16th June 1861


A brutal murder was perpetrated on Monday night last at Kingswood, Surrey. What the motive, or by whom committed, does not as yet appear, there being no witness to the crime.

The Rev Mr Taylor, Incumbent of the church there, having had occasion to leave home, a Mrs Holliday undertook the charge of the place during the absence of the family. On Tuesday morning, when her husband went to visit her, he found his unfortunate wife lying on the floor, bound hand and foot. He applied his hand to her cheek, and found that to be cold, and he came to the conclusion that she was dead and brutally murdered. He sent to the village schoolmaster to solve the mystery for him. This oracle in turn sent for the police.

It appears that the murderers first cut a pane of glass from one of the front windows. It was evident that the person so engaged cut his fingers severely, for blood is apparent in more than one place upon the window frame. Being unsuccessful, the miscreants then went to the back of the house, and, having from the woodhouse obtained a portion of a rough tree which was intended to be cut up for firewood, placed it against the wall, and climbed by its means to the roof of the library, and were then enabled to reach the window of the room in which the unfortunate woman was sleeping. They smashed the window of the bedroom in which deceased slept. The noise probably awoke deceased, who no doubt made an alarm.

It would seem as if the murderers then dragged her from the head of the bed, as there is a streak of blood on the floor from the head to the foot of the bed, and bound her hands and feet very tightly. They then thrust an old brown woollen stocking into her mouth with so much violence as to force the tongue down to the glottis.

A formidable weapon was found in the room—a thick piece of yew, about twenty inches long, with a heavy knob at one end and a piece of cord to twist round the wrist at the other end. There were marks on her cheeks as if clutched by the finger nails of the murderers, probably done when forcing the stocking into her mouth.

No doubt robbery was the primary motive of the murderers, but it is rather singular that nothing was abstracted, This can be explained. Mr Crutchley, the Kingswood schoolmaster, had been called from his home on Monday evening, and did not return until nearly twelve o’clock. His house is only a few yards from the Rev Mr Taylor’s, and no doubt when he arrived at his residence the deed had just been committed, and the murderers were alarmed by the slamming of the two gates which lead to the schoolmaster’s cottage. They then probably decamped without being able to secure any of the plunder, which would otherwise have been at their mercy.

That two persons at least were engaged in this atrocious outrage is clear, as two separate sets of footmarks can be clearly distinguished on the flower-beds.


A dreadful tragedy took place on Monday night at the Hawkcliffe toll bar, about two miles from Keighley, on the Kendall-road.

At the toll house there resided John Holdsworth, about 37 years of age, his wife, Elizabeth Holdsworth, 40, and his daughter, Phillis, about 16 years of age. On Monday, a brother of Mrs Holdsworth, named Snowden, visited Holdsworth for the purpose of endeavouring to remove his sister to his own house, Mrs Holdsworth having suffered bad treatment at the hands of her husband.

About a quarter before six o’clock, Snowden had succeeded in getting his sister from the house. Holdsworth observed his wife and her brother go off, and called to his wife to come back; she refused and Holdsworth went into the chamber and deliberately fired a gun at his wife through the glass, shooting her dead on the spot, some of the contents of the gun having lodged in her heart, and her lungs having been shot through and through, even to the ribs and the spine.  Her brother was also wounded by some portion of the contents entering various parts of his body, including his face, head and breast, and he bled profusely, becoming covered in his own blood. Holdsworth had no sooner done this dreadful deed than he left the bar-house.

A policeman had passed a few minutes before, and on his attention being called to the murder, he started in pursuit of Holdsworth. He pursued him five miles over the hill and moor to Heyden, and there found him at his father’s house. He charged him with the murder of his wife. The prisoner replied, “Well, I have shot her and you may hang me where I am.”

The prisoner, who has dark hair, oval face, a complexion inclined to ruddy, and has a rather pleasant cast of countenance, was brought the same night to Keighley and a verdict of “Wilful murder” was returned on Wednesday morning.


A dreadful murder was committed in the parish church at Blakeney, a village between the stations of Newnham and Oatcombe, on the South Wales line, last week.

The parish clerk, named Steele, left home to get some beer for supper, and, not returning, his wife went to the public-house in search of him. She was told he had been there, but left as soon as he got the ale.

Thinking he might have called at the church, which was on his way home, the wife went there, and found him lying on the floor strangled, his handkerchief tied in a tight knot round his neck.

Some strangers, supposed to be from the Forest of Dean, had been seen in the village during the day, and it is conjectured that they had entered the church for the purpose of stealing the plate, and that the clerk, observing the door open, went to see who was there, when the men attacked him.

They probably did not intend to commit murder, but, finding the man dead, they quitted the church in alarm, leaving their key in the door.

Everything in the church was found untouched. There were marks of a severe struggle having taken place.


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