Unsolved Murders

Mary Sophia Money

Age: 22

Sex: female

Date: 24 Sep 1905

Place: Merstham, Surrey

Mary Sophia Money's body was found dead in the Merstham railway tunnel on Sunday 24 September 1905.

The autopsy showed a scarf had been thrust into her mouth and marks were discovered on the tunnel wall showing Mary Money had been thrown to her death from a moving train.

Her inquest had taken place at the Feathers Inn in Merstham where the coroner was allotted the coffee room which became crowded to the fullest capacity.

When the coroner summed up at the inquest, he said that there was no evidence of suicide or of accident. The jury spent an hour and ten minutes considering their verdict and returned the following open verdict, 'The jury are unanimously of the opinion that the deceased met her death through injuries brought about by a train, but the evidence is insufficient to show whether she was thrown from a train or fell from a train accidently'.

She lived at 245 Lavender Hill, Clapham and had no men friends. On Sunday 24 September 1905 she went out for 'a little walk', but was not seen again. A fellow employee of Mary Money said that they had previously shared a room together and that she last saw Mary Money at 7pm on the Sunday when Mary Money left her saying that she was going for a little walk and would not be long. She said that she didn't say that she was going to meet anyone and that as far as she was concerned Mary Money was not in the habit of meeting gentlemen. She said that at the time that she left she had been in very bright spirits and that she had at no time spoken to her of any trouble.

She said that when Mary Money left she had been dressed in a black voile costume, a lace hat with cream beads and pink roses and she had had a black knitted purse with a handkerchief in her hand.

She said that when Mary Money had not returned by 11pm that she assumed that she had missed the last train. She said that Mary Money was never in the habit of staying out later than 11pm except when she went to the theatre.

When she left she had not taken her latch key, a point that a woman at her home noticed and caused her to wait up for Mary Money until 1am for her to return.

She was later seen at 7pm in a sweet shop in Station Approach, Clapham, where she bought some chocolate and told the confectioner’s assistant that she was going to Victoria. The confectioner’s assistant said that the chocolates that she had sold her had been in a small round box three inches long and an inch and a half in diameter.

A ticket collector at Clapham Junction said that he was certain that he saw Mary Money at 7.31pm, saying that he remembered seeing a young woman on the platform, describing her as a medium sized girl, inclined to be stout, although he said that he didn't notice whether she had a scarf on. He said that he asked her where she was from and said that she told him Victoria and he said if that he thought that she was from Kingston and she said 'No'. However, he said that he recognised her photo and had seen her frequently and stated that the photograph that he saw of her was her exact photo.

From Victoria she went to London Bridge and caught the 9.13pm train for Brighton. It was thought that she might have been seen at Victoria Station talking to a man in a bowler hat. A later siting was given by a woman and her son but it was thought to have been too early, at 7.30pm.

A signalman said that as the train passed his box at East Croydon and Purley Oaks he saw a woman that looked like Mary Money struggling with a man in a first-class carriage.

She was found dead at 11pm in the Merstham tunnel.

When the carriage was examined, no blood was found anywhere.

She had been in carriage 508. There had been about ten carriages in the train with a guards van in the middle.

The train was also recreated and taken through the tunnel and it was noted that the space between the carriage door and the walls of the tunnel was only 21in at the top and 25in at the bottom which only allowed the door to be opened two-fifths, or namely 11in, which, then allowing for the carriage door, only left 8in for the body to have passed through, and during that the door would have been touching the tunnel wall and would have been smashed or damaged. In conclusion, the Chief of the Brighton Railway Company's police sid that he thought that it would have been quite impossible for a body to have been got out through the door if it were opened.

As such, it was thought that she had got out through the window.

The police also carried out experiments with a dummy, throwing it out of the train, and used flares to light the tunnel as they did so.

Her relatives said that they had no idea why Mary Money had taken the train to Brighton, stating that they didn't think that she had ever been in that part of the country before and had never gone to Brighton on a Sunday before. It was noted that she had been to Hastings in August 1905 to visit her brother and sister-in-law, but it was noted that they had only been on holiday there.

A woman who worked at the dairy in Lavender Hill said that Mary Money had spent quite a bit of time that day consulting a timetable but she said she didn't know what route she had been looking at.

Earlier on 13 September Mary Money had been to the Adelphi Theatre with two tickets that had been given to her by a friend although it was not known if she had gone alone or with someone else.

A doctor who examined Mary Money's body said that he examined every part of her clothing and said that they were practically covered all over with stains of blood, grease, soot and brain matter. He also said that there were indications that the scarf had been in contact with her mouth and noted that her gloves did not have a thick coating of soot on them as they might have if they had been wiped along the wall of the tunnel and concluded that her gloved hands had not come into contact with the tunnel. He also said that he was satisfied that the bruises on her right hand, wrist and arm were not produced by the train. He further stated that he thought that Mary Money went out of the train backwards and alive and said that she had no poisons in her system such as chloroform.

