22nd December 1861


Thomas Clarke, aged 34, was arraigned at the Stafford assizes on Tuesday, on the charge of killing and slaying Martina Christy, alias Jane Clarke, on the 25th or 26th of July last, in Wolverhampton.

The deceased was the wife of the master of an American vessel, who some time ago was sentenced at the Liverpool assizes for a long term of imprisonment for the manslaughter of a portion of his crew. She was a well-educated woman, and her relatives in New York are stated to be wealthy. She had, however, after the trial of her husband, taken to a dissolute life, and in Wolverhampton became the paramour of the prisoner, a man of forbidding appearance, and very ignorant, a pit-sinker. At this brute’s hands she was subjected to frequent and severe ill-usage, such as beating her with his fist, and thrusting her head against cupboards and doors, and causing a copious flow of blood from the ears and elsewhere. After one of these attacks, she became paralysed, and complained of a fearful pain in her head. She thought, she said, that he had permanently injured her brain. The post-mortem examination revealed a clot of blood upon the brain two ounces in weight, which had oozed from a ruptured blood vessel.

The deceased never recovered from the last beating she received, when the fiend continued his violence as she knelt upon the ground and begged for mercy, because she was without any friend in England.

The jury found the prisoner guilty. Baron Martin awarded him ten years penal servitude.


Elizabeth Johnson, 21, a savage and dissipated-looking woman, was indicted for stealing from the person of a child named Heandel a hat and clothes, value 10s. She pleaded guilty, and it was learned that she had been convicted before, her offence being robbing a young serving girl who had been taken ill in the street. Next, she had been convicted of stealing a child and cutting off its eyebrows so as to make it an object of pity. In this case, she also stripped a little girl, not more than five years of age, of her clothes and left her almost naked in the street. She had been repeatedly in prison for robbing children.

His lordship said it was a most atrocious case, and the prisoner must be made an example of. The sentence on her was three years penal servitude. As the prisoner was leaving the dock, she gave one of the witnesses a blow on the eye.

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