Welsh Newspapers

Search 15 million Welsh newspaper articles

Hide Articles List

4 articles on this Page

,--------.. THE TODMORDEN…


THE TODMORDEN MURDER. Miles Weatherill was tried on Friday, at the Manchester assizes, for the murder of Jane Smith, at Todmorden Parsonage, on Monday night, the 2nd instant. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. During the time occupied by the trial he exhibited great anxie- ty, & at times there were seen traces of strong emotion in his face. This was especially so when Mr Campbell Foster, in opening the case for the prosecution, announced that Mr Plow was dead. Mr Campbell Foster and Mr Addison appeared as counsel for the prosecution the prisoner was defended by MrTorr. It appeared from the speech of the learned Counsel, and from the evidence subsequently called, that the prisoner was a. young man, 23 years old, living with his mother and sisters in Todmorden, who had for- merly been a Methodist, but had latterly attended the Church in which the Rev. Mr Plow, the vicar of Todmorden, officiated. He also had taught in the Sunday schools attached to the church, and became acquainted with Mr Plow, and for the last two years courted a young woman named Sarah Bell, who had been for three years in the family. Two years ago, when Sarah Bell was only 16 years of age, the pri- soner called on Mr Plow and asked to be allowed to keep company with her, and it appeared that at first! Mr Plow was inclined to grant him permission, but subsequently, on talking it over with his wife, he refused it on the ground that the girl was too young, and he disliked a long courtship in his house. It appeared from the deposition of Mr Plow, which was read in the course of the trial (his death having oc- curred on Thursday from the violence he had received), that the interview in which this refusal was given was a friendly one, Mr Plow complimenting the prisoner on the openness he had shown in the matter, but subsequently they met clandestinely, and this coming to the ears of the master and mistress, through the information of the deceased woman, Jane Smith, who was also a servant in the family, Sarah Bell was dismssed from her place on the first of November. This led to feelings of enmity on the part of the prisoner to Mr and Mrs Plow and the deceased, for the girl, to whom he was evidently deeply attached, was removed from Todmorden to Newby Whiske, near Thirsk, where her mother lived, which rendered both her and the prisoner very unhappy, and it became his object either to get the girl back into a district within his reach or else to retaliate on those who had caused the separation. The following letters received by the girl from the prisoner, and read in the course of the trial, throw light on the state of his feelings on the matter:- Todmorden, Sept 30, 1867, 4, Brook-street. 'My dear Sarah,- Now I beg of you not to leave your place, but tell your mistress that you will give me up. Now, for your own interest tell her, for you .know that a ,rolling stone never gathers any moss. Now, Sarah, tell her before she writes to your mother, for you are only heaping trouble upon trouble, and I think you have had quite plenty through me. You have kept me in the dark about you been carpeted, but you see that it is coming out little by little. How cruel it was of me to call you false and deceit- ful. I had no idea then that you had been carpeted through me, or I should not have uttered such wards at no price but I hope that you will for- give me, as it appears to me that you are true- hearted girl. But it will be better for you to give up thinking about me. If you are determined to leave, your time is short here, which I regret; but I hope you every success in your wanderings, for very likely you will wander about a bit before you are settled again. Now my dear you must forget me. I think you ma) when you get into fresh company and see fresh faces. I will see you once more, and then, if you will only say you will, I will say the same, and I know it will be a harder task for me than you, but I will try and bear it for your sake. It is not because I am beginning to dislike you that I want you to break off. No, far from it; it is quite the reverse. It is because 1 want to free you trom your trouble and if my staying away will do it, it shall be done. But don't give up your place for a wretch like me, for I know I have been the cause of all this bother. But, to conclude, I say don't let Jane and Mary know all I say to you. I will see you before many days end. Yours truly, 'MILES WEATliERHILL.' Todmorden. Nov. 7. My dear, dear Sarab,I am now at Todmorden once more, but with a very sad heart. You know how we left each other, and you may guess how I have been since. Oh, Sarah, my true love, how I do so long to see you. I should so like to hear that sweet voice of yours once more. I have harkened to it many an hour in yond yard and back door, but them times has gone, gone, I am sorry to say, for ever. I wish I had stayed a bit longer, as you wanted me, for I only worked four hours on Wed- nesday. In