Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (25/Aug/1891) - The Terrible Tragedy at Linthwaite

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.


Up to the early hours of this morning nothing had been heard of the man Stockwell, whom the members of the West Riding Police Force are so anxious to see. Many rumours and theories have reached the authorities, and numbers of them have been enquired into and examined without avail. If some people could have their way the police would be wholly engaged in first following this theory and then the other. All this, however, is well meant, and indicates that the inhabitants of the district are thoroughly aroused, and that if Stockwell does venture to show himself where he is known the hue and cry will soon be raised. For the time being public attention is concentrated upon this man, and the slightest rumour of his whereabouts suffices to start endless speculations concerning him. The police arrangements for searching the district continued in full force yesterday, but without effect. Stockwell's disappearance, the probabilities of his capture, and the rumours of bis whereabouts seemed to form the sole topic of conversation in the public and semi-public places of the town and district. Very little that was new transpired during the course of the day. It was generally felt, after the attention of the police was diverted into a new channel, that the first men arrested would be discharged, and this proved the case, as identification by Iredale broke completely down. Until Stockwell is arrested, or something ascertained as to his whereabouts, very little can be done, although enquiry as to his movements on Friday are being vigorously prosecuted.


The West Riding Police Station at Huddersfield was surrounded by an immense crowd on Monday morning, anxious to obtain a glimpse of the two men — Joshua Lockwood (40) and George Farnham (30), photographers' agents, of Lockwood — who had been remanded from Saturday on suspicion of murdering Catherine Dennis, a servant girl, who was in the service of Mrs. Brook, the landlady of the Ivy Hotel, Manchester Road, Linthwaite. Only a few people were admitted to the court, and the business was therefore transacted in comfort by the magistrates and those whose duty it was to be present. The magistrates on the Bench were Mr. E. Armitage, in the chair, Mr. F. Greenwood, and Mr. C.W. Keighley. Mr. R. Welsh appeared for the defence. Directly the magistrates had taken their seats.

Mr. John Sykes (the Magistrates' Clerk) said — Your Worships, on Saturday these men were remanded until to-day on a charge of wilful murder. The superintendent has an application to make as to the course of procedure he intends to adopt.

Superintendent Pickard — Since Saturday, your Worships, I have made enquiries in the neighbourhood, and from those enquiries I find that these two men were at the house, outside, previous to the murder ; and after the girl was found murdered they went into the house with the crowd. They were seen coming out, and a man named John William Iredale followed them to Slaithwaite, and there gave information to Sergeant Ramsden, who found them in the Dartmouth Arms. They were detained by the sergeant until I arrived, and from the information I received I thought it my duty to arrest them, which I did. Now, from further enquiries I have made, I do not think these two prisoners have anything at all to do with the murder. Under the circumstances, your worships, I ask to have them discharged.

Mr. Welsh — May it please your Worships, I appear on behalf of these two men, and, with your worships' permission, I should like to say a word or two before you say anything with regard to the application that has been made by Mr. Pickard. I don't wish to say anything that may press unduly or harshly upon the police of this district, who, no doubt, in the face of a crime like this, which has caused such terrible excitement and alarm throughout the whole neighbourhood, were anxious to do their utmost to bring the offender or offenders to justice, but I am bound to point out, on behalf of these two men, that they were arrested on Friday night, and without warrants. They are respectable married men living at Lockwood. One of them has lived in Huddersfield all his life, and has been in the employment of Messrs. J.B. Law and Co., photographers, Ramsden Street, for nine years. They were brought down on Friday night handcuffed, and brought here in the presence of a large crowd. Their wives and families were not communicated with until Saturday morning. They had to undergo other indignities. They were stripped and examined by a couple of medical men, and on Saturday morning no evidence was tendered when the remand was applied for. Iredale was not called, and yet they have been kept in prison three days. This is a very serious thing indeed for the prisoners. Not only has their own employment suffered, but so also has the trade of their master, which now lies under suspicion. But apart from all these indignities, apart altogether from the fact that they were debarred from the society of their wives and families, the worst fact has been that in every paper in this kingdom their names have been coupled with this crime, and upon them and their relatives has rested the stigma of one of the foulest and most awful crimes that ever disgraced our humanity. I do not know whether the authorities will make these men any compensation for the punishment, the very great punishment, which they have innocently suffered, but I do ask that they may be dismissed from this court to-day and sent back to their wives and families, sent back to their friends and neighbours at Lockwood, sent back, I hope, to the employment of Messrs. Law and Co., who engage 28 men of the kind, with your Worships' certificate that they have been dismissed from this most horrible charge without the slightest suspicion of a stain upon their character.

