7th April 1856
Reference Numbert18560407-439
VerdictGuilty > unknown

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439. ELIZABETH ANN HARRIS was indicted for the wilful murder of Ellen Harris.

MESSRS. BODKIN and CLERK conducted the Prosecution

ELLEN WALKER , I am the prisoner's sister—she had three children in the beginning of this year—she was never married—the children's names were Ellen, Agnes, and Tommy—Tommy is the baby—Ellen was about four or five years old, and Agnes two years and a half—I saw my sister with her children, on Friday, 15th Feb., at 11 o'clock in the morning—I knew that she had been in the workhouse with all her children before that—she left the workhouse that morning—I saw her at Carston's Mill, in the Cowley-road, leading from Uxbridge—she was at that time coming from the workhouse—I did not go anywhere with her—I met her there, and left her there—I had a little conversation with her, not much—she told me she was going to Portsmouth—she told me she was going to take herself and her three children, and she had not enough money to pay her fare, and she sent back to me in the afternoon for 2s.—she told me she was going to the cither of the last child—I did not see anything more of her on that day—she sent my little girl to me in the afternoon for the 2s.—I gave her the 2s., and a bottle of elder wine for the children, to help them on their journey, and some bread and butter—I saw the dead bodies of the two children, Ellen and Agnes, next morning, at the Anglers' Arms public house.

Cross-examined by MR. SLEIGH. Q. Had this girl always behaved with kindness to her children? A. Yes, very much so—she always treated them kindly and affectionately.

ELIZABETH WALKER . I am twelve years old, and live with my mother at Uxbridge—the prisoner is my aunt—I remember the day upon which the two children were drowned—I had been to the union workhouse that morning—the prisoner was there, and her three children—we all came away from the workhouse together, about 10 o'clock—we came to West Dray ton, to Mr. Tollitt's public house—we got there about half past 12 o'clock—I went home to my mother's after that, with a message from the prisoner, and returned again to Mr. Tollitt's, about 6 o'clock or half past—I found the prisoner and the three children there, as I had left them—I told the prisoner the message I had brought from my mother, and I gave her 2s. and some bread and butter—after I had been there some time, the prisoner went out—I do not know what o'clock it was when she went out—it was not long after I had got back—she took the two children with her—I held the baby—she said she was going to look for a bed for the children—nothing was said about where the children were to sleep—I know Mr. Cousins's, that is the next public house—nothing was said about that when she went out—she was gone about a quarter of an hour or tweoty minutes—she then came back—she had neither of the children with her then—she did not say what she had done with them—I told her to take her luggage to the station—she had brought some luggage with her from the union—she took the luggage, and went away from Mr. Tollitt's—I did not go with

her, I stopped at Mr. Tollitt's—she did not take the baby with her then—she was gone not many minutes—when she returned she took the baby, and put me into the omnibus to go to Uxbridge, where I live—the station is not far from Tollitt's.

Cross-examined. Q. What kind of day was this? was it a fine day, or a rainy day? A. It rained in the morning—Cousins's public house is not far from Tollitt's—it would take me about five minutes to go—you do not go by the side of the canal to get there, you go under the bridge of the station, the railway bridge—I do not know how far the canal is from Tollitt's.

JOSEPH GOODALL . I am a labourer at Ewsley—there is a bridge over the Grand Junction Canal called Ewsley Bridge—I live near that bridge—on the Friday evening that the children were found in the canal, I saw the prisoner near Ewsley Bridge, about half past 6 o'clock—I was on the bridge—the prisoner had two children with her—she was about half way up into the road from the water side, I mean from the towing path—she was coming from the towing path—the towing path comes under the bridge—she was coming from the towing path up into the road—she went down the road on the same side as she came up—that road leads into the Uxbridge road—I did not speak to her then—I saw her again about three minutes afterwards—she came back on the same bridge—both the children were with her—she came back, and asked me if I could tell her where Mr. Turton, the shoemaker, lived, and I told her—he lives in the neighbourhood, on the Uxbridge-road—she then went as if she was going in the direction for Mr. Turton's that is, away from the canal—I afterwards saw her again on Colham Bridge—that was about half past 7 o'clock—she was then alone—there were no children with her—she was then going down towards Mr. Tollitt's towards Dray ton station—there was some one standing on the bridge with me at that time—the prisoner crossed the bridge—she afterwards came back with a baby in her arms—that was two or three minutes afterwards—I was still on the bridge—she asked me if I was speaking to her—I was speaking to a young woman who was along with me—that young woman answered the prisoner, and said, "No"—nothing else passed—the prisoner crossed the bridge, and went right straight along the Uxbridge-road—I saw her again that evening, in the lane that leads from Ewsley Bridge to the Uxbridge-road, about half way in the lane—I think that was about 8 o'clock—she then had her baby in her arms—she was then coming back into the Uxbridge-road from Ewsley Bridge—I did not see anything more of her after that—I afterwards saw the bodies of the children that evening, lying on the bank of the canal, after they had been pulled out of the water—they were close to Ewaley Bridge—that was close to the place where I had first seen the prisoner with the two children that evening—the bodies of the children were afterwards taken to Mr. Rumble's, at the Anglers' Arms.

