Unsolved Murders

Mary Spier Gunn

Age: 50

Sex: female

Date: 18 Oct 1913

Place: Portencross, West Kilbride

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Mary Spier Gunn was shot as she sat in her cottage with her brother-in-law and her younger sister.

She died instantly after being shot in the heart.

The police issued a poster saying: '£100 Reward will be paid to the person or persons (not being the actual perpetrators) who give such information as will lead to the apprehension and conviction of the party who committed the shooting outrage at Portencross, West Kilbride, on Saturday, 18th October 1913, by which Miss Mary Spier Gunn was fatally shot and two other people injured'

Mary Gunn was sat with her brother-in-law who was a retired farmer and his wife knitting at 8.30pm on the Saturday night when suddenly and without any warning six shots were fired through the window.

The blind was not down at the time. First of all two shots were fired, then three and then one.

The second set of bullets seemed to hit Mary Gunn who stood up and said, 'Oh, I am shot'.

When the shots were fired the farmer shouted out 'Floor, floor!'  and after his wife was shot he grabbed her in his arms and then started shouting for his dogs. After he went out to raise the alarm and then noticed that he had been shot in the finger which was shattered.

The farmers wife was also shot but recovered.

The farmer had only recently retired having previously lived in Perthshire and had been in Portencross for six months.

It was thought that the motive had been robbery as the farmer was thought to have been well off and continued to follow agricultural pursuits and had that day been to a cattle market.

Several strange footprints were found near the cottage and it was thought that the person that had fired the shots had hidden in a shrubbery near the window through which the shots had been fired.


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


see Aberdeen Journal - Saturday 15 November 1913

see Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 21 October 1913

see Largs and Millport News

see Who Killed Mary Gunn?: Solving the Portencross Murder Mystery by Stephen Brown