Mr. Sykes — If anything fresh turns up you know, Mr. Welsh, regarding the affair, they can be re-arrested. They are discharged now. You can't have more than that.

Mr. Welsh — I hope your Worships——

Mr. Sykes — There is no doubt the police were perfectly justified in making the arrest. If ever there was a reasonable and probable cause for arrest there was in this case. With regard to the statement that no evidence was offered when the remand was applied for, you were not here. Mr. Pickard was sworn and gave evidence and showed reasonable cause why the remand should be granted.

Mr. Armitage (to the accused) — After the statement made to us by Mr. Pickard you are discharged.

Mr. Welsh — As your Worships please.

Lockwood — Thank you, your Worships.

The large crowd gathered in the vicinity of the court waited for some time with the view of catching a glimpse of the two men who had just been discharged. When Lockwood and Farnham emerged from the door of the superintendent's house with Mr. Law, their emplover, and their wives and friends, the crowd rushed after them for some distance. Although there was no actual demonstration, the crowd was evidently in sympathy with them, and many expressions of pleasure were heard at their dismissal. It is stated that the Police Committee of the West Riding County Council will be applied to for compensation.


The enquiry into the circumstances attending the death of the unfortunate girl, Catherine Dennis, was opened in the bandroom at the Ivy Hotel, on Monday afternoon, by Mr. William Barstow, J.P., district county coroner. The jury met first at the Linthwaite Local Boardroom, but it was decided that this room was too small for the purpose, such a large number of gentlemen having to be present, and the jurors therefore adjourned to the bandroom, which opens from the landing on which the body of the unfortunate girl was first found. The following are the names of the jury :— Messrs. Enoch Taylor (who was elected foreman), Walker Dyson, A. Hanson, Joseph Spivey, James Walker, James Sykes, James Ouarmby, George Lockwood, Henry Lawley, John Eastwood, Sam Dawson, G.H. Shires, B. Holroyd, A. Tinker, and J.W. Crosland. Messrs. R. Welsh and J. W. Sykes (solicitors) were present to watch the proceedings on behalf of Lockwood and Farnham, who had been discharged by the magistrates earlier in the day. Mr. Gill, Deputy-Chief Constable of the West Riding, and Superintendent Pickard were also present during the enquiry.

The deceased's father, who spoke Welsh and whose statement had to be interpreted by a man named Thomas Williams, who also lives in Flint and is Dennis' brother-in-law, said that his name was Edward Dennis. His daughter would have been 16 years old on the 26th of this month.

At this point the Coroner swore in Williams, and said he would take his evidence. Witness stated that he had known the deceased, who was his niece, all her life. Dennis was a fireman at Muspratt's Chemical Works, Flint, where witness also worked. Witness and Dennis reached Linthwaite at five o'clock on Saturday evening. He identified the body.