Cross-examined. Q. When the prisoner asked you where Turton lived, she had not the two children with her, had she not? A. Yes—she had not the children with her when she passed me and the young woman, and asked if we were speaking to her—she had got the baby then—she was walking sharp, but not running—she was about two yards from us at the time she put that question—I was not talking very loud—I do not know that she could have had any reason to suppose we were addressing her—we were not speaking to her.

MR. BODKIN. Q. The bridge she came over then was not the Ewsley Bridge, but another? A. Yes, the Colham Bridge.

COURT. Q. Do you recollect what you were saying just before she past that question? A. No, not particularly, I do not.

MARY ANN GOODALL . I am the sister of the last witness, and live at Ewsley, sixty-three yards from Ewsley Bridge, on the side towards the Uxbridge-road—I was near Ewsley Bridge on the Friday night that the children were found in the canal, about a quarter past 7 o'clock—I saw the prisoner on the bridge—I was by myself at that time—the prisoner had three children with her—she had one in her arms, and one on each side of her—she went down as far as Mr. Stratton's gate, and then turned back again, and came on to the bridge, and I turned and went on towards Ewsley—that is not towards the Uxbridge-road—I turned, and came back—she came back again on to the bridge, and I turned back again to Ewsley—she was then coming from Mr. Stratton's gate on to the bridge—I went on to my own gate, and stood there talking to a young woman—while I was doing so, I turned round and saw the prisoner again—that was at 25 minutes past 7 o'clock, about ten minutes after I had seen her first—she then came up the canal side, and ran towards Drayton—she was by herself—she had nothing in her arms; there was something hanging before her—she came up from the right hand side of the bridge, going over the bridge—that is on the same side as the dock is.

COURT. Q. Did she come up from the same side of Ewsley-bridge that your house is, or the other side? A. The other side.

MR. CLERK. Q. Do you know how far she went at that time past your house? did you lose sight or her A. Yes—I afterwards saw the bodies of the two children lying on the bank of the canal—that was at 25 minutes to 8 o'clock, about a quarter of an hour after I had seen the prisoner go past me—they were on the same side of the bridge as that from which I had seen the prisoner come up.

THOMAS WYMAN . I am a labouring man, residing at Uxbridge. On Friday evening, 15th Feb., I was crossing Ewsley-bridge, about half past 7 o'clock—I was going towards the Trout, from the Uxbridge-road—I looked over the bridge, and saw two objects floating on the surface of the water—I went down to the side of the canal, and looked, and saw they were children—I pulled the eldest child out first, and then the second one—I believe they were quite dead—they had their clothes on—one had her bonnet on; the other had it off—I laid the bodies on the bank by the side of the canal, and went for assistance—they were afterwards taken to the Jolly Anglers, kept by Mr. Rumble—a doctor was sent for directly—I knew nothing of the prisoner or the children.

ALFRED WILLIAM WARDER . I am a surgeon, of Uxbridge. I was sent for to see the bodies of two children, at the Jolly Anglers beer shop, on Friday night, 15th Feb.—I got there between 9 and 10 o'clock—the bodies of two children were shown to me—they were both dead—there were no appearances indicating the cause of death—I examined the bodies externally—there were no injuries about them—the appearances were quite consistent with their having been suffocated by water—I afterwards made a postmortem examination—I have no doubt whatever that they died from suffocation by drowning.

