Horrible Murder near Eckington – As reported in The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent Monday, December 4, 1899  

Horrible Murder near Eckington

Woman Shot by a Neighbour

Plucky Arrest by the police

Exciting Scenes      (by our own reporter)


A terrible affair occurred on Saturday evening at Owlthorpe, near Eckington, where a woman named Emily Bird was shot through the neck, and instantly killed, by Christopher Taylor a miner.


Murder is the only word that can be used to describe the case, though the shot which killed the woman was probably intended for somebody else.


Owlthorpe is a lonely hamlet about three-quarters of a mile from Mosborough.


It consists of four houses, two detached, and two adjoining each other.


In the first house reached on the road from Mosborough lives Mrs. Staniforth, a married daughter of the woman who was shot; the next house is the one which was occupied by Mrs. Bird, and her husband, Henry Bird a labourer, aged about 50; and further still are the two cottages in one of which lived Christopher Taylor a miner, who is now in custody.


The affair happened not in Mrs. Bird’s own house, but in that of her daughter.


Taylor is a man with a reputation for being quarrelsome, and he seems to have done no work on Saturday, but to have spent some time in drinking.


Shortly before eight o’clock he was heard coming along the road from Mosborough shouting that he would shoot Bird or set fire to his house.


Some neighbours’ differences seem to have been the cause of this vindictive spirit; but, however that may be, Taylor was seen to go into Bird’s garden and began doing wanton damage to the plants.


Bird came up and told him he had caught him fairly, and that he (Taylor) would hear more about it.


Taylor used threatening language, and went off to his house, saying he would fetch his gun.


This gun was well known, Taylor having apparently been fond of it.


Bird then proceeded to the house of his son-in-law, George Staniforth, where Mrs. Bird also was, and shortly afterwards Taylor was seen coming down after him carrying the gun.


It was Mrs. Bird who saw him from outside the house, and she immediately retreated within, closed and bolted the door, and leaned up with her back against it.


Taylor came up to the house, used more threats, and then placed the muzzle of the gun against the door and fired.


The shot made a clean hole through the door, and hit Mrs. Bird in the neck, causing her to fall forward.


She bled terribly, and subsequent examination showed that death must have been almost instantaneous.


It is not supposed that Taylor knew where the unfortunate woman was when he fired, but his conduct after the event was such as to put the worst colour upon his intentions.


After the shot, Bird immediately opened the door and rushed off in the direction of Mosborough to give the alarm.


Staniforth was left in the room with the murdered woman, he having been the only other person present.


It appears that during Bird’s absence Taylor did not interfere with Staniforth, but went back to his own house and reloaded his gun.


Soon after P.C. Adlington, who is stationed at Mosborough, arrived and found the woman dead.


He at once sent a messenger to Eckington to Police-Superintendant Talbot, and then kept watch on Taylor’s house.


Whilst he was thus on guard Taylor came out into the garden, and was heard to threaten that he would kill any policeman who came near him, either with shot or steel.


His threats were not confined to the police; in fact, he terrorised the whole neighbourhood.


At about twenty minutes past nine Superintendant Talbot, who had made all haste, reached the place in a conveyance in company with Police-sergeant Hughes and Police-constable Roland.


He went into the house and found the woman lying dead on the floor in a large pool of blood, which had saturated her clothing, and was running out over the doorstep.


Nothing could be done here, and Superintendant Talbot turned his attention to arresting the murderer, a task which involved the utmost peril, for he could be heard using threatening language in the house.


Every possible precaution was observed.


Superintendant Talbot procured a gun and went up to the door of the cottage, which is a structure of only one storey, whilst Constable Roland was stationed to guard the window at the back.


The door was found to be locked, and by Superintendant Talbot’s orders it was broken in.


At the same time the gun was discharged in order to let Taylor see that the police had firearms.


The three officers then entered the house, and finding that their man was not in the front or living room, they rushed into the bedroom, which adjoins it on the same level.


Taylor was there sitting on the bed, and having both the gun and a large single-bladed, spring-backed knife in his hand.


If it was his intention to fire, as seems probable, it was happily frustrated, for Superintendant Talbot and the other officers had grappled with him, and disarmed him in a moment.


The Superintendant led the way into the room, and wrestled the gun from him, whilst Adlington secured the knife.


