The murder of Inspector ROSS, police-inspector, No 317

Liverpool Journal, June 9th 1838

Murder of Inspector ROSS

Coroner's inquest yesterday, in the Sessions House, before Mr P. F. CURRY, Esq, coroner, touching the death of William Horner ROSS. A number of individuals had been taken into custody and remanded by Mr HALL to wait the result of the deceased's injuries. On Thursday a respectable jury had been summoned, to hold and inquest on the deceased and after having viewed the body, the inquest was adjourned until yesterday. Eight prisoners were placed at the bar, James MACKLIN, Patrick CUNNING, Edward CONNELLY, George M'CARTY, James DERNING, Martin MURPHY, Patrick MORLAND and Richard RUTLEDGE.

1st witness called, George WHARTON, police-inspector, who deposed that he knew the deceased whose name was William Hall ROSS. At 6.45 pm on Monday the 28th ult, he was informed that a fight was to take place in Parliament St. He went to the place but could see no signs of the fight, and on making enquiries found there was a body of persons collected near the Tanneries. He went there, there was a great crowd, perhaps from 1,000 to 1,400, they were scattered about and two men were fighting stripped to the waist. He had two officers with him, Samuel FISH and Robert RITCHIE, he went into the crowd and the other officers followed him. He told the crowd to disperse and the two men who were fighting ran away. On the two men running away he pursued, he got hold of one and took him into custody. He was bringing him across the fields, the crowd following, when he heard some person exclaim, "Oh, they are murdering ROSS", On turning around he saw a number of people collected to the left of him, and on the supposition ROSS was there, he sent FISH in to his assistance. The cries of "murder" increasing, he sent the other officer. He was at that time assisted by CHARTERS, another police-officer, and all of a sudden there was a cry of "Now lads!" and the crowd rushed upon them. CHARTERS was knocked down by a blow with a stick, witness was also struck directly afterwards by one of the prisoners at the bar named Edward CONNELLY, and the man whom he had apprehended was rescued from him.

He was knocked down, kicked and struck, in such a manner as to render him senseless for about ten minutes. On recovering his recollection, the crowd was then 100yds off, he did not see the deceased there, the first officer he observed was PIERS. He saw the prisoner CONNELLY approaching towards him with a piece of square, white wood, about 18inches long, in his right hand, and holding in his left hand what appeared to be a broken flag or brick. As soon as CONNELLY saw PIERS approaching him he threw away both brick and stick and ran off. Witness followed him to the side of a pit, and desired PIERS to take him into custody, on which CONNELLY said, "If you do I'll knock your brains out" He had then a stone in his hand. On PIERS going up to him he either fell into the pit in the scuffle which ensued, or leaped in, and swam about for half an hour. An officer who could swim at length came up, and CONNELLY on seeing him strip, came to the side and was taken into custody. He afterwards ascertained that the deceased had been taken to the Infirmary, he did not see the deceased at all in the crowd.

