Unsolved Murders

Elizabeth Carrie

Age: 40

Sex: female

Date: 1 Nov 1909

Place: 36 Hill Street, Dundee

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Elizabeth Carrie was stabbed at a house on 15 October 1909 and later died from her injuries on 1 November 1909.

A man was tried for her murder but acquitted, although he was convicted of assault and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. However, it was not clear why he was not convicted of her murder or manslaughter.

The man had been charged with stabbing four women at Hill Street, one of them being Elizabeth Carrie.

It was heard that the man's wife had been drinking at 36 Hill Street in Dundee with a number of other women and that when he had gone there to take her home she had refused and so he took out a pocket knife and stabbed the women.

Elizabeth Carrie was taken to the infirmary where she was treated but died from pleurisy on 1 November 1909. However, her post-mortem revealed that the pleurisy was quite recent, perhaps only six or seven days old. As such, it was said that it might have developed at the infirmary. The pleurisy was in her right lung, whilst the stab wound was to her right lung.

The doctor noted that Elizabeth Carrie had been stabbed in the left lung where she had a small abscess about the size of a marble. He said that if she had been suffering from pleurisy of long standing then the two layers of the pleuro would have been adhering very closely together and would have been very difficult to separate, but that, in point of fact, they separated quite easily.

The judge then asked whether the abscess was the result of external poisoning by the knife and the doctor said that he thought that it was, but agreed that it was possible that the abscess might have formed from internal poisoning in the blood.

The judge then said that it was a matter od speculation whether the abscess was the result of external poison or from an internal source although the doctor said that even so, if she had not been stabbed that she would not have had the abscess.

When the doctor gave her cause of death he said that in his view Elizabeth Carrie had died from abscess on her left lung with septic pleurisy in the right side resulting from it, and general weakness consequent on the abscess and the septic pleurisy.

Another doctor said that he thought that the cause of Elizabeth Carrie's death was exhaustion brought on by double pleurisy and suppuration and consolidation of the lung resulting from the injury to her lung. He further concluded that he had no doubt that Elizabeth Carrie had died as a result of the stab wound.

At the trial, a mill-worker said that she had had not returned to work that afternoon as she was not well but that whilst out on a message later at about 3pm she had seen Elizabeth Carrie in Hill Street who she said invited her to her house as she was having a party. She said that Elizabeth Carrie also told her that there was a certain woman at her house and that her husband had threatened to come and get her and stab all who were in the house. The mill-worker said that when she got to 36 Hill Street she saw two women there both under the influence of drink. She said that she saw a gill and a bottle of two-penny beer. She said that she stayed for about 20 minutes or half an hour and then went home. However, she said that she went back at about 5pm to see if the man's wife had left yet, but said that she was still there. She said that she had done so as she knew that Elizabeth Carrie had wanted the woman whose husband was said to be coming for her out of the house. She said that she asked Elizabeth Carrie, 'Is she not away yet?' and said that Elizabeth Carrie told her that she could not get her away. She said that Elizabeth Carrie also told her that the woman's husband had not yet come for her.

She said that at the time the man's wife was sitting on the floor and that Elizabeth Carrie and the other woman were sitting on chairs and that then the woman's husband came into the kitchen and took out a penknife from his waistcoat pocket and opened it. She said that when she saw that she made a dash for the door and that as she passed the man, he struck her with his knife stabbing her about the neck and shoulder. She said that she then ran off down the street and noticed that there was blood trickling down her neck.

The mill-worker said that when she got home she was afraid to tell her husband where she had been and so told him that she had been stabbed on her way home from work. She said that her husband then took her to the chemists in Strathmartine Road were her wound was dressed and that after that they went to the police station where she reiterated the story she had told her husband, but she later admitted that she had been to Elizabeth Carrie's house and been stabbed there.

When the man's wife was questioned, she said that she had been married for 14 years and had two children. She said that on the afternoon of Thursday 14 October 1909 some women visited her and they started drinking and then later went off to 36 Hill Street where they continued drinking. She said that there was a lot of drinking going on there and that she saw two half bottles, but said that she got the worse of it and did not know what happened afterwards. She said that she stayed there all night and that on the following Friday morning the drinking resumed and one shillings worth was sent for when the shops opened and that a further 1s worth was twice ordered during the afternoon and that she didn't remember much more after that. She added that she didn't remember a woman coming in and telling her that her husband was looking for her and was going to stab her, and added that she didn't remember her husband coming in or remember him stabbing her or seizing her throat and throwing her to the floor.

When the judge questioned her he asked how much she had had to drink and she said 3s between the three of them and the judge noted that that was not a lot of whisky for one accustomed to it, but the man's wife said that she was not accustomed to it.

When the woman left the box after giving evidence at the trial, the judge said to her, 'I consider that you were to blame for all of this business and this drinking, neglecting your husband and children. It was exceedingly wrong of you. You should be in the dock as well as your husband today'.

