Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More on William Gordon...1820s Tackle Maker...and Murderer!

More on William Gordon...1820s Tackle Maker...and Murderer!

A couple of years ago I wrote about an incident in 1822 that saw a tackle maker accused of murder. Quite by accident, I recently discovered the following description, reprinted in The Edinburgh Magazine (June 1822), which gave a lot more detail about the incident. I call it, in my best Perry Mason literary hat tip, the Curious Case of the Drunken Tackle Maker.

Aberdeen--The Court opened here on the 15th, and the business brought before their Lordships occupied their attention during that and the two following days. The first case was that of William Gordon, fishing-tackle maker in Aberdeen, who was accused of the murder of his wife, by inflicting a mortal wound in the upper part of her thigh. It appeared from the evidence, that the prisoner and his wife, along with some others, had been drinking on the night the murder was committed, and that both of them had become intoxicated. Between eleven and twelve o'clock, one of the witnesses, who lives immediately above the prisoner's house, heard the cries, as he thought, of "Mother, mother, let me be," when he went down stairs to listen, and found the cries proceeded from Gordon's room, and that they were "Murder, murder, let me be;" he listened a little, and then heard an awful shriek or scream, accompanied by the cries of "Murder," and afterwards a noise, as of a heavy body falling. He went then to the street, and called a watchman, the cries continuing during this time, though fainter. On going to prisoner's door, found it locked; broke it open with his foot, and he and watchman entered; found Gordon sitting on a chair, half dressed; his wife on her knees, on the floor, at the left side of the fire; she was then crying, "O me, I am gone now!" cries became fainter, and soon after stopped. On asking prisoner what was the matter, he said, " Nothing, nothing; that his wife had taken a drop too much, and fallen over." The floor all around her was covered with blood. Prisoner occasionally exclaimed, " He had not lifted his hand against his wife that night." It was frequently put to him how she came by her death. He said she had fallen on the fender. The fender was standing within the jambs of the fire-place, and did not appear to have bean recently moved; ashes lay undisturbed beside it; tongs and shovel lay across it; observed no blood on prisoner's hands. Deceased complained sometimes of her husband striking her.

Another witness (the town-serjeant) stated that the blood did not reach to the fender, inside of which the poker was lying, which was very sharp, and clear towards its extreme point. The deceased attempted to speak when the surgeons were dressing the wound, and witness put his ear close to catch her meaning, but could not, from the prisoner continuing to speak loud, which the witness thought was on purpose to drown his wife's voice. Saw knives and forks in the house, but thinks the poker was the weapon by which the fatal wound was inflicted.

Three medical gentlemen described the nature of the wound, which had proved instantly fatal, and gave it as their opinion, that it could not have been received by falling on the fender, or by a fall, the perforation being three inches deep beyond the femoral artery, which had been two-thirds divided. The Jury found the prisoner guilty, and he was sentenced to be executed on the 31st of May.

-- Dr. Todd

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