James M'WHAM, police-officer No 70, deposed that on the evening of the 28th ult, he was on duty in Park Rd. About 6pm he was with ROSS, who was an Inspector and another officer named William GOWAN, when a person told him he thought they were wanted in Hill St, where he saw a large crowd of persons assembled, among whom were five of the prisoners, Patrick CUNNING, Edward CONNELLY, George M'CARTY, James DERNING and Martin MURPHY. The deceased who was dressed in his uniform, several times told the crowd to disperse, and said, if they would not he would fetch sufficient force to make them do so. He was also in uniform and he and ROSS had their staffs of office. The crowd went further into the fields, and William COWAN, by the direction of the Inspector, went for further assistance. During the time he was away the crowd had formed themselves into a ring, and two men in the ring had stripped for the purpose of fighting. COWAN shortly returned with several officers, all whom were in uniform. The deceased again desired the crowd to disperse, he did so several times. ROSS and he and two other officers, went among them and made one man who was stripped a prisoner. The men had fought two or three rounds. The five persons he had identified as having been among the crowd seemed to be promoting and backing the fight. The prisoner Patrick CUNNING had a stick about 18inches long in his hand, it seemed a rough prepared stick, like a thick walking-stick, though short, and having something like a root at the end. He saw CUNNING strike the deceased twice on the head with it rather heavily. Almost at the same time Edward CONNELLY, James DERNING and Michael MURPHY repeatedly struck and kicked the deceased when he was on the ground. He was falling with the effects of the blows from the stick, and the other brought him to the ground. Patrick CUNNING also kicked the deceased on the ground. Witness endeavoured to rescue the deceased, and in doing so was struck and kicked by someone in the crowd, but he could not tell by whom. The numbers being overpowering the officers were beaten off, and left the deceased among the crowd. Assistance soon came up and they returned, when they found the deceased lying speechless. The crowd still around him, the officers commenced taking prisoners, and he never saw the deceased afterwards. He took one of the fighting men into custody. The crowd rose up on them and rescued him, and the prisoner M'CARTY was very forward among them.

Cross-examined by Mr DAVENPORT, He did not see prisoners MACKLIN and RUTLEDGE there ?

Thomas THRELFALL, police-officer, No 234, On the evening of Monday the 26th ult, was on duty at Mill St, when he was informed by an officer that there was a fight in the fields, and in consequence of that he went there with him. The crowd were forming in a ring when he got there. Two men were stripped for fighting, he saw the deceased there, and was close at his back when he entered the ring, he heard him repeatedly tell the men to desist. They, however, heeded him not and commenced fighting, and fought two or three rounds. When the other officers were seen coming up, the fighters made way, the deceased and several others ran after one of the fighters, and witness caught him in the fields. The crowd immediately came after the party who had captured the fighting man, the deceased at that time was about 200yds from the witness. He saw several of the crowd "agate" of the deceased. DERNING was among the crowd and had in his hand a bludgeon, with which he struck the deceased, he also kicked him. Witness when he saw that returned to where ROSS was. The bludgeon was a square piece of timber about 14 to 16 inches in length. Deceased was on the ground when DERNING struck him, he struck him about two or three times about the shoulders with the staff. CONNELLY who had a brick in his hand, kicked the deceased. M'CARTY did not strike him, but he was foremost among the crowd and cried out, "Go on" upon this the crowd rushed on the officers, and CUNNING gave witness the leg twice. When he recovered himself from being tripped, and on turning round, he saw the deceased lying on the ground in a helpless condition. He then ran back a little for more assistance, as the mob pressed upon them. Other officers came to their assistance, the crowd turned back and he saw some young men carrying the deceased away. Many persons among the crowd had bludgeons, which all appeared as if they were portions of a railing or had been taken from a hedge. There were no railings or hedge-row near where the men were fighting.

Robert RITCHIE, police-officer No 258, knew the deceased. He was present at the riot which took place near the Tanneries. The Tanneries are situated close to Windsor, within the parliamentary borough. On going to the scene of the riot he there saw the deceased. The witness described the fight in the same terms as the preceding witnesses, and deposed that he saw among the crowd, CONNELLY, MACHLIN, CUNNING, DERNING, MURPHY and MORLAND. There were bricks and stones thrown at them by the crowd, but he could not tell by whom. Those whom he had mentioned appeared to be taking part in the proceedings with the mob. He received a severe stroke on the head with a brick and said to ROSS, "What are we to do now?" ROSS replied, "Keep by me" They remained together for about 5 mins, when he saw about 20 or 30 of them taking sticks and stones from their pockets. Some of the crowd called out, "Go it, go it" and he heard the deceased tell them more than once to keep back. The prisoner MACKLIN came up and laid his hand on the breast of the deceased, and knocked his feet from under him, the deceased fell down. A man at the same time pinioned witness's arms from behind and almost at the same moment he received a severe cut at the back of his head which caused him to drop. As he lay on the ground he heard others cry out, "Kill the b--------s! murder them!" There were two or three lying on the top of him, but he succeeded in drawing himself up on his hands and knees, he then observed ROSS lying on his back bleeding. H was lying with his knees up, and there were 6 or 7 persons with sticks cutting away at him, striking him on all parts of the body, He saw the prisoners, MACKLIN, CUNNING, CONNELLY, DERNING, MURPHY and MORLAND amongst the crowd, near to the deceased, and taking an active part in the disturbance which was going on. He [witness] afterwards received 2 or 3 severe blows, which felled him, and he then lost sight of the deceased, whom he did not see again.

