Unsolved Murders

Rose Anne Byrne

Age: 60

Sex: female

Date: 20 Nov 1907

Place: 18 Brown Street, Moss Bank, Widnes

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Rose Anne Byrne was found dead with a fractured skull on a footpath in Widnes.

She was found dead on the footpath underneath the bedroom window of her house and was thought to have fallen out of it although it was considered that she didn't do it of her own free will.

She had lived at 18 Brown Street, Moss Bank near Tanhouse Station, Widness.

Her body was found by a chemical labourer who lived two doors away. He was returning from a night shift at six o'clock in the morning when he found her on the path. She had a wound over her right eye and other portions of her face were badly scratched.

The man, who recognised her, felt confident that she was dead and tried to arouse the neighbours. He kicked at the door to awaken the occupants but failed to arouse the inmates and so obtained the assistance of others and they burst open the door. Inside they found a lodger fast asleep on the sofa in the kitchen and her husband was found fast asleep in the back bed room.

As soon as the husband saw his wife after she was carried in he exclaimed 'She must have jumped through the window!'

However, when the police examined the window which was directly above where her body had fallen they found that it was only open about 18 inches. They found a heavy box up against the window which was much higher than the window ledge on which there was a cloth cover that was in no way disturbed even though Rose Byrne, who was very corpulent was said to have got through. They said that her stoutness would hardly have permitted her getting through such an opening.

Between midnight and 1 o'clock both Rose Byrne and her husband were heard to be quarrelling violently, so loud in fact that the neighbours could easily hear them and could not get to sleep. They said that they were both in drink.

Her husband was at the time arrested but at the coroners inquest there wasn't enough evidence to connect him.

The post mortem examination revealed that she had died from a haemorrhage from a fracture to her skull caused by a violent blow on her temple with a blunt metal instrument of convex shape. It was noted that there was remarkably little blood on the pavement where she was found.

It was first thought that her death had been a suicide as she had tried to kill herself twice before by jumping out of both the front and back windows. She was also addicted to drink and of an eccentric disposition.

After receiving some information the police arrested her husband. He said 'I know nothing about it. I deny it altogether'. Her husband was a saltcake man employed at Messrs Pilkingtons works under the United Alkali Company. His last weeks wages had been 46s and he had also just won the football sweep of 30s.

Shortly after the police commenced dragging operations in a pit in a field at the back of the house. The pit was 25 yards long and 15 yards wide and very deep and covered in thick green slime. After two hours searching they found a mans shirt.

It was noted that Brown Street was one of the poorest streets in Widness and was surrounded by waste banks and chemical works and presented a dreary aspect. Rose Byrne had lived in a four roomed house rented at 3s 9d per week which was devoid of furniture and in a filthy condition.


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


see Dublin Daily Express - Wednesday 20 November 1907

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 20 November 1907

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Thursday 07 November 1907

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 05 November 1907

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Thursday 07 November 1907

see National Archives - ASSI 52/131