She had also had her leg cut off, her head seriously damaged and her arm crushed as she rebounded from the tunnel wall and then went underneath the train.

A doctor that carried out her post mortem said that he thought that Mary Money's death had been preceded by a violent struggle in the carriage, stating that livid bruises were found on her limbs indicating that she had been gripped by a human hand and that he also found marks that suggested that she had been stamped upon by her assailant in the carriage.

The police said that when they pulled the silk scarf out of her mouth they found that there were about 8 inches that had been forced in and that it appeared to have been caught in her teeth. It was also suggested that lacerations on the palate inside her mouth might have been caused by fingernails forcing the scarf into her mouth as a gag.

It was found that Mary Money had approached the Ladies British Protection Society and Burgess Investigation Bureau in King William Street whose details she was given by a person at the dairy where she worked. A man there said, 'Miss Money has consulted me about some love affairs that were causing her some anxiety in March last. She had heard that we obtained information and gave advice on such matters from one of my two sons, who were employed at Messrs. Bridger's dairies, the same firm for whom she acted as bookkeeper, at Lavender Hill in Clapham Junction. She arranged a meeting with me at the house of my son, who knew her in business. Miss Money seemed to be a person with a will of her own, and a determination not to allow anyone to trifle with her affections. 'You see', she said, 'like all girls, I want to be married, but I don't want to throw myself away on the first good-looking man who comes to play with me. I have had some attentions paid me by three young men to whom I have been introduced, and I have here letters and notes from them'. The man said that he asked her where they lived and said that she told him that two of them had City offices and that one was from his home in Surbiton'. However, she later returned to see the man and told him that she didn't want to continue with his service saying that she had decided that it was not worthwhile.

Reports were also made regarding a clairvoyant who it was said had discovered, when all other efforts had failed, the body of Mr Foxwell, a London stockbroker. They took an article of clothing that had recently been worn by Mary Money and wrapped a crystal with it and it was alleged that the whole scene of the crime was presented, incident by incident, the vision being seen by two of Mary Money's relatives and the clairvoyant.

It was said that when they looked into the crystal, the clairvoyant said, 'I see a tunnel, I see a man and a woman seated in a railway carriage'. It was said that the lady also looked and also saw a vivid picture of the actual crime and said, 'I see a hat and something dark'. She then said, 'There are a man and a woman, they are talking, he is placing his hand on her shoulder. Now they fall on one side. Oh! now the door opens, something dark falls out. It's gone. Now the door is shut, and the man stands alone'. The clairvoyant then said, 'The man does not get out of the carriage at Redhill. Look, I see a signal box, a light streaming from it. The man now rides off on a cycle. He is bending over the handles riding furiously'. It was said that Mary Money's relatives looked into the crystal and also saw there the vision of the cyclist bending over the handles, going quickly. It was said that they then saw the vision of the man going back to the tunnel and actually looking into it, but then the vision faded away.

The clairvoyant added, 'I am sure she met someone who came from London, but I don't think you know the person who murdered her. The man I get in this connection is the man I have seen all along. It was a deliberately planned murder, a horrible and cruel thing, and the man took her purse in order that it might be supposed it was robbery, but it was not, for there was very little in the purse. There is a woman's influence that is also strong in the case, but the woman had nothing actually to do with her disappearance. There must have been a strong motive on the girl's side for her to have kept this appointment and the curious thing is that I don't feel that the man who murdered her was anyone she was deeply in love with. But I am positive the mystery will be solved'.

The police later considered a man as a strong suspect but didn't arrest him, deatils not clear.

A woman came forward on 5 October 1905 to say that she thought that she had seen Mary Money with a man at Victoria Station. She had lived in Brecknock Road in Tufnell Park and told the police that she and her 11 -year-old boy who was at a boarding school in Westminster used to meet every Sunday, which was their usual habit, and would walk through the parks and then go to Victoria Station at about 7pm in time to see the Continental Train arrive.

She said that on 24 September 1905 that she met her son as usual and went to Victoria Station but that they were too late to see the Continental Train arrive, noting that they got there at about 7.15pm. However, she said that they sat there watching people and that she saw a lady enter the station from Wilton Road, and said that after reading the newspapers, said that she was convinced that that lady was Mary Money. She said that the lady appeared to be expecting someone and kept walking up and down and noticed that she was always looking at the Buckingham Palace entrance. She said that at about 7.45pm she noticed that the lady was being annoyed by a gentleman looking at her and said that the lady came over and sat on the seat that she and her boy were occupying, noting that she noticed her face and dress when she did so, and particularly her hat and scarf. She said that in fact that she was on the point of speaking to her when she was joined by a gentleman carrying a brown kit bag and wearing a pepper and salt coloured coat who had apparently come in to the station from the Buckingham entrance.