Cross examined by Mr DAVENPORT, He is not acquainted with MACKLIN, he never saw him before this occasion in his life. There were several hundred persons present, he was sure he saw the prisoner MACKLIN trip the deceased, MACKLIN had nothing in his hand at the time, he did not see him leave the crowd, he saw him no more. The deceased did not get up after being tripped, MACKLIN did not interfere with him. There were half a dozen or more laying on him with sticks and kicking the deceased after he was tripped.

Peter CARRINGTON, police-officer No 125, knew the deceased well, he lodged with him. At 9pm on the 28th ult he was informed that the deceased had been taken to the Infirmary, on the following morning he went to see him and identified him. His name was William Horner ROSS not William Hill ROSS. The coat produced belonged to him and was worn by him when witness saw him at the Infirmary, he knew it by the No 317.

Mr John NOTTINGHAM, house surgeon of the Infirmary, deposed that the deceased was brought there on Monday 28th May. He found four bleeding wounds to his head, and several bruises on other parts of his body. The wounds on the head were contused wounds, and were of the character regarded as dangerous. Treatment adopted in such cases was practised until Sunday last there were no untoward symptoms, but on that day symptoms of erysipelas showed themselves. On the following morning the deceased laboured under inflammation of the brain. He died on Wednesday last at a quarter before three. The cause of death was erysipelas and inflammation of the brain, resulting from the blows to the head. Witness had since made a post mortem examination, but was quite satisfied of the cause of death before the examination was made.

The hearing of evidence against the prisoners here terminated

James MACKLIN, having been asked whether he had anything to say [the usual caution having been given by the coroner] sated that he left his work at 6pm on May 28th, he had heard that there was to be a fight and went to see it. When going he saw some police-officers coming and there upon turned back and went home, thinking there would be a row. That was all he knew of the riot, and was the extent of his connection with it.

Patrick CUNNING, said he was at St James's market on the evening in question, and saw the crowd going to the fight. He had no stick in his hand. He saw the watchmen coming and was going away when two young men followed him and took him prisoner.

CONNELLY denied that he knew anything about the affair.

M'CARTY said he was not at the fight as the policeman asserted, on the 28th ult. He was not a dozen yards from his own door the whole day. He knew nothing whatever about the fight. If he had been there, it was very unlikely that he would have shown himself in the court the next morning, as he had done.

DERNING, said that he saw the crowd going to see the fight, and joined them, but by the time he got there they had ceased fighting. The policemen were running after some man and he went and stood by the pit. There were not then many people there, only a few women and children. The policeman had sworn contrary today to what he swore the other day.

MURPHY declared that he innocently went to the fight, as he thought there was no harm in doing so. Two officers came up and told the crowd to go away. In a few minutes afterwards 12 or 14 officers came up. The two men were still fighting and he made away as fast as he could.

MORLAND declared that he had been working his days work at the Salthouse Dock, and went home at half past five, very sick, the stuff he worked at made him ill. Every night when he went home he went straight to bed, as it was very sore stuff to work at, "and it's a poor case sir" he added, "to hang a man that's not wrong, nor knows nothing at all about it"

As there was no evidence against RUTLEDGE, and as Mr WHITTY knew of nothing that was forthcoming against him, he was under the direct of the coroner acquitted by the jury and discharged.

