The Murder of Nurse Ada Bradley - Sheffield 1923

In January 2008 I received an email from a researcher who had come across my site and wondered if I could assist her in the following

"I am researching my family tree and seem to be stuck at a point where you might be able to help me. I am looking for a patient of the Wadsley Asylum. Rose Artliff was born in 1890 and was a patient prior to 1921. In 1923 Rose murdered a nurse from the asylum named Ada Bradley, with whom she had lived to 2 years after her release. Can you please give me any information or point me in the right direction. I believe that her 4 children were admitted to Firvale workhouse around the time of her conviction or even her admittance to the Asylum or perhaps even a lot earlier. The first names of these children and their father, her husband are as yet unknown although he was an Artliff. Please please would you have any information at all no matter how small on this subject"

The only reference I could find either in print or online was a small article taken from The British Journal of Nursing April 21, 1923

"Ada Bradley (22) a mental nurse at South Yorkshire Asylum Sheffield (see note 1) was found dead with her head battered and her throat cut in the street near the asylum on April 11th. Later in the day a widow Rose Artliffe a former inmate of the Asylum was charged at Sheffield Police Court with murdering Nurse Bradley. Evidence of arrest was given and the woman was remanded. The serious risks run by Mental nurses are not realised by the general public. We need much more publicity in the management of the insane both for the welfare of the sick and safety of the mental nurses".

The murder occurred on Wednesday April 11th 1923 and in the following day's Manchester Guardian, there was the following report of Nurse Bradley's death

Photo of Ada taken from the Daily Mirror dated 12th April 1923

The same day - 12th April 1923 an Inquest was held into the death of Nurse Bradley and this was reported in The Manchester Guardian the following day

A more detailed report however appears in The Scotsman of all papers. In its edition dated 12th April 1923, it carries the title



Early yesterday morning a terrible tragedy occurred in the Middlewood district of Sheffield, the victime Ada Bradley (23), being found dead with her head battered and her throat cut at the junction of Langsett Avenue and the Middlewood car terminus. The dead woman was a nurse at Wharncliffe War Hospital.

Later at the Police Court, a widow named Mrs. Rose Artlisse (sic) aged 33 with whom the deceased had been living with was charged with murder and remanded for a week.

Inspector Hills stated that when charged with the killing the nurse at 5.30 yesterday morning. accused replied "Not as soon as that. It was still striking a quarter to six, when I struck her with the hammer."

Witness added that Artisse was formerly an inmate at an asylum and was discharged cured in December1921. A great affection sprung up between her and the deceased, and for some months they had been living together, Artlisse accompanying the nurse to work in the mornings.

Deceased was about to be married to a Coldstream Guardsman, Corporal Walter Cooper (says the Central News) and they had arranged to live in Tower Hill Barracks London. She was measured for a wedding dress last Saturday"

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph also carried a report of the proceedings




Soldiers Sweetheart and Discharged Patient


As I was driving my car from the Middlewood Terminus to the City, I was amazed and horrified to see the body of a woman lying on the causeway at the bottom of Langsett Avenue.  Another woman was standing over the body.  A razor protruded from the side pocket of the woman who was standing, and a few yards away a large hammer was lying on the ground.

In these words a Sheffield train driver, yesterday, graphically described to a "Sheffield Daily Telegraph" reporter how he discovered one of the most terrible crimes in Sheffield for many years. 

The victim is Ada Bradley, aged about 24 years, who was engaged as a nurse in the South Yorkshire Asylum, or generally known, during the War, as the Wharncliffe War Hospital situated on an eastern extremity of the City of Sheffield.  She lived with her parents at 5 Worrall Road, Wadsley, a short distance from the asylum.

Continuing his story of the discovery the tram driver said "I and my mate quickly stopped the car and rushed to the spot".  "The woman made no effort to escape but continued to stand over the prostrate woman who was lying quite still.  There were a number of ugly bruises on her forehead and temple; her throat was terribly gashed, and blood was flowing freely.  It had saturated her clothing and had made a pool on the pavement".

