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The Manchester Murders - Horwich Possibility

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  • The Manchester Murders - Horwich Possibility

    I had espoused this on the other place previously but it was suggested to post it here too. Some may have some interest.

    Mother of six Jane Hodgson (aged 42) was murdered on a Saturday night in a town regarded as being part of 'Cottonopolis' on the 14th April 1888.

    Horwich is is just over 15 miles north of Manchester city centre and had three cotton mills and bleaching works present in the town at the time.

    It was believed that Jane was murdered by her lodger, who she had been out drinking with all day and night. Her body was found at the bottom of a ravine, strangled (I believe) and drowned (official cause of death). The accused was subsequently acquitted at trial because of his behaviour on the Saturday night and lack of hard evidence.

    He claimed he had left Jane in a pub. She was last seen speaking with a man close to the ravine before she died. The lodger returned back to the house where he fell asleep on the sofa. The husband woke him to ask where his wife was and he had no idea. The men had a fight and he ended up staying across the road. The police arrived the following day after her body was found to arrest the lodger. The court ruled that if he was the killer he would not have behaved as he did and that it is not the actions of a guilty man.

    What was interesting is to me is the following:
    • Horwich was a cotton mill town
    • It is part of Greater Manchester and 'Cottonopolis' (which included towns such as Blackburn, Burnley, Oldham & Bolton) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottonopolis
    • It was in April 1888
    • The weather report I found from nearby did say it was cold and wet
    • Jane was most likely strangled by her shawl which was found in a most unusual way
    • She was cavorting drunkenly and loudly on a pub crawl with a man that was not her husband - she may to a stranger look like a prostitute
    • Her breasts were exposed which indicates some post-mortem fascination
    • She was found face down in the water and because of the men's footprints in the mud, most likely drowned by her assailant to finish her off

    Article explaining the full chain of events can be found on British Newspaper Archive Website, look for the Manchester Courier July 21st 1888 edition (page 6). Don't think the below will be very legible - it is a very long article.

    image_20251.jpg

    Weather report:
    Match report from SWINTON v WAKEFIELD in the rugby (called football then) from Saturday 14th April 1888 said there was rain after recent "cold biting east winds". Swinton is 14 miles south of Horwich. Taken from Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 16th April 1888 (page 3)

    image_20253.gif

    Just to add some more colour:

    "Horwich was expanding rapidly as a result of the arrival of the L&Y Loco works in 1884. In 10 years the population had more than tripled from 4,000 to almost 13,000 causing much social upheaval with so many 'newcomers' arriving so quickly. New houses, shops, businesses, churches, schools, pubs, clubs and public buildings were springing up everywhere with areas in the vicinity of the Loco Works and the town centre being particular 'hives of activity'. Horwich Station on Church Street was the focus of much of this new social and economic activity."
    http://www.horwichheritage.co.uk/looking-back.php


    "...the village towards Bolton, and is separated from Anderton by the river Douglas; it comprises 3230 acres. The population is chiefly engaged in extensive bleaching-works and cotton-mills. The bleach-works of Messrs. Joseph Ridgway and Company were commenced about 1781; and the print-works of Messrs. Chippendale and Company, employing 500 persons, about the same time. Of three cotton-mills, the two largest belong to Messrs. W. and W. Bennett, and Peter Gaskell, Esq. A good stonequarry is wrought. Here is a station of the Bolton and Preston railway."
    https://www.british-history.ac.uk/to...land/pp559-562

    "In the mid 19th century cotton mills were built by W. & W. Bennett and Peter Gaskell."
    https://placeandsee.com/wiki/horwich

  • #2
    Hi, JW.

    I like the victimology but the M.O. looks to be off compared to the Diary. There appears to have been trauma to the head and the shawl replaced in an unusual position as if to cover the head wounds or with the scene made to look like an accidental falling.

    horwich.jpg

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    • #3
      Perhaps the coroner's examination would make things a little clearer.

      Ultimately her death was declared from drowning. However, the trauma to the head as mentioned were just superficial, caused either by being dragged or a struggle. There was not skull trauma. The brain had enlarged blood vessels which could have also been caused by suffocation. The fact the shawl was found folded on her strangely leads me to believe she was throttled with it initially, and then dragged down the bank and drowned to make sure. Possibly to even attempt to make it look more accidental. The fact the breasts were exposed as well shows the sexual element.


      coroner.jpg
      Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 21 April 1888

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      • #4
        How long woud it take to throttle (strangle) a victim to death?

        "Very little pressure on both the carotid arteries and/or veins for ten seconds is necessary to cause unconsciousness. However, if the pressure is immediately released, consciousness will be regained within ten seconds. To completely close off the trachea (windpipe), three times as much pressure (33 lbs.) is required. Brain death will occur in 4 to 5 minutes, if strangulation persists."

