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Forum Home > The Ultimate Crime. > Pensnett Murder. 1916.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

There are a great many sad tales, about what one human being will do to another, but to Murder a member of your own family, surely takes the biscuit. Others in the records, who actually did commit family murder, were mainly a bit on the mad side, and were sentenced accordingly. You would need to make up your mind about this one.


Edwin Thomas Ashmore, was born in 1838, near, or in, Ludlow, Shropshire. A very pleasent place to live you might think, but agricultural wages were low, and conditions at times, were worse than in the industrialised towns. Never the less. in 1865, he met a nice young lady, Emma Humpries, the same age as him, a domestic servant from Elmley Lovett, Droitwich, Worcestershire. They were married in Ludlow in June, 1866, and the following year, were presented with a healthy young child, also called Edwin Thomas Ashmore. ( yes I know, very confusing, but thats how it was in the past ) Two years later, and the young Edwin had a sister, Emma Laura Ashmore, and a few years later, the whole family upped sticks and went to live in the Parish of Kingswinford, where Edwin senior secured a job as an Iron Puddler at Corbyns Iron Works. The family, in the 1880s, were then living in Broad Street, off Commonside, and from here, Edwin junior also found employment, as a labourer at the same Ironworks as his father. From here, the family moved to Church Street, and in 1885, young Emma married George Pritchard, a Coal miner at the Earl of Dudley's Shut End Pit. In 1886, young Edwin married Mary Jones, at the Church nearby, Saint Marks, and went to live nearby in Bradley Street. There was, at no time, any indication that the family did not get on, and the years rolled peacefully by. Edwin senior, in 1908, and already 70 years old, filled in a form and took it to the local Post Office, where it was assesed ready for the start of the Old age Pension, which commenced on 1st January, 1909. Sadly, his wife Emma only enjoyed the benefits of the 7 shilligs and 6 pence for a year, as she died in February,1910. From then onwards, the old man spent all his time at Christmas, with Edwin junior, coughed up a few bob towards the upkeep of the house, and spent more time in the local pub than at home in Church Street. Just reward you would think, for the years of toil at the puddling furnace, but trouble was ahead, and he could never have seen it coming.


In February,1913, with War clouds looming, Edwin Thomas Ashmore jnr, lost his wife Mary, she was 47 years old. It's at this point, that maybe a bit of resentment set in, for just over a year later. in June,1914, Edwin re-married. Alice Mary Hodgetts was herself a widow, her husband, William Hodgetts, having suddenly died in June 1912. He was a 32 year old miner, father of 5 childeren, and he may have died as a result of an accident in a pit, which resulted in medical complications. The old man appeared to except the new arrangements, but it was more than likely he didn't get on with Edwin's new wife. Christmas 1915, was the last he would spend with his son, for he had made the decision to spend the next one with his daughter in Dudley. Now  it's not clear, if Edwin had put any money by for his old age, it seems unlikely, given Alice claimed later her husband had doled out money to his father for drink. That just makes it more difficult to arrive at a motive for what later happened.The old man though, left it until 22nd Dec to tell Edwin he wouldn't be coming this year. It took a bit of dutch courage apparently, for he was well oiled by the time he got to the house, 122a, Church Street, some way down from his own. All went well until about 4pm when he told his son his plan, and then all hell broke loose. Whether it was the thought of not getting any money from the old man, or the thought that his sister had lured the old man away, Edwin, in a fearsome rage, smashed a chair, and with one of the legs, proceeded to batter the old man around the head. Edwin's wife tried to stop him, but to no avail, until finally the old man slumped over a large padded stool, covered in blood. Alice tried again calm her husband, and this time he attacked her as well, forcing her to abandon the house and her children. She did not return until just after 2am, when she found the old man lying on the sofa, badly bruised, eyes blackened, lips cut, still bleeding from his many face wounds, but still alive. Alice now adminstered a little brandy to the old man. The volcano that was Edwin T Ashmore erupted again, and this time, he tried to kill her with a kitchen knife. For the second time she fled, not to return until told by the Police, that he had been arrested, and safely locked up. Two of Edwin's step-children, Mary Hodgetts, and her sister, Alice, both witnessed the initial assault. Mary said that they had consumed between them, a Bottle of Rum, most of a Bottle of Whisky, and had sent out to the nearby pub for 2 pints of beer as well. Following the assault on his father, Edwin had stumbled outside, and Mary fetched him back in where he burst into tears at the sight of fathers injuries. The two sisters then went looking for their mother, and being unsuccessful returned to find her standing outside the house. Incredible as it sounds the two girls went back to bed, only to be disturbed by the row between Edwin and Alice, then a short time later by the old mans scream of " Murder ". Mary then related how her father had made them help carry the old man, having been attacked again, out into the yard. Then they watched apalled, as their step-father jumped several times on the old mans chest, finally smashing another chair into his body. This time the old man was indeed dead, and after  the children had refused to help him wash away the blood, he threw three buckets of water over the corpse, and went to bed. The body was found next morning by a soldier who lived next door, and it was he who called the Police. Charged with Murder, Edwin Thomas Ashmore said but a few words, " I have not touched my father, I love him too much ". Whatever the reason for the vicious and sustained assault on his father was, there was very little love in the actions, but a great deal of hate and rage.