She said that the meeting struck her as being very unusual as the gentleman did not sit down and they both went off together immediately towards the other station.

The woman noted that her boy saw them again in the other station and noticed that the gentleman then had no kit bag with him. She added that the man's manner was so brusque that she noticed him particularly and said that she was convinced that she would know him again, stating that the matter made such an impression upon her mind that she mentioned it to a friend that same evening.

However, the police report noted that the woman was certain that the lady that she saw had not been wearing a scarf when it was known that Mary Money had been wearing a scarf and it was further considered that Mary Money could not have been at Victoria station as early as 7.30pm

Further clues where developed after the Daily Mail found that Mary Money and a well-dressed gentlemanly looking man had been going to the Crichton Restaurant in Clapham Junction twice a week for tea and they were in the restaurant on either the Wednesday or Friday before her death. It was also noted that the description of the gentleman fitted the description of a man Mary Money had been seen with at Victoria Station on the day of her death.

It was stated that the points relating to the Crichton Restaurant that deserved attention were that:

  1. That for some time past Mary Money (who was identified by her photograph) went to the restaurant on one or two afternoons each week to take tea.
  2. That she was on each occasion accompanied by a well-dressed, gentlemanly looking man.
  3. That both were at the restaurant on the Wednesday or Friday before the tragedy.
  4. That the man answers the description of the individual seen by a witness to meet Mary Money at Victoria Station on the fatal Sunday evening.

A prisoner also later confessed to her murder, but it was determined that at the time he had been in prison.

Mary Money had recently taken the place of bookkeeper at Messrs Bridger's dairy in Lavender Hill, Clapham. The books at the dairy were later checked for discrepancies but were all found to be in good order.

Her funeral took place on Tuesday 4 October 1905 in Watford. Her coffin was taken to Nascot Street, Watford, from where the funeral procession went to the cemetery. Mary Money's body was carried at the head of the procession in an open Washington Car which was followed by four mourning coaches containing Mary Money's five brothers, four sisters, several aunts and uncles and other relatives. The general public were excluded from the cemetery by an order from the burial authorities.

In October 1908 a stable help came forward to say that he had certain suspicions about a man and gave the police details that they later noted as being compelling.

He said that he had been employed at Lansdown House in Lansdown Road, Holland Park Avenue from October 1904 until 25 July 1908, first as a stable help and then later as a motor cleaner. He said that Lansdown House was a large building owned by a man and was let out as flats to ladies and gentlemen.

He said that when he first went there there were two brothers working there, a liftman and a carriage groom, and said that at the time of his writing that they were still there. He added that there was also a coachman working there who lived over the stables at the house.

He said that he remembered well Sunday 24 September 1905 as he had had that weekend, from 2pm Saturday until 2pm Monday, off duty and had spent the time with his brother  who was a grocer in Cookham near Maidenhead. He said that just before going away on the Saturday he went to see the liftman and asked him to lend him a walking stick, but said that the liftman said that he could not have it as he was going to meet  particular 'Tart' the next day. The stable help said that he replied, 'Very well I'll buy one when I get to Paddington'. He noted that that was the first holiday that he had had whilst at Lansdown House.

He said that he and the two brothers had their meals together in the kitchen or mess room at Lansdown House and that they all occupied a bedroom in the basement. He added that the mess room was also used by them as a living room after they had finished their days work.  He said that the brothers were natives of Watford in Hertfordshire ad had told him that their mother used to cook for the gardeners at Bushey Hall near Watford.

He said that the liftman's duties finished on week days at 7.30pm and on Sundays at 5.30pm after which his time was his own until 10.15pm when he was due to return to put out the lights, but if he desired to be out later he would often ask his brother or him to put the lights out for him, noting that he frequently stayed out until 2am or 3am in the morning.

He said that the liftman used to attend dancing classes at a room occupied by a man in Wood Lane, Wormwood Scrubs. He said that he often used to hear the liftman speak to his brother when they were in the mess room about going to Lavender Hill, saying that he used to go on his bicycle occasionally.

The stable hand said that he returned from his holidays on the Monday about 2pm and went into the mess room and noticed the liftman sitting in a chair by the fire and noticed that he looked very ill. He said that he asked him, 'Whatever is the matter with you', and said that he replied, 'I don't know I ache from head to foot'. The stable hand said, 'You look queer', and said that he thought that the liftman had something on his mind. He noted that he was not with him then but a few minutes.

He said that he saw him again the next morning at breakfast at 8am and said that he looked worried. He said that at about 10am the same day he was in his bedroom which was opposite the mess room and he heard the liftman's brother, the carriage groom, say to the liftman, 'You stay down here and don't be seen and I will tell the man that you have hurt your leg through carrying his boxes'.