        If someone is throttled with a shawl or scarf - how could that present post-mortem?

        "There may be absolutely no outward physical sign of the strangulation. Approximately 50 percent of documented cases exhibit no visible injury. An additional 35 percent have injuries that are too minor to photograph (Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, 2014). Therefore, the absence of physical signs of strangulation does not exclude the event. This often means that the medical care is delivered and the legal case is built solely on the subjective symptoms of the victim. When there are physical signs of strangulation, they are commonly non-specific and may be caused by a number of conditions or other trauma."

        Comment


        • #5
          Jepson's Clough is certainly a beautiful part of Manchester:

          jepsons-clough-sl-53d3b96c796f-5d7a8e95cef76.jpg

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          • #6
            It's a nice scene. Lots of water to wash up in if he decided to rip.

            If there was no need to stage the scene, then he was making sure she was dead. Ripping would do that.


            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by J.W. Sage View Post
              "There may be absolutely no outward physical sign of the strangulation. Approximately 50 percent of documented cases exhibit no visible injury. An additional 35 percent have injuries that are too minor to photograph (Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, 2014). Therefore, the absence of physical signs of strangulation does not exclude the event...."
              The fact that strangulation is difficult to determine can be used to uphold any suspicious death where there was no known cause of death, as being a possible Manchester "squeezing" death.

              I like the age of the victim and the month, based on conjecture regarding likely victimology and the Diary entries about summer being close.

              But I'm not sure that James would get into a scrap with a woman or drag her by the feet.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by San Fran View Post
                The fact that strangulation is difficult to determine can be used to uphold any suspicious death where there was no known cause of death, as being a possible Manchester "squeezing" death.

                I like the age of the victim and the month, based on conjecture regarding likely victimology and the Diary entries about summer being close.

                But I'm not sure that James would get into a scrap with a woman or drag her by the feet.
                I would argue it was his first murder - he is not going to be fully confident yet. The author in the scrapbook did indicate that it was not as straight forward as he had hoped.

                You are absolutely right on suspicious squeezing deaths, we should consider them all. If you can find any. Except there really is not that many that fit the time frame - it is quite limited.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by San Fran View Post
                  It's a nice scene. Lots of water to wash up in if he decided to rip.

                  If there was no need to stage the scene, then he was making sure she was dead. Ripping would do that.

                  We know he didn't have his knife by then if we follow the timeline in the scrapbook.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes, he says he bought the knife especially for London. He aborted his first London attempt when he was staying with Michael after he realized he'd have blood on him. The Manchester Murder was on a visit to Thomas. I assume it was after the visit but he didn't have to worry about blood.

                    Do you not think James would have made a pun on Horwich?

                    With Horwich, I don't think you'd even need to make a pun but simply mention it. A critic said the author should have mentioned Bolton in my example because it's big enough (that would also apply to Horwich, I assume) but the actually suspicious death there was in Farnworth. Obviously the newspaper headlines didn't deem Farnworth worthy enough to mention.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by San Fran View Post

                      Do you not think James would have made a pun on Horwich?
                      It did cross my mind.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by J.W. Sage View Post

                        It did cross my mind.
                        Good morning, Mr Sage.

                        I think examples such as these are really useful in allowing us to say that the Maybrick diary cannot be easily discarded simply because there were no obvious 'Jack the Ripper' murders in Manchester in the early Spring of 1888. This particular example is actually a particularly good one and we can cite this (and any others) whenever the 'Manchester murders' are cited as reasons to see the diary as a hoax.

                        Of course, it is highly unlikely that any further evidence will ever emerge which would go that extra step and place James Maybrick firmly in the frame so - as you know - this is not an exercise in proving the diary to be authentic but, rather, an exercise in showing how little reason there may actually be for arguing that it isn't.

                        The window-dressing elements are eye-catching sideshows, sadly. We'll probably never find Maybrick's fingerprints on this (or any other) spring 1888 'Manchester' murder so the lack of ripping is irrelevant (the diary does not say he ripped his first Manchester victim, and - as you say - the diary also states he didn't at this time have his trusty sword with him so we should probably not expect it); there was presumably very little blood given that the main thrust of the attack appears to have been strangulation; and - yes (San Fran) - it is titillating that the location was Horwich but the failure of the diary writer to make use of the pun is never going to compromise the example (the James Maybrick of the diary is certainly capable of spotting such innuendo - cf. the Middlesex Street entry - but perhaps this being his first professed murder was far too pressing in his mind for the luxury of a prescient Finbarr Saunders moment - but what an opportunity lost for history to have acquired its first known pnaff, phswerk, or fnarr fnarr!).



                        Best wishes,

                        Tom

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