Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4 NaNoWriMo


Today's word count pushed out at 6,528, however, as with yesterday, 1100 words were from a  newspaper report - although this needed many of the words fixing as they had lost their form in the digitizing process. 

Here is an excerpt from Day 4.

On my marriage to Benjamin Hampton 5th December 1862, we set up home together close to Paddy’s Scrub, home to many of the Irish community and ticket of leave and ex-convicts. I was said to be sixteen years old, although if the truth were known, neither my mother nor I knew my exact age, or hers either for that matter. She’d never learned to read or write and had little understanding of numbers, their value, or the process of addition and subtraction.  I’d also never received any formal schooling and accepted as my age whatever others suggested to me, or what seemed to be a likely number of years at the time. While I was accused of lying about this, as well as other matters, after my marriage to Samuel Nowell, I state now this was never intentional and if my guesses were short or long of the mark this can only be put down to never having learnt the intricacies of numbers.
I now know I was closer to twenty when I married Benjamin, both of us hopeful of staring a family of our home. Benjamin’s older brother, Richard, had married two years previously with his first son born just nine months after the marriage, yet we remained childless as the years passed. I kept myself busy though, working at the local hotel as a cook and trying to avoid the endless trouble in the town. Occasionally I’d hear of my mother’s latest antics but those who knew me understood it wasn’t something I wanted to discuss. I knew who and what I was and had ambitions to rise above this – to reach a point of respectability that would wipe out my humble and shameful beginnings. I missed my brother and sister, but l knew they were better off out of it where they had a chance to rewrite their history if need be. I should have left the town and done the same thing, however, Benjamin had strong ties to his own family and I immersed myself in their circle. He’d come from a similar background to mine, with both his father and older brother transported on the same ship, yet his family seemed to take strength from their early adversity and fitted well into the moral social structure that was slowly developing in Deloraine, in contrast to the lifestyle of my mother and other ex convicts who somehow found solace in continuing criminal and anti social behaviour.
Still, my inability to bear a live child began to carve a wedge between us and, try as I might to distance myself from the troubles around us, it seemed as if it was always going to find me without much help on my part. I closed my ears to the drunken domestic disputes and the violence of misplaced persons suffering the fall out from their fates or that of their immediate forebears, yet quite by accident I found myself involved as a witness in the murder case described below.[i]

