Unsolved Murders

Thomas Smith

Age: 15

Sex: male

Date: 11 Apr 1905

Place: 24 Hoyle Street, Ardwick, Manchester

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Thomas Smith was found dead in the cellar of an uninhabited house in Hoyle Street off Fairfield Street in Ancoats, Manchester by two sand hawkers or rag and bone men at 3pm on 11 April 1905.

He had been gagged and mutilated. He had a roll of paper in his mouth as a gag that had a red handkerchief tied over it. The piece of paper stuffed into his mouth was a portion of 'Funny Cats' dated 8 April 1905.

It was thought that he had been dead for a couple of days.

The doctor said that he was found lying on his back with a bloodstained brick on his neck and a gag in his mouth. His clothes were torn and disarranged as though violence had been used and there were obvious injuries to his head, the scalp having been beaten to a pulp.

The post mortem showed that his skull was badly fractured and his body was covered with bruises. The nail from his middle finger on his left hand was torn off and his hand and arm were scratched indicating a very severe struggle.

The doctor said that his appearance pointed to him having been outraged but he could not speak with certainty.

However, it was reported that the police had said that they were working on the theory that the crime was that of a semi-lunatic. It was also reported that the police had described the murder in a telegram as a 'Jack the Ripper' outrage.

The doctor said he did not think that the wounds could have been caused by the brick and said that they were what he would have expected if a life preserver or a stick with a thick knob had been used.

He also said that he didn't think that he had been murdered in the cellar in Hoyle Street but somewhere else and had been dumped there.

The police said that the cellar doors, both front and back were locked and that a man might have possibly been able to get in and out through the window.

His identity was not initially known and a description of him was released in the hope of identifying him:

Fifteen or sixteen years of age, five feet in height, long brown hair, grey eyes, fresh complexion. Dressed in black vicuna jacket, black vest, dark grey trousers with black stripe, blue and red striped cotton shirt, two odd black stockings and clasped clogs. He had in his possession a second-class ticket for the swimming bath, Mayfield Baths, number 7,837.

He was later identified as Thomas Smith and having lived in Wood Street in Chorlton-on-Medlock with his mother. It was reported that his mother's grief was pitiful to see.

His mother said that she knew of no reason why he might leave home although it was also reported that he had left home to look for work. She said that he was a very timid lad and would not go to bed alone. She said that on the Tuesday he had gone out and didn't return.

The following day two boys came to see her to know if he was going to work and she wrote to his employers to say that he was not well as she didn't want him to lose his place. She said that she thought he would have been coaxed away but didn't know who would do it.

At his inquest on Saturday 6 May 1905 a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown was returned.


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


see Sussex Agricultural Express - Saturday 15 April 1905

see Gloucester Citizen - Wednesday 12 April 1905

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 06 May 1905

see Birmingham Mail - Wednesday 12 April 1905