The driver added that he and his mate had a tussle with the woman in order to get the razor from her and after doing so they took her, in the car, to the Hillsborough Police Station, Sheffield where she gave the name Rose Artliff, a widow, the mother of four children, who resided at the same address as the dead girl.  It is stated that she formerly lived in Nottingham.

Later she was brought to the Central Police Station, and she appeared in the Sheffield Police Court yesterday morning before Messrs. J.E. Beal and H.A. Stone on a charge of murder.

Dressed in a blue serge coat and a red frock and without a hat, she was attended by a wardress.  Her sallow features appeared drawn, but she took an intelligent interest in the proceedings and remained completely composed.  She chatted, in an undertone, with the wardress while waiting for the case to come on, and at no time appeared agitated or distressed.  Frequently her eyes scanned the small number of persons in the Court as if she expected to see some acquaintances.

The woman was formally charged with murdering Ada Bradley, and then answered "Yes sir."

The Clerk:  "Don't say anything more now".  The only witness was Police-Inspector Hughes of the Walkley Division, who told the court that he saw the woman at Hillsborough Police Station at six o' clock this morning.  In consequence of what he had been told he charged her on suspicion with causing the death of Bradley at 5.30am

 Hit Her with Hammer

She replied:

"Not as soon as that; it was just striking a quarter- to-six when I hit her with the hammer".  He later visited Wadsley Asylum and saw the body of Bradley.  She had a large wound in the throat which was cut almost from ear to ear.  There was a large swelling on the head above the right ear; the first and second fingers of the right hand were slightly cut and the ball of the thumb on the left hand was cut.  Later when he charged Artliff with the murder she answered "Thank you".

The Clerk:  "Have you any questions to ask the witness?"

Artliffe:  "No thank you".

Answering Mr Beale, Inspector Hughes replied that the woman had been an in-patient of the asylum; she was discharged in December, 1921.  After that date the nurse and the prisoner former an attachment for each other and the two had lived together since last August.

It had been the custom and practice

Rose's next appearance in Court was on the 18th, a week after the murder. Once again The Manchester Guardian carried a brief report of the proceedings

The following day The Scotsman reported again in greater detail the events at the Coroners Court. Under the title


The Coroner's Jury at Sheffield yesterday returned  a verdict of wilful murder against Rose Artliffe, a widow in connection with the death of a young nurse named Ada Bradley. Two nurses proceeding to their duties on Wednesday morning heard cries for help and saw two women struggling. One who they know recognise as Artcliffe they said was hitting the other woman with a hammer.

Mrs Artcliffe witness added - "I intended to kill her. I intended her to die"

In a letter addressed to the deceased's father which Artcliffe handed to the police she apologised for the trouble she had caused and added she could not see her way clear to have her "revenge any other was on your Ada, Cooper )the man to who the dead girl was engage) and your wife as they were all dead against me. Your wife said I would make a bad enemy, but when she sees this she will will see I have made a worse enemy. Cooper told her not to go with me. Little does she think she will not be able to go out with him"

Artcliffe was cool and collected throughout the proceedings and despite the Coroners warning persisted in asking questions of the witnesses and making comments

The report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Thursday 19th April 1923 carries a detailed account of the murder and its aftermath


"The Sheffield magistrates yesterday committed for trial Rose Artliff, a widow aged 34, who is  charged with the murder of Nurse Bradley, of Wadsley Asylum. Artliff was formerly an inmate but when discharged went to live with  Nurse Bradley's parents. The tragedy occurred after the nurse  had become engaged to be married  to Corporal Cooper of the Coldstream Guards. Artliff in court hinted at a motive for the crime which concerned the relationship between Nurse Bradley and the soldier who emphatically denied the insinuations."

Rose Artliff, a charwoman, was indicted at the Leeds Assizes for the murder of Ada Bradley, a nurse at Wadsley Asylum, Sheffield. A friendship sprang up between the two women, and after Artliff's discharge they lived together. She apparently resented Nurse Bradley's engagement to be married, and on April 11th suddenly attacked her with a razor and hammer. Artliff was found guiIty but insane, and ordered to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure. On hearing the verdict she exclaimed : " Thank you, but I was guilty and sane."

