Unsolved Murders

Thomas Foy

Age: 6

Sex: male

Date: 26 Oct 1908

Place: 71 Lyons Street, Bootle

Thomas Foy was found dead in the cellar of an empty house on Lyons Street in Bootle.

His skull was fractured and he had cuts on his face.

An 18 year old who also lived on Lyons Street was tried for murder but acquitted.

Thomas Foy's father was a Coalheaver and at about 9.30pm on Saturday 24 October 1908 he went with Thomas Foy to a shop in Lyons Street and then after to the Woodhouse pub in Lyons Street but he was refused service because he had Thomas Foy with him. He said he came out and left Thomas Foy at the top of Lyon Street at about 9.40pm and didnt see him again. He said he first learnt that Thomas Foy was missing the following morning at 8.40am.

He said that the youth came up to his bedroom and said, 'Mr your little Tommy is found murdered with half the head off him'. Thomas Foy's father said he said, 'Nonsense', and he got out of bed.

He said that his wife and other son had been up all night looking for Thomas Foy.

The mother said that her husband had got home at 10.40pm and Thomas Foy was not with him and so she went out to look for him. She said that she had been out looking until 5am on the Sunday and had gone to the police station and got home at 8.30am. She said then that the youth and two other boys came running up to her and said, 'Good Jesus Mrs is that true that your Tommys found dead in a cellar with half the head off him?' and she replied, 'Shut up dont put such rumours out, I'll find the child in the Liverpool Sheltering Home after I've had a cup of tea'. She said that she then asked who had told him and he said some girls.

A dock labourer said that at about 8.40am on the Sunday morning he was stood at the top of Lyons Street when he saw the youth half running up the street and said that the youth said to him, 'Did you hear about young Foy being murdered down the street in a cellar last night?' The dock labourer said, 'No' and the youth said 'Its right, theres his mother going along the road to the hospital'. The dock labourer said that the youth then ran off along to the next street, Dundas Street.

Around 11.15-11.30pm on the Saturday a labourer said that he had just left a friends place on Lyons Street and said that he passed Thomas Foy's family stood outside their house and heard one of them say 'I'll go down this way'. He said that he didnt know what they meant by it and that at the time he didnt know that Thomas Foy was missing. The labourer said that the first he knew of Thomas Foy being missing was the following Sunday afternoon when he went to see some girls who told him that Thomas Foy was missing and that he had been missing since 9.30pm the previous evening.

The body of Thomas Foy was found on the Monday night.

The girls that the youth had referred to denied having told him that Thomas Foy was dead in a cellar and said that they had never seen the youth.

The windows to the house were boarded up but the door had been forced. On the floor of the cellar were a quantity of bricks, some of which had blood on them, as well as a few empty beer and ginger beer bottles and a quantity of rubbish. There was also blood on the floor near a cupboard. Thomas Foy had already been carried back to his parents house. His face was covered in blood which had run down his breast and he had a number of wounds to his head. He was wearing a vest, guernsey and jacket and his legs were bare.

On 27 October at 12.10am the police went to see the youth that was tried for Thomas Foy's murder. He was in bed at the time with his brother and when his brother asked what they wanted him for the youth said, 'I know, it's that girl'. They then took him to Mann Street police station and asked him how he had got to know that Thomas Foy had been murdered and he said that a girl had told him. They then took his clothes which were wet and arrested him for the murder of Thomas Foy. He replied 'Did you mean me sir? Good Christ Almighty not me'.

The youth said that he had seen Thomas Foy on the Saturday night, he said that he saw him at Blackledges and had taken him over to the porkshop where he bought Thomas Foy a pork pie and then walked him to Lower Bank View where he let him on his way. They were last seen together at about 10pm.

About 30 minutes later some boys heard a groan come from an empty cellar and heavy breathing and when they went to investigate someone through a bottle at them and they continued playing, not knowing that Thomas Foy was missing. However, they did say they saw the youth in the street alone about 15 minutes later.

Thomas Foy's brother said he last saw Thomas Foy at 7.30pm on the Saturday evening 24 October 1908. He said that up until 9pm he was with a friend and the youth that was arrested and that they were drinking together. He said that they went to the Old Toll Bar pub at about 9.45pm and left at about 10.20pm. He said that the youth left first and they followed and they went along Derby Road towards Seaforth. He said that they called out the name of the youth who was ahead of them but he didn't answer and so he and the friend went down Lyons Street and had a drink at Walkers pub.

