Unsolved Murders

Kate Soloman

Age: 34

Sex: female

Date: 25 May 1917

Place: 348 Bury New Road, Broughton

Kate Soloman died from an illegal operation on 25 April 1917.

A woman from Swinton was tried for her manslaughter at the Manchester Assizes but acquitted. The charges were described as unsubstantiated. The woman had also been charged with performing illegal operations on two other women in Salford and Swinton but similarly acquitted.

Kate Soloman had been a married woman and had lived at 348 Bury New Road, Broughton.

Her husband had been a master tailor who carried on his business at 143 Great Dacie Street in Manchester.

He said that they had had five children, aged 15, 11, 6 and 6 as well as a 12-year-old child who died about a year earlier.

He added that he knew that at the time of her death that she had been about 10 or 11 months pregnant.

He said that on 25 April 1917 that he went home at about 12.45pm for his dinner and when he went into the kitchen that he found his wife there and a woman that he had never seen before and was a total stranger to him. He said that Kate Soloman introduced the woman to him, although he didn't recall her name at the time, and that he later asked her where she lived and said that his wife told him that she lived in Church Street, Swinton. He said that he then asked her what her occupation was and said that she told him that she was a weaver and that she made frocks for children.

He said that after dinner that he called Kate Soloman into the scullery and asked her what the woman wanted, and said that Kate Soloman told him that she had come to make some frocks for the children.

He said that he reminded her about her telling him previously, about five weeks earlier, about some woman at Swinton who could give her stuff to cause a miscarriage. However, he said that she told him that she was 'not' that woman.

He said that when he had left home on the 25 April 1917 that Kate Soloman was quite cheerful and that the gramophone was playing.

He noted that the woman who was in his house, the woman from Swinton, had had her hat and coat off whilst she was in his house.

He said that after dinner he went back to work in Manchester, but that at about 8pm the same day he was sent for as Kate Soloman had been taken suddenly ill and that when he got home he found her lying on the couch in the front room downstairs, fully dressed and dead.

He said that he then found a bottle on the table labelled Lysol, which he said had been purchased by Kate Soloman about 12 months earlier. He noted that she had been advised by her doctor to douche herself. He said that she had also purchased a syringe, but noted that the one she had purchased was not the one produced at the trial. He also noted that the bottle on the table could not have been used by anyone without getting off its top.

He said that the Lysol and syringe were always kept in the cupboard in his wife's bedroom upstairs and that she had not used the Lysol and syringe in more than 12 months.

He noted that Kate Soloman had been taking pills since she knew she was pregnant, but said that he had told her not to take anything like that.

He said that when he spoke to Kate Soloman about five weeks earlier about her condition that she had told her that a girl friend of hers had taken her to see a woman at Swinton who could stop her having a child and that the cost would be £1.1.0 and that the woman would use no instruments. However, he said that she told him that she had felt nervous about it and that she would not let the woman do anything.  However, he said that she had gone to Swinton to see the woman for that purpose, but that he had told her not to do anything do anything or take any risks.

He said that on the Tuesday evening that Kate Soloman told him that she had been to see the woman at Swinton the previous afternoon, but that when he asked her why, she told him that she had not gone for the purpose of having the child removed, but to see a woman who was a good tailoress and who could make some frocks cheap.

He added that he said, 'Are you sure it’s not that woman, meaning the woman in Swinton who could get rid of the baby, that she had been to see and said that Kate Soloman said, 'No, I promised you i'll have nothing to do with her'.

Kate Soloman's 11-year-old daughter said that she had got home from school on 25 April 1917 for lunch at about 12.10pm to find her mother in the kitchen with the woman from Swinton and the charwoman. She said that Kate Soloman was apparently in good health and spirits and that she prepared dinner for the family. She said that when dinner was ready that she went into the front room to see if her father was coming and found that the blinds in the room were half down.

She noted that there was a couch there and that she noticed a small white towel spread out on it and on the floor she noticed an enamel bowl containing some bluish water as well as a bottle of Lysol on the table and an empty packet of sunlight soap as well as a tube. She said that the tube was a leather tube that was narrow and then widened into a ball and then narrowed again, and that it was about six inches long.

She said that she then left home at 1.40pm to go back to school. She said that before she went she went into the kitchen and asked her mother, in the presence of the woman tried, 'What is that there for on the drawing room table?' and that her mother replied, 'It is not for you, get washed and go back to school’. She said that she then went back to school.