the afternoon I took a solitary walk. I wish you were at Todmorden again. I then should be happy once more, but now I am miserable we are parted and what is it for ? Not for any dis- graceful action either of us has done. No, it is for being too honourable and upright in our dealings. Sarah, it makes my blood boil to think of the wrong they have done to you. I will never forgive them they have ruined our happiness. Oh, Sarah if I could have died in your arms, I should have been thankful. I am now grieving for the loss of the girl I love. I have not seen any of them at the Parsonage yet, so I can't say anything about them. You must not write to me again this week unless you are sure I shall get the letter by Saturday night or Sunday moriiing. I will write again in a few days or a week, and then you can answer my letter. I remain, yours ever truly, MiLES WEATHERHILL.' 'Todmorden, Nov. 11. 'My dear Sarah Elizabeth,—You must excuse me for writing so much, but this will be the last time for a bit. I have had such a row with master and mistress. I heard she had given you a character, so I asked her about it, and she put in what you told me she would. It was yesterday noon when I saw her, and she said she thought there was not much wrong in it but I told her there was a very deal of wrong in it, and then I turned round and would not talk to her any longer. In the afternoon I saw master. He called of me and we had a regular row. He called us anything but Christians, and he spoke of you as not being a respectable girl. He made my blood boil, and I will have my revenge for the girl I love, unless you can come to Todmorden, or within a mile or two of it. It would plague them worse your eoming than me having my revenge. If you have not engaged with that place come somewhere near here. Write as soon as possible, and let me know whether you can come or not. If you will I will pay your expenses. From yours ever, MiLES WEATHERHILL.' Todmorden, Nov. 19. My Love,—I wonder whether you have got that place or not, or have got it at all. If you have not got one yet, come back to Todmorden. Come, if it be only to plague Plows. I am sure you may get a situation here if you only try. I will pay your ex- penses. You know people that would speak for you if you would only write to them. How happy we should be if you could get a place here. I am sure you will not meet with another that would keep you in the house as Plows did. Then we could have CM walks, and it would so plague them. They are, I understand, going to have a cook on Tuesday. This is coming from near the place where Jane, the traitor, comes from. You know that I cannot come where you are, but you can come where I am, and if you love me you will come. Come, Sarah, come, and don't let us be parted, for it is hard to be parted from the one I love. If you was poorly it would be a different thing; but you are well and healthy, and so let us enjoy ou r youth in spite of all the Plowses. What is the use of you getting a place so far away from the one you say you love ? Letter courting is not like courting personally. We should not have any occasion to be parted at all had Plow been a gentleman. He and his wife and the traitor has spoiled our happiness, and unless that happiness can be renewed they shall rue it, for I will open Jane's secret to all Todmorden. I will not be the only one to suffer. No, the traitor shall suffer a little. I can- not forgive them for doing as they have done towards us. We acted honourably and it was not right of them to do as they have. I hope you will answer this letter before Sunday at the very latest, and let me know all particulars. I think I shall go and see the Fenians hung at Manchester on Saturday, but T have not made up my mind yet. So no more at pre- sent hoping you will never forget Miles your true lover.' The girl did not get a placV near Todmorden, as the prisoner wished, but went into service at the Friends' Retreat, near York, and on Sunday, the 1st of March, the prisoner visited her there. They took a walk together, and when they parted in the evening Sarah Bell said that he uttered the excla- mation in a low tone Revenge On the evening of Monday, the 2nd of March, he returned to Tod- morden. and bought some powder, shot, and caps at at a gunsmith's there at about eight o'clock. Later on he met a companion named Lord on the County Bridge there, and said, among other things, he 'could be a happy man if yon lass was at Todmorden.' Mr Plow came home about half-past nine that night, and had had his supper and rung the bell for prayers. His attention was attracted by a noise in the kitchen, and. going there, he found that the door into the yard was tied with a string on the outside, so as to prevent its being opened. He went out by the front door and found the prisoner in the yard, who at once came up to him and snapped a pistol at his head. The caD went off, and the prisoner then attacked him with a hatchet, with which he wounded him fearfully all over the bead and face. Mr Plow called out to be let into the house by the back