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THE MANCHESTER FELONY REGISTER
Manchester Archives have launched The Manchester Collection via Find My Past the records from this prison. Many examples from this site were used in the publicity packs and blogs etc to announce this launch.
For other material also see Genes Reunited
EXTRACTS FROM THE SURVIVING FELONY PRISON REGISTER OF
MANY books have been written covering the topic of those people who were executed in the New Bailey and Strangeways prisons, but apart from about a very few, not a lot has been recorded about those convicted murderers who were not executed. I will attempt to do that here and also record details of some of the more notorious characters who were tried for murder, manslaughter, rape and other such horrendous crimes, who were incarcerated in the two prisons during the period from 1864 to 1876 and whose details are recorded in the surviving Felony Register. Also included are some crimes which would not be considered as such today, or crimes which were punished beyond all reasonable thinking.
have used this register, which covered the latter part of the existence
of the New Bailey Prison and the early period of Strangeways Prison as
the starting source for this research. It
contains a wealth of detail including the physical descriptions of the
prisoners, something that you will not find in the Census Returns. This
register is held by Manchester Archives (reference M600/4/1 and 1a). I
have also used contemporary reports from the
Reporting of court cases seems to have been slightly strange. Cases that I would expect to have had blanket coverage got barely a mention. Others cases that were deemed to be “unspeakable crimes” were reported as being felonies with no details given. It appears that Home Office guidelines were laid down in the 1820s to prevent the press from publishing reports of such matters.
The prison closed in late June 1868. The prisoners were transferred over
a period of a few days into the newly constructed Strangeways Gaol.
It was also decided that the new prison would in its name need to
reflect that it was the prison for
Prior to 1835 the Lancashire Assizes Courts, which tried capital and
other serious offences which were too serious for the Quarter Sessions,
took place at
The first execution, that of James Burrows, took place at the New Bailey
The charges listed in the register were the ones that the prisoners were arrested for and were not necessarily the charges they were actually tried upon. Register numbers are not consequential as these entries numbers are taken from the general registers. Once the number reached 10,000 the count was started again from 1.
From July 1870, the records often included the prisoners’ next of kin and sometimes their address also.
9969. William WHITE. When Received:
William White was indicted for the manslaughter of Ethelinda Royle. Mr
Kay was the prosecutor and Mr Ernest Jones acted for the prisoner. Royle
The witness for the prosecution admitted that the deceased woman was very quarrelsome and that White had been extremely provoked. Nevertheless the Jury found White guilty as charged. In passing sentence the Judge stated that the deceased had appeared to be greatly to blame and that her conduct would have provoked almost any man. The prisoner had already served two months’ imprisonment, so the sentence would be a light one, namely two months.
BENT PINS AND POISON
88. Cyrus TRAVIS. When Received:
Cyrus Travis was indicted for administering a cake containing bent pins and antimony to his wife Ellen at Prestwich Asylum on 12th May with intent to murder her. The prisoner’s wife was an inmate of the Asylum. On the day in question the prisoner went to see her and give her some oranges and a piece of pastry called a puff. He told her to put these in her pocket. Shortly after he had finished the visit, his wife and a woman called Downs, broke the puff and found it contained seven pins bent like fish hooks. When she tasted the puff Mrs Travis noticed that it had a “disagreeable” taste. When it was analysed it was found to contain tartarised antimony. About a third of the cake was analysed and the antimony in it was found to contain about one and a half grains of metallic antimony. When the prisoner was taken into custody, two grains of tartarised antimony were found in his waistcoat pocket.
The prisoner stated that he thought that his wife would never leave the asylum, and that he should marry again. He stated that he had two women in mind and that he was sure one of them would marry him.
The Jury found him guilty. The Judge stated that the Jury had found him guilty of a very bad crime, attempting to take away the life of his wife by poisoning her. He did not succeed in that object, because by introducing the bent pins into the cake, as well as the poison, it was providentially discovered. The moral guilt was precisely the same as if succeeded in his wicked and deadly object. The sentence of the Court was that he was to be kept in Penal Servitude for 20 years.