February 17th,1917, was judgement day for Edwin Thomas Ashmore. He was to be a very lucky man, for while locked up, he had been declared to be " partially Insane ". How anyone can be only partly sane one minute, and wholely sane the next defeats me, for either he is sane, or insane at the time of the offence. Perhaps it had something to do with the old mans age, he was 79, for the charge was reduced to Manslaughter. While the Judge took into account that he was so drunk he didn't know what he was doing, he then went on to say that it was the worst case of Manslaughter he had come across. It would appear then, that the charge was reduced, simply because he got drunk. From the evidence given, it's hard to agree with the Judge, especially as there were three seperate assaults on a vunerable old man, with the express intent of killing him. Edwin Thomas Ashmore was sentenced to 15 years penal servitude, and is unlikely to have served the full term. No matter what he did in later life, nothing will ever excuse the disgusting and appalling injuries he inflicted on his own father. I have many  Murder case's on the website, this is one of the worst you will come to read.

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

April 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Just reading some of the contemporary reports, could lead you to believe the foul deed was done out of pure rage, but the crime does have a motive. Money. Even though he had tried to kill her twice, Alice Ashmore was reluctant to admit their severe financial state. She had said at the trial, that her husband had on many occasions given his father money for drink, this was untrue. Young Edwin was out of work at the time he killed his father, and had been, for some time, on short hours even when work was available. It's almost certain, that Edwin Thomas Ashmore snr, during his long working life as a skilled Puddler, purchased the house, at 80 Church Street. He may also have owned the property at 86 Church Road as well, and was collecting rent for both properties, while living in one room at number 80. Coupled with his 5 shillings a week pension, he was far better off than his son. Edwin jnr, had every expectation that his father would, as usual, stump up the cash for a good Christmas, even as far as paying the overdue rent. You can understand the rage, but not forgive the violence, when you understand the next bit.


Just up the road from Church Street, at 56, High Street, was the shop of one Jabez Hingley. Now Jabez had started his working life as a Glass Engraver, in his home town of Amblecote, branching out in the 1880s into a bit of Pawnbroking. By 1916, he had, assisted by his brother Silas, three shops, one already mentioned, one in New Street, Dudley, and the other in High Street, Brockmoor. Edwin jnr, his first wife Mary, and his second wife Alice, were all well known customers of Jabez Hingley, as were of course, a good many others in the area. Alice Ashmore had, on the morning of the terrible attack, pawned, for 15 shillings, the only decent pair of shoes Edwin had, with the express purpose of purchasing the booze that was to be the cause of a death. She did not mention this in her statement to the Coroner, nor does it appear in the trial notes, but the comment about Edwin financially supporting his father does. It was untrue, for they were in a poor position to support themselves. When the old man told his son, that he would from then on be going to his daughters for Christmas celebrations, young Edwin saw his only hope of a bit of money rapidly disappearing. Pleading for his life, failed to stop, or subdue the anger from his son, the loss of the few shillings that Edwin snr was expected to cough up was only part of the rage, the thought that the house's, and what the old man had in a Bank account was a better explanation for this appalling act than just the drink.

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

April 28, 2013 at 4:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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