door, and Jane Smith cut the string which fastened it, and the two men struggled in. The women servants in the house, Jane Smith, Elizabeth Spink, and Mary Hodgson tried to pull the prisoner off, and he then turned upon Jane Smith and attacked her with the hatchet, which Mary Hodgson eventually wrested from him. Mr Plow escaped with the pistol he had seized from the prisoner in his hand to the parish clerk's house, a short distance off, and Jane Smith got into the dining room and tried to shut the door. The prisoner followed her in, however, and she went on her knees and was heard to pray Mercy,' but he said, Where's my Sarah ?' and fired a pistol at her, which sent two bullets through her head, and she was instantaneously killed. She was found after- wards lying in a pool of blood, with one arm nearly severed, and the hatchet lying underneath her. The prisoner then went upstairs to the room in which Mrs Plow, who had recently been confined, was lying in bed, and where the monthly nurse was in attend- ance. The latter put her back against the door and tried to keep him out but he was too strong for her, and pushed his way into the room. He turned down the bedclothes and fired a pistol into the bed, making a hole in the clothes but not wounding Mrs Plow and he then attacked her with a poker, inflicting brutal injuries, and, amollJ others, breaking her nose. By this time the alarm had spread, and the prisoner was taken in the bedroom. When brought down- stairs he was perfectly calm, and smiled when Eliza- beth Spink said to him, • Do you know you have killed master ?' He said to Mary Hodgson, when she charged him with killing Jane Smith, that I he had seen her, and it would be a warning to Mary to tell no more tales.' To another witness he said, 4 If it had not been for those —— pistol, there would have been two more deaths;' and to the policeman who took him he told what Jane Smith said to him— I Please don't.' He said, 4 Where's my Sarah ?' and let the pistol off, and it went I crack.' In all four pistols were found, loaded, and the prisoner was wearing the belt which held them; and there were also the hatchet and poker used on Mr and Mrs Plow. Before the magistrate he made the following state- ment 41 wish to say a few words. It will all amount to nothing, it will matter nought. When I began to keep company with Sarah at first I thought I would act as an honourable man. One night I waited of Mr Plow coming out of the church. I told him I wanted a favour of him, and hoped he would grant it me. He said, 'What is it?' I said, 'I want to keep com- pany with Sarah.' He asked me, 4 Flow long have you been after her?' I said, 'I have had my eye on the girl ever since the first time she came.' He said that was quite natural. I asked him if he would grafft me that favour. He said, Oh no, I could not think of such a thing.' I said, I thought I would come and ask you in a right way. I little thought you would deny me.' I told him I did not like coming whistling up and down the back yard, and that my intentions were good. He said, Yes; 1 have always taken you to be respectable man.' He said that Sarah was a good girl. He then said he would talk to his wife abouCfthe affair before he would give me a decided answer, and would see me again before long. I made it in my way to see him a day or two after. He said they had talked the matter over, and they could not give their consent, but they were very well pleased for the honourable way in which I had acted, but could not allow me to come to the house. I asked that she might be allowed to come out if he would not allow me to go. I found it was no use, he would not give me the privilege I asked for so I was determined to go and dui go until Jane told about us keeping com- pany together, Since then I have been on my way to ruin and ever will be. I will die like a dog. But, after all, I am glad Mr and Mrs Plow is not dead. I hope they will forgwe me.' Upon this case for the prosecution Mr Torr asked the jury to say that the very atrocity and manner of the deed carried evidence of insanity with them. The prisoner went provided with a belt of pistols and a hatchet in a sort of theatrical way to kill one poor girl, and after the deed was done he hacked his victim with a hatchet, for there was little doubt that the injuries to the arm were done after death. There are cases in which the crime itself is sufficient to indicate insanity, and it was the learned counsel's duty to submit to the jury that this was one. His Lordship, however, in summing up, invited the attention of the jury to the danger to society of such a doctrine, and said he failed to see in the case anything which could obviate a verdict of guilty being given. The jury almost immediately returned a verdict of Guilty, and His Lordship, commenting on the extreme atrocity of the crime, which had already produced two deaths, and might very possibly entail a third, passed sentence of death in the usual form. The prisoner, who was very quiet throughout the whole day, received bis sentence in perfect silence.


[No title]