909. William SLATER. When Received:
William Slater and Holland Cheetham were charged on the 3rd of August with having maliciously and feloniously wounding Thomas Wild with intent to cause hem grievous bodily harm. Mr Pope and Mr Addison prosecuted, whilst Mr Ernest Jones and Mr Cottingham defended Slater. Mr Torr and Mr Edwards defended Cheetham.
Mr Thomas Meadows, a brickmaker stated that he was contracted in March
to make bricks for Messrs Holdsworth’s mill at Reddish, near
The cause of the strike was over the use of a brick pressing machine. The men were on strike for about a month. Thomas Wild and two other men returned to work before the others. Cheetham at some time approached Thomas Meadows and stated that the other men would return to work if Wild and the two other men were sacked. Mr Meadows refused to sack the three men, however the other men did return to work.
On the 2nd of August Thomas Wild was on the night shift. He came on duty at and was due to guard the brickyard until the next day. The other men had finished work at that same night. At wild was attacked by six men including Cheetham and Slater. The men want to know the whereabouts of the brick presser, the machine to which they objected. When Wild would not tell where it was, Cheetham stuck him with a piece of wood beneath the eye, which knocked him down. Slater held him down while the others kicked and punched him. One man hit him about six times with a heavy piece of wood on the arms, shoulders and legs. He was beaten by the men for about a quarter of hour and was in danger of losing his life.
The trial was quite a complex one, with the prosecution indicating that this was an offence born out of the Union men being against the introduction of the brick pressing machine. The Jury only took about half an hour to find both the men guilty. Cheetham protested that he was innocent.
In passing sentence, the Judge stated that he was bound by the decision of the Jury, who on the evidence before them, were justified in their decision. The offence was a very serious one, and when Trade Unions interfered with the liberty of others, the law rendered it a most dangerous offence. If Wild had died, and the prisoners had been found guilty of murder, they would have been executed. The man, however did not die, but the offence was a most serious one. He sentenced them to 20 years Penal Servitude.
DEATH SENTENCE COMMUTED
2061. William HAMILTON. When Received:
Taylor Tilley was the keeper of the Globe Inn,
At the trial one of the witnesses, Robert Mather stated that
Eventually the Jury found
2704. Michael GIBLIN. (alias John Jones, Michael Kenyon, Kiverly
Kiverlin, John Kenny). When Received:
Michael Giblin alias Kelvin, 31 was charged with the murder of Fanny Connor on 30th March. The court heard that Giblin have lived with Connor for ten years. On about 25th January she left him and went to live with a man named Thomas Parr for a week. A month later she returned to Giblin. In the evening she went drinking in several inns and bars in the city. The last place she called in was a vault in Spinningfield where Parr was drinking. The two spoke and he coerced her into drinking some brandy. They stayed there till closing time. When they left the vault they went to a house in Little Quay St and picked up some ale on the way there.
As was the custom on reaching the house they placed a poker in the fire so that they could warm up the ale. After they had been there for some time, Giblin who had been made aware of their meeting, arrived at the house. He entered the room where he found them to be “engaging in familiarities” and then set upon Parr, stabbing him in the arm. After a brief struggle Parr managed to escape. Giblin then picked up the poker and hit Connor twice on the head. She fell to the floor and then holding the poker in both hands, hit her again several times.
Parr had gone for the police, and on returning to the house he and the police took Connor to the Royal Infirmary. The medical staff dressed her wounds as best as they were able. She lingered there for some hours but eventually died of pleurisy later that day. The medical evidence presented showed that this was as a result of receiving blows to the head from a blunt instrument.
Before her death Connor managed to give a statement to a Stipendiary Magistrate in which she stated that when she met Parr she was very drunk. Parr got her back to the house in Little Quay St by telling her that Giblin was there with another woman know as “Chick Mary”. In her statement she had also said they after her and Giblin had got back together, he had warned her that he would give her a “good licking” she would never get over if she went back to Parr.