The stable hand noted that the man had lived in Lansdown House and had just returned from the country shortly before with a quantity of luggage which the liftman had had to assist take up to the man's flat.

The stable hand said that on Tuesday 28 September 1905 he first read about Mary Money's death, but that at that time he was not aware that the brother's knew her. He said that he remembered her photo appear in the newspaper and had seen the brother's looking at it and heard them remarking that it was something like her, but not a good likeness of her. The stable hand said that he then asked them how they knew her and said that they told him that they had been at school with her and that her father was a milkman, although he noted that nothing else was said then.

The stable hand said that the liftman was first supposed to have hurt his leg whilst lifting the man's luggage and the coachman took him to see the doctor in Holland Park Avenue a few days after the supposed accident. He said that he asked the liftman what the doctor said, but said that the liftman would not tell him. He said that he saw the liftman bathing his leg a few days later in the bathroom but said that he could see nothing the matter with it and said that he then told him that he had been hit by a cricket ball.

The stable hand said that the coachman again took the liftman to the doctor's for something but that he didn't know what, and that he altogether remained in the basement for six weeks following Mary Money's death except for the two occasions that he went to see the doctor. He added however that during that six week period the liftman had been unable to sleep and had walked about in the basement and mess room night after night even though he was supposed to have had an injured leg that prevented him from doing duties. The stable hand said that the liftman really became a nervous wreck and that his nerves were shattered and that he had the appearance of a hunted mand and had never looked the same man since.

He said that the liftman's excuse for walking about at night was that he had toothache.

He said that the liftman seldom went out alone until it was dark for at least eighteen months after Mary Money's death and even then, he always wore a cap pulled over his eyes. He said that the coachman often invited the liftman to go out with him to get him out of the house and noted that before 24 September 1905 he was out whenever he could get out.

The stable hand added that after Mary Money's death, he never heard either of them talking again about going to Lavender Hill.

The stable hand said that about August 1906 the mess room chimney at Lansdown House caught fire and the liftman accused him of setting it alight. He said that that annoyed him so much that he said, 'You are trying to get me into a row, you be careful, I don't wish to do you any harm but if I liked to open my mouth I could hang you, you carry your mind back to 24 September 1905, you know what occurred on that date, you go to bed and dream on it'. The stable hand said that when he said that the liftman went as white as a sheet, but said nothing and had never since interfered with him.

The stable hand said that soon after Mary Money's death that he spoke to some friends about what he suspected, but said that he never went to the police, later saying that he didn't because he didn’t think he would be treated confidentially.

He added that there was a racquet court and bathroom in the basement and that during the winter the water for the baths was heated for use by the gentlemen after they had been playing. He added that the furnace that heated the water was in what was known as the boiler room and that he remembered well that about 7am on Tuesday 26 September 1905 that he saw the liftman leave the boiler room and said that when he looked in he saw something burning in the furnace but could not say what it was. He added that the liftman had only been wearing his trousers and shirt at the time. He said that he didn't speak to the liftman then and noted that at that time the water for the baths was not being heated.

When the police considered the stable hand's statement they said that they had gone through all the evidence but said that there was no direct evidence upon which anyone could be charged, however, they said that the stable hand listed a number of remarkable coincidences:

  • Correct in the date of the death of Mary Money.
  • That he said that the liftman was a native of Watford and had gone to school with Mary Money who was born there and had lived there for some years.
  • That he said that the liftman used to go frequently to Lavender Hill but stopped after Mary Money's death and that Mary Money had lived there.
  • That he said that the liftman had been a second coachman to a man in Harrow and that Mary Money had once lived in Harrow.

Some commentators including detectives said they favoured the theory that Mary Money committed suicide.

Her brother, Robert Henry Money, later set fire to a house on 19 August 1912 at Enys Road in Eastbourne which killed him and four other people including his wife and child. He shot them and then shot himself. He shot another woman twice, but she managed to escape him. He had been living a double life with two women. As such, it was considered a remote possibility that he might have thrown Mary Money out of the train. He was a dairy farmer at Kingston Hill at the time of her death. It was also noted in the police files that Mary Money's brother had told several lies during his interviews and it was considered at the least that he was an unreliable witness.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see en.wikipedia.org

see Encyclopedia of Murder, Wilson

see National Archives MEPO 3/169, COPY 1/489/587 (photo of Mary Money)

see British Transport Police

see Crimes and Punishment 28 page 759

see Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 01 October 1905

see East Anglian Daily Times - Tuesday 03 October 1905

see Weekly Irish Times - Saturday 07 October 1905

see Surrey Mirror - Friday 06 October 1905

see The Scotsman - Thursday 19 September 1912

see Exmouth Journal - Saturday 07 October 1905

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 11 October 1912

see Western Chronicle - Friday 30 August 1912