Saturday 8th July 1869
On the 8th inst. an Inquest was bold at the Police Office, Deloraine, by Henry Douglas, Esq., Coroner, on view of the body of Bridget Clarke, alias Coiley, Mr. H. S. Thomson being foreman of the jury. The Coroner, jury, and witnesses viewed the body in the house of Mathew Clarke at Paddy's Scrub, and then adjourned to the Police Office. Catherine Cooke deposed to living near Mathew Clarke's but in Paddy's Scrub and knew the deceased by the name of Bridget Coiley, but latterly as Bridget Clarke; she was washing at witness's place till 4 p.m. on 7th inst., when she started to go to Clarke's but she was then well in health; at 5 p.m. Patrick Coiley, now present, called into her (witness's) house and had a drink; she noticed blood on his clothes and asked what he was doing; he replied that he was after killing Biddy, and would kill himself; he said he wanted deceased’s husband to give himself up to him or to go for the police; witness then sent her boy to tell Mathew Clarke, who was ploughing on next farm. Mathew Clarke deposed that he was the husband of deceased; both left the hut together on Wednesday morning, about  a.m., securing the door; about 6 p.m. received a report where he was at work that Biddy was murdered; he then proceeded to John Fenton and brought him with him to witness's house, on entering which they found deceased lying on the floor on her back quite dead, her throat out, and the floor all covered with blood; he also missed all the blankets, sheets, and clothes in his hut; there was a slab pulled away from the back of the fireplace, making a place where one could gain entrance; on this day he saw a place at the back of his house where some woollen clothes, crinolines, and other things wore burned; knew Patrick Coiley, the accused; about a week ago he threatened to take witness's life and that of deceased; when he saw his wile was murdered be went and reported it to the police at Deloraine. John Fenton corroborated the witness Clarke as to the state of the body and the hut when they entered, and that they found the body in the same position the jury saw it to day. Jane Fenton (who was the first witness called, but being nervous had to be allowed time to collect her strength) deposed that she know deceased; she called in to witnesses’ hut on her way home from Mrs. Cooke's on Wednesday about 4 p.m.; saw her going into Clarke's hut, which is near witness's; after a few minutes heard deceased scream three times; heard a man's voice three times also; did not notice it, as she thought Clarke and Biddy (deceased) had a row; deceased was well in health when she left witness's house. John William Buckley deposed-PatrickCoiley (now present) was at his house about 1 p.m. on Wednesday; heard him say he was going to Clarke's, at Paddy's Scrub; saw him go in that direction; Coiley came to his (witness's) house about  6 p.m. again in the evening; he appeared very fatigued, and asked for n drink; noticed blood on his trousers and wristband, and asked him what he was doing; he said he was over at Clarke's, cleaned out the hut, and burned the things; Ist added he was after killing Biddy; by "Biddy" he meant his wife; I knew Biddy Coiley to be his wife ; latterly she went by the name of Biddy Clarke. Mary Ann Hampton, wife of Benjamin Hampton, saw Patrick Colley, present, going towards Paddy's Scrub on Wednesday about dinner time ; he said he was going to kill Biddy, his wife; he said he was not so drunk but be know what he was doing; witness knew Bridget Clarke alias Coiley. Constable Patrick Lane deposed that about 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday, Mathew Clarke reported at the Station that Patrick Coiley had murdered his wife Bridget Clarke; he then went to Buckley's house and saw Coiley there; asked him before he arrested him what he was doing; he said he had cut his wife's throat with a razor; noticed blood on his clothes ; took him to the station and where he was charged, stripped him; the trousers, shirt, vest, and handkerchief (produced) were those he took off him; there is blood on the left wristband of the shirt, a large blood stain on the right sleeve, several stains on the front and skirt below the front; the vest is stained much on the breast also ; the stains were more distinct on Wednesday evening there were a great many stains on the right thigh and knee of the trousers; both pockets wore very much stained also; the handkerchief was in the trouser's pocket; it had blood stains also; when Coiley was charged he said the razor was in the hut; did not know then whether he meant Clarke's hut or his own; proceeded yesterday evening after charging Coiley to Clarke's hut, and found the body as reported by Clarke; the body was in the same position then as when viewed by the jury to-day; searched the hut for the razor; found a razor in a bag but it had no blood stains on it; that morning he searched Coiley's hut and found there the razor he now produced ; it was much stained with blood, as it is now; the blood appeared then to be fresher; heard the accused say he was quite content with what he had done ; knew Bridget Clarke; it was her body he saw today. Dr. Rock deposed to viewing the body, and described ihe position; also the blood on it, on the clothes, and on the floor. he then added there was a wound commencing at the neap of the neck about an inch from the mid jaw line, extending to the edge of the lower jaw, and from there extending about three quarters of an inch beyond the middle line in front, measuring altogether about 18 ½ in. in length; the wound was exceedingly deep, except towards the termination in front, where it was comparatively superficial, and it was especially deep below the angle of the jaw and right ear; in its course the external and internal jugular veins were divided, and also the external and internal carotid arteries; the facial and occipital arteries were also divided ; such an instrument as the razor produced might have caused . the wound he had described; the blood on the razor appeared to be fresh ; did not think the wound could be self inflicted; death must have been almost instantaneous. Patrick Coiley was present in custody during the examination. He put only a few questions to one or two witnesses, and made no statement. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against Coiley, and he was committed on the Coroner's warrant to take his trial for the same.

[i] Launceston Examiner Saturday 10 July 1869

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating story, Merlene. It's easy to see why you got swept away... And you're powering forward with your word count. Well done.


For some reason I'm yet to fathom I'm unable to reply to comments left by others so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to read and comment. Merlene