The Judge summed up the evidence and told the Jury that if Giblin had entered the house with the intention to murder or inflict grievous bodily harm on Connor, then he was guilty of murder. However if Giblin had gone to the house in order to attack Parr and after being foiled in that attacked, and being provoked by finding Connor with Parr, he on a sudden impulse seized the poker, and struck her without intending serious injury, then the Jury may well see this as manslaughter.
The Jury after a short absence returned to the Court and found Giblin guilty of manslaughter. When asked if he had any to say before he was sentenced Giblin stated “I never had any thought of killing her”.
The Judge sentenced him to 20 Years penal servitude.
RAPES NOT FULLY REPORTED
4449. William Moses MOSCOP. When Received:
*Victorian euphemism for rape. [With the benefit of the
Find My Past images
which can be magnified greatly, it is possible that this phrase is
[With the benefit of the Find My Past images which can be magnified greatly, it is possible that this phrase is "carnally know".]
The papers reported that this was the first case on the list to be
heard. William Moses Moscop, 25 from
4469. Hugh OWEN. When Received:
4470. William BLEAKLEY (convicted as Blakeley).
Again this was a case that hardly got any column inches. The report just stated that Hugh Owen, 28 and William Bleakley, 23 were charged with Criminal Assault at Pilkington. They were sentenced to twenty years penal servitude. The Judge remarked that “10 ago they would have been left for execution”.
LOST CAT LEADS TO DEATH
5060. Stephen McEVOY. When Received:
Stephen McEvoy, 60 was accused of the manslaughter of Jane Headon on 4th
Mrs Headon was taken to the Salford Dispensary where she had her wounds dressed. After she left the dispensary she continued with her life more or less as normal until 24th December when dangerous complications set in and she died on 28th December.
The defence questioned the evidence of Mrs Headon’s injuries and medical experts stated that the injuries might have been caused by banging her head against McEvoy’s door. The Jury found McEvoy guilty of manslaughter but recommended mercy on account of the provocation. The Judge stated that he had no doubt that McEvoy was exasperated by Headon’s conduct. He also said that he would take into account the Jury’s recommendation, but that it must be remembered that McEvoy had come to the door with a dangerous weapon in his hand and used it. People had to be taught that when they used such weapons there were responsible for all the consequences, even though they were not previously contemplated. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, the Judge stated that he would only sentence McEvoy to six month’s imprisonment.
5488. James McMANUS .When Received:
James McManus, 21 was charged with the murder of Thomas Dowd in
Mrs Smith left the shop shortly after and saw McManus with his girlfriend, a woman called Fallon, in the street. To avoid another quarrel she went back in the pork shop. A little later she left the shop again and met up with Thomas Dowd and Michael Langdon at the corner of the street, McManus was also present. Once again he tried to hit Mrs Smith and Thomas Dowd told McManus not to hit the woman. McManus promptly punched Dowd, who was prevented from punching back by Catherine Langdon. She had grabbed his jacket to stop him taking it off. By the time Dowd had got one arm free McManus had walked to the corner of the street where Ann Fallon was standing. He took off his jacket and gave it to her. McManus turned round and ran towards Dowd and stabbed in the thigh with an underhand blow. The cut led to a major loss of blood and the death of Dowd.
The crime was witnessed by several people and there was no doubt that McManus was guilty. Many of the witnesses stated that McManus was in "a state of drink". The defence claimed that: Drunkenness was the very essence of this case and that drunkenness tended to lessen the control of a man had over his mind. Ill educated men had poor control at all times, but when they took drink their control was much lessened, and in many cases it was entirely removed. When that control was lost every symptom of insanity for the time appeared. It was, therefore, because drunkenness took away the power a man had over his passion that in such cases as this the only defence could be uncontrolled rage of the prisoner when he did the deed. The act could not be disputed; but the prisoner, though the killer , was not the murdered of Thomas Dowd. That was the only defence; and the Jury must reduce the graver charge to the lesser, and only find the prisoner guilty of manslaughter.
