Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mrs. Newton’s Family Annihilation Episode – Australia, 1874

See commentary on Family Annihilation and list of cases: Family Annihilation (Female Perpetrated)


FULL TEXT: A sad case of homicidal mania occurred on April 4 at Hoxton, resulting in the murder of her daughter, a little girl, the wounding of her husband, and an attempt of the murderess to commit suicide. The woman’s name is Newton, one is forty-two years of age, the wife of a respectable shoemaker, carrying on business at 43, Brunswick-place, and the mother of a large family. Her mind appears to have been affected by grief with tho loss of her children, of whom the fifth, an infant, died about a year since.

Her condition appears to have been well known to the medical man who has been in the habit of attending her, but he did not think it a case calling for physical restraint. So lately as Good Friday evening there was nothing unusual in the woman’s manner, and after a walk with her husband the pair partook of supper and retired to bed about eight o’clock on Saturday morning she rose according to custom, and went down to the ground floor to light a fire and prepare breakfast for the family.

Her son, a boy of eleven, had risen, and was taking down the shutters of the shop, when his mother reproached him for not having done so before, and threatened to murder him. Her wildness of manner excited the boy’s apprehension, and when she shortly after rushed through the shop at him with a carving-knife in her hand, and her intention plainly indicated in her distorted features, he fled for his life, she did not pursue him far, but rushed upstairs to a room occupied by her brother, whom, with menacing gestures, she threatened to murder. A brief struggle ensued between them; but her strength was so great that he was unable to secure her, and, breaking away, she ran into another room, where two of her daughters had been sleeping. The elder girl had risen and gone downstairs, an act which no doubt saved her life but a younger child Jane, four and a half years of age, was left still asleep.

The unhappy woman immediately cut the poor little creature’s throat, almost severing the head from the body. Going again downstairs she was followed by her husband, who had become alarmed by the noise of the struggle between the woman and her brother, and by her frantic rushing about. Directly the murderess saw her husband she flew at him, wounding him in the arm. Only then realising his wife’s condition he closed with her, and tried to obtain possession of the knife.

A struggle ensued, but he found himself unable to cope with the unhappy woman, who, after inflicting several of other wounds on his hands and arms, broke away, and, her paroxysm taking a fresh direction, she cut her own throat, and fell to the ground insensible. The cries of “Murder” while this horrible scene was being enacted reached the ears of Police-constable Perritt, 312 N, who was on duty near, and be ran to the house, but too late to prevent mischief. He at once sent for Inspector Ramsay, of his division, who, seeing the condition of the wretched woman, sent her off at once to St Bartholomew’s.

The woman has hitherto borne the character [of] a kind and affectionate mother, but out of a family of eight children, she lost five within a comparatively brief period, and her grief is known to have affected her mind, though no one of her friends ever anticipated it would show itself in so terrible a form. Brunswick-place, where the occurrence took place, is the scene of unusual excitement.

Crowds of persons assemble in front of the house, and strange rumours are current as to the cause of the affair. That the unhappy woman had been in a desponding condition for some time is asserted by the husband and we understand that the subject of her removal from the house, was seriously discussed on Friday night among the members of the family. On her arrival at St Bartholomew’s Hospital she was in a very excited state, and it has been found necessary to place her under restraint ever since.

Mr Jepson, the house surgeon, stated last night that the wounds inflicted on herself were merely superficial, none of the important arteries having been severed and, although in a very desponding state, it was thought that, two of three day of quietness might lead to a great improvement. She has not alluded to the melancholy affair — all that can be elicited, from her, in reply to questions put, being simply “Yea” and “No.” The injury to the husband, who was removed, to the same institution as his wife to have his wounds dressed, was very slight.

[“Shocking Tragedy.” The Mount Alexander Mail (Clatlemaine, Vic., Australia), Jun. 2, 1874, p. 4]


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