Unsolved Murders

Margaret MCurley

Age: 66

Sex: female

Date: 29 Sep 1902

Place: Railway Row, Kelty, Fifeshire

Margaret M'Curley died from injuries that she said her son had inflicted.

Her son was tried for her culpable homicide but acquitted.

The charge against him was that, 'between 22nd and 25th August, within the house at Railway Row, Kelty, Fifeshire, occupied by Margaret M'Curley, his mother, assault her, strike her with his fists, knock her down, kick her, jump on her, twist her leg, and otherwise maltreat her, and did inflict injury upon her, in consequence of which she died in Dunfermline Cottage Hospital on 29 September, and was thus killed by him'.

In her deposition, Margaret M'Curley said:

'I am 66 years of age. I am a widow, and reside at Railway Row, Kelty. There stayed with me my son, a lodger and my grandson, a boy of about 8 years of age. My injuries are due to my son abusing me. It began on a Friday night after he came in drunk. I cannot. I cannot tell the date. It was on the pay Friday. He struck me and kicked me. He threw me below the bed, and threw pitchers of water upon me. I had to lie there all night. A woman was the first to help me. I do not think I was in my bed when she came.

I cannot say whether he did anything on Saturday or Sunday. He had me knocked useless. I cannot be sure about the day, but the woman can tell you. The lodger  was in the house on one occasion, and told my son it was a shame to treat me that way, and my son said if he interfered he would break his neck. I do not think my grandson was in. He gets feared, and runs when any disturbance occurs. I do not remember how I got out from the bed.

My leg got hurt by my son throwing me on my back on the floor, taking hold of my foot and twisting it round and round. He danced on my chest, too. When he gets drunk he is an awful rascal. When he was sober we got on well. He was civil enough. That's all I know half about, and for fitting in inventions, I am not going to do it. The lodger did nothing to me. He had a dram that night too, and I had some too.

It was what my son did to me that brought me here. Nobody else meddled me. I have no ill-will my son for this, god forbid. I was quite well before my son abused me. Its not the first attack I've got off him. I was one night below the bed at any rate after my son abused me. I was afraid to come out. I cannot say whether I was two nights there. I had nobody to send for help at first. I didn't cry out'.

However, the grandson said that he did not remember his uncle, Margaret M'Curley's son, coming into the house the worse for drink at the end of August 1902. He said that Margaret M'Curley was the worse for drink but was quite well otherwise. He said that she was going 'stottin' about the house.

He said that when he went to bed that night Margaret M'Curley was lying onthe floor and his uncle was not in the house that evening. He said that he didn't remember seeing Margaret M'Curley the following day.

When the grandson was cross-examined he said that he saw his uncle lift Margaret M'Curley into bed and that he had never seen him strike her. He said that his uncle was always kind to Margaret M'Curley and gave her money every week to keep the house, adding that Margaret M'Curley was often drunk and at he had frequently seen her 'stottin' about the floor.

Following some more evidence the Advocate-Depute intimated that he withdrew the charge and the Margaret M'Curley's son was liberated.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 17 November 1902