The Times dated 12th May 1923 added a little more information

At Leeds Assizes yesterday Rose Artliff 33, charwoman, was indicted for the murder of Ada Bradley. a nurse at Wadsley Asylum at Sheffield. Evidence was given that the prisoner was formerly a patient at the asylum and during her stay there a friendship sprang up between her and Nurse Bradley. After the prisoner's discharge they lived together. Early this year Nurse Bradley became engaged to be married and, from that time, the prisoner appeared to resent the fact that someone had come between them. On April 11 the prisoner accompanied Nurse Bradley on her way to the Asylum and suddenly attacked her with a razor and a hammer. The prisoner was found Guilty, but Insane. and ordered to be detained during his His Majesty's pleasure. When she heard this decision she exclaimed, "Thank you, but I was guilty and sane."

But the most detailed report appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Saturday 12th May 1923 




Detained During His Majesty's Pleasure

(By Our Reporters)


"Thank you very much, sir; I was guilty, but I was sane."

With this remark, Rose Artliff, who stood on trial on the capital charge at the West Riding Assizes at Leeds, yesterday received the sentence which concluded the story of one of the most remarkable murders committed in Sheffield for many years.

Summing up, Mr. Justice Sankey, described the crime as an atrocious one, and drew the attention of the jury, which included two women, to the facts of the case, Artliff's medical history, and her extraordinary callousness and demeanour after the crime.  The jury, without retiring, found the prisoner "guilty but insane," and the Judge ordered her to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure.

Artliff, who is a widow, and an ex-inmate of the South Yorkshire Asylum, was charged with the wilful murder of Nurse Ada Bradley, who was also employed at the institution and with whose parents the prisoner had been living for some months.  A feature of the case was that Bradley was soon to have been married and the accused seemed to regard that as likely to break up the friendship of the two women.

Mr. W. Hedley, instructed by Mr. J. E. Wing, appeared to lead the prosecution on behalf of the Crown, and Mr. W. P. Donald, instructed by Mr. H.K. Hawson, defended.

While the indictment was being read the prisoner listened attentively.  She answered with a clear "Not Guilty."  Throughout the trial she was detached and calm.  At its conclusion, she made the remark quoted in emphatic tones, and then turned and quietly descended from the dock.

 The Advent of Cooper

Opening the case for the Crown, Mr. Hedley said "the dead woman lived with her parents at 5, Worrall Road, Wadsley.

She had been employed, for two years as a nurse the Wadsley Mental Asylum, the prisoner being some twenty months ago an inmate there.  Whilst the two women were there they struck up a very close friendship and when the prisoner was released from the asylum, in June 1921, the deceased woman took her home with the permission of her parents.

The prisoner he believed had only been employed occasionally.  That friendship apparently went on until January of this year when a change took place - the cause of it being the advent into the dead girl's life of Corporal Cooper.

He lived at the house for some time and then joined the Coldstream guards.  When he came home on leave he was certainly the accepted suitor of the deceased woman.  "That seems to have aroused the jealously of the prisoner", counsel went on, not chiefly on Cooper's account, but for her own friendship of the deceased woman, and from that time onwards there were times when the deceased woman and the prisoner were at loggerheads.

"At Easter Cooper came on leave, and it was arranged that he and dead women would be married in June.  That again seemed to have caused some trouble between this woman, the deceased and Mrs Bradley.  Three altercations took place between the three of them".

Counsel then proceeded to relate the tragedy which took place on April 11th in Langsett Avenue; how nurses and attendants saw the prisoner struggling and repeatedly striking the deceased with a hammer.

Evidence was then given by witnesses relating the arrival of Artliff at the house and her subsequent life with the Bradleys.

The mother of the dead girl said the troubles began when Artliff threw up in her daughter's face a misfortune she had, some years ago.

Corporal Cooper, Coldstream Guards, repeated the evidence given at the Sheffield Police Court.  Nurse Evinson, of Wadsley Avenue described how she saw the accused and Ada Bradley struggling together in the road as she was going on duty.  The accused was striking Ada Bradley on the side of the head with a hammer, and the witness's attention was first attracted by screams.  Afterwards, when other people had come on the scene, someone sent for an ambulance.  Artliff then said; "She will want an ambulance before I have done with her".