One of the other women that had been in the house at the time said that when the woman's husband came in and presented the knife, she became frightened and ran out. She said that she supposed that she was stabbed as she ran past the woman's husband but said that she didn't feel the blow at the time. She said that she was stabbed in her right side and went twice to the infirmary to have it treated and was off from work for a fortnight.

A woman that lived in the same tenement as the man and his wife said that the man came into her house at about 1pmm on the Friday, 14 October 1909 and asked her where his wife was and said that she told him that she didn't know. She said that he then said, 'There is to be a tragedy in this land, and you are to be the first victim'. The woman said that she knew that his wife was at Elizabeth Carrie's house and she became so alarmed that she went there to tell his wife but said that his wife was too drunk and so she told Elizabeth Carrie what the husband had said.

The court heard that the woman said that when the woman's husband came into her home and asked her where his wife was and she had said that she didn't know, that he had called her a liar. The judge then noted that he was right at which point there was laughter in the court.

Before she died, Elizabeth Carrie gave a dying deposition. She said, 'I am a widow aged forty. I remember Friday, 15 October. There was some women in my house on that date (3 names). We had some drink together, not very much, otherwise I would have been killed outright. A woman, after going away, came back to warn the man's wife that her husband was coming up to stab her. The woman's expression was that he was to 'skail' blood. Another woman came up to the house about five o'clock. Shortly after she came in the woman's husband also came. He asked his wife to come home and make dinner, but she told him to go and make it himself and that he would get it out of some other woman. He then produced a knife and made a rush at his wife and struck her with it. I came across to him, exclaiming, 'Would you use a knife?'. He then struck me in the back as hard as he could draw. He also aimed some other blows about the back and neck. I then ran out, crying 'Murder', and then ran downstairs, and fell in the green. I further depone that I am unable to write through bodily weakness'.

When Elizabeth Carrie's father gave evidence, he said that he had been given £25 on 9 October 1909 as deferred Army pension and that he had given a part of the money to Elizabeth Carrie to buy clothes and provisions for the house. He said that Elizabeth Carrie had been out of work for the previous two weeks and said that she then started to spend the money that he had given her on drink. He said that he saw her drinking on 14 October 1909.

He said that Elizabeth Carrie enjoyed very good health and although she was not a strong woman, she had never laid a day in her life with sickness and had never had bronchitis although he did say that she had had a cough for the previous five or six months.

A policeman said that he had been in North George Street between 5pm and 6pm when he was summoned to a passage between Hill street and Hospital Wynd where he had been told a woman had been stabbed. He said that when he went there, he found Elizabeth Carrie who he found had been bleeding, but said that the bleeding had stopped. He said that the wound did not appear serious and that he then found out that the assailant was the other woman's husband.

The police then went off to the woman's husbands house where they found him the worse for drink. They then cautioned him with assaulting his wife, but he said that he knew nothing about it. The police then found his knife on the mantlepiece.

A doctor at the Dundee Royal Infirmary said that when Elizabeth Carrie was admitted to his ward she complained of a severe pain in her side, and that on examination he discovered that she was suffering from pneumo-thorax on the left side. He said that he didn't examine her for pleurisy, but noted that she could not have been suffering from Pleurisy because her temperature was sub-normal, noting that it was 97 whilst 98.8 was the normal. He said that if she had been suffering from pleurisy of long standing when she was admitted, that she would have had a much higher temperature of about 102 or 103.

The doctor said that Elizabeth Carrie had a pleurisy attack on 19 October 1909 and on 20 October 1909 she was removed to the isolation ward although she was brought back on 24 October and remained in his ward until she died on 1 November 1909. He said that she emitted a deposition on 25 October 1909, noting that her condition was quite rational although her mind had been wandering.

Although Elizabeth Carrie died, as it appears, as a consequence of her being stabbed by the woman's husband, he was only convicted of assault.

The charged were stated as being that on 15 October 1909 in the house at 36 Hill Street, Dundee, occupied by Elizabeth Carrie's husband, he did (1) assault Elizabeth Carrie or Maddy, residing there and did stab her with a knife on the neck and back, in consequence of which she died in Dundee Royal Infirmary on 1 November, and did murder her; (2) assault another woman, stabbing her on the right shoulder; (3) assault his wife, stabbing her with a knife on the back to the danger of her life; and (4) assault another woman who he stabbed with a knife in the back.

As such, it appears that he was not convicted of murder or culpable homicide and so the case appears technically unsolved.


see Northern times and weekly journal for Sutherland and the North - Thursday 27 January 1910

see Dundee Courier - Wednesday 26 January 1910

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 06 January 1910

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 25 January 1910, p1 and 3

see Dundee Courier - Friday 07 January 1910

see Dundee Courier - Monday 17 January 1910

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 26 January 1910

see National Records of Scotland - JC26/1910/11