Margaret Brook, widow, landlady of the Ivy Hotel, Smith Riding, Linthwaite (who was much affected whilst giving evidence), said that the deceased had been in service with her since September last. She told witness that she was 16 years of age on the 26th of July. The deceased was the best girl that ever came into a house — most willing, truthful, honest, and steady in every respect. She last saw the deceased alive about 1-50 p.m. on Friday, the 21st inst., when witness left home to go to Huddersfield. The deceased was then at the front door of the house, and watched witness drive away with the carrier (Charlie Brook), who took her to Huddersfield. Witness left a young man, named James Stockwell, in the kitchen eating pie. There were two carters in the taproom, who were "baiting" their horses for dinner. One was called Herbert Ainley, who lived at Golcar, and the other she thought Lockwood. Besides the deceased these three were the only persons in the house. The two teamers called every day when they were on the road. Stockwell was also a teamer, who frequently called at her house. He was not in the taproom with the other men when she left, but was in the kitchen, eating some potato pie which witness had given to him. She did not give him a knife and fork, but he was eating it with a penknife or pocket-knife. She did not notice this knife particularly but did not think it had a very big blade. He was putting the blade into the potatoes in order to pick them out and eat them, and he said to her "Mrs. Brook I'm a right Irishman, I like potatoes." This was the last she saw of him, and she forgot the man altogether that night. On the morning of the murder Stockwell was in the house after breakfast and said, "Mrs. Brook! have you anything good in your house ?" She asked him what he meant ? He replied "something to eat." Witness told him that they had nothing in particular. He then asked if they had some good "drip" and bread ? to which query she replied "Yes." He asked her to let him have some. Deceased fetched a tea cake, and witness let him have this for a penny and took him the "drip," a knife and some salt, and told him he might help himself. He said he should not eat half that, but she told him that she would leave it and he would see what he could eat. She went out, and directly Stockwell had finished eating the cake he went out. She was not certain about the time but it was after breakfast. Stockwell came in again about one o'clock, and walking into the kitchen asked for two pennyworth of bread and cheese, with which he was supplied. She believed he had a glass of beer with it, but was not quite certain. He was eating this bread and cheese when her grandson, John Charles Brook, came in. As he had not had his dinner she sent the deceased for some potato pie for him. Whilst her grandson was eating it Stockwell said, "Must I join thee?" Her grandson said, "That's as my grandmother has a mind." Witness then said "Yes ! eat it all." This would be nearly half-past one. Her grandson went out leaving Stockwell eating the pie, and he had not finished when she left at 10 minutes to 2. Stockwell had been many a time to their house. When he used to go with the cart he was in the habit of calling frequently. He had not been used to coming into the kitchen, but when anybody wanted anything to eat they did so. She did not remember him asking for anything to eat before. She did not notice that there was anything amiss with him as far as drink was concerned when she left. Stockwell had never done anything to displease her or shown any freedom or familiarity with the deceased. She never saw him speak to her, in fact the deceased was a girl who never did talk to the company. She fancied Stockwell was at the house on the day before the murder, but she could not say for certain. Nothing was said on the occasion of Stockwell's first visit to the house to lead him to infer that witness was going to Huddersfield, but it was talked about when Stockwell was there on the second occasion. Two of her grandchildren went with her to Huddersfield.

By the Jury : She told the deceased in the presence of Stockwell that she should come back with Charlie, about four or half-past. Deceased had no sweetheart, and was not intimate with anyone to witness' knowledge.

David Beevers (20), butcher, in the employ of the Linthwaite Co-operative Society, who resides at Jovial, stated that he came to the Ivy Hotel a few minutes past four o'clock on Friday afternoon with some meat. Witness walked straight into the house and put the meat on the kitchen table as usual. When no one came he called out and got no reply. He went into the public rooms, but found no one there. He then came to the front door, and seeing a man named Edward Hoyle just going into the field at the back of the house, asked him to look and see if there was any one in the back portions of the house. Hoyle did so, and said there was no one about. Witness returned into the house, and, standing at the top of the cellar steps, called out again. He went and told Hoyle he could find no one in the house, and after staying at the door about 10 minutes to see if any one would come in, he went to Mrs. Bailey's and asked if she knew anything about them. One of the neighbours came out and said that Mrs. Brook had gone to Huddersfield and taken the children with her. Several of the women returned to the house with him, and while he and Hoyle went into the cellar the women went upstairs. He heard them screaming, and when they went up the women were outside. All the women could say was "go into the top landing and you'll find her lying down." Hoyle went first and he followed and saw the deceased. Witness called at the house every Friday, and usually received payment for the meat. That was the reason why he wanted to see some one. Witness knew Stockwell but did not see him on Friday. He also knew Ainley, but did not notice him on that day. He did not remember seeing anyone on his way to "the Ivy," but as he was riding his bicycle he did not take particular notice. Every door in the house was opened when he went in. Subsequent to the discovery of the body he went and informed Police Constable Kempston, whom he found in his house.

