We can find plenty of cases of abusive men killing their wives, but very few of abusive women killing their husbands.
At the age of 48 year Margaret Murray had married 50 year
old John Walber in 1889 and they kept a grocery shop
Both the Walbers were heavy
drinkers but John was not violent or abusive when drunk, according to John
Murray. At the time of his death on the
16th of November 1893, John was 55 and Margaret was 53. The marriage was not a happy one and would
soon take a major turn for the worse. Seventeen
years earlier, in the summer of 1876, John Walber had
had a relationship with Annie Connolly which had ended but which he had not
forgotten. In the Spring
of 1893 Annie took lodgings at a house in
In early November, John’s sister visited him and Margaret reluctantly let her see him. Apparently he was lying on the bed and looking “bewildered”. John told his sister that he couldn’t work and she offered to fetch a doctor or a priest but Margaret told her they were not required.
On the 15th of November 1893, Margaret and Mary Vouse went to a local pub.
Here they were joined by Ellen Mottram to whom
Margaret offered money to smash Annie’s windows and to whom she also threatened
to kill John. Margaret and Mary returned
to the house but Mary soon went out again.
Sometime afterwards Margaret attacked John with the heavy chain she used
to secure the attic door and with a chamber pot. It was a very vicious assault and there was
blood everywhere. When Mary Vouse returned she found John Murray not at his post in the
shop and called up to Margaret to let her know.
Margaret came down and told her that John had gone and taken his money
and his musical instruments. The next
day Margaret asked Mary to open the shop and told her that John had killed her
husband. The police were called and
found the grisly scene. They took
Margaret, James Pearson and Mary to the police station for questioning. Here Margaret admitted that she was the one
who had attacked John and that her son had nothing to do with it. He had fled to
Margaret came to trial on the 14th of March 1894, before Mr.
Justice Day in the imposing courtroom of St. George’s Hall in
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