THOMAS COUSINS I keep the Railway Arms public-house, at West Drayton, close by the Great Western Railway station there. Tollitt's house is on the opposite side of the same railway—you go under the railway to it—a person coming from Tollitt's house to mine would have to pass through that arch, and then come immediately to my house—the Grand Junction

canal is straight up the road—a person would not have to pass over the canal in order to go from Tollitt's house to mine—it does not lie between them—it is on the other side of Tollitt's—I know the prisoner by sight—she came to my house on Friday, the 15th, about a quarter before 2 o'clock—she had not her children with her then—she asked me if I had got "Bradshaw's Guide"—I gave her some information about going to Portsmouth—I told her the way to go, and the cheapest way she could do it—she then asked if she could be accommodated with a bed there that night for herself and baby—I said, "Yes," and she then went away—she returned again about a quarter past 7 o'clock—she had no child with her then—she brought a bundle with her, which she left at my house, and went away again—she returned about a quarter past 8 o'clock, with her baby, and a basket—soon afterwards the officers came to my house, and she was taken into custody—she had not made any inquiry of me with respect to two other children sleeping at my house that night.

Cross-examined. Q. Do you know Turton's, the shoemaker's? A. Yes—that is not on the same side of the canal as Tollitt's house—a person going from Tollit's to Turton's would have to cross the canal bridge—the prisoner had no conversation with any person in my house besides myself about a bed.

Q. Are you quite sure she did not say something about having a bed for her babies? A. She said for herself and baby.

JOSEPH HENRY TAYLOR (policeman, T 115). On the evening of 15th Feb. I received information that two children had been found in the canal—they were taken to the Jolly Anglers—I afterwards went in March of a person who had been described to me—I went to Cousins's public-house—that was about half past 8 o'clock—I found the prisoner there, with her baby in her arms—I asked her where she came from when she came there—she said, "From Oxbridge"—I said, "Where might you be going when you leave here?"—she said, "To Paddington"—I said, "Why I ask you these questions is, two children have been found drowned in the canal at Ewsley, and you answer the description of the person that was seen with the children shortly before"—she said, "I don't know where Bwsley is"—I then sent for Goodall and his sister to identify her, and I then took her into custody—previous to my sending for the persons to identify her, she corrected herself, and said, "What am I thinking about? I am not going to Paddington, but to Basingstoke"—on our way to the station we had to go near the Jolly Anglers, and I went in there with the prisoner—the bodies of the children were in the room into which we went—I said to the prisoner, "There are the children that have been found drowned"—she went towards them, and kissed them both, and said, "They are my children; I brought them out of the Union this morning"—she said nothing more—I found a bundle and basket at Mr. Cousins's, which I produce.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you show the jacket and hat which were taken out of the bundle to the little girl, Elizabeth Walker A. Yes, before the Magistrate—Ewsley-bridge is not morje commonly known as the railway bridge—I never heard it called so—I never heard it called by any other name than Ewsley-bridge—it is about two miles from Uxbridge—the examination took place before the Magistrate the next day—Masters, the police constable, was in attendance there that day—he was at the door of the police court while the examination was going on.

MR. BODKIN. Q. He was not examined before the Magistrate? A. No.

MARY SMITH . I am the wife of Thomas Smith, and act as searcher at the

Hillingdon station house. I searched the prisoner when she was brought into that station house on this charge, on Friday, 15th Feb., about a quarter to 10 o'clock—while I was searching her, I said to her, "Oh, dear! oh dear! are you aware what you have been doing of?"—she said, "I am perfectly aware what I have been doing of"—some time after, in the course of the same evening, the wife of the inspector of police came into the room and she said to me, "I wonder she had not served the other child the same," and the prisoner said, "This one has a father, and the others have not"—I found on her 8s. 4d., a pair of scissors, and some letters.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you attend at the Coroners inquest? A. Yes, and gave my evidence there—I had the care of the prisoner that night—I stayed with her from about 12 o'clock till the morning part—before that I was in and out of the room frequently—during my absence from the room there was no other female watching her, or taking care of her—Masters, the policeman, was there—during my absence, he had charge of the prisoner—the longest time I was absent might have been a quarter of an hour, perhaps—I saw Masters all the night—he was on duty there the whole of the night.

WILLIAM TIMEWELL . I am a police inspector, at Hillingdon. I was at the station house there on Friday night, 15th Feb., when the prisoner wag brought there—I took the charge—before I took the charge, I said to her, "You are charged with a very serious offence, and if you say anything it will be told to the Magistrate"—I then proceeded to take the charge—I asked her her name—she said, "Elisabeth Harris"—I said, "Where do you live?"—she said, "I left the Union this morning"—I said, "Then you have no home?—she said, "I was going to see for a home, and I could not leave my children behind me"—that was all she said.

