MURDER AT WHITE CROFT SHEFFIELD – 10th JULY 1884

 

THE AFTERMATH

 

In October2007  I was contacted by a descendent of Maria Laycock, the wife and mother who was murdered by Joseph Laycock that July day in 1984. The respondent was researching her family's history and in the course of her investigations came across my website and quickly realised that the victims of the murder were her ancestors. In the initial article I had placed the following information that was taken from the 1881 Census concerning Maria's brother who lived next door to the Laycock's in Queens Row

 

Dwelling  

15 Queens Row

Census Place

Sheffield, York, England

Family History Library Film  

1342122

Public Records Office Reference  

RG11

Piece / Folio  

4645 / 32

Page Number  

26

 

 Name 

Relation

Marital Status

Gender

Age

Birthplace

Occupation

 Christopher GREEN 

 Head 

 M 

 Male 

 18 

 Sheffield, York, England 

 Hawker 

 Louisa GREEN 

 Wife 

 M 

 Female 

 19 

 Sheffield, York, England 

 Core Maker 

 Emma DENTON 

 Mother In Law 

 W 

 Female 

 44 

 Sheffield, York, England 

 Unemployed 

 John Wm. DENTON 

 Brother in Law 

  

 Male 

 13 

 Sheffield, York, England 

 Scholar 

 Benjamin DENTON 

 Brother In Law 

  

 Male 

 8 

 Sheffield, York, England 

 Scholar 

 

The respondent wrote that

 

"Christopher Green was my great grandfather and Maria Laycock would have been my great great aunt.  Actually, Christopher and Maria were related through the same mother but different fathers.  I want to thank you for all the information on what happened to these relations.  Very little is known about them as Christopher (Green) and his wife Louisa committed suicide in 1900 orphaning their children and my grandfather and his brother and sisters apparently never spoke of their parents.  Though the story of Maria and her children's death is tragic, it at least gives some insight into what the situation for my ancestors was in the 1880's.  I do know that Maria's maiden name was either Connor or O'Connor, but had lost track of her after the 1871 census...."

 

I was of course pleased that the article had proved useful in tracing the ancestors even if the circumstances were distressing to say the least. The respondent then let me know what happened to family both before and after the murders

 

"I had found Maria Connor as a 2 year old, living with her 22 yr old widowed mother and a family named Kelly in the 1861 census. Not knowing Sheffield well, I can't decipher the address but it seems to read Windles Y A Lambert St. Her mother Ann Connor is a boot closer and lists her place of birth as Huddersfield. Maria was born in Sheffield. On Oct. 21, 1861, Ann Connor (formerly White) married John Green at St. Phillip's Church. Ann's father was Joseph White. John Green was from Galway, Ireland and his occupation was shoemaker. His father was Thomas Green. I have found him in the 1861 census living with his widowed mother, Mary and his younger brother Henry.


In 1871, Maria is a 12 year old, still living with John and Ann Green and their children Christopher (1862), Mary Ann (1865), Francis (1868), and John (1871) at the back of Queens Row. This time Ann's place of birth is shown as Clayton West. I had lost track of her after this point, as I could find no record of Maria Connor marrying. However, thanks to your website, I was able to find the marriage on FREEBMD and the parish records of Sheffield Indexers, where she is registered as Maria O'Connor. 

(Note LAYCOCK, Joseph (Bachelor, age 22, Roller, residing at Shales Moor).Married Maria O'CONNOR, on May 16, 1875, by James Russell (Banns) at 
St Philips Church, Shalesmoor. Father's name is Joseph Laycock (Table Blade Forger).Married in the presence of Henry Green (mark), Louisa Green (mark).

O'CONNOR, Maria (Spinster, age 18, ~, residing at Shales Moor).Married Joseph LAYCOCK, on May 16, 1875, by James Russell (Banns) at St Philips Church, Shalesmoor. Father's name is Martin O'Connor (Shoe-Maker). Married in the presence of Henry Green (mark),Louisa Green (mark).

This also gave me the information that her father was Martin O'Connor, a shoe maker, and that the witnesses of the marriage were Henry and Louisa Green. I knew Henry had been married and had children, but he was a widower in the 1881 census. Guessing that Louisa may be his wife, I was able to find Henry and Louisa Green living with their son in the 1871 census and the record of the marriage of Henry Green to Louisa Kitching in 1864. John and Ann Green had two more children, Henry born in 1874 and Lilly born in 1879.

 

My great grandfather was Christopher Green. He married Louisa Denton on Dec. 6th 1880. 

Note: GREEN, Christopher (Bachelor, age 19, Labourer, residing at C2 Shales Moor).    Married Louise DENTON, on December 6, 1880, by J P Cort (Banns) at  St Philips Church, Shalesmoor.  Father's name is John Green (Labourer). Married in the presence of Henry Green(mark),Elizabeth Daley

DENTON, Louise (Spinster, age 19, ~, residing at 16 Shales Moor).Married Christopher GREEN, on December 6, 1880, by J P Cort (Banns) at St Philips Church, Shalesmoor. Father's name is William Denton (File Cutter).Married in the presence of Henry Green(mark),Elizabeth Daley.