Answering Mr. Donald, the witness agreed that the prisoner did not realise the situation.  The accused was searched by another nurse, Nurse Turner corroborated. 

George Hackney, a male attendant at the asylum, said he was on the scene soon after the two nurses.  He asked "who has done this" and the prisoner replied "I have with a hammer".

Is She Dead?

Dr Carter, police surgeon, described the dead nurse's injuries, and pointed out that there were two very severe cuts in her throat, and five contused wounds on the head.

In answer to Mr. Donald, Dr. Carter said it was quite possible that a person who had once suffered from homicidal mania should have a tendency towards a renewal of the trouble.

Inspector Hughes, Hillsborough Division of the Sheffield City Police, said that when he charged the prisoner with having committed the murder at 5.30 she said "It was just striking a quarter to six when I hit her with the hammer."  Later she asked, "Is she dead?"  On being told that she was she said "That will do".

Sergeant Lloyd, who took Artliff from Hillsborough to the Central Police Station, said that in conversation on the way she declared, "They don't know it all.  They were going to turn me out on Saturday, but they will not have the chance now."  When told by the witness that Ada Bradley had died the accused said "She has done well to live till then, after what I have done to her.

A clerk in the offices of the asylum produced certain reports, and Mr. Donald cross-examined.  Is there against the entry as to whether the patient is suicidal the word "practically" he asked.  Yes.

Is there an inquiry as to whether the patient is dangerous to others?  Yes.

These relate to the symptoms at the time of her admission?  Yes.

Dr. D. Gillespie, senior assistant medical officer at the asylum said the diagnosis of admission showed her to be suffering from recent mania.  "Quiet and orderly since admission, but is reported to be unstable, and at times dangerous."  She showed improvements all the time, however, and was discharged on July 25th.

When you discharged her was she quite sane?  Yes.

Dr. Wordsley, medical officer of Armley Gaol, said he furnished the statement that she was quite fit to plead.

Counsel for the defence said that in view of the woman's hospital career and entire absence of anything like sorrow for what she had done they could not come to the conclusion that she was sane.

The prisoner interrupted as he was proceeding, and counsel went on to say that this was one of the striking features of the case both there and at the Sheffield Court.  Prisoner interrupted on minor points and ignored the big ones.

 The Verdict

Summing up, his Lordship said that the facts showed that the prisoner killed her victim in circumstances of an atrocious character.  Her learned counsel asked them to find a verdict that she was guilty but insane.

The judge then proceeded to read the law on the subject which, he said, was quite plain.  To establish a defence on the grounds of insanity it must be clearly proved that at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was defective, or suffering from some disease of the mind so as not to know the nature and quality of the act she was doing or that she did not know that what she was doing was wrong. His Lordship then dealt with the history of the crime and asked the jury to look at the facts of the case and see whether it was the act of a madwoman, her callousness and absolute lack of concern at what she had done and many of the remarks made after her arrest.  They knew she had been in an asylum and they knew the extent to which she was dangerous.

The jury did not retire but were some time at arriving at their verdict.  They found the prisoner guilty but insane, and his Lordship ordered her to be detained "until his Majesty's pleasure be known."

The final scene was Ada's funeral at Wadsley Church. There is a postcard that shows the large crowd that assembled to pay their respects to Ada


The funeral was the subject of a full report in The Sheffield Independent dated 16th April 1923

Details on Rose's life prior to the murder are both scant and complex. What we do know is that in the September quarter of 1916 Rose married a JOHN H ARTLIFF ( GRO Ref Artliff  John H  Whitmore  Rose Sheffield  9c 1056) and that in the March quarter of the following year they had a daughter FLORENCE ( Births Mar 1917 Artliff  Florence  Whitmore  Sheffield  Volume 9c Page1090. But the same year saw the death of her husband and the father of FLORENCE ( Death Dec 1917 ARTLIFF JOHN H Sheffield Volume 9C Page 645)

This makes the following entry in the GRO Registers even more inexplicable

Births Jun 1920 Artliff  Maggie  Whitmore  Nottingham  Volume 7b Page1003

Whilst Florence is John and Rose's child, Maggie certainly isn't as she was born two years after John's death. The report mentions that four children were taken into the workhouse around the time of her committal - Florence and Maggie are two of them, and the other two are as yet unknown. If anyone can supply me with any additional information. please contact me by e-mail 

