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Forum Home > The Ultimate Crime. > Oldbury Murders, 1883/1913.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Oldbury Murder,1883. Tat Bank, Langley Green, Hobicus Lane, Thomas Lyons Day.


Thomas Lyons Day, or as he was born, just plain Thomas Day, first saw the light  in March 1848, in the less than sulubrious surrounding of Tat Bank, Oldbury, Worcestershire. His father, also called Thomas, was a typical hard working Miner. At the age of 13, although he certainly may have started ealier, he also became a miner, the family having moved to Langley Green. During one of the many strikes, possibly in 1868, he joined the Army, and enlisted in the Coldstream Guards. The main base in London, was at the Tower of London, and thats were he was in the 1870s. He didn't get married, but took up with a young woman from Ipswich, in Suffolk, and in 1879, a daughter was born, Lilian Alice Day. He may have been a bit unhappy about this, because in 1881, he was to be found lodging at number 4 Court, Hobicus Lane, Langley. Listed as a labourer, he had evidently left the Army, either through his own choice, or more likely because he may have been a little " unstable ". In 1883, he went back to Ipswich, and presumable his small family.


On the 13th August, 1883, he was sitting in front of the fire in the small shared house, when he suddenly produced an sharp blade. ( Possible a Bayonet )  Without any hesitation, he drew the blade deliberately across the little girls throat, almost severing her head from her tiny body. In the same room, was a man named in the records as Woodgate, who attempted to stop Day. For his pains, he was stabbed in the neck and chest. They were both rushed to Hospital. The little girl was beyond help, but Woodgate survived the wounds. Thomas Day was taken into custody, and charged with the Wilful Murder of his illigitimate daughter. His defence at the subsequent trial, tried to establish that he was insane, but it was clear to both the Judge and Jury, that Day had planned the deed beforehand. Found guilty, the man from Oldbury was duly sentenced to suffer death by hanging.


It would be a couple of months before he met his fate, as his Lawyer made an impassioned plea for his life, it failed. His execution, which was set for 8am on the morning of 13th November,1883, coincided with the start of a new principal hangman, the heavy drinking Bartholomew Binns. Day would become Binns third execution out of 10, in what was to be a very short career. He was dismissed, after completely botching those that followed, in a similar manner to William Calcraft, and George Smith. On this morning though, nothing went wrong, and the crowd, over 600 strong, dispersed happily after seeing the black flag unfurled over the Prison gates. It was reported, that he was still protesting his innocence, even as Binns pulled the bolt that sent him feet first into oblivion. So if anyone out there, has lost track of a relative called Thomas Day, who was born in Langley, you've just found him.

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

December 14, 2011 at 3:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Oldbury Murder,1913. Brades Village, Thomas Fletcher, Fountain Inn, Lilian Wharton. Worcester Assizies, John Ellis, Executioner.


Thomas Fletcher, came into the world in 1882, at Brades Village, Oldbury. His father, David, seems to have died around the 1890s, and by 1901, he was livng with his mother Mary, in Dudley Street, not far from the Fountain Inn. In  In 1911, she and three of her children, William, Rachel, and Lily, were living at number 13, back of 17, Dudley Road, Brades Village. Thomas isn't listed as living with them, but a family story suggests that he was abroad somewhere. In light of what transpired, he may actually have been in the Army, or, given the social conditions of the time, even in Prison. He was by trade a blacksmiths striker, although at the time of the unfortunately little incident that got hin into trouble, his work was listed as a stampers assistant.  This entailed removing the hot product from the press. He was, he said, engaged to be married, she was Lillian Wharton, the daughter of a Safe Maker, who had been born in West Bromwich, and the Landlord of the Fountain Inn. She was eight years younger than him, and was it seems, a well respected young woman. When he returned from wherever he had been living, he met with a shock, he was told she had found someone else, and the marriage was diffinately off. It would seem, that the pending marriage was not common knowledge amongst either family, and Thomas had no place of his own in which to accomodate his new bride. From the records, he seems to have just turned up on her doorstep to collect her for her wedding, and met the displeasure of her mother, who talked him out of it. The other man was never identified, and may not have actually existed, it merely being a ploy to put Thomas off.  He has the make up of a very strange man, obsessed with a young girl, and refusing to take no for an answer. Lilian's family apparenty suggested a seperation of several weeks, to which Thomas Fletcher flatly refused, and threatened to shoot her. Neither Lilian Wharton, nor her family, believed this threat, and were to pay a very high price for making that decision. On the 1st April, 1913, after many weeks and nights of anguish, over the love of his life, he reached a decision. He put a fully loaded revolver into his pocket, went round early to the Fountain, and shot her in the stomach. Then, apparently, he tried to kill himself with the revolver, but managed to miss hitting himself in a vital spot, not once mind, but twice, merely slightly damaging his eye.They were both taken to Hospital, Thomas, not that badly injured. Lilian managed to cling on to life  for two weeks, but died from blood poisoning. Fletcher made no excuses, never tried to run, and quietly went off to Worcester Goal, to await his fate. Having time to reflect on his actions though, when he came up before Mr Justice Bray, at the Worcester Assizes on the 7th June, he put forward the defence that it was all accidental. It must have dawned him, that he was facing the Hangman. He now asked the Court to believe, that he had gone to the public house to shoot himself, and she had been accidentally shot in the struggle for the gun. He also claimed the gun had gone off on it's own, and sadly, it had been pointing towards poor Lillian at the time. Lilians mother had heard two shots fired, and when she entered the Bar, Fletcher was lying full length on the floor, thinking him badly injured or dead, she turned to help her daughter, only to hear a second shot fired. Well that ruled out an faulty revolver then, for to be fired, it first had to be cocked. It was too much of a stretch for the Jury and the Judge, and he was duly found guilty. In fact, the only stretching on the Jury and the Judge's minds, was concerning a nice strong piece of rope, soon to be wrapped around his neck. So it came to pass, that on 9th July, 1913, John Ellis, and Thomas Pierrepoint, with a suitable length of said rope, arrived for an appointment with Thomas Fletcher, on the scaffold at Worcester Prison. He isn't mentioned in Ellis's note's, as one of those who went quietly to the drop, not that it means he struggled and fought, just that if he did, Ellis was that used to it, he didn't bother to record it.


Despite many asking for clemancy for Thomas Fletcher, due to the state of his mind following the collapse of the relationship, ( no mention of his muderous threats before the event )  the appeal to the Home Secretary was turned down. It's not hard to grasp the reasons for this. Anyone who knows anything about handguns, will understand that it is almost impossible to fire a single action weapon by accident, It has to be cocked by pulling back the hammer, and bear in mind, Thomas Fletcher had fired in total, three shots.That it was possibly a service revolver, ( Webley .455 ) gives weight to the thought that he may have just come home from military service. Where else would he get not just the weapon, but the ammunition as well. and he seems certainly no stranger in the use of firearms. This of course gives the case for a premeditated murder conciderable weight.  As Lillian Wharton lived very close to Thomas's family, they would have been aware of the any new man in her life, and it would have been surprising if they had not told Thomas of this development while he was away. No matter what she did though, there was absolutely no excuse for Thomas to act the way he did. Taking away her life, and depriving her family of a loving daughter, must have been very hard to bear. Lets hope that at least they felt that justice had been done, and it bought some closure, to a rather unhappy episode.

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

January 24, 2012 at 3:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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