Unsolved Murders

Mary Sharples

Age: 34

Sex: female

Date: 25 Oct 1911

Place: 26 Wyne Street, Preston

Source: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Mary Sharples died at her home on 25 October 1911.

Her husband was charged with her murder but there are no known trial results.

Her cause of death was given as pneumonia which could have been accelerated by excitement and ill treatment.

In the 12 months prior to her death Mary Sharples had left the house four times due to the quarrelling.

Their housekeeper who had worked for them for seven years said that Mary Sharples husband was often drunk and didn't follow his work. She had seen Mary Sharples husband swearing at his wife and also seen him throw a pint pot at her forcing her to go out into the street. A few weeks earlier Mary Sharples husband had slapped his wife in the face. She had worked at the mill but recently complained of a sore foot and was off work. Around that time Mary Sharples husband slapped her he had said that she was no use to him.

On 25 October 1911 Mary Sharples was laying on the sofa in the kitchen and Mary Sharples husband came home drunk. He had his tea and sat in his chair and then slept, waking up about 7pm. He was still drunk and got up and laid on the sofa at the opposite end to where Mary Sharples was resting. Mary Sharples didn't complain and about 30 minutes later Mary Sharples husband woke up again and the housekeeper said to him, 'Don't lie on her leg, go to bed'. She said that Mary Sharples had abscesses on her leg. She said that Mary Sharples husband then got up in a passion and lifted a chair and knocked over another with it and said, 'I will get a razor and cut your bloody throats'.

The housekeeper said that that upset Mary Sharples and said that she then went to fetch a policeman. She said that as she was going to the door Mary Sharples got up to follow her and then went on the floor sideways and then rolled over on her back. Mary Sharples husband then grabbed her and said, 'Don't be a bloody fool'. The housemaid said that she then ran out of the house and came back two minutes later with a neighbour and her daughters young man.

Mary Sharples was still on the floor and they put her on the sofa. The neighbour said, 'What have you been doing? whose done this?' and the housekeeper said, 'he's done it'. The neighbour said that she would report it and Mary Sharples husband told her to get out of the bloody house. The women then went for a doctor and when they got back Mary Sharples was dead.

The doctor that carried out the post-mortem on Mary Sharples body said that her body was that of a fine, well-formed woman. He said that there were no bruises or marks of violence on her body but that her left leg below the knee and about the ankle showed signs of extensive inflammation and that there had been a number of abscesses which had been opened. He said that when he opened up her body he found that her lungs on both sides were very congested and were practically in a state of pneumonia and that her heart was flabby and soft. He said that there was no actual disease of the valve, but the muscular walls were very thin and weak and that there was considerable deposit of the fat on the heart. He said that her kidneys were congested but that beyond that there were no other disease of the organs. He said that her stomach contained a little fluid and that the walls were thin and weak but that the lining membrane was healthy.

The doctor concluded that the cause of her death was pneumonia of the lungs which was very likely a septic nature derived from the septic condition of her leg, together with a weak heart.

He said that anything that excited her either physically or mentally would and tended to accelerate her death but that her death might have otherwise ensued at any time in the ordinary course.

The doctor concluded by saying, 'I can't but think that what is said to have happened on the night of 25 October 1911 did accelerate her death'.

Her husband was sent to the Assizes for trial but there are no known reports of the case and thought that there was no trial.


see National Archives - ASSI 52/180