Family lore has it that they had sixteen children but I have only found eight and only four survived to adulthood, the other four died in infancy. I do know that at least one of the babies died of syphilis from birth. Louisa committed suicide in April 1900 by taking spirits of salt and Christopher followed in July, 1900 by also taking spirits of salt. (see note 4) This left their four children orphans at a young age. Trying to sort out what happened after that has been difficult as family lore doesn't necessarily jibe with what I am finding in the records or even with common sense. But, I do know the children were living with their Uncle Francis and Aunt Martha in the 1901 census. Apparently Martha couldn't cope with the children, so sometime after 1901, she sent the three younger children to the Sheffield orphanage, while my grandpa was at work. He was about 13 by then and I suppose she allowed him to stay as he could contribute to the family income. The girls,
Maria and Ellen, lived in a convent for a while and then were fostered out to two elderly spinster ladies and eventually went into service. They married, in time, and raised their families in Kent. The other son of Christopher, was Thomas and he was sent to Canada on an orphan ship and was placed with a family in Ontario. He married a French Canadian girl, Maria LaRonde and they had thirteen children and began the dynasty of Green's from Pembroke, Ontario.

 

Ann Green and her husband John were living separately by 1891. Ann died in Dec. 1900. I have sent for the cert. so don't know cause of death as yet. John was living with his son John in the 1901 census, I think I have his death in 1906 and have sent for that cert. also. Of the other siblings of Maria Connor Laycock, I know that Mary Ann married Thomas Luttrell in 1883 and as far as I know they had a good life with the exception of a son dying in France in WWI. (see note 1) Mary Ann died in 1920. I have no idea what became of Francis, but he was a bricklayer in 1901 and had no children of his own. John possibly died in 1904 and left a young son named John. Henry possibly died in 1901 at the Royal Infirmary. Lily married and settled in Grimsby. She never had children of her own but apparently cared for many of her nieces and nephews over the years. She was known as crazy Aunt Lil in later years. Apparently she drank heavily and ended up committing suicide in Bracebridge Lunatic Asylum, approx.1913, by jumping off the roof onto a policeman or orderly, killing him also.

 

My grandfather, Frank, married Mary Ellen Toes and settled in Sheffield, working as a steel file grinder. They had 9 children, nine of whom survived and the family did well. Frank died in 1960. He had been run down by a motor scooter and broken his leg. Subsequent to this accident, he developed a blood clot and that is ultimately what killed him. My mother is the youngest of Frank's children. ......."

 

The following month, the respondent mailed my further details

 

"The description of the family in the story about White Croft and the subsequent suicides, paints a picture of a rather dysfunctional family, which makes it all the more impressive that the surviving children ( my grandfather and great aunts and great uncle) actually did well for themselves and raised children who for the most part succeeded in life. I have found since I last emailed you, that Maria Laycock's mother, my great great grandmother, Ann Green also committed suicide at 17 Scargill Croft on December,7th 1900 by "taking spirits of salt during a state of temporary insanity" .

GREEN, Ann (Married, age 60).  Died at Scargill Croft; Buried on December 12, 1900 in Roman Catholic ground; Grave Number 3013, Section GG of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

She was buried at City Road Cemetery on December12th, 1900. Her son, Christopher and daughter in law Louisa had used the same method of suicide earlier that year. Maria's stepfather, Ann's husband, was still alive in the 1901 census. John Green was living with his son John and family.................  I think I gave the wrong name for Thomas Green's wife. Thomas is the son of Christopher and Louisa Green who was sent to Canada on the orphan ship Tunisia. I wrote that his wife was Marie LaRonde and it was Emma LaRonde. Marie was the name of his son Thomas's wife.

 

Further information has come to light in the interim. In February 2009, I received some additional information on the family from the same descendent

 

"I have continued to research family history and did find more tragedy in this family.  Christopher and Maria's youngest brother Henry Green also committed suicide in Feb. 1901 at Scargill Croft, by taking poison presumed to be hydrochloric acid.  

(GREEN, Henry (Labourer, age 26).     Died at Royal Infirmary; Buried on February 21, 1901 in Roman Catholic ground;      Grave Number 3012, Section GG of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield).

The brothers John and Francis did marry and have children and though they both died relatively young ( 42 and 47) they died of natural causes.  The youngest sister Lilly has continued to be elusive.  I can find her as a married woman on the 1911 census but all I have is speculation that she is the same crazy Aunt Lil that ended up killing herself by jumping off the roof at an insane asylum and I have still not found a death cert. for her.  I did find that there was a brother to Maria from her mother's first marriage to Martin O'Connor. I had sent for the death certificate for a Martin O'Connor in 1861, expecting it to be Maria's father and the first husband of my great great grandmother Ann, but it turned out to be a six month old boy.  He died the week before the 1861 census at the house next door to where my great great grandfather John Green was living in 1861.  On the night of the census, the house is shown as uninhabited and Ann and Maria were living with the Kelly family, so Ann must have moved right after the baby died.  The cert. does list Ann and Martin O'Connor as the parents.  I have not found a marriage or death for Martin O'Connor"

