Saturday, 8 June 2013

A tragedy within a tragedy - the laughing Mr Wray

I discovered last week the story of the Templepatrick Murder within my family tree, an event that happened in Northern Ireland in October 1874, when my 3 x great grandfather's brother William was accused of murdering their cousin Margaret Langtry.

The story of Margaret's murder is shocking enough, but within the story of this tragedy lay yet another tragedy, even closer to home. Just days before Margaret's murder, another child of my four times great grandmother Rosanna Bill (nee Coulter) had passed away and was buried. I have yet to determine the child's name, but part of the subsequent story between Margaret and William lay with the assertion that there had been an argument between them about the burial, with Margaret allegedly claiming that the burial lair used was one that had been reserved for her. But one of the remarkable things about the newspaper coverage within the Belfast Newsletter of March 18th 1875 was a record of the court testimony from Rosanna, which recalls the added pressures placed upon her during the police investigation into her son William, and the additional suffering that she herself was already enduring as a consequence of her loss.

Rosanna Bill, examined by Mr McMECHAN - 
The prisoner is my son. He came home to me on Wednesday before he was arrested. I was in trouble about the death of my daughter. Quinn was on a visit at the house. He came home from Scotland along with my other son. He was telegraphed for after the death, and he arrived next morning. My son, the prisoner, was digging potatoes all day on Thursday, and he was also working on Friday. My husband went to Belfast about two o'clock on Friday morning, and did not come back to about eleven o'clock that night. I sat up for him, and all the rest were in bed when he arrived. In consequence of the trouble I was in about my daughter my appetite was very bad. Sometimes my appetite is so bad that I can hardly walk for weakness. William, the prisoner, went away up to snare rabbits. He took the snare [produced] with him. He came back with a rabbit. I skinned it, and soup was made of it. I took some of it, and the girls also got some. After he came home he sat down and took a smoke and then wound up his watch. It was twenty minutes to nine o'clock. When he went out he had no gun with him - nothing but that snare in his pocket, and when he came back he had no gun with him. I recollect my husband bringing ham and cheese the second night of my daughter's wake. It was rolled up in a piece of newspaper. The police searched the house, and abused it very badly. There is a man Wray (pointing to the sub-inspector) and I don't say he is a bad man, but he jeered and taunted at me. 

Mr. McMECHAN - That man, Wray, did it, who wears the coat of a gentleman, and is supposed to be a gentleman. This poor woman is jeered and taunted in her affliction. Her daughter dead, and her son in prison. I hope I will have an opportunity of cross-examining this laughing Mr. Wray.

A desperate time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, what a very sad story. There's never a good ending to these stories.