She said that when she left Kate Soloman had been in good spirits and had had the gramophone on.

She said that when she came back home from school at about 5pm that her 8-year-old brother had arrived before her, but had climbed in through the scullery window. She said that he had lighted the fire in the kitchen and prepared tea and that they and their two younger sisters then all had tea.

She said that from time to time that they went to the garden gate to see if Kate Soloman was coming but that shortly after her brother told her something, noting that what he told her frightened her and she ran out and brought in a neighbour who then went in to the front room and then almost immediately came out and got another person.

She then found out that her mother was dead.

The charwoman that had been doing the cleaning at the house had been a single woman and had lived at 10 Worcester Steet in Broughton. She said that on 25 April 1917 that she had gone to 348 Bury New Road at 9am to do some cleaning. She said that there had been several callers that morning and that at about 10.45am that she heard someone talking to Kate Soloman in the front room.

She said that Kate Soloman then came into the kitchen and took an enamel bowl of water and a towel into the front room with warm water, noting that she had seen the bowl on the gas jet later on. She said that Kate Soloman remained in the front room for about a quarter of an hour until she called her out for the milk. She said that the front door was closed after and so she could not say how long she remained in the front room. She said that she had been cleaning the kitchen when Kate Soloman had come out of the front room at which time the other lady was also in the kitchen.

She said that she left them having dinner at about 1pm and that when she returned at 2.20pm that she could get no answer and that the door was locked. She noted that Kate Soloman had expected her to go back to clean the scullery floor.

She noted that she had not been in the front room that morning and said that they used white soap. She noted that Kate Soloman had not tidied herself up when she had gone into the front room with the bowl of water, but said that she had been washed and tidied just before dinner for her husband coming home at about 12pm.

A doctor that lived at 340-342 Bury New Road said that he was called out to 348 Bury New Road at about 8pm and found Kate Soloman dead on the sofa. He said that her leg was hanging down from the sofa and the other one was on the sofa and that she had been wearing black stockings, but there was no towel on the legs.

He said that her body was ice cold and that she must have been dead two or three hours.

He said that the expression on her face was one of pain, as though she had been in agony.

He said that there were no chairs by the couch when he got there and that Kate Soloman had been sitting on the edge of the couch with her head towards the window and her leg drawn up a little. He noted that the back of the sofa extended to one half or three quarters of the couch. He said that as you entered that the window was a little to the right and that the couch had been lying across the window and that her left leg was near the window and that the couch was longer than the window.

He noted that he didn't examine her body, or notice any stains on the floor and could not say whether her body had been moved.

He said that her body had not been in a position that he might have expected it to have been if an illegal operation had been performed by a skilful person. However, he added that from the position that she had been in that he did not think that she could have used an instrument upon herself.

The doctor that carried out the post mortem said that her death had been due to shock caused by an operation. His statement read:

'The body was at 348 Bury New Road and was that of a middle aged woman. She was lying on her back with the head and shoulders supported by an arm chair. The left leg was supported by a couch and the right on two chairs. The clothing had been pushed up behind so as to leave the hips bare. In front the clothing was drawn down to about the knees. There were stockings on the legs but no other garments on the lower limbs.

I made an external examination and the abdomen resembled a 4 to 5 months pregnancy. There was a little blood about the private parts. There were two drops of what appeared to be blood on the carpet. It had apparently dripped from the private parts.

I performed  a post mortem examination on the body on the 27 April 1917 at Silk Street mortuary. The body was decomposing rapidly.

On opening the abdomen the lower portion was found to be occupied by the uterus at the stage of 4 or 5 months pregnancy. On opening up the uterus I found the membrane enclosing the foetus detached from the wall of the uterus over the greater part of its anterior aspect. There was a little brownish fluid in the space between.

Before commencing the internal examination, whilst examining the vagina a quantity of brownish fluid gushed out. On opening the vagina I found a little of this brownish fluid lying in the vagina. Otherwise the vagina was normal.

I examined the neck of the uterus and I found in the passage that leads from the neck to the cavity of the uterus a perforation on the left side of the passage. The perforation was about one eight of an inch in diameter and passed upwards and outwards into the road ligament, which normally holds the uterus in position on the left side.  I should think the perforation could have been caused by either a blunt instrument or a sharp instrument. I did not think it could have been as large as the nozzle of the syringe produced.