The Judge stated that there was no doubt that Dowd had died at the
violent hand of McManus. The question was whether the injury inflicted
by McManus, amounted in point of law, to the crime of murder, or whether
the crime could be considered as manslaughter. The law presumed that the
taking of a life was murder. Nevertheless, if the person who had
committed the act did it under circumstances of provocation - if an
outrage committed upon him roused his passion, and he, under the
influence of that passion, before it had time to cool and before reason
had time its place, did the act of violence - then that was
manslaughter. Drunkenness was not excuse, in point of law, for any crime
whatever. The law did not make any allowances to an offender if he
deprived himself of the proper governance of the moral powers of his
facilities. He was equally criminal whether intoxicated or not; but if a
man received provocation which aroused his passion, it was very material
to consider whether he was sober or drunk. the passion of a man when
drunk was more easily aroused. If a provocation threw a man into anger,
and he committed a crime under the influence of that passion, so
aroused, then he had the same excuse as a sober man would have if
aroused to anger, although the same provocation might not arouse a
sober man as much as a drunken man. The Judge told the Jury, that if
they believed the evidence given by the prosecution, there was nothing
in point of law which reduced the crime to manslaughter, because
provocation was not proved.
The Judge stated that there was no doubt that Dowd had died at the violent hand of McManus. The question was whether the injury inflicted by McManus, amounted in point of law, to the crime of murder, or whether the crime could be considered as manslaughter. The law presumed that the taking of a life was murder. Nevertheless, if the person who had committed the act did it under circumstances of provocation - if an outrage committed upon him roused his passion, and he, under the influence of that passion, before it had time to cool and before reason had time its place, did the act of violence - then that was manslaughter. Drunkenness was not excuse, in point of law, for any crime whatever. The law did not make any allowances to an offender if he deprived himself of the proper governance of the moral powers of his facilities. He was equally criminal whether intoxicated or not; but if a man received provocation which aroused his passion, it was very material to consider whether he was sober or drunk. the passion of a man when drunk was more easily aroused. If a provocation threw a man into anger, and he committed a crime under the influence of that passion, so aroused, then he had the same excuse as a sober man would have if aroused to anger, although the same provocation might not arouse a sober man as much as a drunken man. The Judge told the Jury, that if they believed the evidence given by the prosecution, there was nothing in point of law which reduced the crime to manslaughter, because provocation was not proved.
The Jury returned after half an hour with a verdict of guilty, but
at the same time recommended mercy on account of McManus's age. Sentence
of death was passed was passed in the usual form, but eventually commuted to Penal Servitude for
The Jury returned after half an hour with a verdict of guilty, but at the same time recommended mercy on account of McManus's age. Sentence of death was passed was passed in the usual form, but eventually commuted to Penal Servitude for Life.
BRIEFEST NOTICE – RAPE AND BEASTIALITY
5156. Jeremiah FARRINGTON. When Received: 18th June
1866. Offence and Where Committed: Violently assaulting on 16th
Jan 1866 Agnes Balderstone + against her will feloniously did ravish +
casually know at
5498. John ALTY. When Received: 6th Feb 1866. Offence
and Where Committed: Having on the 30th Jan 1866 feloniously
wickedly + against the order of nature did casually know a certain pig +
then feloniously did perpetrate an unnatural crime at
5506. John SCHORA. When Received: 16th Feb 1866.
Offence and Where Committed: Having on the 11th Feb 1866
feloniously + violently assaulted Ellen Wait + then + there violently
and against her will feloniously did
ravish + casually know her at
5507. John COCHRANE. When Received: 16th Feb 1866.
Offence and Where Committed: Having on the 11th Feb 1866
feloniously + violently assaulted Ellen Wait + then + there violently
and against her will feloniously did
ravish + casually know her at
The newspapers did not report crimes such as these, even though attracted hefty sentences. The Manchester Guardian of March 15th 1886 printed the following non-report of these trials.
The whole of the day was occupied in the trial of cases the nature of which justifies only the briefest of notice.
John Schora and
Thomas Cochrane were found guilty of a criminal assault in
John Alty for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime in Manchester was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment.
was found guilty of a criminal assault at
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Last update: 16th January 2017