Unsolved Murders

James Lynch

Age: 18 months

Sex: male

Date: 7 Jul 1900

Place: Milesmark, Dunfermline

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

James Lynch was run over by a cart on 30 June 1900.

A carter was tried for culpable homicide but the charge was found not proven.

It was said that the carter, who worked for Messrs Wordie & Co. carting contractors in Alloa had allowed a horse and lorry that he was in charge of to go along without a driver and that it had gone off close to a footpath at Milesmark in Dunfermline within 20 yards of the house of a miner at Milesmark Row and that the wheel had gone over and broken the leg of James Lynch who then died seven days later.

After James Lynch was said to have been run over he was taken to the Cottage Hospital where his injured limb was amputated. However, he later died on 7 July 1900. The doctor said that his injuries were consistent with him having been run over by a lorry.

A 16-year old boy said that he had been standing nearly opposite Milesmark Row at about mid-day waiting for a companion to go to Dunfermline with. He said that he saw a single lorry laden with barrels pass him and then go through Milesmark and out of sight, and then shortly after he saw two lorries approach from the same direction, although only the first lorry had a driver. He said that there were two men in the first lorry and none in the second lorry and that it had no driver. He said then that his friend arrived and he went off into Dunfermline. He later identified the carter as one of the men that he had seen on the first of the two lorries.

A man said that he had seen James Lynch playing in the gutter, alone and unattended, on the opposite side of the road from the cottages, about 20-30 yards from his father's door, when he passed. He said that he didn't know where James Lynch was when the lorries passed. He said that the two lorries passed him afterwards heading off towards Dunfermline and that he noticed no blood on the wheels of the second lorry noting that if there had been blood he would have noticed it.

A woman said that she was one of a picnic party going to Doilar that day. She said that the bulk of the party had gone by brake but that she had chosen to cycle. She said that she was in advance of the brake. She said that she was in advance of the two brakes (lorries) and that she dismounted on the south side of the road to allow them to overtake her. She said that the single lorry and then the two lorries together passed her. She said that there were two men seated sideways on the first of the two lorries that had their backs facing her and were facing north. She said that there was no one in charge of the hindmost lorry which she said was about five yards behind the lorry that the first two men were sat on. She also said that there were no reins from the second lorry to the first lorry. She said that as the lorries passed her the men turned to look at her and that she was quite sure that the man charged was one of them.

She said that just as they passed her she heard a cry of distress from a child and then a woman’s screams. She said that when she first heard the child's cry she looked around and saw James Lynch lying on the road about a yard from the footpath. She said that the back wheel of the second lorry was about 7 to 10 yards from James Lynch when she looked. She said that she looked at the wheel mark on the road and found blood on either side of it and also saw blood on the hind wheel of the lorry which she said was very close to James Lynch.

She said that she went to see James Lynch and saw that his leg was hanging off with only the skin at the knee keeping it on. She said that she then noticed a woman on the drying green hanging up clothes and that the woman came over and lifted up James Lynch. The woman said that she then wrapped up James Lynch's leg and they took him to the Cottage Hospital.

It was said that after James Lynch had been run over no one had tried to stop the lorries. When the lorries returned the wheels were examined but no blood could be found.

It was also said that James Lynch had only been out of the house for five minutes playing.

At first, the driver of the first lorry was arrested, but he was then released and the other driver of the two carts was then arrested.

All of the three lorries that had passed had large beer barrels on them. The driver of the first lorry said that they had been sent to Dunfermline on 30 June 1900 with lorries laden with large and full beer barrels. He said that it was quite a common thing for one driver to come forward and sit beside another whilst on a journey and said that the man tried had jumped up once or twice to get a light for his pipe and that when he had done so they had spoke away for some time.

When the carter was charged he said that it could not have been them as he knew nothing about it. He and others searched for blood on the wheels of his cart and found none.

It was heard that the first cart had arrived about 15-minutes before the other carts and it was suggested that that had been the difference between them at Milesmark. when they returned, the carters had all been driving their own lorries.

Another woman said that when she heard the cries she came out to see but said that she thought that the lorries had passed some time before that.

A husband and wife said that they were papering the inside of their front door and the wife said that she saw two lorries pass just before the cry was raised and just after, another lorry pass followed by two more together.

After hearing all the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of not proven and the carter was discharged.


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


see Alloa Advertiser - Saturday 25 August 1900

see Derbyshire Courier - Saturday 07 July 1900