Unsolved Murders

Jessie Holt

Age: 6

Sex: female

Date: 23 Apr 1902

Place: Bridgwater Canal, Sale

Jessie Holt was found dead in the Bridgwater Canal at Sale on 23 April 1902.

Her mother was tried for her murder but acquitted.

Jessie Holt's mother had been a charwoman and had three other children, one born before Jessie Holt and two after. All her children had been illegitimate.

Jessie Holt had been born in Knutsford Workhouse. She was later put out to nurse with a woman at Warrington in 1901 and was eventually placed under the care of a woman in Altrincham at 3s a week for her keep. However, Jessie Holt's mother got into arrears with her payments and the woman said that she couldn't keep Jessie Holt any longer and so her mother took her to the house of a woman in Palmer Street, Sale.

However, on 23 April 1902 Jessie Holt's mother took Jessie Holt from the woman in Palmer Street, saying that she was taking her to a home just over the bridge where she would be taken care of.

Jessie Holt was subsequently found dead in the canal. The doctor that carried out the post mortem said that Jessie Holt's cause of death was due to drowning.

It was said that she had pushed Jessie Holt into the canal on 23 April 1902. Jessie Holt was last seen in her mother's care on 17 April 1902.

When Jessie Holt's mother was cautioned she burst into tears and said 'I did not do it. She asked me to pick her up and carry her, and I must have fallen in a fit. She must have slipped out of my arms. That is all I know'.

When she was charged she said, 'I was in trouble at the time, and did not know what I was doing. I did not push her in at all, I did not. I do not know what came over me. I must have been out of my mind. I felt very queer and let go of her hand. I stopped there over an hour and nobody came, not even a boatman. I could not find her anywhere. I thought she must be in the canal'.

When the case was heard at the Altrincham magistrates it was said that although it was not overwhelming, it was one with strong suspicion and although the evidence against her mother was purely circumstantial, she was committed to the Chester Assizes on a capital charge.

However, she was found not guilty.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Cheshire Observer - Saturday 17 January 1903

see Belfast News-Letter - Friday 13 March 1903

see Witney Gazette and West Oxfordshire Advertiser - Saturday 17 January 1903

see Warrington Guardian - Saturday 14 March 1903

see Leeds Mercury - Saturday 17 January 1903