John William Iredale, spinner, of Royds terrace, Linthwaite, said he was in the Ivy Hotel between 10-30 and 11 on Friday morning. He and Tom Thorpe, who were members of the Linthwaite Band, came up into the bandroom and practised until about 12 o'clock. On going downstairs ho found that Herbert Hirst, who had also arranged to meet him to practice, had just come, and he stopped with him until about half-past 12. He then went to dinner, and returned about 2-35, by arrangement, and met Hirst in the taproom. They had a pint of beer between them, served by the deceased, but instead of going up into the bandroom to practice they left about 3-15, and went up to the Smith Riding Working Men's Club. They were having a "bit of a feed" at the club, and as they ran short of bread, he came down home between four and half-past for some, and then heard of the murder. When he and Hirst left at 3-15 the deceased was in the bar drawing some beer. During the time witness was in the taproom two men only came in. They had a pint of beer together, but left before witness and his companion. One of the men drove for someone at Slaithwaite and the other was a millhand. The deceased was apparently drawing the glass of beer for a man just coming to the bar window, and who ultimately turned into the taproom. This man was a stranger to him. He did not know who he was. He was wearing white overalls, a white slop, and a stiff black billy hat. The man did not appear very familiar with the premises.

By a Juror — He did not know whether there was anybody in any of the other rooms in the house.

By the Coroner — He thought he saw the man in front of the door after the murder, standing with a number of other men. He could not say that it was the same man, but he thought it was him, judging by his features. He had no overalls or slop on, nor had he a parcel with him in which he could have wrapped them up. Witness told his friend named Fallas what he thought, and they followed the man, who had another man with him, to Slaithwaite. On arriving there, Fallas watched the men whilst he went to tell Sergeant Ramsden. When they got back Fallas said the men had gone round the corner towards the Dartmouth Arms, and they followed the men in. The officers asked the men to come out, and they did so. He thought the slighter built man of the two was the one whom he saw in the house at 3-15. He heard the man speak at both places and thought the speech was very similar. He had seen the man at the Police Court that day, but he did not still think he was the man. He now thought he had made a mistake. He could not say that he had suggested to Sergeant Ramsden that the man might have done away with the smock and overhauls. He might have done so, because he had said that he might easily slip them off. He knew Stockwell very well, but did not see him in the house at all. The man he saw wore the smock underneath his coat.

By Mr. Welsh — He was very excited at the time. The man he saw at 4-30 in the road, and followed down to Slaithwaite, was dressed in a coat and waistcoat, and had on a collar and tie. He thought the man he followed to Slaithwaite was about the same height and had similar features to the man who came into "the Ivy" as he left. He thought now, however, he was mistaken. The man he followed came into the house with the crowd, after the murder, but witness did not see his friend with him.

By Mr. Pickard — He did not see Stockwell in the house at all. Anyone coming into or leaving the taproom could not see a person sitting on one side of the kitchen.

