Unsolved Murders

Mary Ashford

Age: 20

Sex: female

Date: 26 May 1817

Place: Tyburn, Warwick

Mary Ashford was killed in a field on 26 May 1817. A man was tried but found not guilty.

When she was removed from a pit in a field near the junction of Bell Lane and Penn's Mill Lane, and it was found that her person had been violated.

She lived with her uncle who was a small farmer in Langley. She went with a friend to a dance in Tyburn on the evening of 26 May 1817 which was held at a pub there for the Annual Feast Day of a Friendly Society.

She met a man there that was later tried for her murder, who had said he was pleased with her figure and spent the whole evening paying her great attention. He enquired of her friends and when he found out he told them that he had been connected with her sister and would have connections with Mary Ashford though it should cost him his life.

When Mary Ashford left the dance she left with the man and was later seen with him at a stile at 3am. At 4am she called at a friends house in Erdington where she changed her dress. When she left Erdington between 4-5am she was violated and murdered.

The footsteps of a man and a woman were traced from a path through a harvested field going towards Langley where she lived. The footprints exhibited proofs or running and struggling leading to a distinct impression of a human figure and other circumstances too indelicate to mention in a newspaper. From there were distinct marks heading towards the pit where she was found. It looked plainly as though a man had walked along the footpath carrying a body. At the edge of the pit her bonnet, shoes and bundle were found but only the mans footprints could be seen.

She had the marks of hands on her arms as though she had been violently held down and a surgeon revealed that up to that point she had been a virgin.

The man who was tried admitted being with Mary Ashford at 4am and the marks of the man’s shoes running corresponded exactly with his. He also admitted that he had been connected with her but had not admitted that until proof had been shown before the magistrates of that fact.

The man said that after he had been connected with Mary Ashford he went home and another man must have murdered her.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see real-Life Crimes 61 p1346-1350.

see Lancaster Gazette - Saturday 22 November 1817

see Chester Chronicle - Friday 07 November 1817 (has large sketch map of pit, fields and roads)