He said he went home at about 11.10pm and met his mother in the street who told him that Thomas Foy was lost and he and the friend went looking for him. He said they went looking through the streets and entries but could not find him and also went to the police station. He said that later they went back to Lyons Street and were stood outside 71 Lyons Street where there were people singing in the house above the empty cellar where Thomas Foy was later found. He said he heard a humming noise coming from the cellar as though a mouth were closed and the noise was coming out of the nose. He said that it was about midnight and he then heard a kind of scuffling on bricks. He called his friend back and they listened for about five minutes and his friend said, 'Oh it might be our girl getting murdered' and the friend then went to a womans house and said, 'Lend me a knife will you there is a noise in this cellar it might be our girl getting murdered' but the woman replied, 'No go away you might get locked up'.

The woman then went to listen at the cellar and then the brother and his friend went nearer to the cellar but the friend was about seven doors away when a bottle was thrown which struck the Raleigh Street wall and broke.  He said he called out, 'Whos that?', but got no answer and then he called his friend who said, 'Oh come away take no notice of them, its some of those people that sleeps in empty houses'. Just then another bottle was thrown at them that smashed on the flags. They then went back into Lyons Street and saw the youth coming down the street about 15 minutes later eating chip potatoes at about 12.30am.

The friend then went over to the youth to ask him for some chips and the youth gave Thomas Foy's brother three cigarettes. He said that he then saw his mother who asked why he didnt go and look for Thomas Foy and so he and his friend went off to look for him some more until about 1.30-2.30am. He said that he then went home with his friend and went to sleep and at 8am he was woken up by the youth who he said said, 'Eh Mr your childs murdered in a cellar down the street', to his father. When the youth was asked who had told him he said it was one of the girls shouting it out in the street.

The brother said that he later saw the youth that afternoon and they went down together to the peirhead at Alexandra Dock and he said to the youth, 'Did you hear about the child being lost' and the youth replied, 'Yes' and then the brother said, 'Come on up to the Town Hall and we'll see if they've found him' and the youth said, 'Alright come on', and they went to the police station and then down Raleigh Street to the Overhead Railway. The brother then said he said, 'Its funny about this child being lost and not found yet' and said that the youth replied, 'I'll tell you what we'll do we'll get some candles and start at the top and search all the empty cellars', and the brother said, 'No not at all I can't climb them walls let alone a child', and they made no attempt to search the cellars and then the youth said, 'Well I'll go for my dinner'.

Later on the Sunday afternoon the brother said they were at the overhead and the youth told him that he had seen Thomas Foy with two foreigners in Lyons Street on the Saturday night. When asked why he didn't chase them off the youth said that he thought that Thomas Foy was sitting on the foreigner's lap waiting for a halfpenny.

At about 8.30pm on Monday 26 October a scaler and a labourer climbed over the wall into the cellar and found Thomas Foy dead. When they came out he saw the youth who said to him, 'Is that young Tommy Foy been found?', and he said yes, and that the youth then said, 'It was bloody well awful whoever done it'. The labourer said that they got over the yard wall at the rear of 71 Lyons Street and went into the cellar where they found Thomas Foy dead. He was lying on the broad of his back on some bricks with his head turned to the left and his left arm raised to his head. His head was towards a cupboard door about two feet away and his feet were towards the kitchen door. Thomas Foy's trousers were off and his legs were bare. He had a little velvet jacket and shirt on. There was blood on the bricks where his head was lying. The window was boarded up and the front door was fastened but the door and window to the back were open. They had a candle with them to see and then took Thomas Foy's body back to his house, lifting him over the back wall.

The autopsy stated that Thomas Foy's wounds could not have been self inflicted and that there was no evidence of any indecent treatment. It stated that his wounds must have been caused by some heavy instrument and that a hammer produced was the most likely weapon. The hammer fitted two fractures that Thomas Foy had in his head. The cause of death was stated as being due to shock following extensive injuries to his head and brain. It said that he had been dead for two days and would have died within minutes of receiving his injuries.

Lyons Street was later renamed to Beresford Street because of this and a number of other murders that took place on it over the years. It was known locally around the early part of the century as the 'street that died of shame'. The whole street has now been mostly demolished and all that is left of Beresford Street is the end 20 yards or so of original cobble street.

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

see discovery.nationalarchives.co.uk

see Nottingham Evening Post - Wednesday 28 October 1908

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 25 November 1908

see National Archives - ASSI 52/138

see Canal World

note - The map marker indicates the remains of Beresford street and not the location of number 71.