Thomas Hinchliffe Haigh, surgeon, Ley Moor, said he was driving from Slaithwaite to Huddersfield about 20 minutes to five o'clock on Friday afternoon. When within a quarter of a mile of the Ivy Hotel he was informed of the murder, and he immediately proceeded there. On arriving there at 4-45 he went upstairs and found the body on the landing. She was on her back with her head in a pool of blood. The head was inclined to the left, and resting on her left arm. Her mouth was partially open, and her tongue protruding between the teeth. Her face and lips were pale. On stooping down he found a wound, about an inch in length, on the right side of the neck. The wound was oblique, and in close proximity to the larynx. He found no bruises on the head, face, or neck. He made an examination of the under garment, and found it stained with blood but quite dry. The body was quite warm. That morning witness had made a post-mortem examination of the body. On examining the wound in the neck he found that it penetrated the larynx between the hyoid bone and the phyroid cartilage, severing the thyroid vessels on both sides of the neck. The wound penetrated one of the vertebræ. He found no blood in the larynx. The wound would be between 2½in. and 3in. in depth. It must have been a small and sharp instrument with which the deed was done, for the cut was a clean one. In his opinion the wound was certainly not self-inflicted. The cause of death was loss of blood, which caused syncope. There was evidently an attempt at outrage but that it was not carried out. The blade could not have been broad and he should think from the appearance of the wound it must have been sharp on both sides and perhaps of a lancet shape. He shouldn't think the deceased struggled at all. From appearances he should think there was a quart of blood on the landing when he arrived.

At this stage the inquest was adjourned until Monday next at two o'clock.


As the inquest progressed a large crowd began to collect in the vicinity of the Ivy Hotel, to witness the funeral of the unfortunate girl. Thousands of persons must have gathered together, and the sloping ground in front of the house was simply one mass of faces, whilst on the roadway the crush and bustle was something dreadful, and when the hearse and carriages drove up it was with the utmost difficulty that people were prevented from getting under the horses' feet or the wheels of the vehicles. It was not until the evidence of Iredale had been finished in court that the cortege moved off. The coffin, of plain pine wood, was borne by a number of female acquaintances of the deceased, and bore the simple inscription, "Catherine Dennis ; died Aug. 21, 1891. From the Cross to the Crown." It was covered with a number of floral tributes of affection and esteem, a particularly handsome wreath of white flowers having been "presented by the members of the Linthwaite Brass Band in token of their great respect for the deceased." The mourners following the remains were the bereaved father and mother, who seemed utterly weighed down with grief, Sophia Hughes, the girl's grandmother, Thomas Williams, her uncle, Mary Ellen Williams, her cousin, and Edith Hughes, another cousin, who is living in service in the neighbourhood of Slaithwaite. The procession was followed by a vast concourse of people. Linthwaite Church was packed, whilst the adjoining graveyard was also crowded with people. The service was said by the Rev. John F. Forde, curate of Milnsbridge, and, in view of the sudden and tragic end of the deceased, sounded even more impressive and touching than usual. At the grave side the mother of the unfortunate girl completely broke down, and swooned away. At the conclusion of the service the people slowly retired from the spot and returned to their homes.


An Irish spectacle hawker, named Peter Paul Gallagher, was placed in a cell at Dewsbury Town Hall, on Sunday night, through confessing that he. was the murderer of the girl. His apprehension was brought about in a rather curious way. On Sunday night, about 10 o'clock, Gallagher was at the Ravensthorpe Hotel, Ravensthorpe, somewhat the worse for beer, and he sat in a room among several other men. Amongst them were Harry Heywood and George Auty, operatives, of Savile Town, and they began to chaff Gallagher, remarking that he looked like Stockwell, who is wanted in re the Linthwaite murder. Gallagher answered that he was the man, adding, "I am the murderer," his statement causing some sensation. He was spoken to again and again, and adhering to his statement, when he left the house the two men followed, seized him, and delivered him to a constable ; this occurring in Dewsbury borough. The man was conveyed to the Town Hall lockup, and Detective Kendall, who was in charge, telephoned to the Chief Constable, at his residence, telling him what had occurred. He did not come down, but gave orders for Gallagher to be detained. On Monday morning, the fellow being sober, he says he only spoke in a spirit of bravado, and was joking, and he said he was at Batley on Thursday, and on Friday was lodging with a person named Swift, in Dawgreen. These statements have been found to be correct, and further the police have found that Gallagher was at the Fleece Inn, Dewsbury, at the time of the murder. Chief Constable Weatherald directed him, therefore, to be set at liberty, and he was discharged.