Unsolved Murders

Mary Ellen Whiteside

Age: 23

Sex: female

Date: 2 Jun 1906

Place: Brook Street, Clitheroe

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Mary Ellen Whiteside died from blood poisoning after an illegal operation.

The medical evidence said that death appeared to be due to blood poisoning after an abortion caused by an illegal operation.

She had visited a person in Blackburn with an illegal object and had the operation but she didn't give the name.

Her mother said that she knew about her daughter’s condition but said that she had never made any remark about undergoing an operation or say that she was going to Blackburn. A woman who lodged with her said that she had told her that she was going to Blackburn but didn't tell her why and that when she came back she was ill.

A woman who lived on Birley Street in Blackburn said that she remembered two young women coming to her house at the end of March but she didn't know either of them and said that one of them looked very poorly. She said that one of them asked her to make them some tea which she did.

She said that after at their request she set them on their way to the station. She said that she didn't know a certain herbalist at Burnley and that the women had not written to her before or made any appointments. The coroner asked her if the women had made arrangements to see her and she said no and when told that it was thought that she had been recommended by a man in Burnley to the women to visit she said that she didn't know the man in Burnley

She was asked if she had seen any operation and she said no and when asked if she had gone out at any point she said yes, but only for five minutes.

She was also asked if the woman had come to her house and another woman had performed an operation and she said that it was impossible for an operation to take place in her house.

When told that a woman said she had received a letter from a woman saying that she would be ready for her, the woman denied that she had ever written to a woman in Clitheroe.

The coroner said, 'But is it not extraordinary, then, that this should appear on the dying statement of deceased, that your name was given by the herbalist at Burnley as a place where she could go, that she goes, and you call the woman in?' the woman replied 'Oh, no, I could not do such a thing'.

When she was asked how much of the guinea she was to have she said, 'I never got a halfpenny'. They had not their clothes off in my house.

Then when asked to account for how she knew the woman's name the woman said, 'They were standing in the street as if looking for somebody, and when I went to my door they spoke to me, and that was how they came to be in the house and to have a cup of tea.'

A doctor said that Mary Whiteside had undoubtedly died from blood poisoning but that blood poisoning was highly presumptive evidence. He also said that Mary Whiteside had admitted that there had been an operation.

Mary Whiteside died in the workhouse.

She was a weaver.


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


see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 02 June 1906

see Burnley Express - Saturday 02 June 1906