 

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 19th February 1901 carried this report of Henry's death, as well as a reflection on the tragedies that befell the family

 

 

It is a remarkable story and I am really pleased that the descendent has given me permission to utilise this material on the site. My main purpose of placing this material on the site is that it reflects the human condition and it is impressive how the descendents of the family have not let the events of the past weigh them down. They have gone on to forge good and useful lives in spite of the tragedies and despair that must have accompanied them along the way. In a way it sort of balances things out

The second reason for placing this information on the site is that I hope it may prove useful to other persons who are researching their family history. When you start researching and investigating your ancestors it is a step into the unknown - you may have vague notions of what you may find and a general impression of what your ancestors may have been like and where they originated from, but nothing can prepare you for finding out that their lives ended in such an abrupt and violent manner.

 

Needless to say, I would be delighted if anyone can add anything to the both the murders in particular, and the Green family in general. Please contact me via e-mail 

 

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the respondent who has supplied me with the bulk of the information on this page. I have not named the person to protect their anonymity and privacy but would be pleased to forward any additional information supplied

 

 

White Croft - November 2011 - there is no sign nowadays of anything relating to the tragic murder of a young mother and four children


Notes

 

1.  Name: LUTTRELL
Initials: A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: York and Lancaster Regiment
Unit Text: 2nd Battalion.
Date of Death: 07/04/1917
Service No: 17682
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: I. G. 65.
Cemetery: BARLIN COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION - Barlin is a village about 11 kilometres south-west of Bethune on the D188, between the Bethune-Arras and Bethune-St. Pol roads, about 6.5 kilometres south-east of Bruay. The Communal Cemetery and Extension lie to the north of the village on the D171 road to Houchin.

This is from the CWGC site

Lutterell, Arnold. York & Lancaster Regiment 2nd Battalion. Lance Corporal. Service No.17682. Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas De Calais, France. 7-Apr 1917.
Born in Oughtibridge. Son of Thomas and Mary Lutterell. In the 1901 census, Arnold is aged 4. His father is aged 42, a General Labourer. His mother is aged 35. He has two elder brothers, Thomas, aged 14 and William aged 12. He has two elder sisters, Martha, aged 16 and Lily aged 10. Arnold was approx. 20 years old when he died of wounds. In 1917 the Barlin cemetery was used for burials by a casualty clearing station. His military records on the CWGC and medal cards spell his name Luttrell, not Lutterell.

 

(information obtained from a now defunct website)

2. BURIAL RECORDS - SHEFFIELD CITY ROAD CEMETERY

 

GREEN, Christopher (Bricklayer, age 37). Died at Royal Infirmary; Buried on July 25, 1900 in Roman Catholic ground;
Grave Number 3018, Section GG of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Green, Louisa (Married, age 39). Died at 17 Scargill Croft; Buried on April 14, 1900 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 17669, Section CC of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

GREEN, Ann (Married, age 60). Died at Scargill Croft; Buried on December 12, 1900 in Roman Catholic ground;
Grave Number 3013, Section GG of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

 

3. The Inquest reports for Christopher and Louisa Green as reported in the local press

 

April 10th 1900
The Sheffield Coroner held an inquest at the George and Dragon Inn, Bank Street, this morning, on the body of Louisa Green, aged 39 years, wife of Christopher Green, labourer, of 17, Scargill Croft, who died on Sunday, from the effects of poison. Deceased had been a fairly healthy woman, but addicted to drink. Recently she complained of pains in the head, and said, “she wished she was dead”. On Friday night, whilst intoxicated, she drank about two ounces of spirits of salts, which she and her husband used for cleaning old medicine bottles. She did not tell anyone about it, and was somewhat better the next day. On Sunday she was taken ill, and went to bed at nine o’clock in the morning. Two hours later she told her husband what she had taken, and said she wished she had not done so. She also told her mother-in-law that no one was to blame but herself. She died shortly afterwards. It was stated that, when in drink, deceased had remarked she would drown herself, and on two previous occasions had drank some of these salts. She had been rather depressed lately, owing to being unable to get another house.
The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide whilst temporarily insane”.

July 23th 1900
An inquest was held at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary this afternoon, by the City Coroner, on the body of Christopher Green, aged 37 years, labourer, of Scargill Croft, who died in the institution from the effects of poison. The deceased was a hard drinker and on Wednesday afternoon came into the house intoxicated. He went upstairs and shortly afterwards shouted for his mother. He told her he had drunk some spirits of salts, which he used for cleaning old medicine bottles. He was removed to the infirmary and died on Friday night. The deceased’s wife committed suicide a few months ago by taking spirits of salts. Since his wife’s death the deceased had been in very low spirits and had threatened to take his own life.
The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide whilst temporarily insane”.

Sources

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sheffield Indexers - City Road Cemetery

Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 19th February 1901

 Return To Main HomePage

This page was last updated on 24/01/17 15:43