The coroner addressed the jury, pointing out to them the law bearing on the case.

The jury retired for consultation and returned in about ten minutes. The verdict was "Wilful murder" against James MACKLIN, Patrick CUNNING, Edward CONNELLY, James DERNING, and Martin MURPHY, and of aiding and abetting against George M'CARTY and Patrick MORELAND


Funeral of Inspector ROSS

We are extremely sorry to have to record the premature death of a man who is said to have been estimable in his private character, a brave, steady and efficient officer of the police. We understand that Inspector ROSS was very respectably connected, and that his father had once been a merchant.

The funeral of the deceased took place yesterday, with a laudable parade, somewhat unusual to the town, and which excited considerable attention. Shortly after 11am, the whole of the police force, not on duty, comprising of about a half of the entire body, assembled before the Infirmary, and the coffin having been placed in Mr MILBURN'S splendid hearse, drawn by four horses, the funeral procession proceeded through the town to the place of interment, the Mount Cemetery.

The van was formed by 52 fire policemen, four abreast, decorated with all the paraphernalia of their office. Then followed the hearse, close in the rear of which were several relatives of the deceased, as chief mourners. A body of policemen, nearly 300 in number, also walking four abreast came next, and the rear was brought up by nearly 30 Inspectors, several other individuals connected to the police, the superintendents and the head-constable. The procession, which had a very imposing and half military effect proceeded to the Cemetery by way of Brownlow St, Pembroke Place, London Rd, Shaw's Brow, Dale St, Castle St, Church St, Bold St, Leece St and Rodney St, accompanied by a crowd of spectators in progress, and arriving at its destination about 12.45. The crowd was still further augmented by a number of people who had collected to witness the ceremony. The funeral service having been performed in the chapel of the Cemetery, the coffin, followed by the inspectors and superintendents, was thence carried on the shoulders of the policemen to the place of interment at the south end of the Cemetery, passing through two lines of uncovered policemen standing at intervals, and extending from the chapel to the grave.


Tuesday, 14th Aug 1838, Liverpool Assizes, before Mr Baron ALDERSON, and Mr Justice WILLIAMS, and A Grand Jury

For the murder of the Liverpool Police Officer

James MACKLIN, aged 23, Patrick CUNNING, aged 18, Edward CONNELLY, aged 21, James DURNING, aged 18, Martin MURPHY, aged 26, George M'CARTY, aged 19, and Patrick MORELAND, aged 20, were indicted for the wilful murder of William Horner ROSS, at Liverpool on the 28th May last.

All the evidence given [as above], the indictment was of great length, MACKIN charged with casting and throwing ROSS to the ground, and afterwards with a large stick beating and striking him while on the ground, all the prisoners except M'CARTY and MORLAND were also charged with beating and kicking the deceased, and CUNNING with striking him with a large stick, of which wounds and injuries the deceased languished till the 6th June when he died. George M'CARTY and Patrick MORLAND were charged with aiding and abetting, encouraging, comforting, inciting and assisting in the murder.

Mr ARMSTRONG [with whom Mr RUSHTON] stated the case, said he felt it to be the most awful inquiry, not only in which he had ever been concerned, but which he had ever witnessed in a court of justice

. Dr BROWN and Mr MURPHY appeared for all the prisoners, except M'CARTY who was defended by Mr WILKINS. The evidence, which was chiefly that of police-inspectors and officers, went to establish the facts above stated, and to identify the several prisoners as respectively present and the part they took in the outrage.

Several persons were called to speak to the characters of the prisoners.

The jury retried at 2.15 pm and returned at 3.30pm, and found the prisoners MACKLIN, CANNING, CONNELLY, DURNING, MURPHY and M'CARTY not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. MORLAND they acquitted.

His Lordship having commented on the enormity of the offence, said, it was necessary for him to pass a severe sentence, and concluded by sentencing all the prisoners to transportation for life.


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