Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (15/Sep/1891) - The Linthwaite Tragedy

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.



Public interest in the charge against James Stockwell, for the murder of Catherine Dennis, at the Ivy Hotel, Linthwaite, on the 21st August, shows little, if any, sign of abatement. As is well known, the enquiry before the West Riding magistrates was adjourned for a week until Monday morning. By nine o'clock a crowd of people began to assemble in Princess Street in the hope of catching a glimpse of Stockwell or of some of the gentlemen engaged in the case. As far as the accused was concerned, however, they were disappointed, for he was brought by an early train from Wakefield by a couple of gaol warders, and safely lodged in the cells in connection with the West Riding Police Station. Here he had a painful interview, in the presence of an officer, with his wife (who seemed greatly distressed) and their son — a bright-looking, fair-haired lad of 9 or 10 summers. Meanwhile the crowd in the street had increased to several hundreds, and a number of West Riding police officers were busily engaged, under the directions of Superintendent Pickard and Sergeant McCawley, in keeping order. The accused was taken into court by an internal staircase some time before the proceedings commenced, and remained quietly seated in the dock with Police-constable Webb until the arrival of the magistrates — Mr. F. Greenwood and Mr. Joseph Crowther, who were speedily followed by Mr. W.R. Haigh and Mr. J.N. Sykes. The proceedings did not last long.

Mr. A.H.J. Fletcher (of the firm of Messrs. Laycock, Dyson, and Laycock) explained that he was instructed on behalf of the Treasury to appear and prosecute in this case, in which his learned friend, Mr. J.L. Sykes, had, he believed, an application to make.

Mr. J. Lewis Sykes said he had to apply for a remand in this case for a week. He was only finally instructed on Friday evening, and owing to the brief period that intervened had been unable to get up his case. He had mentioned the application to Mr. Fletcher, who had kindly consented to the adjournment, subject to the approval of the Bench.

The Magistrates' Clerk (Mr. John Sykes) — What have you to say on behalf of the Crown, Mr. Fletcher?

Mr. Fletcher — I consent if your worships will grant the remand.

The Magistrates' Clerk — How long do you ask the case to be remanded for ?

Mr. J.L. Sykes — A week, sir.

Mr. Greenwood — That will be the 21st. It would have saved a good deal of public excitement if the instructions had been given earlier. It will be a long case I presume, Mr. Fletcher ?

Mr. Fletcher — I anticipate it taking at least a whole day.

It was arranged to commence the court next Monday at 10-15.

Immediately after the conclusion of the case Stockwell was removed to the cells. An immense crowd still lingered in the streets, but they were again foiled in their endeavours to catch a sight of the accused. The borough police van was driven from the fire station round to the back of the County Police Court, and Stockwell was quietly placed in it, and the van drove off down Princess-street without a murmur from the crowd. As soon as the van appeared half the people who had assembled made off for the Railway Station at full speed. Those who remained behind were evidently of opinion that the bringing out of the police van was a ruse to divert their attention, and they lingered about for some time under the belief that Stockwell was still in the police station. As a matter of fact the accused was inside the van in custody of Police-constables Webb and Taylor and Police Sergeant McCawley, and was driven to Mirfield Station, from whence he was taken by train to Wakefield and again lodged in gaol for a week.

Mrs. Brook, the landlady of the Ivy Hotel, has received such a shock that she is giving up the house. An application will be made to the magistrates this (Tuesday) morning for the transfer of the licence to Mr. W. Hayes, who is well known in the district as the collector for the Linthwaite Local Board.


The following letter has been written by a brother of the accused with a view to publication :—

13th September, 1891.

Dear ——,

You have, no doubt, heard all about the terrible trouble I am in with regard to my brother James.

I have just had a conversation about the matter with Mr. ——, and he advises me to write to you hoping that you may be induced to render me some assistance in placing the matter before the local press at Huddersfield.

I have taken the liberty to request my mother or my wife, who is at present at my mother's, at Paddock, to call upon you, and state what they know of the insanity in our family.

Both Mr. —— and myself are convinced that my brother James committed the sad act in a state of insanity, as his subsequent conduct goes to show.

My grandmother died in an asylum. My mother has been an inmate of one, and my sister is at home insane without a doubt.

I wish these facts to be fully known to the public at Huddersfield, and would ask you to use your influence in getting the local press to publish them.

James had some injury to his head some years ago, and his doctor who attended him said that in drink he would not be responsible for his actions.

Hoping you will be able to help me in this trouble, and trusting you are all well at home,

Believe me, yours truly,