor had lived at 16 Great Newton St till August 31st 1903. One of the lodgers called THOMPSON was a dark tall man with a black moustache. It was 5-6 yrs ago he left. Mrs GREEN said this man THOMPSON was rather eccentric

Dr Nathan RAW was certain death was not due to natural causes, he could not say wether it was due to the outrage nor wether that she was killed where the body was found or taken afterwards. Dr OWEN present at the P.M, agreed with these findings.


Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown

The family grave Ford Cemetery

Sat Oct 3rd, 1908


The interment of the body of David KIRBY father of Madge KIRBY victim of the Great Newton St murder took place on Thursday. A large number of people assembled in front of the deceased late residence in Romilly St some time before the procession started for Ford R.C. Cemetery. Many women were moved to tears.

The coffin was borne in a beautiful hearse it was surrounded and covered in beautiful wreathes while a couple of bouquets were placed outside the vehicle close to the driver's box. There were three mourning coaches and many beautiful wreathes sent the widespread regret and sympathy felt finding expression among the inhabitants of various streets who clubbed together to purchase flowers. The result an affecting floral display. Private and working men, friends also sent tokens of their esteem. The coffin was of polished oak with brass mountings and the inscription recording the broken hearted fathers demise.

David KIRBY died 28th Sep 1908 age 38 yrs R.I.P.


A fortnight before Madge was enticed away from her home her mother died. On Monday her father, who was taken ill on the conclusion of the inquest on the body of his daughter also died. After giving evidence at the inquest with a sadness that aroused sympathy in all those present, he returned home and remarked to his sister, "This has finished me". He was forced by grief and illness combined to take to his bed, and he never again rose from it.

The inscription for Madge and David KIRBY

Oct 24th 1908


The Dewsbury police have received the following letter which purports to come from the murderer of Madge KIRBY

Dear Sir

Some weeks ago I sent a letter to Liverpool police station giving them a clue and a chance to catch me but they have not got me yet I am new in your town of Dewsbury and I now give your policemen a chance I am 5 ft 10 ins in height of slender build, I dress in black and brown boots and cross the market every day at 1 o'clock. I stop here one week only If you don't catch me I vow I will kill one more child. I write several ways this time I write like a workman.

The letter is decorated with a skull and cross bone and a rude drawing of a child's face.



Copyright of transcription 2002 / To date