Cross-examined. Q. Was there any one present at the time you entered the charge? A. Yes, Mr. Cousins, and the witness Taylor—when prisoners make a short statement, I always trust to my memory to recollect it, but if it is a long one, I put it in writing—this being a short statement, I trusted to my memory.

MR. BODKIN. Did you prepare this plan (producing one)? A. I got it prepared, and I have walked over the locality—it accurately represents the place.

STEPHEN, MASTERS (policeman, T 199). I remember the night when the prisoner was brought into custody to Hillingdon station house on this charge—I was on duty there that night—I was in the room where the prisoner was—she addressed an observation to me—I cautioned her—I told her that whatever she said would be repeated again—after that she said she wished I her baby was in heaven too—the infant was not with her at that time, it had been sent to the Union—she said she had no wish to live, she had seen too much trouble lately to have any wish to live—she said, "I hope those letters taken from me will not be shown in Court, they are from the father of my last child; he had no knowledge of what I was going to do with the children; he is at Portsmouth, he has sent for me to go to him, but I could not take the children with me, and I would sooner see them drowned than left in the care of others"—"poor things," she said, "they were both afflicted; I took them down by the canal, and under the bridge; they neither I screamed nor cried, either of them; I left my sister's little girl at Tollitt's, and told her I was going to take the other two children to put them to bed—she then asked me if a person would not sink when in the water—I said I did not know, for I never witnessed a case of the kind—she said, "They

did not; if they had, they would not have been found; they did not sink when I put them in, but I did not stay to look at them more than a minute"—this was not all given to me as I have stated it now, it was given in different sentences—I did not make a memorandum of it at the time—I made a written statement of it a few days after, and gave it to the inspector—I was in attendance when the Magistrates were taking the examination of the prisoner—I was stationed at the door of the court on duty—I was not examined before the Magistrates—the examination was on the Saturday, the next day—there was only one examination, she was at once committed.

Cross-examined. Q. Was the examination before the Magistrates held before, or subsequently to, the inquest? A. Before—I attended at the inquest—I first went into the room in which the prisoner was confined about 10 o'clock at night—Mrs. Smith was in the room when I first went in—I was in and out of the room, I did not stop constantly in the room, for the first half hour; I lighted a fire, and Mrs. Smith stopped with her while I was doing that—half an hour elapsed before Mrs. Smith left the room—no conversation had taken place between me and the prisoner before Mrs. Smith left the room—this statement of the prisoner's was made in different sentences—it was all made within the space of half an hour—some of it was while Mrs. Smith was in the room; that part about the letters, saying she hoped they would not be shown in Court, as they were from the father of her last child, and he had no kriowlege of what she was going to do with the children—that was the commencement of what she said to me—I cautioned her as soon as she commenced speaking—the first thing she said to me was, that she wished her baby was in heaven too—Mrs. Smith was not present then—I cannot say exactly how long Mrs. Smith had been out of the room when the prisoner said that; she was in and out of the room all the early part of the night—I did not tell her that the prisoner had said something to me about wishing her baby in heaven, nor that I had cautioned her as to. what she might say—I did not ask Mrs. Smith to come in and listen to any part of this conversation—I have been in the police force nearly thirteen years, and have been twelve years in that same district—I had known the prisoner for several years.

Q. When this poor creature said she wished her baby was in heaven too, did you say to her "You can easily have another"? A. I did not, nothing of the kind—I did not make any communication to Mrs. Smith during any portion of the night, touching that which the prisoner had communicated to me, nor to any other person during the night—the inspector was not on duty there after 1 o'clock—I was in the room with the prisoner all night, and Mrs. Smith also, from 1 o'clock, or shortly after—the inspector came in just before 1 o'clock—I did not make any statement then to him as to what the prisoner had said to me—I made a statement to the inspector next morning—I repeated to him that which the prisoner had said to me during the night—I attended at the police court that day—I did not offer myself as a witness—it was either on the Monday or Tuesday that I gave the written statement to the inspector—it was the day before the inquest was held.

MR. BODKIN. Q. I think you say you have been twelve years in that district? A. I have—I am a married man, and have six children.

ELLEN WALKER re-examined. This jacket is what the eldest child, Ellen, used to wear, and this hat was Agnes's—Ellen was lame—I do not know that there was anything the matter with the other.

GUILTY . Aged 25.— DEATH .

Before Mr. Justice Crompton.

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