The site of the Murder Langsett Avenue - Middlewood Road Sheffield  - August 2009

In August 2011 I did receive some additional information that proved useful. A reader of this article referred me to the following from the England and Wales Death Index

Name: Rose Artliff
Birth Date: 11 Nov 1889
Date of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar 1973 Age at Death: 83
Registration district: Easthampstead Inferred County: Berkshire
Volume: 6a Page: 97

Easthampstead is very close to Broadmoor the high security psychiatric hospital. I wonder if that is where Rose was sent after her trial. If so she will have been an inmate there for fifty years.

Eight years later in 2019 I was able to confirm this. The 1939 National Register had this entry for what was known then as " Broadmoor Asylum" Rose would have been 48 years old at the time the Register was taken. She would spend another 35 years in the Asylum until her death in 1973. 



And based on this information I was able to locate Rose in the 1911 Census

WHITMORE, Emma Head Widow F 52 1859 Charwoman Bristol
WHITMORE, Violet Daughter Single F 29 1882 Net Mender Nottingham
WHITMORE, Rose Daughter Single F 18 1893 Cigar Box Paperer Carrington
WHITMORE, Lilian Granddaughter F 2 1909 Carrington
RG number: RG14 Piece: 20638 Reference:RG14PN20638 RG78PN1232 RD430 SD5 ED5 SN223
Registration District: Nottingham Sub District: Bulwell Enumeration District:5 Parish: Nottingham
Address: 7 Jenner Street Carrington County: Nottinghamshire.

It looks as though that Lilian the granddaughter was born out of wedlock

I could not find the family in the 1901 census but the 1891 census has the following information

Name Emma Whitmore Age 32 Estimated Year of Birth 1859 Relationship to Head of Household Wife Occupation Warehouseman Address 6, Ramsay Street District Basford, Basford Parish Basford Administrative County Nottinghamshire Birth Place Chard Birth County Somersetshire

There is no trace of the family in the 1881 Census but Arthur appears in the 1871 Census as

Name Arthur Whitmore Age 14 Estimated Year of Birth 1857 Relationship to Head of Household Son Occupation Juvenile Address Cattle End District Towcester, Abthorpe Parish Silverstone Administrative County Northamptonshire Birth Place Northamptonshire Birth County Northamptonshire.

The FREE BMD also records what I believe are the deaths of Rose's parents

Deaths Jun 1907 Whitmore Arthur 47 Nottingham 7b 181
Deaths Jun 1914 Whitmore Emma 54 Nottingham 7b 483.

Was Emma's death the reason why Rose moved to Sheffield?


South Yorkshire Asylum - Built: 1869-1872 Opened 1872,
Architect: Bernard Hartley
Became West Riding Asylum, Wadsley from 1890, West Riding Mental Hospital, Wadsley from 1930, Middlewood Hospital, Middlewood Road, Sheffield (S6 ITP) from 1948.

Possibly always known as Wadsley by local people.1,189 staffed beds 31.12.1975 Closed 1999

1911 UK Census - Ada Bradley
Relationship to Head of Household Daughter
Gender Female Age 11 Estimated Year of Birth 1900
Occupation School
Employed Yes Working at Home No
Place of Birth Wadsley Sheffield
Enumerator Information
Address 5 Worrall Road Wadsley Parish Sheffield Town Wadsley
Type of Building Dwelling House Number of Rooms 4 Rooms Inhabited Y
Reference RG14PN27918 RG78PN1597 RD510 SD4 ED8 SN3 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding) Registration District Sheffield Registration Sub District Hillsborough Enumeration District 8  

Ada's father WILLIAM was a drayman by occupation

Worrall Road Wadsley Sheffield as it is today


The British Journal of Nursing April 21st 1923.

The Scotsman dated 12-13th April 1923.

The Sheffield Independent dated 16th April 1923

Manchester Guardian April 12-13th 1923, April  19th 1923. 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Thursday 19th April 1923

The Times dated 12th May 1923.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph Saturday 12th May 1923 


1901-1911 Census

1939 National Register

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