The handcuffs were quickly affixed, and the prisoner was marched off to the police station at Eckington, where he now is.


Even after his arrest, he used language of a violent and threatening kind; and abused the police in the coarsest language.


He does not appear to have been much the worse for liquor.


He was duly charged with the wilful murder of Mrs. Bird, and will be brought up on that charge at Eckington Petty Sessions this morning.


Shortly after the arrest Dr. West Jones, of Eckington, who had been summoned, arrived and made an examination of the deceased woman’s body.


The utmost credit is due to Superintendant Talbot and his subordinates for the bravery and tact they displayed in making the arrest.


They now have in their possession the gun which prisoner used, and which is an old pattern muzzle-loading double-barrelled gun.


Both barrels were found to be loaded with ordinary shot.


The knife is also in the possession of the police, and is a formidable looking weapon.


The hole in the door of Mrs. Staniforth’s house is about an inch and a quarter in diameter.


Taylor is a man of about 50 years of age, and has seven children, some of whom were in the house when their father was arrested.


From our Chesterfield correspondent:- A cold-blooded tragedy, involving the death of a woman, was perpetrated at the village of Mosborough, near Eckington, on Saturday night.


It appears that a man named Taylor, residing at Owlthorpe, Mosborough, felt aggrieved about a rumour which had spread to the effect that he was in debt.


Believing the rumour to have originated with a neighbour named Bird.


Taylor proceeded to Bird’s house early on Saturday evening, and challenged him to fight.


Bird declined, whereupon Taylor walked into Bird’s garden and trampled some plants down.


Bird told him he would have to pay for the damage committed.


The dispute eventuated in Taylor going home and returning towards Bird’s house armed with a gun.


Bird’s wife, seeing Taylor approach with a gun, called to her husband, at the same time closing the house door.


Taylor fired at the door, and the charge penetrated Mrs. Bird’s neck.


She fell to the floor, and when her husband reached her she was dead.


Police-constable Adlington was at once summoned, and on his arrival he found Taylor marching up and down the garden with the gun in one hand and a large knife in the other.


He was threatening to put lead and steel into the first person who approached him.


The constable sent for assistance, and Superintendant Talbot and Sergeant Hughes quickly arrived from Eckington.


Taylor in the meantime had left the scene for his home, where he was promptly arrested and conveyed to the lock-up at Eckington.


After his arrest Taylor stated he would “do for Bird at the earliest opportunity.


A Mosborough correspondent writes:- on Saturday evening, a few minutes before eight o’clock, a shocking tragedy occurred at Owlthorpe, near Mosborough.


A miner named Christopher Taylor, having a grievance against one of his neighbours, named Harry Bird, and being excited with drink, took his gun and proceeded to Bird’s cottage with the intention of shooting the man in his own house.


Mrs. Bird saw him coming, and, divining his intentions, closed and bolted the door, when Taylor discharged the contents of the gun through the door hitting the poor woman in the neck just behind the ear.


She fell into her husband’s arms and almost immediately expired.


Taylor, seeing what he had done, then reloaded the gun and returned towards his own premises, and for some time completely terrorised the whole neighbourhood.


Police Constable Adlington, of Mosborough, was the first officer on the scene, but he was unable to secure his man, owing to the dark and want of adequate assistance.


Superintendant Talbot, of Eckington, and his officers were soon on the spot, however, and the door of Taylor’s cottage was broken in, when he was discovered on the bed, with the gun in one hand and a knife in the other.


He was very cleverly disarmed and secured by one of the officers.


When taken to the scene of the tragedy Taylor evinced no signs of sorrow or compunction for his crime, but rather gloried in his act, and threatened the husband of his victim with further violence if he had the opportunity.


Dr. Jones, of Eckington, and his assistant yesterday afternoon held a post-mortem examination of the body, preparatory to the inquest, to be held on Tuesday morning.


The prisoner is a small, slightly-built man, apparently about 35 years old, married, and has seven young children.


Still another account which we have received says that Taylor was in the garden when Superintendant Talbot and the other officers arrived.


When he saw the police he levelled his gun towards them and said, “Hands up, you (explitive).”


He did not fire, however, but rushed into the house and locked the door.

It appears that that the news of the affair was conveyed to Superintendant Talbot by a man who happened to be passing in a trap.


The inquest is to be held at the British Oak, Mosborough Moor.