Edith and George Morrey had been married for about 15 years, and had 5 children. George was a successful farmer, and often travelled to local markets to sell his goods direct to the public. They were successful enough to employ several servants to run the farm, Hannah Evans, and John Lomas.
Edith mostly ran the farm, whilst George was away at Market, and which led to her taking more than a passing interest in John Lomas, despite their age difference, she being much older. They made the most of their time together whilst George was away, and they first made love when they were killing geese!
Edith wanted more, and hatched a plot to get rid of her husband.
George arrived home from Northwich market just before midnight on April 12th, and Edith was waiting up for him. After some supper they retired to bed, leaving Hannah to clear away the dishes. Hannah went to bed, and after an hour or so was awoken by three loud thuds from George and Edith’s bedroom, followed by groaning. Hannah was only 14, and being scared was in the process of climbing out of her window when Edith appeared in her doorway, carrying a candle. They went and woke Lomas, and he and Hannah went to fetch help, leaving Edith in the house alone.
When the help arrived from the neighbours, they found George’s bloody corpse on the four poster bed, and underneath his body was the axe he had been killed with.
Lomas said that thieves must have broken in for the £150 that George had in the house. Edith said she had heard sounds of a break in, and had gone into her children’s bedroom.
George’s brother then arrived and began looking around, but could find no sign of a break-in, and they began to suspect Lomas. As dawn approached and the scene began to get lighter, it was noticed that Lomas had stains on his face.
When the Constable arrived he followed a trail of blood, to a bloody handprint on the stair. In Lomas’s room they found a locked box, and Lomas refused to give them the key. When the constable returned to the room to break open the box, he found Edith hiding something, which turned out to be a bloodstained shirt.
Lomas was arrested, and under questioning told that Edith had come to his room and asked him to kill George, giving him the Axe. She then held a candle whilst he hit George, giving him a razor to finish the job. They then heard Hannah in the next room, and Edith went to keep her away whilst Lomas escaped to his room.
When the Constable returned to question Edith, he told her she would need to be taken into custody. She said , ‘very well’ and produced a razor, and slit her own throat.
By luck a Doctor had been visiting in order to examine the corpse, and he managed to stem the blood flow, and stitch the wound.
An inquest was held, and Edith and Lomas were sent to Chester for trial, with a special watch being kept on Edith.
The trial was held on August 21st, and they both pleaded not guilty, to little avail.
When found guilty Lomas cried “My Lord I deserve it all and more. I don’t wish to live”
Edith’s counsel stated “My Lords, it is my duty to inform you that Edith Morrey pleads pregnancy as a cause why judgement should not be executed”
Edith was examined and was indeed pregnant, according to the dozen married women who examined her.
Lomas was hanged the following day, at the new City Gaol, by Sammy Burrows, the common hangman. His final words were
“Gentlemen take warning of my fate. Avoid evil actions, and may the lord have mercy on all your souls”
Edith was held at the castle pending the birth of her child. She must have been aware of the hanging of Lomas as it was just a short distance away, and watched by thousands. The gallows had for this execution been covered in black drapes, which were only drawn back for his last words, and the drop.
Edith delivered a healthy baby boy, her sixth child, on December 21st, and the baby was given to friends after a week. She then had to wait for the next assizes on April 21st for sentencing, and her death sentence was confirmed. Her sentence would be carried out on 23rd.
She was handed over to the Chester City authorities, and taken by cart to the new prison, where the cart would enter below the gallows, which were placed over the door. Edith lay on the floor of the cart, covering her head.
An estimated 10,000 people turned up to watch the execution. A court order had forbidden the use of drapes as justice needed to be seen to be done, so Edith face the prison wall so she would not have to face the mob. She dropped her handkerchief as a signal, and was dropped into eternity.
Her son was christened Thomas, and was brought up by his uncle, but reportedly was transported to Australia before he was 20.