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Forum Home > The Ultimate Crime. > Windmill End Murderer, 1888.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Charlotte Whale, Windmill End to Nasty End. 1888.


Back in 2010, I was lucky enough, to get this story printed in the Black Country Bugle. There have been others since, but due to the coincidental circumstances, I have included it here. It won't quite fit in my "Foul Murders" section, as the event didn't occur in the Black Country, but both the victim, and the muderer, were both born here. They also both belonged, to well established, and well respected family names, and I found it surprising, that the story was not more widely known. The two families concerned, are the Whales, and the Darbys, both familier names, in the Windmill and Darby End localities.


I shall start with the so called villain of the piece, Sarah Ellinor Darby. She was born in 1853, according to some records, in Cradley Heath, but in truth, it was in the Windmill Lane/ Darby End area. She was the 5th Child, of Abraham and Martha Darby, (nee Foley) the entire family having a long tradition in the nail making trade. It was rumoured, and indeed, testified too, later on, that there was streak of Insanity in the Family. Abraham, had sort, at fairly regular intervals, medical attention for his problems, which may explain his many absences from work. His eldest son. also seemed to afflicted with the same ailment, which tended to end in fits and bad tempers. They were both known for what was discribed as " strange behaviour ", altough I have no idea what was meant. Sarah began work, at the age of 10, making nails for Messers Lewis & Co, and also John Taylor, another " Nail Manufacturer ". Not noted for being very bright, (she had no schooling at all) she was never the less a slim and attractive young woman, the ravages of the nail trade, not yet making any difference. In 1873, she found, and married a young hardworking man called Benjamin Procter, at Saint Lukes, Cradley Heath. Sadly this union was not to last, and Benjamin died just 5 years later, in 1878. Not only had Sarah lost her husband, but also her protecter, and from this point on, she seems to have become the victim of some nasty bullying. From a younger, and well built younger woman called Charlotte Whale, who was by trade, a Chainmaker. There was no escape for Sarah, as her persecutor lived just a few doors away. Life at home couldn't have been much better either, as in 1883, in one of his many "fits", she was attacked by her brother. This left her with a serious head injury, which required hospital treatment, and it took some time for Sarah to recover. She would, ever after, complain of many painful headaches, a sure sign of permanent brain damage. When she partialy recovered, in April 1884, she travelled by train, to Isleworth in Berkshire, by invitation from her sister-in-law, Ellen Procter. She spent the next several weeks, picking friut and vegetables for the London markets. For some reason, Charlotte Whale was also invited, maybe someone thought it would be a helpful aid to Sarahs recovery. The following year,1885, after some dispute between the young women, Charlotte attacked Sarah as she was carrying a heavy bag of nails to the wharehouse, balanced on her head. Caught by surprise, Sarah could offer no resistance, and fell heavily, against a wall. Bleeding from the left ear, she was rushed to hospital, where she again spent many days under medical care. Sarah, this time it seems, took some action, and swore out a summons against Charlotte Whale. In the event, the summons was withdrawn, either through family pressure, or, more likely, even more intimidation from Charlotte. This time, it took Sarah even longer to recover, and, given what had previously transpired, a complete mystery as to why, when invited back to Isleworth, she agreed to go with Charlotte Whale, and stay at Charlotte friends, Henry and Ellen Callow. The Callows came from Windmill End, and knew Charlottes family well. Outwardly. when they set off, on Sunday 15th April, 1888, they seemed to be on the best of terms, at least thats according to later witness'es. On arrival at 1, Mitchells Cottages, Wharton Place, Sarah complained to Ellen Callow, that the train journey had made her feel ill. After a rest however, the two went out for a drink later that evening. They seemed to be on good terms, and went to bed, sharing a room on the first floor. There were no noises during the night, nothing to disturb the peace and quiet of the household. Everything seemed well the next morning, until, at about 9am, Mrs Callow found Charlotte still in bed, covered in blood. On a small table near the bed, stood a heavy Water Jug, this was also covered in blood, and Mrs Callow, seeing Charlottes terrible head injuries, called the Police. Charlotte Whale died later that day, and Sarah, who admitted what she had done, and why, was escorted from the scene. She said in her statement, that she had borne a grudge against Charlotte, stemming from the attack on her in 1885, and had sworn to herself, that one day, she would get her own back. And she had. She was removed to the fairly new womens Prison, in Holloway.


The trial itself was a formality, as Sarah had already admitted her actions, but an indication of her mind at the time, is the name she gave when charged. Ellen Sarah Procter. This caused some confusion at the time, the court records had to be amended. It was also stated by witness'es, that they could not understand why Sarah had gone at the time, as she had only just drawn two weeks of Iron, to make nails. ( Did Sarah see her chance?)  She had some support at her trial, Mr Lewis turned up, ( her Employer) as did Eliza Payne, ( her Sister ) John Sturman, ( her " foreman ", and Samuel Lewis's Clerk ) and Mr Taylor, ( another Employer ). Her younger brother Joseph Darby, (1862 ) was also present, but but did not give evidence.He later went on to become the noted Trick Jumper, Josie Darby, and the well known Licencee of the Dudley Arms Hotel. (There is a list of his many exploits, both online, and published in the Black Country Bugle.) Medical reports from Holloway, and from an expert witness in Court, insured that the Judge would not pass a sentence of death. He had to sentence her for causing Charlottes death however, and he ordered that she be detained at her Majesty's Pleasure. Queen Victoria was not known for her compassion towards such case's, and Sarahs fate was sealed. After a brief return to Holloway, she was sent to a new establishment for the Criminally Insane. Broadmoor. Although it is a Hospital, it has all the appearence of a formidible Prison, even to this day. I don't believe that the Judge, would have imagined for a moment, that Sarah Procter would spend the next 46 years behind it's grim and forbiding walls. It's either a testement to her iron constitution, or the care given to her, that she lasted so long. I don't know if she was abandoned by the family, or if they continued to look after her with money and presents, maybe someone will care to enlighten me one day. It would seem, that Sarah soon became what they called, " Institutionalised", and as such, unfitted to be re-established in society. She passed away in December, 1934, and is buried in a quiet corner of Easthampstead Cemetery, in Berkshire. A long way from her childhood home, but very near to a place she would come to call her home. It can be a difficult choice sometimes, deciding just who is really the victim in such case's, so I leave it up to others, to make their own decision.



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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Charlotte Whale, Sarah Ellinor Darby.


Since the above item was published, a relative of Charlotte Whale, has added a further bit of the story, which was printed in the Black Country Bugle. One article is a report of the poor girls funeral, and gives a brief history of the family. Included, is a brief history of the brother of the unfortunately bullied murderer, Sarah Ellinor Procter, ( nee Darby ) the famous Joseph Darby, The Trick Jumper. ( see; Black Country Characters ) Sadly, not a note of thanks, for the poor researcher who bought the matter to light in the first place. Ah well, thats life for you.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 7, 2011 at 2:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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