Unsolved Murders

Frank Morgan

Age: 23

Sex: male

Date: 16 May 1907

Place: Smithfields

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Frank Morgan died after a fight in the street.

He actually died from septic meningitis but it was not possible to say whether it was caused by him being hit on the head by another man with either a stick or a hatchet or whether it had been set on by a fall during which he had hit his head on a wall a little earlier.

The man that he had fought with was charged with his murder but at the Coroner's inquest an open verdict was returned.

Frank Morgan had separated from his wife two weeks earlier because he wanted to live with someone else.

On the Saturday night just before midnight Frank Morgan's wife saw Frank Morgan in Scotland Street with her baby who she had left with some neighbours to look after. They had a conversation during which Frank Morgan was told to behave himself to which Frank Morgan responded by knocking her down. His wife got up and ran off but he chased her whilst still carrying the baby.

He chased her through to Smithfields where she ran down an entry. Frank Morgan was just behind her and made a reach to grab her hair but stumbled and fell whilst holding the baby and hit his head on the pavement. Frank Morgan's wife then managed to escape into the street and didn't see him again that night.

After his wife escaped Frank Morgan, who was drunk, kicked in a door panel and then fell against a wall striking his head above the left eye and dropping the baby. A woman then came up and took charge of the baby from him. Frank Morgan then kicked a youth twice. The youth then hit him with what he said was a stick on the back of the head. When questioned by the Coroner the youth denied that he had used a hatchet and said that it was a stick.

Another woman said that the weapon was a hatchet such as one would chop sticks with. A woman who saw the incident said that the youth called out 'If you don't down him, I will. I will cleave him', and after he had delivered the blows he was said to have said 'He wants picking up. He's dead, and if he isn't he ought to be' and then slowly walked away.

The next day his wife saw him in Solly Street at a house where he said that he was ill and complained of pains in his head. She said that she decided that the infirmary was the best place for him but on the Monday he left and went back to his father's house and then went to spend the night with his wife at 6 Court, Furnace Hill where she had moved to after their separation. She said that he seemed well and spoke cheerfully and had three glasses of beer, however, she said that the next day he appeared wore and a doctor was called. When the doctor arrived he was not told about the events of Saturday night and Frank Morgan died on the Thursday.

At his post-mortem the doctor said that he had died from septic meningitis set up by a fracture of the base of the skull. He said that brain substance was torn in several places and that the fracture was the result of a very severe blow from a weapon.

An open verdict was returned as it could not be determined whether he had died as a result of falling over or by being hit on the head with a weapon and the Coroner pointed out to the youth that had been charged that he had had a narrow escape from being sent to trial for manslaughter and that he hoped that that would be a warning to him for the rest of his life.