I found the heart dilated and very flabby. The mitral valve was incompetent, also disease of the aortic valve. The stomach was dilated and the intestines appeared to be normal. The liver, kidneys and spleen were congested and the apex of the right lung showed signs of old tubercular disease and both lungs were somewhat congested. Some of the superficial blood vessels of the brain appeared to be congested otherwise it was normal.

In my opinion the cause of death was shock acting on the diseased heart, the shock being probably caused by the perforation in the neck of the uterus and by the injection of some fluid into the cavity of the uterus.

It is possible that the perforation could have been caused by the deceased herself but unlikely because it is very difficult for a woman to introduce an instrument into her own uterus.

The condition of the heart was such that any shock was likely to cause death.

The perforation was a little beyond a fingers length high'

An artificial flower maker that had lived at 38 Duncan Street in Ashton-under-Lyme said that at about 5pm on Wednesday 25 April 1917 she and another young lady had been passing through Stamford Park in Ashton-under-Lyme when they saw the woman from Swinton sitting on one of the brows in the park. She said that she looked depressed like she had been crying, and said that she asked her whether they could find her any lodgings, but didn't say where she wanted them.

She said that the woman started crying and told them that she had left home because she had had some words with her husband.

She said that she stayed that night with her at 38 Duncan Street and that the next day she helped her with the washing. She said that she  started crying again and that she asked her what the trouble was and asked her if she was going to have a baby, but said that she replied 'No', but that she could trust her and that she then went on to say, 'I went to the Jewesses and when I got there I knocked at the door and the Jewess opened the door. She asked me to stay until the children had gone to school. I had lunch there. The Jewess said she had done something to herself and laid down on the couch and said she felt peculiar. I never put a finger near her'.

She said that the woman stayed at the lodging house until 8pm on the Thursday when she left, telling her that she had a brother to meet.

A tailoress that lived at 43 Great Clowes Street in Broughton said that she had been employed by Kate Soloman’s husband about four years earlier and had been on very friendly terms with Kate Soloman since.

She said that she knew that she had been pregnant because she had told her and a friend one night in Deansgate about 6 weeks earlier. She said that Kate Soloman had been waiting for a car to go home when she told them and that she asked her what she could do and that her friend said that she knew a woman in Swinton who could give her some advice.

She said that Kate Soloman made an appointment with her friend and about a fortnight later she went to Kate Soloman's house.

She noted that she had not heard anything about the woman in Swinton before. She said that Kate Soloman then wanted her to introduce her to the woman in Swinton, but told her that she was not going for any wrong purpose, butt at she wanted a servant.

She said that she met Kate Soloman in Deansgate on Monday 13 April 1917 at about 3pm and that she then went with her to Swinton, noting that Kate Soloman told her that she only wanted to make the woman's acquaintance. She said that they then went to Abbey Mills where she introduced Kate Soloman to the woman, noting that she had only known that woman for a few weeks after her friend that told Kate Soloman about her previously introduced her to her as her friend.

She said that when she introduced Kate Soloman to the woman from Swinton that she heard Kate Soloman make an appointment for Thursday for the woman to come to her house.

The police later saw the woman from Swinton at the police office in Swinton on 27 April 1917. She was described as being very much agitated and she was cautioned and told that they were making inquiries into the death of Kate Soloman and that they had learned that she had been with Kate Soloman during that day.

They said that the woman from Swinton said, 'I was at Mrs Solomans yesterday. I had lunch there. I left Mrs Solomans just after 2 o'clock. The children had gone to school. Mrs Solomans was well and hearty.  Mrs Solomans said she did not feel well and thought she would lay down. I asked her if I should let myself out, she said I will come to the door as I expect the charwoman back. Apart from that Mrs Solomans told me in confidence that she had not felt very well of late. That is all I can say'.

She was then silent for two or three minutes, and she then said, 'Mrs Solomans is a personal friend of mine. I first met her in town. I have been to her house before about 4 or 5 months ago. She has also been up to the mills and I took her through the mill’.

She was then taken to Salford Town Hall where she was charged with causing the death of Kate Soloman by performing an illegal operation on her at the house 348 Bury New Road, Broughton on the 25 April 1917, but she made no reply. She later said, 'I am not guilty'.

The woman from Swinton was later tried for the manslaughter of Kate Soloman at the Manchester Assizes on Wednesday 16 May 1917 but acquitted.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - ASSI 52/272

see Manchester Evening News - Friday 04 May 1917

see Manchester Evening News - Friday 04 May 1917

see Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 16 May 1917

see Manchester Evening News - Thursday 17 May 1917