Unsolved Murders

Lucy MCarthur

Age: unknown

Sex: female

Date: 10 Nov 1904

Place: 1122 Dumbarton Road, Whiteinch, Glasgow

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Lucy MCarthur was murdered in her dairy shop.

She was bound and gagged with a red handkerchief. Two handkerchiefs had been used, a gentleman's white cotton one which was thrust into her mouth and another red cotton one that was tied around her head to keep the white one from coming out. It was thought that she had come to her senses and freed the handkerchief from her mouth and started screaming and was then hit by one of the men with an axe hammer, killing her.

It was thought that she was robbed as she had been known to have declared that she had about £500 to fall back upon.

It was known that while her business was a small one it was prosperous.

The said that they believed that there had been a considerable sum more money in her shop than what they had found and declared the motive robbery.

They still found £10 and all her jewellery still there though.

The majority of the shipbuilding yards and engineering establishments and other public works in the burgh paid their employees fortnightly, and the previous Saturday was what was known as the Big Pay when they all got paid. It was known that between Big Saturday and the following Monday many of her customers were in the habit of paying their milk accounts and that she often had as much as £20 besides her at such times. It was also known that she usually paid her own accounts on the Monday or Tuesday.

It was thought that two men had forced an entrance into the premises and had taken her by surprise before she could scream. She had been struck by a syphon bottle and stunned.

Two strange men were seen loitering near the shop between 9 and 10pm on the Monday night.

A man was sought by the police who had been staying at a local guest house. He was traced to another lodging but had left and was not found. He was described as a mysterious stranger and had paid for lodgings nearby but left and never return. It was thought that after leaving Whiteinch he had gone to a Broomielaw lodging house where he had paid for a bed and that during general conversation with other occupants of the house about the murder he had left and again never returned. It was also thought that the same man had later gone to a model lodging house and paid for what was termed as a Day Bed, that is a bed that can be used during the day. However, it was later found that the bed had not been used and the man was never seen again.

The red handkerchief was of an uncommon design. It was 28 inches by 14 inches with a pattern of wild prancing horses without a saddle or harness surmounted by a deep border. The handkerchiefs were designed 10 years earlier and as far as it was known had never been sold to retail shops in Scotland although could have been hawked by cheap dealers. Many of them had been exported to South Africa. The white handkerchief had no distinguishing marks. The cord used to bind her hands was of a narrow braid largely used by dressmakers. One of the pieces was plaited in three, and worked round with greenish macrame thread, the other being of four threads.

The door was also scuffed as though it had been kicked in.

Lucy MCarthur had told several of her neighbours some days before her murder she had seen a suspicious looking person frequently in the vicinity of her shop and she thought that her movements were being watched.

When the police had lifted her up it became apparent that her head had almost been cleft in two. An axe shaft was found on the floor nearby covered in blood and the axe head was found in a similar state on the top of a chest.


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


see Edinburgh Evening News - Wednesday 14 December 1904

see Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 10 November 1904

see Dundee Evening Post - Monday 14 November 1904

see Edinburgh Evening News - Saturday 19 November 1904

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 10 November 1904

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 19 November 1904