On this day 1894, at about seven o’clock in the evening, thirteen-year-old Samuel Dixon STONEHOUSE ran to his half-brother, William PROCTER, for help. When they reached the cottage in Barnett’s Yard, off Queen Street, accompanied a relative, Amos DANBY, and Police Sergeant CLARKSON, William was shocked to see his mother’s bruised and bleeding face. Maria said to him, “He has kicked me to death, I am dying.” William rushed away to seek medical help. Dr. ORR came quickly with parish nurse, Frances JENKINSON, and attempted to revive the woman, but she died within twenty minutes. All the while, Maria’s husband, Samuel STONEHOUSE, sat in a corner chair, proclaiming his innocence.
He was initially charged with wilful murder but at trial the jury quickly arrived at a verdict of manslaughter and the judge handed down a 14-year sentence. Samuel was not a stranger to prison. He had served a six-month sentence for battering his wife, not long before the final assault. He must, however, have behaved himself inside because he was released after nine years, initially into the care of the Filey “Church Army Society”, if the official documentation is a reliable guide. (Source: Prison Register, via Find My Past.)
I have never had any truck with men hitting women, even though there ain’t no limit to the amount of trouble they bring (B. Dylan), and had imagined Samuel to have been a hulking brute. I was surprised to see he was a “short-arse”.
Before his trial, he wrote to his mother, Elizabeth, and sister Elizabeth Annie, from his cell in Hull Prison:-
Dear mother, and sister and all, – Just a few lines to you, hoping to find you all well, as it leaves me well at present. Thank God for it. I hope my two children are both well. Remember me to them, and by God’s help I hope I may soon be with them again. My aunt was here yesterday, and told me that mother had gone to Filey, and I hope you will all do what you can for me. Will you write and let me know what you have done for me? I do not know whether I shall have anyone to help me at York or not, but I hope that I shall. I do not know when I shall be going from here, but I have been told that they (the Assizes) do commence next Wednesday. Will you let me know if my brother William or Abraham is going to York, and who is going to look after my children this year? It might be a long job for me at York, but I hope it will not. – Your son, SAMUEL STONEHOUSE.
At trial, the children gave evidence. The boy said his mother had asked for his assistance to help her on to the couch and his father had said that if he touched her he would “kick his bowels in”. But this exchange followed:-
Mr. Mellor: Your father was kind to you?
Witness: Yes, a lot better than my mother. Drunk or not, he was always kind to me.
Mr. Mellor: Have you ever seen her lying on the floor before?
In what state?
She had been drunk. (Some sensation was caused in court by this statement, and the Judge said he must have silence or he would have the gallery cleared.)
Witness said on this occasion he supposed that his mother was drunk. She had formerly cursed his father when he came home to dinner, and she had thrown pots at him. (The poor lad burst into tears as he left the box.)
Born in Scalby, just outside Scarborough, Samuel Snr returned home after leaving Portsea Prison. (He may also have spent time in Dartmoor.) His death was registered in the last quarter of 1920. He was 73 years old.
He outlived his son by four years. Samuel Dixon STONEHOUSE was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and is remembered in Fricourt New Military Cemetery.
Samuel Jnr had married before he went to war. Maria Louise was living at 32 St James Street in 1916 and at 44 James Street when the Second World War began. She died a Stonehouse in 1960, aged 82. I haven’t been able to find the marriage record or any children she may have had. Sam Jnr’s sister, Sarah, has eluded me too.
The Wayback Machine seems to be working again – it should be safe to access The Woman Who Cried Murder.